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  #11  
Old 10-27-2008, 07:03 PM
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PWCorgi PWCorgi is offline
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I agree with a lot of confidence coming from the owner, this is what I'm working on now with Izzy, with my trainer's help. Izzy needs to know that I am in charge of the space around, it is my job to control and defend that area, not Izzy's. She needs to know that I will keep her safe and she can just enjoy the walk. It's hard, but I can definitely see an improvement.

Also, for general confidence building, tracking seems to work the best in my opinion. No corrections, it's all positive and if done right they always succeed, and you can do it on your own instead of having to find a class. Next Spring I'm definitely going to jump back into it with Frodo just for the confidence aspect.
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  #12  
Old 10-27-2008, 07:16 PM
Brattina88 Brattina88 is offline
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Click to Calm is a great book. Its titled 'healing the aggressive dog', but I found so many helpful things in it - something that just about any dog would benefit from it! I'm trying to find it, but its lost somewhere in one of my rooms *cries*

Something that has worked for me in the past, is to encourage dogs to do things they wouldn't normally. For example, walking on a cement parking space bar, standing on a decent sized boulder, etc etc - and rewarding/praising like crazy! Keeping it fun, like a game. Me and Maddie enjoyed this - I liked looking for things for Maddie to accomplish, and she enjoys learning new things. I'm actually helping Kayla do this with Tucker, since he's acting a little bit skittish
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  #13  
Old 10-27-2008, 07:28 PM
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Thanks so far guys! I keep meaning to pick up a copy of that book Click to Calm........but I never REMEMBER it at the right time!

I am going to amazon RIGHT NOW
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  #14  
Old 10-27-2008, 07:32 PM
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Its a bit too hot by now to take him out for a full walk (and I'm lazy so meh) so I just decided to take him down to the empty block on the corner and do some training.

He was brilliant, he actually even walnted to play with a stick for a short while (he NEVER wants to play out on walks) I went to throw it for him and promptly hit him in the face. I'm an awful mum...
He still wanted to play for a bit after that so we did some recalls and some heeling and stuff and he was a total gentleman, even "focussed" on me while cars where driving past... woo.

Then a little dog decided to come down and bark at us through its fence, I've seen it before when its loose and it makes a lot of noise but doesn't approach us so I figured we'd use it seeing as he was being so good.

Well he just about acted like a normal dog... We got about 15m back from it and just did some loose leash walking, some heeliing and some "focus"ing. Then a few small recalls (like 2 metres)
The fact I could get him to even look at me was amazing let alone listening to me.

*happy dance*
he was even enjoying himself the entire time... he never enjoys himself outside the yard let alone in front of dogs.

/end shameless brag

I just love him.
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  #15  
Old 10-27-2008, 07:36 PM
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mrose_s mrose_s is offline
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i Need a copy of that book aswell, for the longest time I couldn't find it in Australia but I know its here now... I just have to get off my bum and order it. WIll do today... i've been looking for something to spend my money on
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  #16  
Old 10-27-2008, 08:40 PM
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Quote:
Izzy needs to know that I am in charge of the space around, it is my job to control and defend that area, not Izzy's. She needs to know that I will keep her safe and she can just enjoy the walk. It's hard, but I can definitely see an improvement.
This was a big lightbulb moment for me as well. When I started in dog stuff (before I had Meg), the school I went to was very much the "let them work it out on their own" school of thought. I tried it with Meg for a while, and she just got worse and worse. Dogs approach her, she gets worried and on the defensive, other dogs get offended, and then occasionally attack.

Now, whenever I have her in a setting that tends to cause issues for her (always on-leash or in tight spaces), I make sure to remember that it is my job to keep her comfortable. We no longer go in pet stores together, unless I've gone in ahead of time and scoped out that there are no dogs, and that the aisles have plenty of space so you don't get surprised. I do the same thing in vets offices or anywhere else that she has to be leashed. It's amazing how much less she worries about other dogs when she is leashed now. Off-leash, her issues have always been much less severe. I still won't hang around standing still with dogs we don't know (she will never be a dog-park dog), but we can pass other dogs while out hiking with no problems. She has a great time hanging around with dogs we both know and are comfortable with.

