Teaching the Dog to Behave in Front of Others.

Tricks, obedience, behavior, and more.
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Nelson
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Teaching the Dog to Behave in Front of Others.

Postby Nelson » Wed Dec 13, 2006 4:57 pm

After winning both CD and CDX FCI International championships with my APBT (registered as a Staff of course) Mean Martha's Dragon a.k.a. "Drago" it was a very pleasant feeling when many dog enthusiasts would come over to pet my dog and talk to me about his training. He beat some stiff competition, especially from those German imports so popular at that time! Many people would ask about training techniques and methods but there were those few humble individuals who would honestly seek knowledge. The huge majority of them were from our fellow bulldog people. And their main concern was usually how to get their dogs to ignore the others. Especially when they had highly dog aggressive dogs.

We are in a time and age where technology seems to be taking us by storm. This has transcended into our modern training systems we have today. Mainly, the misuse and abuse of the E-collar as well as many other training tools. When a problem arises many trainers automatically think of coercion as the solution. Zap, whip, prod or prong him into compliance. But is this the best solution? After all the advances in dog psychology and behavior, isn't there a "better" way? After all, anyone can clobber a dog into submission. But training is something totally different.

I have seen some clubs and individual trainers who have regressed from dog trainers into animal tamers. Using the same techniques the animal tamers used to do. Chain the animal, whip him into submission and then have him perform. The lions and tigers would do it, no matter how much hatred they showed against him. Of course you'll get results, but to what cost. Don't forget that our dogs can't pick and choose their trainers and/or training venues. We owe it to them to strive in finding the best solution for behavior problems and/or training methods.

What happened to "good old fashioned dog training"? Let's TEACH the dog. Let's educate him as to what to do and how to do it. Bulldog breeds are notorious in resisting pain especially when a high motivation is in front of them. So if you have a dog aggressive dog you will have to use a huge amount of compulsion to obtain the behavior you want. Besides that, the usual by-product of pain, in that situation, is an increase in determination to get to the other dog. So, what do we do? How do we overcome the issue of getting across the head of a hot & hard-headed dog the behavior we want him to do?

First and foremost …. KNOWLEDGE!!! Know your breeds' characteristics and understand why he does the things he do. Bully breeds don't always follow the logical behaviors non-bullies do. So with this in mind our training approach must be with how our bullies think and react to distracting stimuli. After training hundreds of APBTs, the majority from game lines, and the majority of those were rejects from people who used them for illegal activities, these dogs usually came with "an attitude" towards other dogs.

I first tried by using force but failed miserably. It would crush the spirit right out of the dog and crumble his bond with his owner/handler. Making the dog work in a dull, unhappy manner. Eventually I learned that patience and a well thought out plan is the key to making the dog understand how to behave in front of other dogs. Let's start by looking into our bully's mind. Selective breeding makes them have that urge of being scrappy. They're NOT to be confused with fight crazy dogs (generally speaking of course for there are dogs who are so dominant that they'll fight their own shadow). So their genetics make them see pain, within a conflict with another dog, as a motivation to keep scrapping. It's like martial artists and boxers, the majority aren't picking fights with everyone they see on the streets. Yet they do have that special trait that makes them like it. So if you use pain to try to get his attention off other dogs, you're actually contributing to increment his conflict. Reason why many of our dogs get "fired-up" when they get "corrected" for misbehaving in front of other dogs. Not to mention that he sees you as the culprit of his behavior. Another by-product of this type of training is what I call the "escape" behaviors. This is where the dogs try to get away from the restriction by lunging into another dog or sprinting through gates, doors, etc.

But what we want is to have the dogs acknowledge the presence of other dogs without losing his head and/or feeling overly conflicted about it. So how do we go about obtaining this? The simplicity might even astound you! In the dogs' non-verbal world they understand and can read body language faster than verbal language. So, every time you stop to correct your dog, he might be interpreting that it's "OK" to confront another dog because every time he focuses negatively on the other dog you stop to "pump him up". With this in mind I would always put a comfortable (for the dog) buckle collar (could be nylon, cotton or leather) and hook it to a 4ft. leash. The leash should also be comfortable for you to hold. Don't use chain leashes!!! Have at least 2 (the more the better) dogs present at the training. Most of us dog people usually know or get together with other dog people so coordinate it with them or with whomever you train with.

