Major Break Through With Ra Kismet

Discussion in 'Off-Topic & Chit Chat' started by MaryK, May 23, 2013.

  1. MaryK Honored Member

    So excited and happy. Today, with the weather finally cooling down a little, Ra Kismet and I actually went for our walk during daylight hours. Which meant of course, we encountered a few more dogs than we did when walking at night.

    We took a walk along a pathway that goes around the perimeter of the airport, not the most exciting walk, but one which we definitely do not do after dark. So more interesting smells for Ra Kismet and dogs, lots more dogs.

    Fortunately there is plenty of space along most of the path for easy passing, but even so, after his attack, he would still react quite vehemently to dogs passing him.

    Today we both spied two very lovely Kelpies both on leads of course, off lead is not allowed in this area, and I was all prepared for Ra Kismet to over react. To my surprise he just 'looked over at them' and didn't really bother at all!!!!!!!!!! They were, when they first approached, a reasonable distance away to our side but the man on seeing how quiet Ra Kismet was come closer and STILL nothing from Ra Kismet, who by now had plonked down and was looking hopefully up at me for a treat.

    I did say to the man that Ra Kismet had been attacked, so he kept apart enough that the three dogs couldn't actually touch but I honestly think Ra Kismet wouldn't have reacted even if they were closer. He just sat, then stood but VERY quietly, wagged his tail in the politest manner and didn't even come close to reacting at all!

    Since the attack this is the closest we've been in passing another dog, so you can imagine how thrilled I was inside with the way Ra Kismet handled the situation.:D Our biggest break through to date and the boy handled it with all the aplomb of a well behaved Canine Citizen!

    Needless to say, JACKPOT, was the order of the day!!!!!!!!!!! LOL fortunately I had a reserve of treats, just in case but we toddled on in the most impressive manner, quietly, with confidence and as if we'd never over reacted in our entire life! So proud of my boy! They do 'get it'. Now we shall see how he goes at a closer passing another dog.

  2. brody_smom Experienced Member

    That's terrific, Mary! What a proud moment! So what have you been doing with him that has helped? I agree that the distance helps a great deal when passing, but it's not always possible. My biggest fear is approaching someone on a narrow path when passing is not possible, and retreating is blocked by another person coming up behind. This hasn't happened yet, but I am always anticipating it as we often walk on very narrow sidewalks with a busy street on one side and a wall or fence on the other. Brody also has a habit of randomly lunging at cars. Oh, to live in the countryside!
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  3. charmedwolf Moderator

    Go Ra Kismet!! That's great, Mary. I hope you feel really proud of all your work! It's great to see it pay off isn't it?
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  4. Linda A Experienced Member

    Fantastic!!! I hope Ra Kismet got some extra treats when he got home!!
    MaryK likes this.
  5. MaryK Honored Member

    Sure am so proud of the boy!:D

    First, after the attack, we didn't go out for around a week, but worked on 'look at me' sit etc. in the garden.
    Then we went outside, just up and down two house blocks, I knew where all the dogs lived, working on 'look at me' relax (he was totally strung out outside). Up and down for a while, as long as he remained under threshold.
    Next after a week or so of parading up and down, we ventured a bit further, still sit/relax/look at me.
    We 'rinsed and repeated' for quite a while, just venturing a bit further when he was ready.
    Next few months took the same route every day, still worked on all the above and played 'ninja' if 'danger' hoved into view.
    We also worked on 'park'. Find a quiet spot then just stop walking, put your foot on the lead (or both if you're worried about being pulled over) and just stand there, watch Brody out of the corner of your eye, but do not let him see this. Don't stand for too long at first, increase the length of time, within reasonable limits of course, as Brody settles and relaxes. When proceeding to walk again, "Good Boy" and click/treat. Oh do make sure Brody has enough lead to lie down and relax, that's the whole purpose of this method, to get him to relax when outside. And he won't relax if he has to stand all the time:)

    It does take a lot of time and effort and I totally appreciate where you're at with narrow sidewalks, I have the same problem, along with the fact that I HAVE to walk along a very busy road to even get out of my street. What I did and still do, is to 'check out the area' before turning the corner. Also very important, WATCH Brody. Look for the slightest sign of over reaction, dogs are very subtle with their body language so you do need to be vigilant, while also 'scoping' out the surrounds. The slightest hint of over reaction, I immediately ask for sit/look at me. Also remain calm yourself, dogs read our tension like lightening and respond accordingly, not what we want at all!

    It takes a lot of time, effort and above all patience (and love of course goes without saying). Read Brody's signals, be aware of your surroundings, stay calm, and if faced with the 'big one' ask for sit, put yourself between Brody and the problem and become the fastest, biggest treat dispenser in the world. Plus turn and walk in the opposite direction, a quick but calm 'about face/walk' is one way to avoid confrontation with another dog or whatever is causing the over reaction. Don't yank him around so quickly he gets a 'hey Mom's nervous' reaction, just calmly turn and walk away in the opposite direction. Cross the road if at all possible too if someone is coming up behind.

