Conditioning To Work In Public

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by brodog, Jun 18, 2013.

  1. brodog Active Member

    Brody is shy, and since I've gotten him, his nervousness in strange areas has increased. A bunch.
    I feel terrible, and think that it's probably my parent's fault for not wanting to waste gas money on just taking me and Brody to random nearby places. Earlier today, I had my dad take me downtown (NOT a city) so I could work with him a bit. He pulls on the leash, smells everything, jumps at every noise and overall acts like a stray cat somebody clipped a leash to. Now, at home, he's as good as can be, and Heels great, happily performs any of his tricks, (Even with an audience) and listens to me very well.
    On the walk, I had him Sit, Stay and Down a few times but then I ran out of treats. :confused:
    Halfway back, we stopped at a grocery store and I took Brody into the parking lot, but that was a bad idea. I'm quite stupid. I mean, does taking a nervous dog that's been hit by a car before into the parking lot of a busy store at 6:30 sound like a good idea? Well, I thought it was at the time...
    Anyways, it nearly gave him a heart attack and he had absolutely no name response whatsoever.

    So back to square 1. I was thinking some sort of program like this?
    1. Train at subdivision pool parking lot.
    2. Train at not busy parking lot.
    3. Train inside Petco
    4. Train downtown
    5. Train in nearby big-city

    Training would consist of calmly walking around, and working him on obedience and tricks until he masters the amount of distractions in the area. (Over an amount of days) Then move on to the next.
    However, I don't know what I could use to motivate him to listen. He loves food, but I don't have much money to buy really yummy treats. He won't play in public, really, either.

    So, any advice? I hope some of you have dealt with this before. I'm just starting to worry that he'll never get through this.
    MaryK likes this.

  2. MaryK Honored Member

    First, kudos for realizing your mistake with the parking lot(y):) . That's how we learn, by recognizing our mistakes and we all make them. That he had no response, name or otherwise, does indicate a high level of anxiety, over reaction to cars.

    Lesson two: Treats: Use low value treats, such as what he has for his usual meals (kibble??) and only use high value treats for special areas. That way you can keep the cost down a lot and always make sure you have some 'extra treats' tucked away. I've been there and done that with my boy, who become reactive after being attacked by another dog, until then he was an angel to walk etc.

    You say Brody's been hit by a car. Was this before or after you got him?

    With cars, what I would do is work around a stationery car (your parents?) in your own garden. Walk him around the car, if he'll go that close without any reaction, or if he reacts as close as you can get without him showing any fear at all. Let him decide how close he feels comfortable being with the car. Ask for sit and click/treat/praise. Rinse and repeat until he shows no sign of fear and is completely relaxed. Move at Brody's pace, let him guide you, be prepared for it to be a while, there's no time limit on this, just keeping Brody under threshold and looking at you in a relaxed manner is what you're aiming for at this point of time.

    Also, in your own garden, work with Brody on 'look at me". Get him to give you eye contact, it may only be a fleeing glance, but them when he does immediately click/treat/praise. Again, rinse and repeat until he'll easily give you a good eye contact. This is a wonderful way to get a dog to learn to always be watching you, no matter what the circumstances (when needed of course he doesn't have to be constantly watching you all the time, there's a big wide world out there to explore). Once he has got that, in the garden, try him outside, doesn't have to be anything upsetting for him at all, just ask for 'look at me' when you're walking along and of course, click/treat/praise.

    You could also use feeding him in the car, to help overcome his fear, he may like going in the car, so this will help. If he's total afraid of cars, as in going for a ride, then feeding him his meals in a stationery car will help him overcome any anxiety.

    At this point I wouldn't be taking him to any car parking lots, they're scary at times even for dogs well used to them, as people don't always look etc. when reversing out blah blah. Happened just recently with my bomb proof golden oldie, and even he flinched - that's really saying something with Zeus! Read total zone out over the threshold for a reactive dog!

    Once Brody is calm and relaxed around your car, then I would move on to the streets and when walking past parked cars, in the street, click/treat/praise if he walks past without reaction. Any sign of over reaction, then go back a step, and start walking around your own car.

