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  #21  
Old 04-24-2012, 06:44 AM
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Maxy24 Maxy24 is offline
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Sorry I never came back, I don't usually check the rescue forum so I totally forgot to update!


I have class in a 15 minutes so I can't write out the how I taught drop it and bring it at the moment, but I'll be back later today hopefully.

As far as what to do when he does guard, I agree you should avoid eliciting the aggression as much as possible. I'm sure you have a decent idea of what he guards so don't try and take it from him or touch him while he has it and don't give him objects (unless you need to like his food and some toys) that you know he'll guard. Not to say you'll never be able to of course, that is what the other training will be for. If for some reason he does growl at you because he has something and you didn't think he'd guard it or you didn't notice he had something I would listen and move away. Yes this does show a dog that the growl worked, I don't think that's a bad thing, growling won't put you in the hospital, it'll keep you out of it by giving you a warning. I have also found that responding to a dog's warnings (though I prefer to respond to subtler signs like freezing/stiffness/slow movements, whale eye, lip licking, really quick irritated looking head turns towards me, etc.) can make them trust you. They don't have to overreact to you, they know you'll listen, so they will not escalate into biters. But yes, you are essentially reinforcing growling, but in the end, when all the training has happened he won't be upset by your presence near his stuff so won't want to growl, sot he previous reinforcement won't matter. Most importantly you should be causing him to growl so rarely that you won't be reinforcing the growl very often.


I have to go now but I also have some ideas on what to do if you MUST take something from him, I've had to do that several times with Tucker and what I do works really well for him. So I'll get back to you later.
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Old 04-24-2012, 05:03 PM
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As for what to do if you MUST take something from your dog, I trick the dog. My dog will bring me anything and drop anything I ask him to, but I barely ever ask for something that I'm going to take, that should really only be for emergencies or else you'll start poisoning the command. Taking the item is a punishment, so asking the dog to bring it, then taking it, would punish him for listening. So instead if it's something I must take I fool him into dropping it and take it when he's not looking. I do this in two ways. The one that works best for us is me picking up one of his tug toys and running around the house like a crazy person. It is important that you never let on that you don't like what he's got, notice he has something and then, without making any indication that you want it or don't like that he ahs it, go get the toy and start running. My dog has a high prey drive and loves playing and chasing so it works well. Often times he'll come after me with the forbidden item still in his mouth, I just keep going, occasionally teasing him with toy and dragging it on the floor. Eventually he just can't help himself and must bite the toy so he drop his item. It's very important you pretend this didn't happen. Play tug with the dog. Run around the house some more and play tug in another room, run back into where the item is and play more tug, then throw the tug away from the item so your dog turns away to get it. Quickly, while the dog's back is to you, pick the item up and get it out of sight before he turns back towards you. Then continue playing with the dog for a decent amount of time, don't suddenly end it. Keep him distracted for a good while so he might foget about what he had. This has worked really well for me, my dog literally cannot help himself.

You can also throw a small handfull of treats ont he ground, away from the dog with his item and wait for him to go get them. Pick the toy up after the dog has already eaten several treats (not while he is walking to them or he might turn around) and put it out of sight. When you toss the treats you may need to go sit down on the couch/not look at the dog if he is suspicious of you. My recommendation is after the item is away and the dog has just finished the treats, toss a couple more along the ground for him to chase after and then start a short training session or play with the dog (or take him out or go for a walk or feed him dinner or whatever). This session/activity will help the dog forget about the item and create a larger time gap between when you threw the treat and when the dog realizes his item is gone. If you toss the treats, he eats them in 6 seconds and turns around to find his item is missing he may easily connect the lost item to you throwing the treats and it will never work again. If he doesn't realize his item is gone for 10 minutes he is less likely to connect the dots. It's also possible he'll forget all about the item after the session/activity.


