Training out bad behaviors can be so frustrating - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-13-2019, 01:26 PM Thread Starter
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Training out bad behaviors can be so frustrating

A few months ago we were taking a class to learn the basics of rally just to have another activity to do. While Obi and I were doing our course, 2 different dogs charged at Obi, teeth bared full speed at him because when asked to keep their dogs out of the room while a dog was doing their course the owners decided that they knew better than the trainer and reentered the room to sit in separate corners while waiting for their next two turns. Thankfully 1 only got to the end of their leash and the other once putting their owner off balance was able to controlled again with the help of the trainer. But it still took Obi's jumping back away from them.

Since then Obi hasn't been the same with other dogs. He used to love interacting and playing with them and yes he would bark and get excited at the sight of other dogs but, he was never aggressive and he was really really calming down with his excitement. Now Obi is reactive at any dogs he sees unless they are a Yorkie size (we have one). I hired a private trainer who is also a behaviorist (I can attach her word for word advice) and her advice was to treat Obi for not reacting, throw treats on the floor and have him "find it" when he needs a distraction, keep distance to where he is most comfortable, etc.

Right after this he starting lunging at cars when they pass by, could be coincidence, could be butterfly effect, could be prey drive, all the above, etc. The trainers advice was basically the same, distractions.

I've been doing all these things every walk for months now and there is no progress and I am trying so hard not to get frustrated with this situation.

I constantly think I wish I hadn't taken that class. Even if the car problem was still there, maybe the reactivity to dogs wouldn't be. Who knows.

I just miss feeling comfortable bringing Obi anywhere without worry of him acting out. Just a couple months before the event we passed our CGC and CGCA and were well on our way to the CGCU, he was doing so well.

He just turned one when this happened, he is now 1 year 4 months, and I know some of these changes can just be from growing up and not wanting the interactions anymore. But I want him to act civilized. Even if he doesn't want to be around other dogs, I'm trying very hard to teach him that we still need to walk by them with some sense (same with cars).

A lot of this was just needing to vent. I'm feeling frustrated and I know that it takes work to get through these things and I'm more than willing to do that. It's just so irritating feeling like we were PUT into this situation because of two pet owners being irresponsible.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-13-2019, 01:52 PM
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Been there. It sucks. My dog loved other dogs with no fear until another dog in his class went after him. He’s never been the same.

I tried correcting with a prong. Working with treats and rewarding for non reactions. I worked with him outside of dog parks. I took him to 2 trainers.

What worked for me was a dominant dog collar. It allowed me to walk him with confidence around other dogs knowing I could control him. It also reduced his “flying into a rage” when a dog got too close.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-13-2019, 02:18 PM
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Time to try a new approach.With some dogs the distracting with treats creates more excitement and rewards the mindset that they are in.If it were me I would correct with a leash pop and then immediately give him something to do that he would be rewarded for.Look at me,Heel,Sit,etc.Create a new default behavior.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-13-2019, 11:25 PM
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There are a whole myriad of techniques or plans you could try. The one that fits both you and the dog is the one that will work.

There is BAT/LAT, Lou Castle's crittering protocol, strict OB with corrections for non compliance, flooding the dog at someone's house that had several well behaved large dogs (CM method)...

Lots of options that approach the situation from different angles. If you look through these options and have questions, just let us know and someone here can help you.

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-14-2019, 12:15 AM
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First I would work under threshold. So that may mean going out late at night when the traffic volume is very little - then do focus when the "stray" car approaches & move away from the road a bit (edge of sidewalk, down the cross street a few feet, into someone's driveway) ask for a sit and attention and reward that. That worked for us.



Similar for dogs.


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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-14-2019, 12:19 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you everyone. I'm definitely going to have to try out some new techniques for us. I'll continue communicating and such with the trainer for now, but you all are definitely right, it's time to try new methods.

With the suggestions of @David Winners I have some reading to do.

@dogma13 are you meaning pop with leash if he does the behavior? then doing an action that deserves a reward?

@IllinoisNative I really wish the people could be held accountable. It's upsetting seeing your dog change like that. I looked up the collar on Leerburg, I'll make sure to keep it in mind, thank you.

Tomorrow is a new day.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-14-2019, 12:41 AM
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When I focused more on training (rough version of "Heel" command + "look at me"), we made a lot better progress than with using treats alone (I found that my dog is not food-oriented at all when out in the big wide world). Being told to do something when passing another dog, was somehow calming for him? Hmmm, maybe it's like being about to go down a roller coaster or on a parachute jump, and somebody shouts, "Hold on here! And keep your left hand on this. And don't forget to do this!" Somehow that focuses your mind and keeps you from freaking out.

