New dog reactive, clingy, anxious when alone

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JudyN
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Re: New dog reactive, clingy, anxious when alone

Post by JudyN » Mon Jul 13, 2015 2:07 am

GoodPuppy wrote:And honestly, how much of this is pure fear and how much is this dog just being bratty? Right now we are in different parts of the house and the dog is reacting to every little movement of my husband's. The reactions are very slight but still there and he's getting a few seconds of time out for each one. Have I taught him that he gets to bark a few times, then focus on me for a sit command, then gets a treat? In the chain, has it gone straight from bark to treat?
Dogs aren't 'bratty' - their behaviour can seem unfathomable to us, but to them, there's good reason. Or they have just learnt a rule 'When X happens I do Y', even though they can't reason why. (Once, I heard my cat scratching wallpaper upstairs and leapt off the sofa to stop him with such speed that my dog thought something terrible must be happening. About a week later, I heard the cat scratching again, stood up calmly, but my dog reacted and told me I needed to stay on the sofa where it was safe....)

In a way, it doesn't matter so much even if you do reward 'bad behaviour'. You might reinforce the behaviour, but you won't reinforce the anxiety which is currently leading to the behaviour. If you end up with a dog who gives a happy bark and a sit when your husband moves, that's still better in my book than a dog who is aroused and might snap. It's still not ideal, but it puts your husband's worries into perspective. It's a bit like giving me a tenner every time I go near to a huge spider. The important thing is that I get over my fear of spiders. Once that's done you can worry about how to stop me going back to the spider all the time to get another tenner :wink:

Could you persuade your husband to try it your way for a couple of weeks just to see if what the experts here are saying works?
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Ari_RR
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Re: New dog reactive, clingy, anxious when alone

Post by Ari_RR » Mon Jul 13, 2015 5:19 am

I think despite everything you may be getting close to forming a bad habit for the dog, of barking as your husband moves.

I would try this.... before dearest husband gets up, throw a treat in the dog's direction, so he gets busy looking for it. If this distracts the dog and husband can get up without him barking - throw a big party for the dog. Wouldn't worry about getting dog accustomed to getting treats all the time, you can start withdrawing them later. Wouldn't worry much about him being focused on you either. My fist goal would be to distract the dog enough so he is just too busy to bark. So, basically, dear husband becomes a giant treat dispensing machine for a while.

Then, if this works, I would start reducing treats. And if at that point the dog starts barking again - no reaction, and he will see that it's not working, and stop.

But if husband is not yet ready to just focus on prevention, and would like to have a bit of punishment-based training included - i would oblige. Every time husband forgets to throw a treat - whack him on the head with a rolled newspaper.

GoodPuppy
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Re: New dog reactive, clingy, anxious when alone

Post by GoodPuppy » Mon Jul 13, 2015 9:15 am

Oh dear! I wasn't trying to make this a husband bashing session, so please let's not turn it into that. I am quite ashamed at how I may have portrayed him. :( He is not a bad person, just one who has grown up with a certain mind set, and he's doing the best he knows how to deal with this. He gets up before I do, so he and our dog start their day alone together quite peacefully. Our dog enjoys it when my husband plays with him, and often the dog will fall asleep on him, they do have snuggle times. The guys have spent hours home alone when I have been out on errands or family visits, it's just when I am in the house that the dog displays this behaviour. Our experience with dogs has been with large working farm dogs, not with small indoor dogs, so this is all new to us both. This little one is now our only pet. I didn't know any better than he did going into this, it's just that I have had more time to do research into it, and I am a rather obsessive problem solver. We have also thought we knew what and how animals think, and now we're finding out we probably had much of it wrong all along.

I think those of you dog training experts in these situations will find that the dogs with issues are living with people who are doing the best they know how, that the people themselves aren't 'bad' at the core, just misinformed. As I find more information, I am relaying it, including the fact that these things are going to take some time. All 3 of us are a work in progress, I would say.

