Fear based behaviors and corrections

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Postby mnp13 » October 23rd, 2011, 10:04 pm

lol

Rabbit trails of are part of forums, but sometimes it's better for discussion to remind people what the original topic was. By all means, please re-start it elsewhere if you'd like. Or I can copy the pertinent posts for you.
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Postby TinaMartin » October 24th, 2011, 12:25 pm

I have difficulty understanding why someone would want a sob story with a ton of issues when there are loads of better dogs out there. Gators issues didn't show until after I had had him for a while and "stared" after a specific event. Managing him has become my life. Before I do anything I have to think about how he is going to react to it. Unless someone is seriously commited to living like that and truly understands what they are getting into I think the dog should be PTS. Charles and the kids understand that if Gator at any point becomes to difficult for me to manage he will be put down. Its sad but its reality. Gator has several fear issues. I was saying the other day that when he is gone I am going to feel very strange because I wont be constantly managing dog issues.
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Postby DemoDick » October 24th, 2011, 6:07 pm

Why are people drawn to rhe sob stories? Because at a very basic level there is no such thing as altruism. Ulimately people adopt and rescue animals because of how it makes them feel about themselves. The bigger the sob story, he better they feel about themselves for "saving" it. It isn't really about the animals, it's about reinforcing the rescuer's sense of identity. These are the people who will do anything and everything to avoid destroying a dog, even when that is the most logical and humane choice.

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Postby babyreba » October 24th, 2011, 8:31 pm

One of my 3 I guess is something of a sob story, but I don't have him because I want to feel better about myself. I actually keep him because, after putting my old lady dog to sleep when she still had a will to live even though her body had given out, I found that I just didn't want to put down a young dog that was physically healthy, happy and outgoing when in his element, and extremely willing and tries very hard despite his abnormal fear of strangers. He makes me feel good in that I truly enjoy this particular dog and I do get the usual satisfaction from being around him, playing with him, watching him play with Tucker. But that's no different than what a lot of people get from their pet dogs ... yeah, he's a sob story and an issue dog, and he could be replaced with a lovely, normal dog with no issues, but he's what I ended up with and while I considered putting him down, I decided that it wasn't hurting me to feed him and I enjoy this dog. Love this dog, just like I love my two "normal" ones. And at this point, even though Button's an issue dog who does require some special care and handling, I've put enough work into adjusting him to the world that he's not going to ever end up in a situation like the one Michelle describes ... though he very well could have.

And before I diverge any further, that's the reason I was actually drawn to this thread (not because I wanted to throw in my .02 cents about sob stories -- on that part I just couldn't help myself when I read it!).

Like MIchelle, I've used corrections in my training over the years, always subscribed to "balanced" training methods. But when I did actually meet Button and realized that he wasn't right, I knew that he could not be handled like I would handle a well-adjusted dog. He was too fragile. I dove headfirst into learning to handle him using only positive methods and now I am really glad I did. I learned a ton. There was a time, before I had ever had to live with a truly fearful dog, that I would never correct a fearful response, I never would have thought twice about teaching the obdience commands then correcting for choosing not to respond to them, which is what most balanced training is based on.

Anyway, Michelle, your post is a really great example of why it's important to understand how to handle fearful dogs ... and it's written so clearly and is such a good anecdote. I'd love to crosspost to my blog, ( http://baltimorebulldogs.blogspot.com/) with appropriate credit and link to the forum if you'd be OK with that ... of course, if it could get you into trouble with the people who own the dog or if you're just not comfortable with it, that's cool too.

But let me know what you think.

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Postby mnp13 » October 24th, 2011, 8:34 pm

Hey Erin, you're welcome to post it, and thanks!
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Postby furever_pit » October 24th, 2011, 8:44 pm

babyreba wrote:Like MIchelle, I've used corrections in my training over the years, always subscribed to "balanced" training methods. But when I did actually meet Button and realized that he wasn't right, I knew that he could not be handled like I would handle a well-adjusted dog. He was too fragile. I dove headfirst into learning to handle him using only positive methods and now I am really glad I did. I learned a ton. There was a time, before I had ever had to live with a truly fearful dog, that I would never correct a fearful response, I never would have thought twice about teaching the obdience commands then correcting for choosing not to respond to them, which is what most balanced training is based on.


