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Old 09-04-2006, 06:38 PM
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misticaleclipse misticaleclipse is offline
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Default I don't want to set him up to fail

I have read a lot of dog training information that days not to set your dog up to fail, so take the training in smaller steps.

I have been doing this, but now we have an issue.

For the last month or so when Charlie sees another dog he starts barking at it and pulling on his leash. He is doing it in a very frienldy way because he's so excited to see the dog.

This occurs most often in our front yard, but also sometimes on walks as well. I tell him the quiet command, which he knows but ignores, and I have tried pulling back on his leash. I never pick him up because I know that is not good in most of these situations.

As for the setting him up to fail part, I don't usually try and get him to sit during these times. He has to sit for most things, but when he sees a dog or is really excited he ignores me, so the sit command would probably just set him up to fail and also have him learn to ignore the command.

What is the best response on my part in this type of situation? Any comments or suggestions?
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Old 09-04-2006, 06:48 PM
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Can u distract him with treats? And tell him to "sit" and "quiet" ??? Just a thought. My Katie does the same thing, we're working on it Its embaressing isnt it? lol
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Old 09-04-2006, 07:02 PM
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There are a couple of things you should work on at home in no distractions at first; attention training...to look at you on cue. Get it reliable. And practice in areas with a little more distraction...very gradually adding more. Practice you sit command more and just like the attention training....get it more solid by practicing with a gradual increase in distracting areas....very gradual, never moving ahead until the last step is mastered.

Take your dog someplace where he sees dogs, but not up close. Find somewhere to practice....maybe a Pet Smart parking lot or dog park. But stand way back so there is quite a distance between you and other dogs. When your dog first sees another dog but (this is important) BEFORE he gets all tense, get his attention on you. Reward. You can even then turn him sideways so he's not facing the other dog head on. Practice where he is not as apt to go bananas over seeing another dog. When he is calm and Ok with seeing a dog from a distance, gradually decrease the distance between you and the other dog. Reward for calmness....for sitting and watching you when cued. Never go closer until he's comfortable with the last stage. It does take time....sometimes a lot of time but he'll get habituated to them well this way if you take your time.

I know it's hard if you walk where you're bound to see other dogs up close. In that case, again....get his attention way ahead of time...before he "goes off." Turn him around and walk the same direction as the other dog, either in front or behind the other dog.

Don't forget to reinforce his good behavior. That's what a lot of people have trouble with. They don't reinforce enough. Everytime he's quiet and calm...even for 2 seconds, give him a treat and praise. He has to know and have it reinforced many times when he's giving a correct response. If you wait too long....wait for too many seconds of "good" behavior, he'll probably "go off" again. You gotta catch him while he's "good." The more times you can reinforce his quiet/calm.....the sooner he'll stop guessing at what it is he's doing which is earning him the treat and the sooner he'll know. Use high value treats in high distraction areas and somewhat lower value where it's very easy....like in your living room.

I say guessing because that's what they're doing for the longest time. We know what we want. We know what is driving us nuts. But they don't. We speak another language. So, that is why its imperative to create opportunities for success, even little successes and reinforce, reinforce, reinforce with something the dog LOVES. That is the only thing that will cause the behavior you want to increase in frequency. It's the only way the dog can understand what it is he did that was "correct." You must deliver the treat immediately and the praise...just a quick word, like "gooood." You can also use a marker word or clicker. Do a search on that. There's a thread in here somewhere about clicker training which may help. It helps with the timing and that's vital.

At other times, do you have some doggie playmates that he gets along well with for more socialization? That's important.

Has he been to obedience class? That's a terrific way to get a dog accustomed to being around other dogs. He'll learn to settle down. That's more sudden, not exactly a gradual desensatization. But he's not afraid of other dogs, right? He just wants to go see them. For training practice every day, I'd recommend some desensatizing. I also recommend a class once a week with other dogs.

It's often the darn leash that causes this. The poor dogs hardly ever get to socialize with their own species and they're held back by a leash.....frustrating. That is often the cause of this terrific reaction.

Do a search here and online for desensatizing and/or dog reactiveness and see what else you can find. I'm leaving out some points, I'm sure. But my posts are so long as it is. Gosh!

Oh..I reommend the book, Click to Calm. I haven't read it, but I've heard wonderful things about it from people I agree with and respect.
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Old 09-04-2006, 07:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doberluv View Post
It's often the darn leash that causes this. The poor dogs hardly ever get to socialize with their own species and they're held back by a leash.....frustrating. That is often the cause of this terrific reaction.
Thank you both very much for the responses!

I agree that its probably because of the leash. Since I only currently live in an apartment Charlie never gets to go off leash outside. This will change in a month when I get the house and I'm hoping to invite people over for doggie play dates.

Charlie is beyond friendly. Its not just embarassing though, its tough because I want him to be as socialized as possible, but of course most owners are not going to stop and say hi when a dog is barking at them.

As for the treat distraction. No, I have no tried any treat rewards for a few reasons. Charlie is not very food motivated at all (enough that he will not eat his food many times until 4 hours after I put it down for him)
Secondly I don't want him to focus on the food, but on me, so I give lots of positive inforcement whenever he does good (including trying to catch him in the one second he is not barking, I'm in the middle of "good boy" and he barks lol)
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Old 09-04-2006, 08:03 PM
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How does he walk on leash otherwise? Does he know exactly what heel means? This is something that needs to be worked on first and gotten to the point where he's responding every time BEFORE he can be expected to respond when he's distracted.

I would work on heel first, as in 'walk with your ear next to my leg and don't move from that spot' type of heel. Be precise, tell him exactly where you want him and then praise for doing so, or make it happen if it's not.

Once he's got a good solid heel then you can start to use that in distracting situations. But attempting to teach anything while the dog is distracted is a looseing battle.