GoodPuppy
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Re: New dog reactive, clingy, anxious when alone

Post by GoodPuppy » Mon Jul 13, 2015 9:31 am

JudyN wrote:In a way, it doesn't matter so much even if you do reward 'bad behaviour'. You might reinforce the behaviour, but you won't reinforce the anxiety which is currently leading to the behaviour. If you end up with a dog who gives a happy bark and a sit when your husband moves, that's still better in my book than a dog who is aroused and might snap. It's still not ideal, but it puts your husband's worries into perspective. It's a bit like giving me a tenner every time I go near to a huge spider. The important thing is that I get over my fear of spiders. Once that's done you can worry about how to stop me going back to the spider all the time to get another tenner :wink:

Could you persuade your husband to try it your way for a couple of weeks just to see if what the experts here are saying works?
I was thinking along those lines last night, actually. I found this article:

http://www.chicagonow.com/training-the- ... itive-fix/

And I thought, "Really? Could it be that simple?" Seeing it not as rewarding the barking but as in allaying the anxiety that leads to the barking?

GoodPuppy
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Re: New dog reactive, clingy, anxious when alone

Post by GoodPuppy » Mon Jul 13, 2015 11:57 am

Have any of you found musical therapy to be of help?

I have a youtube video playing right now as I sit here in the office.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKU6PyRDZ14

ckranz
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Re: New dog reactive, clingy, anxious when alone

Post by ckranz » Mon Jul 13, 2015 6:53 pm

Interestingly enough I have to say yes on this. My previous therapy dog Chloe would have some anxiety issues with our neighbors screaming children...they would scream for hours at a time. and she would pace and whine and bark incessantly. We found by putting on music...and, I kid you not, Bob Marley, would have her calm and relaxed in a very short period of time. We began calling her musical interludes her 420 break.

Since loosing her last Feb, I still have not been able to listen to and Bob Marley without crying. Her favorite songs seemed to be : "Jamming" and "Is This Love". Sometimes I would even hum " Buffalo Soldier" to her. It still very hard to realize she's gone now. She was one amazing dog....but yes music therapy worked tremendously with her.

jacksdad
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Re: New dog reactive, clingy, anxious when alone

Post by jacksdad » Mon Jul 13, 2015 8:32 pm

For what it is worth and just in case your husband needs to hear it from another guy...who also happens to be a trainer specializing in fear issue.....
GoodPuppy wrote: My husband perceives that I am rewarding the dog for reacting.
If you are applying classical conditioning rules (often called counter conditioning if you are trying to change the association) correctly you are NOT rewarding the dog for reacting. that isn't how the this works.

For example... the yard where class is held is in a fenced yard. on one side the fences had plastic hung on them to visually block the comings and goings on that side. think plastic plywood. it's not well anchored so the bottoms "fly up" when the wind blows. one pup reacted very fearfully. I simply put my self between the pup and the fence and chicken start "flowing" to this pup no matter how the pup behaved...plastic moved, chicken happen. plastic stopped moving, chicken stopped happening. for the last 10 min that pup wanted to hang with me, near the fence. nothing the dog did caused the chicken to happen...only the moving plastic did that. And the pup stopped reacting fearfully. That is classical conditioning in action.

My own dog who is both afraid of other dogs and people, even IF he is barking a a person, I still given him the chicken....BUT if he is barking we are also moving for distance. for classical conditioning (counter conditioning if you are changing an association) to work there has to be consistency...scary makes chicken/steak/hot dog etc happen. it is the only way to change the underlying emotion. lots of people are uncomfortable talking about emotion in animals, they exist and based on sound evidence we can have a fairly good idea what emotion is in play, particularly fear and happy. we can't know what a dog is thinking, how they are perceiving the world, their emotion etc...but we can make very, very educated guesses that they are experiencing fear, anxiety, happiness and a few others. the reason we can is emotions have physical components that are observable and measurable such as heart rate, various hormones and other chemicals in the body etc.

So what has that to do with Classical Conditioning...it works on the emotional state/association with X. if your dog is scared of people you can make people predict steak/hot dog etc something the dog Loves. what this does is make the sight, sound, smell, and how close a human gets all predictors of something good that makes your dog feel good. NOW...just because your dog now gets happy seeing humans does not mean your dog is ready to be petted and "loved" on by random people. that may never happen, but it is also possible to happen...but it is "step 100" and it's own training plan.

before this turns in to a novel, I will stop here. But again, done right classical conditioning will NOT reward the behavior....provided the behavior IS due to fear/anxiety.

