Training Schedule Or Outline

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

  1. Adrianna & Calvin Experienced Member

    Hi Brody's mom

    I sympathize; I know what it's like to have to be vigilant all the time when outside with a dog. Have you gotten him used to a muzzle? These look 'bad' but can keep people safe and put your mind at rest a bit knowing that he can only "bonk" into someone rather than give a good bite. Have you looked at Behavioral Adjustment Training (BAT)? There is a training protocol there for dogs who are people- or dog-shy, but there's also some good info on creating management situations that allow you to safely work your dog in public. It's worth reading the book and getting hands on the "Organic BAT" DVD set, if you can.

    As for regular training, Sue Ailsby's Training Levels are the gold standard in terms of clear, step-by-step programs. Every behavior is broken down to tiny bits. and there are goals and "tests" along the way to make sure you and the dog are where you need to be. The old version is online, but there is a newer version you can order online. Sue also has a yahoogroup, Training Levels, with lots of people who are also working the Levels and can give advice. My cat and dog have both done Level I :-) and Calvin was somewhere in Level II when we ended up taking a break. The Levels are really about creating a solid core of trained behaviors that you can then mold into anything you need.

    As an example, when my dog sadly had to go for chemotherapy, the oncologist was able to ask him to lie down, and have someone give him kibbles one by one as they put an IV in his hind leg and pushed the drug. Of course I'd never taught my dog to accept chemo! But he did know "the training game" and not only did it work to get him to stay for his treatment, but the 'game' itself was a comforting spot for him. Dogs love routine, they love familiarity, and a good solid training history can provide a safe place for a dog anywhere he goes.

    For my late but awesome and very dearly missed reactive dog, one thing that helped us was to teach him to focus on me the moment I asked him, and to keep the focus on me until I released him. This was taught with generous, high-value food rewards. When he saw Scary Chaos in some situation we encountered on our walk, being able to snap into Training Mode helped calm him. Our management also included teaching him to switch sides on cue (so I was always between him and the potential trigger). When passing a potential trigger, I had him at a loose "heel" on the other side of me so that my body would naturally block him if he should react. I got a hit in the hip with his shoulder a few times :-) as he tried to lunge, and he was successfully 'checked' every time.

    I do want to stress that training in general, even if it's not related to your people desensitization program, can really help a nervous or shy dog feel good about his place in the world. My late dog was initially very nervous at the vet's -- not aggressive, just wild. Years after his adoption, I went to a vet who had seen him in those early days and he marveled at what a change there was in my dog's demeanor. He complimented me, saying that I must have somehow changed the way he saw the world, that this was a different dog altogether. I can't take credit for that -- my dog worked hard to overcome his early poor socialization -- but I can give credit to the training.

    Major kudos to you for all the work you're doing for your boy. I think he, too, will learn to see the world differently one day.
    tylerthegiant, brodys_mom and MaryK like this.

  2. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Sorry to hear that, but glad he's better. The youngsters do seem to bounce back pretty quickly, though, don't they!
    MaryK likes this.
  3. MaryK Honored Member

    Thank you:) Yes they do thank goodness. "Keep the patient quiet" is the hardest, once they start to recover, he was starting to bounce of walls with no training or walk! Would love to know what caused the tummy bug though, because Ra Kismet normally has a 'cast iron' stomach.
  4. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I haven't gotten a muzzle yet, although I was considering one just for trimming his claws. He's really just a nipper when it comes to strangers. Do soft muzzles prevent nipping?

    I have read a little about BAT, but haven't seriously looked into it yet. I have also been working a little on the Training Levels, the old version, but got side-tracked by his reactivity issues. I will get back to them this week while I wait on some books and dvds that I ordered. I hope that he is gaining some confidence, but, as I said on another thread, he really needs work on just relaxing in general, because he is so reactive to things that are going on in our house which are just part of the way we live our lives. I can't keep everyone in my house from singing, dancing, jumping, laughing, hugging, arguing, vacuuming, mowing the lawn, blow-drying their hair, etc. just because it upsets the dog. This needs to be dealt with, and soon.
    MaryK likes this.
  5. MaryK Honored Member

    As he's so reactive to everything happening in your house, I would suggest using Bach Rescue Remedy for a while, it's completely natural and is NOT addictive. Just use a weight to drops or capsules ratio. I myself have used it with great success when re training reactive rescue dogs. I know it's available online and also in the States in capsule, tasty format.

