My dog doesn't like my future roommate...

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Postby Tubular Toby » March 7th, 2011, 8:14 pm

I am still hung up on the WHY this is happening... I am pretty stumped.
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Postby amalie79 » March 7th, 2011, 8:20 pm

Hundilein wrote:
pitbullmamaliz wrote:
amalie79 wrote:Your guests can also drop treats (STILL ignoring), or hand treats without making any other acknowledgement that Toby's there.


I would NEVER do this with a fearful dog. The owner needs to be handing treats. Too many dogs are food-motivated enough to come close to get the treat, but then freak out that they're so close.


I have to agree with Liz on this one. I saw it happen with Hannah. Things improved dramatically when she learned to touch people's hands to get treats from me. She had the choice to go near the person if she wanted to, but if she did, she had to come back to me to get her treat. It took the pressure off and made her feel much more comfortable. She's doing much, much better, but we still use this trick to introduce her to new people. Usually after a couple of touches, she starts hanging out near the person longer and solicits petting. But it took literally years to get to that point with her.


I would guess it depends on the dog-- Robin freaks out when the person pays attention to her, but having strangers give her treats while ignoring her, and it has to be a person who really understands ignoring, has done wonders for her. As long as she gets the treat before the freak out, we're golden. And there are people that took a couple of meetings of just giving treats and making no eye contact or other touching whatsoever before she saw them as human treat dispensers. I would think that if eye contact or other attention is the trigger, having a person ignore while DROPPING treats doesn't put pressure on the dog if the handler is concerned about actual contact, especially if the DOG is allowed to approach the person or treat and NOT the other way around. It really depends on the dog, I would think. I think that for Robin, having to touch the person's hand for the treat is WAY more pressure than the person dropping it or offering it on an open hand. Having to so directly interact is asking a lot of her.
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Postby Hundilein » March 7th, 2011, 8:51 pm

amalie79 wrote:I would think that if eye contact or other attention is the trigger, having a person ignore while DROPPING treats doesn't put pressure on the dog if the handler is concerned about actual contact, especially if the DOG is allowed to approach the person or treat and NOT the other way around. It really depends on the dog, I would think. I think that for Robin, having to touch the person's hand for the treat is WAY more pressure than the person dropping it or offering it on an open hand. Having to so directly interact is asking a lot of her.


I hope this post doesn't come off as argumentative. I really don't mean it that way. I'm just trying to better explain where I'm coming from. And I apologize for any typos. I've already nearly burned my dinner three times and I'm getting hungry!

The problem with having the strangers give treats is that while it is the dog's choice whether to approach the person or not, the treat may provide motivation to get closer, even while the dog is feeling unsure. I've seen many dogs creep up to get the treat, eat it, and then freak out that they were close to a scary person.

I do sometimes drop treats for fearful dogs while ignoring them, but it's always me approaching to drop the treat or, more often, tossing the treat. And as soon as I deliver the treat, I walk away. It's only after many times dropping a treat and moving away that I will let the dog eat out of my hand and even then, as soon as the dog eats the treat, I move away. Moving away is like a second reward because for a fearful dog, distance from the trigger is rewarding.

I should also specify that I didn't start out having Hannah touch people's hands. She got clicks and treats for just existing while a person was around first. It was clear to me that her aggressive reaction was due to fear, so I didn't really care what she was doing. I spent many, many sessions literally shoving treats into her mouth as she was barking. Once she could exist relatively calmly around people, she got clicks and treats for looking calmly at a person for a long time. Once she could do that easily and started showing interest in interacting more with people, we started having her touch people's hands. So she was already comfortable being in the same room with a new person and wasn't freaking out. Yes, that meant managing her to keep her away from people in the mean time, but that's what we did. If we had company over, she went in a bedroom with a kong until we got to the touching people's hands step. And even then, it was much harder for her at home, so we started with just existing when people were over again.

