Why does my dog respond that way?

Posted on Mar 18, 2018 in Dog Training, Leash Frustration, Leash Training, Reactive, Training | 0 comments

“Why” your dog may not be able to change her behavior like other dogs…

Have you attended a dog training class, maybe a Leash Lunger or Reactive Dog Class?  You see other dogs in class improving, but your dog continues to scan the environment instead of looking at you.

Some of these dogs still lunge at dogs, but they have met each other and no longer have a need to be persistent.

Where I Start…

When a client brings me a dog, I begin with identifying who the dog is prior to setting any expectations. Each dog is an individual, and will show you how they will respond if you know what to look for. I will share a recent consultation with you below.

Consultation : REACTIVE DOG (short version)

Dog: Stella, 2 year old spayed solid black German Shepherd in good health. Lives with her mom and a 4 year old child who she enjoys being with.

History:  Stella does well in daycare, and never shows aggression to any people or dogs. They describe her as tolerant of the young adolescent dogs and will play with any dog that engages her. Mom says she allowed Stella to greet other dogs on leash when she was a pup to socialize her, she has never acted aggressively with any dog she has met.

Owners Complaint:  Stella’s Mom complains that she cannot walk Stella on a leash, as she pulls extremely hard to get to any dog she sees in her environment. Even if she puts treats to her nose, Stella will not reorient to her, she physically has to pull Stella away. 

Observations…

When I observed Stella’s behavior it was immediately apparent that she was extremely visually aware of her environment, as she constantly turned her head to anything that moved. She is fairly high energy and trots, not walks, to whatever interests her. When she saw a bird over her head in the tree, she stood still staring at it for several minutes, not moving a muscle. When her mom called to her, she ignored the calling and remained focused on the birds as a second bird joined the first one. Finally, her mom said “Stella, want a treat?”, Stella twitched her ear and then looked at her mom, then returned to watching the birds for a several seconds before responding to her mom for the treat. Once she ate the treat, she trotted back to the tree and visually watched anything that moved.

Who is Stella?

Stella showed us that she is extremely visually aware of her environment and she is very persistent in this visual behavior when the stimuli is interesting to her. She also showed us that she is not willing to come to us, unless she knows the reward is worth it to her. She has her own interests and is persistent when something interests her. She also loves playing with all the neighborhood dogs.

Realization…

Would Stella likely be a leash lunger?  Yes! Now you see how the combination of her temperament plays a significant role in her (response) behavior. 

Implementation…

What key change could Stella’s mom incorporate in her leash training? Increase the value of the reward to something that Stella finds very rewarding. We determined she liked dried liver extremely well.

Effective behavior modification programs work on many dogs but will not work completely if your dog loves dogs, is visually persistent by nature and is not very food motivated. When this is the case, patience and understanding is key!

I am having trouble getting this pups attention as she is extremely aware of her environment, loves dogs and is somewhat food motivated. Patience is needed here as we allow her to be who she is.

Now you know…

If you are wanting to change your dogs behavior, first try looking at your dog to see who they are, what is their nature, their temperament. Some traits to consider: sociability with people and dogs, patient, vocal, high energy, lazy, becomes extremely aroused when near people or dogs, biddable with or without food, visually or olfactory aware and persistent. Understanding who your dog is will help you understand WHY she responds the way she does.

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3 Tips for Changing Your Dogs Behavior

Posted on Oct 20, 2015 in Barking, Dog Training, Positive Reinforcement, Puppy, Rescue Dog, Socialization, Training |

There are many ways to get behavior from an animal, for example you can hold your dog down when he jumps up on you, this may work for you, but the negative is that your dog may start barking more when guest arrive.   Some dogs will become really wiggly and jumpy with strangers as a way of showing appeasement to the guest to ward off that scary punishment of being held down.  This can also make your recall much more difficult as science shows that harsh reprimands can make your dog afraid and avoid you.

Science also shows us that using rewards will get the desired behavior with no negative possible outcome.  While it may take a few extra days of training, it is so worth it!

Tip 1: Reward an alternative Behavior

If you do not want your dog to jump on your guest, then teach him a sit stay at your side.  Simply walk him forward on a leash while holding a Moore_Judy081treat to his nose.  When you stop walking move the treat up over his head until he sits, then reward.  Repeat this exercise until he automatically sits when you stop walking, then reward for sitting, continue to reward with food then release him.  Repeat each morning with his breakfast until he learns to sit/stay next to you while there is no one around.  Once he will sit at your side until you release him, then add some guests at a distance.  Then practice this behavior outside in the yard, park or vets office.  Training a new behavior is best done in a quiet environment, then practiced with low distractions.  Remember your dog is most likely an adolescent, so be patient, you were an adolescent once too!

ask for a sit

Ask for a sit before she jumps up.   In one cup of food, I bet you can call your dog and reward her for sitting 25 times!

