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MPbandmom
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Update new question

Post by MPbandmom » Sun Jan 17, 2010 8:15 pm

The weather finally broke enough for the dog group to get out for a walk Saturday. Sirius didn't show any aggression to any people and was easily distracted when her ears perked up at another barking dog and a group of horses. She did walk up to one person who came to stand by my car as I was getting the dogs ready to get back in the car, but I called her back to me and clicked and treated her.

Sky on the other hand was a total pain. I know she has a lot of pent up energy, and it has been a long time since she has been out, and she was excited to be out with her doggie friends again, but I need a break. I read the Training articles on loose leash walking and am now trying to figure out my next stratagey. My son used to walk her on a 20 foot flexi lead. When I started walking her I used a 6 ft leash and she basically would walk at the end of whatever length she was allowed. On a flat collar, she regularly choked herself, but that didn't really slow her down. I switched to the Sporn harness which worked for a while and then she became immune to that as well. I tried the gentle leader head harness, she just locked her neck and head and kept on pulling. I tried the gentle walker (the kind where the leash attaches in the front. It said it would turn the dog and end the dog choking.) She kept on pulling and somehow managed to choke herself just as much as if she had been on a flat collar. I tried the Halti, finally I had some leverage in not being pulled around. She is not fond of it in the least though. Working with a trainer, I used the circling method. She would walk politely when we turned around and as soon as we turned back around she basically took off in a Yippee! we are going again type of move. She eventually would hover a ways back waiting for the turn around where she would have effectively placed herself to immediately be back in front. Walks with her were very frustrating and painful. I didn't do a very good job of maintaining patience and my shoulders were being damaged. We finally reached something of a breakthrough when I learned of a hands free device called an Alpha pac. It is basically a backpack type thing designed for walking dogs. This meant my shoulders were no longer suffering from the pulling and it also made it easier for me to mark the line that she should not go past. When the leash hit my leg, I would stop and wait for her to back up releasing pressure. Others that tried to help with her and loose leash walking on a regular leash and collar in prep for the CGC all said the same thing. She has the idea of what is expected of her, she just isn't interested in complying. She did manage to pass the CGC although I think she may have bribed the tester some with her blue eyes and charm. A friend who works in rescue offered to let her daughter help with walking Sky some. The daughter was a member of her school track team and started taking Sky for a run instead of a walk. Now, while this is more the kind of exercise she would thrive on, I'm not a jogger. This backfired on me in that Sky then decided that I should be running also. She would hang back and then charge forward, jerking me forward in the process. She would do this repeatedly while on a walk. She weighs about half of what I do, and without the help of the halti, I can't stop her from dragging me around if she so chooses and when she pulls stunts like the hanging back and charging forward, even the halti isn't a fail safe. Dog Scouts advise very limited use of the halti, and recommend the gentle walker type harness for dogs that pull. So, I have tried to put her back on that. The last two walks we have been on, I had to put the halti back on her because she was pulling me around and choking herself. On one of the walks, I was eventually able to switch back to the Gentle walker harness.

Then I read the postings here about the gentle walker harness rubbing, and sure enough, Sirius has a sore rubbed from wearing hers yesterday, So, obviously those are going to have to go. I do have the seatbelt harnesses although they are a slightly different design and may still come up too close behind the dog's front legs. I may be able to adjust them a little further back. Sky will back out of a harness in a heartbeat if not watched carefully, that combined with her pulling has meant that I have avoided walking her on a harness. (She will also back out of a backpack if she has half a chance.)

I can walk Sirius by herself with no problem whatsoever. Sky is fairly managable as long as she doesn't decide she wants to take off after something. The two combined are more of an issue because if both of them decide to take off after the same thing, I'm not stopping them. I have received a black eye on one occasion and a trip to the emergency room on another occasion. I have halti's for both dogs, but would like to get them to a point where I can trust them and not feel like I need them. Separating the two for training tends to be quickly overwhelming, mainly because I feel like there is one of me and two of them and they get half the exercise because I have to divide myself between the two of them. I did notice the advice to train 4 times a day for 10 minutes when working on loose leash walking and not worry about other walking exercise. Unfortunately I don't think 4 times a day would fit into my schedule.

