Please help me help my dog listen

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by acer925, Apr 5, 2011.

  1. acer925

    acer925 New Member

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    I have a 7 yr old dutch shepherd, been training him for about 3 months now. Just started at a professional training classes for 6 weeks and have been doing what they told me for about a month now. His problem is other dogs when we go for walks. He barks at them and does not listen to my command of "leave it". He listens to all other commands, sit, walk, up, off, down, stay, etc. Problem is when we go for a walk he gets so excited so I calm him down in the house with some basic commands to get him listening. Still when we go outside, he is in his own world just looking all over the place no matter how many times I stop him, make hiim sit, down, as soon as we start walking again he's in his own world where if I sit him and call his name he wont even look at me! He will not take his eyes from wandering about. At the trainers place, theres about 8 dogs and as soon as we get out of the car to go inside, hes a different dog. He wants to leave and pulls toward the door, he listens while there, doesnt bark at other dogs, and wants nothing to do with them! They told me to keep doing the basic obedience and soon it will translate to when we go for walks at the park, but it hasnt yet and Ive lost all my patience I have. It is the biggest mystery to me why he behaves there with all those strange dogs around but at the park on a walk he barks at a dog 10 yards away. I'd love for someone to tell me why and also theres gotta be a better way to get him to stop his barking at dogs. He is not a dominant aggresive dog, when we go to the trainers he sometimes shakes and is afraid so its just fear aggression. Please help us!
     
  2. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

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    How was he taught commands?
    Does he have an attention command? Like a "watch me"? I would work on that right away if he doesn't.

    Can you give more background on him - he's 7 and you've had him 3 years, was he a rescue?
     
  3. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    I recommend the book, Click To Calm. It will help you to desensatize your dog gradually and to become more comfortable around these other dogs. Be sure and don't use punishment on him. Try to keep some distance for a while until you read the book.

    In the meantime, you need to keep your dog at a distance where he's comfortable and not too reactive around other dogs at the park...maybe stay outside of the park. Reward him when he sees other dogs and try to do so before he has a chance to react. Reward with a high value treat frequently and try to control his environment so he won't react so much until you get the skills you need to work through this.
     
  4. acer925

    acer925 New Member

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    He was taught by lead training. Like sit=pull up on lead with command. down=pull lead down, etc. no clicking, or treats. He doesnt know "watch me" , that seems very interesting..how do I teach him that? That would get him focused on me rather than his surroundings. He is 7, but never had any training b/c we had a huge yard fenced in and he was never socialized with dogs, just people. We had no reason to walk him, but now we live in the city so we must go to the park. We've had him his whole life. One useful bit of info..when he was 8 weeks old, our cat scratched his eye and we had to get him a glass eye because it was too bad. Either that or sown shut which we didnt want. our trainers said dogs pick up on those things and may be more aggresive toward him b/c of it..but I personally dont think it makes a big difference as most dogs just ignore him unless their just crazy dogs. You can hardly tell its a glass eye, looks almost identical to his other one unless you really observe it.
     
  5. acer925

    acer925 New Member

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    I did read about that positive reinforcement technique and started using it with giving him bits of hot dogs when he would get close to a dog..he would sometimes take it, but if too close he would not. His close range is not very close so its tough to judge. Im not sure if it was working, he was not very interested in the hot dog, if he took it, it would be a very quick take and right back to focusing on whatever it was. But I probably was too close for his comfort..I should continue doing this method although the trainers said it could work temporarily but then he will become reliant on the hot dogs, so if we dont have them one day...then what?
     
  6. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    The lack of socialization with other dogs when he was a very young puppy can have forever-lasting effects...very hard to over come. Some improvement can be made probably but the exposures dogs miss in puppyhood (between birth and about 16 weeks) have lasting effects. When a dog is attacked by another animal, it most certainly can make him reactive or defensive toward other animals. Even with a big yard, most dogs love to have a walk and it helps them experience more of the world. At any rate, these things can be worked on and made better in most cases.
     
  7. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

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    You're going to have to start with management - keep him away from other dogs as much as possible until you both start learning some new tricks.

    My guess is that the heavy handed training is exacerbating his fear issues, plus he may feel more vulnerable anyway because of impaired vision, though as long as its been I'm sure he has learned to compensate for it.

    Watch me is a great command, and pretty easy to teach. I teach it with a clicker or marker word. First you will have to load the clicker, then once the dog is associating that the clicker means good job, you can start using it to teach watch me. Start in a low distraction setting - living room or somewhere quiet. Say the dog's name and when he looks at your face, click and treat. Often dogs will figure out the treat is coming from your hand and will stare at your hand, so you may have to hold your hand near your face and really watch for any eye movement towards your face.
    Once he's reliably looking at your face, you'll want to delay the click so that he holds eye contact longer. Gradually increase the length of time he holds eye contact before you click.

    Now add distractions. Wait until the dog is not paying attention to you in the house, say his name and reward for eye contact. When that becomes reliable, go out in the yard and repeat. Then on the street, then with a dog really far away, then gradually decrease the distance. Anytime you get to where he can't make eyecontact with you, back up a step and re-build reliability where you were successful before.

    This is a really rough explanation of building attention, I like "Control Unleashed" by McDevitt and also "Click to Calm" for more details. I believe Michael Ellis also has some videos on youtube about how to build attention that you might like.

    HTH :)
     
  8. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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  9. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Good post!
     
  10. ~Tucker&Me~

    ~Tucker&Me~ and Spy.

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    Personally, I think your trainer sounds he like doesn't know very much...

