My rescue dog is getting aggressive

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cmcgee21
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My rescue dog is getting aggressive

Post by cmcgee21 » Sun Sep 15, 2013 1:37 pm

Hi all!
This is my first post on here and my first dog of my own... I rescued my 2 yr old little mutt from a kill shelter about 2 months ago. When I first got him he had Kennel Cough so his behavior was very calm and docile but as he got better his personality has drastically changed. The shelter told me he had some food guarding issues but other than that he was fine with people and other dogs. He is completely unsocialized his previous owners kept him locked away his whole life, the first time he left the house was when they dropped him at the shelter on a T-shirt lead- he didn't even own a leash! He was a little agitated/aggressive in the beginning so I immediately got him neutered and assumed his hormones would calm down and he'd be more receptive to people after that. I knew he'd be a fixer-upper and that it'd be worth it to save a life seeing as he hasn't had one thus far, but I feel like I'm in over my head.

He now lunges and barks at every single dog that walks down the street. He chases dogs around the dog park and corners them with non-stop growling and barking. The biggest problem is he HATES one of my roommates to the point where we have to call around the corner and keep him separated at all times or he will bite. He's already bitten 2 people from behind when all they did was walk past or get up from the couch. Its getting vicious and we had a trainer who came and said to just throw treats at him whenever my roommate is around but I feel like its getting worse? Is there more that I can do? WE ARE A HOUSE DIVIDED AND ITS HORRIBLE.

emmabeth
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Re: My rescue dog is getting aggressive

Post by emmabeth » Mon Sep 16, 2013 2:01 pm

Oh dear...

Ok, first I'll go over what's really gone on in the past (most likely) so you can get a handle on WHY the behaviour now exists.

Totally unsocialised, this dog doesn't know how to cope with most things in life, so he is scared of them. The aggression/agitation initially was a symptom of that and you rightly identify, having kennel cough made him a little quieter (because who feels like shouting about somethign when they are ill!).

Unfortunately, neutering him will have caused a sudden drop in testosterone and one of the thigns testosterone does is give confidence, that sudden drop will create fear and anxiety - which your dog already had a lot of anyway.

So instead of making him more receptive to people/other dogs etc, its likely contributed to making him worse.

IF it is true that this trainer JUST told you to throw treats around whenever your dog sees your housemate, then thats pretty dreadful, there is FAR more needs doing than just that, although that will likely be a part of the process.

So, now you understand the most likely motivation behind this aggressive behaviour, is fear - you have to remove the fear.

You can't TELL him its ok, he knows differently (just as you can't just tell someone spiders are fine if they are phobic about spiders!), nor can you force him to endure situations close up to people or anything else he is scared of, in the hope he will realise it wasn't actually that bad - for him, it IS that bad even if nothing you perceive as 'bad' happens! His reaction and the subsequent reactions by the people around him (ie, he lunges at someone and is told off or jerked back on his leash, or he bites someone and they yell at him... these reinforce his concept that these situations are SCARY!)

So you have to manage the situations so they are NOT scary.

On walks this means you limit the duration of the walk, pick a quiet location or a quiet time of day, you take REALLY high value rewards out with you and you avoid him coming so close to whatever it is he is scared of, so that he does NOT react. Avoiding him feeling he has to react is a MASSIVE part of this training, because each time he does it, he furthers his own belief that he has to.

So your first step is practicing this avoidance. Even if it means asking people not to approach, turning around an drunning away, crossing the street, hiding behind hedges or parked cars. Avoid avoid avoid.

This is probably going to take you a few weeks to get the hang of - if you CAN, try to reward him heavily every time he sees something and does not react, but your first priority is avoidance - don't risk something getting too close whilst you fiddle about with some pieces of cheese, avoid first, reward after.

Its really important to think about stress - stress doesn't just vanish after a scary thing has gone away, as we all know from our own personal experiences, something that happened on Monday morning can still be causing us stress that evening, sometimes it can carry on causing us stress until Tueday or Wednesday, or even longer. Stress takes time to dissipate, and it often takes relaxation and concentrating on other, nicer things as well (hot bath with some nice bubbles, slice of cake, curl up wtih icecream and a good film!).