Where do I go from here? Do I chock her behavior on the last walks up to excess energy from not getting out on a regular basis due to the weather and thus continue on in my same manner with the halti/harness and statue training or is there something else I should be doing? I have tried the walkey dog to burn off energy, but have a hard time finding a wide enough path that isn't a street; plus she still wants to go great people we may pass by and even though I have tightened it repeatedly, she manages to pull the bar forward until it is interfearing with pedaling. Not that I necessairly need to pedal with her attached to the bike. All in all, it really isn't any more enjoyable than walking with her. She loves to play fetch, and I do play multiple ball fetch with her in the yard which keeps her going pretty well, but unfortunately our yard isn't large enough for her to do much more than a trot, and as she tends to resource guard balls, the dog park doesn't work well for us. The local ball fields don't want dogs on them and all of the local parks have leash laws. I tried a longer leash once, but quickly realized that if she got to the end of it, I was going to go flying.

So again, thanks for the adivce for Sirius, and hopefully someone will have some ideas that will help with Sky, or let me know that I'm doing the right thing and I just need to hang in there longer. The more I get to know about different breeds, the more I say Sky has the sparkling, happy go lucky charm of a lab, but hiding behind those blue eyes lurks the brain of an independent thinking husky. She is very smart and very manulipative and very good at working things out to her advantage.
Grammy to Sky and Sirius, who came to live with me, stole my heart, and changed my life forever as I took over their care and learned how to be a dog owner.

emmabeth
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Re: Update new question

Post by emmabeth » Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:52 pm

Go back to the 'loose lead walking' method of about turning and going the other way, but also, can you use a target stick? Carry that wher eyou want her nose to be and so you practice heeling as 'target the stick' and that happens to put her in a heel (which is automatically a loose lead) position.

You can then build that up to as many steps as you ask for, (look up '300 Peck' for increasing the duration of behaviour like this).

If you stick to practicing loose lead walkign instead of 'going somewhere walks' pretty much religiously, and then combine the 'targetted walkign to heel' so she knows several things....

i/stepping ahead of you achieves nothing - you about turn and go the other way immediately.
ii/walking *here* is a thing i can do to earn clicks and treats.
iii/walking *here* means i listen to mom and we do lots of things

That latter one happens more slowly as you build up the walks and you ask more things of her than just walking to heel, or keeping the leash loose.

I would do this with both of them seperately and then... together but one handler per dog! to start with so get a friend in if theres not someone else able to do this and follow instructions!.
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

MPbandmom
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Re: Update new question

Post by MPbandmom » Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:03 pm

Gathering my resources and preparing myself mentally. I think the reason I have not managed to kick this one yet is that I probably rush the steps, due to the fact that walking in circles in the same spot repeatedly is kind of boring. Take one step past where the last circle was and the dog leaps forward, so it's back to circling. I have also been trying to meet perceived exercise needs while training and felt like the dogs were being deprived by my needing to divide the normal walk between them. The dog left at home is unhappy, which makes my husband unhappy, and he does a very convincing job of pleading the case of how cruel it is to leave one dog behind. Sky stresses over passing by yards with barking dogs, even if the dog moved away months ago, so I want to get out of the neighborhood and back to a park as quickly as possible.

So, to counteract these issues, I am thinking in the following terms:

1. Recruit my husband to assist with training. He needs to get more exercise, but a bad back means he is limited in the distance he is able to walk, and he can't tolerate being pulled on by an excited, out of control dog on a leash.

2. Have husband work on basic obedience skills and introduction to the targeting stick with the dog left behind. While I work with dog outside on loose leash walking focus on me. Question being, the dogs already know basic obedience and have been introduced to hand targeting. Should he click and treat all skills practiced, or just the introduction to the target stick? Can I click and treat for focus with the dog working on loose leash outside, or is that too much to try and do at the same time?

3. Have husband work in house and then in fenced yard on target stick heeling leash free. I will likely still be working on loose leash, and focus hopefully in a different location. Can I add target stick heeling outside at the same time as inside, or do I need to wait until the inside is going better?

4. Put both dogs on lead and work on loose leash, focus, target stick heeling at various locations for short spans of time with husband around increasing distractions.

5. Rejoin group walks maybe in a year or two?

I figure this is going to take a while, as I have attempted in the past and not been successful, although they do have a better grasp of the concept than they did a year ago. Assuming this takes months of work, what do I do in the interim about things like visiting family (my mom loves to see the dogs), Dog Scout troop meetings, and trips to the vet or grooming? I usually do these things by myself with both dogs. There isn't much walking involved, but some to get from car to building.
Grammy to Sky and Sirius, who came to live with me, stole my heart, and changed my life forever as I took over their care and learned how to be a dog owner.

emmabeth
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Re: Update new question

Post by emmabeth » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:40 pm

Yep, human error - rushing is a very very common reason for things 'not working' and its really hard to not do it!

