Common Knowledge by Denise Fenzi
Maybe it’s time to rethink some of the “common knowledge” in R+/P- training.
How old is your toolbox? If it’s old, it probably has a lot of tools in it. Indeed, you might find that it’s so full, you’ve switched to a truck to carry your various props. Some of your tools are surely tried and true. You’ve met the goals you set out to meet using them and quite possibly reached some very nice success. Success, security, knowledge, admiration from others – as humans we need these things.
Your toolbox likely carries physical props (treats, toys, special collars, sticks, etc.), information (solutions to specific problems), cutting edge options (highly adjustable e-collars, remote ball launchers). and “common knowledge” for your sport (“your dog MUST perform”, or “it’s always the handler’s fault”).
If you’ve been around awhile, odds are excellent that you’ve invested a good deal of time, money, and emotional energy building up your toolbox. Odds are also good that you haven’t thought too deeply about what you have and why you have it.
Oh my goodness, thank you :3
I had to laugh when you described your collie cross’s problem because he sounds a lot like my GSD (though with less yelling and charging around the house) What I’ve found most effective is conditioning a collar grab to be calming, asking for an incompatible behavior, and if the dog is really being out of his mind excited, time outs.
For collar grabbing, I’m just going to give you a link (sorry). This is a really important thing to teach every dog as grabbing the collar in a stressful situation is one of the most common sources of dog bites. Besides recall this is one of the most important things to teach a dog for emergency situations in my opinion. if you have conditioned collar grabbing to be calming, you can use it while putting on the leash.
Asking for an incompatible behavior:
Make sure you have super high value, awesome treats on hand before you start this exercise. Your dog having a solid “stay” will help a lot too.
When he jumps, turn your back from him and put the leash down. Don’t look at him or talk to him, just act like he doesn’t exist. When he pauses his antics for a second, turn around and put him in a sit/stay or down/stay, click and treat for compliance. Once he’s in a sit/stay or down/stay, touch the leash and if he doesn’t move, click and treat. If he gets up, turn around, stop interacting with the leash, and ignore him. Repeat this until you can actually pick up the leash without a freakout. It’s helpful to practice this a couple times a day when you aren’t planning on actually going for a walk. I personally put my puppy in a down/stay and continually treat him for staying put and not yelling his fool head off while i put his harness and leash on.
If he will not calm down and just keeps jumping and yelling, put him in time out in a dog proofed room. Do not use a crate for this because this is a punishment, albeit a negative punishment, and you don’t want to build the associate of crate=punishment. Put him in time out, wait for him to calm down, and then let him out and try the technique in the above paragraph again. When I started training my pup out of this, I found that he had to go into time out a couple times (for no more than a minute or two) to realize “wait, if I’m a jerk I don’t get to hang out with my person or go on walks”. This works especially well with clingy dogs like collies and GSDs.
I hope that helps some :)
Look At That!: A Counterintuitive Approach to Dealing with Reactive Dogs
When our dogs react, we often try and get them to avoid looking at the stimulus whatsoever and focus on us but this often increases a dog’s anxiety level. LAT addresses this common issue in leash reactive dogs.
We first learned about the “Look at That” (LAT) game from Leslie McDevitt’s brilliant book “Control Unleashed.” One of the most common dog training issues is on-leash reactivity. Our gut instinct is to tell Fido to knock it off or to try to console them and make them feel safe by patting them and speaking in high pitched voices. Unfortunately for a lot of dogs our attempts at canine communication are often misinterpreted and we see an increase in snarling, lunging and barking at approaching triggers like animals, people or moving objects. If we scold our dogs for acting like a lunatic when triggers approach, we run the risk of creating an even more negative situation for our already stresed or anxious friends. When we try and reassure Fifi that everything is going to be OK, they don’t hear our words but may assume based on our high-pitched tone that we like it when they are nervous and scared and they may enjoy the extra attention it gets them.
Although it goes against our human nature, the Look at That game diffuses both of these situations and quickly results in increased confidence and focus on mom or dad instead of incoming triggers. For a detailed description of the “Look at That” game, we encourage you to check out Leslie McDevitt’s web site and buy her easy-to-understand book or videos but we wanted to give you a brief overview of the exercise because the Clicker Leash makes it so easy to do.
The key is to keep your dog below threshold (ie quiet and calm) while teaching them to look at a stimulus they do not normally like and rewarding them for looking at it. To train LAT, use your Clicker Leash to click and reward your dog the second they look at a trigger as long there is no reaction. If your dog is too intense with the triggers being used, start with a neutral target like a piece of paper or other item your dog has no association with and again click as soon as they look at it. When your dog is offering a quick glance towards the target, name it “look.” Your dog will quickly start to look at their triggers and turn back to you for a reward. If your dog does not turn quickly, it is likely because they are over threshold. You should increase the distance between you and the trigger and try again.
