My Reactive Rescue

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by corky, Mar 6, 2010.

  1. corky

    corky Ontario BSL rescue

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    Corky is a two year old rescue that we got as a foster at Christmastime and are in the process of adopting. He is not reactive with well-mannered dogs or even large barking dogs behind a fence, but small barking dogs and crying babies scare him. I worry that a dog that growls in his face may get pinned. He's pinned my old male Kees twice, but with baby gates, crates and treats I've taught the two of them that being together is tolerable. They can be in the same room or even in the yard together now... but the Kees hasn't growled at Corky again.

    When Corky is in a situation that scares him, I'm not convinced that he trusts I'm in control and will keep us both safe. He either pulls me closer or away depending on if his reaction is fight or flight. He's a big, strong dog and I'm a small woman with fibromyalgia; its hard on my body to have him yank on me and I'm struggling physically right now. On walks I had been avoiding his triggers because I wasn't sure that I could control Corky, but now that I have a bit more confidence and some ideas (and the sidewalks aren't covered in ice) I'm hoping I can de-sensitize him to the point that he'll ignore bad-mannered dogs when we are out. If he could be off-leash in a field and not respond poorly if surprised by another dog, I’d be thrilled.

    This is what I'm experimenting with. I'd appreciate feedback.

    Umbilical leash. -- I have more strength in my core than in my arms and it hurts less to be tugged on my hips than my shoulders, so I've just started wearing Corky on a leash to train him to walk on a loose leash. The plan is to do this around the house and on walks for about two hours per day in the evenings after work until he looks to me for direction instead of sniffing his way to whatever he wants.
    - Used to form a solid bond between a dog and a single person
    - The only times the leash doesn't need to be physically attached to person are in the car, the shower (leash is attached to something next to shower - not door knob 5' away) and in bed (kennel at night)
    - As the dog learns to look to the person for everything, they will want to work for them
    - No food is involved because food is a 'replacement' of a bond
    - Umbilical cording teaches a dog to pay attention to you at all times
    - Just go about your routine and let the dog know when it's time for a walk, or food etc.
    - The dog learns to synchronize, especially if you don't give them any commands

    Anti-pull Harness - when we walk in a park where we are likely to see other dogs, Corky is on a harness to save me from tugs

    Getting His Attention - I shouldn't give quick tugs on Corky's collar to get his attention because its hard on my body to do so and I can't really jerk quickly enough for it to be effective on him, anyway. I've discovered that raising my voice with a firm "Hey!" or stomping my foot gets his attention and he'll obey my command if I demand it in this way the second time even if somewhat distracted.

    I'm not clicking. I am treating. How important is it to click?

    Urban Agility - I'm incorporating neighbourhood "obstacles" like park benches, trees and barricades into our leash walks to make them more physically and mentally challenging for Corky.

    Play – I have three teenagers and a large back yard. They toss the ball together in the yard to tire him out every day.

    What do you think?
     
  2. Criosphynx

    Criosphynx New Member

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    I was going to suggest this, that and an easy walk harness. Which it sounds like you're on board with both...I would caution against asking so much of him so quickly (time wise) better to do many many short sessions than several long ones

    may I ask why you want to do this? Is he disruptive or destructive? Most tethering is done for dogs that can't be trusted at all. If hes not a problem when loose, I wouldn't tether him so much personally (or at all)


    I must very heartilly disagree, is there a reason you believe this?


    right, I get your thinking here, but hes doing it because he HAS to. IMO it would be better to let him offer you the behavior and then you reward it...that way its the dogs idea to look at you willingly, not because hes forced too. Make sense?

    personally, I wouldn't say anything negative or loudly. You should be able to say your dogs name, in a normal happy voice and have him respond to you. If you can't get him to respond to you then you are too close to the trigger, you should walk backwards and try again...


    in what context? :)


    good idea! :)
     
  3. corky

    corky Ontario BSL rescue

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    My understanding of this method is that its not only for a puppy that tends to get into trouble. In my situation it is about changing the bond between Corky and I. He's a big, strong dog and he needs to view me as alpha and to trust and depend on me. He needs to learn to watch what I'm doing so he doesn't get under my feet - literally - and that is mentally stimulating to him, too, rather than just laying around while I do my thing.

    I don't necessarily believe this. Its part of the method. That said, Corky is not turned on by food. He is turned on by play and he has a high pack drive.