the simplest I can make this is...scary happens THEN food happen with in 1 to 2 seconds.
GoodPuppy wrote:Oh dear! I wasn't trying to make this a husband bashing session, so please let's not turn it into that. I am quite ashamed at how I may have portrayed him. :( He is not a bad person, just one who has grown up with a certain mind set, and he's doing the best he knows how to deal with this.
do not worry...we get it. the trying to get on same page with a spouse over dog issue is difficult sometimes and VERY, VERY common. we absolution get he is a good person. just struggling with new ideas.
GoodPuppy wrote:And honestly, how much of this is pure fear and how much is this dog just being bratty?
if fear vs bratty is the only choice...that makes this simple....fear the answer. dogs do not do "bratty" just to push your buttons.

so back to and your husband and your dog....

it is critical you are on the same page as best you can be. mixing positive training one min with punishment (yelling no, timeouts etc) can actually make things worse. in general terms before you can break out the punishment, your dog MUST know what is expected. and what is expected MUST be very, very well trained in as many situations as you expect to need the training to work BEFORE you break out the punishment.

mixing/matching, trying to be "balanced" etc. has been proven to actual cause MORE stress in a dog, NOT less. food for thought.

if your dog is reacting to your husband, but only when you are there.... you have most likely have a resource guarding issue. your dog has only been with you a few weeks, you most likely do by far the bulk of the work to care for your new dog (do not read anything into this assumption in terms of me having an opinion of your husband, not where I am going with this), spending the most time etc. while things are still new with your pup and you and your husband...your dog most likely sees you as a valuable resource...food, walks, water, pets, playing all come mostly from you. am I right?

if so you would need to start making it so your dog associates all the good things with he does with you, with your husband. not difficult, but will take patience. for example (just making this up to help illustrate) you and your dog sitting on the couch is find until your husband wants to join. what to do?

you and your dog sit on the couch...have your husband walk into the door way for the room...soon as your dog looks at him...steak happens for 5 seconds...at which point your husband walks out of sight...steak stops. sometime in the next 10 seconds husband walks back into sight....steak happens until he disappears.

you then in small as your dog needs steps work over time, not all in one day, to the point your husband is able to sit on the couch for just a few seconds...and then build from there.

now, I am deliberately illustrating in the smallest steps possible while keeping this brief to try and get the idea across. But in the real world your dog may move much faster. you can also adopt this to any situation your dog and husband are at "odds" with each other.

Most of the time the food will need to come ONLY from you in the beginning. as things progress your husband can start providing the food. There are exceptions to this, for example it would be ok if your husband randomly tossed food to your dog but NOT expect any interaction in return. simply toss the food to your dog.

just a couple ways to use classical conditioning in a way that helps your dog. in each of these examples it is the "scary" thing that cause food to happen. not dog sitting, not dog not barking etc. scary makes steak happen.

hopefully that helps, if you have any questions do not hesitate to ask.

GoodPuppy
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Re: New dog reactive, clingy, anxious when alone

Post by GoodPuppy » Mon Jul 13, 2015 9:17 pm

@ckranz: Thank you. Interesting about Bob Marley, too. I had tried one music video for dogs with youtube, and it seemed to make him more active. Not in a bad way, he was quite happy. Today's selection, we listened to while I was in the office and the dog was relaxed anyway, so I don't know if it made a difference or not. I see albums available to buy and youtube video's to stream. I'm glad youtube is available to try before we buy. I just wondered if there was anything to it. I'm sure animals perceive sound differently than we do. So sorry about Chloe. I've got a couple of dogs in my history as well who will remain in my heart forever.

@jacksdad: Thank you! That is great information. I had our dog at my folks' house today where there were 3 ladies and 2 men, and he reacted to everyone at first. I started doling out the treats quickly and he soon was just fine with the ladies. My dad started a short of hiss/shushing thing like I've seen that dog whisperer fellow on tv do, which got my dog even more upset, and then I was told I was rewarding the dog for barking. I ignored it and kept up the goodies dispensing until the dog calmed down. It really does look, to people who don't understand, like the dog is being rewarded for misbehavior. I think what most people don't get is that the dog isn't aggressing, he is afraid. When we first got to my parents' place, the dog growled at the site of my mother and my aunt, but I simply dispensed tiny treats to the dog and reassured the ladies that he was acting out of anxiety, not aggression, and he would not hurt them. By the time my cousin arrived, he approached her and greeted her calmly and she was able to pet him. I was able to leave the dog with my mom and my aunt for about 45 minutes or so while I ran errands, they gave him a few treats while I was gone, and he was just fine with them.