Those are what I do. You could also trick him by asking if he wants to go for a walk (but you'll actually have to take him) or a ride (again you'd have to go somewhere) and then when you come back tie him outside for a moment, run in and put the item away, then let him back in. Make sure you act as you would when you normally ask if he wants to do these things, don't stand and stare at him if you usually move over to his leash when you ask "wanna go for a walk?" or he'll know something's up.

With any of these things the dog might figure it out. That's one reason you want to prevent him from having things he shouldn't as much as possible. From what I understand your dog generally doesn't have forbidden things, so that shouldn't be a huge problem. If you are putting up a chew or something because you are having guests over try to do it ahead of time, when he doesn't already have it. You'll know guests are coming hours or days in advance, so choose to put things up when he's asleep somewhere else, not with the chews/toys.


I'll have more in the next post.
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  #23  
Old 04-24-2012, 05:06 PM
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Teaching my dog "drop it" was super easy. I started with one of his toys (in your case start with something he would not guard), started playing tug and then froze still. Eventually he let go because I wasn't being fun and I gave him a treat and started playing tug again. I repeated this until he started dropping the tug the moment I stopped moving. Then I added in the "drop it" command. So we'd tug, I'd say "drop it" right as I went to freeze and he'd drop. Eventually he understood the verbal command. For Tucker this happened ridiculously fast. Throughout the session I used multiple toys so he would drop any toy we played with. Then I used non-dog items (and put him on a leash in case he decided to bolt with it). I put a shoe on the floor which he immediately picked up (like I said he steals stuff) and I said drop it, he paused a second, dropped it, and got a treat (while I picked the shoe up), then I used other items...tissues, pencil, piece of rope, etc. So that he would drop anything. Now I know your dog doesn't pick up things he's not supposed to, so you might not ned to go through all of that, but go through all of his toys for sure and then other objects he'll pick up (maybe sticks). You shouldn't tug to tart each time either or else he'll think drop it only applies to games of tug. You can place the toy on the ground and wiggle it, after he picks it up ask for the drop it and reward. Do not rush things. You want him dropping very quickly and reliably before moving onto things he likes a lot or else you might make him guard which we don't want happening. If he doesn't drop something don't grab it or try and force it out of his mouth, either be patient and wait him out silently (and have him on leash so he can't leave with it or lie down to chew it), get him more interested in you by running around with him before asking again, or if those fail try and bribe him with another toy or with treats, then go back to easier items for a while so you don't repeat that fiasco. Work on him doing this with many items, both in training sessions and during your regular day (only after your sure he's very good at following the command). Always be sure to reward. You may need to tailor some of this to your dog a little depending on how willing he is to pick things up or play tug.


Before teaching "bring it" he had already learned to place things in my hand from fetch, I didn't really teach it to be honest, he just learned that I only throw the ball if he gets it to my hand. For a dog who doesn't do this you might first want to teach the dog to target your hand with his nose. Later you can use the hand target hand signal while the dog has the object he's retrieving in his mouth and he should eventually figure out to go to the hand with the object.

Anyways, I started with his toys again as he knows that those go in his mouth. I put the toy on the floor, poked it with my index finger and he dove on it and grabbed it. I then backed up quickly while encouraging him to me and he ran after me. When he got to me I put my hand out and said drop it and he did (this is where you might use a hand target to get your dog to bring it to the hand), then he got rewarded. Then we repeated. I slowly started moving my finger further from the toy when I pointed. Instead of touching it I'd point my finger from an inch away, then I'd point stright down at it from a standing position, then I'd back up a step and point from there, etc. Until he understood what the pointing meant and I could be standing across the room and point towards the toy and he'd go get it. I also stopped running backwards to encourage him, by this time he knew he had to bring it to me.

