Confidence Needed…

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...

Have you talked to Kylie about this?…. And it really sounds like he is picking up on your being nervous and thinks there is something to be afraid of....

One thing that I always have people do with puppies is put them up on tables at home all the time... from very early age... and have people come and pet/treat the pup...

Many times the act of picking them up and putting them on a table where they are at a disadvantage can make them wary of the situation. Like being at the Vets office and being put on the table...

Hi tanza,

Yep, I have had heaps of help/suggestions/herbal stuff info etc, from Kylie :). She has been an absolute gem with all of this. I think she is as confuddled as I am with him !!! I have kept her updated with everything we have done with him.

Im sure Saba knows how anxious I am, and thats why I am banished to the other side of the showgrounds, while Richard works with him :D:D.

He did have quite a lot of table work, although Im sure we could have done more, (isnt hindsight great !!!). We are quite isolated here, and have very few visitors, (just the way we like it…), but we have done that a couple of times, and we did a lot of work with him at the shows we have gone to as well, which is usually only one a month, due to work commitments.

Speaking of Vets, we have even taken him with us to the Vet, when Ochre has been and also our new ACD pup, Nosh. All we have done is put him up on the table and asked the Vet to give him treats, which he has accepted with no problems/ growling etc... The Vet hasnt touched him just treated him.

Im confident we can work with him and overcome this problem, Im just interested in anyones' story, especially successes ;), but, happy to read of any failures too :(.

If someone were to examine him when he is on the ground (not table) what does he do?

If the table is laid on the ground (tables here have folding legs) what does he do?

For helping with confidence, working him in things like agility or rally obedience(if you have it there) can be great confidence builders. Mastering the different obstacles or stations really seems to help boost confidence.

I did all the right things with Apache when I got him too…took him to outside malls, parks, the beach..had people of all shapes and sizes meet him and was going to handling class after handling class. Everything was going fine.

The fourth show we were ever in we got excused from the ring because he became a bucking bronco on the table every time the judge came toward us. The judge tried 3 different times. I was so frazzled by his actions and couldn't get him under control, so we got excused.

Later that day he stood fine on the table for some of the breeders. I have no idea what set him off, if it was the judge or the fact that I had had him to the vets the week before the show and they took a skin scrape while he was on the table.

To be on the safe side, I never put him on the table at the vet's again...they had to examine him on the floor. Luckily they were more then willing to do that.

I wasn't going to take any chances putting him back in the ring anytime soon, especially since I was so nervous. At handling classes and at home we did what you're doing. He would go up on the table and be fed treats. I would put him on the table at home and just treat him for being up there. We gradually had people in class and at home start going over him all the while treating him.

On top of all that, I also had/have a problem with noise sensitivity. Some boys threw a huge firecracker right next to the dogs at handling class one day and since then Apache startles at sudden noises.

Almost three months passed before I entered him in another show. This one was inside too, something we had never done. I held him out the first day because the noise really had him jumpy, so we just sat there all day getting him used to it. The second day I decided we were going in. I was the only class dog entered, so there would be no points..but that was fine...I needed to see if he would stand still for the judge. I was more nervous then I'd ever been and it will be a show I always remember for the simple fact that he was REALLY good on the table.

Every once in a while he would still get a little fussy, either getting up onto or while on the table.....but would settle down quickly and let the judges go over him.

Anyways, it took a while, but I finished him.:D So, hang in there!

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