walking inbetween my legs!

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by stacypress, Dec 8, 2008.

  1. stacypress New Member

    UGH! Our new puppy is 3 months old roughly, and we have had him only a short while.... about a week and a half. He is a generally submissive dog with a very sweet personality. One thing driving me and my husband crazy is when we walk around the house Diego is RIGHT on our heels and/or INBETWEEN our legs! You can imagine how many close calls with our lives we have had! :msngiggle: And when walking on a leash, he walks readily at my side for most of a walk (which is a nice change from my pug who demands to be pulling ALL the time) UNTIL he gets scared or wants to change sides. First of all, I try making him walk on only my right side, but he of course doesn't get that yet. But he is timid and when we are walking he can get spooked by any number of things and when he does, he almost kills me with his actions that follow!! he cowers to the side furthest from the noise, sits down and tries to reverse to where we were before the noise started, or darts inbetween my legs nearly taking my life. When i encountered stubborness with my pug walking on a leash, i was told to use "BAAH", sounds like a dog growl, to tell him the behavior wasn't allowed. This worked for him, but his problem was being stubborn, not timid, so i don't knwo if the rules apply to my timid pup! What do i do?? I want him to walk confidently at my side for our walks. I don't know how to discourage his timid behaviour!

  2. snooks Experienced Member

    My question is how do you know this dog is submissive and not really scared. It sounds more like fear but I can't see it so that's a guess. And if he is scared do you think "growling" at him for looking for reassurance would scare him or make him feel better? My guess is that if he is neglected and unsocialized he is very unsure how to act. Nobody taught him to greet other dogs or people or maybe he had bad experiences. Imagine how scary this would be. I think of the feral children found in horrible conditions that given clothes and luxury are still scared and unable to appreciate things because their coping skills are so lacking that they can't reason anything but fear. Parts of their brains actually don't developed like the language center so they are rarely able to speak meaningfully and the same goes for a dog. They aren't quite right if they were un-socialized.

    I would start a positive only training program for this dog and stop growling at him. Scaring him may work because he freezes but does it really teach him don't walk between my legs. Apparently not because he's still doing it. Again open mind. Reward what you do want. So every time he isn't between your legs click/treat. This way the lesson becomes fun and not scary. I use eh-eh softly or excuse me to correct my dogs. I hope to do therapy work with older people so I need to be able to correct my dog politically correctly around sensitive people to keep her safe. Excuse me softly when trained works very well.

    My guess given the background you describe is a dog that trusts you and is desperately seeking refuge because of fear and anxiety. When you scold you erode the trust and make the anxiety worse-hence the problem is not solved but made worse.

    try the following-put the dog on leash if it helps but start somewhere with low distractions and safe like in your house. when she goes between your legs either put them together and click treat when she backs off or step over and off of her and click treat when she is out from between your legs. she'll soon learn that out of the legs is better. then you could move to body blocking which is just stepping non threateningly toward the dog, most dogs will back up. if she does c/t. if she steps right back then you step up. it’s about you asking for and receiving space and her giving it and maintaining it. once she maintains you can c/t.

    i insist on a space around me when working in the kitchen b/c i don't want to turn and trip over dogs. Victoria Stillwell's show is very good with this, called me or the dog. she uses soft voice, positive reinforcement, and consistence.

    so work on preventing, stepping off like a horse, and body blocking all paired with click/treat. a reward with a game of tug or play will also work and teach her that it's okay to be out from between your legs and that good things happen when she does that. don't force or expose her to situations that overwhelm her and make her so fearful that she hides or won't take treats. slow desensitization works wonders. don't use the just get over it method since that often does damage by breaking the dog's trust in you and making fear worse.

    my 4yo is very shy and I've been down your road a bit. just go slow, be positive, reward for what you do want, and build confience by teaching tricks or tug play. :dogtongue2:
  3. stacypress New Member

    thank you for the input! i don't clicker train, but i may have to. i see your point with the growling when he is looking for reassurance.... i think i do need to try something different. He is a very bright dog and is already learning come, sit, shake and high five in the matter of two weeks or so. i am going to do more research on dog training techniques ithink.... thank you again for your input! oh, one more question, if you use a clicker to train, do they become dependant on the clicking for the reward? i am not real sure how this works.
  4. snooks Experienced Member

    The answer is no. You use the clicker only to teach new behavior and not for learned or already known behavior. I only get mine out when I want to do something new with my puppy.