One of the reasons I love teaching a hand touch for fearful dogs is that it becomes a safety cue. I practiced with many, many people who I could trust to truly ignore Hannah and hold their hands still before I ever asked her to touch a stranger's hand. (I was insanely lucky that I had access to so many dog people through flyball.) Now she knows that if I ask her to touch a person's hand, it will be okay. And when a random stranger holds his hand out to say hello, it is a cue she knows. This is very different from the dog who approaches an outstretched hand looking for treats. Hannah pokes the person with her nose and then looks back at her handler. We no longer have to treat her, now we just tell her she's a good girl and that everything is okay.
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Postby amalie79 » March 7th, 2011, 9:14 pm

Not argumentative at all-- and I hope this doesn't come off a glib or flip-- but you guys definitely have more experience with this stuff than I do, so I'm just explaining where I'm coming from with what we do. :)

I would love to get to the point of having Robin calmly touch a stranger's hand-- and that's especially great, because that's how most people automatically assume they should greet a dog. And most of the time, we play a lot of LAT when we're out and at home; very rarely does she meet people outside our house. LAT's definitely become a signal for her that "this is ok; we're going to play a game and I'll get treats because this person showed up." I find that Robin wants to run up to people but then her freak out comes when they make long eye contact. We've narrowed that down pretty well. So I feel comfortable allowing friends who are strangers to her drop or offer treats when she runs up to them-- I just have to specifically give the instruction to otherwise pretend she's not there. Usually she grabs the treat from them and runs back to me where she gets more treats and more praise, and she gets a ton of praise from me while she's getting hte treat from the other person. Perhaps I'll work on a "touch" with "strangers" that I can trust to follow directions. Touch works very well with her fear of inanimate objects, so maybe we can work up to that.

Her level of fear has gone down considerably. I was just thinking that if Toby's reaction comes on when the other person is paying him attention-- even if it's not what most people think of as attention, but rather prolonged eye contact or movement toward him-- if Kristen can really pin down a trigger, this kind of thing might be an option. If the mere presence of another person is the trigger, than it's not a great idea if for no other reason than by the time the person shows up, he's already over threshold and that person dropping treats won't mean squat.

I think the best thing here is for her to have someone see him in person; what worked for me and for Robin, may indeed be a terrible idea for him. Just my two cents :) As I said, you guys and many others here have more experience with this, so this is just what's been working for us. We're starting with a trainer in a few weeks, so it may all go out the window when she gets ahold of us! lol
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Postby Tubular Toby » March 7th, 2011, 9:19 pm

We're going to see Kathy Cascade on Saturday!
-Kristen
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Postby amalie79 » March 7th, 2011, 9:24 pm

I'M SO JEALOUS!!!

I was super-duper excited when I heard that Mary was getting her to come here...and then I got the dates. :( I'll be out of town that weekend and can't make it.

TTouch is amazing, and I've heard great things about her. Did you watch her video about Alf?

YAY!!!! Let us know how it goes!!
"In these bodies, we will live; in these bodies we will die.
Where you invest your love, you invest your life." --Marcus Mumford

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Postby Tubular Toby » March 7th, 2011, 9:41 pm

I am pretty excited, she is charging $45 an hour, and while I can't pay it all at once right now, she is allowing me to make payments so we can start helping Toby immediately. Fingers crossed. Fingers crossed hard.
-Kristen
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Postby TheRedQueen » March 7th, 2011, 9:50 pm

I gave Kristen the handout from the Suzanne Clothier seminar for Treat/Retreat...where the "stranger" uses treats, but tosses them to the dog, and the dog gets to choose how far they move forward to the dog.

I'm not a fan of making the dog move into the person's space at all, if they're fearful...not anymore. It's just too much for a truly fearful dog to deal with...unless the helper is REALLY dog savvy and a good trainer.

I'm not convinced that Toby is fearful...so this is why I'm having trouble giving advice here. ;)
"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby amalie79 » March 7th, 2011, 9:57 pm

Erin-- do you have that handout electronically? I'd love to see it, if that's kosher...