This here, correcting for not completing a known command, is how I would deal with the situation (although that would be a step in a spectrum with lots of confidence building and fun beforehand). It is how I deal with DR and DA dogs as well and have actually had a lot of success with it. But then again I have not kept or dealt long term with a truly fearful dog - if they don't have the materials to work the program, they don't stay.

It was just interesting for me to hear you put it that way, since that is my go to response.
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Postby babyreba » October 24th, 2011, 9:26 pm

yeah, that's how i'd always handled dogs before. and i subscribed to a "least force necessary to get the job done" rule. but handling a dog that needed more than just confidence building but a complete rethinking of everything i was accustomed to doing was a game changer. i know that the theory behind a lot of training is that, even when it gets uncomfortable or difficult, you work through the problem and the dog comes out better off in the end. the message for the dog is that, no matter what's going on in the environment, the dog should learn to make the decision that results in the least amount of stress/correction ... and a lot of dogs do, and they end up being OK because their constitution/temperament is strong enough to handle that kind of stress and pressure and conflict ... but i've definitely seen enough dogs that were either handled so very badly or just had such poor temperaments now that i can see how, exactly, bad handling or bad decision making on the part of an owner has exacerbated a problem so badly that the dog has become dangerous.

while i do see "results" with some adept handlers and fearful dogs using corrections, a lot of what i see is suppression of behavior, at least in the presence of the corrective device, and not actual resolution of the problem. and part of the underlying, deep-down problem that people with dogs that are truly temperamentally troubled, I think, is that they don't realize that the dogs will never be truly "normal" like well-adjusted, easy dogs. But that's what people want/expect. some dogs with milder problems may actually improve significantly, but a lot of dogs don't or won't be "fixed." they are what they are, and living with them is a combination of behavior modification, counter-conditioning, perception modification and management. people who aren't willing to live with all of that seem to accept, maybe even prefer, suppression of behavior. because they want absence of the bad things in their dog's temperament, even if they don't realize that a lot of times, underneath the "calm, submissive" exterior, there's still a terrified, on-edge, frustrated animal just beneath the veneer ... and when that dog is poorly managed (as in the situation Michelle described) or things change, the dog may actually do something "he's never done before." and that may be true (the he's never done that before part), but the reality is, anyone who's really in tune with what that dog's had going on and knows anything about how a dog acts and responds to things should have been able to predict that this could very well have happened, sooner or later.
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Postby mnp13 » October 24th, 2011, 10:45 pm

furever_pit wrote: But then again I have not kept or dealt long term with a truly fearful dog - if they don't have the materials to work the program, they don't stay.


You might try keeping one and fixing the problems. It will make you a far better handler and trainer to work through problems to resolution instead of getting rid of them and looking for another dog. (And, no, that is not meant to sound snarky.)
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Postby DemoDick » October 25th, 2011, 7:04 pm

babyreba wrote:yeah, that's how i'd always handled dogs before. and i subscribed to a "least force necessary to get the job done" rule. but handling a dog that needed more than just confidence building but a complete rethinking of everything i was accustomed to doing was a game changer. i know that the theory behind a lot of training is that, even when it gets uncomfortable or difficult, you work through the problem and the dog comes out better off in the end. the message for the dog is that, no matter what's going on in the environment, the dog should learn to make the decision that results in the least amount of stress/correction ... and a lot of dogs do, and they end up being OK because their constitution/temperament is strong enough to handle that kind of stress and pressure and conflict ... but i've definitely seen enough dogs that were either handled so very badly or just had such poor temperaments now that i can see how, exactly, bad handling or bad decision making on the part of an owner has exacerbated a problem so badly that the dog has become dangerous.

while i do see "results" with some adept handlers and fearful dogs using corrections, a lot of what i see is suppression of behavior, at least in the presence of the corrective device, and not actual resolution of the problem. and part of the underlying, deep-down problem that people with dogs that are truly temperamentally troubled, I think, is that they don't realize that the dogs will never be truly "normal" like well-adjusted, easy dogs. But that's what people want/expect. some dogs with milder problems may actually improve significantly, but a lot of dogs don't or won't be "fixed." they are what they are, and living with them is a combination of behavior modification, counter-conditioning, perception modification and management. people who aren't willing to live with all of that seem to accept, maybe even prefer, suppression of behavior. because they want absence of the bad things in their dog's temperament, even if they don't realize that a lot of times, underneath the "calm, submissive" exterior, there's still a terrified, on-edge, frustrated animal just beneath the veneer ... and when that dog is poorly managed (as in the situation Michelle described) or things change, the dog may actually do something "he's never done before." and that may be true (the he's never done that before part), but the reality is, anyone who's really in tune with what that dog's had going on and knows anything about how a dog acts and responds to things should have been able to predict that this could very well have happened, sooner or later.


