Looking for help with Kenji

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jenlloyd
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Looking for help with Kenji

Post by jenlloyd » Thu Feb 24, 2011 7:54 am

Hi all

I have been a fan of Victoria's for many years and been reading this forum for little while now. I recently tried to find a trainer who could help me with a couple of issues with our 9 month old Shiba Inu Kenji - without much success, so I'm posting here to see if I can get some advice...

Kenji for the most part is a well-behaved dog, but he has 2 issues that I really think need addressing, for both his well being and mine! I think they might be related, as he is generally a shy dog who will not allow strangers to approach him (he just backs away or hides behind me). I've read that this can be a trait of the breed, and also Kenji's breeder mentioned to me that when he was very young, he was attached to her other Shiba Lilith (not his mom) and she behaves very similarly.

The first problem we have is barking. Our neighbours are quite noisy and the slightest bang or noise sets him off. I can even knock something myself and he will start. He's not really a loud barker, but I have noticed that he does get louder if I ignore him. It takes him ages to stop.

The second one is when we have anyone come to the door, he barks like mad. I have tried distracting him with toys or treats but neither will grab his attention. If we have a guest visiting, he will bark at them and run away from them unless it is someone he knows very well. We have tried giving the guests treats to give him, but he refuses to take them, and even if he does he just drops the treat and resumes barking.

I really don't know what else to do at this point - I don't want Kenji to be a fearful dog. He has been to puppy classes and was fine there unless a stranger tried to touch him, and he would back away. He is fine with other dogs and loves to greet them, it's just people he really seems to have a problem with.

With regards to Kenji's routine, as I said he is 9 months and we have had him in our family since he was 8 weeks. I am the first to hold my hand up and say I do not walk him everyday like I should - but I have mental health problems and we live in a very rough area which makes me fearful to go out myself. We are moving to a much nicer, quieter part of the country near a huuuuge park next week, so as of then the walking shouldn't be a problem. Both myself and my partner work from home so Kenji is never left on his own for more than 1-2 hours if we go out somewhere we can't take him. When we do go out, he stays in his crate. He loves his toys and has so far never been destructive, although he does sometimes nick socks - but he never chews them, just lays with them lol.

Sorry for the long post, I really hope that someone can offer me some advice with the barking.

Thanks!

Jennifer + Kenji

dgtrainer101
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Re: Looking for help with Kenji

Post by dgtrainer101 » Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:36 pm

Sounds like he is a little fearful of people. When people come over and he is barking, have you tried removing him from the situation, and bringing him back in the moment he is quiet. And repeating until he stays quiet? The other thing, is let him approach the people. Don't have the people approach him. Also, make sure there is ample distance between the new person and your dog. If the dog is not able to take treats either one of two things, the scary stimulous, the people, are too close, or the treats are not adequate enough, or both. What kind of treats are you having people he doesn't know give him? What about a kong stuffed with peanut butter and hot dogs? The treats need to be extraordinarily good, not just everyday treats. Warm hotdogs, chicken, steak, hamburger meat.
Does your dog know go to your place or mat? If the door is scary for him, teach him to go to a certain place away from the door, a comfort zone. When the door bell rings, this will be the place he can go to. Then, to have him be around people, bring him into the room that the person is in while he is on leash. If he starts barking, remove him from the room in a calm manner. Wait until he is quiet, bring him back in. Keep repeating until he is quiet when he enters the room. Once he is quiet, have the stranger roll him a kong stuffed with something extra yummy. If the stranger gets up, or makes a sudden move, this could startle your pooch. Don't have the stranger make eye contact. Allows praise for calm behavior. Many people when their pooch is upset start stroking and telling their dog "oh it's ok, what are you worried for?" Unkowningly reinforcing that behavior. Reinforce only calm behavior. When the dog is quiet and becoming relaxed, that is when long, soft stokes should be given, provided your dog likes that.
Most importantly, be an advocate for your dog. At this point, he is not ok with being touched by strangers. He has to know that you have his back and will protect him from things that are scary. This is different than coddling. Him being touched by strangers is scary to him, so don't allow people to approach him like that. And, he may never like people to touch him, but getting him to a point where he feels comfortable with being around people is a doable goal. Everyone wants a dog that everyone can pet and hug and squeeze, but not all dogs are like that, and learning to respect a dog's comfort zone will be more helpful for your pooch to start to learn to trust humans than forcing the issue.
Now for his barking. [quote="He's not really a loud barker, but I have noticed that he does get louder if I ignore him. It takes him ages to stop. [/quote]
So, does that mean you eventually give in and pay him attention while he barks? If so, that could be why it takes him longer to stop. He's thinking, well, eventually she'll give in, she did before, so I'm going to continue barking. Dogs will do what they know works for them, and if they've learned it's taken X amount of time to get what I want in the past, they will continue that or try even harder, in your case, longer to get what they want.
I would still try and wait him out. Wait for 3 sec of silence. Put it on command "quiet" and treat. I would jackpot treat him too, letting him know that his silence will not only get him a treat, but he won the lottery. Jackpot treating is not just a fistful of treats, its give a treat, let him chew, give a treat, let him chew, give a treat let him chew. I would do 5-10 sec of jackpot treating him. This will make an impression that SILENCE IS GOLDEN. Keep doing this, and he will want to be quiet just so he gets the treats. Also, putting this on a quiet command will help him when he does get out of control with his barking.
Good luck!