I then moved onto keys (it was something he'd never picked up and that he couldn't steal as they are usually always out of reach), starting with keys that were easy to pick up (had a fabric key chain). I started close to the keys and at first rewarded him for simply poking them with his nose when I pointed (each time you move onto a new object you may need to make it easier for them). Then rewarded for trying to pick them up, then for lifting them (though he couldn't lift up far yet), and then finally for delivering to my hand. Then we practiced that from multiple distances. I tried a heavier key chain without any fabric and he struggled with that so I tied his rope tug toy to it to start and after a few reps could take that off and he'd bring the keys. Then I used other random objects that were in the easy category. Not very heavy (he's a small dog) and not awkward to hold. We started with soft things like socks or a camera case. Then I did sunglasses and pencils/pens. With each item he got better and faster. Then I moved onto harder objects, things that were bigger or of a hard material. Whenever he had trouble, like with the remote, I tied his rope tug toy around it. Usually after 3-4 reps with the rope around it he could bring it without the rope.

From then on it was just a matter of practice and increasing the number of objects we used. During our regular training sessions I'd always practice a few retrieves, I'd try to find at least one new thing each time. I also started using a verbal command when I pointed. He also responds to me slapping my leg because when he retrieves things for me I have him put his paws up on my leg so I don't have to bend over. I was shocked at how well he generalized this command. I can point to almost anything and he'll pick it up without a second thought. I pointed to a little twist tie for bread and he brought it, then a dime on the floor (which I thought he might struggle with) and he had zero issues. You also want to work on asking him to bring something he already has. So put a toy down and ask for him to bring it AFTER he picks it up (you can have a seperate hand signal for this, I mainly use my thigh slap for things he already has, it makes more sense to encouarge him towards me than directing his attention away from me with my finger). An outstretched hand might work well since he should know by now to place things in your outstretched hand.

Then I made sure to use it throughout the day OUTSIDE OF training sessions. This is important or else the dog will only think it's worth while during sessions. Randomly I'll ask him to bring his toy either things he already has or things he doesn't. Like I've mentioned before if he steals something/picks up random things in the yard or on walks I ask him to bring it then reward with treats and give the item back (now I don't need to give a treat for this every time, I can use whatever he brings me as a reward by playing with him with it as a tug or as a fetch item or just by wiggling it around and teasing him with it). I'll point to a toy for him to get when I want to play tug (and then tug is the reward) or his ball when I want to play ball (then playing ball is the reward).


I also trained by uncle's dog a retreieve that took a fair bit longer because she didn't put anything in her mouth and she didn't play. So I had to slowly teach her to put objects in her mouth to start. Then I could teach her to pick objects up off the ground, like I did with Tucker picking up the keys, by first rewarding poking the object with her nose, then harder pokes, open mouthed pokes, nibbling the item, mouthing the item, lifting the item, etc. and then I had to teach her to actually hold onto it and not drop it as soon as she lifted it. Then I had to teach her to put it in my hand because she didn't know how to do that with toys (as she didn't play). Then we could start in with some distance.


Hopefully that all makes sense. Feel free to ask questions about what I wrote, obviously each dog will have their own difficulties in the process.


Other things to do are to walk up to the dog while he's eating or has a toy and simply drop some food (better than what he's eating, I like using leftover meat from supper) in his bowl/in front of his face. Only come as close as he allows (don't come so clase that he growls), toss the food, and stand there while he eats it (if he won't eat it you're likely too close), then walk away. I'd do this every meal (1-3 times) and at least once per day with a toy/other stuff he likes to guard. Over a LONG time you'll be able to get closer to him when you drop the food, bend over slightly when you drop it, reach your hand closer to the food/object when you drop it and eventually place the other hand on his body while you drop it. I would be sure you can read dog body language super well before doing any reaching/crouching/touching. Stick to walking up and dropping from up high if you are not very good at this, or else you may get bit, really bit. Or get a behaviorist, they can read dog body language and help you out. Look up calming signals in dogs, that'll be a good starting place for how to tell if you are too close. If the dog stops eating, or becomes still when you are doing whatever you're doing it's a sign he's getting upset and you should back away now. If he lowers his head over the objects/bowl of braces his legs around the bowl then you're too close. I'm pretty sure I mentioned the stuff in this paragraph earlier (I can't see my posts atm), but I thought I should repeat it. It's an easy way you can get the dog comfortable with your approach without having to add in any training session, just toss food during his normal eating and toy chewing times.


