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Old 05-18-2013, 01:40 PM
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Applebear Applebear is offline
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Default Stranger Danger

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sI13v9JgJu0

I was wondering if this would be appropriate and/or helpful to use on my chow pup [10-11 wks] who is starting to show mild signs of fear or aggression towards strangers that get semi-close [he seems to have a different response to each one, sometimes he runs towards them tail wagging]. Or is there something else I should be doing? Right now I am trying to discourage the behavior by distracting him, walking a few steps in one direction, just to try and get him to break the current state of mind [oh were moving, ok...this is more interesting]. It seems to help a little, but not always and I'm not positive it's the most proper way or not.

I am on the hunt for a training class to help with socialization soon as he's old enough and plans to take him to parks, petstores, etc.. But as I do that, I would just like to make sure I am getting him off on the right paw and not making it worse [if anyone recalls my post on Benny...cough].

Have had chows before, that did GREAT with just the training classes and taking everywhere, but they didn't start getting huffy puffy with strangers this young, so it does have my attention.
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Old 05-19-2013, 05:55 PM
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Counter conditioning is an excellent tool to help not only train aggression out of a dog, but to make them more comfortable in stressful situations.

However, in the case of your chow puppy, you need to be sure you're rewarding before any displays of aggression (at that point, the pup is over threshhold...you should be avoid ANY situations that would make the puppy that fearful). Reward for being comfortable near strangers, or just when the puppy starts to look slightly uneasy or like he needs reassurance.

If the puppy is starting to appear fearful or aggressive (either cowering, scrambling to back away, pinning his ears back, growling), you need to just calmly and quickly remove him to a distance that he feels comfortable at, and reward him at the point where he notices the stranger but isn't reacting to them.
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Old 05-20-2013, 12:28 AM
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Thank you for the reply Milo. So do you mean I should start treating him before he even sees the people [as I often do see them first] and that way he's all ready in the happy state when he sees them? Or wait for that exact moment as he sees them and try to get him before a reaction? I know it's possible to treat at the wrong times as you are saying, so just trying to make sure I understand clearly.

And what would be a way to work with the problem if you didn't happen to have treats on you? I am trying to make it a habit to take treats out with me, but I do occasionally catch myself off guard [such as tonight I was outside at parents and people unexpectantly came out]...would walking away from the person of his snorty interest be enough to change his state as I was trying before?

Thank you again.
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:37 AM
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Reward him after he notices the people, before he has a chance to react. It might require quite literally stuffing a treat in his mouth quickly as he looks up and sees the person, if he typically reacts right away - and then either moving away from the person if it's just out in public, or having a "helper" who stop approaching or moving as soon as the dog notices.

If he is reacting strongly before you get a chance to provide him with a treat, the dog is being overstimulated and you'll need to work from more of a distance, or with a quieter/less intimidating group of people.

Your best bet is to ALWAYS have treats with you (maybe try getting a little treat baggie that attaches to his leash, so whenever you leash the pup up, the treats are right there). If you can't, and he's at all praise/toy motivated, you can always try just praising, petting, or grabbing a stick or something to play with him as a reward, but if that doesn't cut it for him and he is getting uncomfortable/showing aggression, your best bet is to ignore him and the person he's reacting to and just quickly and calmly remove the dog (turning another direction, walking away or around a corner) without making a fuss.
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Old 05-20-2013, 12:16 PM
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Ok thank you, that helped greatly. We took him to park day before yesterday and he did great overall...there was a ton of people and he only huffed/puffed once towards the end. I handled it incorrectly, but I think I know how to now.

At this time, it seems to be more of a territorial thing [on our property]. He doesn't usually snort RIGHT off the bat...he sees them and stares intensely for a brief moment, and then hits the snort button [if he is going to, sometimes he just keeps staring]. So I am thinking this is my window to treat him.

