Natural Dog Training: The Pushing Exercise

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by brodys_mom, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. brody_smom Experienced Member

  2. Mutt Experienced Member

    I never heard of it so I read the article you linked to. So I'm commenting while I go through the article:

    I find this a quite dangerous and weird statement (which they cover for later on). As this kind of encourages to do this with dogs with behavioral issues, while they don't know the issue is (I don't even know yet what is about, but still it will solve my dogs problems?)

    Also I can tell you that this would not work with my dogs, they are quite food orientated (will follow the bowl where ever it goes, but will behave correctly and nice because they have learned so). So walking around with their food would only make them move all kinds of ways and sit (certainly not let them come closer as they have to waite nicely before I put it down).
    So I would prefer learning your dog to stay/waite first and than asking for it while putting the bowl down (first expeting just halve a second and after that going towards waiting untill I say 'yes' even if I walk away/let them waite some time.

    The whole concept doesn't really appeal me... A dog should have the opportunity to eat in peace (food agressive/behavioral problems especially). Also I don't see how this will help a dog, they say:

    How? The dog won't be busy with emotional barriers, it will be busy with the food and the fact that you are teasing him. It's a dog and not a person, it doesn't overthink those kind of things (I'm not suggesting in anyway that I think dogs, or animals for that matter, are stupid or oblivious). It reminds me of therapy for humans when you have to punch a bag/pillow or something to get rid of negative emotions/energy/state of mind/stress.
    This may work for a person because they are aware of that, a dog isn't.

    Want to get rid of energy with a dog? Exercise him and do mental games with him. They need mental and physical stimulation and not this circus around their food...

    I read about a dog learning the wrong things during a meal. You want a dog to be calm and not be pushy/almost knocking you over, that won't calm the dog either as it will only get them in a more exciting state.

    Not really a positive look from me, though I'm interested in the explanation from people who do think it will work positively for a dog (or have actually done it).
    MaryK, jackienmutts and brodys_mom like this.
  3. brody_smom Experienced Member

    When I first found one of these trainer websites, I thought that the pushing was a dominance thing. As I read more, I realized they were very "anti-Cesar Milan", but also not in favor of positive reinforcement so it got me curious about the theory behind the method. It sounds a little New Age, metaphysical, as it is all about the dog's emotional energy, whatever that is. There is a big "discussion" between the man from the site I linked to and a fellow who is a Skinner behaviorist, all about the science of this natural method. It was all way over my head, but they obviously did not agree with one another on how or even whether dogs think. I am all for trying new things to help Brody with his issues, but I first want to know why and how they work, and whether there are risks of making him more fearful/aggressive.
  4. Dlilly Honored Member

    I can already tell you his method won't help you with Brody, sorry….

    Their website says that this method is commonly used by police dogs, herding dogs, basically working dogs, and that's because these dogs have enough drive to do their job that they are able to deal with the negative parts of the training and still want to work. My herding trainer uses this method pretty much, she uses rewards and corrections, but Rory wants to herd so badly he doesn't like the corrections but he just brushes it off and keeps on working. This method probably wouldn't work with non-working dogs, and even with some working dogs it may not be effective.

    You can have a great bond with your dog by using positive reinforcement training, I do with my dogs! This training method isn't anything new, or anything great, and definitely not useful for training dogs with behavioral problems.
  5. Dlilly Honored Member