This is why I highly recommend making your walks a 'timed' thing rather than a 'destination' thing - you walk for 5 minutes doing 'loose lead walking' rather than 'go to the park' or 'go around the block'. That way your focus is on the work you are doing with the dog, and not on 'OMG we havent even got to the end of the path yet'.

If you find your street/neighbouring streets are too distracting to work in, or have bad memories for one of your dogs you could drive to another street that doesnt - it might feel a little wierd (and yeah you look weird going back and forth along a stretch of sidewalk, but hey... its no ones business but yours!) but it could be the tweak you need that helps you fix the issue.

Recruiting husband sounds like a great idea, and having him work on clicker training one dog whilst you walk another is a brilliant plan. As long as you two can work in the same way and report back to each other accurately, staying on the 'same page' that would be terrific for both dogs.

I would concentrating on targetting indoors, then in the yard first, before using that 'on a walk'. You can use the clicker to help with the loose lead walking if you want -s ome people do, some people dont and it depends on your dog and how nimble you are with your fingers to be honest. Im too clumsy so I avoid using a clicker when walking but I have done it in the past for a dog who would come back to me on the 'about turn' and then dash off ahead and we refined that down from a full on dash to the end of the lead to a tiny 'bounce' in the end which I was more than happy with.

When you go to introduce a new element to the training, drop back a few stages in difficulty - so say you are introducing target stick on a walk, if you are currently managing 15 minutes of walking on a loose lead without the target stick I would only attempt to do 3 minutes of target stick walking (either just a short 3 minute session, or probably better, do a 10 minute walk.... and then at the end bring out the target stick and finish with 3 minutes of that).

As far as clicker stuff for your husband to do - have him set out 3 minute sessions with a single goal in mind. Only click for that goal or stages leading up to it so if hes going to do targetting the end of the stick, only click for that and nothing else.

Once the dogs have the hang of clicker work and once he has too, and they have a repertoire of behaviours they know they can earn clicks for then he can ask for a variety in one session if its just a 'lets see what you can do' fun session. When training something new its best to stick to that alone, although pretty rapidly most dogs will offer you a range of behaviours first as soon as they see the clicker (because you might want one of those.... its worth a go!).
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

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Mattie
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Re: Update new question

Post by Mattie » Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:55 am

MPbandmom wrote:Gathering my resources and preparing myself mentally. I think the reason I have not managed to kick this one yet is that I probably rush the steps, due to the fact that walking in circles in the same spot repeatedly is kind of boring.

No matter what you do the basics are always boring, figuer skating, balet dancers, gymnasts, etc, but the more work you put in the better the result. :D
[url=http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/PIXIE.jpg][img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/th_PIXIE.jpg[/img][/url]

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Nettle
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Re: Update new question

Post by Nettle » Wed Jan 20, 2010 11:09 am

The key reason it works is that the dog is bored too - nothing happens until it walks on a loose lead.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

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MPbandmom
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Re: Update new question

Post by MPbandmom » Sun Jan 24, 2010 6:55 pm

Recruiting the husband hasn't worked out well yet, but upon further thought, I have decided that there are just way too many distractions around my home for that to be a good starting location. That means driving the dogs to someplace quieter. I have what I think will be the perfect place in mind. A newly completed retail/housing development still largely unoccupied. Nice sidewalks, ready parking, not a lot of foot traffic, and no yards for dogs. It is about a mile and half away, so I know I won't want to drive one dog there, work for 3 minutes, drive back home, drive the other dog there, work for 3 minutes and drive back home. Since it is still winter, there shouldn't be any danger of a dog overheating if left in the car/conversion van with screened windows opened.

My new plan of action. Work on loose leash walking for 3 minute increments in this location until a dog manages 3 repeat walks with no turns. (I plan on keeping a log book as I imagine Sirius will progress more quickly than Sky since she is already better at loose leash walking) Increase to 6 minutes again looking for 3 in a row with no turns. Increase to 12 minutes again looking for 3 in a row. Move to a new location with a few more distractions. Start over at 3 minutes, repeat previous time increases. Move to progressively distracting environments. Add one buddy dog, probably the super mellow greyhound for starters, then the slightly less mellow lab mix, then the somewhat hyper herding mix. Once they are walking individually with the buddy dogs, put both dogs together starting back at the original low distraction location for 3 minutes and work through the same progression, previously used on each dog separately, with both dogs.

