New Dog - Not Sure if I should do "group" training yet

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Nettle
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Re: New Dog - Not Sure if I should do "group" training yet

Post by Nettle » Sun Jun 27, 2010 4:05 am

Emma&Tess wrote:If he is ok with other dogs, letting him letting him meet and socialize with other dogs in an enclosed area might help to stop him from going nuts when he sees them.

Not yet. He isn't ready for this. We tend to underestimate just how stressful meeting strange dogs is for a dog - any dog.

First we build their confidence in US so they begin to trust us to protect them.

Then we allow them to meet one nice dog in carefully controlled circumstances. We observe intently and remove dog from situation before it becomes reactive.

After that we allow meeting other suitable dogs one at a time.

Groups of strange dogs are as scary to a dog as a group of louts hanging around are to us.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

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Horace's Mum
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Re: New Dog - Not Sure if I should do "group" training yet

Post by Horace's Mum » Sun Jun 27, 2010 4:33 pm

MichelleD wrote:Yes, I definitely missed that window of opportunity to get his attention back to me! I have to train MYSELF to catch those opportunities. :)
By far the hardest part of learning how to train dogs efficiently and effectively is actually training ourselves to spot those moments that need rewarding, realising how frequent they need to be at the start, and being consistent with it. By nature we tend to wait for things to go wrong and then try to correct it, but if you can get used to the mindset of seeing things so far in advance that you can prevent them before they happen then you will be far ahead of many others. Then you need to find the positive mindset which is able to put a positive slant on everything and you will be sorted!!! :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Emma&Tess
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Re: New Dog - Not Sure if I should do "group" training yet

Post by Emma&Tess » Mon Jun 28, 2010 12:27 am

Ok, so he's more stressed rather than excited.

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Mattie
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Re: New Dog - Not Sure if I should do "group" training yet

Post by Mattie » Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:28 am

MichelleD wrote: However, he has a fierce prey drive! Walking him is a huge challenge. He does OK on the leash and if he pulls I stop walking. He usually stops and will even return to me and then we walk again. BUT if he sees a rabbit, squirrel, or another dog he goes BERSERK. I can't control him, I can't get his focus, he's pulled me to the ground twice when another dog was approaching. I try to anticipate and keep an eye out for any other animal he might see, but sometimes he sees them before I do. Two days ago he spotted a squirrel and took off so fast that the leash came out of my hand. He got the squirrel and killed it. He wasn't about to let it go and I came home splattered in squirrel blood. (This, I'm sure has given the neighbors something to talk to about -- it was quite the spectacle!).
The reason you can't control him with other dogs is because his brain has closed down apart from a section that deals with fight or flight, it is quite complicated but simply put, when a dog feels they have to go into fight or flight they are in survival mode, when on a lead they can't run away so they have to fight. Prey is different, this is normal behaviour for a dog and is difficult if not impossible to train out. With Tommy we just trained and trained and trained until one day she stopped when asked to. She stopped because she was given a command that we had worked hard with to get her as near 100% as possible, but we did have to get that command in before she had taken 3 strides after the rabbit, this is important, once more than 3 strided in Tommy never heard us, her brain has shut down apart from what was needed to get the rabbit.

Is your son strong enough to hold him if he decides to behave like this? You could be unintentionally be putting your son at risk of being dragged along if he isn't.

Many dogs won't work for treats but will work for something else, a ball, squeaky toy etc. it may take some finding but worth the effort.
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MichelleD
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Re: New Dog - Not Sure if I should do "group" training yet

Post by MichelleD » Tue Jun 29, 2010 3:20 pm

Mattie wrote: Is your son strong enough to hold him if he decides to behave like this? You could be unintentionally be putting your son at risk of being dragged along if he isn't.

Many dogs won't work for treats but will work for something else, a ball, squeaky toy etc. it may take some finding but worth the effort.
No, he's definitely not strong enough to hold him -- I'M barely strong enough to hold him, as I've been dragged to ground a few times already!

After that incident my son agreed he won't be taking the leash until we get things under control, but he participates in other aspects of training and care -- he feeds him, helps train him in the house, and throws balls outside in the yard while I keep the dog on a long line.

He's making progress on our walks. We have A LOT of dog walkers in our neighborhood, so it's tricky trying to avoid them at any time of day right now, but for the most part I've been avoiding other dogs if I can spot them in time. Gordon (my dog) is pretty good now at turning around and walking with ME (rather than trying to go back, pulling the leash to get to the dog in the distance, etc.) if I can turn him around while there's still a good distance between us.

