Dalmatian Behaviour Issues

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by jazzsue58, Apr 26, 2012.

  1. jazzsue58 Member

    Sorry this is a long thread, but I've got an 18-month neuteured male dalmatian called Frodo, who I'm having real issues with. It doesn't help that, round about the 6-month mark, I had serious medical problems so his training suffered (my daughters were left to deal with walks etc and he picked up bad habits.)

    Frodo is very strong for his size, and barks a lot, both indoors at people walking by, and out on walks. But not always - it's very intermittent. Currently, he's attending beginner/pup behaviour classes, but I'm really confused with all this "reward them for being good, ignore them for being bad" stuff, because while it works for some things for Frodo (.g barking at the window, jumping up at me) there are times when he needs to be punished (with me, this is muzzling him, as he hates the muzzle and I do try not to use it.) My trainer (who uses reward training) says when Frodo barks at people and dogs it's not aggressive, but I don't like him doing it.

    Example - took him on a walk today, and he was lovely to begin with - but then, there were few people or dogs about. I put him on the retractable long line on the way home as the park was getting busy and I was worried he might go running up to other dogs or people, and his recall is iffy. We had to pass other dogs, small ones, and he sniffed at a terrier then lunged and bark-bark-barked at it, I pulled him away, apologised etc and rewarded him when he quietened down.

    But much worse was when he got excited and began lunging and barking at two girls with a pushchair. I pulled him away and tried to focus his attention, but he was totally fixated on them. Then he lunged forward and ran after them, pulling me over. I nearly let go his leash and he almost got to this girl, who yelled in fright and ran away. She had a toddler with her, for chrissake. This was BAD BEHAVIOUR yet from what I can see, according to modern training methods Frodo isn't a "dangerous" dog, just an excitable one who vocalises a lot. I'm supposed to ignore it then give him a treat when he quietens down. That's not good enough! To my mind, there has to be a punishment strategy as well, otherwise there's no deterrent for what he's doing.

    Problems are: Sure, I know people running and waving their arms will get him excited more, but I want him to be safe to the point where people can go up to him, say hallo, and trust their kids a near him, rather than yell he should be on a muzzle or put down.

    2 - I know I should "walk him away" if he gets excited, but that's difficult when he's putting all his weight behind dragging me across the grass to get to his target.

    3 - Other times, he'll be good as gold with other people and dogs so it catches me out. I should add both these events happened in the park he's familiar with, near my home. On "foreign territory" recently, he was much better.

    Any tips on how I can make my dog into a perfect gentleman ALL the time? Other Dallie owners especially welcome.

  2. Amateur Experienced Member

    quick answer ... will add more later ....
    dont worry there is hope.
    First off in my humble opinion do not put him on an extenda lead ! you have zero control.
    Perhaps a head collar or front lead harness will help you with his strength and pulling.

    I have usually tried to Sit a dog ( or at least don't move -- rather than walk away ( unless there is major problems with the other people being frightened) Sit him frequently when people are around and reward him when he quiets and calms ... if he lays down when you just stand there " Jackpot" reward the calm behaviour. Also have him look at you and not the people or things around him. Take him to a park and sit on the bench and ask him to sit or lay down and just spend time there while the world happens around him. Don't reward if he springs up but reward when he sits back down.

    As with the pushchair -- he might have been a little freaked about something new. If and only if you have full control maybe you can introduce him to this weird and frightening thing.

    I'm sure others will add more ... they are a chatty bunch
  3. jazzsue58 Member

    Thanks for your advice. I'm actually in the process of buying him a new harness that clips at the front (I think it's called an EZ leader) which was recommended by my trainer. Also, I've been doing the eye contact exercise when we're sitting down. It's odd he reacted to the buggy, as it's something he sees regularly, but it was just after he'd interacted with the terrier so maybe he was still excited over that. I did a lot of the stuff you suggest earlier in his training, and he's a lot better now - e.g. he ignores bikes but used to lunge at them - but just catches me off guard every now and then!
  4. jackienmutts Honored Member

    I only have a few minutes, I must leave for work and just had to take a quick peek at DTA (yes, it gets to be an addictive thing with my coffee in the morning ;)). My response will be very short for now, but others will most certainly chime in - and I'll try to get back later also.