    If your Petco isn't too busy and Brody's comfortable there, then yes, go ahead and train there. It's a good way to get him over his fear of strange places/cars/anything else he's afraid off and you may also want to buy him a lead/bandana/collar which says 'my dog needs space' - to keep well meaning but pesky people from coming over to him and trying to pat him inappropriately, like on the head, which isn't natural for a dog. It's threatening to dogs as a whole. We train them to accept a 'pat on the head' but even a well trained, quiet bomb proof dog, doesn't actually like the pat on the head - though will not react to it. But if you watch very carefully, even the bomb proof dogs will give a very, very, very subtle indication that, whilst they'll permit it without any reaction, they'd much rather a tickle under the chin than a pat on the head.

    Plus just plain old walks, around your area, is a good way to help him over come his issues. At first, make sure it's a quiet area and load up on treats. Just keep it simple with him, ask for sit at first, nothing else. Let him sniff and smell around when he wants too, make the walk FUN for Brody, not a training boot camp. Dogs learn about their world by smelling, and really need to have that time to sniff and smell all the latest pee-mail - is she a real cracker young gal - etc. Don't make it a training session per se, more a fun time to explore. You can still 'train' as in asking for a fun sit, or something like that, but forget strict heel work. This is Brody's fun time out with you, enjoy together, train discreetly, have fun!!!!!!!!!!

    You could also try park. This is just to put the lead down, stand with your foot on the lead, whilst still holding the lead in your hand, and just relax, don't speak to Brody, just let him relax too. Do this for a short time at first and build up to a bit longer as he relaxes. It's a good one to know, if you meet a friend and want to have a chat, Brody will accept you not paying attention to him and lay down nicely whilst you have a chat. LOL Took my youngster a while to learn this one, so patience is really needed with some dogs.

    Also, if possible, enroll him in a good Positive + doggy school, where you can work with experienced trainers and other dogs. This is the safest way, but may not be available, where I live there is only one Positive + school, others claim to be but on checking them out, they're definitely NOT P+ schools.

    Wouldn't be concerned about him not playing in public at this stage. He may never want to play, some dogs are, like people, not always social butterflies. My late dog Tiger Lily was the shyest dog on this planet, even though she'd had a wonderful upbringing, but when first taken for a walk - after all the puppy injections etc. - she splatted on the path! Took ages before she would walk along normally, though her bro Zeus loved going for walks. She did over come her extreme fear but was never a social butterfly, she left that to her extroverted bro - and yes they were litter mates!

    Also, check out kikkopup both on this site and YouTube, she's a fantastic P+ trainer and her vids are really well worth watching.

    Keep up the good work Bro Boy sounds like a wonderful boy and you're going to be fine. Just take it one step at a time, keep on Brody Time, he'll train you on that aspect and he'll make it through his fear issues.:)

    And we're all here for you, just post any problems, you'll get loads of good helpful advice from members, we're a friendly bunch, don't bite etc.:D
    brodys_mom, blacknym and southerngirl like this.
  3. brodog Active Member

    Thank you so much for the help! I hadn't thought of the fact that I should be trying to relax and let him explore, not train him when he doesn't even know where he is.
    My dilemma is that when I take Brody for walks, it's on our property. We live on 6 acres in front of a busy road, with a subdivision in the back. To keep Brody from disrespecting the boundary training I gave him, I don't walk him in the sub.
    Therefore, we must drive him places, and he seems to think that although being in cars is fun, they always take him to another scary place. I think I'm starting to understand him now, I've just been too stubborn all along!
    Also, he was hit in the road (We don't have a fence) because our other dog, who loves to hike along highways, lead him across. Nobody ever hits her because she's slow as a bus, but Brody must have darted.
    It's a miracle he lived with such little damage, and I want to help him live a normal life, since he's on his second one now.
    I'll be working on what you said, and thanks again, Mary!
    MaryK and brodys_mom like this.
  4. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Wow, this is going to get really confusing for Mary, keeping the Brody's straight, especially when they have many of the same problems! She had been a great help to me as well.
    MaryK and brodog like this.
  5. brodog Active Member

    Haha, yes it will! And your Brody has similar problems, too? I hope he's not as bad! :eek:
    MaryK and brodys_mom like this.
  6. brody_smom Experienced Member

    My Brody is a fearful mess when he sees other dogs behind fences. He lunges, barks and whines, and when I hold him back, he tries to bite me out of frustration. He is afraid of people on the street and in our house. He barks at sounds inside and outside the house. We live in a very multicultural area, so we see many people on the street in turbans and brightly colored clothing, and this scares him. We have only had him 4 months, and he is almost a year old now. Most of these behaviors have worsened over the time that we've had him, mostly due to encounters with rude dogs which left him badly shaken, but not injured physically. He has improved with his basic manners and has learned a few tricks as well.

