...let's Help Russell

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by curls139, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. curls139 Well-Known Member

    Hi all,

    In the 6 months that we have had him, Russell has developed along the way 'dog unsurity'. As he is a rescue dog we don't know his full background, and the rescue kennels that he was in from 4 months onwards (possibly a key socialisation period?) DID NOT socialise their dogs with play, joint walks or any training.

    So, I'll try and give a brief outline of what happened after we took him home in terms of other dogs. Although I am keen to look to what we can do with his presenting behaviours as they are NOW it might be helpful.

    :( Looking over what I have written, I am sad to say I can see some massive mistakes where I feel I have failed to protect Russ and put him some horrible situations...no wonder he is now saying "errr....I REALLY am not keen to be aroundthese other dogs now"

    -Initially Russell seemed to be able to do '3 second hello' with other dogs and *seemed* happy to see them, often pulled to 'say hello' when they were near.

    -We sent Russell to 'daycare' to encourage socialisation and off lead play with other dogs. We got glowing reports from the owner about Russ, saying that he was "a star". On the first or second time after returning from daycare noticed a bite mark on Russell's muzzle initially owner said he got hurt by a stick and then when we went to see him next time said in conversation that it was a bite from another dog. (The daycare arrangement seems quite informal...we phoned around initially and all but this one would not accept bull breeds or Staffies).

    -Russ would play with other dogs off lead sometimes but his style of play seemed "rude/ no manners" (run up to anyone even dogs who did not want to play when they were off lead, not know when to stop, 'necking' other dogs). Particularly older female dogs seemed to not like this and sometimes "tell Russ off" with a low growl. Also, another thing to note, ashamedly we were not picky with which dogs we let Russ play with.

    -Unsure when exactly his reactivity on lead began (will check with Russ' other Mum as she is waay better with dates). Have a feeling it was when he entered adolescence. At this time as novice owners we were 'on our own' trying to follow Cesar's methods.... :mad: :oops: ...sad to say 'slip leash collar checks' abound for poor Russ-bear.

    -In May this year after Russ had just turned one year old we enrolled in a 6 week positive only basic obedience course. He knew most 'basic obedience' by then but the aim was to increase Russ' positive on lead interactions in the proximity of other dogs without lunging. After a few weeks when he seemed to be initially lunging due to being very exitable to anything and everything at training, Russ settled down and worked well in class and seemed to work and walk relatively close to ther dogs on lead, but we could not usually sit verry close to another dog. (There was one occasion where he barked and I had to take him out of class and a week where we had to practise walking in calmly without lunging, going in and out of the hall.) Now we use all positive methods with Russell as he came on leaps and bounds.

    -At this time Russ had two dogs which he played off lead with when we saw them and there were no other odgs around. He seemed to play more "nicely", chasing and not necking and not as intense.

    -Since then Russ' reactivity when seeing another dog has seemed to increase. We had a one to one behaviour session with one of the trainers who led the obedience course in July where the aim was to illustrate how to work below threshold and give treats for Russ looking at another dog and remaining calm by me. The dogs used were the trainers own and they were sitting Still whilst Russ walked up to them. Managed to get to about 5 feet.

    -Around this time we continued this type of training of looking at dogs every day and Russ even managed a 'walk past' on a few occasions and threshold *seemed* to be decreasing. There have been some emergency situations that we cannot control and the dog has been far too near resulting in Russ' hackles going up and him lunging. Although there have been occasions where we are unsure if we are treating at the wrong moment (where Russ has a gone a little bit past threshold) because we were just happy he was looking at a dog and *seeming* to be OK.