    I started using a head halter with her b/c when she pulled I couldn't hold her due to a shoulder surgery. She tried to rub this thing on my legs all the time which is pretty typical even when they are desensitized to them correctly. So here she is between my legs just like your dog is. I step over her and once she's no longer in contact with me click/treat. Or she goes between my legs and I back up, once she's not touching me click/treat. Once she gets that down I won't use the clicker for that behavior again.

    Example of sit which is pretty easy for most dogs. I used it for less than an hour because she had the sit on verbal cue in 5 minutes. Clicker is used until they get the behavior just as you want it on a verbal or visual cue. If they are getting your cues like "sit" then you don't need the clicker. Most people use it to reinforce for a few days for simple things then not again.

    For complicated things like my very shy dog and her fear of trucks and reactive barking I use it a longer because I am reframing how she thinks of trucks. Trucks aren't scary now but mean food so she likes them and runs to me. The truck has now become the cue for a come for a treat or pets or play instead of a scary thing to bark at. It's a little more complicated timing process that I won't go into here.

    Don't worry that you'll need the clicker. You won't. You could put it in a drawer tomorrow and your dog would better retain all you taught with it than anything you taught without it. The big thing people don't do right is fading food treats. If you don't do that to seldom/random with the right timing then you get a dog that forever needs a lure. This can be fixed too by fading the right way. So be sure and read that part of any clicker book you buy.
  5. stacypress New Member

    thank you yet again! so helpful
  6. snooks Experienced Member

    You're welcome. I meant to add to that this behavior is self rewarding most of the time for a dog. They get something out of it, either feeling more secure, trying to rub the head harness off, etc. So not allowing them to do it by stepping away or unstraddling them removes that incentive for doing it. Other examples of self rewarding behavior are barking to relieve boredom or stress or digging and chewing to relieve anxiety.

    Providing rewarding incentives for NOT do this rubbing and not allowing the dog to do it provides the dog a double incentive not to do it. My goofus has almost sent me sprawling a few times but she's getting much better.
  7. stacypress New Member

    So his digging in our backyard is self rewarding??? what the heck do they get out of it?! amusement i guess. How do i stop THAT? Luckily we have a dirt yard.... but I don't want this to be a habit. I was thinking of getting him a sandbox to dig for toys in, that way he would be too tired to dig the rest of the yard, but what if we are somewhere there is no sandbox? like when we go home to visit.... So.... what do ya think?
  8. snooks Experienced Member

    It's rewarding in some way or he wouldn't do it. :msnwink: How much exercise is he getting a day. If he's not getting two good long 30 minute (if he can handle it) walks a day preferably a couple of hours for an active adult dog he'll be bored and his frustration will build. I know he's 3 mos so you may have to work up just like any human exercise program. Ask your vet what's safe if you're not sure. A big breed puppy shouldn't be running with you for example until older so his bones are safe. Sorry but I've forgotten if you told me what breed he is. He needs to get out of the yard on walks instead of seeing fences all day and fetch is great. Teaching tricks will mentally tire/stimulate him.

    Tired dogs = happy less destructive dogs. Unless he's digging to get cool he's probably relieving boredom or anxiety and it is unf self rewarding. A nice frozen kong will keep him occupied for a while and there are loads of interactive food toys like buster cubes or Galeleo's and www.clickertraining.com has some neat ones. Putting food containing toys like busters or tug jugs in a sand box would be fun and encourage digging there. Just get a cover for it to keep cat/rodent poo and weather out.

    I think the answer is physical and mental exercise. Consider a dog walker a few times a week and/or a well supervised doggie day care 1-2 times a week esp if you are out for more than 4 hours. Those break routine and nothing wears a dog out like playing with other dogs.
  9. MAA New Member

    I don't know where you live, but I am in FL and any sand is a breeding ground for fleas. (just FYI)

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