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Postby call2arms » February 7th, 2011, 4:44 pm

Yesterday night, I took Jack out for a pee. As we were walking out the drivway, the first thing I saw was a boxer, bolting at us. Then he was on Jack's back, and after much yelling and growling, I managed to pull Jack back and the owner got his dog back. Turns out he was readjusting a boot and didn't see us coming, and the dog managed to pull the leash out of the guy's hand.
I made Jack sit (manually, he was only half sitting after the ordeal) while the guy was excusing himself, explaining the boot situation. I had to insist that Jack shut up and sit down and calm himself because he was looking intensely at the other dog, whining, and wagging his tail while trying to stay in a sit.

All in all,total accident, both dogs were fine, and I have a nice 3 inch bloody scratch with a giant bruise around if from the dog's paws (I guess). I feel the need to mention that the owner is a sketchy guy (I've seen him before), and that the dog isn't even neutered. Mmph. But boy am I glad that neither dogs were hurt and ended up at the e-hospital, 10:30 on a Sunday night...

Anyway... Jack was "better" with other dogs for the last few years. Able to sit and watch most of them pass by on the sidewalk, always with me holding the collar but if the other dog wasn't "looking for it" he would be ok and forget about it quickly. Often small dogs he couldn't care less for.
I've been able to have him smell/see other dogs through a fence (never on leash) and know which ones he'd probably be an ass with, and which ones he's ok with (not that he would play with them or anything). He seems to be the kind of dog that if approached by a calm, polite dog, he's fine, but anything else and he acts like an ass - but with no biting, just a lot of noise. My main concern is always that if he meets another dog, he will react like an ass but the other dog might take it to another level, and then... Who knows.

Coming back form the park today, we saw another large dog from afar, and Jack was super anxious about it, trying to look at it over the snow banks, pulling, hackles up, tail straight up while the dog was walking in the same direction. The dog did turn back once and lift the ears, but nothing intense. I made Jack sit right away, he did but kept concentrating on the other dog. After a few seconds he answered to "look at me", I praised him and we kept walking. He did try to pull a little, and stared some at the other dog, and then we got back in to the driveway.

I'm not sure what to do to get him back to being the way he was, ("I don't care") and frankly since he's been better with dogs leashed on the street I haven't put much of an effort into making things even better. What has worked well with you guys, considering my level of nervousness is now also a little higher?
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Postby TheRedQueen » February 7th, 2011, 4:52 pm

Look At That game...there are threads and discussions of it here on PBT...but that's what I'd recommend.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 7th, 2011, 4:53 pm

Dogs=Treats

Seriously, basic classical conditioning. Jack sees a dog (start at a distance) and you shovel treats into his mouth. When he starts looking to you for treats when he sees a dog at a distance, lessen the distance a bit. Rinse, repeat.
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Postby call2arms » February 7th, 2011, 6:20 pm

How consistent does this have to be?

Questions:

1) I don't have a backyard, so anytime (like yesterday, pre-bedtime-I'm-in-my-pyjamas peetime) we're outside, on a busy street, dogs might fly out of nowhere. For this one I guess I should be a scout and be ready for any eventuality, so something like having a small treat-containing thing on the leash?
2) We can also go days without seeing dogs. My schedule sometimes brings me to take Jack for walks at 12pm, or mid-day in the empty park. Is this ok or should I seek them?
3) The bowels. A large amount of anything but his regular food gives him the runs. Even dried liver. And the treats have to be valuable right? So carrots are out of the question. Should I vary?

Another question - will loose dogs (like yesterday's - it's likely I will encounter more if I seek dogs, instead of turning around I would normally do) screw up everything?

Now let's see if I can be consistent (the issue of my life). I'm pretty sure I need to be clicker trained into being consistent. lol
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Postby furever_pit » February 7th, 2011, 8:29 pm

If he has a sensitive tummy you can just use his kibble as a reward. With young pups and green dogs, I don't feed them from a bowl - I keep their ration for the day in a tupperware container and they earn all of it. It certainly makes the kibble more high value than it was when the dogs knew it was coming in a steel pan twice a day.

I understand shoveling treats into the mouth of a dog that doesn't know its commands. But why do that with a dog that has some obedience and knows what you are asking of it? You're really not doing anything but proofing a known behavior in these circumstances. What I have done with my reactive dogs is ask them to perform basic obedience around other dogs, once they comply I reward them. If I need to move the dog away from the stimulus so that he can focus and do what I am asking, then I will do that.

I do think it is helpful to set it up so that you have a chance to work with Jack on a rather consistent basis. Do you have some friends who might be willing to walk past or near you while you have him out? At one point I used to take Dylan to the shelter and work his obedience around the kennel runs and that was a really good exercise for him. I have also used club training as an opportunity to work on this with my boys.
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Postby call2arms » February 7th, 2011, 10:48 pm

Kibble might be a good idea. I just shredded the dried liver into miniature bits so I can give less.