    The other thing I did for ages was to avoid the 'doggy walking brigade'. Most of the people around here are very consistent with the time they walk their dogs, i.e. just after arriving home from the office, take Fido for a walk. So we walked at the times when I knew there would be less, if any, dogs around.

    Ra Kismet would plateau for a while, remaining apparently 'stuck' then suddenly move on as if nothing untoward had occurred. So watch for that and don't feel discouraged if Brody doesn't seem to be responding, he's just assimilating all he's learning, and making up his doggy mind whether it's worthwhile or not:D He'll come good and 'get it', just remain consistent in all areas of training. Work on the basics at home and outside, when in a suitable place so to do, and one day Brody will become Mr. Model Canine Citizen. How long, well that depends entirely on Brody:D
  6. MaryK Honored Member

    LOL he had a very long play with his soccer ball when he arrived home, the very best treat in the world for a soccer mad dog:D
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  7. MaryK Honored Member

    It sure is a great feeling to see it pay off and I am very fortunate in having such a smart, loving little boy. He's just the best and so wants to please LOL without giving up his independence, which I love:D
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  8. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I just got my dvds from Dogmantics (Emily Larlham of kikopup fame) on rehabilitating reactive dogs. They are 4 1/2 hours long, so I haven't watched all of it yet. There is a lot of talk at the beginning, then she gets into the tutorials, and the first one is teaching "look" and the "interrupter" noise. I will have to spend some time on these. Like most of Brody's basic commands, he doesn't have very reliable responses outside our house. Everything distracts him - dogs barking, children playing, adults talking, birds, airplanes, insects, cars passing. It's so hard to get him to respond to almost anything I ask him.

    I'm also reading a book called "Fired Up, Frantic and Freaked Out," in which the author teaches calming exercises like the parking you mentioned. I have only done this in the house and yard so far, but it uses a mat. You shape the dog to relax on the mat, like fully lying down on their side, head down on the ground. Once you have him totally addicted to his mat, you start introducing triggers verrrry slowly. Like knocking on a cupboard door somewhere far away from your actual front door, and rewarding him for not getting off the mat or barking, etc. Once you have mastered the pseudo-triggers, you move on to the real things, and add more and more until you have him able to relax no matter what is going on around him. Some dogs end up using their mats like security blankets and their owners take them every where the dog goes. It's going to take some time, but at least they are steps in the right direction.
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  9. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Congrats Mary!!! And congrats Rakins!!! (y):cool: How wonderful for both of you!! I can only imagine what a great feeling you had! Keep up the good work! Some days are such a struggle in the beginning, but then you finally hit a day like that and you realize the payoff for all you went thru and it makes it all the sweeter, doesn't it? :D

    Brody's mom (sorry, I'm blanking on your name :confused:), another thing you can work on (cuz you don't have enough right?), is "let's go" when out on a walk, and do a fast about turn, then keep walking (then in the opposite direction). It gets Brody used to turning quickly in the opposite direction upon command, in case you see something up ahead that you don't want (him) to encounter. You can quickly then say "let's go" and turn around, and he will, and off you go - rather than have to think ... uh-oh, there's (fill in the blanks) up ahead, we'd better turn around, and by then, he's starting to at least prepare to react. Responding to a command is already engaging his brain in something else and taking him away from the scary thing. Really work on "let's go" a lot (you can use whatever you want ... let's turn, turn, or whatever words you want), obviously when there's nothing going on, just when you're out walking, and things are boring.

    Mary has given really great suggestions above. I've read Fired up, Frantic, and Freaked out - it's excellent, and there are lots of good suggestions in it.
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  10. southerngirl Honored Member

    That's great MaryK! Ra is doing great and has made so much progress!!
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  11. MaryK Honored Member

    That's a good one Jackie "let's go' am going to work more on that with Rakins.

    Danielle, yes and so too is Missy making awesome progress. Seems our dogs are communicating telepathically with each other and deciding to become good Canine Citizens:D
  12. southerngirl Honored Member

    I've noticed a lot of members postimg about great progress with their dog reactive/aggressive dog.
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  13. MaryK Honored Member

    Yes so have I. I think a lot is due to this forum, all the help, encouragement and solid advice gives all of us with reactive dogs the impetus to keep going and keep on working with them.
    southerngirl likes this.
  14. southerngirl Honored Member

    I totally agree. You, tigerlily an jakienmutts have helped me so much with Missy.
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  15. MaryK Honored Member

    So glad we have been able to help you:)
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  16. brody_smom Experienced Member

    We have been using "this way!" in a really upbeat tone since I started loose-leash training. Mostly it was for when he would pull the leash tight, then I would say the cue and head the other way. The trainer at Petsmart said to say "ah!ah!", which I totally hated. Supposedly, he was to learn to watch me more often because I was changing direction without advance warning. It hasn't really made a difference with keeping the leash looser, or him watching me, but I do it occasionally to get his attention on me if he has been walking with his nose to the ground for long stretches.