For dogs this is no different, so if you have a bad experience on day 1, make things easier for the rest of the day. If you have a GOOD experience, still consider that it may have been quite stressful, and dial things back a little for the next day or so. Go at the dogs pace, don't feel pressured into fixing everything on day 1 or trying to rush things.

At home - you are going to have to come up with a management system that allows your dog space from the housemate he currently fears (he doesn't hate by the way, he is TERRIFIED).

Just as with the walks, you need to avoid the reactions happening in the first place, I would try to discuss with all housemates how this can be done most easily, it may need you to teach the dog to be crated and use a crate covered over with a blanket in a far corner of a room as a 'safe zone' (where NICE things happen!), or use of a long line and a time table for use of communal rooms.

Associating this particular person with high value food is a good idea but it must be done with the dog UNDER threshold (that is, with the scary person outside of your dogs 'safety bubble' where he feels like he doesn't have to react). Advise this housemate to avoid walking toward the dog, making eye contact, speaking to the dog etc, and if YOU or someone else the dog actively likes can throw food to the dog and also past the dog so the dog has to move back, away from this person to get to the food, that will be good.

If people use food to lure the dog closer, or if this person uses food to bribe the dog closer, that will almost certainly make the problem worse!
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

hollyhal
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Re: My rescue dog is getting aggressive

Post by hollyhal » Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:52 pm

Emmabeth, thank you so much for taking the time to respond to this poster in such detail! As someone who adopted a rescue dog over two years ago, and then having gone through 5 trainers to deal with Chico's increasing fear aggression (mostly toward other dogs, but becoming more and more toward people), I can say YES!!! I so hope the original letter writer will take your words to heart, and be sure to work with a good, positive reinforcement trainer! I was just going by what people told me, because I didn't know better. I think we were making progress for a while, but a little over a year ago, I got talked into taking him to a popular "boot camp"-type of training place (they used prong collars and "corrections"). When he came home after a week there, he seemed happy and fine, but then his reactivity to other dogs got worse, and he started to bark and lunge at people walking by, and even at neighbor kids who he already knew and liked earlier! Very scary. Now we are working with the veterinary behavior clinic at Purdue University, and we are slooowwwly working on things, through desensitization and counter-conditioning. They tell me over and over again the importance of avoiding the things that stresses Chico out; the boot camp place used to tell me, "You pop him and drag him toward that dog across the street! Don't avoid the problem!" Oh, I feel so bad about those days. (In my defense, it didn't feel right, so I gave that up after a few days. Still, the damage was done.) Anyway, thank you. Even with all the support I'm getting from Purdue, your post really helps me visualize the stress Chico must feel, and the importance of helping him feel safe.

emmabeth
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Re: My rescue dog is getting aggressive

Post by emmabeth » Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:50 pm

I swear, as a species, human beings are such total ASSHATS! really!

We seem to have this idea that a lesson isn't worth learning or isn't learned properly unless it is learned the HARDEST way possible. That any achievement is not worth acknowledging unless it was done the HARDEST way possible.

We are raised or taught from an early age in many cases that being praised for tiny increments of progress, having things set up so the odds are stacked for success etc is 'cheating' or 'not valuable' despite the incontrovertible evidence that actually, setting up for success and avoiding stress and confrontation and avoiding failure, and marking and rewarding positives WORKS, and works effectively without the harmful fall out of other methods.

It does truly baffle me, we grasp this concept on the whole with children now, we don't send children straight from nursery to university and then punish them for every mistake they make and expect them to come out iwth a decent degree.

But when it comes to teaching other species and even teaching adult people, we seem to forget that!

Hollyhal - don't beat yourself up for the mistakes you made in the past, as I like to say, if you 'own' them, and you learn from them, they help you in the future. And huge kudos for being able to walk away from a set up like that boot camp place, that takes some doing, good for you!
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

cmcgee21
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Re: My rescue dog is getting aggressive

Post by cmcgee21 » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:58 pm

Emmabeth and Hollyhal-

Thank you SO much for your advice and personal experiences in the training process! Emmabeth you really broke down for me how he's feeling so perfectly I appreciate it. I thought I had a good understanding of positive reinforcement, but I'm scared I'm making it worse now having my roommate peer his head over the gate and through him treats all the time? And trying to distract him from the window when he barks and growls at dogs walking outside? I hope I haven't done MORE damage. See, when I'm not home I keep B in my room which I suppose has become his "safe zone" (I'm still trying to get him to stay in the crate once I walk away and not panic)... But the bathroom is next to my room and he freaks out anytime my roommate even walks by. Even his voice from another room sometimes sets him off, so avoidance seems near impossible and having him ignore the dog doesn't work because he barks even when my roommate isn't looking at him or in the same room.