    I know you've talked about Brody's behavioral problems, but could you tell me his problem exactly? He is scared of your husband, is that correct?
    MaryK likes this.
  6. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Brody came to us seriously undersocialized to people. We were told that he was good with other dogs, but seemed to have barrier frustration in the SPCA. He was shy to us when we first met him, but warmed up quickly and was quite affectionate. When we brought him home, most of his problems were just bad manners (jumping up and mouthing, counter surfing, barking, pulling on the leash), but he was also very reactive to normal movement of our family within the house, and he was very reactive outside to other dogs behind fences, as well as to heavy rain or wind, water rushing down gutter drains, etc. On three separate occasions, he was rushed at by large, boisterous dogs who were off-leash when Brody was on-leash, and has since become fearful of other dogs and people when we are out walking. I have to carefully choose my time and area to walk so as not to spend the entire time standing off to the side feeding him treats, or changing direction to get away from triggers. He has shown himself to be fear-based territorial and becomes very reactive to new people approaching our house. He has nipped two of my daughters friends. He has also nipped strangers in public, but in a non-aggressive way, i.e., no bark or growl before the nip, and on one of these occasions, he actually approached in a friendly way. This was to the back of an offered hand. I have been unable to find an affordable positive only trainer to help with his training (I found one trainer very close, whose prices were very reasonable,but on talking to her about Brody, she said she would use a prong collar on him, so I said "no thanks!"), so I continue on my own, reading and learning as much as I can, managing his behavior and trying to avoid triggers. When we are on walks, I stop and feed him treats when we see people with or without dogs, and he is showing more curiosity than fear. We are doing lots of tricks and some obedience, as well as a little back yard agility. Three of the kids are also learning his cues and have fun doing tricks and playing fetch with him. His barrier frustration has caused me some problems as I deal with a neighbor dog with an explosive bark. Brody reacts to her so quickly that he has bitten me three times, drawing blood twice. No stitches yet, but the effects on my emotions are lasting and I have a hard time keeping calm. I can hear the fear in my voice when I am trying to call him away from the fence.

    All of this sounds horrible when I read it back to myself. In fact, Brody is an awesome family dog. He is incredibly loving and affectionate. He is gentle and plays well with my kids and cats. He is smart and eager to learn, and I can really see that he is trying to make good choices. His reflexes get the better of him sometimes, which is why he has bitten me. He is not aggressive toward me at all, he was redirecting his frustration. Normally, he would bite a toy, but I was closer, and he was in the moment. We try to remember that he is still just a puppy, even though he looks all grown up. He was only 7 months old when we got him, 7 months ago.

    As for Brody and my husband, I wouldn't call it fear so much as confusion. My husband would rather Brody didn't exist, and acts as if he doesn't. When Brody tries to sniff him when he comes home, he pulls away. My husband wants respect from Brody, but offers no physical contact or communication other than "go away". I have a daughter who is very similar, but sometimes will pick up a toy and try to play with him, and he gets very confused by this.
  7. Mutt Experienced Member

    Like I have said before, I'm happy you aren't giving up on brody and are willing to put efford in him (y)

    I responded already in the thread concerning brody and your husband. But would like to take this opportunity to add something: Your husband should understand that respect is earned and not given.
    MaryK, jackienmutts, Dlilly and 2 others like this.
  8. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I know, but he figures just letting us get Brody, and earning the money to pay for his food and toys should be enough. Of course, Brody only knows whose hands give him food, not whose job pays for it, so that's just silly.
    Pawbla, MaryK and Mutt like this.
  9. ackerleynelson Well-Known Member

    I have never listened about this before but bookmarked your link to read about...bye the way thanks to share this... :)
    MaryK likes this.
  10. jackienmutts Honored Member

    I'm going to join the bandwagon of those who think you should steer clear of "the pushing exercise". It was bantered about a long time ago on another forum I'm a member of, loads of deep discussion about it with the originator. Personally, I just don't see the point of the whole thing. I agree with Mutt, dogs should be allowed to eat in peace, not have to "push" for their food, nor should they feel "teased" or intimidated in any way. Their meals are their meals, they shouldn't have to do anything to get it -- some things in life should indeed be free. (And if you want to ask for a "sit" or something before putting their meal down, feel free, I'm not talking about that).

    I also believe trust is earned. It's earned thru time and patience and lots of hard work. A relationship won't be "built" thru an exercise, nor will all old issues be dissolved away. There's no magic potion, no pill, and no time frame. Brody has to feel very confused, living with a man who wishes and acts like he didn't exist, pulls away, and wants nothing to do with him, and your daughter who acts like this sometimes, and plays with him at other times. How does a dog learn to trust and build a relationship under these circumstances? I'm not sure.

