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Re: Trainer and Prescription Drug

Posted by:  Claudia A. Costa
Posted on:  May 15, 2001 at 11:17:55

In Reply to: Trainer and Prescription Drug
Posted by:  Maria C. L.
Posted on:  May 14, 2001 at 14:37:39

Question:

: On May 7th I submitted a question entitled "Trainer and Prescription Drug" and I want to thank both Jane and Claudia for their prompt response. You also asked for a follow up, and I would like to do just that if it's OK.

: We were recommended a trainer through our vet for my male JRT Freddy because of some aggressive behaviors Freddy displays towards people who come into our home. Also, when he is startled he attacks our female JRT or who ever is closest and that would be me. After submitting a 12 page report on Freddy, we got together with the trainer for our two-hour consultation at our home. In the first 10 minutes she witnessed this crazed behavior he displayed towards her. Freddy attacked her shoes and barked at her in a high pitch. But, as I mentioned before, she at first gave him hot dog bits to pacify him, (positive reinforcement-which worked)but when she walked upstairs, she stopped giving him bits and he would not let her up the stairs. He barked in a high pitch, attacked her shoes and I guess, he was demanding more of those bits.

: The trainer recommended right away to prescribe Elevil in order to calm him down so we would be able to train him properly (Freddy did not respond to my commands during his episode until I picked him up). I was not comfortable with drugs, and in my last question, Jane and Claudia both agreed I should look for another trainer.

: This is what occurred since then.

: On Saturday, May 12th, I brought Freddy to the vet for blood work which was also suggested by the trainer as the first step. When we arrived to the vet, Freddy always demands attention and the technicians give him plenty! He jumps a bit and licks them to death and he is happy. Then we went into a room and the technician asked me the reason for the blood work. I suggested that she speak to the vet since the trainer had spoken to her regarding this process. Later, I found out that the technician could not believe that the blood work was for aggression: "he was licking me!" she said. Also, another technician (there are several of them handling the same dog) took him to another room and not even five minutes later, she took his blood and clipped his nails, which he would not let me do (I am a bit chicken and he picks up on that.) All in all, he was so sweet.

: When the vet sat for a short consultation, she first was surprised that we even had any issues with Freddy, because no one in the Hospital has ever witnessed any aggression. However,she agreed that Freddy should take the drug Elevil. She mentioned that years ago, she would not feel comfortable with correcting aggression with drugs, but today, she sees what a positive affect is has and that in the long run, the dog can be trained during these down periods.

: During the consultation, Freddy was sitting on my lap and at times he turned his face to me to give me some kisses. I thought he was thirsty so I asked for a bowl of water. The vetenarian turned to open the door, hardly standing from her seat, and Freddy began to bark at her. It seemed, and the vet even said this, that it was as if he was trying to speak, trying to tell her something. He didn't even want water anyway.

: My point is that JRT's are very intelligent dogs, and it could be that he is getting frustrated that we don't understand him. I want to help Freddy and I don't quite know if after all these consultations, I should look for another trainer and possibly another vet (although, this veterinarian is very good). My JRT's are both fixed with the recommendation of this vet, and I am glad we did.

: I am going to wait until the blood results, but I doubt they will find anything negative. My husband and I were searching for a trainer with JRT experience, but had no such luck. However, yesterday, my neighbor, who is friends with the owner of the Kennel we bring our dogs to, will ask him if he knows of such a trainer. This gentleman had the pleasure of owning two JRT's, and may know a trainer with JRT experiece. In the meantime, Freddy, who gained two pounds, and I will excersice much more and see if that helps curb his behavior.

------------------ Response Area -------------------
Hi marcia.

Thank you for the kind words.

I am not a vet and I have not witnessed your jrt's behavior. That being said, it is not in my nature to recommed that a dog be drugged to get it to act a certain way. Your jrt allowed strangers to clip its nails!!!! Do you have any idea how many will bite instead.

Giving a dog drugs to behave a certain way is a quick fix. So my question to you and the vet would be--what do I do when the dog gets older and he developed a tolerance? What do I do when the dog gets older and his kidneys go faster due to years of medications?

Like I said, I am not a vet. So if the vet said the medication is safe, I am in no position to question him.

Training takes time and a commitment. Drugs you can adminster and walk away and never deal with the problem. I call that a quick fix and not dealing with the problem.

Posisitve reinforcement DOES work. For example, when your jrt insisted on more hot dogs--do not give him any. He gets them only when he quiets down and stops nipping at the shoes. In fact, when he does that why not just say "game over". Put him away without saying a word. When he comes out and quietly deals with you, then he gets a piece of hot dog.

These guys are brilliant. In no time, he will learn that hot dogs only get dispensed when he is quiet.

Obviously, Freddy is terretorial and when someone new comes in the house or the room, he goes nuts. There are so many ways to work with this. But, it takes lots of time and patience.

I STRONGLY suggest you go to www.dogpatch.org/obed and find a trainer near you. You do NOT need a jrt trainer. A good trainer can deal with all types of breeds.

I cannot urge you enough to read about clicker training to get Freddy to learn that only when he offers the behavior you want does he get rewarded. This is a positive way to train a dog and EXTREMELY effective.

The choice is of course yours. Only you knw what is best for your situation. However, since the vet has ruled out any physical porblems, I would invest my time in training and developing a relationship with the dog.

Good luck and thanks again for the kind words.

Claudia A. Costa
ccosta@stryker.com