My husband is using favorite toys to reduce the dog's anxiety and that suits hubby's style, it is something he can sincerely get into. The dog absolutely loves playing with him when he is not reacting fearfully to him. I don't know why the back and forth on that. Maybe it comes down to not trusting my husband just yet. I am also liberal with the treats when my husband is moving around. I was only dispensing treats before if the dog wasn't reacting, so today's approach is different for all of us.

Yeah, I think the time out thing has to stop, it isn't the solution for this.

GoodPuppy
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Re: New dog reactive, clingy, anxious when alone

Post by GoodPuppy » Mon Jul 13, 2015 11:28 pm

I want to say a big thank you to everyone who responded on this thread. Your responses were very helpful and I really needed the support. I was feeling very discouraged when I wrote my original post. You guys are awesome, thanks so much!

GoodPuppy
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Re: New dog reactive, clingy, anxious when alone

Post by GoodPuppy » Mon Jul 13, 2015 11:56 pm

As far as the dog resource guarding me, yes, I think that is or was what was going on. My husband is able to have a lot of interaction with our dog even when I am present, but there is often this time period of the dog reacting to him first and then settling down. My husband playing with a toy with him seems to kind of break up that reaction. The two of them are up in the morning before I am. Hubby takes him out in the morning for his first potty of the day. There is no reaction until I am up and about. Sometimes when we're lounging in the living room or our porch, the dog will sit on my husband or lie down and sleep on my husband. They play, the dog rolls on his back for belly rubs from my husband. If the dog is sitting or lying on me or lying on the floor in the same room and my husband moves, the dog will react. If the dog and I are in a different part of the house and the dog hears my husband move, the dog reacts. During mealtimes at the dining room table, the dog stays by my husband most of the time and reacts if my husband even starts to get up. When the dog first came to us, he spent most of his time during meals behind my chair, but now it's mostly at my husband's chair. I've never given the dog table scraps at mealtimes. My husband has a few times, but very little. This is why my husband figured the dog is expecting to be fed human food from the table and the barking is him demanding food. I am observing, however, that when my husband rises from the chair, the dog kind of starts, jumps back, barks, and runs away, looking over his shoulder and barking. The barking is quite shrill and annoying at these times. Today my husband was directing the dog's attention to a favorite toy as he got up from the chair. There was still a reaction, but it was shortened. I also had a few treats I tossed the dog's way in case the toy thing didn't work. It's an odd situation, the dog doesn't act like he's afraid all the time. But obviously he is anxious about things.

GoodPuppy
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Re: New dog reactive, clingy, anxious when alone

Post by GoodPuppy » Tue Jul 14, 2015 2:54 pm

@jacksdad,

Would you say a clicker could be used, say in a situation like the fence plastic cover that you were talking about? My dog frequently reacts very swiftly to a movement by my husband in another room, and before I can spring into action, the dog is up and gone and barking at him. (This is also part of the reason why my husband insists it isn't fear motivated behavior. Dog and I could be in the office, husband rises from chair and dog goes rushing into the hallway toward the living room, barking up a storm.) I have the dog responding to a click cue now and I can click the instant the reaction-inducing stimulus occurs, which in this case would be the sound of my husband getting out of a chair, but the dog is often out of the room simultaneously. Is the click adding an extra element that might possibly be confusing or would the dog, once again, be completely missing the point, which would be that husband moving results in good things?

jacksdad
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Re: New dog reactive, clingy, anxious when alone

Post by jacksdad » Tue Jul 14, 2015 4:01 pm

Clicker training is a great way to train and work with your dog. Clickers are used to mark the behavior we want/like. the mark (sound of the click) is like when you take a picture, it is moment in time and we are saying "dog at the moment you heard the click we liked that, do it again". To actually get the "do it again" we mark(click)...then reinforce (give food). side note, often in science words have a different meaning than in day to day conversational English. But reinforce means exactly what it means...to make stronger.

When we click...we tell the dog what you just did, we like...then when we give food (reinforcement) we make the odds of that behavior happening again stronger.

