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.
oodsandpoodles/all-kinds-of-dogs, sorry it took so long, but I finally got the video made! The idea is to turn parallel to the dog when they see a distraction so the dog knows you’re changing direction, and then reward them for choosing to move away from the distraction and towards you.
In the video, I teased Maulkin with one of his favourite toys before tossing it under the camera to use as our distraction. You can see how he disconnects from me as we approach and keeps moving forward after I’ve stopped. After I stop, I pivot on my left foot (you should pivot on whichever side you walk your dog) and step behind the dog so my shoulder is aligned with his spine. When Maulkin’s leash goes taunt, I can step back and feed out the slack so I’m getting farther from him but he’s not getting closer to the distraction. (There’s a pretty decent example of that at 0:25.) When the dog turns towards me even the slightest, I mark (Using “Yes!” in the video.) and then offer him a reward at my side so he has to walk away from the distraction to get it.
Maulkin’s obviously already trained for this task, so I actually kept signalling him to get the toy so he’d walk ahead. If he were untrained, he’d probably lunge at the toy for a while, then stand at the end of his leash staring, and maybe try to go for the toy again before eventually glancing back at me. That’s pretty normal behaviour for an untrained dog, especially if they’re used to getting ahead by pulling, so expect that the first few times you try this exercise. If your dog seems fixated on the distraction and doesn’t glance back at you after 30 seconds to a minute, call him away (you can apply gentle, constant leash pressure if necessary, but try not to tug or jerk on the leash), and try again but stop at a much farther distance from the distraction. You can also make this exercise easier on the dog by rewarding with something better than your distraction (so if you’re using a few pieces of kibble as a distraction, try rewarding with chicken). After a few approaches and retreats, Watson should start glancing at the distraction and then back at you for a reward. When you reach that stage, you can try switching up the distraction, moving to a different room, or approaching the distraction a bit closer (though always keep outside of leash range, so your dog doesn’t lunge out and grab whatever you’re using before you can stop him). If you find yourself telling your dog to “leave it” or you just feel nervous, you’re too close to the distraction and need to progress a bit more slowly.
If you find a treat or toy Watson will take outside, you can start using that as a distraction for set-ups outside. Once he’s had a little practice, you can start using this technique on anything Watson’s finds distracting. Keep an eye on his ears and tail especially during your walks, and you should be able to tell exactly when he’s focused on a new distraction. When that happens, you can switch into this activity until you’ve regained Watson’s focus so he won’t be able to pull you forward. You might also find it helpful to have a walking cue and a release cue so you can use environmental rewards. So for walking, you might tell Watson, “Let’s walk!” and then when you see something you think he might want to approach, stop and wait for him to look at you, and then say your release word (mine is “go sniff!”) and indicate to Watson he can go check out the interesting spot. If he’s not interested in treats outside, using a release word will allow you to reward Watson for walking with you.
Anyway, I hope that helps. Please, let me know if you have any questions or if this exercise is still unclear. I might be able to get a video with an untrained puppy on Wednesday if necessary.
If anybody can help with transition from prong to flat, it would be greatly appreciated. Watson was trained on a prong and while that’s fine, I prefer more positive methods. For the year and a half I’ve had him, he’s spent about 6 months total at a B&T with a good friend of mine who uses prong collars and he walks perfectly on it. But when he’s been with me, I’ve been trying to use a flat. We’ve been stuck in the same rut for about a year and can’t seem to get past it. He does perfect in the house, but as soon as we get outside, he will not focus on me or treats, or even toys sometimes, which are his favorite things in the world. It’s incredibly frustrating.
We tried pivots and they didn’t work AT ALL. Right now, I’m just working on saying “YES!” (I have trouble handling leash/clicker/treats) when he makes eye contact while walking with me. At this point in the house, he knows what heel position means when on or off leash with a hand signal, and will stay in that position.
Would you be able to get a brief video of you both walking? What have you tried for treats, and how does Watson react to them in the house and in the yard?
I have two thoughts based on what you’ve said so far: 1. Watson might be incredibly sensitive to pressure, so when he feels pressure on the leash, he gets trapped pulling against it, and 2. Watson is highly motivated by the environment. For the first problem, I highly recommend switching from a collar to a front-clip harness (i.e., a sense-ation or freedom harness, not an easy-walk). That will prevent Watson from getting caught in a tug-of-war with his leash that he can’t escape while also giving you more control. To deal with the second issue, you’d need to dial back the level of distraction (like working just in your driveway or even inside with the front door open) and find a better reward or use environmental rewards.
