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Old 04-05-2011, 03:34 PM
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Default Please help me help my dog listen

I have a 7 yr old dutch shepherd, been training him for about 3 months now. Just started at a professional training classes for 6 weeks and have been doing what they told me for about a month now. His problem is other dogs when we go for walks. He barks at them and does not listen to my command of "leave it". He listens to all other commands, sit, walk, up, off, down, stay, etc. Problem is when we go for a walk he gets so excited so I calm him down in the house with some basic commands to get him listening. Still when we go outside, he is in his own world just looking all over the place no matter how many times I stop him, make hiim sit, down, as soon as we start walking again he's in his own world where if I sit him and call his name he wont even look at me! He will not take his eyes from wandering about. At the trainers place, theres about 8 dogs and as soon as we get out of the car to go inside, hes a different dog. He wants to leave and pulls toward the door, he listens while there, doesnt bark at other dogs, and wants nothing to do with them! They told me to keep doing the basic obedience and soon it will translate to when we go for walks at the park, but it hasnt yet and Ive lost all my patience I have. It is the biggest mystery to me why he behaves there with all those strange dogs around but at the park on a walk he barks at a dog 10 yards away. I'd love for someone to tell me why and also theres gotta be a better way to get him to stop his barking at dogs. He is not a dominant aggresive dog, when we go to the trainers he sometimes shakes and is afraid so its just fear aggression. Please help us!
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Old 04-05-2011, 03:40 PM
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How was he taught commands?
Does he have an attention command? Like a "watch me"? I would work on that right away if he doesn't.

Can you give more background on him - he's 7 and you've had him 3 years, was he a rescue?
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Old 04-05-2011, 04:01 PM
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I recommend the book, Click To Calm. It will help you to desensatize your dog gradually and to become more comfortable around these other dogs. Be sure and don't use punishment on him. Try to keep some distance for a while until you read the book.

In the meantime, you need to keep your dog at a distance where he's comfortable and not too reactive around other dogs at the park...maybe stay outside of the park. Reward him when he sees other dogs and try to do so before he has a chance to react. Reward with a high value treat frequently and try to control his environment so he won't react so much until you get the skills you need to work through this.
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Old 04-05-2011, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Danefied View Post
How was he taught commands?
Does he have an attention command? Like a "watch me"? I would work on that right away if he doesn't.

Can you give more background on him - he's 7 and you've had him 3 years, was he a rescue?


He was taught by lead training. Like sit=pull up on lead with command. down=pull lead down, etc. no clicking, or treats. He doesnt know "watch me" , that seems very interesting..how do I teach him that? That would get him focused on me rather than his surroundings. He is 7, but never had any training b/c we had a huge yard fenced in and he was never socialized with dogs, just people. We had no reason to walk him, but now we live in the city so we must go to the park. We've had him his whole life. One useful bit of info..when he was 8 weeks old, our cat scratched his eye and we had to get him a glass eye because it was too bad. Either that or sown shut which we didnt want. our trainers said dogs pick up on those things and may be more aggresive toward him b/c of it..but I personally dont think it makes a big difference as most dogs just ignore him unless their just crazy dogs. You can hardly tell its a glass eye, looks almost identical to his other one unless you really observe it.
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Old 04-05-2011, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Doberluv View Post
I recommend the book, Click To Calm. It will help you to desensatize your dog gradually and to become more comfortable around these other dogs. Be sure and don't use punishment on him. Try to keep some distance for a while until you read the book.

In the meantime, you need to keep your dog at a distance where he's comfortable and not too reactive around other dogs at the park...maybe stay outside of the park. Reward him when he sees other dogs and try to do so before he has a chance to react. Reward with a high value treat frequently and try to control his environment so he won't react so much until you get the skills you need to work through this.
I did read about that positive reinforcement technique and started using it with giving him bits of hot dogs when he would get close to a dog..he would sometimes take it, but if too close he would not. His close range is not very close so its tough to judge. Im not sure if it was working, he was not very interested in the hot dog, if he took it, it would be a very quick take and right back to focusing on whatever it was. But I probably was too close for his comfort..I should continue doing this method although the trainers said it could work temporarily but then he will become reliant on the hot dogs, so if we dont have them one day...then what?
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Old 04-05-2011, 04:24 PM
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The lack of socialization with other dogs when he was a very young puppy can have forever-lasting effects...very hard to over come. Some improvement can be made probably but the exposures dogs miss in puppyhood (between birth and about 16 weeks) have lasting effects. When a dog is attacked by another animal, it most certainly can make him reactive or defensive toward other animals. Even with a big yard, most dogs love to have a walk and it helps them experience more of the world. At any rate, these things can be worked on and made better in most cases.
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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 04-05-2011, 04:29 PM
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You're going to have to start with management - keep him away from other dogs as much as possible until you both start learning some new tricks.

My guess is that the heavy handed training is exacerbating his fear issues, plus he may feel more vulnerable anyway because of impaired vision, though as long as its been I'm sure he has learned to compensate for it.

Watch me is a great command, and pretty easy to teach. I teach it with a clicker or marker word. First you will have to load the clicker, then once the dog is associating that the clicker means good job, you can start using it to teach watch me. Start in a low distraction setting - living room or somewhere quiet. Say the dog's name and when he looks at your face, click and treat. Often dogs will figure out the treat is coming from your hand and will stare at your hand, so you may have to hold your hand near your face and really watch for any eye movement towards your face.
Once he's reliably looking at your face, you'll want to delay the click so that he holds eye contact longer. Gradually increase the length of time he holds eye contact before you click.