Now comes the important part. Keep your mind set straight. Your dog doesn't know the behavior YOU want him to do. His misbehavior is only wrong in YOUR mind not his. So don't get discouraged when he exhibits his normal behaviors of pulling and lunging at other dogs. Have the other 2 dogs posted or handled at least some 30ft. apart from each other. What you're going to do is walk your dog in a straight line in between the 2 (or more) dogs. The proper way to do it is by thinking you're a machine that is on a track and the switch is on and you walk up and down that same track, back and forth continuously at a steady pace. Do NOT under any circumstances talk to your dog. No commands, no scolding, no calling his name, nothing! You want to minimize all conflict as much as possible.

Once you start seeing progress (the dog stops lunging) this is your cue to have the dogs get closer. Don't go overboard! Breach the gap 2ft. at a time. And if you can get more dogs in the line up, it'll help even more. You should also working with your heeling and attention away from this field and its distractions. Be it in your backyard or other place he knows well, keep working on getting and maintaining his attention and on his heeling. Eventually it'll all be put together. Once the dog is strong with distractions present, which is: the dog can walk consistently around other dogs (who don't provoke him) without you having a tug-o-war with him, you can take it to the next level.

Since my tool of choice is a prong collar, I always have it on him when I take him out to work. I put it on him as soon as I open his crate to work him even though I hook the leash to the buckle collar. Therefore he always sees the prong as something positive. At this stage I'll hook him up to the prong collar and step into the training field. Now we start the same routine and I'll handle him walking closer to some dogs than others. If he gives an unwanted behavior like lagging or pulling away toward the other dog, I'll give him a sharp pop on the prong. The "pop" should last the same amount of time as the tick of the clock. It must be firm but not overpowering as to put him into a trauma. Remember you are walking all the time, so the pop on the leash should be done in sequence. As soon as your dog gets to you (which should be immediately) you pet and praise effusively as you get to the end of "the track". Once there you stop and lower your body to praise slowly and profoundly. You want him to feel relaxed and reassured with you.

From there it's an easier task to incorporate the complete obedience routine starting with the heel. All of my obedience titled and non-titled dogs have done this, and up to date not a single dog has failed to get the desired results of working without feeling conflicted in the presence of other dogs. I hope this can be of help to all those who have this problem and haven't found a positive solution to it. Happy training![/b]

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concreterose
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Postby concreterose » Wed Dec 13, 2006 10:01 pm

This is a great post, Nelson.
Thanks, I am printing it off.

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Nelson
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Postby Nelson » Thu Dec 14, 2006 8:15 am

TY, I'm honored.

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Bustersmama
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Postby Bustersmama » Thu Dec 14, 2006 8:22 am

Sticky??

I printed it off as well...

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concreterose
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Postby concreterose » Thu Dec 14, 2006 9:59 am

Bustersmama wrote:Sticky??

I printed it off as well...


I was thinking the same thing...

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Emzdogz
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Postby Emzdogz » Wed Jan 17, 2007 7:13 pm

Hi Nelson you wrote:
"What you're going to do is walk your dog in a straight line in between the 2 (or more) dogs. The proper way to do it is by thinking you're a machine that is on a track and the switch is on and you walk up and down that same track, back and forth continuously at a steady pace. Do NOT under any circumstances talk to your dog. No commands, no scolding, no calling his name, nothing! You want to minimize all conflict as much as possible. "

so what does one do when the dog will not keep going on that "track"? do I just let her lunge until she stops on her own.
I have a feeling your post might hold the key to what I need to get my dog to ignore other dogs on leash, or at least not lunge at them.
But what if the dog does trigger while trying to walk this "track"?
thanks
Em

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docdeath
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Postby docdeath » Wed Jan 17, 2007 8:03 pm

Nelson :goodpost: i found it very informing think i will give it a try as my female is very DA... :thumbsup:

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Nelson
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Postby Nelson » Fri Jan 19, 2007 11:25 am

so what does one do when the dog will not keep going on that "track"? do I just let her lunge until she stops on her own.


