I am not a professional dog trainer. I am not even an amateur dog trainer. I am a foster home for rescued Chessies and I have happened to have my fair share of “problem” dogs. Louie is by far my most challenging behavior problem. So I am way out of my league in experience and knowledge. I am fortunate to have a vast amount of resources through the Chesapeake Retriever network and several local dog trainers.
Through discussions with several trainers, we were able to pinpoint Louie’s possible issues as fear and anxiety instead of aggression and terriotorialism. This is probably due to his lack of socialization with people as a puppy. So we must try to socialize Louie with people and overcome his fear and anxiety.
Our first step was the Coulee Region Humane Society and Shirley Richards. Shirley has been an excellent resource for me with my other Chessies and so I immediately signed Louie up for Basic Obedience. Shirley is a great trainer and a very compassionate dog person. Shirley worked with Louie and I after class each night discussing his unique issues/behaviors, possible causes and possible cures/techniques. She adjusted the class to help alleviate Louie’s fears while socializing him. For some reason which we have yet to figure out, Louie is very comfortable in the classes at the CRHS. The classes are held in a larger open room with high ceilings. I think Louie is comfortable there because he doesn’t feel trapped like he does in my small, crowded house.
After Louie lunged at a few people, I found a local trainer that has worked specifically with aggressive dogs. Louie and I went to the La Crosse Family Dog Center for a private consultation with their trainer and learned a lot about working with a potentially aggressive dog and how to introduce them to people. The main point was to establish a routine and always go through those steps. Louie must learn to approach people, sit and remain calm. We are to repeat this process, moving closer to the person each time as long as Louie remains calm and sits and then we can retreat. For Louie and many fearful dogs, the reward is retreating from the stranger.
We have been through two Basic Obedience classes at CRHS and are about to start a Basic Obedience/Agility class. I think Louie and I are bored with Basic Obedience so I felt with Louie’s energy, agility might be something he would like. I also hope it will help boost his confidence, help him to have fun in new surroundings and maybe provide him with something he can focus his very short attention span on! I will let you know how this goes, we start on Thursday April 26th.