It sounds like you’ve done a lot of great foundation work already. Just remember that dogs are terrible at generalizing, so you’ll probably need to go back to square one when working outside. If you’re not doing so already, it may be worthwhile to do some basic obedience in the yard on leash (especially focus work), reintroduce heel position as a new concept outside, or whatever else you can to get Watson comfortable thinking and working with you outside.
I don’t know of any resources for working with toys beyond building toy drive. I’ll publish this in case anyone else has any suggestions.
Yeah, that lag time is a huge problem with rewarding with toys, especially fetch. You also tend to disconnect from the dog when using fetch as a reward (because the dog looks and moves away from you), and it’s more difficult than tugging for rewarding in position. You could try rewarding with a ball on a rope, or you could use treats for several repetitions and jackpot with the ball (this is generally what I do, and I’ve had good luck with it). Using the ball as a jackpot will also help keep your dog from tiring out too quickly.
marceline-the-vegan—queen can’t reply to this post for whatever reason, but she says she tosses the ball directly at her dog to reward him. If your dog finds catching or holding the ball rewarding enough to keep working happily, that’s a pretty fast and controlled way of using it.
I’m seriously so psyched to be studying dog training now, like oh my God.
Soon I’ll have the ability to do something I actually enjoy for a living, long-term, in a business that’s insanely lucrative despite the current situation.
I can finally move out of my mother’s house. I can finally get a place on my own (or with some cute babes) and just do me.
I can’t wait to start up my business. But, studying comes first.
Who told you dog training is lucrative? None of the professional trainers I know would describe the industry as “lucrative”, much less “insanely lucrative”! (Maybe, “Somewhat profitable if you’re lucky,” or “Better than McDonald’s.”) If your primary motivation for going into dog training is making lots of money, you should probably reconsider. It’s a very emotionally draining and physically demanding career that, in general, does not pay all that well. There are definitely some huge bright spots (being able to learn constantly, helping dogs, helping people, always facing new challenges, etc.), but it’s not an easy career.
The Thundershirt demo dog helped out and was my model for the harnesses.
Please note that the fit is as close to ideal as I could get - but it isn’t perfect. Most real dogs aren’t as awkwardly proportioned like Mr. Thunder here.
Pros: custom fit - many places to adjust sizing. Fits high on the shoulders to keep from interfering with shoulder movement, variety of colors, durable - they last a long time, company offers a great warranty that includes chewing!, comfortable, easy to put on, great for dogs with sensitive skin, multi purpose.
Cons: can be difficult for first time users to fit, expensive (retails usually around $38 for the harness + leash combo), hard to find (only smaller stores carry although also available online), some dogs don’t like things going over their head, some dogs find the tightening action of the back clip aversive.
The second harness is the Easy Walk. Definitely the most popular no-pull harness on the market. Seen here in the standard black & silver - it does come in a few different colors and in reflective options. Only one leash attachment option - a tightening attachment in the front.
Pros: very easy to access one - carried at all big box pet stores and at many small retail stores as well. Affordable - usually retails around $25 - $30. Does not go over the head.
Cons: does not fit most dogs very well and has a tendency to chafe, Houdini dogs have an easy time escaping this harness due to its design, many dogs find the tightening action aversive, fits lower on the shoulders and can interfere with shoulder movement, no warranty, company that owns it also makes ecollars.
I obviously prefer the Freedom Harness for many reasons. There are other front clipping harnesses available - the Senseation, the Walk Your Dog with Love, the Hello Bully harness - and I believe the Freedom Harness out performs all of them.
2Hounds Design (the company that makes the Freedom Harness) also makes the same harness with a non-tightening back clip for Victoria Stilwell that I would love to get my hands on.
I do not like or recommend anti-pull harnesses such as the Holt harness or Sporn harness - these work by squeezing the sensitive armpit area and are aversive tools.
Hope this helped! Remember - no product can replace training. No-pull harnesses are management devices to help reduce the pulling until the dog is trained.
(wow, when did this come in? i’ve never seen this ask before and i have no idea how long it’s been in my inbox D:)
Thank you! His impulse control is incredible, but he does still lose it every so often, and with small animals, all bets are off. ;) With food and toys, though, he’s wonderful!