    Another way to calm a dog is to gently hug them close or stroke gently, but firmly if you know what I mean, down their sides, this has a similar effect to the Thundershirt.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  6. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I am unsure about the hugging, Mary. It is quite instinctive for me to do this, but I have read a few things by reputable trainers about reinforcing fears by consoling them. I know Emily Larlham (aka kikopup) says it's okay to console fearful dogs, and that it's actually helpful, but so many others warn against doing so. I try to keep my voice light and upbeat, not panicky or sympathetic, tell him not to worry, everything is okay. Still he barks and growls and people are scared he will bite them. He hasn't, so far, not even nipped in these circumstances, but that may be because we stop doing whatever is setting him off.

    I don't think the medication is necessary, as he is able to relax most of the time. He's not a nervous Nellie, shivering and hiding or anything, just reacting to certain triggers. He calms down fairly quickly afterwards.
    MaryK likes this.
  7. MaryK Honored Member

    I know a lot of trainers do say not to hug as it reinforces the fear, but I do hug in an 'upbeat' way. For example:- I once had one dog who was scared stiff of thunderstorms, I personally love them and all my other dogs/cats etc. have taken their cue from me and are not afraid, but with this dog he was so scared that he dived under the covers when I was sleeping shaking like the proverbial jello! I did comfort him but not 'oh you poor darling' more 'hey it's just the Gods playing marbles' kind of way with big hugs and cuddles, and after a few more storms, we had an Indian Summer that year and a lot of storms, he grew to if not like them at least just accept that it's cool, Mom's not scared.

    My view is, and I stress it is MY view, that I like a bit of comfort if something scares me ,I'm scared of certain types of heights like cliff faces, but can get closer if someone literally holds my hand and gives me 'comfort' so why not a dog? They're, in my opinion, not really any different than us, they have emotions, fear, pain, happiness, etc. and with the fear factor it helps them over come the fear if we show them the same comfort we would show a human.

    With Brody with people when out walking, try to give him 'space', move aside and allow as much room as possible while at the same time asking for sit and click/treat like crazy. You can also get the 'My Dog Needs Space' collars/leads/bandanas in yellow which are used to let people know that your dog isn't dangerous but just needs his space.

    Some dogs do not like being 'crowded', just like some people hate crowds, and this may well be the case with Brody.
    There's a gorgeous German Shepherd at the dog school I am with - he's the one who won the Award for Most Improved Dog - and he wears the yellow lead/collar and bandana, looks very swish and also let's everyone know he's not vicious but 'hey I need my space'.

    Also if you know someone whom Brody hasn't met who will help you, have them walk past Brody giving him plenty of space, while you ask for 'look at me' and ask Brody for sit, click/treat like mad. Keep doing this until Brody is comfortable and then have the person move a little closer and watch Brody carefully. Do NOT have them move so close he starts to react. It may take a while and just take it one step at a time but he will 'get it'.

    Glad he's not a 'nervous Nellie'. In that case I wouldn't use anything. Although if he's still growling when out on walks, may be a few drops of Bach's Rescue Remedy will help him calm down.