    -Russ was still attending day care for maybe one or 2 days at a time when we needed him looking after. Russell at this time was playing well off lead with his friend a very polite spaniel when we sometimes saw them at the park and looking at other dogs, treating. At this point we had been having doubts as to whether daycare had been contributing to Russ' anxieties around other dogs

    -Last week we left Russ in daycare for 4 days when on holiday. When he came back I took him for his first walk 2 days ago and he seemed *super super* anxious. His hackles were going up even when a dog barked somewhere in the distance and he seemed on edge even when he saw a woman with her shopping bags. On this walk so many negative things happened with other dogs that we couldn't control (I have posted more about this particular walk in Mary K's thread 'Tantrum Over Reaction'). Basically culminating with poor Russ with his tail between his legs, lunging being rushed and barked at by two off lead dogs for at least 3 mins while we were on our own in a field trying to get away and owners nowhere to be seen.

    Myself and Russell's other Mum (Sarah) have made a commitment that we are going to aim to keep Russ safe from now on and help him change his mind about other dogs.
    For the past 2 days we have been aiming to keep walks chilled out with attention exercises and avoiding other dogs.

    Any ideas would be helpful but this is what we have got so far:
    • No more daycare due to possible unsupervised 'squabbles' which Russ has to defend himself from unknown dogs.
    • Going back to square one with working right below threshold and treattreattreat for looking at other dogs staying calm. No more than Russ can handle and going SLOWLY, never 'testing' him (which we have done in the past). How do other people do this? Clicking and treating or no clicking? Wondering which will be best for Russ - I use clickers to train tricks, any ideas whether this would be a good association when Russ sees another dog or would it 'de-charge' the clicker for trick training?
    • I am due to buy some liver treats online to reserve only for when dogs appear so its a (y) for Russ.
    • Looking to buy a 'treat bag' or dispenser - anyone have any recommendations? Do you think they are good or do they only indicate to dogs "presence of treat bag equals food..rather than presence of other dogs equals food" (I have seen this written)? As we are trick training twice per day and training around other dogs and have had enough of smelly coat pockets and hoodie pockets.
    • Any other ideas would be really really helpful
    Thanks everyone so much for reading what I know has been a long post. It has helped me to list it all to realise we are probably at fault and may have put our Russ-bear in situations where he could only have associated dogs with negativity or anxiety :cry: . I know there will be bad days and set backs but we owe it to Russ.

    It really inspires me to think that people on here have helped their dogs and would love to know how they have done it, how long it took, what helped, where your dog started.

    Thanks so much

    Helen, Sarah and Russell :love:

    -photos of Russ-bear to follow soon...!
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  2. Amateur Experienced Member

    First off -- forgive yourself. We have all made mistakes. And at the time they werent really mistakes -- you were doing the best you knew how.
    Today is a new day ... begin anew.
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  3. Dogster Honored Member

    ^Agree with Amateur.:)

    You have very good ideas so far. I'm not sure if you should use a clicker, I think either way would work well. Have you seen "It's me or the dog" with Victoria Stillwell??? You should watch a couple of episodes.;) She teaches the cue "watch me" (some call it "look at me") so the dog focuses on you instead of what makes him react. When the dog focuses on you, lots of treats and praise. You can also teach "look at that, or LAT, further explained here:
    Treat bag, very good idea.:D
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  4. southerngirl Honored Member

    Does the daycare walk the dogs? It sounds like he hadn't been outside for a while maybe that's why he seemed so anxious?
    Use a clicker, I'm actually doing this training with my dog. See a dog click. If your dog reacts do not click and treat teach your dog let's go(go the opposite way of the enemy dog. Teach Russ this without other dogs around simply turn the other way and say in an excitable voice "let's go"
    When Russel is reacting more than likely he is going to react to every dog after that so don't get upset their is no stopping it his adrenaline is already going it takes about 30min. to an our to chill out. it's best than to avoid dogs at all costs after he has reacted on a walk.
    Here is a video that I found very helpful.