What I gather is that I should only reward him when he's passive, and can absolutely do that on walks, but I have never seen him passive around my roommate unless he's completely distracted. Sometimes he's better if my roommate comes for walks with us since its more neutral outside.

We're going on a trip to a cabin in the woods with a few other friends in 2 weeks and the main reason I'm going is to show Bodhi more of the world so he can start to cope, which I thought would be great for him- but is that a bad idea?

james79
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Re: My rescue dog is getting aggressive

Post by james79 » Tue Sep 17, 2013 7:56 am

Emmabeth's advise is great, I also second the suggestion to find a good positive reinforcement behaviorist. I don't have anything to add but I will tell you my story to give you some hope!

We got Murphy a year ago July. At first he was great but as he got more comfortable with us he also got more fearful of everything else. Last winter was awful, walks were stressful and we had a lot of tearful nights. He would bark/jump/lunge at people & dogs. When my husband took him out at night before bed I would sit nervously waiting for them to get back & hoping there weren't any incidents. At the worst he nipped a jogger & the garbage man (both our fault, he was on the leash and we didn't see them). We have a vacation house with a live in tenant that we visit most weekends in the summer. He hated our tenant and nipped him in the bum one night. I came to this site and realized that Murphy was constantly stressed. Between the advise I read on here and starting working with a behaviorist in February and have made a ton of progress. She helped us on walks to not push Murphy past his threshold. She also helped us get him to be calm when guests come over. Murphy & the tenant are now buddies (although he now follows him around whining for treats). We can walk past crowds of people on the street & Murphy doesn't react. If we do see someone he's not sure of he looks to us for reassurance & a treat.

I just wanted to give you encouragement that with time & patience things can get much better. We stumbled along the way but now we have a much happier dog. I was just commenting to my husband last night that now Murphy wags his tail almost constantly, before I just thought he wasn't a tail wagger. Good luck!

Kenisya
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Re: My rescue dog is getting aggressive

Post by Kenisya » Thu Sep 19, 2013 11:06 pm

I retract my previous statement I misinterpreted the OP, listen to the other advice instead. :D
Last edited by Kenisya on Sun Nov 17, 2013 9:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.

emmabeth
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Re: My rescue dog is getting aggressive

Post by emmabeth » Fri Sep 20, 2013 9:25 am

Ooohhh... woah people!

With a scared dog like the OP's, we are NOT doing operant conditioning - ie, we are NOT asking for, or waiting for, 'good' behaviour and then rewarding it - that is too hard and as the OP is finding, unachievable because the dog is not capable of offering 'good' behaviour (I put 'good' in inverted comma's because actually the behaviour being displayed is not 'bad'... its unwanted, but otherwise it just is)

What we need to do is classical conditioning, pairing a stimulus (the trigger for the fearful behaviour) with a reward (food, toy, praise, whatever your dog likes best).

Massive massive thing here hence the bold and italics:

You cannot reinforce fear/anxiety with positive reward, ie, food, praise, toys. Fear is an emotional reaction, it is NOT a conscious, thought out, action.

So, you have a fearful dog, and he displays that fear by barking at the trigger. The fear is not a conscious action, the barking is a symptom OF the fear.

If you were to try to tackle this by operant conditioning what you are actually asking your dog to do is suppress his fearful reaction and comply with you - IF he can do that, you still actually haven't fixed the fear. In some cases that may be necessary but not in this one, because even if you succeed, you are only going to achieve this by being present every time that trigger is there - fine if its 'tolerate being on the vets table with me for 2 minutes once a year' but not fine if what you actually want is 'actively LIKE this person you live with regardless of whether I am here or not'.