It's tough. It really depends on delivering *perfect* corrections that are integrated into a complete rehab program. Michelle and I are of different minds on this; I'm not going to let a dog bite me multiple times, regardless of if that behavior is rooted in fear or not. I don't like extra holes in me for any reason and I take issue with dogs who want to provide them. Plus I've spent a lot of money on tattoos and I don't need those ruined.

I liken a fearful biter to a scared little kid who runs around stabbing people with pencils so they will leave him alone. First thing I do is take the pencils away and communicate in no uncertain terms that unprovoked aggression is unacceptable...we will get to rewarding the good behaviors we want (we must or we won't fix a damn thing), but the nonsense has to stop first. The real trick, as you posted, is not to just suppress the behavior, as it *will* surface later as a default M.O. that the dog has learned in response to stress. Integrating corrections into this kind of behavioral rehab is just beyond most handler's abilities. Most people do exactly the wrong thing, suppress the behavior, confuse and stress the hell out of the dog, and in the end exacerbate the problem while creating a false sense of security while the dog is temporarily shut down. For an example of this in action just watch any episode of The Dog Strangler.

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Postby babyreba » October 26th, 2011, 2:52 pm

Integrating corrections into this kind of behavioral rehab is just beyond most handler's abilities.


i agree. i think it's also beyond most people's comprehension that there are often the reason a dog is responding to something the way it is ... for instance, that woman michelle was dealing with probably had NO IDEA that her actions prior to letting that dog off its leash led to exactly what happened in the scenario described. i mean, she wasn't holding the leash, the dog wasn't being corrected, the dog was **usually** OK on leash, so why would she guess that all of her poorly timed corrections, inability to get to the bottom of this dog's anxieties and misunderstanding of what the dog might do if given complete autonomy in the presence of a stranger would create exactly what happened here? most people wouldn't really put two and two together, so they go around correcting, correcting, correcting and the dog mysteriously gets worse ...

lucky for me, i have had the benefit (if you can even call it a benefit!) have having had the fearful dog i own since he was very young. so i was able to control and shape many of his responses to things before we got to the point wher he was actually delivering any bites. we had some moments where we had resource guarding issues, but i never had to correct them. as soon as they arose i modified his training plan and addressed the problem nonconfrontationally, before we ever got to a bite scenario.

for instance, when button was about a year old, one day i gave him a stuffed frozen kong in his crate, and for whatever reason, i had to go back to his crate for something, and when i opened the door, he growled at me and got a bit sketchy. i'm pretty sure that he would have snapped, possibly bitten, if i went to get it from him. i could have chosen to have the "come to jesus moment" that a lot of people like to refer to then and there, and i might have frightened him out of his gourde and made such an impression that he would always remember that it's dangerous to growl at me or guard from me or whatever (or, alternately, he could have decided that i was a bigger threat then he imagined and tried to bite me then and there, OR he could have decided that he wouldn't growl again and instead bitten me at a later date); instead, i didn't respond or make a move for him, and i let him be, shut the crate door and thought about how to proceed. first, i stopped giving kongs or raw bones for a while, and i worked on lower-value items with him for a while. we did a lot of trading out good items for better items, worked around his food dish, worked on me petting him while he ate, hand feeding made sure he was aware of where food came from and his manners when he accepted food from me. i was in his presence around food a LOT. and we eventually worked up to bigger, better items. we had a couple of bumps in the road, but nothing major, and i never let it escalate, and we worked past them.

now i can reach into his crate and remove a stuffed kong, rawhide, raw bone should i need to ... and i did need to not too long ago, when he had a bone that i needed to take away from him because he'd splintered it up and i was afraid he'd hurt himself if he ate the pieces.