    Go on kikopups youtube page and watch her videos
    How to communicate with a dog in their own language- dog training dog communication

    How to communicate with a dog in their own language- dog training dog communication

    http://www.youtube.com/user/kikopup you can scan her channel and watch the ones you find helpful.
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  5. Amateur Experienced Member

    I'm not sure I would trust that day care .... if there was a problem they should have been talking with you about your dog !!!! Even offering some solutions -- I am wondering if they just throw the dogs together an dont bother to check them for long periods of time. If your dog was being bullied or bullying he should have been separated and you informed !!! -- even if he exhibited shy behaviour a good daycare would have noticed and informed you. Ask around some more and find a new one ... I would even hang out there and see how your baby gets on at the day care.

    Friends of mine left their dog at adaycare for one day and when they went to pick him up got a little lecture on how they are raising their dog :LOL: She told them he was a dog and not their baby ( true) and they needed to socialise him and build his confidence ( apparently he sulked all day. --- I actually know the dog and think it was more of a new situation problem but I kinda like thhat the owner took such an interest and offered ideas.
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  6. Anneke Honored Member

    Have you asked the daycare people about his behaviour at the daycare? If something happened, how they think he behaves?
    I guess they don't actually stay with the dogs all the time, but they should know if there is a change in behaviour, maybe due to a little fight or something.
    I am a dogwalker and if something happens during my walks, I tell the owners of the dog about this. Or sometimes I notice something in the dogs behaviour, I can't explain, so I ask if something happened, just so I can help with the training.
    Like Amateur says, they should notice changes and let you know if there were incidents, however small.

    About the treatbags....
    I use these http://www.bestforpets24.de/bilder/produkte/gross/7585_1.jpg
    They are easy to reach into, easy to clean. If I use wet treats, I turn it inside out and wash it under the tap using ordinary dishsoap and hang it to dry. (I have a few of these, one for wet treats, one for dry treats, one for agility that holds my ball, target and treats.)
    In my house the treatbag equals training. They know we are going to work when I put it on. No matter what kind of training;) (I also own a dog reactive dog, but he doesn't think about other dogs untill he sees the dog. When he sees the bag, he just wants to be as close to me as he can be:D)

    Everybody is giving great advice and I have nothing to add, so far.;)
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  7. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Oh so much to say, and only taking a quick break from housework, so can't right now. :oops::confused: You've been given loads of great advice so far. I will say ... no more looking back, only looking forward!! Will be back later to throw in my two cents. Just quickly - sometimes you'll be using a clicker, sometimes you won't, it will all depend on what's going on and how quickly things happen. Just did work with my girl this morning (I have a recovering very reactive GSD) and was clicking part of the time, and sometimes just feeding - one can only click/treat so fast, sometimes ya just gotta feedfeedfeedfeedfeed :D. Whatever gets the job done - and get that bait bag, cuz your boy is going to get a feeling of security from all of it.

    I posted this on the other thread you posted on - take a look at it, it may help you understand what feeding for calm behavior is actually doing for Russell. More later....
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  8. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Ok, back with some thoughts. First, as I said before, you've been given some good advice above. We've all made mistakes, I know I sure have - so altho it's so human to look backwards and dwell on things we did wrong, what's important now is to look forward and know you're doing all the right things for Russell.

    Good idea not going back to daycare. Not all dogs enjoy being in the company of lots of other dogs. It's often something we wish for them, kind of like kids on a playground all playing together. Often tho, it's not something they wish for themselves. If some dogs had their drothers, they might seek out one or two friends, but we (as humans) take them to daycares or dog parks and set them loose with a huge group of other dogs and say go on, go have fun! ... when in fact they may be thinking oh noooo, not this again! and prefer to be alone or with only one or two other dogs. The thing that's hard about daycares/dogparks is that there are so many different personalities/temperaments. There are soft dogs, forward dogs, passive dogs, playful dogs, dogs who only want to wander around and sniff and be alone, dogs who are rowdy with everyone they meet, etc ... and we hope they all get along. Sadly, often some come out worse for wear, cuz they just don't enjoy themselves. Ideally, daycares should have an attendant with the dogs at all times, but they often don't. They may not really know what Russell is like, or why the change. *sigh*

