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Old 02-28-2010, 04:41 PM
Catsi Catsi is offline
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Default Question about our walk today (fear aggression)

Hi there,

Just a query about a little hiccup in my training.

A little background first. My fear aggressive girl has been doing well.

I have picked a variety of spots for training/walking. They have been chosen based on:

- Very minimal offlead dogs
- Low/medium people/dog traffic depending on time of day. (I don't want high traffic at this stage, but we need something to base our cc and desensitising on!)
- Good visibility (No chance of running into people/dogs around the corner, and I can see whats going on for miles)
- Room to move around so that I can move above/below threshold and we are not trapped in a bad situation.

In these areas we are doing very well, we are moving in closer to her triggers and I haven't seen her react aggressively or even be overwhelmed for some time.

I decided to add a new area today. It was low traffic, but there were a few more barking dogs (secured) than I remembered. The combination of the new place and approaching triggers (both barking dogs and walkers) made her very frightened. No reaction, more like shutdown.

Once we had passed the triggers, she did bounce back which shows her improved resiliency. Once upon a time it would be all over, she would completely shut down for the rest of the walk.

Now, my question... Where to go from here?
Is this what they call relapse?
Do I take her back to our usual places?
Forget adding new ones for now?
Too much too soon?
Or is this normal for a new place?
Will I ever be able to expect her to transfer over to different places without being overwhelmed? Or will I always have to introduce new places slowly?

Any suggestions appreciated!

On a side note, I have ordered Click to Calm, can't wait to receive it!!
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Old 02-28-2010, 05:17 PM
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Doberluv Doberluv is offline
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I think it sounds like you're doing really well....thinking ahead and doing things right. That she bounced back quickly after a little more pressure put on her is a really good thing. You might want to practice more with her triggers further away like you have been and add a wee bit of pressure like you did today, but maybe try to set up if you can, a situation where it's not quite so difficult...either a little further away or cut down the number of triggers. I think once she's doing well in one kind of situation, put a wee bit more pressure on her and see how it goes. What did you do when she first became aware of those frightening triggers? It's important to click/treat frequently during that time until you pass.

It's hard to say how much she'll improve...so many variables at play. She should be able to get so she can generalize to novel things as she learns skills to deal with her fears, at least to a degree. However, an improvershed socialization during her critical puppy period can really make it difficult. I think you'll get some improvement though, so she can at least deal with life a little better than she does now. But I wouldn't expect her to become a bouncing, social butterfly. It sounds like she must not have had enough practice at a VERY early age, between birth and about 3-4 months. OR....it's just her temperament.

Good luck. You're doing super and kudos for your dedication. It is not an easy thing to deal with. And I think you'll like Click to Calm a lot. Do keep us posted on how she's doing.
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Old 02-28-2010, 05:24 PM
Criosphynx Criosphynx is offline
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Sounds like your doing good!


The short answer is yes, you will have to 'start over" to som' extent in new places. However the dog will progress through the hierarchy faster the more new places you go...so if the initial work through of CC her to a dog for example, took three sessions to get close...in the new setting you will have to start at square one, far far away..BUT the dog may progress to being close to the trigger in one session and not three, as they already understand the game. If that makes sense.

Once I was at the fourth or so "new" location, it was obvious to me that the dog really was begining to generalize and now we no longer have to start so close to the "begining".

what specific game/method are you using to help her with her triggers (just curious )
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Old 02-28-2010, 07:31 PM
Catsi Catsi is offline
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Thanks guys.

I don't know if my method has a name, but I treat when the trigger comes into view and keep treating as much as possible... but here is where I'm a little confused. I don't click and treat the trigger, I only click when she offers a behaviour such as looks at the trigger and then at me (which she is starting to do a lot, but not automatically, I have to get her attention first).

Am I supposed to click and treat for the presence of the trigger? Is this sending a clearer message to her, rather than just feeding her?

I just realised that is wasn't total meltdown this morning because she would still take food rewards. I have had her not take them at all in the past. But yes, she was seriously afraid.

Doberluv, I've had Abby from an 8 week old pup. I feel I could have done more in regards to socialization. I took her to puppy school and let her meet people, my access to other dogs was limited at the time, although she did meet some. She didn't really like puppy school, I was concerned at that point, so I waited a bit longer and did a basic pet manners class. It was then that I realised that she had a fear of strangers, dogs and sudden movements. Well, confirmed really.