i worked with him to make him a safer dog without escalating situations or violence and i haven't been bitten by him, nor has he ever bitten anyone else ... so working with a dog that might bite can be done without **having** to go down the force road and without having to spoil the dog with cookies and good times while it's hanging off your left arm ... there's a middle ground that often gets ignored when the positive vs. negative trainer stuff starts flying around.

unfortunately, when we're talking about "average" people training their dogs, they probably aren't highly likely to succeed with EITHER positive OR negative training methods, really, unless someone extremely competent is helping them and saving them from themselves and their bad decisions. you can't simply reward away fearful behavior, it takes a ton of work to get there; you also can't just correct it away, because it also takes a lot more work than just keeping a dog on a prong and yanking it around here and there. most people don't totally get that, though.
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Postby mnp13 » October 26th, 2011, 4:48 pm

It's funny you bring up the food issue in crates. Connor does not resource guard, however due to his starvation he has some food related "things." If he has his dinner in his crate and you open the door and reach in, he sometimes gets rather upset. However, if you call him out of his crate, he will bring his food with him and if you ask him to give it to you, he will. It's not the food, it's not the crate, but the combination of both upsets him for whatever reason.

I'm not big on the "take food away from your dog to test him" routine, but there are times when it's necessary for one reason or another. All three of our dogs have been worked with on that. Riggs won't drop his food (heck, he won't drop a lot of things) but he also doesn't get mad if we touch it or get near him. Of course, when I've caught him stealing food, I grab his head pull his mouth open and shake until the food falls out. lol

that woman michelle was dealing with probably had NO IDEA that her actions prior to letting that dog off its leash led to exactly what happened in the scenario described.

No idea at all. And was genuinely surprised when I connected the dots for her. I'm going to see the dog on Saturday (well, I hope to NOT see the dog on Saturday honestly) and it will be interesting to see if anything has changed.
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Postby DemoDick » October 26th, 2011, 8:09 pm

Michelle is being too kind. Connor won't let you reach into his crate and take his dinner away. He growls and I don't doubt he would bite. As soon as I saw this behavior I recognized the potential need to get food away from him so I just called him out. Problem solved.

I know a lot of people would insist on pestering the crap out of the dog to "train" him to tolerate people messing with his food no matter what because dogs should tolerate anything and everything, etc., but I think that's pretty silly. If you try and mess with *my* dinner I will take exception so I understand where he's coming from. No need to provoke him and get bit proving a non-point, just leave him alone and let him eat.

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Postby call2arms » October 26th, 2011, 8:39 pm

I wish I could make a handout of the smart, common-sense things said in this conversation and hand it out to clueless owners.

We just euthanized a pit bull a few weeks ago - a girl who was working at the SPCA and taking dog trainer classes managed to pull the dog out of the SPCA (which wanted to euthamize due to biting issues - she'd go after fast moving people/bikes and make contact). The girl tougth she could turn the dog around - after a year of training (probably traditional stuff), the dog was getting out of a car, on leash, but the leash was a bit too long and she reached out to a kid on a bike on the sidewalk. A couple of puncture woulds on the knee. Next day they decided she was too much for them. Sadly she was also the sweetest thing with us.

Sob story much? I think most people who try to work with these dogs see what they could be, or what they would wan them to be, and that's why they embark on an adventure of a complexity they don't understand. They just go for the underdog who they feel can't be or won't be saved by anyone else.
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Postby TheRedQueen » October 26th, 2011, 9:17 pm

DemoDick wrote:Michelle is being too kind. Connor won't let you reach into his crate and take his dinner away. He growls and I don't doubt he would bite. As soon as I saw this behavior I recognized the potential need to get food away from him so I just called him out. Problem solved.

I know a lot of people would insist on pestering the crap out of the dog to "train" him to tolerate people messing with his food no matter what because dogs should tolerate anything and everything, etc., but I think that's pretty silly. If you try and mess with *my* dinner I will take exception so I understand where he's coming from. No need to provoke him and get bit proving a non-point, just leave him alone and let him eat.