Good luck, I really hope this helps you and your dog, he sounds like an awesome dog otherwise, so it'd be great if you all don't have this to worry about and can entirely focus on his awesomeness. But it will take time, this is not something you can rush and likely something you'll want to practice periodically for the rest of his life, just so he never regresses back to his current way of thinking.
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  #24  
Old 04-28-2012, 05:33 AM
j0equ1nn j0equ1nn is offline
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Maxy24: Thanks for taking the time to type all that up. I must say your philosophy is very different from other people I have talked to, but it sounds like it's worked. The bring-it command sounds really sweet for the dog to know but in reality all I care about for the moment is having him not growl or snap at anyone. Might like to try teaching him that next though. So anyway.. I'm reading that you think I should go entirely with distraction to evade this behavior. With my particular dog's personality I'm really not sure if this is going to work, but I'm willing to give it a try. When he starts guarding something, he also becomes very nervous because he knows it could lead to a confrontation between us, which he really doesn't like, yet he still can't stop himself. The first thing I try when he growls is always to get him to come do something fun with me and forget about it, but that never quite works. I mean, sometimes he will come to me, but he always does it in a very submissive way - tail tucked, head ducked, sometimes even a little submissive peeing. I reward him with affection at those times but he's not interested in playing or even in treats much: he's too guilty. Whenever he does anything even slightly bad he is always overly sorry afterward. You would think he'd gone to Catholic school in the '50s. When he DOESN'T respond to forgetting about what he's growling over, it always just gets worse. So I'm left with the situation of deciding whether to continue provoking his growling (which entails any sort of communication with him whatsoever) until he snaps and I have to do something, or just walking away. Very rarely do I opt with the latter.

I'm going to try your advice anyway though and I'll let you know if it works. In particular I have never tried dropping treats on the floor when he growls to distract him. My philosophy thus far has included that when he growls he is doing something bad so he should certainly not be rewarded..

I want to recount something else that happened today. The girl who rescued Sam gave me a phone number yesterday for a dog trainer she knows who owed her a favor and had agreed to help me out free of charge. So I called the guy today and boy this guy did not know how to listen. It's something I've encountered a lot with people who think they're dog experts: they just assume you are a complete idiot and that they have to start from scratch as if they're talking to someone who thinks their dog is like their favorite teddy bear. They guy is grilling me about how I shouldn't let the dog do whatever he wants, that I need to make him obedient to me, that he needs to respect me and never threaten me, etc. I tried telling him I've trained dogs before, that I just need help with this one particular thing, but he just would not listen. So frustrating.

But the main thing that makes me connect that to this conversation is that the guy kept emphasizing how you need to make your dog understand you are dominant over him/her. He even went so far as to say "Your dog is not your friend, he's your bitch," which - I mean I know what he means, but that's a pretty tactless thing to say to someone you don't know. Personally, I've always believed that dogs do have a certain amount of instinct that is independent of any environmental influences, and that part of that is their mentality of a hierarchy to the pack they belong to. And so I've always believed it's important to establish that you are higher up in this hierarchy than (s)he is. Yet, I recall you saying Maxy24 you hate when people try to take an alpha role over their dogs. This is curious to me, I'm not writing it off it just seems weird. On the other hand when I talk to people like this guy I feel like I know exactly what you mean.

Anyway, the advice this dude gave me was that my dog should 1. not be wearing a harness but instead a pinch collar (he gave me no chance at all to describe my dog's personality and general submissive nature) 2. he should be wearing this all the time, even inside, with a leash attached, and 3. any time he growls, he should be called and if he doesn't respond he should receive a correction in the form of a leash snap (collar pinch). He also said that you should administer this correction from about 10 feet away.