    First - keep in mind that you have a young, very high energy dog. Frodo is still an adolescent and the whole world is just out there calling to him. Great advice about scrapping that Flexi-leash, at least for now. Unless you have a dog who's great at walking on a leash and has good leash manners, they can be recipes for disaster, as you found out. Not only can they get themselves into trouble way before you can get to them to do anything about it, you can yes, accidently drop it, get leg burns/cuts if it wraps behind you if you're wearing short pants/skirt, hurt the dog if they take off running and they come to the end/you lock the mechanism (I've seen dogs actually flip over backwards), etc. Please put it away for now. I do have a couple and only use them for hiking on trails in areas where leashes must be used but want to give my dogs a bit more freedom. Get a good 6 ft leather leash and walk him on that for now - he doesn't need any more than that. The shorter leash in addition to the no-pull harness will make a huge difference for you.

    Dals are high energy dogs and need lots of exercise. Do you have a garden where you can play ball or some kind of chase game before you take him out for a walk to get some of his "ya-ya's" out? I'm working with a Golden right now, and oh, what a difference it makes when I play some ball with her before I walk her. She's got a lot of reactivity issues (as Frodo does) and when I can bring her energy level down a bit ahead of time, I have her attention a bit more, than when I attempt to take her out "fully charged".

    When you take him out for a walk, take a bait bag full of some kind of really really good treats with you - nothing store bought, take something like chicken, hot dogs, beef, liver, bison, tripe, etc. Think of it as taking something that's gonna trump whatever might grab his attention and set him off. Think of it in terms of his "chocolate brownie fudge sundae" (in little bites) in your bait bag. Get used to walking with treats in your hand (yeah, it can get gooey, but hands wash up nicely :p), and the instant you see something start to grab his attention, change direction a bit (remember, he's on a 6 ft leash, so it should be easy, and right now, while you're working on some reactivity, he doesn't need to say hi to everyone) say his name, and the instant he looks at you, treat him, GOOD BOY!!!! It's a lot of work, but worth it.

    The last thing I have time to say for now, then really must go, is this. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE ... don't punish him for acting like .... a young dog. He's only doing what comes naturally to him. Remember one thing. He's doing what comes naturally in his world. We're asking him to abide by rules we like in our world. You're wanting to punish him for rules we've set up, rules we like dogs to abide by. Please be patient with him. Show him what you'd like from him, and when he gives it to you, reward, reward, reward. Dogs do what works for them. The better the pay, the harder they'll work - kinda like us. :p Pay me well, I'll work really hard. Ignore me for doing something, and, well, no pay-off, I'll probably find something that works better. And make a game out of something, and he'll work doubly hard!! As for Cesar Milan, please eliminate him from your vocabulary. He's still using old punishment methods such as kicking, muzzling, shock collars, flooding, etc - and we all use positive reinforcement on this forum. We can happily and enthusiastically show you how to have a fabulous relationship with your Frodo without ever having to punish him. I can tell you from personal experience - I have a rescue dog-aggressive (yes, fear-aggressive) German Shepherd. She used to be HORRID around other dogs, she was the lunging, teeth-baring, scary, up on two back legs dog that made one's blood run cold upon the sight of another dog a block away. Using a little plastic clicker and heaven only knows how many bait bags full of chicken, hot dogs, beef, etc, and hours upon hours of work, we can now take wonderful walks, we work at our training center in the presence of other dogs, etc. We have a closer bond than I could have ever imagined - and it was all done positively. It works. You have to trust the process. Dogs live in a different world than we do, they think differently than we do, they learn differently than we do. And thank heavens for that!

    I must run, more will chime in, welcome to the forum, more later....
  5. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    AWESOME advice above from Jackie and from Amatuer.
    i agree with them entirely. Like the others said, i so agree that this young dog needs positive only training, not punishment, the LAST thing you want your dog to associate with seeing ppl or dogs is pain/intimidation/punishment. Your dog needs to trust you, completely, not fear you, but trust you.
    The more your dog trusts you, the better off for both of you.

    and i think the others are right, try a shorter leash for walking, (just doing THAT reduced my dog's lunging very very much) and it's key to give this high-energy dog plenty of chances to burn off his energy with daily exercise, and some chances to learn how to follow your cues, by learning tricks and cues in positive only way.
    If you haven't started already, do also teach this dog tricks. Any ol trick will do, it is the learning itself that will benefit both of you.