    Honestly, there is so much information out there that I don't know what I believe and I probably won't settle my ideas until I discover what works for Corky... but then I'll only believe it works for Corky and dogs just like him. I've never owned a bull terrier type of dog before. My other dogs were easy to train.

    The key word here is "should". LOL Outside of my home Corky RARELY responds to my either my voice or treats, even in a trigger-free, familiar environment. He will respond to a yank on his collar or a loud noise. I wish it was different but its not... yet.
     
  4. Criosphynx

    Criosphynx New Member

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    personally Iam reluctant to continue unless you are willing to be open to the idea that the need to be "alpha" is mumbo jumbo ;)

    the method you describe sounds like som'thing off leerburgs site that he then later writes about, saying som'thing along the lines of "i was wrong".

    where did you hear about this method? Maybe Iam misunderstanding, but I don't see how tethering a dog to you fixes reactive outbursts. I'd love to have a link so I can read about the technique myself so I understand where you are coming from

    This can't be right...he either isn't around triggers and responds. Or there is a trigger you are not seeing...or there are lots of cumulative triggers. If he is not responding, he is over threshold. (or just not trained yet) I had a dog that I kept telling myself wasn't food or praise motivated and she was the same way...turns out she was simply over threshold once outside. She actually loves food and praise.

    I can provide you with links that debunk dominance theory if you are interested. If not Iam afraid I will likely be unable to help you :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2010
  5. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    It could also be that he's come to rely on the yank or loud noise AS the cue. Like, he knows he doesn't really have to respond until you get upset and yank. Like how little kids ignore their parents calling until they hear "that tone." :)

    When I have a dog that's ignoring me, I just ignore him back. So if you're outside, presumably on a leash, just stand still and do nothing. Eventually the dog will get bored and solicit attention from you.... still do nothing. Continue ignoring the dog until he solicits attention from you 2-3 times, you want him "begging" for attention. THEN wait for him to look away, and say his name or whatever "watch me" cue you've used. He most likely will respond then, because 1.) you're finally doing something different and interesting, and 2.) he's practically begging for attention and you're finally giving it to him. When he responds, reward heavily, and then continue on your walk. Repeat whenever he ignores you.

    But, like crio said, you could very well be over threshold without realizing it.... some dogs are very stimulated by their environment, and even a boring, familiar environment is stimulating. So be sure to start in the least stimulating place you can find.
     
  6. Tsume'sMom

    Tsume'sMom New Member

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    Controling the dogs world is a good place to start. But it is not training, it is management.

    Have ANY training classes been attended at all?

    A good solid foundation of basic commands ; Watch me (or Look), Heel, Sit, Down, Stay, Come, Wait, and Leave it, can help you manage the dog better. This also makes working out behavior issues much easier.

    If your dog has a soild Heel and Look command, there is no reason you cannot take a perfectly controled walk through a whole neighborhood of unruley dogs. You will be in control through the dogs obediance.

    I see it all the time where people try desprately to fix their dogs behavior issues, yet the dog has never once been trained in basic obediance. Proper training builds the bond, opens the lines of canine/human comunication, and can prevent/help/cure behavior issues.

    So that would be my advice. Find a good local trainer (no petstore wack jobs) and put solid basic commands on the dog. Then worry about the behavior kinks.
     
  7. corky

    corky Ontario BSL rescue

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    We do a bit of training together every day. I guess time will tell if, as he gets better with basic commands outside of our home, he stops reacting to dogs with bad manners or crying children. He's great at home, but outside he is very distracted by everything.

    I don't know. I've just been experimenting to find out what works with him. Hubby can get him to respond to a yank. I can get his attention by stomping my foot. We've just made these discoveries. I don't know what kind of training he had for seven months in rescue before being taken by a different group. I was told he was trained. Honestly, he's just very ADD. It doesn't take much for his attention to drift.

    I can try that. I do put him into a sit when he pulls and we don't resume our walk until a calm moment passes.

    I think he's over-threshold a lot. Our quiet suburban neighbourhood was a good place to train in the winter, but now that the weather is nice we are seeing many children and dogs in the streets.

    Like I said, I don't subscribe to any one theory or method. I've been reading and watching lots and asking questions. I do believe I need to do SOMETHING and I need a method that makes sense to me and fits my family's lifestyle, because I know that consistency is important. I won't say that something doesn't work if I'm not actually doing it.

    As far as "the alpha thing" goes, I can't let Corky think that he's in charge of a situation that scares him or he'll hurt someone (by pulling me away or by biting a dog in reaction).