I didn't bother telling the guy that first of all there isn't a single room in my apartment where I could even BE 10 feet away from my dog. But I told him that what he said was basically impossible because 1. Sam only acts possessive when you are very close to him or touching him when he has a guarded object, not 10 feet away; and 2. I know that if he had his leash on in the house it would just introduce a new problem of constantly telling him not to bite his leash. His reaction: 1. "He growls when you touch him TOO?" 2. He should not be biting his leash, that's your means of control, blah blah blah, all kinds of stuff I already know for ten minutes. I never let Sam bite his leach by the way, but he needs to be reminded of this almost every time I put it on until we get outside.

Where I am at with this at the moment honestly is that dog training is primarily about your communication with the particular dog, and that nobody else can really understand the dynamic between me and Sam better than me and Sam. I know EXACTLY what situations will make him growl. In fact 90% of the time I could tell you he's going to growl before he does it. This makes it easy to avoid it happening, but sometimes things need to happen that make it unavoidable.
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Old 04-28-2012, 05:34 AM
j0equ1nn j0equ1nn is offline
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Another aside (sorry about the length here, hopefully someone gets something out of it):
I was the only person responsible for training a dog that my parents took in about 11 years ago. They got him by responding to an ad in the Pennysaver. The people who had him played it down as much as possible, but basically they were giving him away because otherwise they had to put the dog down for biting people including children (friends of their son). They had already tried taking him to a trainer and the trainer told them there was nothing he could do. The dog's name was Buddy, he was 3/4 yellow lab and 1/4 German shepherd, and weighed about 100 pounds. He was 3 years old when they took him. He continued his usual behavior for a while. Whenever we had visitors he was locked in a room to bark his head off, yet managed to bite 4 people who came over anyway just cuz he would do it any chance he got. On walks, any time he saw another male dog he would INSTANTLY bolt towards the dog and try to kill him. I'm not exaggerating. The dog across the street had to get 17 stitches across his chest from Buddy ripping it open and continuing to attack until he was dragged off by 2 full grown men, one of whom had to get stitches of his own when Buddy bit him in the leg. My parents were lucky not to get a law suit. Another time I was walking Buddy and a cute friendly little beagle off the leash came wondering over to say hi. Buddy instantly pinned him on the ground, got his belly between his teeth, and started viciously twisting and pulling. I yelled at him: pointless. I tried to pry his mouth open: Buddy bit my hand, so now I'm bleeding. The beagle is whimpering, really suffering. I started punching the jerk in the head, pretty hard: no effect. I remembered something a friend told me a ways back about how to make a dog stop clenching his jaw as a last resort, and I stuck my finger up Buddy's butthole. He let go and spun around like "Say WHAT!?" and I grabbed him by the back of the neck and practically dragged him home. Thank god the poor little beagle was okay.

Now, this dog was knocking on death's door. But I loved him. Also, I wasn't afraid of him. I did not think he would ever try to bite me, but.. even if he did try to bite me I believed I could kick his ass. I might end up in the hospital but I knew I was capable of letting him know I was in charge no matter what. First thing I did that helped Buddy (which is the first thing I started with Sam) was very vigorous play-time. We would play tug where he could pull as hard as he wanted, sometimes I'd even swing all 100 pounds of him around me by his teeth, I'd throw things then wrestle them out of his mouth, I'd let him growl and bark while we were playing. But it was very clear that it was all in fun. It gave him a chance to get out some of that aggression. Everyone else was afraid to play with him like that, but I trusted him. Other than that, I mostly did the obvious stuff: taught him the usual obedience commands, always made him sit or lie down before getting a treat or a meal, etc. I did the stuff that I only just recently learned is called "Nothing in life is free," that to me just seems like common sense. But if this dog bit the wrong person, or bit anyone bad enough, which was basically just a matter of time, he was a goner.