    Mary K has a lot of experience with fearful dogs, and a great deal of patience with newbie trainers. She has given me a lot of good advice, and it looks like she is off to a great start with you as well.
    brodog and MaryK like this.
  7. MaryK Honored Member

    LOL yes but your Brody is "Brody" and the new Brody is Bro Boy - that's the only way I can keep track:LOL:
    brodog and brodys_mom like this.
  8. MaryK Honored Member

    Thank You Brody's Mom:) You're making me blush:D I'll catch up with your other problem soon, but am exhausted at present, with Rakins being still on the sick list.

    And thank you Brodog. It gives me a lot of pleasure to help new owners and their dogs, I've been there too, and haven't forgotten what it feels like to be confronted with issues you never knew existed.

    Apologies if I'm a bit slow sometimes on replying but have a sick dog, Ra Kismet, on my hands at present.
    brodog likes this.
  9. MaryK Honored Member

    Hey you're not stubborn, you just didn't understand and it takes time to understand dogs, so don't beat up on yourself:D

    Do your heel work etc. in your garden and then have a "Bro Boy walk" where he explores, sniffs and all that. Keep ALL training fun though, we all learn much more quickly when it's fun.:D Well I do anyway, boot camp me and I'm one bore human;)

    I am guessing there aren't any sidewalks along the busy road. And, unless you've a bomb proof boy, I wouldn't be walking a reactive dog along a busy road without sidewalks, too dangerous for all concerned.

    Anyway you can take him to a quiet spot? A nice quiet park - not doggy park. Anywhere where he feels 'safe' i.e. not to many people, cars, dogs etc.

    How good is his boundary training? Is he rock solid on this? If he is then I would say that you could take him across the subdivision but make sure his lead goes on before you step outside your front door and keep it on him all the time, no off leash. If he's rock solid on boundaries he'll know the difference, no leash I stay in my turf, on leash with Mom I can go for a safe walk. If he's not rock solid, then I wouldn't be risking it at this stage.

    Oh dear, young dogs (any dogs really) and cars just don't mix. So glad he's fine and yes it can be absolutely amazing how dogs can be hit and survive with not much wrong. Can understand you want him to live a normal life, he's sure on his second one now. He will, what you have to determine is what he considers fun and normal, like with the other Brody, Bro Boy may never be a social butterfly. Just as some people love being surround by others, real life of the party types typical extraverts, some are reserved and have just a few good friends and prefer the 'quiet life' to the party circuit.

    What we, as trainers and companions, have to ascertain what our dog likes, is he a 'party animal' or is he the more 'reserved quiet type' or possibly a bit of a mixture. And it takes time for a dog's character to fully develop. You can see certain things even as small puppies too young to leave their fur Moms, but it's not until they leave home and go out into the big wide world, that they start to develop their characters.

    What we aim for is the dog being the best he or she can possible be and of course a well behaved Canine Citizen.

    Both Brody and Bro Boy will get there, it just takes time, patience and loads of love, which I know you both have to give to your respective boys.

    Must toddle, almost asleep, been a very hard day for me, Rakins had a very long session at the Specialist and I'm exhausted.:D
    brodog and brodys_mom like this.
  10. brody_smom Experienced Member

    You are forgiven. No one will be upset if you don't reply. You have enough on your hands. Although sometimes when we are in situations that are beyond our control, it helps to do something productive, doesn't it?
    MaryK and brodog like this.
  11. MaryK Honored Member

    Absolutely right Brody's Mom(y) . Last night I found, despite being so tired, that coming over here and answering the post did help, took my mind off my situation. I'm a 'doer' kind of person, sitting back 'patiently waiting' isn't something which comes naturally to me - though I have a ton of patience with animals and their owners but that's different - so I know exactly what you're saying is right on the mark!:)(y)
    brodog and brodys_mom like this.

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