    "where did you hear about this method? Maybe I am misunderstanding, but I don't see how tethering a dog to you fixes reactive outbursts. I'd love to have a link so I can read about the technique myself so I understand where you are coming from."
    I am reading a book about training and socialization which is based on service dog training. The method is also used by Brad Pattison on the show "At the End of My Leash" (Canadian show and trainer). Now that I think about it, I have heard of this method in reference to Leerburg, too. I'm most familiar with Brad's way of using umbilical leash training. I don't believe that umbilical fixes outbursts. I do believe its a method of tightening our bond and having Corky trust and listen to me more. In the beginning its because he's forced to depend on me, not walk away and do his own thing around the house.

    http//www.bradpattison.com/page/end-my-leash

    umbilical leash technique

    (Google and you'll find more about the technique.)

    I did umbilical for the first time yesterday for just under two hours. After the leash came off Corky continued to follow me around the house and look at me -- which he rarely does -- for signals. Today my husband held his leash while we all walked. Corky looked to me for signals. Corky never looks at any human while walking, so that he was looking at one of us was a big change in a very short period of time.
     
  8. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    It doesn't really matter what training he had before, it won't convert well to you since you're a different person in a different situation.

    And he can also learn that hubby yanking is the cue for "look at me," while you stomping your foot is the cue for the same thing. It's amazing how dogs know more about us than we know ourselves, huh? :)

    Asking him to sit is not ignoring him.

    If he's ignoring you, you ignore him. Completely. It's as if he does not exist. It's the same treatment he's giving you, except you do it for a little bit longer.

    You don't want him to feel in charge of the situation when he's scared.


    :confused:

    Personally, I want my dog to feel confident - confident that the person/dog/trash can over there is not someone/something to be afraid of. When I notice my dog getting scared, it's my job to distract her from the scary thing, to remove the scary thing (or remove her), or to help her not be scared of it by teaching her that it's a good thing. She's naturally more confident when I'm with her, because she knows that I'll make sure the scary thing goes away.

    What's the book?

    I train service dogs. We do teach our clients to have the dogs attached to them at all times for the first few weeks the dog is in the home. We do this MAINLY because it's so difficult for someone with a mobility disability to manage their dog if he happens to do a bad behavior.... for example, if I'm in a wheelchair and I happen to see my dog counter surfing, it's going to take me a while to get into the kitchen; and once I do get into the kitchen, I can't just pull him away from the counter, I don't have the strength for a physical correction, and I can't maneuver the wheelchair very well to body block the counter. So the dog learned that counter surfing is ok. On the other hand, if the dog is attached to the person in the chair, his behaviors are limited and he won't be able to learn these bad behaviors; at the same time, the person can reinforce him for good behaviors, and THAT is what helps them bond.

    It's also very easy for the disabled person's family to interfere with training. Let's say I'm quadrapalegic and have a hard time petting my dog, but I happen to have a dog that likes petting. The dog happens to wander over to my husband, and not even thinking, my husband gives him a pat or an ear scratch. The dog has just learned that the really good petting comes from the husband, and if that continues he'll spend more time with the husband.... which doesn't do me much good if I need a door opened.

    This is one reason why we pick dogs for service work who are EXTREMELY people oriented, and would rather hang out with their person than do ANYTHING else. It's very difficult to find dogs with this quality to the extent that we need for service dogs. And taking a dog who's not AS people oriented, and doing umbilical training with him, could be extremely stressful for the dog.

    Anyway, my point is, service dog training is very different than pet dog training. Many things that are super important for service dogs are not important for pet dogs.
     
  9. corky

    corky Ontario BSL rescue

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    The book is called "A Dog Who's Always Welcome - Assistance and Therapy Dog Trainers Teach You to Socialize and Train Your Companion Dog" by Lorie Long. The first half of the book explains how assistance dogs are selected, raised and trained in preparation for their jobs and suggests that many of the practices utilized by the trainers would be appropriate for use on companion dogs with the goal of making them the best mannered dogs anywhere. Good social manners are certainly the hallmark of assistance dogs and the idea of Corky being almost as welcome as one certainly has its appeal, so I thought I'd give the methods a shot. They are explained in detail in the second half of the book which I'm just getting to now. I know that because of his dog aggression he'd never be considered for a job like this, but making him a well-mannered companion is certainly my goal. Because he looks like he might be a pit bull (only his parents, God and his DNA know for sure) Corky needs to be better-mannered than most dogs.