So... this might sound crazy, but this is what I did. And I think you could only do this with a dog if you really love the knucklehead. I had a punching bag hanging in the basement of my parents' house. I knew that he tended to become violent if he saw any sort of violent activity, so I just used the punching bag to intentionally get him like that so I could teach him. I'd have him sitting nearby, no leash, while I practiced my boxing on the bag. He would lose it, start barking at the bag, and I'd stop and make him sit down, convince him that I had it under control. Then start again. He'd bite the bag, then I'd stop and yell at him, hold his muzzle closed and say "No bite!" and keep going. Sometimes it seemed we were making progress, sometimes not so much. Then one time I was doing this and the dog bit me, pretty hard. So I grabbed his muzzle, grabbed the back of his neck with the other hand, squeezed both hard enough that he was whimpering. I pinned him down on the ground on his back and straddled him and made him look me in the eye while I growled "NO BITE" at him like I was a 260 pound dog myself. I let him go, and he never did it again. He would sit and peacefully watch me hit the bag. He stopped biting people. He stopped needing to be locked up when friends came over. I wouldn't say the turning point was as dramatic as I just made it sound, it was a combination of things, but the point is I cared enough to put myself in danger, and that - I think - was the only way this dog was going to learn. He basically became a puddle of cuddle with a few minor aggressiveness issues that lived a long time and died of old age just the summer before last.

So, not you Maxy24, but a lot of people, I'm getting a little sick of them telling me what to do like I'm an idiot. I've had a pitbull in my apartment for a month that was going to be killed for aggressiveness if I didn't take him: I'm not an idiot when it comes to handling dogs. But this guy needs some exceptional methods. And he's not like Buddy either. He isn't confident like Buddy. If you get too mad at him, he gets so nervous me pees himself. Yet here he is growling and snapping at people. He's a weird dog, may need some weird methodology.

So again sorry about going on and on forever but I like your ideas Maxy24. I'm going to try it. If that doesn't work, my next idea is this:
Since I know exactly what makes him growl, I'll do sessions that start by putting the pinch collar and leash on him, then setting him up with a toy or food that I know he'll growl over if I touch him. Then touch him. Then he growls. Then give him a command, like sit, or come here, or lie down. If he doesn't do it, correct him with a leash-snap/collar-pinch, and make him do it. Keep at it until he doesn't growl, but don't get angry at him, don't raise my voice, always be ready with strong praise and treats when he does the right thing. That's my feeling. Though with Sam I feel harshness is to be avoided wherever possible. So we'll try the gradual approaching with treat dropping first.

Wish me luck! And bless your soul for reading this entire freakin thing!
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  #26  
Old 04-28-2012, 06:30 AM
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That trainer sounds AWFUL.

Run far, far away!!!

Have you considered clicker training?

And also someone has already mentioned nilif (nothing in life is free). This works well with initially hand feeding the dog (you don't have to do it forever).

There's tons of reading on all these online, and even YouTube.

I really worry about the negative reinforcement you're considering, this could elevate his aggressive responses.
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Old 04-28-2012, 06:35 AM
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Some reading for you

k9domain.org/alpha_theory.aspx
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Old 04-28-2012, 11:08 AM
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My philosophy is different from some, but similar to many as well. Unfortunately the public is being strongly influenced by television personalities who practice dominance methods. I personally don't want that sort of relationship with my dog, I don't want him to be my bitch lol. I want a partner. I also personally consider using pain and terror in training to be abusive, but everyone has different veiws on that. I don't doubt that they can make your dog's unwanted behavior stop, that's what punishment does, but I am not okay doing that to my dog and don't want a relationship where my dog is terrified of what I might do to him if he steps out of line. Using pain and fear is absolutely not necessary, regardless of whether or not it can work.

The point of me teaching bring it and drop it WAS to stop snapping and growling, not just to make a cool behavior, and it's worked great. It teaches the dog to be fine giving things up to you. No, it's not a quick thing that you do one day and he's done guarding, you have to train a behavior. But punishment, unless extremely painful or terrifying (as was what you did to your former dog) rarely works after one application either. But what I can tell you is that by NOT using punishment the change will likey be permanent because the dog will trust you and not be worried about you taking his things, he'll be fine with it. Using punishment, as I said, works by making the dog too afraid to do what he wants, but he still WANTS to guard. So someday it may come back to bite you, literally.