Hi EM,

Yes, you just keep walking up and down. That's why I campared it to being on a "track". Don't deviate from it and remember to keep a non-restrictive collar on. It could be a leather, nylon or any other buckle collar. Take care, happy training.

loveriot

Re: Teaching the Dog to Behave in Front of Others.

Postby loveriot » Wed Feb 21, 2007 5:07 pm

I never realized that yanking the dog would just add fuel to the fire. My inital reaction with my male was to yank on the leash and just try to get him to stop lunging/ barking. Thanks for the insight!! The info was very helpful, can't wait to start working with my pooch!

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meginok
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Postby meginok » Thu Jul 05, 2007 2:24 pm

Just wanted to say that the "on a track" thing is good advice for distractions other than dogs. :thumbsup:

My Abbie Lou is just...reactive. She's not truly dog aggressive, but she's dog reactive. Not at all human aggressive (overenthusastic, but not aggressive), but human reactive. Blowing leaves reactive, outdoor cats reactive, crawling bugs reactive, you get the point. She's a bit of a spazz.

When we are on our "single-dog training walkies" (as opposed to the more "just for exercise" double-dog walkies at our low-distraction park), I've found that just walking back and forth in front of whatever she's reacting to works well for getting her to collect herself, calm down, and start listening to me again. We also do abrupt directional changes, to make her key in more to me and have to pay attention to what I'm doing. She's making HUGE progress (by huge, I mean actual progress I can see in how she handles new situations...it's VERY slow, but any real change is!).

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Postby pinkcow » Wed Aug 01, 2007 1:41 pm

My dog is not DA, but is very leash reactive around dogs. She freaks out when she is on leash and sees a dog. I am reading Fiesty Fiedo, I recommend that to everyone.

I also recently found out that if she starts acting up, and I don't say anything, but keep walking, she might let out a squeek or two but then she follows me. I found it to be even better when riding bikes with her and she sees a dog, because we are going faster than a walking pace, she tends to ignore the dogs best.

Thanks for the advice.

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Postby pinkcow » Wed Aug 01, 2007 1:42 pm

Oh! And I do prefer the gentle leader as opposed to the prong (which I used to use). It keeps her head looking where I want her to, and now she doesn't feel any discomfort from the prong, which I think helps quite a bit.

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Postby Roxers » Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:24 am

I am really interested in trying this method. My dog freaks out at other dogs when we are out walking. Really that is the only complaint I have about her.. she is lovely otherwise. I just wish we could be able to walk and not have to worry about encountering other dogs. I am curious about the timeline. In your experience, about how long should this take? How long did you spend each session? I would have to ask people I know who have dogs to help me with this and would like to be able to give them some idea of how much time will be involved. I know it depends on the individual dog, but could you give me some examples?

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Nelson
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Postby Nelson » Fri Jan 25, 2008 9:20 am

Roxers wrote:"... In your experience, about how long should this take? How long did you spend each session? ... I know it depends on the individual dog, ... "


It’s as you say. Each dog must be taken into account individually. As in all trainings, it should be short at first and then built upon. You’ll always try to stop the training session as soon as you see some type of progress. It could be a simple break from screaming/squirming to an overall stop of lunging. You know your dog, so you should know when you see a faintest sign of progress. Rule of thumb, don’t expect too much – too soon. But work on it constantly once or twice 3 times a week and you’ll see be surprised just how soon your dog will adjust. Happy training!

Nelson

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Mean Martha’s Dragon: "Drago" (APBT), FCPR CD, CDX National Champion
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Postby aznchipmunk » Tue Apr 22, 2008 11:20 am

This is a grreat post!!

is there a sticky in the works for fair play off a leash? i agree that there is a different demeanor on and off the leash especially for my boy. he's ok with childhood playmates but he's not consistant with newcomers sometimes he's ok...sometimes he's not...

i've gotten to the point where i can sense his "moods" but his "moods" tend to be worse while leashed. I'm going to practice your awesome technique but what advise do you have for playing well with others? its always been a faux pas but i would like to try to have him play with others even if its supervised because we dont see his approved playmates enough


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