Unfortunately I have no friends with decent dogs that aren't either reactive themselves, or yappy annoying little things. So that's not a great idea. I would have tried this years ago if I did have a friend who had a decent dog, but the only one who used to, they played together often and he wouldn't react to her.

He knows how to sit, look at me, stay, and a bilion other things. BUT he will not focus on me, or barely will, if there's another dog... Sort of "ok, I'll do a half-sit so that you'll shut up BUT THERE'S A DOG ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREEEET!"

The times where I did have treats with me on walks (when we tried to learn heel - now he'll heel if I have treats, I guess it's a half success)... He would see the other dog, and I would need to shove the treat in front of his nose, try to lure his head towards me and sometimes he would respond, eat the treat in 1/2 second and focus back on the dog. But he was younger back then, we'll see how it goes this time...
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Postby furever_pit » February 7th, 2011, 11:04 pm

Have you tried doing an about turn and taking him away from the other dog and then rewarding him when he is able to focus on you? It sounds like you just need to work on distance and distraction levels with Jack.

Honestly, I will correct a dog for not complying with a command that it knows. I pair it with the about turn so it turns into command (that the dog doesn't follow or doesn't complete well - I like to use the attention heel), about turn and correction. That way the dog is receiving a correction both for non-compliance as well as for not keeping track of me as his handler. As soon as the dog gives me the attention I am asking for he is immediately rewarded and we turn back toward the stimulus while working to keep his focus on me.
That's just how I do it tho.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 8th, 2011, 3:47 am

Speaking from my own experience, with a dog that goes from zero to way over-threshold in an instant, once they're over-threshold, they can't hear you. Literally. There was a scientific study done that showed when animals are over threshold the hearing part of their brains doesn't really function very well. Wish I had any idea where to find it!

That's why I'm recommending basic old counter-conditioning. It's not fair to punish a dog that's over threshold and freaking out, and again, speaking from experience, it often makes things worse.

You need to figure out which method you're most comfortable using.
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Postby TheRedQueen » February 8th, 2011, 8:03 pm

pitbullmamaliz wrote:Speaking from my own experience, with a dog that goes from zero to way over-threshold in an instant, once they're over-threshold, they can't hear you. Literally. There was a scientific study done that showed when animals are over threshold the hearing part of their brains doesn't really function very well. Wish I had any idea where to find it!

That's why I'm recommending basic old counter-conditioning. It's not fair to punish a dog that's over threshold and freaking out, and again, speaking from experience, it often makes things worse.

You need to figure out which method you're most comfortable using.


Suzanne Clothier mentions this study in one of her books...I do believe. About the cat watching the mouse, and capturing the cat's brain waves...and it had NO idea anything else was in the world...all of it's attention was on that MOUSE.

And I'm with Liz, I don't correct for non-compliance for times where they are over-threshold...it's just not fair imo. Not that I correct anyway...but that's a big no-no for me.
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"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby furever_pit » February 8th, 2011, 9:50 pm

Which would be why I mentioned moving the dog away from the stimulus. :wink:
Obviously the dog needs to be able to "hear" you.

Perhaps I should have been more clear and stated that you work up to this distraction level. Didn't think that extended commentary was actually necessary though.
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Postby call2arms » February 8th, 2011, 11:26 pm

Thanks for the input ladies.

If we can, we turn away and I praise highly as soon as Jack isn't paying attention to the other dog anymore (because he sometimes does an exorcist 180-head turn to keep an eye on the dog who's pretty far, when we're walking away).

Definitely we need to work on lowering that treshold, so he can be more comfortable (or less threatened?) when other dogs are around (well, those who bother him, which is most dogs).
Oddly, let's say he's at work, in a situation where he's generally excited, he'll pass by other non-reactive dogs, and even walk by barking dogs in the kennel, without a peep. He just keeps sniffing everything and looking everywhere (and pulling like a freight train and half listening to what I say), it's like the environment is so overwhelming it actually surpasses the other dogs around...

Punishing does not work well with him, or at least what I've tried in the past. With collar corrections, and the added stress of a potential fight, the more I get agitated/stressed/reactive to his reactions, the more he behaves like a butthead. I could also wave a steak in front of his face and he would move his head to see the dog anyway, so I'm not surprised if the hearing part of the brain is not functional at thet moment!

If the correction fails (which it usually does), I hate it, I get pissed at him, and we storm back home. Not fair - he deserves to exercise well and get some outside fresh air despite the fact that other dogs roam this world, and he doesn't deserve me being pissed because I can't do what I want, which is exercise him/have a good time with him after a hard day at work. It's just super frustrating, because we have no "safe space" to be. It's either inside or outside on the street/park.

Sometimes, it's also like he's got a radar on and is actually looking for other dogs - ears up, not sniffing/looking for a place to pee, just super attentive to the surroundings... He's looking for trouble!

So far we haven't come across other dogs yet (so the treats are still hidden in pocket), but we've been working with a shorter leash, and walking on a loose leash staying by my side (not quite a heel, but not forging ahead either). So far, that's working ok. I think he should also stay more "with me" on walks in general, right?
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