    Personally, I adopted a dog-reactive dog (Makena) 7 years ago (truly, 2 weeks ago it was 7 yrs ). How long was it going to take to change her mind? I had no idea. We've been working really hard for 7 years now. We've gone to a Feisty Fido class, we've worked almost daily on walks, outside parks, anytime we see other dogs (from a distance). We're now finally reaping the rewards of all our hard work and she can finally meet other dogs. 7 years we worked. You've worked 7 months, and are looking for answers and/or change already. Brody is still pretty much a puppy, he's still figuring out life and what it all means, and he's doing it in a household that is very confusing. His home should be someplace where he can be safe and relaxed and loved by everyone - and yet, it's not. One (and maybe two) of the people there wish he didn't exist. Dogs are very perceptive. And he's supposed to trust everyone else and be willing to build a great relationship? He's been asked to put aside all his fears - but put them aside .. where? People come into his yard, and home - and he's not given a safe place to go. He's asked to deal with it. He's even nipped strangers out in public. He shouldn't be given an opportunity to bite anyone, he shouldn't be feeling threatened enough to have to bite - he should be kept "safe", kept away from "threats" for as long as he needs to be - whether it be months, or years. Not all dogs are social beings. Let Brody just be Brody. Quit trying to mold him into the dog you wish he were. Keep him safe from strangers' fingers and hands. Keep him away from strangers coming into your home. Just let him "be". I hate to say this, but if he can't be protected from strangers, if he can't be kept from circumstances where he feels the need to bite, then maybe he's in the wrong home.

    Yes, continue to feed him treats when he sees strangers out on walks. Treat him when he's calm while he watches strangers pass by. Treat him when he offers the behavior you want from him. But don't ask him to interact with these people yet. Let him first learn how to just relax in their presence without them touching him. Be Brody's biggest advocate. Be his protector. Keep him safe from what he feels afraid of. By doing so, he'll start learning to trust you, and you'll build that relationship you want. Life and time are going to give you that, not some "pushing exercise".
  11. MaryK Honored Member

    I've been watching this thread and no, pushing exercises will not help Brody at all. I agree with Jackie, you have to build a trusting relationship with Brody, and from what you've said, you also have to protect him from everyone around him.

    Trust doesn't come from book reading but reading your dog! One of the first things you learn when becoming a dog trainer, especially a P+ trainer, is to watch the dog, watch the body language and interact with the dog the best way for that dog. One of the big reasons I pulled Ra Kismet out of the original school he was in was 'because the woman said she wasn't interested in the dog' HUH??? You have to be 'interested' in the dog! If it were a child, would a teacher say they weren't interested in the child, but just there to force learning into their heads! No amount of study, and believe me there's heaps of that in the curriculum of a P+ trainer, will ever replace actually working with a dog and watching that dog's behavior. Trust is built up over time. It's that wonderful relationship which doesn't happen over night, not even with a puppy who allegedly has no issues at all, even they need time to learn they can trust you. It's a big wide world, with loads of 'scary' things. A young child isn't expected to confront a quarter of what young puppies are expected to confront. When my baby Leaf come to me, she was rescued from an 'abusive environment', she was fortunate to be placed in a very loving foster home. Her foster Mom worked hard (along with her husband) to get Leaf to a point where she didn't shy away from people. But even so, when she came for the meet and greet, I wasn't able to get so much as a tiny pat. I allowed Leaf to 'be herself' I didn't attempt to try to pat her or even get her to come to me in anyway whatsoever!!!!!!!!!!! When, two weeks later, she came to live with me I did the same thing, just let her run around the house, checking out everything (and yes a small wee on the floor) and I didn't start 'working with her' for around a week, when I was sure she had started to find trust in me. Since then, with the help of my older dog Zeus (whom she trusted straight away) she has over come her fear of going on walks, other dogs, people, scary 'big boy toys' like the trash truck, heavy rain (though she still isn't keen on getting wetO_o ) and a myriad of other 'scary things'. But I had to 'earn' her trust first! You've read so much, now is the time to really start working on what you've learned and, most importantly, gaining Brody's trust in you. Trust doesn't come from a book, it comes from interacting and understanding your dog, spend less time in the books and more with Brody. Just have fun together,formal training isn't everything, play, talk to him, have FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!