    Do as much work as you can with Russell below threshhold around other dogs, just being calm. Do get a bait bag, and keep it full. Make the treats really high value. You can use all kinds of things - chicken, hot dogs, beef, liver, cheese, it's endless. Working around other dogs is very very hard work tho - so make sure those treats are very high value. You want his reward to trump that dog he's going to be looking at. Don't worry for a minute that if he sees the bait bag, he'll only want to look at that ... and what, not be reactive? :LOL: Oh, if only it were that easy! You do want him to focus on you vs. barking/lunging/trying to eat that dog 'over there' - and if wearing a bait bag solves that problem, then so be it! :ROFLMAO: As for clicking/treating or only treating ... the only 'right' answer: it depends. Sometimes you'll have a set-up, structured session, and be able to click/treat, click/treat, click/treat. Other times, you're going to be in a situation, maybe walking, and see a dog, and have no time to worry about clicking ... you're just gonna grab a handful of treats and just start feeding and feedfeedfeedfeedfeedfeedfeed..... until that 'scary' dog is past and you can both relax. One thing to always try to do (as hard as it may be sometimes) is to keep that leash loose when you see another dog approaching (when it's on leash with it's owner). When you tighten up that leash, Russell gets the message "oh, mom is getting nervous, I should be nervous too" . When you at least give the impression you're relaxed, you help to keep Russell relaxed too. Using the clicker to treat for calm in no way "de-charges" it's power for trick training. The clicker becomes a powerful, yet calming tool when working with a reactive dog. Use it as much as you want to.

    Don't expect Russell to be 'fine' after a few sessions. He'll take as long as he takes. Go only as fast as he can go. As you said in your post, don't "test him" to see how he's doing. You always want to keep him under threshhold. Set him up to succeed. If you know he needs 10' of space between him and another dog, then make sure he has 11', and begin work there. Some days he may need 15' - so go with that. Dogs have good days, and bad days. Some days may be great, and other days you may go out intending to have a great session and he may have a meltdown 5 min later. Turn around and go home, and try another day. Keep in mind that when dogs "lose it" and have their meltdowns (lunge/bark/"go off"), they've had a huge adrenaline rush and it can take anywhere from a few min to a couple hours to begin calming down, altho the rush of chemicals can stay in their system for a much longer time.

    I have 2 dogs, who are two total opposites (and both rescues). My boy, Alfie (the darker one) LOVES other dogs, loves being in the presence of other dogs, and altho isn't a "player", loves meeting every dog in a park and will make sure he does. He's kind of a doggie chamber of commerce. :LOL: My girl is fear-aggressive, and is a work in progress. She was that scary GSD that no one wishes to see. 5 yrs ago, one sighting of another dog a block away, and she'd be up on her back legs, barking/lunging/growling/pulling - and I'd be terrifed that omg, if that leash ever breaks, or she gets loose, ... well, I didn't want to think about that. We've been working for about 4 years. She's a work in progress, and we take great walks now. Up until last year, I had to walk my dogs separately for two reasons. Yes, I was working a lot with her, but also because when she'd see a dog, she'd immediately redirect her frustration onto poor Alfie. The last thing I needed was two GSDs going at it, or her beating him up! :eek: We finally all walk together now, and it's great! :D She'll never be a dog-park dog, and that's fine. I don't ever ask her to stop for meet-n-greets (with dogs - she loves people) out on walks, and she knows I won't. However, we do competative nosework, and just a couple weeks ago at a trial, I had such a proud moment. She was by my car in her crate, and I had walked away. I was returning but was quite a distance. I looked over, and she was lying there, totally relaxed, just watching the world - as people and dogs walked past. (y) This meant the world to me and I literally got tears in my eyes. I thought back to several years prior, and she never could have laid there and been relaxed and secure. Yes, they were probably 8' from her crate - but still, no reaction whatsoever. She made me so proud. I know she trusted she was safe, and that meant the world.