I confess that I should have realised before then what was going on, as I could have put more emphasis on socialising and done a better job of it all. Something that I am aware of with my next dog. I do believe with her that it is partly due to genetics, but if I had recognised this earlier, I may have overcome the issues at a younger age. And I spent a lot of time feeling guilty about it all, when I would have been better off addressing the problem.

The good news is that she can get used to new people (possibly new dogs too, I will reserve my judgment on this) given time and space, I have seen it a number of times with her. (With trusted friends and relatives, never children though!).

The handful of times that we have had a offlead dog rush up to us, she has shutdown completely. She barks and growls and carries on to a point, but if the dog gets closer, she shuts down.

Another great thing about Abby is that she is pretty responsive to training in general, so that helps a lot. It also allows us to do heaps of 'fun stuff' as well and I feel like I am doing what I can with the dog I have, whilst still have a lot of fun.

I will go back to one of our usual spots and see how she goes, then I'll add a little pressure there and see if I feel we are ready to return to our new place, with some added distance. I see what you mean Criosphynx about how it takes less time to decrease distance each time. I will have to take more notice of this. Hypothetically, if I were to take her back to this place with the same triggers, she should be able to decrease her fear more quickly due to the work we have been doing. I'll make sure I increase the distance.

This has been very helpful!
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Old 02-28-2010, 08:05 PM
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Doberluv Doberluv is offline
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Yes, an important point that Crio made....whenever you increase or add a new criterion, relax or reduce another criterion. So, when you increase pressure say...with adding a new kind of trigger, ease up on the proximatey. This is the same with anything you train. If you're teaching a stay, for instance....and you're going to step back a step or two further from your dog than you have been, don't ask for as much duration as you have been. If you're going to ask for a longer stay, then don't step away so far from your dog.....at first. Gradually you increase the degree of difficulty and start blending those things. Then maybe add in a distraction or two extra.

As far as clicking and treating, it is good to do it when she's looking at the dog OR if she looks at you. It is important to make a positive association with the other dog. (or person, or whatever) When it comes the time where you don't have to click and treat every single time.....when it's time for a variable reinforcement schedule to be introduced, she will start looking at you for the treat when she sees another dog.....eventually. Seeing another dog will become the cue that a good thing is about to happen and she'll look to you to get it. But now is not the time for a variable reinforcement schedule. Trigger equals treat. (a very good thing) Treat dispenser is Mom. LOL. And you can also, at home in your living room, teach her to look at you on cue. She looks, makes eye contact, click-treat. When she starts offering the behavior a lot, start using a cue word, "watch me" or whatever you like just as she begins to look up. Later, you will be able to see if she is ready for the cue word to be used as an elicitor. Don't use it that way until she has made the assocation.

Don't feel guilty about it. It may very well be her temperament too, that she is so shy and wary. It's really hard to know. The important thing is that you're doing super now and I bet you'll see some improvement.
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"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

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Old 03-01-2010, 03:22 PM
Criosphynx Criosphynx is offline
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glad you guys were able to understand me. I reread my post and I wrote it kinda confusing.


I personally, clicked for looking at the trigger, for a LONG time. Now I click randomly for both looking at the trigger, and looking at me. You'll find, as time goes on, your dog will look at triggers less often...all on his own...so there not an immediate need to make sure hes looking at you.

I click personally because you can gauge how scary the trigger is that way.

If you click, and the dog reorients for his treat snappy, and lets say you fumble the treat and he stays looking at you for a few seconds...to me that a good place to be.

the other response i noticed is you click and the dog responds snappy, but if you don't get the treat to them in a second of less, they immediately reorient BACK to the trigger. This level is ok to work at IMO as long as you can be very fast with the treats.

the last response is a dog that doesn't respond to the click at all, or kinda half asses it...he may glance back at you, or turn an ear. This is a bad place to be...basically its the moment before an outburst. So when you click, and the dog doesn't respond snappy, its time to take what you can get and call him and walk backwards away from the trigger if you can.


As far as just feeding without the clicker...thats a good tactic for triggers that are coming and going away. I used this alot of cars since they werent' permanent and would go away after a few seconds...that way the dog learns that the trigger means food, and when the trigger leaves...the fun is over.