    Corky's SOAPs
    SOAP stands for "settings", "objects", "animals" and "people". Each dog will face easy, difficult and unique SOAPs in their life. These are Corky's and I'll add to them as we go.

    SETTINGS

    Easy - our home, our car, our yard, our neighbourhood sidewalks
    Difficult - Family's homes and yards, pet store, busy streets, busy parking lots, vet clinic
    Unique - running club, park where we run, our cattery, camping, acreage

    OBJECTS
    Easy - usual household objects
    Difficult - bicycles, skateboards
    Unique - camp fires, tents

    ANIMALS
    Easy - our female dog
    Difficult - our male dog, parents' male dogs, strange dogs at pet store
    Unique - strange dogs at running club, loose dogs at acreage

    PEOPLE
    Easy - family, school-aged and adult strangers
    Difficult - crying babies and toddlers,large groups
    Unique - my nephews and friends' kids (babies and toddlers that don't have pets), running club
     
  10. JennSLK

    JennSLK F150 and a .30-06

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    The dog being in charge or a scarry situation, and bein confident are 2 different things. I have found most dogs are MORE confidents when someone they trust (ie you) is in charge and confident
     
  11. corky

    corky Ontario BSL rescue

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    Thanks, Jenn. That's what I'm aiming for.
     
  12. Criosphynx

    Criosphynx New Member

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    Brad Patison is infamous for his abusive techniques! Run far far far away!


    do you have a copy yet of "control unleashed" or "click to calm" ? :)


    I must caution against rationalizations such as this, it sounds too much like blaming the dog...even a focused dog can loose that focus in overwhelming situations. Any time hes "add" hes simply over his threshold.


    Thank you for the links i will review them. From what lizzy said, it still sounds like management to me :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2010
  13. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    I'd also suggest reading "When Pigs Fly". Not saying that your dog is an "impossible" dog, BUT there is a lot of EXCELLENT information about how to get your dog to pay attention to you no matter where you are.
     
  14. corky

    corky Ontario BSL rescue

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    He's also famous for working with families that own "untrainable" dogs. If you know Brad Pattison and his techniques then I'm very surprised you didn't know about umbilical training. I don't like all that he does and I couldn't be consistent with the methods, but the umbilical and urban agility makes a lot of sense to me when it comes to Corky.
     
  15. Criosphynx

    Criosphynx New Member

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    So are many other trainers, and they train the "untrainable" without force.

    forgive me if I don't know every single nuance of a trainers method who I have zero respect for.

    brad pattison abuse video - FilesTube Video Search

    those "untrainable" dogs are generally reactive dogs that the "magic" trainer uses compulsion on until they shutdown.

    Pretty much every positive trainer in Canada is trying to get his show pulled last I heard.


    Like I said, Iam familiar with the method (now that I realize we are talking about the same one), but still fail to see how it is going to help you with your Reactive dog, better than desensitization to triggers, counterconditioning, and plain old proofing of behaviors. The method reads like housebreaking tethering with "alpha" "leader" and "Dominant" thrown in to make is sound snazzier. JMHO

    Sorry if the feedback you asked for is not what you want to hear. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2010
  16. corky

    corky Ontario BSL rescue

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    I'm sorry. I'm not a dog trainer. I don't know what desensitization, counterconditioning or proofing means or how to do it. Also, I'm not sure I understand the difference between reactive and aggressive. My dog never starts anything, but he will react to a dog that gets in his face with barking or growling, so I have called it "reactive". Is that correct?

    Crio, what do you call your method of dog training? Do you work with all breeds?
     
  17. Criosphynx

    Criosphynx New Member

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    thats why we keep recommending several books to you. Its very long and detailed to type out everything, and the books will cover the basics that would take forever to cover in a venue like this...you may want to dig through the training forum and read read read. :)

    desensitization is well, making the dog less sensitive to a trigger by exposing it to him at low levels, over and over until he gets used to it

    counterconditioning is about changing a dogs association or emotion to a trigger...dog hates A, so you associate A with som'thing the dog really likes...so the dog then learns that A is a predictor of good things. :)

    Proofing is about adding distractions and new criteria. Dogs do not generalize, so they literally don't understand that "sit" in a blank room means the same as "sit" outside when a dog is running by. Dogs don't "know" a behavior until you practice it in many many many places with many criteria.


    as far as your dog being "reactive" in the traditional way the word is used. No i don't get the impression your dog is reactive, judging by your previous thread and som' of the things you said in this one.

    this ^^ sounds like a normal dog to me reacting appropriately to a rude dog in his face being rude. If your dog was reactive the dog wouldn't be able to get close enough to get in his face. If that makes sense.