    So much of the work comes down to the huge trust that will develop between you and Russell. As time goes on, Russell will come to realize that you'll always have his back, and that he can always count on you to keep him safe. The more he trusts this fact, the more he'll begin to relax, and the more he relaxes, the more fun your walks will become. Again - it will take as long as it takes. I will say tho, it seems that the 'toughest' dogs are the ones that teach us the most about so many things. They make us better trainers, they teach us patience, and they teach so much about our dogs' always willing spirit.
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  9. SD&B Experienced Member

    Sounds like you are getting some great advice here. The first thing to do, though, is, as Amateur said, to forgive yourself. You can't change the past. But you can change the present and future. Great advice you've gotten. I have nothing to add to it.
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  10. SD&B Experienced Member

    I love these two comments. If using a treat bag solved the problem, then that would be the way to go. And I do know that my Sundog, as difficult and complex as she can be, has made me learn so much and has taught me so much.
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  11. sara Moderator

    You have gotten fantastic advice! I dont have anything to add, except to tell you you are definitely not alone! I too have a seriously reactive dog, who is fear-aggressive. He's not dog aggressive, but reacts to anything that scares him, kids, people who look at him, dogs who look at him, cats who look at him (if they run he's still aggressive, but it becomes a hunt instead of a fear response) I know his thresholds to everything that bothers him, and try to keep him away. He calmly lets kids ride past on bikes and skateboards now (no, they really wont attack us, cuz they're not looking LOL),and is able to ignore adults that aren't staring at his face, and if a strange dog's not looking at him, he's perfectly fine. But if anyone strange (human or otherwise) looks at his face, he turns into "Mr. Junkyard Dog".

    Again, Oliver is not Dog Aggressive, or Human Aggressive, but Fear Aggressive, which is likely what your dog suffers from. Ant that is hard to deal with in some dogs. Oliver does not generalize, and he does not forgive, so is therefore extremely difficult to deal with.
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  12. curls139 Well-Known Member

    Thank you thank you thank you everyone..your responses have been amazing- so many helpful suggestions from real people actually working on this - as often the videos and trainers make it sound too easy! some liver treats are on the way and I am ordering a bait bag today.We have been taking calming walks with Russ for the past few days to build up his trust and calmness at being out on the lead again..aiming to avoid dogs for the minute. Sarah (Russell's other Mum) has been amazing at avoiding dogs and being aware of where they are...I think I am not so lucky as there have been a few behind fences and Russ' adrenaline has peaked a little too high!:eek: I have been clicking and treating each time he hears a dog barking and his hackles don't go up in preparation for 'all things dog'...We are determined to take how long it takes and go at Russ' pace this time. We are also working on a 'Back' command - a fun game where we run backwards, targeting at my hand for emergency situations where a dog is far too close and we cannot escape it - this worked today with a dog faraway which Russ did not see it at all but had a very fun time playing the game. Hiding behind cars is also fun! Thank you again to everyone there are too many responses to thank individually. I think the 'LAT' game looks fantastic and will work well for Russ where a look at a dog (which is (y) )...in a millisecond tends to become looklooklookloooookking with no breaks..a click and anticipation of something tasty should help with this.
    The dogs with the most impatient needs (fear, agression, anxiety) I can see make the most patient positive owners - everyone is a testament to that
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  13. curls139 Well-Known Member

    Hi guys just a quick update on Russell. My bait bag and liver treats have arrived (seem to be like small paracetamol tablets - seeming a little hard for Russ to swallow when he's got his 'panting play face' on but very tasty so going to try and soak them. Bait bag is a nice red colour, so a nice visual cue for Russ that *that's where the treats are*. Over the past few days Russ is seeming to get calmer and calmer on walks - 'smiling' and getting is 'play face' on we have been working hard to avoid dogs and click/treat when we hear a barking dog very much in the distance. His adrenaline/anxiety levels have gone up a couple of times - hackles up/attentive sometimes there is nothing around which I can see, once a barking dog at a fence very close. All was going well - apart from a set back today. I am unsure whether to treat or not to treat when things happen like this as I've reading how treats affect the brain chemistry and also reading to only treat/work below arousal level...I shall explain.