    At present the poor boy isn't sure who to trust, he's one confused dog. Go back to total basics with him, very tiny baby steps, and I mean tiny jumping from one training method to another isn't going to help him at all! Thank goodness you refused the prong collar, that would have made him even worse. Patience, loads of patience, is a big key to training dogs (or any animal) whether they have issues or not. Brody will not become the dog you want in your time, but with patience he will become a well mannered, well behaved boy in his time. And if that's years not months, so be it. He may never be a 'social butterfly' dog, but prefer just his exclusive circle of friends, again so be it. Not all people are extraverts some are introverts, dogs are exactly the same. Some thrive on attention, adore the world and everyone in it and others are more the reclusive types who prefer to be with just their companions.

    That Brody has nipped people without any warning growl isn't a good sign, as it means he's given warning signals before and they have been ignored!!!!! Dogs do not bite without first giving a warning and if that warning is ignored, then they will escalate their feelings. That he's nipped is level one, there are seven levels of biting from nipping without breaking the skin up to the serious, sutures required bites. He's on level one at this stage, so watch and work with him and don't let him have to step it up a notch. He may not have growled but his body language would have shown that he wasn't happy with the situation. Has he ever growled at anyone before? And, if my memory serves me correctly, the nipping of your daughter's friends was because they reached over a gate, something many dogs, not even well socialized dogs, will not permit as it's an invasion of 'their home/territory'.

    The best thing you could learn right now is Dog Body Language, get that firmly into your head, so that you know the moment or even before if you're very quick and perceptive, when Brody is about to over-react.

    That he's bitten you by mistake - boy he must have been totally over the threshold - dogs do not bite the ones who work with them, especially if that person has been kind to them, unless they are TOTALLY in the 'red' zone. Ra Kismet, who didn't have a nasty bone in his body bit me on the hand when he zoned out after he was attacked. The reason is that the dog has developed 'tunnel vision' they do not hear, see or think about anything other than what is causing them to over react. They get the proverbial 'red mist' come down and they literally do not even know they've bitten you. So don't be afraid of Brody now because of that incident, it really will not help one bit. Just realize he was totally over the top, re-directed on you but not because he actually meant to hurt you, but because he wasn't really 'with' the world at that point of time. It happens, especially if the dog is really afraid of something.

    You've only had Brody seven months, a very, very short time for a dog with 'issues', dogs are living, breathing, thinking creatures and, like humans with issues, are not 'cured' over night, or in just seven months. It can, as with Jackie, take years and years to over come the issues. With Brody, to be very blunt, some of his issues stem directly from his home environment. He's totally confused and who can blame him??? You love him and are doing your best, some of your children love him, whilst he has a man (your husband) who wants his respect but doesn't give a damn about him. Would you give respect to someone who couldn't care less about you especially as that person is in your 'safe place' your home where you expect to be loved and respected? Look at it from Brody's view, put yourself in his paws. Plus a daughter who sends him completely mixed signals.

    As Jackie as said, sadly, maybe having a dog isn't right given your husband's attitude (and also your daughters hit and miss attitude). I would suggest thinking very seriously about this factor, as I know from all your posts, you really want what is best for Brody. Maybe a home were he's wanted by everyone may be the only answer. Or just
  12. Mutt Experienced Member

    Great post Jacky, I can only agree.
    Dogs are living beings and like every living being not perfect.
    They don't come perfectly trained, well socialized, relaxed. They are dogs and sure there are dogs that posses (almost all of) these skills, but this didn't come just by their owners wanting them to be like that. Work was put into it, trust, care and most of al patience.