$45/hour doesn't seem bad at all, and her letting you make payments is really, really awesome. Gotta love this part of the country for a low cost of living at the very least.
"In these bodies, we will live; in these bodies we will die.
Where you invest your love, you invest your life." --Marcus Mumford

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Postby Tubular Toby » March 9th, 2011, 5:50 pm

Gotta love Oklahoma. I took Toby to the vet to get his rabies shot up to date to be covered for Saturday and he was freaking out so bad. He wasn't screaming or being weird with anyone, but I told them that lately he has been iffy with strangers and I was taking him to a trainer on Saturday. He was trembling, absolutely refused to get on the scale, which he ended up laying on, trembling long enough to get his weight. 66 lbs, at least some things never change. They took him to the back, gave him his shot and came back. She asked if all of his other vaccinations were up to date and I assured her they were. She asked me which trainer I was going to see, so I told her Kathy Cascade. Since I worked at Petco, the only pet store in town, I am fairly up to date on the local pet scene. I personally have never heard of Cascade, but I had heard about a local trainer that claims to use positive reinforcement, but also uses a lot of punishment. I have heard enough stories about what she does to get dogs to do what she wants, but Oklahoma is pretty old fashioned like that. ;) The woman at the vet's office made a funny face and said "X is a local trainer too, you should try her out. Here's her card." I think that punishment has its place, but probably not in this situation with Toby. I am going with Cascade and see how it works out with her.

On that note, I am really looking forward to Saturday!
-Kristen
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Postby Tubular Toby » March 12th, 2011, 5:39 pm

Went to Kathy Cascade today!

Toby didn't have any hesitation in walking up to her and meeting her. She said that if he is having problems at home, then it's really important for me to have him meet people on neutral ground. She sat down and I walked Toby up to her, she gave him a treat, we walked off. This kept going, and she gradually started getting more and more friendly, petting him calmly, etc. He was soon asking for her attention.

From there, we switched from his Easy Walk harness to a harness that clipped on top and you run a leash with two clasps through it by attaching it on top, then through the chest loop, to the other shoulder. It's hard to explain, but works like an Easy Walk in a way, but there are two alternating pulls on him and it's more comfortable. We worked with him walking next to me, over ramps and other strange surfaces, stopping on them, etc.

After this, we unclipped Toby from the leash and allowed her very neutral, polite dog to come out and walk by on a leash on the other side of a fence. Toby of course went nuts, but after we let him continue to see what he would do, he stopped looking at her entirely. He would rather turn his back and not look at her than scream at her, so that was nice. By the end of the session, she was pretty close to him and he was being a good boy.

We talked about getting him accustomed to a basket muzzle for those excursions we have to take where there is no control over other people's dogs and too many variables. She said to not take him to the lake where we used to train on dog reactivity because we have no control over the other dogs getting loose, running up to Toby, etc. Which makes perfect sense, I felt stupid after she mentioned that. I took $15 to pay her, and she sold me the harness and leash for $15 and gave me the training session free. I was so entirely grateful. I got the lecture that all pit bull lovers give about being very careful with him in public and not being able to afford one mistake in such a situation. I already know it, but hearing it all again made me want to cry. I still, for some reason, want to cry. I guess thinking I have been such a cautious owner and then someone pointing out the obvious that the lake isn't the greatest place to train him, I felt pretty overwhelmed.

I'm wondering if perhaps I'm living alone next year for no good reason, if Toby would be fine once he got to know my friend, but now it's too late. I guess I should get over it.
-Kristen
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Postby amalie79 » March 12th, 2011, 7:12 pm

Sounds like it was a great session. I think I've seen those harnesses like you mentioned in England and wasn't sure where to get them here... good to know that they're around!

And FWIW, after my freshman year, my roommates and I ended up not able to live together, so I got a place alone. THEN they decided we could all live together after all, but it was too late. BEST DECISION EVER. I lived alone the rest of my college days and it really was the only way to live.