    Working to get a dog to be calm,
    when he is boiling over with unspent energy, (IF he is)
    is like trying to place a lid on a pot of boiling water...:rolleyes: ..it's hard to do without having it spillover...so the others are right, helping siphon off some of this dog's energy will be helpful as you strive to learn how to handle your dog's reactions.

    i'll just add in some short, simple, easy to follow videos to help further inspire you. Thsre videos are only 5 minutes long, but, i've watched them over and over:

    Dlilly and Dogster like this.
  6. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Kikopup, a positive only dog trainer who specializes in behavioral issues, has a series of five videos on helping dogs not bark/react:
    Ripleygirl, Dlilly and Dogster like this.
  7. Dogster Honored Member

    AGREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:D VERY great advice above ^.
    And listen to your trainer, he/she is giving good advice.(y)
    Punishments are NOT a shortcut for a well-behaved dog. You're actually taking the long (and wrong) way. Punishing a dog can result in fear and more aggression, therefore MORE issues. Positive reinforcement is the way to go!!!!:LOL:
    Ripleygirl and tigerlily46514 like this.
  8. mewzard Experienced Member

    I will be back tomorrow with ideas!
    tigerlily46514 and Dogster like this.
  9. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    JazzSue, if you have any doubts, questions, etc, please do post them. Many ppl here are reformed DW fans, you are not alone.;)
    It's easy to imagine how you might have doubts or questions if the idea of punishment-free, all positive training works or not, or how it's done/what to do, etc,
    so do feel free to post them!:)
    Dogster likes this.
  10. jackienmutts Honored Member

    A really great article was delivered to my email inbox just yesterday, talk about timing - and it's perfect for you and Frodo. It will help you understand what your trainer is trying to accomplish with her "reward what you like, ignore what you don't" methods, and this addresses an excited dog on leash. The article is from the Karen Pryor Academy and I think it will put things in a context that will totally make sense to you:
    It's not a terribly long boring article - quite the opposite, and it's got a great twist. I found it a great reminder also -- I hope this helps.
    Anneke and Dogster like this.
  11. Dlilly Honored Member

    Don't give up! My foster dog was pretty wild too! But by using all positive methods, in just a few months, I stopped all of his bad behaviors.

    Definitely watch the videos tigerlily posted!! Kikopup has a bunch of all positive dog training videos you might want to check out. www.youtube.com/kikopup
    Dogster and tigerlily46514 like this.
  12. Ripleygirl Experienced Member

    You have great replies so far on this thread - This is just the beginning of your journey together - just carry on your journey learning from here and anywhere else about positive training methods and go on with these - as I said in your introduction thread you want your dog to want to work with you not be scared of you! One thing I would encourage you to teach is a 'close' this is a heelwork where the dog is, ultimately, on your leg looking up at you, this is an easy 'trick'/training method to use luring with tasty treats to get your dog to pay attention to you as he is walking away from a distration, but you must train it in a home/non distractive environment not just try to use it in the situation where you are trying to drag him away from the distraction. Teach it at home firstly and spread out from there. Can you get access to empty local tennis courts? These are a great, safe outside place to start training sessions in a distraction environment while having the safety of being fenced in (great for moving on from housebound recall training, when you are ready, too and the start of recall training with distractions, also). Don't use a retractable lead but in the tennis courts you could think of using a long line, if you don't feel comfortable letting your dog off lead in them. never jerk on the the lead though it is only for your peace of mind, not to jerk the dog back (when in a 'safe' situation like an empty tennis court). There are lots of other distraction techniques too that kikopups videos on youtube, and others but Tigerlily, especially, have written on on this forum. Don't run before you can walk with any of your training and work with your dog in a safe environmant (ie your home) on everything to begin with - to build a bond with your dog because the bond is such an incredibly important tool! Work as a partnership and you will get results!
    tigerlily46514 and Dogster like this.
  13. jazzsue58 Member

    Many thanks to all who replied to my post. I certainly didn't pick an easy breed as my first "big dog" as other dallie owners I've met have testified. My trainer gently persuaded me to go one-to-one with her for now, as Frodo went for a couple of the pups on the training course who were younger and a lot smaller than him. He didn't bite, but dominated them and got a bit scary.

    I've found the new harness works a treat, but use the muzzle if we're in busy areas, as it lessens my anxiety so Frodo is also calmer. Currently reading through all your replies and making lots of notes! Thanks also for the links.
  14. jazzsue58 Member

    Cheers for this - am studying it now ... in between pre-jubilee work assignments.

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