    Here is an intro to clicker training:

    YouTube - Clicker Training - How to clicker train your dog

    If you want to teach a watch me command, I really like this method:

    YouTube - "Watch me" Game

    That woman also does a segment on taking the 'watch me' command and putting it into loose leash walking, which would be great for you :)

    When your trainer said that your dog won't do it unless you have treats, that is a really big red flag to me on what kind of a trainer he is. With clicker training, your dog has to use his brain and THINK to try and earn the reward. In the type of training your trainer does, your dog uses no brain power and simply complies with being manipulated into various positions. Also, on the subject of treats, your dog will not develop a dependancy on them. However, I frequently do reminder sessions with my dogs and reward occasionally with food. At the end of the day, would you go to work if there was no paycheck? No. So, if the dog is doing something right, your rewarding of his behaviour will just make it more likely to reoccur. You only reward every time and use the clicker when the dog is learning a behaviour, and once he has it solid, you slowly fade out the rewards and only give them every second or third time. Eventually, the idea is that your dog will have a complete understanding of what you would like, and you will only have to reward every once and a while to keep the command strongly associated with good things.

    At the end of the day, clicker training is all about making your dog WANT to learn, and exercising his brain :D It really is super fun :D
     
  11. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    I agree with the others, it sounds like this trainer is a little out of his/her league with your dog. I'm suprised, for example, that you haven't taught any kind of "watch me" behavior.... In all the classes I've been to, this is the very first thing that's taught. If you don't have your dog's attention, how will he listen to your cues?

    I also agree that the dog will NOT become "dependent" on treats. The book "Click to Calm" does a good job at explaining clicker training and how to fade out the clicker and treats as the dog learns the behavior. I HIGHLY suggest you read the book. :)

    Along the same lines:
    What do you do when he doesn't have the leash on?

    The thing with positive reinforcement training, is that there's ALWAYS a reward around.... Praise, petting, getting to go sniff the grass, it's EASY to find a reward for your dog's good behavior. But with this method, if he doesn't do the behavior and he doesn't have a leash or collar on, what tool do you have? I don't understand how the dogs don't get dependent on the equipment in order to do the behavior.
     
  12. acer925

    acer925 New Member

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    Thanks, I think Im gonna give it a go. It will take a lot of patience on my part, but hopefully it will be somewhat enjoyable for both of us. I really do just want him to learn to listen, I just never thought it would take this much. I think it will be a faster way to success than what Im doing now though.
     
  13. acer925

    acer925 New Member

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  14. acer925

    acer925 New Member

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    Thanks for the videos, very helpful. I hope it is fun like you say.
     
  15. acer925

    acer925 New Member

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    Just a little info. on the current trainers we go to. The head trainer trains dogs for police work, etc. as well as basic obedience, intermediate, and advanced classes (using the phoenix system). They gave us the prong collar first day to help with walking and also told us when he stares at another dog to just give a little pull on it and say "leave it", in a solid voice to avoid further barking. I went to one intermediate class, and they had the trainers walk the dogs across some wood boxes, then built a pyramid of boxes for trainer and dog to go over and then put each dog onto their own box and had one dog along with the trainer walk over each dog. My dog wouldnt even get onto the same box as the first dog. Then they had each dog sit on their own box, then every trainer weave in and out walking around all of the dogs. My dog wouldnt stay on his box. So they suggeseted the beginner class so thats what were in now. We went to one class out of 6 so far. Heres a link to their site. ::Essex County K9::

    They are very knowledgable, but for my dog, I think what you all are saying is what he needs. I dont really know what to think, but I guess I will continue to take him to these classes but also work on the clicker and positive reinforcement at home.
     
  16. acer925

    acer925 New Member

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    Can someone tell me why he is good at the trainers place around the dogs, but bad when at the park? I know if I figure that out, thats the ultimate reason for everything hes doing. He will still snap at another dog there if they come close enough, but he could sit/lay down 5 feet away from another dog and be fine.
     
  17. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

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    When you use food to desensitize and counter condition a dog, you are not creating a dog who is dependent on treats, you are changing the dog's emotional response. Right now he has a fearful emotional response to other dogs, and the food - primal for all animals - creates a positive association with a fearful stimulus. If you keep the fear at a minimum (by GRADUALLY decreasing the distance), the food will win out and counter condition the dog to a different emotional response when seeing another dog.
    Add to the equation a specific command - "watch me", and now the dog has a different emotion, something to do OTHER than react (bark and lunge), practice practice practice, and you end up with a new dog. And depending on how consistent you are, it really doesn't even take that long.

    Another command that works well for reactive/busy dogs is "touch" - a nose touch to your palm. Again its something for the dog to do instead of react to the scary stimulus, plus it keeps him close to you or draws him closer depending on where you position your hand.
     
  18. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

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    Without watching the dog, I can only guess, but my guess is that he is shut down at the trainers. Not really being "good", just totally suppressed. Did you train him there or did you send him there to be trained?
     
  19. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    I had a dog reactive Doberman. He was perfect when he was in class and reactive when on casual leash walks. My take is that in his case (and it could be in your dog's) when in that context, he was in "working" mode. It was more formal to him. (in a dog's translation of formal. lol) And when having a more recreational, random kind of walk, he somehow thought it was a free for all. I don't know. He would do a long down stay, side by side with a bunch of other dogs, keep his eyes straight ahead on me and not pay any attention to them. I'm not sure though, if this sounds like the same thing with your dog.

    It could also be like Danefied describes.
     
  20. acer925

    acer925 New Member

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    we always go with him there. the only reason I come up with is because he's excited to go to the park/walk so he is more lively which would make him hyper not afraid and defensive, whereas, the trainers is not a good place for him so he is fearful? Sort of like a kid going to the candy store compared to the dentist office. I really dont know..
     

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