I have a couple other potential assistants in mind but doubt that they will be available on a regular basis to assist, so hopefully the separate training will have made enough of an impression to allow an easy transition back to walking both dogs at the same time.
Grammy to Sky and Sirius, who came to live with me, stole my heart, and changed my life forever as I took over their care and learned how to be a dog owner.

emmabeth
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Re: Update new question

Post by emmabeth » Sun Jan 24, 2010 10:15 pm

That sounds like a brilliant plan. Be prepared if necessary to reduce your goals time wise and increase your proofing so maybe you need to do 6 repeats with no pulling before a change of location... but if you need to do this you will discover that by your dogs reaction to the new routine.

What is the dog left in the car going to do, Kong toy? Or potentially you have dog barking in car getting silly problems so good to think that one out ahead of time, unless they are already used to sitting in the car for a few minutes (you could practice this at home or at the dog park too).

Anyway good plan, well thought out re driving somewhere quieter - I like it lots, do keep us updated!

Recruiting husbands can get easier when you are more confident with what you are doing and have some results to show them... :)
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

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Nettle
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Re: Update new question

Post by Nettle » Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:03 am

Much as you don't want to hear it :D you will get far better results taking one dog at a time. Put yourself out a little now and save a lot of effort later. Even being on its own in the car instead of with a buddy makes a dog bond better and so work better. Conversely, knowing a buddy is not far away but unreachable will scramble an untrained dog's concentration.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

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MPbandmom
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Re: Update new question

Post by MPbandmom » Mon Jan 25, 2010 6:32 pm

Thanks for the input. So basically, I need to think in terms of working with each dog on its own unique issues by itself. No shortcuts, no feeling sorry for the dog left behind, no thinking I've got to hurry up and get the dogs back togther for more/better exercise. I guess that leaves me with two additional questions.

Will the dog being left behind eventually get used to the separation?

It was suggested to work 4 times a day on the loose leash walking. Taking work, daylight, and travel time into consideration, I will likely only be able to work with one dog on loose leash walking, once a day on work days at least until the time changes. I also don't see driving across town 8 times in a day on days off. I am thinking about taking a week off of work to do some focused training, but again I don't see driving somewhere 8 times in a day. Once I get into it, that may change, but for starters the thought of doing that is overwhelming. I'm sure that this will slow my progress down. Question is, will it likely slow it down to the point of not making progress?

Thanks for your honesty. I have just been so overwhelmed when trying to separate the dogs for work in the past, that I am trying to get it into a form that I can wrap my brain around and not feel overwhelmed. Or I guess in other words, I need to find a peace with taking each dog to do its' own thing, without running myself ragged, and not feeling like the other one is somehow missing out on something.
Grammy to Sky and Sirius, who came to live with me, stole my heart, and changed my life forever as I took over their care and learned how to be a dog owner.

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Nettle
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Re: Update new question

Post by Nettle » Tue Jan 26, 2010 5:14 am

I understand your feelings :) but you are worrying unnecessarily.

Rome wasn't built in a day. You don't have to work both dogs every day. You don't have to worry about how the other dog is feeling. If you can, it's good to have someone either take the other dog out and occupy it or sit in the house with it while you work the first dog. If you can't, make sure the other dog is tired and has plenty to do. Will it stress? Some do, some don't. Will it matter? Not if you have taken all necessary steps to give the dog pleasant occupation, and protect your home from damage, while you are away. It is very good for dogs to get used to short times alone, because you never know when one might have to stay at the vet's.

This is not for ever. In fact it is not even for very long. And as soon as you start to make progress, you have the incentive to continue. And our support all the way as well.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

MPbandmom
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Re: Update new question

Post by MPbandmom » Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:32 pm

It seems like the only interacton I have had with the dogs lately is to shovel snow at them. (Sky thinks this game is just as good or better than playing fetch. If only I could get her to chase a frisbee, she would make a natural air dog.) I finally got out with Sky today to work a little on the loose leash walking. I had my clicker and a jar of baby food. I had her on her car harness with a regular 6' leash. I was probably helped some by the narrowness of the path that people have shoveled along the sidewalk, but the clicker and baby food seem like they are going to be the ticket to get this dog to focus on me finally. The leash was not tight a single moment! yippee! My arms stayed in the position where I wanted them to be rather than being pulled out of the sockets. Yippee! She did pass me a couple of times. I forgot to turn around and just stopped (which is what I had been doing with some success previously) then when she looked at me, I instructed her to "come back around" and she would return to my side in good position.

I have a question on the 300 peck though. Do I take one step and stop and click and treat, then two, etc. or do I click after every one step, then every 2 steps, etc.?

Thanks!
Grammy to Sky and Sirius, who came to live with me, stole my heart, and changed my life forever as I took over their care and learned how to be a dog owner.

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