Firstly, I want to apologise for the length of this post
I was just hoping that I could ask some advice here…
Saba is an 17 month old male B. At approximately 7 months he began growling on the showring table. I still do not have a clue what started this behaviour. All I know is that we were at a Parade, (this is a "show", where the trainee judges are able to get their hands on the dogs, to help increase their numbers of dogs judged. It is run the same way as a normal show here in Aus, except no champions are entered...), and as the judges, (we had 2 judges in the ring at the same time, both ladies, both confident too), walked over to him, he reared up on his hind legs. I tried to get him to get back on all 4 legs, he was unsettled, and the judges asked if I was happy for them to approach him. I said yes, which was when he started growling at them. I was stunned, he had previously not shown any issues, like this, at all. The judges were both happy to continue to go over him, he grumbled all the way through. He did not try to bite, snap or show his teeth/lips either, just grumbled. He did look VERY uncomfortable with both the ladies going over him, though. We got off the table did our workout, etc. They both choose not to dismiss him from the ring either. We had another show in the pm, on this same day. Judge was male, hubby of one of the ladies in the am show!! He did the same again, grumbling, body language was showing his uncomfortableness over the whole being touched thingy... Again this judge went over him, we did our workout, and that was that. He was the only B entered in both shows.
I immediately withdrew him from the rings, and at this stage he has only been shown a couple of times since, only under people who were B savvy !!!
This B was our first, but, I had long been a B lover, from afar... (We have Cattle Dogs that we have been involved in since 1989, showing and breeding).
He has been well socialised, from the day we got him. People, noises, traffic, shopping centres etc, etc, etc...I always thought that he was a very aloof and overly confident dog, and this was his way of saying, "Nope, I dont want to do this, AT ALL". BUT... We finally got a behaviorist involved with helping Saba overcome these issues. We have only had the one lesson from her, so far, and she is of the belief that he actually is lacking confidence on the table. I am very happy with her and her initial assessment of him was absolutely spot on. Everything... It was incredible to watch her assess him, then tell us what she was seeing and she was 100% correct !! It was a bit spooky really...
This first lesson was a few weeks ago, and we will be definately be having more lessons with her in the new year.
The advice we have been given by the Behaviorist was to get him up on the table at the shows, but, only with people who were confident with him growling at them, and they were happy to ignore it. My hubby, will now take over showing him, (as I am just too scared to be anywhere near him on show days, cos I dont want him to go to the next level and possibly bite someone, so I am banished from being anywhere near him !!! He doesnt need my nerves at this important time in his training...), and is to feed him delectable treats, while the person is just gently patting him, on his shoulder, neck and back. Once hubby has run out of bait, the person who has been patting him, stops and steps away. Richard refills his hand with treats, and starts to feed him again, and the person walks over to him to pat again. This is repeated a few times, then onto the next person. The purpose of this is to get Saba to associate that times on the table are associated with lots of nice patting from strangers and that he will be fed scrummy treats, for doing it, too. So far this has been good, no growling at all. Richard is not in the slightest bit stressed about this, so again this is why he is doing this work with him.
At this stage we are not happy to medicate him with something like Clonicalm, we want to give him the best chance of behavior modification first. We have tried all different sorts of herbal medication, with no success at all.
He is always happy to join in the preshow day goings on. He eagerly jumps in the car/trailer on show day mornings etc.
I am just wondering if anyone has some info to share, about how they got their dog back into the ring, after these sorts of issues. I so much want this handsome little man to try to enjoy his day in the ring, like he used to...