It sounds like she’s doing great already if she’ll leave food alone on her paws! That’s a pretty big step, especially for a pup. For getting her to balance it on her nose, though, I’d say start with something other than food, and something fairly large — for Grem, I used a ball, but since she isn’t terribly still, a tug rope might work better. I started off by putting the toy near Grem and c/t when he didn’t move to get it, then on his nose while holding it. If she’s having trouble, you can hold a treat in front of her nose so she has something else to focus on. What you want is for her to understand that the thing on her face needs to stay on her face to get a reward, which isn’t exactly an easy concept to grasp.
After you get the basic idea down, it’s a matter of slowly letting the dog fully support the object (ball, rope, whatever) on their own, then letting them do it without you hovering over them. Adjust those at separate times since it’s confusing to make it harder on every level at once.
And, after you’ve gotten the duration down, you can begin to use food. If she’s got a solid “leave it!” that will help a lot, since you can tell her to “leave it” and then put it near/on her nose. Grem’s cue (he doesn’t have an official one) for the trick is “leave it” since it tells him he isn’t allowed to get the treat yet. If you want, you can also work up to her being able to flip it into her mouth. After the balancing is down, release her to get the treat, but only let her have the reward if she catches it. If it falls off her face, pick it up and try again. Grem gets his regardless of whether he catches it or not, but it looks a lot cooler when he does.
An alternative method (that works especially well for fidgety and shy dogs) is to teach the dog to rest their head on your hand, and teach that head position as a duration behaviour. (In this case, your hand is a target you use to set up the dog but then fade out.) You can teach it by shaping, capturing, or luring depending on how your dog learns best. To lure, hold out your hand and move a treat over, behind, then slightly behind-and-below your hand so your dog is applying pressure with their muzzle. Most dogs can work without the lure in a few repetitions. For capturing, gently cup your dog’s muzzle in your hand, and c/t presenting the treat low. You should be capturing the dog tolerating pressure under their muzzle; do that a few times and then start just presenting your hand under their muzzle, and your dog should start applying pressure themselves.
Once your dog has a good understanding of head position, you can start adding a stay cue (or introduce it as an implicit stay) and fading your hand pressure until you can move your hand entirely away with your dog keeping their head in position. (If you teach your dog to focus on you during this; it makes eye, mouth, and ear exams super easy for your vet.) You’d still have to go through your method for adding food, but having a strong foundation behaviour should help learning go more smoothly.
I wanted to add for catching the treat: You can make it easier on your dog by using a low-value food item or a toy for balancing and then jackpotting (with a high-value food item) any progress towards catching the falling item. That will maintain a high rate of reinforcement for the dog while adding more instruction (via shaping). It’s also less aversive/confrontational than trying to snatch a fallen treat before your dog.
I never thought to do foundation work with balancing toys? That’s a great idea, and I’m going to use your method to rework some foundation behaviour with Maulkin.
From the 4Paws University Facebook page.
This is a copy and paste from my facebook but I figured someone here may have ideas or tips as well. I expect no reply from either but it is worth a shot.
I was going to start using one of those drawstring backpacks to put my water in when I walk my dogs. I think I’m also going to throw some other stuff in it such as a leash and ball(although Sadie is territorial over those…) in case a stray dog approaches/attacks. I’m also going to wrap a leash around myself so that there is one to be easily accessed. Feel free to leave ideas of items that I could use to deter a dog or have it bite instead of my dog. Or just tips you may have on how to prevent a fight.
I know yesterday’s incident is not all my fault but I can’t help but to take blame. The dog came out of nowhere, there was nothing around to use, and I panicked. Around the house I used the neighbors dogs coming over to teach Sadie to “ignore” and would try to get her to sit(that was more so for a dog passing on a leash) but in my panic I did not even think about telling her to ignore the oncoming dog. You never know how an unleashed dog is going to react or what the best way to prevent anything from happening is, but it’s best to have something and to attempt something then to stand there and just pull and yell as I did. If there ever is a next time I want to have things at my disposal and not be so stressed. I’d recommend everyone to take some precautions for when you walk your own dog. You never know.
Bring treats, and toss them at the other dog when they approach. You could also bring an umbrella and open it to startle away the other dog. If the other dog doesn’t startle, you can still use it as a visual/physical barrier to create space. (You’ll want to teach your dog that an open umbrella means treats for her so it won’t make her feel more frightened.)