    I'm saying this in general though, not that I want to offend you brodys-mom ;). But with the information you have given us (about how your husband treats brody and brodys nature), I sometimes wonder if it is fair for the dog. I think you are doing a great job, but with your husbands attitude, you have to wonder if brody gets the space/things he needs to be a "better" dog.
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  13. charmedwolf Moderator

    To be fair, I haven't read all the replies as I'm sick and it's really hard to concentrate right now. But continuing.

    Natural Dog Training was discussed once before Here. Mezwzard used it on her shepherd to increase her off leash work. The way I've seen it work both in videos and with a few people I worked with (I used to live 30min away from Kevin) was that the dog pushed into you to get the reward (in the beginning food). A bit like premack principal. Then it worked up to using a tug to dog the focus back to you. It stops the dog from getting so frustrated because he can't get what he wants. It might help Brody so that he doesn't redirect onto your arms or hand but to a tug if he is able. For dogs that don't do well with other dogs, they do a modified version of Bat. Approach, retreat, tug. until they can get closer and learn how to interact with each other. It's nothing really new, just presented in a new format.

    I can honestly say that Kevin is really really hard to understand sometimes as is Lee but if you can look up Neil Sattin, he trained under Kevin, he is a lot easier to understand and has a bit more to offer.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  14. Mutt Experienced Member

    Charmedwolf could you explain how this would help with off leash work for instance? :)
    What I read is that they expect a 'relief' from the dog as it 'pushes' its problem away, which I think isn't the approach for handeling problems as it gives dogs characteristics they don't posses ('humanizing'). But maybe thats just the way I interprinted the results?
  15. charmedwolf Moderator

    I'll give it my best shot Mutt! The first few times I read through the articles I read it as humanizing as well. I wasn't able to understand it. After watching a couple in a class I was teaching, I was able to see what was going on. It is relief that the dog is getting from pushing. You're right on that aspect. It's relief from the frustration around him which is relieved through you.

    I'll give you another example of how it works. Isis is very fearful of people and as much as she trusts me she would much rather lunge and bark then anything else. Think of how frustrating it is to just be out of reach from something you really really want. When I recall her back to me I am able to get her to put all that effort/frustration that she was using to lunge and bark into biting her tug. It immediately calms her down to a more respectable level. Think of it a hitting a punching bag after an argument. Physical exercise helps calm down the metal state by releasing dopamine. The more you do it, the easier it becomes to redirect your anger and frustration onto the appropriate target.

    For NDT, to work on off leash stuff you start on a long line. Something catches your dog's eye. You call the dog to you (which is now a big reward through pushing for food- meaning R+) and push with the dog or tug. All the interest to the outside world means that a bigger reward is coming through you whether through tug or pushing. Basic premack principal. "A high probability behavior can serve as reinforcement for a low probability behavior.". Getting to let out all the frustration of not being able to chase/lunge/bite/growl at something serves as reinforcement for coming back to you. The more interesting stuff you do this to in the outside world the more the dog is going to become focused on you instead. Why? Because playing with you has become more reinforcing. Then it's as simple as losing the long line completely.

    If you've read Control Unleashed it presents it in such an easier fashion to understand. It is also a form of controlling prey drive though most of the stuff you find dealing with prey drive is bite sport orientated so is not easy for most people to understand.
    southerngirl likes this.
  16. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Thank you. You are the first person to actually give a good response to my original post. Everyone else has jumped to one conclusion or another without actually investigating. I too was initially put off by the idea of pushing, but I kept my mind open, as Kevin had some legitimate concerns about positive reinforcement training as well as Cesar Millan's methods. That got me curious as to what else he might have to offer. I am now taking a course with Susan Garrett, and much of what she does is more like Kevin's work than most R+ trainers I've seen. Food and clickers are used, but faded very quickly in favor of shaping and tugging. It's great fun for both of us, and my kids are getting in on it as well. Brody is making great progress and showing remarkable self-control.
    southerngirl likes this.
  17. southerngirl Honored Member