I do have a treat bag, I just need to be more disciplined on taking it with me at all times. I think I'm getting it, thank you so much for your help!
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Old 05-20-2013, 01:02 PM
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Yup - the perfect time to treat is right after he starts staring, before he snorts.

And if you keep the leash out of his reach anyway, and use non-perishable treats (that don't need refrigeration), just tie the baggy directly to the handle of his leash (or clip it on with a keychain or something). I'm assuming he's typically on-leash when you go out where there are people, so that should help.

Also, if a lot of it is territorial, I'd start enlisting friends, neighbors, etc. to stop by for a few minutes and do a brief training sessions - either they, or you, can reward the puppy for being comfortable with them. You can also try introducing him to your mail person.

Especially if you don't frequently have house guests, it can be hard for a puppy, especially a protective breed puppy, to get used to visitors and to distinguish a welcome visitor from an intruder. Having someone over once a month or less (or always having the same guests visit) isn't really enough.
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Old 05-21-2013, 11:40 AM
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Well was guy across the way yesterday...pup spotted him, fixed his stare and I stuffed treat in his mouth right that second. A group of girls came down street later on, and same thing-moment he noticed them, I stuffed a treat. His attention goes completely on me then and they no longer exist...hopefully that's still getting the effect we're looking for. The method is so new to me, I do have a hard time feeling confident.

People don't come to my house that often, even if I ask those I know it would be a very small lineup and wouldn't help because it would be those he knows. I'm not sure how to remedy that, as I just don't have the resources. I guess I may have to take the manage route on crating him those rare times a worker comes over, etc.. It's not my ideal choice, but I don't know how else to work on it. I am sending him for overnight and/or day stays with some family and friends to help expose him to more things that I may not experience as much here...I don't know if it'll help, but figured it wouldn't hurt either.

I have a slightly easier time in yard, as people walking by do stop to see him. They keep trying to pet him on top of the head though, and he doesn't like that from people he doesn't know...which kind of sucks, because a lot of times he is willing to go up and meet them once he sees I am ok with them, but is turned off the moment they try to go for top of the head. He does not become aggressive at all during these times, he just becomes neutral and doesn't want to interact with them any more.
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Old 05-21-2013, 11:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Applebear View Post
Well was guy across the way yesterday...pup spotted him, fixed his stare and I stuffed treat in his mouth right that second. A group of girls came down street later on, and same thing-moment he noticed them, I stuffed a treat. His attention goes completely on me then and they no longer exist...hopefully that's still getting the effect we're looking for. The method is so new to me, I do have a hard time feeling confident.
Well, if it helps, the two examples you gave sound like a perfect application of the method. It's great that he can notice the people and refocus on you. IME that means you're working right at his threshold. Well done!
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Old 05-21-2013, 01:32 PM
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It's great that you had two successes in one day! Keep it up. Don't be afraid to give people instructions. When I would take Phoebe to the park (friendly but HATES being pet on the head) I would always tell people that asked to pet her that they could, just not on the head. With kids I would not say yes first or they might just go for it, I'd usually say "just don't pet her on the head, pet her chest" or something like that. People don't always know where to pet if they can't use the head. Lots of people will try to pet their back instead...by reaching over their head lol.


But never allow someone to force themselves on him. If he is at all nervous say no they cannot pet him. I wish I had done that with my dog when he was a puppy, maybe he wouldn't be so convinced everyone is out to get him.

Allowing him to watch people that will not try to pet him will likely help. Somewhere where people are at one end of a field and you can be at the other and get closer as he gets comfortable. If people come up to ask to pet him say no to them while giving him lots of treats. If he doesn't assume people that approach are going to do anything he doesn't like he should be able to calm down.


It's great that you are working on this right away. Just remember not to push him (or let anyone else push him) to do anything he's not comfortable with or he could become defensive.
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Old 05-21-2013, 08:34 PM
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It sounds like you're applying the training methods perfectly!

If you do sign up for a puppy class with him, maybe you can ask the other "students" there if they mind stopping by to do some socializing on your pup's territory.
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