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jenlloyd
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Re: Looking for help with Kenji

Post by jenlloyd » Fri Feb 25, 2011 9:02 am

Thank you so much for your reply. I will definately give the removing him from the situation a go, and increase the treat value :) - he LOVES his kong with peanut butter so I will try that. I try not to 'praise' him when he's upset, I don't usually stroke him or anything, but I do make sure that he can see me or even if he gets really upset I will place myself between him and the visitor.

I have payed him attention when he's barking at silly things, like if I knock my desk or something and he starts, just usually saying 'quiet' or 'shh' in a level voice - that makes him almost bark under his breath till he stops, a little 'wuff' - whereas if I don't say anything he gets louder, sometimes to the point of howling. So its almost like he's learned quiet means quiet barking - I need to take that a step further and do what you have described to teach him quiet means no barking at all.

I do find that people are worse to train than dogs lol - I am forever asking people not to talk to / look at Kenji when they come in because of his reaction, but I don't know whether it is because our friends are more used to dogs that greet people enthusiastically, they cave in very quick. I guess I need to be more assertive, after all it's my responsibility to make Kenji feel safe.

Now I need some guinea pig visitors :lol:

Thanks again!

runlip
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Re: Looking for help with Kenji

Post by runlip » Fri Feb 25, 2011 2:05 pm

dgtrainer101 can you please explain how to get a dog to go to a spot. My dog is also fearful of strangers in the house and I would love to train him to go to a spot and remain calm.

ladybug1802
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Re: Looking for help with Kenji

Post by ladybug1802 » Fri Feb 25, 2011 2:14 pm

Now getting Dylan to stay in a certain spot when people came over did not work at all......he would get into such a heightened state and the adrenaline would mean he could not stay there as was mroe concerned wuth the people who might be coming in.

But I have trained Dylan to see the new doorbell as his cue to go in his crate, where he stays until people are in and seated and until he has calmed down. I did this by using the doorbell wirelessly inside, pressing it myself and immediately standing by his crate and saying "crate" (a cue word he already associated with going in his crate). As soon as he went in I would click the clicker and treat him. I have only just connected the doorbell outside....I now have 2 units so I can still press it from inside as I dont want him to start to associate the doorbell with people always being at the door. I left it disconnected until I was able to press the doorbell and he would immediately go into his crate. So this same sort of method would apply to wherever you want your dog to go. You could always, for example, ask the dog to go into the kitchen when the door goes. I think it is easier with dogs that dont get so stressed when people come in though.

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Nettle
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Re: Looking for help with Kenji

Post by Nettle » Fri Feb 25, 2011 2:22 pm

The biology is that fear = stress hormones, and these can only be dissipated by physical action. Therefore a fearful dog should not be expected to go to a place, whereas an unmannerly one can be so trained.