So in the OP's case we need to fix the fear, and when we do, the symptom of the fear (barking, lunging, growling etc) will go away.

So we use classical conditioning, we pair the sound, sight, presence of the stimulus, in this case the housemate, with high value reward.

To be successful really we need to find out the dogs threshold, ie the distance at which he can at the very least, take and eat a treat (for most dogs this will mean they are under threshold, SOME will take the treat when they are slightly over but this is more likely to be seen as the dog mumbling a treat round in its mouth and dropping it, or taking it and immediately dropping it).

As long as the dog IS taking the treat and actually recognising that it is a reward (and if it is tasty enough then its most likely he is) it actually doesn't matter what he did before or after eating that treat (ie, he barked or growled).

Obviously you must avoid the dog being over threshold, particularly to the point where the dog might actually go and bite the person, because no useful learning is happening there, but rewarding the dog for seeing and hearing at a distance is NOT going to reward the behaviour.

From time to time it is possible some dogs accidentally get reinforced for barking or growling, but barking and growling can both occur WITHOUT fear, so lets say the worst case scenario is, your dog is no longer fearful BUT he thinks his job is to bark at someone - that is very easily fixed! Compare that to a dog who is suppressing his desire to bark and growl through fear and so he LOOKS quiet but actually underneath he is still scared - it can still be fixed but you can see its a helluva lot more dangerous!

So for the OP - reward every sound the housemate (and anyone else in the house come to that) makes. Close your bedroom door and ask that no one comes in or knocks for now, so your room really IS a safe zone.

Discuss with them all the possibility of covering the front window with frosted window film - it IS removeable so your landlord shouldn't have a problem and it will cut out the view so your dog cannot bark at stuff going by. Doing this will reduce stress levels massively and is well worth the initial cost, (seriously I am horribly poor and I'd say putting frosted window film up on our front window was a better use of th emoney than food or gas, its THAT good!).

For the time being only come out of your room with your dog when you have something really high value and good for him to do - boring for you, for now, but worth it in the long run. So come out when dog has had a walk and bring a couple of kongs stuffed wtih REALLY good stuff, use a leash and harness and go sit in the far corner of your living room, as far away as possible from where people will walk/enter/exit the room. Take really high value treats and reward your dog whenever any noise happens, anyone enters the room etc.

If the particular housemate your dog doesn't like comes in, you reward your dog - as long as he is takign reward, thats cool. If at ay point you think its enough OR he is no longer aware of the rewards or interested in them, then leave and go back to your room for a bit. Try again later or the next day (but don't quit rewarding for hearing sounds of people moving around, using the bathroom etc).
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jacksdad
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Re: My rescue dog is getting aggressive

Post by jacksdad » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:26 pm

this is why I have began "preaching" that helping fearful dogs is it's own specialty. just like teaching agility or herding or schutzhund each is it's own specialty. Micheal Ellis last time I checked is NOT a specialist in fearful dogs. and unless that changed very recently, I would not base helping a fearful dog on his videos. let me say it again... helping fearful dogs (this includes dogs to act aggressively due to fear) is it's own specialty.

I am at a point I truly, truly believe the NUMBER ONE THING you HAVE to know when getting involved with helping fearful dogs (from an advice giver perspective) is the difference between classical conditioning and operant conditioning, and that fear CANNOT BE REINFORCED. And I mean really get and understand these things. Because helping fearful dogs will sometimes mean giving them food despite them behaving in a way we do not want. the reason, classical condition isn't about behavior. it is about linking two things, bell = food is coming. or changing an emotional association from negative to positive. for example, changing the emotional response when seeing a dog from SCARY to "OH...dogs cause good things to happen".

Just the other night I ran into some people i knew, but my dog didn't. being fearful of unknown people, he barked at them...I gave him food....one of the people commented surprised..."he gets treats for barking"? my response "YEP...he does." of course barking was also a sign we were playing real loose with this threshold, which with people is less about distance and more about their actions towards him. do they talk to him, lean towards him, try touch him etc. Taking this approach has made some HUGE changes in my dog. his barking is less intense if he even barks at all. He is letting perfect strangers get close, and sometimes even pet him. he has widened his circle of people he will seek out attention from and he even now "trades". meaning he will go up to the other person for attention, when their dog comes to me and is ok with this. all because I learned to use classical condition. Which to someone who doesn't know how to, looks like I was rewarding him for barking, growling, ignoring, sniffing the grass, hiding behind me to list just a few things he might be doing while I gave him "treats".

