Learning: Rally-O and Agility.
Teaching: Rally-O and Pet Obedience.
BSc in Animal Behaviour and Apprenticing in Toronto.
Science-based, force-free training and behaviour modification.
We had a pretty good time at the park today. The kids are back in school, so it’s nice and quiet during the day. It’s also cool and cloudy today, so Maulkin didn’t overheat. We stayed for an hour and a bit. Maulkin seemed disinterested in training, sniffing, or really even fetching (though he was happy to chase the ball, of course!) after the first hour, so I decided to go home early. He didn’t seem tired necessarily, just not his usual, drivey self. Hopefully, he’s just having a bad day and will perk up tomorrow.
Despite all that, Maulkin was really great with the people and dog we saw. Park management was out painting benches and cleaning up the equipment area of the park the entire time we were there. Maulkin showed a little interest in them at first, but he disengaged from them really quickly and ignored them the rest of the time. A couple of joggers came though, and Maulkin watched them a little at first but quickly lost interest. The only dog we saw was a fat, slow pug toddling along the pathway. They didn’t seem interested in us, so I put Maulkin into a settled down and let him watch until he got bored. I gave him a bit of cheese the first few times he looked at the pug just to make sure he knew that I saw them and I wanted him looking, but he was able to watch the rest of the time and then disengage on his own. After that, most of the park management team left the park and a few more people passed through as we were playing with no issues. On our way out, an elderly couple came towards us on the path. Maulkin was a little unsure of them, so I called him to come along and began walking away. I’ve always just assumed that my “let’s go” cue had an implicit “leave it” but apparently not, because Maulkin gave a tiny, inquisitive “woo” before following me quietly out of the park. The old man actually barked back at Maulkin with his best dog bark, and when Maulkin ignored him, he barked louder I guess trying to rile him up. Maulkin was awesome and completely ignored him without any help from me. Maybe that means he’s becoming more confident? I hope so.
That’s an interesting idea. That might also be a viable option for apartment/condo dwellers without room for a large freezer.
I’m actually really sceptical on the effects of freezing. I think it definitely works on some parasites and fungi, but there are other parasites (or parasite stages) that are more resilient to extreme temperatures. And of course most bacteria and viruses can survive even prolonged freezing at standard temperatures. I know there are a few different types of freezing used by some raw food producers that disinfect meat, but you wouldn’t get the same effect by sticking a fresh chicken in your freezer for a week.
That said, freezing definitely can’t hurt, so why not do it jic!
I think it’s fantastic for most dogs when done well. When done poorly, it can be incredibly dangerous. Some dogs also do better on kibble for whatever reason, but the vast majority of dog’s I’ve seen transition do better on raw.
That said, I’m not opposed to kibble at all. Maulkin and both my cats are fed raw but get Orijen kibble as training treats. There are a lot of reasons someone might choose to feed kibble over raw, or vice versa, that have nothing to do with the dog’s health; and I think that’s perfectly acceptable. There’s so much that goes into deciding what to feed a dog that there’s no universally right way to go.
"but you can’t train cat-" shh. shh.
anyone out there well-versed in dog behavior who would like to help me out and get my dog’s attention on Me whenever she sees a dog that exacerbates her prey drive? dogs are her biggest concern, squirrels and humans don’t seem to activate it at all, but if she sees another dog she goes to hurt and i have tried whole slices of cheese to try and direct her attention anywhere but on that dog but she does Not care
and it’s making walking her a real pain and she’s already had a big scuffle with another dog in the neighborhood. i don’t want her hurting herself of hurting another dog and if i can’t find anything i can do asap i’m going to have to convince my parents to get some kind of professional behavioral training for her because of this. :/
It sounds like you’re doing the right thing (trying to associate other dogs with yummy treats from you), but you’re making it too hard for your dog. Start farther away from the other dog, so your dog can look at the other dog and then look away without becoming fixated. If your dog can’t look away even for cheese in front of her nose, you’re way too close; so just back up and try again. Once your dog is happily looking at the other dog then back to you for a treat, you can take a step or two closer. If your dog gets stuck looking at the other dog at your new distance, back up and try from a little farther away. You may even want to teach your dog to walk away from other dogs by finding a distance where she can turn away, approaching that distance, calling your dog, marking (with a clicker or by saying “Yes!” when she turns to you), and feeding her as you’re both walking away.