I've been working with him on recall during our walks by using squeezy cheese (thank you, whoever suggested it!). He's becoming pretty good at stopping and coming back when I call him back -- so much so that yesterday I had to stop to scratch an itch on my leg and he stopped and came back to me! ha ha!

I'm slowly learning where his threshold is for reactivity, and if a dog comes around a corner where it's already too close for me to turn in another direction, I try to get his attention quickly if I can. Sometimes yes, sometimes no! If no, I just keep encouraging him to continue walking with me (while he's jumping and lunging the whole time).

Definite progress, though! The last two days he's done better, and then last night's walk was mostly an exercise in frustration -- for both of us. The weather cooled a little and the humidity went down and I think EVERY DOG and EVERY CHILD was out and about last night!

Baby steps ...

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Noobs
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Re: New Dog - Not Sure if I should do "group" training yet

Post by Noobs » Tue Jun 29, 2010 3:47 pm

Congrats on your progress, Michelle! Sounds great! It was really difficult for me to turn my Murphy around at first, too. He would walk with me but keep turning his head back toward whatever was triggering his reaction and get himself worked up. It was very very frustrating. But I just had to really be diligent about looking ahead of us so that I could turn us around before he got to that point. I went through a stage where I would bring kibble mixed with some higher-value treats and toss a bunch to the ground and play "find it" with him. So that's a thought if you are looking for more ideas.

jacksdad
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Re: New Dog - Not Sure if I should do "group" training yet

Post by jacksdad » Tue Jun 29, 2010 9:39 pm

you hit the nail on the head with your comment "baby steps"...

this isn't something you can reverse over night, but keep it up and you will be having peaceful walks sooner then you think.

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Mattie
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Re: New Dog - Not Sure if I should do "group" training yet

Post by Mattie » Wed Jun 30, 2010 2:25 am

MichelleD wrote:
Mattie wrote: No, he's definitely not strong enough to hold him -- I'M barely strong enough to hold him, as I've been dragged to ground a few times already!

After that incident my son agreed he won't be taking the leash until we get things under control, but he participates in other aspects of training and care -- he feeds him, helps train him in the house, and throws balls outside in the yard while I keep the dog on a long line.
Your son and dog have a wonderful mum who tries to protect them as much as she can, well done, you are doing a good job. Your son can clicker train your dog to do all sorts of things in the house and yard, fetch named items, agility in your yard etc. The limit is your imagination and it will also help exercise your dog.
He's making progress on our walks. We have A LOT of dog walkers in our neighborhood, so it's tricky trying to avoid them at any time of day right now, but for the most part I've been avoiding other dogs if I can spot them in time. Gordon (my dog) is pretty good now at turning around and walking with ME (rather than trying to go back, pulling the leash to get to the dog in the distance, etc.) if I can turn him around while there's still a good distance between us.
The problem with this sort of behaviour is our lack of knowledge, once owners understand what is happening with their dogs, it all comes so much easier to manage. Already you have had a lot of improvement, well done, it will take time but you will get there eventually. :D
I'm slowly learning where his threshold is for reactivity, and if a dog comes around a corner where it's already too close for me to turn in another direction, I try to get his attention quickly if I can. Sometimes yes, sometimes no! If no, I just keep encouraging him to continue walking with me (while he's jumping and lunging the whole time).
You need to still turn and walk away quickly, get as much distance as you can between you and the other dog,
by him jumping and lunging he is reinforcing the behaviour and it will be a lot more difficult to teach him he doesn't need to be frightened, mum will protect him, by allowing him to continue like this, mum isn't protecting him. Turn and walk away talking to him in a high, happy voice to encourage him to come with you, he won't want to at first so you will need to keep going as quickly as you can with him hindering you. He will soon learn that this is what he has to do when he sees another dog.
Definite progress, though! The last two days he's done better, and then last night's walk was mostly an exercise in frustration -- for both of us. The weather cooled a little and the humidity went down and I think EVERY DOG and EVERY CHILD was out and about last night!

Baby steps ...
You will always have set backs, it is how you handle them that matters, in this situation I would have gone back home, he will miss his walk but missing one to keep his stress levels down will do more good than harm.

You are right, it is baby steps, you will think you haven't made any progress many times then when you look back you will see just how far you have come. Keep a diary of how he is now and how he is improving, it will be something to look back on and think, "I turned this dog round, I made him into a happy, relaxed dog". You can ask as many questions as you want and we will help as much as we can.
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