I don't usally reccomend using the sit command for this type of situation because it oftens make the dog more frustrated. Keeping him moving and responding to you is a better option. When he's sitting still he's got too much time to think about that other dog.
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Old 09-04-2006, 08:30 PM
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We are still working on leash manners and how not to pull on the leash, unfortunalty its going much slower than I thought. Are some breeds harder to train than others? I have heard Shih tzus in general can be very stubburn about learning things, but I am not experienced.

Thus since I have not been able to master him not pulling I have not even tried on working heel yet. I am trying to adjust to his pace, but maybe I am going to slow?

He has not had classes yet, shame on me I know because that is my responsibility, but financially I cannot afford it right now and will need to do the best I can on my own for now.

Thats a good point about the sit command. I won't use it for this instance. I think I may try and make some home made liver treats for these distraction times (the only treat hes motivated for really)
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Old 09-04-2006, 09:13 PM
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Teaching him how to heel would help with the pulling on the leash... heeling is not pulling on the leash... and if he doesnt have a high food drive then maybe use something that he does have a high drive for... like say a toy or something...
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Old 09-04-2006, 09:24 PM
silverpawz silverpawz is offline
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Quote:
I am trying to adjust to his pace, but maybe I am going to slow?
He should be adjusting to YOUR pace. Not the other way around.

Teaching him to stop pulling is simple, it just takes some practice. Start with him on a regular buckle collar and leash. Take a few steps forward. If he's a puller he'll likely shoot out in front of you. Be ready for this. Turn around quickly and walk in the other direction the moment he moves ahead of you, but BEFORE the leash gets tight.

If he's paying attention he'll turn with you, if he's not he'll hit the end of the lead and have to turn around to follow you. Praise him tons when he catches up. Wash, rinse, repeat, repeat, repeat. Don't stop untill he's paying attention and turning with you.

If you need to turn around forty times...ya gotta do it forty times. He'll get the idea. I haven't met a dog yet that didn't.

Once he's reliably walking without pulling you can use this method when you come across other dogs so he learns that he must pay attention to you at all times or else you'll be going the other way without him.
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Old 09-04-2006, 09:38 PM
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Before a baby can walk, he has to learn to crawl. So what I usually recommend to people is: before a dog can heel, he should learn to walk on a loose leash....a nice walk, quite close to you, but not as precise as a heel. Heel is a very exacting position, with the dog's shoulder/neck area right in line with your thigh and close. It never wavers from turn to turn, from one speed to another. It takes a great deal of practice and is a more advanced skill. It also takes a good deal of concentration, even for the best of them. My dog has an accomplished heel but I rarely ask him to keep it up for an extended walk.

So, my recommendation is to work on a nice, loose leash walk, with a cue like, "let's go" or whatever you like. (that's sort of the fad now. lol)

In order for a dog to receive your instruction...your cues, he has to be focused on you. And that's where the attention training comes into play. You condition him to make eye contact with you on cue, by holding a treat in front of his nose and bringing up to your face. When he looks at you, give him the treat. When he is doing this regularily, add a cue, "watch me." Or "watch" or whatever. Do it in different places, random times, starting in low distractions and working up. He must be focusing on you and that will help him walk nicely along side you.

Frequent sits help a dog walk nicely. Frequent turns, zig zags, about turns all help him pay attention. When a dog sits or better yet, lies down, or turns his head away from the other dog (you help him with a lure) when another dog is coming, those are calming signals...as well as....it puts him in a more vulnerable positition and is less likely to be so brave as to lunge at the dog. Of course, sits and downs with stays need to be practiced in no distraction areas and worked up, just like everything. When he is walking nicely, reward frequently...every few steps which are nice and not pulling. This way he will get what it is he's doing which is earning him the reward.

Most dogs are treat motivated. You just have to find a tastier treat. If you work with your dog when he hasn't eaten for a while, and is a little hungry, it should help. A little deprivation will increase the value of the treat. You can use whatever motivates him....a toy or tug rope. But I like treats because they can eat them fast....tiny treats, the size of a pea...hot dog pieces, white cheese.

Don't worry about your dog focusing on the treat. Dogs do what works for them. They do not do things to please you. That's a big falacy. They are opportunists and scavengers and they've survived by manipulating their environment, including us for tens of thousands of years. LOL.

In order to motivate your dog, you need something he loves. This is a reinforcer. If you use what you think he should like, but he isn't that crazy about it, you're selling yourself short. Most trainers today use treats because most dogs are food motivated if you set them up to be. Food is an inherent need. Dogs get praise a lot anyhow and dogs who have been traditionally trained with a lot of corrections, aversives etc....naturally appreciate affection because it is a predictor that no aversive is likely to occur at that time, so they wag their tails. Of course they like praise. But why not give them something they REALLY love for a job well done. It will increase the probability of the correct response being repeated. Later, the treats can be put on a variable reward schedule so you can phase them out for the most part. But when a dog is learning a new behavior, a reinforcer is needed. A reinforcer is something which causes the behavior to be repeated. A reward is a nice thing. You need to distinguish between the two. A reward (something you think is a reward) is not necessarily a reinforcer. If your dog has a favorite toy which he doesn't get at any other time, use that and give a little play time. The reason I like treats is they're quick and you can get on with what you were doing. Toys....you have to give the dog some time to enjoy them and if you're teaching the dog to walk nicely, it interrupts the lesson, the walking. I would just pop the dog a treat while you're walking as long as he's walking nicely...every few steps. Then you can space it out later, (treating every few times, randomly) once he is walking nicely 90% of the time.

Think of treats like this: They're a paycheck. You wouldn't want to work without a paycheck. LOL.

Last edited by Doberluv; 09-05-2006 at 09:17 AM.
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