Trainer or behaviorist in New Jersey?

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chchcharlie
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Trainer or behaviorist in New Jersey?

Postby chchcharlie » Sat May 15, 2010 9:48 pm

Hey everyone, we really need your help.

A few weeks back I posted that we had finally found Charlie's forever home, with a lovely couple that live in the mountains of NJ in Vernon. http://www.pitbullforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=134832

Everything was going great. We've seen photos of Charlie doing things he'd never gotten to do before, like running around off-leash in a huge forest area, swimming in a lake, hiking, etc. Most importantly, one of his new owners (Dustin) works from home so they became best buds. The times the couple does go out, they never crate him because they have a section of their kitchen that they are able to gate off for him to roam around in.

Last night we got a very upset phone call from them. Charlie snapped at Gina and tried to nip her in the face. A similar thing happened to me a few months ago when I was trying to crate him for the day - he snapped at me while I was trying to latch the gate closed (Original post here: http://www.pitbullforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=130503). We knew it was just wicked separation anxiety. He was clearly terrified, and I got scared in turn, which made it worse for him and he freaked out. We ended up being able to solve the issue by giving him a Kong stuffed with peanut butter and bananas every time we left the apartment, and we never had an incident again.

Well apparently, Dustin and Gina were leaving to go to the movies. They went through the usual Kong routine and everything was fine, but they realized they'd forgotten something inside so they went back in. The details are a little fuzzy for us, but it seems like what happened is when they tried to leave again 2 minutes later, Charlie started freaking out. Except it was worse than we'd ever seen before (by their description) because he was not crated and thus was able to go completely nuts, jumping and all. They were very, very shaken.

I think we've convinced them that this is a behavior that can be worked on, with the help of a professional. After 3 weeks with Charlie they already adore him and they said they would hate to lose him, so they are open to suggestions. I directed them to the SA post here, and after reading it they have decided they want to hire someone to help.

So I am looking for any and all recommendations for a trainer or behaviorist that is familiar with the bully breeds, someone who will go to their place in Vernon, NJ. Charlie is such an amazing dog and we would hate for him to be given up on because of this singular issue. Please help, you guys are the best!

Thanks!

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elegy
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Re: Trainer or behaviorist in New Jersey?

Postby elegy » Sun May 16, 2010 5:33 am

pam dennison is in new jersey, but i don't know where in relation to your friends.

http://www.positivedogs.com/

if she's not a good option, she might be able to point you toward somebody who is more local.

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Re: Trainer or behaviorist in New Jersey?

Postby tiva » Sun May 16, 2010 1:11 pm

That's great that your couple is willing to hire a private trainer. Pam Dennison is amazing (and about 1 hr 15 minutes away from Vernon), so I'd start by calling her. (I was thinking of driving 20 hours to bring my dog to her reactive dog camp. So 85 minutes seems so close!)

This blog post has a list of "truly dog friendly" private trainers: people who use no force or compulsion. I don't know the geography of New Jersey well enough to know which ones are close to Vernon, but you or your friends can probably tell:

http://www.trulydogfriendly.com/blog/?page_id=4

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Re: Trainer or behaviorist in New Jersey?

Postby tiva » Sun May 16, 2010 1:16 pm

Oh--they also might want to talk with their vet. For such intense anxiety and stress on the dog's part, medications may make his life much easier, and give him a space for training to take effect. You never want to use meds without a training program, but meds can literally be a lifesaver for anxious dogs. Many people see them as the very last resort, but that's not really the case.

When we first adopted our Vanya from the humane society, where he had been locked up in a cage in a chaotic shelter for 2 months, he also sometimes went "berserk". It didn't happen when we left (he never really had bad separation anxiety, thank heavens), but when he got too excited. He would start the zoomies--very typical--but they would quickly lead to barking, jumping, leaping by our faces. The first couple times it happened to me, it was terrifying. We worked with a private trainer for a long time to reduce his stress and anxiety levels, mostly using what's known as the "relaxation protocol" and a lot of exercises from Leslie McDevitt's Control Unleashed--all to teach him how to calm himself down after he got aroused. His issues were probably quite different than this pup's issues, but it might help your friends to know that "frenzy" isn't completely unknown. And Vanya is now a perfect gentleman around people (well, most of the time!)

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Re: Trainer or behaviorist in New Jersey?