    At home, sounds like Brody is a typical teenager:D They do over react if we get excited or dance, sing, act the fool, that's pretty normal for a happy, carefree dog and yes, just like teenagers, they do grow up and adopt the 'ho hum these humans sure do some funny things' whilst laying back calm and serene. Zeus my older dog when a puppy would bark (and trust me he has the very worst bark one single high pitched note it's ear splitting) if I danced which I did a lot as I do Flamenco Dancing and would practice at home, but now for many years he just sits back and actually goes to sleep! Not the best audience but it's a lot quieter:D Ra Kismet would also join in the dance, again though, he now lays down and just watches me dance. And LOL at least he stays awake!
    brodys_mom likes this.
  8. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I've finally gotten to the chapters in "Culture Clash" that deal specifically with basic obedience training. It is quite good, and I'm seeing where I have made mistakes in raising my criteria too quickly, and not reinforcing strongly enough. This is such a lot of work! My biggest problems with Brody are in the basic commands, the real practical stuff like sit, stay, down, look. The ones that would help me the most in preventing problems on walks. It's like he knows when he is "training" and eyes are on me. Even teaching him something like "drop it" or "leave it", he doesn't commit strongly enough to the object in question because he knows there's a treat to be earned by leaving it alone. It's hard to work up to the "in the moment" situations because he responds well when he is anticipating the command, but not at all when it's given in a more natural context. And the quality of reinforcers is also a challenge. He will work for kibble most of the time, but so much that I read says to reserve special treats for only certain circumstances (i.e. liver=strangers and vice versa). So at home, I can feed him his meal throughout the day in training sessions, but when I go out in the yard, I up the ante to cheese or chicken. On walks, I bring a trail mix of kibble, cheese and chicken or hotdogs for loose-leash training, but I also need a pocketful of liver, just in case we encounter a stranger! I feel like a walking delicatessen!
    MaryK likes this.
  9. charmedwolf Moderator

    I'm working on a training schedule for my crazy two when I finish it I'll post it.

    I'd recommend looking up Relaxation Protocol to help with teaching Brody to relax around the house. It's a 15 day very straight forward program which I think will help you a lot.
    MaryK and brodys_mom like this.
  10. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I will do this. Thanks for the suggestion.
    MaryK likes this.
  11. Adrianna & Calvin Experienced Member

    I think Suzanne Clothier is spot-on re: "reinforcing fear"

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  12. MaryK Honored Member

    Thank you A & C, now I feel so much better about the way I deal with animals who are afraid. The way Suzanna Clothier explains it is exactly how I deal with any 'fear situations'. Makes me more confident now to say to people it's o.k. to comfort their animal, just do it the right way. I've been really 'blasted' at times for doing exactly what she described with my late dog Tiger Lily, who was very fearful of the 'great outside world', even though she had never experienced any suffering, but was born with a nervous disposition. She grew to be a very confident young lady, but even so, when a puppy people would actually stop me in the street and 'blast' me for comforting her when she showed fear.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  13. Adrianna & Calvin Experienced Member

    Hi Mary

    I think the crux of it is in how you offer the comfort. Crouching and warbling "itsokitsokitsokitsok" isn't helpful; the example I give people would be if you were frightened of something and I grabbed your arm and said OMG OMG OMG. That is not helpful. My approach with my dogs has been (when possible) to show them that I think XYZ is ok. Example: sometime last summer the city parks dept. cut down a big tree in the neighborhood which was diseased. It was lying half on and off the sidewalk, the cut trunk facing us, and it had a rotten core. I don't know what it looked like to Cal, who has poor vision, but he wouldn't approach it. It's rare for him, because he is usually willing to approach anything, but he gave some cautious tail wags (just in case!) and, finding no friendly response from the gigantic blob, refused to approach. So I backed us up, hitched his leash to a fence, and confidently walked over to the fallen tree. I gave it a few kicks, bent over and touched it with my hands, and finally stood on it, and his body language changed with each feat of "bravery" :-) He was tail-wagging and eager to meet this weird thing now that I'd confidently shown it to be benign.

    Now Calvin can't hear, either, but if he couldn't I'd've used my "friendly visitor" voice and spoken lightly to the tree so he'd be able to tell I was relaxed and happy to "meet" the object. I did this once with a gargoyle my late dog had an issue with. After I chatted up the gargoyle and gave it a few friendly touches, my dog was relaxed too. As Suzanne Clothier says, if it's possible in the situation to communicate "hey, I'm aware of it, and I'm ok with it," that goes miles to making the dog ok with it.

    I do think it's worth mentioning that it's not possible to do this in all situations -- for example, as my late dog lost his hearing (old age), he was reactive to certain noises and there wasn't anything i could do after the fact to mitigate it.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  14. 648117 Honored Member

    The first time Holly met a black rubbish bag on the side-walk as a puppy she didn't want to go near it (I think she was going through a fear stage as she is generally very confident) so I walked up to it and gave it a couple of shoves with my foot and said "it's just a rubbish bag" in a casual tone, then she was happy to approach it, give it a shove herself and continue the walk.
    brodys_mom likes this.

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