The reason I like the click instead of just feeding is my dog would still fixate and get arroused and still EAT. So it was hard to gauge if the trigger was too close...at least with the click, I can assess how he feels about the triggers proximity better.

Hope that made sense
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Old 03-01-2010, 03:38 PM
Catsi Catsi is offline
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Yes Criosphynx, that makes sense!

Ok, I have a new way of going about this now. Sometimes you feel like you are just going by the seat of your pants lol.

The theory is extremely important, but I find that some of my biggest stumbling blocks is applying this in a practical sense.

I am going to really click and treat a whole lot more than I am doing now. A whole lot more. I guess I was worried in case I clicked the wrong fearful response (not necessarily an outburst).

Can I ask another question? It is probably fairly basic. I can usually tell when she is about to have an outburst and I try to remove her before the outburst. Is it ok to call her to move her out of the way. A trainer friend of mind is of the opinion that at this point I should not call her, or speak to her as I am reinforcing the precursor to a reaction. (Or even a reaction if I haven't been quick enough). What is your method of retreat?

We went back to one of our original spots today. It wasn't very busy (raining) but that's ok, she did very well at her distance level. I didn't put any pressure on her today, but I was short on opportunities, and sometimes it is nice to just have a relaxing walk with minimal chances of reaction/meltdown! There is always tomorrow.

Thanks again Doberluv and Criosphynx!
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Old 03-01-2010, 08:01 PM
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lizzybeth727 lizzybeth727 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catsi View Post
Can I ask another question? It is probably fairly basic. I can usually tell when she is about to have an outburst and I try to remove her before the outburst. Is it ok to call her to move her out of the way. A trainer friend of mind is of the opinion that at this point I should not call her, or speak to her as I am reinforcing the precursor to a reaction. (Or even a reaction if I haven't been quick enough). What is your method of retreat?
ABSOUTELY I'd suggest retreating if your dog is about to have an outburst. That usually means that you're too close to the trigger and your dog is over threshold, and at that point no learning can happen anyway. If you let the outburst happen, your dog will practice reacting like that... and the reaction is extremely reinforcing for your dog.

So right before my dog starts having an outburst, I start backing away to try to turn her around so that her back is toward the trigger; dogs often think "out of sight, out of mind." Then I try to get around a visual barrier so that she can't turn back around and look at the trigger again until I'm ready for her to.... visual barriers could be parked cars, buildings, large bushes, etc. Then I work to calm my dog and get her to refocus on me, by doing simple cues like hand touches. Once she's refocused, I'll either re-expose her to the stimulus or decide to quit for the day.
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Old 03-01-2010, 09:27 PM
Criosphynx Criosphynx is offline
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Basically what Lizzy said LOL


Don't be afraid to turn tail and run away


I say a simple "this way!" and walk the other direction...


Imo, you should practice this alot without the triggers around so the dog is simply learning a change of dirrection command...so you would be giving a command, not a reinforcer (unless she finds the command reinforcing, yet another can of worms), by talking to her...but I think your trainer friend might be worried you will create a behavior chain...where the dog thinks the barking starts the chain of events leading to reinforcemnt (i bark, mom calls me, I get rewarded!)


but yes, I can't stress enough how important it is to prevent the outbursts at all costs, the outburst itself is VERY reinforcing to the dog.

Quote:
I am going to really click and treat a whole lot more than I am doing now. A whole lot more. I guess I was worried in case I clicked the wrong fearful response (not necessarily an outburst).
oh yes, dont' be stingy. I have done a treat a second at times. You can't over do it...the fear will melt away in time.
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Old 03-02-2010, 03:21 PM
Catsi Catsi is offline
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Excellent, I understand now. Just to add that she doesn't have outbursts a lot now, because I tend to be able to tell pre-outburst BUT at the start we were terrible. Even the other day when she was really frightned she didn't react, but she still had a bad fear response. And we have awful days too, when I wouldn't expect her to react in a certain situation and she does. But they are getting less common, so we must be making progess.

Thanks, I feel my plans have been given a tune up. Method of treating and escape plan. Yes, I think my friend was worried it would form a behaviour chain. I will practice the walking away at random times, not just when we have to retreat in a training situation.

And treat, treat, treat!
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