Quote:
In particular I have never tried dropping treats on the floor when he growls to distract him. My philosophy thus far has included that when he growls he is doing something bad so he should certainly not be rewarded..
You should not drop treats when he growls. I mentioned dropping treats twice in my post. One is for management. It teaches the dog nothing but is used if you need to get something away from your dog and cannot give it back. It is important not to take things from him, without giving them back, at least until he has learned to completely trust you (so after the guarding has been gone for a while). Otherwise you will cause a back slide in training. In this case you drop treats without ever triggering him to guard. You said yourself you know when he's likely to guard, so without letting him know you want what he has, and without getting near enough to make him nervous, you were to toss treats away from the item and pick it up while he is distracted. Again, this is purely for management. You really shouldn't be giving him a whole ton of things he wants to guard outside of training for now, so this isn't something you should have to do a lot of.
The second case where I mentioned dropping treats was to teach the dog to welcome your approach while he has something he likes. If everytime he's chewing something important you walk up and toss him a treat he'll stop feeling threatened by your approach and stop feeling the need to guard. This method IS teaching the dog and will help to make the guarding stop. But again, you don't drop the treats when the dog guards, you toss the treat from a distance that he will not guard from. So maybe at first you need to stand 5 feet away to toss treats, then over time after several weeks of practice can get close enough to hand them to him WITHOUT ever causing him to growl, snap, or bite. Then you'll be able to pet the dog and give a treat, touch the object and give a treat, pick the object up, give a treat and give the object back. There is no way to know how long this will take your dog. Look for steady progress.

I would of course urge you not to use punishment like that "trainer" suggested, it may work, may get you bitten, may make the dog a ticking time bomb (he wants to bite you for getting near his things but is terrified of what you do to him when he bites so just fills with terror and anger until he can't help it and mauls someone), may make the dog terrified of you, may make the dog not guard from you but still guard from everyone else, the possiblities are endless. What it absolutely won't do is make the dog feel fine or even happy about you coming near him when he has something important. Avoiding punishment can give you that, my dog doesn't have a single negative feeling about me coming and sticking my hand in his food bowl, petting him while he chews a bully stick, or taking that bully stick right out of his mouth. He trusts me and trusts that I don't want to steal from him. You can't get those positive, trusting, safe emotions by simply making the dog too scared of you to growl or bite. To me those emotions are important for your relationship but also for truly making the dog safe.


I do hope you try what I suggested, train a retrieve, a drop it, and counter condition the dog to having you approach him while he has something he normally guards (counter conditioning, if you don't already know, is pairing something the dog dislikes with something he loves, so pairing your approach with treats like I talked about above). The tossing treats while approaching/being near him and his item will likely be the most important aspect to making him feel fine about you coming up to him and touching him while he has a prized item. But this isn't something you can try for a week and suddenly the dog is all better. It takes time, so I hope you give it a good chunk of time to work.

I don't mean to come off as being pushy or a know it all, but as I said it's my personal opinoin that pain and terror in training is abuse and unnecessary to eliminate guarding, so that is why I come off strongly. I do applaud everything you've done for this dog, bringing him into your home and keeping him despite his problems, he is alive thanks to you. I wish you the best of luck.


ETA: Here's a book you might check out. I have not read this myself but have read other books and articles by Jean Donaldson and she's awesome.
http://www.dogwise.com/itemdetails.cfm?ID=dtb740
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  #29  
Old 04-28-2012, 04:10 PM
j0equ1nn j0equ1nn is offline
Sean Smith
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
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Maxy24: thank you so much for all your patience and time explaining this to me. I understand better what you're saying about the treat-dropping technique. I'm also going to check out the links suggested by others before I post again.

