Stranger Danger

Discussion in 'Puppy Forum' started by Applebear, May 18, 2013.

  1. Applebear

    Applebear New Member

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sI13v9JgJu0

    I was wondering if this would be appropriate and/or helpful to use on my chow pup [10-11 wks] who is starting to show mild signs of fear or aggression towards strangers that get semi-close [he seems to have a different response to each one, sometimes he runs towards them tail wagging]. Or is there something else I should be doing? Right now I am trying to discourage the behavior by distracting him, walking a few steps in one direction, just to try and get him to break the current state of mind [oh were moving, ok...this is more interesting]. It seems to help a little, but not always and I'm not positive it's the most proper way or not.

    I am on the hunt for a training class to help with socialization soon as he's old enough and plans to take him to parks, petstores, etc.. But as I do that, I would just like to make sure I am getting him off on the right paw and not making it worse [if anyone recalls my post on Benny...cough].

    Have had chows before, that did GREAT with just the training classes and taking everywhere, but they didn't start getting huffy puffy with strangers this young, so it does have my attention.
     
  2. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    Counter conditioning is an excellent tool to help not only train aggression out of a dog, but to make them more comfortable in stressful situations.

    However, in the case of your chow puppy, you need to be sure you're rewarding before any displays of aggression (at that point, the pup is over threshhold...you should be avoid ANY situations that would make the puppy that fearful). Reward for being comfortable near strangers, or just when the puppy starts to look slightly uneasy or like he needs reassurance.

    If the puppy is starting to appear fearful or aggressive (either cowering, scrambling to back away, pinning his ears back, growling), you need to just calmly and quickly remove him to a distance that he feels comfortable at, and reward him at the point where he notices the stranger but isn't reacting to them.
     
  3. Applebear

    Applebear New Member

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    Thank you for the reply Milo. So do you mean I should start treating him before he even sees the people [as I often do see them first] and that way he's all ready in the happy state when he sees them? Or wait for that exact moment as he sees them and try to get him before a reaction? I know it's possible to treat at the wrong times as you are saying, so just trying to make sure I understand clearly.

    And what would be a way to work with the problem if you didn't happen to have treats on you? I am trying to make it a habit to take treats out with me, but I do occasionally catch myself off guard [such as tonight I was outside at parents and people unexpectantly came out]...would walking away from the person of his snorty interest be enough to change his state as I was trying before?

    Thank you again. :)
     
  4. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    Reward him after he notices the people, before he has a chance to react. It might require quite literally stuffing a treat in his mouth quickly as he looks up and sees the person, if he typically reacts right away - and then either moving away from the person if it's just out in public, or having a "helper" who stop approaching or moving as soon as the dog notices.

    If he is reacting strongly before you get a chance to provide him with a treat, the dog is being overstimulated and you'll need to work from more of a distance, or with a quieter/less intimidating group of people.

    Your best bet is to ALWAYS have treats with you (maybe try getting a little treat baggie that attaches to his leash, so whenever you leash the pup up, the treats are right there). If you can't, and he's at all praise/toy motivated, you can always try just praising, petting, or grabbing a stick or something to play with him as a reward, but if that doesn't cut it for him and he is getting uncomfortable/showing aggression, your best bet is to ignore him and the person he's reacting to and just quickly and calmly remove the dog (turning another direction, walking away or around a corner) without making a fuss.
     
  5. Applebear

    Applebear New Member

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    Ok thank you, that helped greatly. We took him to park day before yesterday and he did great overall...there was a ton of people and he only huffed/puffed once towards the end. I handled it incorrectly, but I think I know how to now.

    At this time, it seems to be more of a territorial thing [on our property]. He doesn't usually snort RIGHT off the bat...he sees them and stares intensely for a brief moment, and then hits the snort button [if he is going to, sometimes he just keeps staring]. So I am thinking this is my window to treat him.

    I do have a treat bag, I just need to be more disciplined on taking it with me at all times. :) I think I'm getting it, thank you so much for your help!
     
  6. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    Yup - the perfect time to treat is right after he starts staring, before he snorts.

    And if you keep the leash out of his reach anyway, and use non-perishable treats (that don't need refrigeration), just tie the baggy directly to the handle of his leash (or clip it on with a keychain or something). I'm assuming he's typically on-leash when you go out where there are people, so that should help.

    Also, if a lot of it is territorial, I'd start enlisting friends, neighbors, etc. to stop by for a few minutes and do a brief training sessions - either they, or you, can reward the puppy for being comfortable with them. You can also try introducing him to your mail person.

    Especially if you don't frequently have house guests, it can be hard for a puppy, especially a protective breed puppy, to get used to visitors and to distinguish a welcome visitor from an intruder. Having someone over once a month or less (or always having the same guests visit) isn't really enough.
     
  7. Applebear

    Applebear New Member

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    Well was guy across the way yesterday...pup spotted him, fixed his stare and I stuffed treat in his mouth right that second. A group of girls came down street later on, and same thing-moment he noticed them, I stuffed a treat. His attention goes completely on me then and they no longer exist...hopefully that's still getting the effect we're looking for. The method is so new to me, I do have a hard time feeling confident.

    People don't come to my house that often, even if I ask those I know it would be a very small lineup and wouldn't help because it would be those he knows. I'm not sure how to remedy that, as I just don't have the resources. I guess I may have to take the manage route on crating him those rare times a worker comes over, etc.. It's not my ideal choice, but I don't know how else to work on it. I am sending him for overnight and/or day stays with some family and friends to help expose him to more things that I may not experience as much here...I don't know if it'll help, but figured it wouldn't hurt either.