The trick with counter-conditioning is going at your dog’s pace. If you push her to get too close too quickly, she’ll react to the other dog and set back your training. If instead you take the time to cross streets or go up driveways to avoid getting too close to other dogs, your dog will learn to feel relaxed around other dogs much more quickly.
For a quick, easy-to-read resource, I highly recommend Feisty Fido by Dr. Patricia McConnell. This book outlines a few different methods for counter-conditioning as well as training some emergency procedures for getting your dog and yourself out of a tight spot safely. It also includes a great little resource section in the back for if you want a more in-depth protocol, information on counter-conditioning, or information about reactivity and aggression in general.
No, biting when frightened or in self-defence is a natural instinct. Literally every dog will bite if put in a bad enough situation. Dog aggression is (generally) a hereditary trait where the dog aggressive dog attacks other dogs as if they were prey. It’s not a trait that can be taught to a dog, though it is possible to change the intensity of the behaviour through training and learning experiences. If your dog wasn’t dog aggressive before being attacked, they won’t be now.
Because your dog has had a bad experience, I do recommend you actively work on counter-conditioning around dogs (especially large dogs and other St. Bernards if you can) to prevent your dog from becoming fear reactive. If your dog has had a lot of good experiences with dogs in the past and has a fairly stable temperament, it’s unlikely your dog will become reactive, but there’s no harm in hedging your bets. Try to give your dog a few days away from other dogs to recover from the stress of being attacked. When you’re ready to start working with your dog, get some great treats (like cheese or bits of chicken), and take your dog for a walk where you expect to see other dogs on leash. Whenever your dog looks towards another dog, mark (with a clicker or by saying “Yes!”), and feed your dog with their head facing you (you can use a treat to lure your dog’s nose around to face you if necessary). Once your dog finishes eating the treat and looks back at the other dog, mark and feed again; keep repeating that process until the other dog is out of sight or your dog refuses to look at them. If your dog has always been comfortable around other dogs, it should only take a couple of tries before they lose interest in looking at other dogs. If your dog has a difficult time looking away from another dog even for a very good treat, you know your dog is a little uncomfortable or too excited. Take them a little farther away from the other dog and restart the exercise. Also try to remember what types of dogs your dog finds uncomfortable (i.e., large dogs, black dogs, dogs with pointy ears, etc.); those are the types of dogs you should focus on working around.
As I said, if your dog has been well-socialized and has a stable personality, it’s unlikely your dog will become reactive. At worst, your dog may become fearful of very large dogs, which is really not unusual even for dogs that haven’t been attacked. I recommend you work on counter-conditioning for a week or two, and if your dog seems completely relaxed during all that training, you can stop and go back to your normal routine. If your dog seems a little nervous or excitable around some dogs, then keep up with the counter-conditioning until your dog seems more comfortable. If you do discover a behaviour issue during your training, consider finding a certified, force-free trainer or behaviourist in your area to help you create a more thorough rehabilitation plan. Good luck!
Yeah, working line BCs tend to be bred for stability. Most of the sports and show ones, too, but some sports breeders breed for speed over anything else. Likewise, show breeders may breed for looks over stability and end up with a bad mix. It can be a real mess.
Yes, Maulkin’s on raw. I feed him Tollden Farms, a pre-made BARF diet. Maulkin gets the meat (usually turkey or chicken) and vegetable diets (15% veg, I think), while my cats get meat and botanical (1% veg). Before that, I rotated Maulkin through Acana’s grain-free formulas. We tried Honest Kitchen for a while, but it had way too much fibre for him.
Hey, no problem! I love to talk about dogs, especially Maulkin! XD
Yes, GSDs and BCs can both be neurotic and anxious. It’s not really isolated to any particular lineage; it can pop up anywhere. Most breeders are very careful to breed for stability, but it’s not a guarantee. I’m not sure about with GSDs, but I know some BC breeders actually select for frantic behaviour because they think it’s related to drive. In actuality, frantic behaviour and drive are actually agonistic traits; you can’t be focused on a goal if you’re too stressed to control yourself.