Constructional Aggression Treatment

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by Chewbecca, Aug 15, 2008.

  1. Chewbecca

    Chewbecca feel the magic

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    So...we start Ella's constructional Aggression Treatment tonight.
    This is apparently backed by scientific research, so my trainer wants to try this out for Ella's extreme dog aggression.

    How it's going to work is, my trainer is going to have her stable GSD, and we'll have Ella. She's going to be very far away from us. She's going to get closer and watch Ella's body language. As Ella remains calm, she'll INCH forward. Once she notices Ella stiffening up, or acting like she might be THINKING of reacting, she's going to stop. We'll establish Ella's baseline of comfort. Once that is established, my trainer will inch forward.
    We'll get it to a point where, yes, Ella is going to react. We will have to cross into her comfort zone, inch by inch, BUT instead of me having a treat and going, "Watch me" treat, treat, because we tried that for over a year and it hasn't helped her concentrate on us any better, or instead of us redirecting her and walking away, she will have to endure it.
    She will have to bark, lunge, freak out...until she finally calms herself down.
    ONCE she has herself calmed down, her reward is that my trainer will turn around with her dog and walk away.

    Remember, when we get to a point where Ella is freaking out, this point is going to be found very carefully. We're going to have her baseline, that baseline is where she isn't freaking out; where she's comfortable. If she gets to a point to freaking out, it's going to be because we stepped an inch forward into her comfort zone.
    It won't be because we stepped YARDS into her comfort zone.
    And I believe, at first, we stay within her comfort zone for a long time before we move forward.

    My trainer told me about this, she explained it well, and what it does and the purpose of it, but I'll be d@mned if I can remember it all.

    The point is, that Ella will need to calm herself instead of us redirecting. She's rewarded, when she calms herself, by my trainer walking away.
    But she has to be calm.
    Her calm, good behavior is being reinforced.
    Make sense?


    Wish us luck!

    ETA: D'oh! It's "Constructional Aggression Treatment. Not "Canine Aggression Treatment".


    And it's been proven to work not with just dog aggression.
    Anything a dog dislikes.
     
  2. Chewbecca

    Chewbecca feel the magic

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    Oh, and I just wanted to say that this isn't something some suggested in passing to my trainer.
    My trainer went to a seminar and has seen video of this in work and listen to people speak about how it's worked for them.
     
  3. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    Good luck! Keep us posted on your progress!
     
  4. Chewbecca

    Chewbecca feel the magic

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    Thanks!
    Oh, I will, believe me.
    Idealy, how this would work is it would be done in one shot.
    But since that could take HOURS upon HOURS upon weeks, we're going to have to do it in sessions.
     
  5. bnwalker2

    bnwalker2 My house is a zoo

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    Good luck!!
     
  6. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    Good luck with it!

    Let us know how it goes.
     
  7. Wishing you and Ella great success.
     
  8. Chewbecca

    Chewbecca feel the magic

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    Thanks, guys.
    Have any of you ever heard of this form of behavior modification?
     
  9. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    I've heard of it. I've never done it specifically, but I might have used the basics of it without calling it CAT.

    I'm not a big fan of CAT, but would use it if nothing else worked, and with Ella, you seem to be at that point.
     
  10. PWCorgi

    PWCorgi Priscilla Winifred Corgi

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    Doc has been talking a lot about this recently, sounds like a pretty cool method.

    Good luck, I really really really hope this helps!

    *crosses fingers*
     
  11. Chewbecca

    Chewbecca feel the magic

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    Well, when she first started telling me about it, I didn't like the sound of it either.
    I didn't like the sound of forcing my dog into calming herself down without my assistance or me making it better for her.

    But...there is not a THING in the WORLD that will distract Ella from another dog.
    NOT A THING. Not a treat, not a toy, not a human...NOTHING.
    Sure, treats work if she's absolutely hungry and only AFTER she's freaked out and thrown a stink fit. And toys work to a even better degree, but it's still avoidance.

    My thing is, this kind of seems like preparation for the real world.
    If I cannot seem to get her to focus on me more than another dog, what's going to happen when we're on a walk?
    Well, I can tell you what DOES happen when we're on a walk.
    Ella sees approaching dog with friendly owner and Ella FREAKS OUT.
    Ella barks, lunges, and just acts rabid.
    It stresses her the hell out and it embarrasses me.
    I have to all but wrap her in a stainless steel body cast when we go on walks in fear that equipment might break when she freaks out. Or that she'll back out of her collar.


    I don't want my dog to stress herself out over other dogs being around.
    Because the thing is, she's an AWESOME dog.
    I have people stop us on our walks and comment how they've seen us walking in the past and how AWESOME Ella is on leash because she walks right next to me. And how they envy that because their dog walks them.
    But if we came across another dog? You would never know how awesome of a dog Ella is. Other dogs bring out the very ugly in Ella.


    I just want to see if this works. There's NO WAY this will make Ella more dog aggressive than she already is.
    I want to make her a therapy dog one day. She has to, at the very least, be ok enough around other dogs to ignore them.
    And right now, she wouldn't ignore another dog for anything in the world.




    I hope I didn't make her sound like some evil beast. She isn't.
    She would NEVER dream of hurting a human. EVER. She has to make best friends with every human we walk by on our walks. And if the person doesn't acknowledge her, she drops her head all sad-like.
     
  12. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    I hope this works for you, it would be such a relief I'm sure! Doc has talked about this so I'm sure when she sees this thread she'll post. The only way I don't see it working is if the trainer goes too far and floods her but I'm assuming you trust your trainer and that she would not overdo it. It would also not work if Ella was DA in that she *wanted* to get the other dog, it excited her, she was looking for a fight, because some dogs are DA like that, but with DA stemming from fear I can see this working for sure!
     