    I have a slightly easier time in yard, as people walking by do stop to see him. They keep trying to pet him on top of the head though, and he doesn't like that from people he doesn't know...which kind of sucks, because a lot of times he is willing to go up and meet them once he sees I am ok with them, but is turned off the moment they try to go for top of the head. He does not become aggressive at all during these times, he just becomes neutral and doesn't want to interact with them any more.
     
  8. Emily

    Emily Rollin' with my bitches

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    Well, if it helps, the two examples you gave sound like a perfect application of the method. It's great that he can notice the people and refocus on you. IME that means you're working right at his threshold. Well done!
     
  9. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    It's great that you had two successes in one day! Keep it up. Don't be afraid to give people instructions. When I would take Phoebe to the park (friendly but HATES being pet on the head) I would always tell people that asked to pet her that they could, just not on the head. With kids I would not say yes first or they might just go for it, I'd usually say "just don't pet her on the head, pet her chest" or something like that. People don't always know where to pet if they can't use the head. Lots of people will try to pet their back instead...by reaching over their head lol.


    But never allow someone to force themselves on him. If he is at all nervous say no they cannot pet him. I wish I had done that with my dog when he was a puppy, maybe he wouldn't be so convinced everyone is out to get him.

    Allowing him to watch people that will not try to pet him will likely help. Somewhere where people are at one end of a field and you can be at the other and get closer as he gets comfortable. If people come up to ask to pet him say no to them while giving him lots of treats. If he doesn't assume people that approach are going to do anything he doesn't like he should be able to calm down.


    It's great that you are working on this right away. Just remember not to push him (or let anyone else push him) to do anything he's not comfortable with or he could become defensive.
     
  10. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    It sounds like you're applying the training methods perfectly!

    If you do sign up for a puppy class with him, maybe you can ask the other "students" there if they mind stopping by to do some socializing on your pup's territory.
     
  11. Applebear

    Applebear New Member

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    Thanks for the encouragement and suggestions! I think I'm getting hang of it...was a bit of dry spell due to cold/rainy weather last couple days, but today is nice and we all ready got some practice on a lady working out on her yard and a guy mowing the lawn. Overall, I think he's doing well...he's def not obsessing once he gets his treat and I haven't heard a snort since we started doing this [sure I just jinxed myself]. He'll look back at them here and there, and if it seems like he's fixating...I just treat and he refocuses on me.

    The petting thing is difficult right now...I didn't even think about it, but people really aren't even asking if it's ok [they usually do with my adult dogs]. They are allowing him to come to them and sniff first, but after they automatically reach for top of head. I just need to learn to be more vocal and instruct them as suggested.

    I think I found an obedience class, so hopefully that will help too. Thanks again all!
     
  12. Emily

    Emily Rollin' with my bitches

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    In my puppy class, we actually practice saying, "Sorry, he's not ready for attention right now!" etc because it's so hard for most people to say no. When they try to reach for him, call him back to you and put yourself between him and the person (you can be subtle about this) and then explain that he needs to be approached a certain way.

    Also, if anybody ever comes barreling at you with obvious intentions of getting up in your dog's space, the traffic cop hand, outstretched, does a great job of getting people to put on the breaks.
     
  13. Applebear

    Applebear New Member

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    Thanks Emily, I am seeing more and more I'm going to have to get firmer. Yesterday I told a neighbor that approached to pet him under the chin. He did real well with this, though I was treating him, he went right up to her and tail was wagging entire time. At end just as she was about to walk away, she reaches from above down onto his head without warning and that ruined that.

    Ever since I started the treating, he's improved greatly with a couple exceptions...yesterday a guy on a mobile scooter came up and he snorted once. I actually treated him in time [before the snort], but then the guy distracted me by asking questions and that gave opportunity...unable to leave, I just dropped some treats and answered his questions. He seemed fine with this and became indifferent even when I became too distracted to keep dropping treats.

    I had some hopes I could use this pup for a psychiatric service dog, but I think I choose poorly in that area and probably should of gone for his more outgoing sister [I wanted a boy]. I am not seeing issues with him being around the public, but issues with the public themselves. Adults 'usually' have common sense, but more worried about the unsupervised child just running up and not knowing better [parents should know better, but that's a whole other subject].

    I start class next week, so we'll see where he is by the end of that. I think our biggest hurdle now is strangers touching him.
     
  14. OhHappyDogs

    OhHappyDogs New Member

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    After I brought Krystal home from the shelter, she started with her fear barking of other dogs. It got so bad people were afraid of her, and I didn't know how to handle it.

    Luckily we were starting a training class and the instructor had 4 terriers. Krystal's half Westie and half Poodle, weighing in at 10 pounds.

    The instructor told me to start praising her the moment I saw another dog in the area, expecially if it's before she sees the other dog. I was instructed to "good dog" over and over. The intent was to get her attention on me, not on the other dog.

    It was slow to take affect, but it eventually did and life got a lot better for the both of us. I still repeat "good girl" when encountering new dogs, or dogs where there's a history of growling/barking between them. I also shorten the leash. She's a great dog, and now she can calmly walk by another dog who's barking away. And, she has dog friends, which I never thought would happen.

    My suggestion is to combine the treats with the "good girl" method. That could be very powerful and help your dog get through life easier.;)
     
  15. Dogdragoness

    Dogdragoness Happy Spring!!!!

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    I personally don't like to be in public and have tons of people always touching my dogs, sure I take them into public and get them used to a variety of different settings, but I don't want them to think that they are going to get harassed and bombarded every time they go somewhere.

    he sounds like he doesn't care for stranger touching and if he doesn't want it then he shouldn't have to go through it. I would start at a park, at a distance to strangers who are ignoring him and do the steps in the link (which is very good by the way).
     

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