    We were walking in the middle of the road (a quite street) so as to be equi distant from fences/houses incase of dogs in windows/behind fences. A couple were talking in a door way, as we passed a dog attempted to rush out of the doorway. As soon as the dog saw Russ barked and lunged almost seemed like a 'fight' response to Russell - struggling to get to him and having to be held by the owner at the doorway growling and barking. God knows what it would have done if 'let loose'. The dog had no collar on so had to be held back by its body. The owners were laughing and seemed to think the response was funny - holding the dog and let it look at Russell. Russ's hackles from his tail to head went right up. Further down the road, more dogs were set off barking by this dog's performance with Russell. Even though Russ' hackles were still up his attention and focus was on me and he was trying his best to focus on me *straight away* (a positive as usually Russ' attention would be diverted and difficult to get back after an incident like this).....do I click and liver treat for him being attentive to me as well as being attentive to me IN THE PRESENCE OF BARKING DOGS, so as to *change his inner attitude* that the presence of dogs is a good thing (victoria stillwell argument around food changing chemicals in the brain when faced with anxiety-heighetening stimulus) OR not treat at all due to his anxiety levels being high with hackles still up and seeming alert but still attentive to me (the work below threshold approach).

    This has also happened a few times where Russ had heard a dog nearby, hackles gone up, slight lunging away but returned to being attentive. Should I not not treat due to his risen anxiety levels so as not to re-inforce the risen anxiety levels OR should I click and liver treat to *change his inner attitude* about dogs. Thanks for any clarification

    Slightly confused, but overall ready for the journey!
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  14. southerngirl Honored Member

    I'm working with Missy on reactivity just like you are with Russell. I personally click and treat Missy when she chooses to look at me instead of the enemy dog. I mean it's better than the dog focusing on the enemy and being unaware to the world around them. Also when Russ is all worked up try giving him calming signals it may help him calm down a bit.
    Not sure if this has been posted or suggested yet
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  15. MaryK Honored Member

    First WAY TO GO RUSSELL:D(y) Oh he's doing SOOOOOOOOOO well kudos to you both:D(y)(y) Love the sound of your new treat bag, LOL mine's an old organizer bag, bland beige and crappy, given by friend who couldn't sell it in her re-cycled clothing shop. Must get a more stylish one:D

    Right, down to business:D First, sadly you meet those idiots who think it's funny, nothing you can do about them and yes, so glad the dog wasn't loose. Had one like that the other day BUT was walking Zeus, so all I was concerned about was the other dog getting away (no collar just like you encountered but on the actual street by car) and attacking my beautiful golden oldie - we went past at the gallop:eek:

    DEFINITELY CLICK/TREAT with Russell, even if his hackles are up a bit. What you're aiming for is HIS FOCUS ON YOU and the brain changing chemicals (as per VS) to kick in.

    When Ra Kismet and I first started, he was attempting to over react but I just CLICK/TREATED LIKE THERE WAS NO TOMORROW - ignored ALL DISTURBANCES and FOCUSED TOTALLY ON RA KISMET.

    You need to be FAST - SUPER FAST click/treat/click/treat/click/treat and KEEP GOING until RUSSELL STARTS TO CALM DOWN - i.e. hackles go down and he get's a softer, more relaxed look - this may take a HUGE amount of treats, just on that one occasion (make sure you carry a load of treats, I ran out once:eek:). Even when he looks much calmer, still keep click/treating, this is what I did with Ra Kismet. I did not stop until he was really relaxed and even then AS WE MOVED ON I kept up the click/treat.

    When he was 'over reacting' I had him sit and just kept click/treating - it's easier to click/treat SUPER FAST in a sit/standing still for you position than to do it whilst actually walking along. Though in the situation you where in, I would have click/treated and moved away purely because it wasn't a SAFE situation for either you or Russ.

