Please explain "Dog reactive and Fear Reactive" - Page 4 - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 01-06-2013, 04:45 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by codmaster View Post
Does that mean that you don't "proof" your dogs behavior?

I.E. You (and/or other Pos trainers) don't believe in and don't follow the approach of Teach, "Distract" and then "Proof" a dog's behavior?

If one never "tempts" the dog (after you are sure that he/she knows a behavior, then how can one be sure that he/she is going to be reliable when it is needed?
Positive training absolutely involves proofing your dog. If you set up a good foundation and gradually proof the dog, mistakes will be minimal. But yes, you test your dog and teach them to obey no matter what distractions are around.

I actually don't proof my dogs any differently using positive training methods than I did when I used more traditional ones. It's just that my response to their mistakes may be different.

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Originally Posted by codmaster View Post
I would love to find out how to do this - "..they never have a chance to misbehave/react poorly).."
In that post, I was specifically thinking about reactivity, since it's the topic of the thread. I have dealt with multiple reactive dogs and I think it's very easy to manage a dog so they literally never go over threshold, which is where the "bad behavior" appears, or at least it is once you learn their body language and how to know when to back off. I'm sorry for the confusion there, my post wasn't very clear.

I'd love to be able to make it so my dogs never misbehave, but unfortunately I think that would require supernatural powers of some sort. However, I do manage them to minimize their opportunities and set them up for success, as another poster said. I think all good trainers do that, but I don't think it is always taught enough in traditional training classes (or at least the ones I have been to, which is many).

I don't know what to tell you on the "nothing is high-value" thing, though. I've found dogs who would turn up their nose at treats, but I've never found a dog I couldn't find something to motivate them with. Sometimes it requires a lot of creativity, though. I also have had trouble motivating a dog away from a specific behavior when they weren't getting enough of an outlet for their drive to do that, but when I gave them an outlet it ceased to be a problem (obviously a huge oversimplification).

My other point would be that this is where management comes in. For example, when I first got one of my heelers, all he could think about was chasing our livestock. Once he was on it, nothing could call him off. So what we did was manage his life so he never could start chasing (keeping him leashed to me or in the yard), rewarding him for ignoring the goats even when they were playing king-of-the-mountain (at first we had to be on the other side of the yard for me to keep his attention), and giving him an appropriate outlet for his herding drive (herding classes, then once he learned enough, actually helping us work stock). Within about 6 months he was totally trustworthy around livestock and will only go after them when given the command to do so. So there was nothing more high value than chasing the goats, but he learned that there was an appropriate time to do so.

As for counter-surfing, that is one problem I don't have an answer to except management! Seriously, "crate your dogs/don't leave stuff unsupervised where they can get it" is the advice I've gotten from like 99% of trainers, regardless of their methods. The only other solutions I've heard of involve webcams and remote corrections (sounds like way more hassle than putting my food in the cupboard), or aversives like hot peppers being left there (which has never worked on any of the 10 or so dogs I've tried it on in my lifetime LOL). If you've found another solution, I'd love to hear it.

I will also say that I do use some mild corrections, combined with positive techniques. Mostly regarding counter surfing/litterbox raiding and the like. I use positive training to teach my dogs what I want (stay out of the cat room/all 4 paws on the floor in the kitchen please), but if I see a dog jump up at the counter or start sneaking into the cat room, I'll call them on it. I have to remind one of my dogs, "Bandit, quit!" once or twice a month because that cat poop is just too tempting.

Hope that makes sense, I'm not always the best writer on subjects like this.
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Old 01-06-2013, 04:57 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by katdog5911 View Post
I too tried a little experiment today. One of the issues with Stella is her barking at the cat or dog in my neighbor's yard. Lately I have been using an e-collar, under a trainer's guidance, to stop this unwanted behavior. Well, I forgot to put the collar on this afternoon. And of course she started her usual nonsense. If she does not have the collar on I generally have to go out and get her. This usually means me chasing her around the yard until I either catch her or I can try to redirect her to play ball. Both of which are so much fun for her!!!! Today I grabbed a piece of salami (she loves it, and rarely gets it) and as I approached her, waved the salami around. She came over, but not too close. I let her take a bit of the salami and took a few steps back towards the house, continuing to wave the salami. She was very undecided which way to go....bark mode or salami. Every time she turned away from the other dog or cat across the street, she got a bit of salami. It took us some time to work our way across the yard but in the end we did it. So positive training does work....to a degree. If she really wanted to continue barking, the salami would not have interested her. I have had filet mignon in my hand to entice her in the past and she chose to bark.....
I missed this post before typing out my reply above, but I think this is a bit of a misunderstanding. If she was barking and you used the salami to lure her to you, it was really more of a bribe than a reward. I'll occasionally use bribes or lures in training (I still think one of the easiest ways to teach basic behaviors like "down" is to get them to follow a treat ), but not as a means to stop an unwanted behavior.

This is what I mean by management. My goal would be to not give her a chance to start barking (at least at first, as discussed above--eventually of course you want a dog who can be out in your yard, where she'll have a chance to bark!). Once she's started to bark, you have to remove her from the situation and then try again later with more control.

I also want to add that I'm not against other methods of training, and I am not sure I'd be considered strictly positive. I train all of my dogs for obedience/basic behavior using clicker training, but I use more of a mix in the herding and SAR work we do. Just so no one feels like I'm arguing or calling them out.
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The rowdy dogs:
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Scooter-12 y/o ACD/Border Collie mix
Bandit-8 y/o ACD
Wooby-14 y/o ACD
Abutiu "Abi"-ACD puppy and hopeful future SAR dog!
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