A fearful dog is best in the first instance to be confined where it has space to move around eg another room, and given something to do eg to chew, as then it can calm down naturally. When at the stage of being able to be in the same room as a stressor, the fearful dog should be capable of being calm, and the owner needs to be aware of when/if new 'calm' is about to be overtaken by old 'fear'.
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Mattie
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Re: Looking for help with Kenji

Post by Mattie » Sat Feb 26, 2011 8:05 am

dgtrainer101 wrote:Does your dog know go to your place or mat? If the door is scary for him, teach him to go to a certain place away from the door, a comfort zone. When the door bell rings, this will be the place he can go to. Then, to have him be around people, bring him into the room that the person is in while he is on leash. If he starts barking, remove him from the room in a calm manner. Wait until he is quiet, bring him back in. Keep repeating until he is quiet when he enters the room.
I find this makes my dogs much worse, they get more and more stressed out when I keep taking them into the room where there are stranger people, when I take them out again they take a lot longer to quieten down again. The result was I was spending my time with my dogs and none with my visitors.

Ladybug has made remarkable progress with her dog, I find that way much better as well with frightened dogs, one of mine is terrified of men so I have to be very careful with her. The only time I forgot was when Em visited me, I did have an excuse, Ellie died the day before after a traumatic 4 weeks of caring for her, I had very little sleep during that time so wasn't with it.
[url=http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/PIXIE.jpg][img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/th_PIXIE.jpg[/img][/url]

dgtrainer101
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Re: Looking for help with Kenji

Post by dgtrainer101 » Sat Feb 26, 2011 7:29 pm

Sorry it took me so long to write back.
With going to your mat. You train the dog first without any new people. First you have to teach it to your dog without the door bell either. The mat or your spot is where all good things happen. If they even just look at the spot, they get clicked and treated, or a verbal good boy and treated. All treats fall on the mat, no handing the treats to the dog's mouth.
If dog continues to look and the mat or even step on the mat, a good boy and treat or click and treat (c&t)....make sure you drop the treats on the mat. As long as he is making contact with the mat keep c&t him and placing the treat on the mat. Continue for a few seconds, then telll him "release," meaning he can get off the mat, and walk him away from the mat. If he tries to pull you to the mat, that's good, we want him not wanting to part from the mat. Tell him to go to his mat, and c&t the mat, keep c&t while he's on the mat, then release him. Now, when you tell him to go to his mat, don't c&t him right away, wait him out....he will try to figure out what he needs to do to get a treat....the ultimate goal is an automatic lying down on the mat. This time if he does anything other than standing on the mat, like a sit, then c&t and drop a treat on the mat. Release him from the mat, and repeat a couple of times. Now try again, but wait him out this time. See if he will give you a down....As soon as he does, pretend you are a pez dispencer and give him several treats in a row to his mouth as soon as he lies down. Release him from the mat and tell him to go to his mat. Now that he has lied down, he should continue automatically lie down when he goes to his mat. Always c&t and give him a treat for an automatic lie down. If he gets up without you releasing him, pick up the mat and put it away for about 15 seconds or so and ignore him. He should be getting addicted to the mat at this point and removing the mat when he gets up without being released should curb him from getting up without permission.
When the dog is on his mat, it should be an automatic stay and a down. When I tell my dogs to go to their mat, I don't have to tell them to lie down or stay, they do that automatically until they are released. I use this for when I'm cleaning, bringing groceries in, or I have guests over and don't need the door being bombarded by two excited dogs.
First teach them this without distractions and with minimal distance. Then add in you walking away from them a few feet, progressively adding more and more distance to where you can be out of sight and the dogs will stay on their mat. Then start adding in distractions. Also, start your dog each time a little further away from the mat. The first time, start really close to that, saying "go to your mat." Then maybe try a few steps further away. Eventually, you and your dog should be able to be on one level of your house with his mat on another level, you telling him to go to his mat, and he flies to his mat.

It's a little confusing to explain the procedure well on this forum, it's much better when it's taught in class. But it works very nicely for people who have fearful dogs or for people who have dogs that are overly eager to greet guests at the door. Eventually once the dog gets to really doing well on the mat, the doorbell comes into the picture. Doorbell rings, dog is told go to your mat, dog goes, people come in the house, then dog can eventually greet people. It gives a fearful dog a safe place to be and an over excited dog a safe, relaxing place to be. Many clients have really enjoyed using this.