The reason this worked is because I was linking the presents of people with yummy food. people caused good things to happen. because the "environment" (aka people) caused the food to happen verse something he was doing. As such, I was not rewarding or reinforcing a particular behavior such as barking, lunging, growling, sniffing the grass, hiding behind me etc, etc.

There is actually science guiding how to do this. it's not simply just tossing treats at the dog and hoping things get better.

Classical Conditioning is an VERY powerful tool that is still very misunderstood and thus NOT as widely used as it could be in the dog training world. And when it comes to fearful dogs, a SUPER easy tool to teach dog owners (as they don't need to know all the details behind the scenes) and MUCH more effective than trying to get "perfect" behavior while the dog is anxious/stressed/worried or otherwise reacting to their fear trigger.

anyone who wants a good intro into the how and why of Classical Conditioning these two DVDs are probably your best option.

http://www.tawzerdog.com/cujo-meets-pavlov-10729.html
http://www.tawzerdog.com/does-the-name- ... 10621.html

The speaker is one of a handful of certified animal behaviorists in the US.

Lastly, so there is no confusion...yes, you do eventually phase in alternate behaviors (aka...start playing the operant world) because as powerful as classical conditioning is...by it's self it isn't a 100% solution. it is often just the starting point. An yes, for further clarification I am aware that the line between classical and operant often gets fuzzy and darn slim. But those are topics for another time and thread.

The point I want to echo is....Classical Conditioning properly applied is VERY powerful and VERY useful and often the right place to start and it is VERY effective in changing an emotional association that leads to a fearful or aggressive (driven by fear) behavior. But the rules of applying it are different than the rules of the Operant world.

gwd
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Re: My rescue dog is getting aggressive

Post by gwd » Fri Sep 20, 2013 1:26 pm

jacksdad wrote:

I am at a point I truly, truly believe the NUMBER ONE THING you HAVE to know when getting involved with helping fearful dogs (from an advice giver perspective) is the difference between classical conditioning and operant conditioning, and that fear CANNOT BE REINFORCED. And I mean really get and understand these things. Because helping fearful dogs will sometimes mean giving them food despite them behaving in a way we do not want. the reason, classical condition isn't about behavior. it is about linking two things, bell = food is coming. or changing an emotional association from negative to positive. for example, changing the emotional response when seeing a dog from SCARY to "OH...dogs cause good things to happen".
both you and emmabeth have made this same (bolded) point. but if you'll allow me, please let me restate it a different way. your sentence's are absolutely correct in the way they are written but I can see where the wording would perhaps lead someone to think you were saying the opposite of what you intend.

when jacksdad and emma say 'fear cannot be reinforced' they are NOT saying that we as trainers should withhold praise or treats when a dog is fearful. the words can't and 'shouldn't sometimes get used interchangeably and i'm worried that the op or other readers might confuse your wording and take this as a warning that you should not comfort/treat a fearful dog.......

what they are saying is that the treat isn't something that is going to reinforce the feeling of fear......or said another way, the delivery of the treat doesn't make the dog more likely to be fearful in the future because they were rewarded.

I know jacksdad and emmabeth know exactly what they mean (and they're right of course) but I could see where you might take their wording as a warning to not give a treat to a fearful dog.
Last edited by gwd on Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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DianeLDL
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Re: My rescue dog is getting aggressive

Post by DianeLDL » Fri Sep 20, 2013 1:32 pm

Emmabeth, Jacksdad, and gwd,

Thank you so much for helping to differentiate between Classical Conditioning and Operant Conditioning. I have been so confused myself. :D

My dog, Sandy is fear-based aggressive. I have been taking him for walks where he has run across a few unleashed dogs and the neighbor's cat who runs around the neighborhood. And, we just returned from a three-night stay at a motel where the third night we ran into two other dogs. He also reacts to some people as well as those on bicycles. And now, we are preparing our next trip driving back to Albuquerque and then San Francisco.