As for general confidence, it is one of the things I am most proud of with Meg. She is a worrier at heart, and came to me having been very under-exposed to life in general (having lived tied out). Back then, if something worried her (stairs, walking across the wooden footbridges on our favorite hiking trails, etc), she was done. She couldn't even stand to be around what was bothering her. She would slink away, shut down, and completely stop responding.

I was so, so lucky to get in to the agility school I did. The instructor is very willing to take every dog as an individual and take the time it needs to make them comfortable. I've also gotten great advice from her on non-agility related issues.

Early on, I had to be careful that Meg was never wrong more than one time. It wasn't enough that I didn't punish any mistakes; simply the absence of a reward and a "try again" was enough to make her quit playing. If I asked for a behavior and didn't get it, we did several reps of something really, really easy and would reward that. Her tolerance has increased and now I can simply not reward and go back to the behavior (although I still don't use any sort of no-reward marker with her).

I played a lot with her in very comfortable settings (like our living room floor). She used to hate playing with me in front of other dogs at all, so I would get down on the floor with her at home when she was feeling frisky, toss a toy, gently push her away, play growl at her, etc. Of course, this is a dog who is very soft and low in confidence, so I can get away with those things.

I spent nearly a year (really) teaching her to play tug with me. She is finally at the point where she will play right in the middle of our agility class with other dogs watching. She really gets into it now, with lots of growls and head-shakes. I almost always let her win - breaking the rules of tug, of course, but it is a big confidence booster for her. I also NEVER correct her for anything in tugging. I know you are supposed to end the game if they bump you with their teeth, but my feeling is that I entered in to this game with her, I want to encourage the drive and confidence, and I'm not going to tell her she's wrong for giving me what I want. If I ever have issues with her, maybe I'll revisit our Revised Rules for Tugging, but in the meantime, I love what it does for her.

If she's having one of her weird, shut-down, worried periods (few and far between nowadays), I look for any sign of comfort or confidence and reward that. Her little stub of a tail is very easy to read; it stays tucked tight when she is worried, and even a slight lifting is obvious. Her head coming up, rather than low and slinking, is another good sign.

I realize I break many of the rules designed to keep dogs "in their place" in the dominance hierarchy, and that the way I do things with Meg might cause issues in other dogs. But as I said, I know Meg enough to trust that I'm not causing problems in her. She is never going to be overly confident, pushy, or domineering with people. I certainly wouldn't suggest some of our games (like laying on the floor with the tug toy held near your mouth and growling as your dog pulls on the other end) for most dogs. Just sharing what works for us.
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  #17  
Old 10-28-2008, 11:47 PM
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I agree with what everyone has said and I will add one more thing that I read somewhere. When you encounter an dominant/aggressive dog that your dog is expecting you to protect him from an attack or one in the making. Being that you are the alpha.

My dog is just the opposite and is aggressive with other dogs, and at one point of our walk there is another dog that if she is out will run towards us aggressively, which of course sets off my dog. So obviously he is not looking for me to protect him, but I am very aware of his aggression and if this other dog is out, I turn around, before he has time to react. As with any dogs I encounter in order to protect my dog and the other. I watch for signs and signals from my dog to know when he is under alert and then act accordingly.

So I don't know exactly what you would do in your situation with your dog, but I'm just giving an example of what is working for me with my dog.
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  #18  
Old 10-29-2008, 10:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrose_s View Post
Instead of waiting till he pulled than saying "no, wrong, try something else" I was able to set him up with "yep, thats right, and thats right, and thats RIGHT!!!"
With Nyx and her DR, she sees another dog and the first thing she does is step out to the end of the leash. Then she starts her reacting.

One day, she spotted a dog and focused on him, and she stepped towards the end of the leash. I extended my arm to put slack back in the leash. I saw her hesitate and I just smiled - she was still focused on the other dog. She took another step towards the end of the leash and I again reached forward to keep slack. At that point, she stopped and I could see the wheels spinning. She calmly turned to look at me and I praised the sh!t out of her and we walked away, me praising and playing with her.

Basically that tight leash allows her to be focused on the other dog while still maintaining some awareness of me. By not allowing tightness in the leash, she had to break off the focus on the other dog and look at me in order to have awareness of me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PWCorgi View Post
Also, for general confidence building, tracking seems to work the best in my opinion.
Neat!! I don't think there's any one activity that builds confidence. The more you do with the dog the more it helps -- tracking, obedience, agility, frisbee, etc.
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