Managing reactive behavior

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Postby Jazzy1 » February 17th, 2011, 7:02 am

I just want to say that my not responding doesn't mean I'm not taking everything in. I'm in the process of reading Tiva's links.

I made the mistake of posting in several places, thinking I wouldn't get much response...and I have gotten a ton of feedback! Which is wonderful!
Just Whelped
Posts: 21

Postby Jazzy1 » February 17th, 2011, 9:49 pm

Tiva - I think I said to you in another forum that I realized that I have been working Veronica over threshhold. What I realized for those who didn't see that post was that the definition of sub threshold I was using in practice is not in fact sub threshold. I just realized (Duh!!) that I do push the envelope and bring Veronica within closer distances than I should because I am inpatient for progress.

For example, there is a house we walk by with a large husky type dog on an open balcony. The dog barks it's head off. When Veronica is doing well, she can walk by "and not react"; when we had backslid, she has walked by and barked back and lunged. Here's what I just realized...

by "not react" I mean; not make a sound. I have taken that as a sign of success.

There have been times when other people, seeing Veronica and me with my clicker and treats; have complimented me on "how well she was doing" because she was not making a sound or to them visibly reacting.

What I just realized is that even though it isn't apparent to other people that she is reacting; I know she is still reacting. She is still becoming aroused, her breathing is faster, she is standing up straighter, her hackles are slightly raised, she is orienting to the other dog, pulling slightly in the direction of the other dog. What stops her from visibly reacting so that others could see is my waving treats under her nose, stuffing treats in her mouth and telling her to watch me. It is not so much the "Look at that game" as it is the "Look at that game on speed".

Clearly all this time...I have not been sub threshold...because she has been reacting...and I knew these were the behaviors that were a problem but I wasn't connecting the fact that she was outwardly looking so well behaved to the fact that she was still over threshold.

So realizing I need to take a step backwards...I can see how I can incorporate BAT techniques. I think I have to re-think everything!

mnp13 - I am not a fan of aversives; but that said I'm not opposed to them if I had a dog that required them. Veronica is very soft; and it isn't just the reactivity that's an issue she also has significant fear issues. So in theory, I think aversives are a bad idea for her.

In practice; I'm not proud to say it, but I've lost my temper a time or two and delivered a leash combined with verbal correction, one time I let an idiot trainer convinced me that she didn't respect me so I needed to grab her collar and yell in her face (that was the end of my impressionability by people who supposedly know better)...none of this produced any sort of results other than a dog who was now looking at me like I was dangerous and insane.

But my favorite correction story, is the one I decided to use. We were at Rally class. The course is set up so that on one side you have to pass by at @ 2 - 4 feet, all the other dogs sitting against the wall. We did our pass and I was using a food lure right in front of V.'s nose and she did fine. We did it again and I decided to remove the food lure (thinking to myself we have been at this enough times, she knows these dogs, she knows what she is supposed to do). We pass by the line of dogs and of course Veronica cannot resist giving a little snark to the other female pit bull. I had the leash in my right hand. I reached down with my left, I grabbed her snout. I gave it a good little shake with a firm verbal reprimmand. And off we went to finish the course and I was pleased as punch saying to myself, "Well! I handled that".

Not...quite. We get our next run, all goes well...we approach the weave cones which is where I corrected her...and all of a sudden Veronica is looking scared and she can when in fear mode. Slinking down low, shying away from my left side, refusing to go near the cones, freezing.

So of course the whole class is like, "What the hell is wrong with Veronica"...then we put it together that she was freaking in the spot where I gave the correction. Not to anthromorphize but my trainer thought "I embarrassed her". With Veronica, entirely possibly...I certainly freaked her out if nothing else. Then we had to spend about 10 minutes with me and the trainer using all sorts of treats trying to snap her out of it and get her back to normal and doing the course; and she pretty much was freaked for the rest of class.

My point in all of this...I really don't think aversives are the way to go with Veronica. She can totally be a head strong butt head; but the fear issues make her so unpredictably isn't worth it.

Liz - Thank you for sharing! I enjoyed reading about Inara's progress! The sequestering idea may be beneficial for Veronica because she does want to be out where the action and and see what's going on. Something like that actually came up last week. We have an agility class which consists of 4 pit bulls.
Dolly is a doll and completely non-reactive. Socrates (Veronica's beau) has come into his own, hit adolescence and decided to react to the other male Duke. Duke is somewhat generally reactive. Veronica is especially reactive when other dogs are reactive.

When one dog is doing the course; the other 3 are in the back room practicing being appropriate and calm. This past week when one of the dogs reacted, the trainer had us take the offending dog in the bathroom for a time out. When Veronica snarked at Dolly and was getting taken into the bathroom for a time out, she put the breaks on and lowered her head and tried to plant herself. Like "OK, OK I'll be good, I nos has ta go inta deh batroomz now kay"! :lol3:
Just Whelped
Posts: 21


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