    But where possible, just stand and click/treat - with Russ sitting or standing don't fuss too much about the sit Ra Kismet sits very well so that was easy for me. That's what worked with *my* boy and now we can move along with click/treat.

    The MOMENT you hear/spot another dog CLICK/TREAT Russell. With Ra Kismet, some of the places where I knew there would be barking dogs, I started to click/treat BEFORE we got there.You're NOT rewarding his 'unwanted' behavior, you're REINFORCING the behavior you want and ALSO sending those signals to his brain. You really cannot, at this stage of Russ's training, over click/treat. I even click/treat Ra Kismet when we're just walking along, no dogs around, it's an 'extra' HEY KID YOU'RE DOING SO WELL".

    Plus don't forget the JACKPOT - let Russ nose dive into the treat bag and clear the lot when he's done SOMETHING SUPER SPECIAL he'll adore that:D But LOL do make sure you have 'back up treats'. I only allow Rakins a JACKPOT when it's something VERY SPECIAL like totally ignoring one of the Mr. Rowdies who really does 'perform' along his railing fence line. When Ra Kismet went past without a blink HE GOT THE JACKPOT:D:D

    Sorry I missed this thread earlier:cry:

    Russell is doing SO WELL he's improving all the time.(y)(y)(y):D:D:D:D And don't blame yourself, you cannot as has been said already, change the past. The thing is, you're working to change the now and the future and none of us are perfect, we've all made mistakes in trying to do what is 'right' for our dogs. I had to get over taking Ra Kismet to a lousy dog school, who said they only used positive reinforcement and when I got there I knew they didn't, should have pulled him out right away but thought maybe it's just that one thing - the slip collar - then they'll go into positive reinforcement training. WRONG WRONG WRONG and after two and a half weeks I realized they didn't even know what positive reinforcement training was, let alone teach that way. I felt guilty for ages over that and had to 'forgive myself'. And LOL I'm sure Ra Kismet forgave me the moment I took him out of that dreadful school.

    Curls you are doing so well with Russell, he's such a DARLING and I just KNOW he's going to make it to the TOP OF THE CLASS:D:D:D
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  16. sara Moderator

    Something that really might help you

    "Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog" by Emma Parsons It's a FANTASTIC book about using clickertraining to solve aggression.
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  17. MaryK Honored Member

    Going over to Amazon to get that book. Thanks Sara:D
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  18. curls139 Well-Known Member

    Hi guys, just checking in with an update on Russell. We are clicking and treating (with squeezy cheese exclusively for dogs) when dogs are barking or in sight. His hackles no longer go up most of the time unless the dog is literally by Russell's side by a fence. We are still on the standing and looking at dogs. I have to remember to walk and move with Russell, rather than only sitting and treating for looking calmly at other dogs (as Sarah- Russell's other Mum reminded me!!) as there was a time on a walk when a BC seemed to become annoyed with Russell sitting and looking over/looking away, then barked at Russell - at which point he lunged :cautious: . How has everybody moved to the 'next level' of *walking* in the vicinity of other dogs rather than sitting and looking calmly? We have had good days (Russell watched as a pack of dogs some on lead, some off lead walked past him 10metres or less away :love:) and bad days when dogs have been far too close and their owners continue walking toward us (one time despite me asking politely, we were still followed very closely by three dogs) - leaving us with nowehere to go but lunging-town. But Russell's attention more quickly seems to turn back to me. I also remember two times when we were walking behind another dog and Russ didn't seem to look or want to look at them - preferring to sniff. I'm thinking this may have been a calming signal.