Postby Maryellen » Mon May 17, 2010 12:29 pm

tell them to go to pam dennison in belvidere. she is their best bet

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chchcharlie
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Re: Trainer or behaviorist in New Jersey?

Postby chchcharlie » Mon May 17, 2010 12:35 pm

Thanks, folks! I emailed yesterday with Pam Dennison's info. I'll keep you updated as I learn more! This forum is the best :bowdown:

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Re: Trainer or behaviorist in New Jersey?

Postby chchcharlie » Mon May 17, 2010 5:08 pm

Well for one reason or another despite my suggestion they've decided to go with Scott Fisher (http://www.trainedk9.com/). I really hope it goes well.

The only thing that concerns me at all is that Dustin said when he spoke to Scott over the phone and described the problem, Scott told him that it didn't sound like separation anxiety but rather "a nervous, anxious dog who lashes out the only way he knows how in times of extreme anxiety." Dustin also used the word "unpredictable" several times in our conversation to describe why he doesn't trust Charlie. It sort of upset me.

I am clearly NOT a professional dog behaviorist by any stretch, but I did live with Charlie for over a year and I would never have described him as "unpredictable." If anything, he is EXTREMELY predictable - he never ever reacted that way except when we were trying to leave him. But what do I know.

Anyway I do really hope that this trainer sheds some light as to how they may address the issue, regardless of what he calls it, so that everyone can feel safe and happy. Cross your fingers!

(I do wish there was a least ONE photo of a bully breed dog on that website! Oh well.)

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Re: Trainer or behaviorist in New Jersey?

Postby Leslie H » Mon May 17, 2010 6:24 pm

I can't tell much from that website. I wish the trainer had a more experience, and accomplishments. But, I don't see anything bad. I doubt he could compare to someone as accomplished as Pam Dennison, but that doesn't mean he's bad, or that he can't help you friends.

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Re: Trainer or behaviorist in New Jersey?

Postby chchcharlie » Mon May 17, 2010 6:41 pm

Leslie H wrote:I can't tell much from that website. I wish the trainer had a more experience, and accomplishments. But, I don't see anything bad. I doubt he could compare to someone as accomplished as Pam Dennison, but that doesn't mean he's bad, or that he can't help you friends.


Yeah, I mean I'm trying not to pass judgment or anything but I got a bit frustrated since they asked me to help them find someone and then didn't even call her. What bothered me the most was that even before MEETING Charlie, this trainer already tells the owner that it's not separation anxiety but something bigger/worse? Is that an attempt to make sure they hire him? I don't know, I just got annoyed.

I know I probably sound like I'm overreacting, it's just been a stressful few days and I want everyone to be ok. At least they know that if it doesn't work out for any reason, we'll hop in the car and take Charlie back right away, no questions asked. I just hope for his sake it doesn't come to that, poor guy's been bounced around enough!

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chchcharlie
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Re: Trainer or behaviorist in New Jersey?

Postby chchcharlie » Fri May 21, 2010 9:05 am

Ok, they aren't even waiting for the trainer to come on Monday. We are going to pick him up and bring him home this weekend. Whatever, some people just aren't cut out to be dog owners - i.e. take the time and actually make an effort to help them through their issues. :et:

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Re: Trainer or behaviorist in New Jersey?

Postby tiva » Fri May 21, 2010 3:19 pm

It's too bad that they dont' feel able to work with Charlie, but it's better that they've decided now, rather than months later. The trainer they were going to hire is probably a nice enough guy, but his website is incredibly frustrating, because it gives no information at all about his methods. Plus he has essentially no experience or significant training (again, he could be a brilliant trainer, but I doubt it).

Good luck with Charlie. He seemed to be doing so well with you (in your earlier posts about him), so I hope you can figure out a way to keep him, or else to find him a wonderful family.

msvette2u

Re: Trainer or behaviorist in New Jersey?

Postby msvette2u » Fri May 21, 2010 11:40 pm

If there's one thing I have learned, doing rescue, it's that, much to my chagrin, once someone says "it's not working out", it's better to get the dog sooner, than later. It means, in their minds, they've usually already given up and even if they claim they "want suggestions" or whatever, it's usually all done but the shoutin', so to speak.
I'm glad you got him back and they didn't dump him at a shelter.
Speaking also as a rescuer, who has seen severe SA, multiple rehomings are only going to make him worse (as you probably suspected!)
I hope things work out for you all, but especially for him.


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