    We go on walks at times when there aren't a lot of people out with their dogs, so it doesn't usually come up. Our main triggers are dogs in their yards behind fences. Sometimes they are there, sometimes not. He gets a little antsy when we are approaching their yard. If they aren't out, I can calm him and give him treats to get past. It gets stressful when several are out at the same time we are walking, and he gets over threshold quickly. I can't avoid all of them because our neighborhood is a loop, so if I change direction to avoid one, I will encounter another, or children on bikes or playing hockey in the street. Actually, I worry that I have made more of a problem out of this than there really is. He has had a couple of encounters with rude dogs off-leash when he was on-leash. Nothing bad happened, but he released his anal sacs. He only does this when he gets really freaked out, so I know if this happens, he is really stressed. When he sees a dog behind a fence, he whines and barks and pulls toward them, but doesn't release his sacs, so I think he wants to play, he's not scared. He has been in the off-leash park twice with no incidents with people or dogs, and was very calm and happy, taking treats and drinking water out of a bucket right beside a stranger. So it seems that if both dogs are off-leash or on-leash, he's fine. If the other dog is off, he gets a little scared (or really scared if that dog comes rushing at him). If the dog is behind a fence, he is over threshold, barking and lunging, but not scared (although he redirected his frustration and bit me once).
    MaryK likes this.
  17. MaryK Honored Member

    The dogs behind fences is an area I am still working on with Ra Kismet. Now he's getting really good with dogs on the leash etc. but still have the problem of dogs behind fences. Like yourself, sometimes they are there and sometimes not but whatever Ra Kismet will start to 'alert' as we get close to their house.

    What I've been doing is two fold. First, when I know we're getting close to a certain house I start to click/treat Ra Kismet saying "Good boy" etc. and keep that up until we're right close/in front of the house. Then, if the dog is out and fence rushing, I ask for sit and click/treat, usually managing to get him just past the place. It's a tough one that's for sure,as like Brody, I am of the opinion that Ra Kismet isn't being dog aggressive or afraid but just wants to play with the dogs, which of course isn't allowed.

    Ouch, that hurts when they re-direct onto you and does mean he's really zoned out BIG TIME, as they will not, if still within reasonable control of themselves, redirect onto their human. Ra Kismet did that the first time we went for a walk after the attack, but fortunately, never since.

    Is there any way you can cross the road? I know how difficult this can be, having spent half my walks crossing back and forth, but if possible even if it's just one house, cross the road. If not try to get his attention well focused on FOOD BEFORE you even get close to the houses with fence rushing dogs, and don't worry about whether they're in or not, just start becoming the fastest, best, food dispenser in the world. That way, with time and patience, Brody will associate these houses with FOOD and forget play time.

    It takes a while, as I said I am still working on this with Ra Kismet, he will now pass quietly on the other side but close up, still have to really watch points, especially when I don't know there's a dog behind the fence until it rushes. But the good thing is, he IS calming down, and so too will Brody, it just takes time and loads of treats for that grand moment to arrive.
  18. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I just got "Click to Calm" in the mail today. Also bought "Cautious Canines", but found that to be a little discouraging, as so many of the exercises require willing participants with stable dogs, and I don't know any within a reasonable distance to be able to help out several times/week. I am hoping "Click to Calm" will be more useful to me, meaning I can work within my situation more.

    I haven't been taking my clicker on walks much lately. I need to work on finding a treat that Brody REALLY likes, since nothing I've tried yet will get his attention when he knows we're getting close to one of his favorite barking buddies. The problem with crossing streets is that our street isn't wide enough to get far enough away, and the rest are too busy to cross in the middle. Our street is a crescent shape with about 60 houses and a small park on the inside of the crescent. If cars are parked on both sides, there is just enough space for another car to pass between them. There is an elementary school on the outside, and a lot of family townhouses and adult-only condominiums. Quite high density. The whole area is then surrounded on all four sides by fairly busy 4 lane streets, then two blocks south is the major commercial drag for the city. I find walking between 6 and 7 am is fairly safe... no dogs in the yards yet, and no children out. A few people walk their dogs, but they are easily avoided by changing directions. Evenings are a bit more difficult, and summer is approaching, so the sun is out til 9 pm. I take Brody over to the school ground to chase a ball from about 8 to 9 most evenings, and we are usually alone for most of that time. I know avoiding people and dogs is only a band-aid, though. I want him to know how to behave around them, and to not get stressed, so I am always reading about ways to treat this situation so we can all enjoy Brody more.
    MaryK likes this.
  19. southerngirl Honored Member

    Click to calm is a great book and the majority of the exercises you can do yourself. I have found it very helpful.
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  20. blacknym Experienced Member

    YAY!!! Im so glad to hear this development. Excellent. :D

    Deja used to get all barky and lunge when she say other dogs. She is better now but we are still working on the jumpy aspect and pulling on the leash. She doesn't really bark a lot or lunge just gets excited and jumps around and pulls. :p
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