Begin playing LAT with a different neutral distraction for about 30 seconds, as often as you can each day. Gradually progress to more challenging distractions such as favourite toys, the mailman, squirrels and approaching people. Once your dog has mastered the game with various distractions, you can progress to using dogs they like and then strange dogs. Remember, the key here is to keep your dog calm during this game. If they begin to growl, bark or lunge, they have gone over threshold and you need to start again with more distance between you and the object.
If youhave a particularly stressed, anxious or reactive dog, you may also want to check out Dr. Karen Overall’s Relaxation Protocol. The protocol provides a clear set of exercises to do with your dog to help teach self control in exciting situations. Remember to keep your training sessions brief and fun so your dog will want more! For more training tips and free video tutorials visit www. clickerleash.com
A decent blog article by Victoria Stilwell concerning time management that new or potential owners might find interesting. (:
This is a big pet peeve for Jeremy and I. We ALWAYS have our boys on leashes and cannot believe how many loose dogs we encounter in our neighborhood.
The boys are relatively friendly with other dogs, but when I have all three of them leashed up and a new dog comes bounding towards us and gets all up in our business, chaos ensues. They get wrapped around my legs, tangled up in their leashes and it stresses them out.
Then when Jeremy goes running with MoJo, he frequently encounters people sitting on their porches with their dogs hanging out off leash that end up chasing MoJo down. Jeremy has had to pick MoJo up a few times just to get the other dog to go away!
Restrain your dogs, people. Even if they are “friendly.”
Winning prizes in ‘contests’ is not in the dogs best interest but the humans, I think people should always consider what is in their dogs best interest as well as their own. If their dog is overly stressed by contests causing them to pull on leash, then I would advise the owner to train their dog to feel comfortable in contest environments before making their dog go in the ring to win them prizes. I personally see no importance in the relationship between a dog and a human on winning prizes in competitions. If that is the only reason people can see worth in their dog, then they will set themselves up for disappointment when their dog doesn’t win or do perfectly.
—Some, let’s say, interesting views on dog sports, from Emily Larlham.
Dogs are not wolves.
You do not need to keep your dog “subordinate.”
Dogs build on trust, not on dominance.
The first, most basic dog rule is “no real aggression.” Humans need to learn this.
The “dominance hierarchy theory” is badly in need of replacement. Schenkel (at the time the greatest living authority on wolves) protested the instant the theory was used to explain the social organization of wolves, but for some reason everyone ignored him. It didn’t take long before the same myth was being used to tell us how domestic dogs organize their groups. We can’t even call this bad science because, in fact, it wasn’t science at all. It was and still is simple human projection.
For species who live in packs it´s important to be able to communicate with its own kind. Both in order to cooperate when they hunt, to bring up their offspring, and perhaps most importantly: to live in peace with each other. Conflicts are dangerous - they cause physical injuries and a weakened pack, which is something that no pack can afford - it will cause them to go extinct.
Dogs live in a world of sensory input: visual, olfactory, auditory perceptions. They easily perceive tiny details - a quick signal, a slight change in another´s behavior, the expression in our eyesÉ Pack animals are so perceptive to signals that a horse can be trained to follow the contraction in our pupils and a dog can be trained to answer your whispering voice. There´s no need to shout commands, to make the tone of our voice deep and angry - what Karen Pryor refers to as swatting flies with a shovel.
The dogs have about 30 calming signals, perhaps even more. Some of these signals are used by most dogs, while other dogs have an incredibly rich ´vocabulary´. It varies from dog to dog.
Myths and urban legends about clicker training abound. There is a big difference between “clicker training” and “training with a clicker.” It’s important to remember that these are myths about correct clicker training. Unfortunately, many of these myths are all too true when clicker training is not implemented appropriately and carefully. The clicker is a great tool when used correctly. Any tool has the potential for misuse, the clicker is no different in that respect.
Providing your puppy or dog with an indoor kennel crate can satisfy many dogs’ need for a den-like enclosure. Besides being an effective housebreaking tool (because it takes advantage of the dog’s natural reluctance to soil its sleeping place), it can also help to reduce separation anxiety, to prevent destructive behavior (such as chewing furniture), to keep a puppy away from potentially dangerous household items (i.e., poisons, electrical wires, etc.), and to serve as a mobile indoor dog house which can be moved from room to room whenever necessary.
A kennel crate also serves as a travel cabin for you dog when travelling by car or plane. Additionally, most hotels which accept dogs on their premises require them to be crated while in the room to prevent damage to hotel furniture and rugs.
Most dogs which have been introduced to the kennel crate while still young grow up to prefer their crate to rest in or “hang-out” in. Therefore a crate (or any other area of confinement) should NEVER be used for the purpose of punishment.
We recommend that you provide a kennel crate throughout your dog’s lifetime. Some crates allow for the removal of the door once it is no longer necessary for the purpose of training. The crate can be placed under a table, or a table top can be put on top of it to make it both unobtrusive and useful.