    Okay so I just now read the article, some info. about it online, Mezwzard's thread and watched some videos. From what I understand(tell me if I'm wrong) is that during a situation that your dog may want to get to something such as another dog and get frustrated, because they can't you have the dog push their chest into your hand to relieve the frustration. I think that this could be helpful with Brody and I would try it out if I were you, in my opinion it won't hurt to see if it helps him. Are you planning on using this for his behavior in the back yard?
    I personally have been thinking about having Missy target my hand with her nose while walking past a dog and now I'm debating on doing that or trying out this "push" thing. It seems that it really helped Mezwzard's dog Oka. Oh and for the work for the meal if I do this she will get to eat her breakfast, but for dinner I will use 1/2 cup of her food for this training and allow her to peacefully eat her of her meal. Personally I've never liked the idea of making her work for her meal, but for me some of her dinner is fine.
  18. ackerleynelson Well-Known Member

  19. Mutt Experienced Member

    But charmedwolf in my eyes that is something different, at least from what I have read in the link.

    What you are telling about redirecting frustration at a toy is very good method for indeed prey drive/hunting.
    But what I read in the link isn't about that as you aren't redirecting any behavior (the dog isn't searching for prey/barking at an other dog etc.). You are asking a dog to push at your hand just without any reason, just before dinner but the dog isn't frustrated about that and if he is than this would be because of this exercise which isn't what you want... For humans these kind of things work as we can think back about a situation, imagine how we felt again and than redirect 'old' emotions. Dogs live in the here and now and don't overthink situations from the past.

    Redirecting is a great way to train a dog especially with something like a ball/tug toy, but personally I don't (did not) see this (the exercise I read in the article) as redirecting...

    The idea of letting a dog work for a meal is that the food isn't just a bonus and it motivates a dog more to work with you (all food comes from you AND the food is earned when good behavior is shown) ;).
  20. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I have read a lot. This is true, but I have not been neglecting training or playing with Brody. In fact, my daughter who doesn't much like Brody has accused me of spending too much time with him. It has been a major sacrifice of personal freedom and time to learn about and then apply training methods with Brody. Please don't accuse me of this, you have no basis for it.

    Again, your accusations are unfounded. He is not confused, he knows exactly who he can trust. The others he is unsure of, but he knows he can trust me and four of my kids. Even the ones he is unsure of have never done anything to hurt him in any way. They don't yell at him, throw things, threaten to hit him or anything remotely like that. At most they ignore him, maybe make a comment which bothers me, but nothing is yelled.

    I have not jumped from any training methods, but I am willing to keep an open mind when I come across something that sounds as if it could be of benefit. That is why I made my original post, to find out if anyone here had used it or seen it used.

    He has never given a warning growl that has been ignored in the time that I have known him. The instances when he nipped, his body language was playful and friendly, relaxed and wiggly, which is why everyone involved was very surprised by it. I wonder if they were cases of his lack of socialization with people, and him really not knowing how to greet people appropriately. I have since had two instances where he behaved very well with strangers who were willing to stand still and let him approach them.

    When the two girls were bitten (even these were more of a nip than a bite, front teeth only), they were given plenty of warning first, but one reached her hand over the fence to him, the other stepped in the door. The second was my fault as I was trying to secure him as my daughter was going to open the door for the visitor. She let the girl in before I had the door closed and Brody slipped past me. This is the one area of training I haven't been able to tackle as my daughters are afraid to bring their friends over now, and I don't have any other people in my life who are comfortable enough with dogs to help.

    I agree our situation isn't ideal, but I don't believe his issues stem from our home environment. I believe Brody is flourishing in our home, because the love he gets from the ones who love him far outweighs the negative feelings coming from the ones who don't. I have thought very seriously about this, and have talked to everyone I know who could possibly give Brody a better home than we can, and none of them are able to take him. I can't return him to the SPCA or any shelter, since he now has a bite history and will be euthanized.[/quote][/quote][/quote]

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