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I always tell people..."I've stabbed people with a fork for reaching their hand onto my dinner plate to steal food...so my dogs are allowed to guard their food *to a point*" I don't mess with them...and they have no problem sharing stuff with me...if they lay toys or chewies near me, I often take them and ooh and ahh over them, and hand them back...they often look pleased. lol And I toss yummy things into their dinner bowls as they eat...but I don't mess with them. If they have small kids around, that might get into their food...oh wait, that never happens because I won't put them in that situation! :doh:
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Postby babyreba » October 26th, 2011, 10:02 pm

Well, I try not to test a dog or mess with it to make a point. I mean, for the sake of making a point, or just to say I can do it? No. But there are times when it's worth it to know that if you need to you can get something out of your dogs mouth (paws?) if you need to. You call your dog out of a crate to get him to let something go, but I had the luxury of having a young, somewhat malleable dog with trust issues, so I knew I had a chance of winning the battle without force and without having to just decide that I wasn't going to be able to make a dent. I did, with not too much stress, just time and work, and now I have a 3 year old that I could, if I had to, take food from. If he were older, with more dogly experiences that shaped his view, would have been harder, and maybe even not worth the battle. But my pIint isn't so much "I can take food from my dog's mouth" as it is that there are times you can work through problems without having to coddle or manhandle and still get results.

It's an example, though maybe not the best one.
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Postby mnp13 » October 27th, 2011, 6:56 am

I wasn't criticizing what you did with your dog. :oops:

I was commenting in a general sense. I think we've all heard the "I play in my dogs food all the time because I should be able to take anything from him any time anywhere" checking occasionally is one thing. Teaching not to resource guard is ok. Pestering dogs endlessly and then wondering why the get pissed off just mistifies me. (I know that's not what you are doing. )
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Postby babyreba » October 27th, 2011, 2:16 pm

I wasn't criticizing what you did with your dog. :oops:


oh, i totally didn't take it that way at all. i was just saying what i said in case it seemed like i was one of those people who liked to do things just to prove something ... i've known a lot of people who say asinine things like, "i can take ANYTHING away from ANY of my dogs ANY time i want because they must KNOW that i am GOD and i own EVERYTHING and god forbid my dog act like a dog and take umbrance with my badassery!" i hate that so incredibly much.

i remember talking to somebody once who was doing that taking things away to prove to the dog that she could do it thing, and she ended up with a dog that used to never guard learning to guard because he was tired of being pestered all the time. she was doing this on the advice of a trainer, and i remember telling her that if it were me, i'd pick my battles, and if that was one i felt like i needed to win, i'd try a different approach.

i do expect my dogs to be dogs, and i definitely make conscious decisions to let certain things be with certain dogs but to be very firm about those things with other dogs ...

by the way, this is the first time in a long time i've actually had a worthwhile and interesting discussion on a forum. so thanks for that!
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Postby mnp13 » October 27th, 2011, 2:43 pm

babyreba wrote:oh, i totally didn't take it that way at all. i was just saying what i said in case it seemed like i was one of those people who liked to do things just to prove something ... i've known a lot of people who say asinine things like, "i can take ANYTHING away from ANY of my dogs ANY time i want because they must KNOW that i am GOD and i own EVERYTHING and god forbid my dog act like a dog and take umbrance with my badassery!" i hate that so incredibly much.


EXACTLY.

That's a huge thing in the rescue world. Every dog must put up with everything from everyone at all times. No matter what. I look at it from my perspective. Would I tolerate someone doing the same thing to me??? And if the answer is no, I don't expect it from my pets either.

When I have asked why exactly they need to do that to the dog endlessly, the answer always seems to center around "What if a child was nearby???" Um... what on earth would a kid be doing in my dog's crate while they were eating? (I always think of that lady on the Simpson's screeching "won't somebody think of the children???")

Now, granted, there are limits - I remember babysitting for a family and feeding their Great Danes. Once the dogs were eating, you couldn't get within six feet of them, and I don't think that is safe for anyone.
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Postby BigDogBuford » October 27th, 2011, 3:26 pm

I'd bite someone who was getting into my food.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » October 27th, 2011, 3:48 pm

My pit bull group had two new classes start this past Sunday, one of which was a beginner class. One of my students was telling us how he sticks his hands in his dog's' food, and makes his dog eat out of his hand or just holds it in there while he's eating and even takes food and treats away from him just to prove he can. I looked at him and said, "I would totally bite you myself for doing that and you are going to make a severe resource guarder out of your dog." I don't think he believed me. He did say that at least part of the time he adds good stuff to the food when he's fiddling, but STILL.
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