    I appologize if I speak in too many scientific terms, I find that when I don't people think Iam dumbing it down to much, and when I do people don't understand. Its hard to find a middle ground between the two. Iam not trying to be patronizing, its just how I communicate. :) when you mentioned reading the service dog book, I figured you had run across the terminology before. My mistake :)

    I utilize learning theory (how animals learn) primarily with marker training (clicker training) basically dogs respond and perform because they want to, not because they "have" to. Which maximizes trust/bond. :) I own dogs of a wide variety of breeds with a wide variety of issues, if you are looking for a proffessional reference I do not do this as a living, as i prefer a steady paycheck :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2010
  18. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    I think I''m starting to get confused about what advice you're looking for exactly, corky.

    So far we've given you the following advice:

    - Do short training sessions... two hours of umbilical training around the house is too long.

    - Umbilical training works for service dogs because they have been selected for people-orientation; it may stress out pet dogs.

    - Using food in training helps you and your dog bond.

    - If you're shouting, jerking his collar, or stomping on the ground to get your dog's attention, he's either overstimulated by the environment or does not know what you're asking him to do; continuing to use these crutches will train your dog that he doesn't have to listen until you "really mean it".

    - If he's ignoring you, you can ignore him back and eventually he will be begging for your attention.

    - Training at home is good, but you should really find a trainer and take some classes.

    - Teaching a dog to be confident in new situations will go a long way to "cure" reactivity.

    - Brad Pattinson is known for being abusive, there are much better trainers out there.

    - You should read the books "Click to Calm" and/or "Control Unleashed" to learn how to handle reactivity in public; you should also read "When Pigs Fly" to learn how to train even the most independent dog.



    Does this about cover it??
     
  19. corky

    corky Ontario BSL rescue

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    I'm sorry I haven't read all of those books yet. These titles were only recommended to me today and I've got two other dog books on the go right now. Thanks for the definitions.

    Hmm... maybe I am confused then. I understood from the two rescue groups that had Corky over seven months that he was difficult to adopt out because he has "issues" with other dogs. Getting the details on his "issues" has been tricky.

    I do know he is a resource guarder because I've seen it. I've also seen him pin my older Kees twice when the Kees growled at him and Corky put him in his place. I do not blame Corky for wanting to discipline a rude dog that rushes up to him, growls at him or barks in his face, however Corky looks like a pit bull and he and I would likely take the blame for any incident. He's obviously a strong and he could really hurt a small dog. Perhaps my goal of having him ignore a bad mannered dog is expecting too much? Its easy for me to work on the relationship between Corky and my Kees, but we run into strange dogs all the time.

    It does. You've summarized very well.

    Thank you everyone. :D
     
  20. Criosphynx

    Criosphynx New Member

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    here...

    watch the first couple videos with jean donaldson...they show reactive dogs :)

    ABRI Videos and Podcasts

    I think it being a long term goal is ok...but you've had him what? 6 weeks or so right? When I get a problem rescue I don't have any expectations for the first 6 weeks, I don't put pressure on them, I manage them until the stress levels die down..

    The shelter here actually tells adopters that their new dog will not be themselves for the first 6 weeks, and then talks about if you think you may want to return them at least wait out that month and a half and then some. Anyway, my very reactive dog is a year into training and I can not have a rude dog in his face yet(on leash, off is ok)...not saying it should take a year or more or less or whatever...but its not som'thing I'd expect out of a new dog so quickly

    I have had fighting, guarding, SA, housebreaking problems, destructiveness, etc etc, displayed in new dogs that went away on its own with no training once the dog was settled. They were behaviors brought on by the stress of the new place.

    Are you talking about stray dogs rushing up to you? Iam trying to understand why dogs are frequently in his space :)

    I have a pit bull also, who is "cold" and LOVES other dogs. That said, I do everything in my power to keep strange dogs away while on leash. Even if that means a boot to rude ones face. Don't let rude dogs ruin your training :)

    I know you are eager to work with him and "fix" him where others have failed, and that admirable, but slow down and enjoy the ride :) :p
     

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