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Old 08-11-2008, 04:07 PM
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Cessena Cessena is offline
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Default Get Behind Me

I really want to start teaching my dog to get behind me on command. Is there any standard way to do this?

I will probably start out luring him behind me and practice it a lot. If anyone has any recommendations so I don't create additional issues like butt smelling strangers for treats or something, that'd be great.

We recently had a run in with an off leash dog, and it did not go well AT ALL. He hates to have his collar grabbed so I'd like a way to get him behind me without having to grab him. I am afraid when he's already upset that he would turn his fear aggression on me if I tried to grab his collar.

I think he might respond better to this type of command in an aroused state than he does to sit. As sit was a behavior we actually had to teach him. He only sits on command, on his own he either stands or lays.

Any thoughts would be great, he's about 5 years old and a rescue. (We've had him a year) There is a lot of baggage with him that we are still working through. (We can now leave him alone in the house for 5 minutes! WooHoo!)
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Old 08-11-2008, 04:57 PM
Bunny82 Bunny82 is offline
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I would like to hear what more experienced trainers would say but personally I would not suggest your dog going behind you if that is your planned solution for him not doing well with other dogs. Once he is behind you you no longer can see/read his body language and potentially set yourself up to get hurt if he decides to try and advance toward said other dog.

As an alternative suggestion when I was younger we had a Chow Lab mix named Rusty. He did not like other dogs and upon seeing them would immediately try and go after them. To avoid this when I would walk him I would take a few hotdogs with me and pay attention to our surroundings trying to take notice of other dogs before he did. The moment I spotted another dog I would bite off a piece of hotdog hold it between my front teeth and call his name with a muffled 'Rusty' he would look at me and I would spit the hotdog at him. I would then take another bite hold it in my mouth and start leading him in the opposite direction the dog was coming. Granted this is not a formal way to train and I imagine I probably look and sounded quite silly but it allowed two things. It kept my dog from noticing the other dog (thus avoiding confrontation) and it allowed me to always have my dog in sight so I could read him for signs so if necessary I could act accordingly (aka move quicker in the opposite direction for example).

ETA: Please don't laugh (too hard) at the image of me spitting hotdogs at a relatively large chow lab mix. When we had this dog I was thirteen and there was no way my parents were going to consult with a behavioralist for advice on how to handle the situation as would have been ideal. Spitting hotdogs was the best I could come up with.

Last edited by Bunny82; 08-11-2008 at 05:14 PM.
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Old 08-11-2008, 05:44 PM
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lizzybeth727 lizzybeth727 is offline
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I think it's an ok idea to teach your dog to get behind you when another dog is lunging toward him - the first thing I do when this happens is step in front of my dog, so I don't see how teaching him to get behind you is a lot different. Just be ready to stay between both dogs to make sure they are blocked from each other, and don't rely on it as a long-term solution (as in, while you're doing it you should be looking for an escape or getting the other dog's owner to hurry and get the dog away).

Anyway, I started to teach this to my dog, but it's one of the dozens of behaviors I just never kept up like I should. But I think the training was going well, and we were on the right track. What I did was practice loose leash walking next to a barrier - a wall, couch, aisle in a store, whatever. Once he's comfortable walking next to the wall, to get him behind you, just side-step right in front of him, basically giving him no room to walk next to you, so he has to go behind you. I like to also use the physical cue, where I put both arms behind my back. When he does go behind you, you can click/treat, or praise, or hand him a treat while he's in position behind you. If he's tall enough, you can just hand him a treat without bending or turning around. Then side-step back away from the barrier, and encourage him to come back into "heel" position. Repeat until he's comfortable going behind you and kind of has an idea about what you're looking for. Then you can start adding the cue (I use "get behind", or just "behind"), and gradually have him walk behind for longer distances if you want to. You can also add turns and start fading the barrier away so that he learns to do it without the barrier.

I hope that makes sense, let me know if you need clarification!
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Old 08-11-2008, 06:27 PM
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Cessena Cessena is offline
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I do practice having him sit and focus on me when there are other dogs around. But once we get to a certain point (if they smell strong enough, or start barking at him) I might as well just be a rock attached to a leash keeping him from them. He completely ignores me.

We've been working up to getting closer to other dogs. And he's met a few dogs on leash while in PetSmart and been okay. But I seriously doubt he'll ever greet dogs running at him with calm level headedness. He is partially blind which I think contributes greatly to his attitude when on leash, and I just don't think he can see play v. agressive signals. (he also has lots of scars on his face, and may have been attacked in the past.)

We generally just don't go anywhere where there might be strange dogs off leash. Vlad is a husky and as such cannot be trusted off leash anywhere that isn't enclosed.

But yeah, if anyone has any suggestions besides training him to get behind me I welcome them. (I doubt would work in an emergency anyway, honestly, he totally shuts me out, but I need to do something.)
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Old 08-11-2008, 07:31 PM
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lizzybeth727 lizzybeth727 is offline
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If nothing else, the training I suggested will get him used to stepping out in front of him, so in an emergency at least he won't get even more freaked out by you doing that.
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