    We have also found the magic ingredient - sticks :giggle: :D. Russell plays fetch on fields where other off lead dogs are - goes as if to say hello then turns around and *gallops* back to me to play more fetch and do basic obedience, not bothering the other dogs one bit! Perhaps the game gives Russ something to concentrate on. There have also been three occasions where Russell has played and romped with dogs off lead (I made sure that they were dogs that were bigger than him because of his rough-ish style of play). Two times were accidental times when the owners let their dogs off lead and Russell was on lead and the dog bounded up..so... All of these times I was able to call Russ to stop playing with the promise of a good game of fetch! At these times it feels amazing - like having a normal dog! Just yesterday went for a short off lead run with Russ keeping nearby at all times and I was able to call Russ back from going up to an on lead dog with stick in hand :sneaky: Not sure if these more chilled out experiences with having fun and playing fetch in the presence of dogs translate to Russ' on lead expeiences but they certainly help to chill me and Sarah out around other dogs - which can only be a good thing when we meet them on lead. Hoping that one day on lead experiences will be as relaxed as this.

    At the end of this month we are due to begin an outdoor basic training programme, the 'Part 2' training of the indoor basic group training programme we completed earlier this year with Russ. It's completed all on lead and the trainers are really good and know Russ (we had a one to one session around keeping Russ below threshold and decreasing distance with other dogs) so will let everyone know how this goes. We thought it would benefit him being in a structured environment with other dogs outdoors.

    So, all in all we seem to now be slowly entering the phase of teaching Russ how exactly how to behave around other dogs when on lead (heeling and being calm) as his adrenaline seems to be reducing slowly. How has everybody managed to do this? Translating these early experiences which can seem quite messy into the hoped for end result of walking near another dog nicely - I'd love to know.

    Thanks everyone for your support so far....:X3:
    MaryK and Dogster like this.
  19. Dogster Honored Member

    Wow, that's AWESOME!!!!:D Sounds like you're doing a fantastic job with Russell!!!!!!(y) Keep at it!!!! Very interesting how a simple game of fetch keeps him distracted, that's great!!! I hope he keeps improving!!! Keep us posted (though I'm sure you will;))
    MaryK likes this.
  20. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Really good work with Russell! As far as how to translate it? ... I don't think there's any magical method, it all takes as long as it takes, and every single dog is different. I've been working with my girl for several years, and altho she'll never be a dogpark dog, I'm just happy we can take walks around our neighborhood without any 'explosions'. We don't stop to meet other dogs, and most likely never will. But I'm so happy that she's relaxed when we walk, and not anxious when she sees dogs just in the neighborhood, that I'm willing to take that. She never acts interested in meeting other dogs, so I'll not ask that of her. I think you need to really take a look at what your own dog really wants and go from there. If he seems like he really wants to be social, but is a bit afraid, then by all means, slowly but surely work him up to where it seems he wants to be.

    You asked a ways back about passing other dogs and how often/when/at what point should you be click/treating? That's when I usually forgo the clicking and just feedfeedfeed, depending on the situation. If a dog is barking or freaking out behind a fence, or in the case of that dog being held back by it's owners at it's front door, I'd have been heading away as fast as I could, and trying to just shove food in his mouth as I went (providing he wasn't aggressing too). If he started aggressing, then the food would stop, and just run. Situations like that are just horrible, and you just gotta get away from them. Sorry you had to encounter that, but sadly there are just inconsiderate jerks who have dogs.

    Do remember to work on looking at other dogs, but keep moving. You mentioned the one Border Collie that became annoyed that Russell was sitting and looking at him. Keep in mind that dogs are communicating with each other constantly with ear twitches, eyes, whisker flicks, etc, and not all dogs are friendly and relaxed enough to have a (even slightly) nervous dog sitting and looking at him. Russell was apparently enough to set the Border Collie barking - and the barking set Russell off. :oops: Good reminder to keep moving, and when Russell makes a good quiet look at another dog, just feed and move on - no need to have a sit-in. ;) If the other dog is moving past and you want to take that opportunity to have him sit and watch, that's a bit different - but two dogs just looking at each other can = trouble. :confused:

    Sounds like Russell is doing great as he's able to be in a field with other off-leash dogs. Keep in mind that leashes do crazy things to dogs, so he might not be as relaxed on-leash as he is able to be off-leash. Keep up the good work, you guys have made great progress!! (y):D
    MaryK and Dogster like this.

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