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jenlloyd
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Re: Looking for help with Kenji

Post by jenlloyd » Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:42 pm

Well we had someone knocking on the door today, so I popped Kenji on the lead and took him out to the kitchen while my other half opened the front door.

If anything, Kenji got worse. He was still barking and even started trembling as well. The visitor did not come into the house, they were just at the door. I kept Kenji in the kitchen with me for a little while after the visitor had gone to try and get him calm. When I let him back into the living room, he ran straight to the door and resumed barking.

Any ideas for this? :?

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nightsrainfall
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Re: Looking for help with Kenji

Post by nightsrainfall » Sun Feb 27, 2011 8:24 pm

I love shiba inus! I've only interacted with two, but between them they certainly have a personality. One female loved to do what I've heard called to be the "shiba scream" if you did anything she didn't like. I hope your boy isn't doing that - I felt like I was killing the dog every time I didn't follow her. It was awful because we needed to go back to the shelter but her protest was screaming bloody murder (no she wasn't injured, because she happily went the direction she wanted to - she just was trying to not going back!)

Anyway. You may want to start with clicker training, if you haven't already inside the house. This isn't something I have done, but I've heard it helps with confidence and it should help with focus from my understanding. Do training with the things he can do first. Sit, come, and anything else to build confidence. You may want to work with him and wait to try to bring people over till a while after you move (a long while) because moving itself may be stressful for him. Then I would personally start with people and outside the house. The house is a safe area, people are not safe. Outside is neutral ground, a lot more distance, and a whole lot of other things to be interested in. (Like training while a people are in the distance - far enough that he doesn't bark)

A thing you could try is taking him out of the house to the back yard, or some place he likes more than he dislikes visitors. My parent's dog is fearful of thunderstorms and refuses to go outside during them and has to be within 10 feet of a person inside, however he will go on leash out the front door in a thunderstorm willingly and enthusiastically. No other door, no other way. Why? Leash + Front door = Walk. The happiness of a walk is greater than his fear of thunderstorms. (Not joking, he'll go out the front door on leash but not he back because one means walk the other is just going out into a thunderstorm...)
- Anna

"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole."
~ Roger A. Caras

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jenlloyd
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Re: Looking for help with Kenji

Post by jenlloyd » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:41 am

nightsrainfall wrote:Then I would personally start with people and outside the house. The house is a safe area, people are not safe. Outside is neutral ground, a lot more distance, and a whole lot of other things to be interested in. (Like training while a people are in the distance - far enough that he doesn't bark)
The only issue I have with that is he doesn't bark at people when we're outside. He does shy away if they come towards him, but only if they are very close and trying to touch him. He's not bothered by people even indoors provided its not at home - we sometimes take him to ringcraft classes and the only thing that he is bothered by is if people try to pet him. He's fine sitting by strangers or having strangers walk past - provided they don't try to touch him.

The biggest barking problem is people just knocking on the door / posting things through the letterbox OR people entering the house - which he's already barking when they come in because he barked at the door knock.

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nightsrainfall
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Re: Looking for help with Kenji

Post by nightsrainfall » Mon Feb 28, 2011 10:28 am

Could you then try having him meet strangers outside of the house first - and post a sign saying please do not knock Dog-In-Training, call ______ to see if we are home and we will come out? My area is pretty 'safe' so a note like that won't do anything. I don't know about yours though. I am wondering if you can meet the people outside (one person) and walk to your house with the dog. Treat/click him for not barking as they come towards the house, and then leave it at that. Next time, do the same thing, and then slowly get to the door - have the person or dog go in first (which ever he won't respond to), treat - person leave, and repeat until they are inside...


For outside he does shy away, I'd note the distance that occurs in. I'd also work on getting him not to think he's going to be petted (by telling people to not pet or approach him), or give other people treats to put down (at a safe distance) for him to approach them by. This might help him associate people with good things. Both Shiba Inus I knew were not really people-loving/friendly, they were more aloof to those they didn't know. The one in the shelter really didn't like people to pet her - if someone tried she'd scream at them, lol.

My parent's dog considers the crate to be his safe area. You, within his sight, reach into his crate for any reason and he barks at you not happily. I kind of wonder if the house is your dog's safe area. Having unknown people in an area where to him shouldn't be people (knocking and door bell = coming people), causes insecurities or upset.