  13. Chewbecca

    Chewbecca feel the magic

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    Yeah, I'm not sure how this is going to go down.

    We're going to HER house to work on this because she has a lot of land.
    But I'm not sure how we're going to set this up.
    She would have to have Ilsa (her GSD) out there without Ella seeing her.
    Because Ella gets super pumped and takes a while to calm down after seeing another dog.


    I never thought about it only working if she actually has a fear of other dogs.


    Who is Doc?
     
  14. PWCorgi

    PWCorgi Priscilla Winifred Corgi

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    dr2little.
     
  15. Chewbecca

    Chewbecca feel the magic

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    Oh!
    I hope then, that he/she comes on and could possibly explain it better than I could.
    My trainer hit me with a lot of info on it, and it's hard for me to remember it all.
    But we'll see.


    Also, another possible complication with this is that we'd have to switch out stable dogs. And, she only has so many stable dogs and so she is going to have to try and borrow other people's stable dogs.
    We're hoping that someone will loan one to us!

    See how difficult really bad dog aggression can be to deal with it and work with it?
     
  16. dr2little

    dr2little Moderator

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    I use this treatment and have been for quite some time on specific cases. It's really just negative reinforcement and can have amazing results.

    So happy to hear that you have a trainer who's versed in a variety of methods to treat reactivity. I wonder if she and I were at the same seminar?

    The ONLY drawback is that you have to use this technique with each and every thing/dog/person that the dog reacts too. The great thing is that most dogs have certain scenarios/locations/events that cause reactivity so you can certainly narrow it down quickly for some dogs.

    I've done this treatment with dogs who are so off the charts that they require a muzzle for me to even find baselive (just in case). Once treatment is complete and I am able to come into their 'inner circle', I've been able to go and visit them several weeks later and still be happily accepted.

    Good Luck to you and Ella!!!!
    Can I ask who your trainer is? Even if you could PM me would be great because I'm a member to the 5th quadrant (only for CAT trainers) and I'm sure we'll bump into eachother there.:)
     
  17. dr2little

    dr2little Moderator

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    This is what I DIDN'T like about the method at first Maxy, flooding is certainly a risk and often does occur for very brief periods of time. Breaking threshold is part of the therapy because your looking for a dog to offer something, anything other than reactivity, in order that you remove the stimuli.

    While is still use desensitization/counter condiktioning for most dogs, there are some who have such crazy thresholds and re-directed aggression is way too much of a risk. Holding a treat in front of a dog with a 3 block threshold is asking for a bite. This is where CAT can work well.

    I do find that it has limits though and only use it on very specific cases where I know that other, more positively driven methods won't work.

    If done correctly, the stress to the dog is very minimal and so worth the results.:)

    I used this on Wednesday with a boxer/german pincher X. This was one of the sweetest, most dear and beautiful little creature you'd ever meet but if she so much as heard dog tags, she'd be completely GONZO!

    Her threshold was about 2 blocks long and it took so many trials that I'm sure her owners were looking at me like I'd lost my mind. (This is not the most exciting treatment to watch):p. After about 1.5 hours of approach, wait for signal, leave for 15 seconds, approach, wait, leave...and so on...Six was able to actually great and walk with her first "friend" in about 4 years. Six's owner was bawling like a baby and Six was in heaven.
     
  18. Chewbecca

    Chewbecca feel the magic

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    Oh my god, I told my trainer to expect me to bawl my eyes out if this worked.
    The only thing worse than dog aggression, imo, with a dog, is human aggression.
    But dog aggression, still, can really handicap a dog and its owner.
    I have trained myself to be more watchful and alert on walks than my dog is.

    Do you all have ANY IDEA how difficult it is to be more alert than a dog is on a walk??????

    I also only walk Ella so far, and then we just walk that same area for 20 minutes at a time. I have figured out who in that area has dogs and just about when those dogs can be expected to be outside.

    Our BIGGEST problem is figuring out WHY Ella is dog aggressive. It could very well be the fact that she IS a pit bull and pit bulls are predisposed to dog aggression and can "turn on" or "become" dog aggressive at any given time in their life for any reason (or no reason at all, except maturity).
    OR
    she could be dog aggressive because of the fact that we took her to a trainer/behaviorist (may this guy rot in HELL) who popped her prong so hard anytime her eyes even so much as moved in the direction of another dog. And he popped it so hard it left marks on her neck. So she could have been conditioned/trained to HATE other dogs very quickly (I say very quickly because we only visited this guy ONE TIME).
     
  19. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    Yea, that's the thing. It's so easy to do it incorrectly. Done correctly, it actually changes the dogs emotions. Done incorrectly, it shuts the dog down, rewards avoidance, creates learned helplessness. The trainer doing it really needs to have excellent skills at reading the dog.

    Here's an article that explains CAT more ~

    http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-34520984_ITM
     
  20. Chewbecca

    Chewbecca feel the magic

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    But, but...for me there is nothing but negative behavior to reinforce at this time.
    So, basically, we've resorted to avoidance as it is and turning around and going in the other direction if we see another dog.
    OR, if she spots a dog and reacts, we turn around and go the other direction, and once she complies and goes with me, turns away from the other dog and stops looking back, we give praise.
    But it doesn't change the fact that she reacts poorly (that's putting it lightly, too) to other dogs.

    So whether I were to reward for avoidance behavior right now or actual positive behavior, how is Ella worse off?
     

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