Natural Dog Training: The Pushing Exercise

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

  1. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Plenty of R+ trainers advocate the use of the dog's meal in training. Dr. Ian Dunbar and Susan Garrett both recommend feeding a puppy nearly all of their food while training even at the beginning. I don't see anything wrong with it in the context of the pushing exercise either, as great care is taken to make sure the dog is not stressed at any time during the exercise. Your use of the words "tease" and "intimidated" make me wonder if you even read the whole article. There was nothing in the description of the exercise that even remotely suggested either of these.

  2. southerngirl Honored Member

    B's mom I just want to say I think you have done a wonderful job with Brody so far and it is obvious you love him tons. In a way I think he is in the best home for him, because you're taking your time to figure out the best way to help him overcome all his issues and you are adjusting your life to accommodate his needs as much as you can.
    Keep up the great work with Brody.
    Please keep us updated on his progress. Oh and if you do this "pushing exercise" please let me know how it works out. I'm really interested to here if it works.
    Shot at least no one yells at him or hits him, unlike in my house.
  3. brody_smom Experienced Member

    What about all the puzzle feeders that are highly recommended as ways of mentally exercising dogs? Many people use and recommend these without worrying that they are frustrating their dog, or that their dog is having to work for their food. How many times have I heard people say that dogs need jobs?

    This website has some clearer explanations of the Natural Dog Training (NDT) method:

    http://www.naturaldogblog.com/learn-the-basics-of-natural-dog-training/

    I have now done this exercise with Brody 3 times and it is done so gradually and calmly that there is no frustration exhibited whatsoever. He is not redirecting anything at this point, he is learning a new technique for relieving stress or frustration. When I take a handful of food, I say "Ready... Brody!", then offer him the food, backing away slightly to engage his prey drive as he eats and gently pushes against my other hand. The pushing is enjoyable, and it is something that I will be able to cue him to do when he is in a situation where he would normally be lunging/barking, such as when he sees a squirrel or cat, or maybe if he is afraid of something, like another dog or person. It helps him to see me as prey, not something to kill, but something at least as exciting as a squirrel or a cat. I will be able to say "Ready ... Brody!" and he will know just what to do instead of barking or lunging.
  4. Mutt Experienced Member

    But now you are comparing 2 seperate things. If your dogs get frustrated from a puzzle you are doing it wrong, its simple as that. You should supervise your dog and help out when needed...

    A job, working for food, a dog who has fun it that is something completely different in my eyes than teasing a dog with a food bowl in your hand and asking for a push. Fact is that bending a behavior (redirecting) only works for a dog if you do it in the act and not after words (like giving your dog a 'correction' doesn't work afterwords).

    But like I said that is just my opinion.
  5. brody_smom Experienced Member

    That's exactly my point, Mutt. They are not two different things. If your dog is getting frustrated by the pushing exercise, then you are doing it wrong. I don't know where you got the idea that the point is to tease or frustrate your dog, but it wasn't on the page I linked. Here is the description, copied and pasted, for anyone who hasn't read it. I have bolded some parts to emphasize my point.

    "As she eats, put your other hand lightly against her chest, with your palm up, cupping her breast bone. Don’t push against her with this hand. Just let it sit there. If she shows nervousness about having that other hand against her chest while she’s eating, you have to take it a little slower; use that hand to scratch under her ears again, etc. You want her to feel comfortable. Let her eat while you pet her and scratch her with that hand.

    Once she’s finished eating that handful of food, withdraw your other hand from her chest, dip into the bag for another handful, and start again, repeating the same sequence of words: “Wait…” She waits. “Ready? Okay!”
    If she really gets into eating this way, or is almost there, but not quite, I’ll encourage her while she’s eating. “Oh, you want it! Come on! Come on and eat it! Push me! Push me!” You have to make sure this doesn’t throw her off though. It should make her want to push into harder. If her interest lags instead, ease off a little.
    Over the course of a few days, as you sense her increased openness toward eating this way, you can start pulling the food hand away bit by bit, while keeping the other hand in position, nice and steady against her chest. If she’s interested enough in the food, this will automatically cause her to push into you to keep eating. As she gets used to the feeling of pressure, and seems to start to like it, you can slowly build the amount of pressure she’s able to tolerate against her chest. The harder the dog pushes the more of her fear and confidence issues she’ll be getting rid of (pushing past her emotional barriers).
    The ultimate goal is that eventually, over the course of a week or two (maybe more, depending on the dog), you’ll have her pushing so hard that she’s up on her back legs, nearly knocking you over. But never let her feel pressure against her chest unless she’s also eating at the same time. As she begins to push harder and harder at each meal you’ll see some incredible changes take place in the dog’s behavior. She’ll become calmer, more obedient, less pushy (I know!), and more centered and balanced.
    That’s what always happens. You just have to see it to believe it…"

    No where does it say that you withhold the food. You are only pushing while the dog is eating. Once the food is gone, the pushing stops. It only starts again when you have food in your hand and allow the dog to eat it. The pushing is just a pressure, you are only resisting the push in order to remain upright, not to keep the dog away from the food. It is really very similar to tugging with your dog, only in the opposite direction. The use of food is just to give the dog a reason to start pushing in the first place.
  6. kassidybc Experienced Member

    Keep us updated on how this works! I'm not really sure how I feel about it.... I don't think it's bad to do the pushing excercise (though I've never tried it myself) as long as the dog enjoys it. The thing that worries me is this claim that it will magically make your dogs behavior problems disapear. I think it should be advertised more as something fun to try with your dog than a magic eraser for their behavior problems.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  7. brody_smom Experienced Member

    There is psychology behind it, Kassidy, although it is more Freudian than Skinnerian (is that a word?), dealing more with the dog's natural drives than it's behaviors. Neil Sattin is another Natural Dog Trainer, like Lee Charles Kelley and Kevin Behan. His website and blog are a bit easier to relate to. I think he is just a better writer. Here's the link, in case you're interested: http://www.naturaldogblog.com/
  8. southerngirl Honored Member

    Please update on how this is working for you.:)
  9. kassidybc Experienced Member

    Thanks for the link, I'll check it out! Sorry, just saw that you had replied today!
  10. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I haven't been spending much time on the pushing exercise lately. Unfortunately, it is best to do it outside (the natural dog training method encourages owners to do all arousing activities outside and keep the inside of the house for calm, relaxing activities) at mealtimes, and I need to rearrange my life schedule to be able to do this. Also, the weather is very dark and wet here, so it requires suiting up in rain gear. I am currently doing a Recallers class online with Susan Garrett, but once that is over, I plan to look more seriously into natural dog training and how I can best use it to Brody's advantage.
    southerngirl likes this.

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