So, you explanations couldn't have come at better time for us.

Up until now, I have been very confused as to when to click and treat Sandy. Usually, when he sees or hears a dog,for example, he reacts immediately, pulling on the leash and sometimes seems to be going after the other dog and other times, he seems to be trying to get away. :shock:

So, I have been removing me as far from the other dog as possible, reversing direction and getting him to walk away using the command "Let's go" and turning my body and walking the opposite way. Often, he will be walking backwards or sidewards still trying to look to see if the dog is following. Once we have gone a short distance and he seems calmer, I click and give him cooked chicken (his favorite treat). During his reacting, he won't take anything or even listen so I get him to a safer distance before I can get him to hear the clicker and take a treat. :roll:

The other evening at the motel, after I saw the other dog had gone into his room, we returned to the area. Sandy was still looking around, but seemed to relate when I told him the dog went "night night" which is what he knows means going to bed. I clicked and treated again.

Actually, we had seen the dog before we left our room, so we stayed inside a few extra minutes at which time, I knew I had to get my clicker and treat pouch. It seemed to calm Sandy just seeing me put on the treat pouch and clicker. At that point, he was ready to go outside. It was as if he knew that I was prepared to give him his yummy treats even knowing another dog was outside.

Earlier that day, we had taken a sightseeing ride to Old Orchard Beach, a big tourist draw in Maine, but being off season, we felt it would be less stressful than going into the city of Portland. We were wrong. The only park and public green space where as soon as I got Sandy out of the car, I realized was a big mistake as dogs were coming in every direction. So, i just ran back to the car with Sandy and out him in, and we got out of there ASAP. At least he had been able to relieve himself an hour earlier, so we knew he could wait a bit longer. We just wanted to give him a chance wt having a BM, but he was able to wait.

I noticed that with Classical conditioning he is to get yummy treats when he reacts, but most of the time, he reacts so quickly and is too focused on the other dog, etc. to even take a treat at least until we get a good distance away.

So, my questions: Am I doing Classical Conditioning in these instances? Am I following it correctly? :?:

Thanks,
Diane
Sandy, Chihuahua mix b. 12/20/09

emmabeth
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Re: My rescue dog is getting aggressive

Post by emmabeth » Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:22 pm

GWD - THANKYOU i had not even thought about that, you are correct, I mean 'you can't reinforce fear' in the same way as 'you can't become invisible' or 'you can't walk on water', I just hadn't thought people might interpret that incorrectly!

Diane - I think you are doing classical conditioning but are still a little confused.

You are not rewarding the reaction, ideally, the reaction won't happen. You are pairing the sight (or sound) of the trigger with the reward, what the DOG does is largely irrelevant as long as he is sufficiently under threshold to take and enjoy the reward

Right now you are still at the stage where you are practicing avoidance and so some of your rewards (btw, I wouldn't bother with the clicker for this) are happening after the trigger is gone, so in a totally purist sense no thats probably not strictly classical conditioning, HOWEVER I want a dog to associate being taken away from a scary thing, with a good thing and so I would reward once we had got a safe distance from the trigger (though as I say I wouldn't click it, just praise and food reward).

Whilst you can use a marker like the clicker to 'mark' triggers and reward them, personally I wouldn't - keep the clicker for operant conditioning alone, keeps it much simpler. If you do come to a poitn where you need to mark things you can use your voice in any number of ways (for example, Look at That, Watch Me or even naming triggers, so you could eventually say 'DOG' and your dog has to look at the dog then look at you for the reward, but thats a long way off just yet!).
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

jacksdad
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Re: My rescue dog is getting aggressive

Post by jacksdad » Fri Sep 20, 2013 3:21 pm

DOH! GWD...you are right.... sorry should have been more clear.

when humans experience fear, our close friends, family etc will do something to comfort and help reduce the fear. They may give a hug. or take you away from the fearful situation. might give you a stiff drink of your preferred adult beverage. does that reinforce the feeling of fear or reduce it? A hug, or distance or adult beverage all changes how we feel, they make us less afraid. so clearly doing something to help an individual experiencing fear does not reinforce it.

how about another example. someone is breaking into you house middle of the night...when you call the police do they say, sorry can't come rescue you as that will reinforce the fear, or does they say "on the way" and/ or the sound of the approaching police sirens help you feel better, and causes a reduction in the fear because you know someone is going to take care of scary for you?