Now add distractions. Wait until the dog is not paying attention to you in the house, say his name and reward for eye contact. When that becomes reliable, go out in the yard and repeat. Then on the street, then with a dog really far away, then gradually decrease the distance. Anytime you get to where he can't make eyecontact with you, back up a step and re-build reliability where you were successful before.

This is a really rough explanation of building attention, I like "Control Unleashed" by McDevitt and also "Click to Calm" for more details. I believe Michael Ellis also has some videos on youtube about how to build attention that you might like.

HTH
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by developing our powers of empathy and observation,
and by searching for better ways to teach and educate the dogs we love."
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Old 04-05-2011, 04:39 PM
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[QUOTE]
Quote:
Originally Posted by acer925 View Post
I did read about that positive reinforcement technique and started using it with giving him bits of hot dogs when he would get close to a dog..he would sometimes take it, but if too close he would not. His close range is not very close so its tough to judge. Im not sure if it was working, he was not very interested in the hot dog, if he took it, it would be a very quick take and right back to focusing on whatever it was. But I probably was too close for his comfort..I should continue doing this method although the trainers said it could work temporarily but then he will become reliant on the hot dogs, so if we dont have them one day...then what?[/QUOTE]
It's neither here nor there if he becomes reliant on hot dogs. The point is that what needs to be happening is that the scary thing is assoicated with the good thing. (the food) Dogs learn VERY strongly by association. He won't become reliant on treats anyhow. Much later, down the road, as his outlook on other dogs becomes more favorable, what will be in his mind (pleasant associations with other dogs) will be a virtue in itself rewarding. In other words, you'll go onto a variable reinforcement schedule at some stage and it will strengthen his opinion and behavior around other dogs. The treats will be phased out in part. I don't know what kind of trainers you have, but they don't sound very savvy in actual animal behavior.

If the hot dogs aren't interesting enough to him, take him out right before dinner time when he's hungry. Try another kind of treat. Try lower distraction areas where the environmental motivators or triggers to his reactivity are less intense than his love of a treat or other reinforcer. A reinforcer must be something he LOVES. And without motivation, there's no training.

Remember....distance is your friend for now. Anything that your dog has trouble doing needs to be done in a low distraction area for now. Prevent unpleasant situations that upset him. Don't let him practice this reactive behavior. Prevent it.
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"If you love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." -- Samuel Adams 1776





"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

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Old 04-05-2011, 04:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danefied View Post
You're going to have to start with management - keep him away from other dogs as much as possible until you both start learning some new tricks.

My guess is that the heavy handed training is exacerbating his fear issues, plus he may feel more vulnerable anyway because of impaired vision, though as long as its been I'm sure he has learned to compensate for it.

Watch me is a great command, and pretty easy to teach. I teach it with a clicker or marker word. First you will have to load the clicker, then once the dog is associating that the clicker means good job, you can start using it to teach watch me. Start in a low distraction setting - living room or somewhere quiet. Say the dog's name and when he looks at your face, click and treat. Often dogs will figure out the treat is coming from your hand and will stare at your hand, so you may have to hold your hand near your face and really watch for any eye movement towards your face.
Once he's reliably looking at your face, you'll want to delay the click so that he holds eye contact longer. Gradually increase the length of time he holds eye contact before you click.

Now add distractions. Wait until the dog is not paying attention to you in the house, say his name and reward for eye contact. When that becomes reliable, go out in the yard and repeat. Then on the street, then with a dog really far away, then gradually decrease the distance. Anytime you get to where he can't make eyecontact with you, back up a step and re-build reliability where you were successful before.

This is a really rough explanation of building attention, I like "Control Unleashed" by McDevitt and also "Click to Calm" for more details. I believe Michael Ellis also has some videos on youtube about how to build attention that you might like.

HTH
Good post!
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"If you love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." -- Samuel Adams 1776





"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

Thomas Jefferson
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  #10  
Old 04-05-2011, 04:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acer925 View Post
I did read about that positive reinforcement technique and started using it with giving him bits of hot dogs when he would get close to a dog..he would sometimes take it, but if too close he would not. His close range is not very close so its tough to judge. Im not sure if it was working, he was not very interested in the hot dog, if he took it, it would be a very quick take and right back to focusing on whatever it was. But I probably was too close for his comfort..I should continue doing this method although the trainers said it could work temporarily but then he will become reliant on the hot dogs, so if we dont have them one day...then what?
Personally, I think your trainer sounds he like doesn't know very much...

Here is an intro to clicker training:

YouTube - Clicker Training - How to clicker train your dog

If you want to teach a watch me command, I really like this method:

YouTube - "Watch me" Game

That woman also does a segment on taking the 'watch me' command and putting it into loose leash walking, which would be great for you

When your trainer said that your dog won't do it unless you have treats, that is a really big red flag to me on what kind of a trainer he is. With clicker training, your dog has to use his brain and THINK to try and earn the reward. In the type of training your trainer does, your dog uses no brain power and simply complies with being manipulated into various positions. Also, on the subject of treats, your dog will not develop a dependancy on them. However, I frequently do reminder sessions with my dogs and reward occasionally with food. At the end of the day, would you go to work if there was no paycheck? No. So, if the dog is doing something right, your rewarding of his behaviour will just make it more likely to reoccur. You only reward every time and use the clicker when the dog is learning a behaviour, and once he has it solid, you slowly fade out the rewards and only give them every second or third time. Eventually, the idea is that your dog will have a complete understanding of what you would like, and you will only have to reward every once and a while to keep the command strongly associated with good things.

At the end of the day, clicker training is all about making your dog WANT to learn, and exercising his brain It really is super fun
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