You know your dog “knows it”, right? They know what you want them to do. So you stand there waiting and they don’t do it. Why? Why won’t they heel or stand, or retrieve, when you have seen them do that behavior before? Ahhhhhh, the great quest in dog training, behavior momentum!! That is the response strength of that behavior. The stronger a behavior is, the less it will change when put under pressure. So, if you have very strong behavior and you put it in a new context/environment, you should see that behavior remain strong, if it immediately weakens, then your momentum doesn’t have much strength.
Three seconds is the maximum amount of time the initial greeting should last. When I say three seconds, it’s one alligator, two alligator, three and walk away. Number three does not get an alligator. I’ve seen it time and again where dogs loose it on the third alligator. Now, if there’s barking or growling that happens before that, walk away sooner. We don’t want it to escalate.
Triggers stacking can be one low level stressor that goes on for a long time (stuck in a room with a spider for hours), several low level stressors that come one after the other (spider, followed by husband opening the door unexpectedly), or a situation where one trigger ends up being more intense than expected (spider climbing up my arm). Any of those possibilities can create a panicky response – outside the control of the animal. Remember, humans and dogs are both mammals with similar base emotions, so your responses to fear are likely to apply to your dog as well.
Source: Hyper Awareness | Denise Fenzi
I really love this series from Denise, where she talks about allowing a dog to acclimate to its environment before asking the dog to perform significant amounts of work (in this context, work means “training for obedience competition”). I’ve seen many people struggle with advice to be the most entertaining thing in the dog’s life in order to get the dog to engage with them, and I think that’s a fight that I don’t want to have to fight. I’d rather let my dog decide to engage with me because I’ve controlled the environment (or access to the environment), rather than turning myself into a dancing, cookie-pushing monkey because it’s the only way to get my dog’s attention back on me.
At a show, I need my dog to focus on me in the ring, and be attentive to the rewards I have with me in the ring. Turns out the easiest way to get the dog bored with the environment and tuned into what interacting with me may get him, is to simply show up at the show early enough that the dog gets over the “kid in a candy store” phase.
Your dog has to be in a mental place where he’s ready to work before you can ask him to work and expect to get work worth rewarding.
A number of years ago I saw Dr. Karen Overall, the Vet Behaviorist, speak for a 2 day workshop. If you have a chance to see her, GO! She has an amazing way of making the complicated seem simple. One quote that she said during the weekend was “We must let go of the idea of restraint!” She was referring to vets and how they restrain dogs and cats for everything. Also she was talking about for grooming, and regular pet care also.
Setting an alarm to go off once an hour whenever you’re home is a great reminder to work with your dog. Decide what you’d like to work on ahead of time, then keep it short and sweet. Ideally, it’s best to choose a skill that you can reward frequently: ten to twenty treats in a minute is a good goal to shoot for. If you count the treats out ahead of time and have them ready to go, so much the better.
There’s nothing wrong with trying out a (benevolent) method of handling a potential behavioral problem if you think it’s your best option, as long as you are ready to go to Plan B as soon as your first idea doesn’t have the effect you want. Nothing wrong with that. Another “take home” message here is that relationships evolve, and we need to be ever mindful and observant of what is going on at the moment. A frequent comment I heard from clients was “But he never did this before…”. But dogs change, and their relationships change, and we need to be ready to deal with what is happening now, not last week or last year.
The following recommendations of the Obedience Advisory Committee are being published so the Fancy may provide feedback before the recommendations are finalized. Please feel free to share this link with your fellow dog friends and club members. Only one submittal per person should be provided.
Our backyard fencing situation is finally improving — we found a fencing contractor we like who has sane prices, and the new fence will be going up shortly. Best of all, the side door to the house will be behind the fence, so I can open the side door and let the dogs directly into the back yard, instead of having to lead them through the gate that we have.
Speaking of the gate … Jackson has learned how to open it. Not that it’s particularly difficult to do so, just it hasn’t been an issue before now. And yesterday, it became a BIG issue.
Clover is in season, so Jackson has lost his brain, and we’re doing a lot of crate and rotate. I had the boys in the backyard, and like he normally does, when Jackson was done with his bio-business, he went to stand by the gate so he could go back inside. I wanted to do a little Recallers training with Loki, so I just kept an eye on Jackson while I played tug games and grabbed Loki’s collar. Until I looked up to check on Jackson and the gate was open, and Jackson was gone.
I immediately ran up the hill, through the gate, and yelled out my emergency recall word: COOKIES!! Jackson came galloping around the corner of the house and we went inside and I showered raw dog food on the kitchen floor for him to scarf up.
I condition all my dogs to expect that when I yell the word “COOKIES” that amazingly good food is going to get tossed on the floor/ground and they better hurry to get some or the other dogs will eat it first. Steak bites. Kibble. Cheese cubes. Hot dogs. Really really yummy things. COOKIES happens unpredictably, but semi-frequently so that the value of the word stays high. COOKIES can happen at pet stores, in the back yard, at the park, anywhere.
And COOKIES never happens except that I have AMAZING food to give them.
If your dog doesn’t have a great every-day recall, you can still teach an emergency recall, and you should. It takes less than 30 seconds per session and absolutely no effort on your part. Pick a word that you can yell out, stand in the kitchen, yell the word like you would if your dog was running into traffic, and then drop the food on the floor. If you normally feed kibble, then that won’t work for this. Neither will boring foods like milk bones or treats that they get every day. Really really good treats, though, that’s the key.
It could save your dog’s life. And in the meantime, until the new fence and gate are installed, there’s a carabiner on the current gate to keep a certain someone in the backyard.