Will you be seeing Kathy Cascade anymore, or just wait and see?
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Where you invest your love, you invest your life." --Marcus Mumford

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Postby Tubular Toby » March 12th, 2011, 8:36 pm

Oh I definitely plan on going back and seeing her again after I have a job and my finances all figured out. She was very kind to help me for so long today for free, I really appreciated it and told her I would definitely be back to work on him some more. I really liked her.
-Kristen
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Postby TheRedQueen » March 14th, 2011, 3:17 pm

Sounds like a great training session...she sounds awesome!

Glad things are looking up...just think, without a roomate, you'll have more time to devote to Toby...without any headaches or worries...:)
"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby plebayo » March 14th, 2011, 3:44 pm

TheRedQueen wrote:Glad things are looking up...just think, without a roomate, you'll have more time to devote to Toby...without any headaches or worries...:)



This definitely. Even with proper introductions Toby still may not like your roommate, and even if your roommate says they aren't afraid, they might be, which could make the situation worse. It wouldn't be very much fun for you both to be walking on eggshells over Toby potential behavior. I've been living with my roommate's for 8mos and LiLo still isn't fond of the guy. She will let him touch her and she will come when he calls but she still barks at him and gets defensive if he moves too quickly. The first time she met him she was sitting with him, letting him pet her, she didn't bark at him or anything. When I moved in things totally changed and she was all freaked out by him. So even if introductions go smoothly Toby might still not be a fan of certain people.

At least this way you can just focus on your dog and not be worried about other people.
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Postby Tubular Toby » March 14th, 2011, 8:23 pm

Thanks for the encouraging thoughts, everyone! As Suzanne knows, I lived alone last year, but because I was new here and pretty much had no life, it was really lonely. I think it will be better this next year as I actually know people and have a life, so I won't be lonely but can still have my alone time when I need it. I'm really starting to look forward to it.

As far as Toby is concerned, he has been good. We had our first training session solo today since Saturday (I was gone all day yesterday) and he was good! I took him the backyard and let him play with his favorite purple Jolly ball while I got some surfaces and obstacles ready. All I had this time around were trash bags, a cardboard box cut and laid out flat and a small jump with a broom handle. I hooked his harness up and we started walking around, the treats definitely helped get his focus. :lol: After awhile, we was really getting the walking near me without pulling and waiting when I stopped, so glad I've worked with him a lot on this before! We walked over the surfaces, waited on them, jumped the handle.

Once he got used to listening, I decided to transfer to the front yard for a quick loose leash lesson. Within minutes he was walking next to me, waiting, turning was a little tricky for him still. Overall, however, he did fantastic! We only walked on the sidewalk in front of our house and the vacant house next door, so it wasn't much, but it was definitely a start. Here's to hoping!

After a few weeks of this, we can start venturing to stranger places. Later I plan on introducing him outside to people that he knows pretty well and have them do all the things that the new people will do with him. Once he gets used to doing it with them, I may try to introduce a "new" friend. I don't know, we'll play it by ear, but with the help from Erin's scan she sent me and this trainer (when I get the money to go back!), we'll work something out.
-Kristen
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Postby plebayo » March 14th, 2011, 8:51 pm

YAY for good training sessions! Keep up the good work Toby!
Suzanne
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Postby furever_pit » March 14th, 2011, 9:02 pm

Does your trainer agree that this is a fear thing with Toby?
I am glad you guys are making progress and, most importantly, having fun.
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Postby Tubular Toby » March 14th, 2011, 9:11 pm

She definitely thinks that his reactions to other dogs are fear based. He's not the most confident dog in the world either, he is fearful in a variety of new situations too. She hasn't seen his reactions with people in my home, so I'm not entirely sure if that is fearful or territorial or what. We'll see how he does introducing people outside in a neutral territory eventually, and go from there. I definitely plan on working with Kathy more when I have the money, so I will put off new people until then, if he doesn't do well meeting them outside like she instructed me to introduce people to him.
-Kristen
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Postby Tubular Toby » March 15th, 2011, 8:07 pm

Worked with Toby again for a short session today in the backyard and the front yard. He did great today! :)
-Kristen
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http://tubular-toby.blogspot.com/
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