Tip 2: Ignore the unwanted behavior

Here is the secret and it is easy!  When your puppy jumps up on you, you look away, immediately walk a few steps away from your dog,  remember eye contact is rewarding.  Call your dog to you and ask for a sit, when he gets it right, reward.  If he does an unwanted behavior like jump on you, then walk away with no attention at all.  Always give your dog a second chance to earn the reward, otherwise he will not know the wanted behavior.

Tip 3: Put the unwanted behavior on Stimulus Control (for the dog enthusiast)

This can be a little tricky if you do not use a marker in your training, but the idea is that your dog only performs the unwanted behavior when you ask for it.  Lets Try it!

If you know your dog is going to jump up on you when you open the door, then you can cue him by B0000914raising both your arms up in the air mark his jump with a “yes” or clicker then reward him.  Repeat this around the house until the dog jumps up when you cue him with both your arms in the air.  Then add a verbal cue like “up” which you say just before you throw your arms up in the air, always click or use a verbal “yes” when he  jumps and reward.   This process will take several days, but be patient.  Now practice leaving, and re-enter your doorway, cue your dog “up” click and reward for your dog jumping.

Over time, cue your dog when you enter the door to “up” then no more cue, as you enter farther in the home, then go out and enter and do not ask for an “up”.   If your dog jumps when you do not ask for it, simply walk away with no attention at all. Your dog will learn to only perform the behavior when you ask for it,  known as stimulus control training. This is great fun and I recommend you do it for the dog that barks often as well.  

Another example: ring your doorbell and say “speak” while looking at your dog, click the second your dog barks and reward.  Repeat several times until your dog will offer a bark when you say “speak” without ringing the door bell.  Now ring the door bell and after your dog barks, you can say “enough” click and reward when your dog looks at you.  I recommend you use a yummy food reward when teaching a new behavior, as the behavior becomes more reliable, you can switch to randomly offering food or affection over time.  I have used this same technique on both of my dogs and it works very well!

Send me a video of your success!

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My Dog Barks and Jumps on Me!

Posted on Aug 28, 2015 in Barking, Dog Training, Pets, Positive Association, Puppy, Rescue Dog, Training |

Moore_Judy035Dog training is a process of shaping behaviors that are wanted by the human.  With that in mind, why do so many of us reward unwanted behaviors?  I have met many dogs who are still offering bad behaviors even at 2 or 3 years of age.   I believe it is because many humans do not understand what is rewarding to their dog.

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Clear Message to all these dogs!

For example:  Is your dog a problem jumper?   Consider if your dog ever jumps and you say “off” or push his feet off of you, then he sits and you reward with a “good boy” or affection or a treat. Well, then, your dog will always jump and sit.  

Here is another example:  Is your dog a problem barker?

I once had a client who’s sweet doodle was a problem barker, especially when dad picked up the phone.  I asked him what he had tried to stop her from barking, here is what he said:  “I have tried yelling at her, walking in the other room, ignoring her and now I get some relief when I toss her a large dog biscuit as it takes her a while to eat it, but sometimes she starts right back up again.”  So this smart dog learned that when she barked at her owner he spoke to her, which was rewarding as she was able to get his attention.  Even negative attention is better than no attention for a bored dog. Then some day she just happened to bark while dad was on the phone and because he needed her quiet he tossed her a large biscuit.  Smart girl has now learned that when dad puts that box to his ear and she barks, she gets a Big Reward.  This behavior will surely be repeated, by this smart dog!

This pup has a strong leave it, so no chasing happens.

This pup enjoys tug with his owner so he bring her toys to play with.

Another example: Does your dog grab tissues or clothing and run around the house?  If you said “yes” then I am going to guess that you or your  children have taught your dog that this is a great game enjoyed by all!  Pups learn quickly how to get attention, they know exactly how to get their humans to chase them. Play is very rewarding to a young pup! Instead, when your dog picks up his toys, give him excited attention and get him to bring you the toy for a fun game of tug!  He will learn that bringing you his toys is highly rewarding.  When he picks up a tissue, or sock you can turn away from him, grab an appropriate dog toy and begin to play with it, he will surely want to join you!

In summary, think about what behavior your dog just did and if that behavior is something you want him to repeat.  If so, then reward with food, affection or play.  If not, then do not offer your dog any reward in the form of attention, food or play.  

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