This basic concept applies to dogs as well.

This is why, when applied even just mostly right classical condition reduces fear and does not "reinforce it". This happens because we are doing something that reduces the fear by "reprogramming" the emotional state, association with something that was causing fear/anxiety/stress.

DianeLDL
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Re: My rescue dog is getting aggressive

Post by DianeLDL » Sat Sep 21, 2013 5:12 pm

emmabeth wrote: Diane - I think you are doing classical conditioning but are still a little confused.

You are not rewarding the reaction, ideally, the reaction won't happen. You are pairing the sight (or sound) of the trigger with the reward, what the DOG does is largely irrelevant as long as he is sufficiently under threshold to take and enjoy the reward
Emmabeth and Jacksdad,

I might have done classical condtioning today during our walk. Let me kniw if this is what you borh meant. :?:

By the way, this was a day that he hadn't eaten any of his usual treats and thought his tummy might be having problems. (Discussed under the General Chat in thread of what your dogs are doing today.) 8)

And at the beginning of the walk when he did a "leave it" and clicked, he didn't even look for his chicken treat. So, I wasn't sure how it would go. But as you can see here, it got much better once our walk got underway. :D

We were on our walk and were in front of a house where we could see and hear a dog barking in the window. Got Sandy's attention, and before he could react, I started giving him his favorite cooked chicken as his yummy treat. I said "dog in house". He didn't react as usual like a crazy dog, ate the chicken, and we continued to walk down the street although at a faster pace than earlier. I let him have the whole leash and set the pace. (A miracle!) :D

Next, we passed a house where there was a toddler riding her triclycle in her driveway. Sandy saw her, but I got his attention said "girl" and gave him chicken. And, he was just happy to get the command to cross the street (he had been waiting to make sure all was clear. (i did click and treat for the wait that has been part of his training.)

Then, we were walking on the sidewalk of a busy road towards our street, when across the road, there was a woman walking in our direction. It was a busy two lane road between us, i could tell that Sandy was tensing up, but hadn't reacted as he could have, and I said "lady" and treated him with chicken. :D

I only used the clicker when he did a wait for me at a curb before crossing the not busy street and gave him chicken. And also used it when he was good at staying close to me on the sidewalkas we had to wqlk by the busy road to get away from and to our own street (great loose lead walking). As soon as we got to our street, I clicked and treated. I do it every time so he now stops and waits for the clicker and treat and praise. :D

So, I believe that these examples just from today's walk show I may be "getting it"? Any feedback is welcomed. :D

Thanks for all your help. :D
Diane
PS-Sandy ate his whole kibble lunch and seems to be fine this afternoon. Maybe after spending three days traveling and staying in motel, he really needed the walk. God knows that I really needed it too.
Sandy, Chihuahua mix b. 12/20/09

gwd
Posts: 1958
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:33 pm

Re: My rescue dog is getting aggressive

Post by gwd » Sat Sep 21, 2013 5:38 pm

DianeLDL wrote:Any feedback is welcomed. :D
my only suggestion would be a bit less worried about labeling things, "dog in house, girl, lady", classical conditioning would be simply to have been aware that there was something that would set sandy off.........click, treat and retreat.......or, if you felt that he was well under threshold, click, treat, walk fast by the scary thing. think Pavlov's dog. ........bell, food, drool......bell, food, drool.......bell, drool. .....all with no talking!

I think you tend to be very verbal and it's really not needed at this point. even if you were move on to LAT you don't need to have different words for each 'scary' thing. this isn't doggie rosetta stone and you're not actually trying to teach him English!

we all talk to our dogs.........and i'm as likely as the next person to carry on a (one sided) conversation with my gang.........but think about it diane, I can run an entire 17 obstacle agility course with turns and intricate patterns and I only say a few select words to the dog (a few being I've named the weave poles and tell him 'easy' on the teeter so he knows he's not on the dogwalk).........
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