One out-standing question that I have though, I can't seem to quite get a straight answer on: what do I do when he DOES growl at me? I realize I'm supposed to try to avoid it happening. I also get now that I can try to make him more comfortable with me approaching during situations where he would normally growl, by the dropping of treats, but that I shouldn't give treats when he's actually doing it. But I'd be very surprised if there were not still many occasions to come when Sam will growl at me. When that happens, what do I do?

Similarly, have you ever actually been bitten by a dog? What do you do in that circumstance. At a certain point it becomes a matter of self defense instead of dog psychology, but lets say before it gets to that point. I didn't think my story about what happened with Buddy would be very popular, but I don't regret what I did. Everybody else in the situation had exactly crap to offer, including professional dog trainers, and that was what I came up with, and it worked! I don't see it as teaching the dog that he will experience pain and terror if he doesn't do what I want. I see it as teaching the dog that if he brings pain and terror into our relationship, that it's going to land on him and not me. I would never even think about hurting a dog unless I was defending myself or thought the dog was trying to hurt me, and even then preferably not, but ... well if the dog is bringing violence upon you I don't think he's going to find Jesus by watching you turn the other cheek .

Anyway.... thank you thank you again, I will check out the latest resources recommended and keep you posted.
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  #30  
Old 04-29-2012, 05:15 AM
j0equ1nn j0equ1nn is offline
Sean Smith
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Brooklyn
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Hey. I feel like kind of an attention hog posting on here so much. I hope at least other people in similar situations are getting something out of it. But I've been reading through the advice I got and that link about alpha dog theory being a myth, and I just want to say I am so grateful to you people for communicating this to me. I've always been very popular with animals in general, especially dogs, but I'm finding I did have an ignorance about how to communicate with them. I really don't think this rescue could have been successful without the encouragement to stay positive with Sam.

I did have enough insight to be more gentle than usual because of his personality, but I never would have thought to approach the main problems in the ways suggested. I've also had a tendency to lose my temper with him at times. I'm a full time PhD student who also teaches and tutors, and there are nights when there's just nothing left of my energy, and I've found myself just screamed at him for growling at me or even peeing on the floor. Afterwards I would feel I over-reacted but still couldn't understand why he didn't get the message. I must say it is kind of a load off to think that there isn't any point in constantly making sure I'm "dominant over him."

Today is a new start in his training. The dude has already learned to retrieve branches outside, bring them to me, and even drop them on command. We were having a pretty good time in the park today. I got him this incredibly well-made retractable leash, the brand is Flexi and it's called the Giant XL, they're built for dogs as heavy as 150lbs. They're like 70 bucks in a store but I scored a NIB one on ebay for 42. I started teaching Sam to come to me from further distances outside, I can't believe how fast he learns. He also responds to the clicking sound the leash makes right before he gets to the end of where I have it locked, so he hardly ever even pulls anymore. He's learning to stop whatever he's doing and come to me when I say "Come here," and learning that he's allowed to have the full extension of the leash after he does some simple commands for me when I say "You're free!" When he's too distracted all I have to do is tug pretty lightly and comes right to me. Even when other animals are passing by.

I set him up (entrapment) with a rawhide bone that he always gets weird and growly about today, and every time I happened to be passing by I tossed him a treat or two. This confused the hell out of him at first but he was down with it. Eventually he trotted off with it to my bed, so at some point I had to get him off. So I gave another treat then called him sweetly from the next room and he was having his nervousness problem, but didn't get vocal. Eventually he came, with no growling, peed ever so slightly on the floor, and just wanted hugs. So I got him interested in a less problematic toy (with some effort, following ideas from Maxi24) until he forgot about it, then I kind of snuck into the room and put the bone up on a shelf in the closet.

Me and Sam are both much happier with the new way of things, and with the more enjoyable walks and play time outside.

I am still curious about the response to what you think one should do if a dog actually bites you, and what you should do on the occasion he gets into the mode that he's just going to growl at you and try to intimidate you.. Hopefully I won't need to know for some time, but when you have a pitbull things like that are a bit more important than with some other breeds.
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