You can also work on teaching Sadie an emergency u-turn so you can escape quickly without having to put pressure on her leash (which often causes reactions). To do this, start with your dog inside on leash. Wait until she’s looking away from you, call her name in an up-beat tone, mark (with a clicker or by saying “Yes!”) the instant she begins to turn her head towards you, and toss a very yummy treat (like cheese or hot dog bits) in front of you for her to get. Repeat this a few times until Sadie is flipping around as soon as you start to say her name. Once you reach that point, call her, mark as soon as she turns, jog with her a step or two, and then toss the treats ahead of you. That will help her learn that she’s being rewarded for moving towards you quickly, but you also expect her to move away from her starting point. Most dogs will stop approaching another dog if that dog has turned their back, so by getting Sadie to turn around, you’re sending a big signal to the approaching dog saying, “I’m not interested in you. Leave me be.”
If Sadie is leash reactive or gets “stuck” on approaching dogs and can’t turn away, I recommend getting her on a front-clip harness (like the Sense-ation or Freedom harnesses). Use of a front-clip harness takes pressure off the dog’s neck and chest (pressure can be what causes many dogs to react in the first place) while giving you more control to turn your dog away if she gets stuck.
Maulkin and I (and Paul) ran into a ton of dogs on our walk today. The first dog we encountered only a few houses down from our. They were a little Yorkie that must have been upset by Maulkin passing by, because we didn’t even see them until they were charging across their yard already yapping. Maulkin was extremely interested in interacting with the Yorkie, but he disengaged with a little bit of leash pressure and was able to follow me away from the house. He was a bit shaken up by the encounter, so we stopped at the corner to do some doggy zen and get his head back into walking mode.
Just around the corner from the Yorkie, we encountered what looked like another BC mix. (Medium (40ish lb), black dog.) The other dog immediately started barking and lunging at Maulkin. Maulkin barked once but was able to split his focus and do some LAT as we crossed the street to create space. There were several cars parked along the road which obstructed our view of the other dog. Every time the dog would catch sight of us, they’d start barking and lunging again. Maulkin was fantastic playing LAT, and we were able to pass the dog without any more outbursts.
We passed several fenced yards with dogs on our way to the park, but Maulkin mostly ignored them. I rewarded him every time a dog barked as we passed those fences, and it held his focus pretty well. We also encountered a few off leash dogs at a distance in the park, and Maulkin only glanced at them before re-engaging with me or the environment.
We took an alternative route on out way back from the park, and we only encountered one dog. I thought the dog was stuck in the fence, so I decided to pace in front of the fence and do some counter-conditioning. As it turns out, the dog was able to fit under or through the fence (They were a Pomeranian with a freshly shaved coat. SIGH.), and they ended up running at us as we were working! Maulkin was pretty tired by then, and he gladly turned away from the dog when I called him to go.
Overall, I think Maulkin did really, really well. I was a bit surprised he decided to bark at the BCish dog when they lunged at him as we were pretty far away (about 80ft). But I had released him to sniff (so he wasn’t engaged with me at the time), and the dog was black, so one bark isn’t too bad. I’m really impressed with his improved recovery time. He used to take half an hour or more to recover from a close encounter, but now he gets himself under control in a matter of seconds. I think the Zylkene is making a big difference and really complementing our training.
I’ve been looking up different dog training ideas because Lars has very low confidence and we can’t afford $120+ for classes right now. Right now, I’m focusing on her growling. We live in a pretty noisy apartment building and after nearly three months, she has only become slightly accustomed to these noises. She growls at the kids outside and people locking their doors and pretty much everything. We can distract her and it isn’t nearly as frequent as it was when we first adopted her.
Almost everything I’ve read says to keep food or treats on-hand and when she starts growling, drop a small handful on the ground near her. Is this actually effective? I guess I’m worried that she will associate growling with getting treats.
It’s incredibly effective. In this case, the idea isn’t to reward a behaviour but to change how your dog feels about the situation. If your dog is growling, it means she’s uncomfortable. You feed her when she growls to change her association from “noises are scary” to “noises mean yummy treats!” Once your dog has made the connection that noises anticipate treats, she’ll stop feeling the need to growl because she’ll think the noises are good, happy sounds instead of scary sounds.