I'm not a dog trainer so I may be off. Plus every dog is different. If I am mistaken I'm sure someone here will correct me (hopefully).
- Anna

"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole."
~ Roger A. Caras

dgtrainer101
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Re: Looking for help with Kenji

Post by dgtrainer101 » Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:35 pm

So, practice going into the kitchen without any distractions first. Make him feel really comfortable in the kitchen. The kitchen is a happy place for him. Then, slowly add distractions.
Not at the same time your working in the kitchen, but, what you could do is start desensitizing him to the knocking sound of the door. Every time the door knocks, he gets treats. Start off with light tapping or a sound on the door that doesn't produce as big of a reaction. Maybe even start with someone on the other side of the door that he knows and trusts. Have the door slightly open so he can see. Let that person rap lightly on the door, not enough to get him barking. Once the noise is produce, bring out something like a treat roll or stuffed kong, let him nibble the whole time the noise is being made, then have the person stop making the noise. A few seconds after the noise, pull the kong away. Have the person start the noise again, and a few seconds, bring the kong back out. Let dog nibble on the kong for a few seconds, then have person stop, remove kong a few seconds after noise stops. Now increase the loudness slightly. Keep repeating until dog feels comfortable with full out knock with door open and he knows and trusts the person making the knocking sound. Now start all over with same person but door closed. This may take several weeks, depending on your dog and how much you practice. If your dog starts reacting, you've moved too fast in the training.
Ok, so now you have been working on desensitizing him to knocking sounds and also working on making the kitchen into a happy place, training both at separate times. The kitchen could be his "spot." Hopefully you have been naming this place as "go to your spot," or "go to kitchen." And the kitchen is a happy place now.
If he is now not getting upset with the knocking sound, now try combining knocking with go to your spot. So, door is being knocked tell him go to the kitchen, give him a kong while he's in the kitchen, make sure he is on leash. Have the person be someone he trusts that's doing the knocking, let the person in. If he breaks out of the kitchen, grab his leash, and gently put him back to his spot. Keep placing him back to his spot until he is released by you. Once he can do this exercise with people he knows and several different people that he knows, then try adding someone he doesn't know so well. He gets removed from the situation if he starts barking. Make sure people he doesn't know so well have good treats so they can toss it to him when he is quiet. Have strangers not give direct eye contact, it may make him more nervous. Always let dog approach person, not other way around. If stranger is going to be staying for a bit, have him give the dog a bully stick or something the dog can chew on to keep dog occupied while the stranger is still there. Good treats, are left over chicken/turkey w/out bone, steak, hamburger, hotdog, cheese cubes, left over pork chops.
Until you are 100% sure that he is comfortable, I would leave dog on leash just in case you need to remove dog if he gets too stressed out. For instance, dog may be comfortable with stranger if he is sitting, but what if the stranger starts moving? That might make dog nervous again.
Good luck!

ladybug1802
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Re: Looking for help with Kenji

Post by ladybug1802 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:22 am

jenlloyd wrote:Well we had someone knocking on the door today, so I popped Kenji on the lead and took him out to the kitchen while my other half opened the front door.

If anything, Kenji got worse. He was still barking and even started trembling as well. The visitor did not come into the house, they were just at the door. I kept Kenji in the kitchen with me for a little while after the visitor had gone to try and get him calm. When I let him back into the living room, he ran straight to the door and resumed barking.

Any ideas for this? :?
I can only say what i think from my experience with Dylan.....and that is that when he was put on the lead he was much, much worse. I think it may be to do with the fact that he felt restricted on the lead....after all it isnt natural for him to be on lead in the house, then when someone came over he suddenly got the lead put on. Ipersonally got more results when I gave up with that way, and just started to put him away in a safe place where he would be enclosed until he could calm down. I think with Kenji it may well be the best thing to do as well, at least for the time being.

afk
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Re: Looking for help with Kenji

Post by afk » Sun Apr 24, 2011 8:58 am

Hi, i am new here. I am a Shiba Inu owner and trainer myself. I was reading the whole thread and am wondering how Kenji is doing now? :)
"If you talk to animals, they will talk with you and you will know each other. If you do not talk to them, you will not know them, and what you do not know you will fear. What one fears, one destroys."

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