When we use clicker training food/reinforcement is contingent on the dog's behavior. The dog makes the click then food happen by siting, rolling over, laying down etc. something the dog does makes the click happen. When a dog is afraid they may not be able to give us a behavior that we would want to click and treat. with the clicker you do need to be careful not to click when your dog is doing something you don't want because the dogs learn click means I did something my human liked and shall try and do it again. clicker training works on a different part of the brain and follows different rules than classical conditioning.

Clicks should not be used as "rewards" or "cues". they are to mark the desired behavior offered by our dogs and should always be followed something the dog finds reinforcing, generally a bit of SUPER YUMMY food.

Classical conditioning works on the more "primitive" parts of the brain where fear comes from, the survival parts of the brain and emotional states and associations between X and Y.

so to answer your question. no, I would not use a clicker with that pup in class and the plastic sheet. by applying classical conditioning and continually giving chicken while scary is happening I can make MORE of an impact on the dog for the good than if I tried to use a clicker and try and pin point the ideal desired calm behavior that may never be offered so your dog is left to expire scary with no help. The other reason I did not use a clicker is because I could not get the dog far enough away from scary for the dog to be able to offer other behaviors. however, the dog started offering 'non fearful' behavior very quickly because of how classical conditioning works. moving plastic made chicken happen, one piece after another quickly until the plastic stopped moving.

when helping a fearful dog, priority is helping the dog feel safe, and to counter condition (aka classical condition) their association with scary. we want scary to go from "OH ^%$^& my life is in danger" to ...hey when X happens...super YUMMY food happens....X is pretty cool. that is "step 1". we want our dogs to have a "yippy" happy response when they are aware of what used to scary them being near by. they may not be ready to inter act with scary, but that is ok.

Next, we need to train an alternate behavior something they should do when scary is near by other than "freak out". that is where clicker training and be very helpful in teaching. Alternate behaviors is the long term solution.

An example is when out on walks, I want my dog to return to me and look at me or hid behind me etc. if there is something out there vs freak out. he does pretty good with this in most situation. other people want their dog to sit and look at them, others want their dog to move into a heel position and just keep walking to get distance from scary.

hopefully that helps.

Husband getting out of chair. you could counter condition your dog so that husband getting out of the chair is a good thing. start with your husband sitting in the chair. have him make the smallest, but yet clear action posible for getting out of the chair...when he does that, you give your dog a bit of food. husband sits back down. repeat 3 seconds later...then repeat 5 seconds later.... then repeat 1 second later... time between husband making a movement to get up should be random and not predictable. take a break. then do it all over again, but this time husband gets up a bit more than last time from the chair etc. build it slowly until your husband can stand up and your dog turns and looks at you vs "freaking out. if your dog sees your husband move and his head whips to you with a "hey, where is my treat"...that is called a Conditioned Emotional Response. this is a good thing.

It might be tempting to have your husband toss your dog a treat before getting up. this is backwards. doing this make food (the good thing) predict scary (your husband standing up). we don't want that. we want scary (husband standing up) to make food (the good thing) happen. see the difference? by scary making food happen, the good feelings caused by the food are associated with scary, and scary isn't so scary anymore.

NOW...it is critical while doing something like this your dog isn't "freaking" out. so you would need to have enough distance from your husband siting and getting up from the chair that your dog can see all this, and maybe be on alert such as ears up, tail up, standing etc at most. that is all ok. the more down the path towards freak out, the less learning will occur until no learning is happening and all you have is freak out.

An example of an alternate behavior would be to have a dog bed in the room that your dog goes to when your husband stands up. you would start by training a go to your bed behavior. and otherwise making the bed a very rewarding place to be and a very safe place to be. husband doesn't (at least for now) go over to dog on bed. you can start training this now and this would be a good thing for using the clicker. don't have the husband in the room to start and for now don't try and use the bed in relation to your husband getting out of the chair. that comes later. you want that "yippy" response to husband getting out of the chair first. then you can start making your husband standing up from chair the "cue" to go over to the bed.

make sense?

GoodPuppy
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Re: New dog reactive, clingy, anxious when alone

Post by GoodPuppy » Tue Jul 14, 2015 4:10 pm

Ah, yes. Thanks, that does make sense.

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