The lunging at cars...that is a scary habit!!
I use my "Stay Close" command for passing cars in streets that lack sidewalks. I have been doing it for so long now that he automatically moves into position by my leg when we hear a car coming. It began with the "Stay Close" in the house, then on boring quiet parts of walks, and turned into the currently useful "Stay Close" with passing dogs, runners, cars. Obi seems to be a smart easy guy to train...if you focus on Training and not just treats, I think he will learn fast...
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-14-2019, 01:19 AM
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That's what I meant - a quick tug on the leash to get his attention,then a command/task to keep his focus on you.I had a dog that would whip his head around and focus on me when I carried a small squeaky toy in my pocket. "SQUEAK!" he'd look at me,I'd tell him to do something(rather than think about chasing that squirrel).Then praise,treat,or game of tug.Whatever gets your dog's attention.My guy Samson stops what he's doing and looks at me when I say Hmm! in an abrupt tone.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-14-2019, 12:18 PM
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There's a great behaviorist- Patricia B. McConnell, PhD. whose booklet "Feisty Fido- Help for the Leash Reactive Dog"
available on Amazon for $8.00 free shipping.

Her method of de-sensitizing and keeping them under threshold takes about 6 mo. but reviews say it works.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-14-2019, 01:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaydub_u View Post
A few months ago we were taking a class to learn the basics of rally just to have another activity to do. While Obi and I were doing our course, 2 different dogs charged at Obi, teeth bared full speed at him because when asked to keep their dogs out of the room while a dog was doing their course the owners decided that they knew better than the trainer and reentered the room to sit in separate corners while waiting for their next two turns. Thankfully 1 only got to the end of their leash and the other once putting their owner off balance was able to controlled again with the help of the trainer. But it still took Obi's jumping back away from them.

Since then Obi hasn't been the same with other dogs. He used to love interacting and playing with them and yes he would bark and get excited at the sight of other dogs but, he was never aggressive and he was really really calming down with his excitement. Now Obi is reactive at any dogs he sees unless they are a Yorkie size (we have one). I hired a private trainer who is also a behaviorist (I can attach her word for word advice) and her advice was to treat Obi for not reacting, throw treats on the floor and have him "find it" when he needs a distraction, keep distance to where he is most comfortable, etc.

Right after this he starting lunging at cars when they pass by, could be coincidence, could be butterfly effect, could be prey drive, all the above, etc. The trainers advice was basically the same, distractions.

I've been doing all these things every walk for months now and there is no progress and I am trying so hard not to get frustrated with this situation.

I constantly think I wish I hadn't taken that class. Even if the car problem was still there, maybe the reactivity to dogs wouldn't be. Who knows.

I just miss feeling comfortable bringing Obi anywhere without worry of him acting out. Just a couple months before the event we passed our CGC and CGCA and were well on our way to the CGCU, he was doing so well.

He just turned one when this happened, he is now 1 year 4 months, and I know some of these changes can just be from growing up and not wanting the interactions anymore. But I want him to act civilized. Even if he doesn't want to be around other dogs, I'm trying very hard to teach him that we still need to walk by them with some sense (same with cars).

A lot of this was just needing to vent. I'm feeling frustrated and I know that it takes work to get through these things and I'm more than willing to do that. It's just so irritating feeling like we were PUT into this situation because of two pet owners being irresponsible.
Maybe a little different way to look at this, or at least how I would. Like you said he's maturing, his perception of things and his awareness is going to change. Drives are kicking in now. They will even more around 2, and even more around maybe 4 or so. You get a dog that has some strong drives, classes, rally, things like that can be very restrictive for a dog that would do better being able to use those drives, or just to keep it simple and generalize, I'll just say drive. I look at it as not to different from holding him back from things all the time. You build frustration over time and then when something like this happens, you kinda open it all up. I think the dogs that are meant for rally, are the ones you don't have to remove other dogs from the room for.

I think throwing treats to distract him from something is backwards. The car is the distraction, not you. Basic obedience. Correct behavior is rewarded, wrong behavior is corrected. The correction can be as simple as a verbal no if that works, and the reward can be a good boy if praise works. Its making a clear distinction.

I like using distance and playing to make things nothing but background, then losing the distance gradually to keep things as background and not important. I don't demand look at me or anything like that, because I think in a way thats similar to opposition reflex, it actually makes something I want indifference to more important. I don't try to fight against their natural awareness of things. Most important about all of it for me though, I find it a lot more fun. I know parts of this are similar to what you're saying, but I think there's some subtle differences that would make a big difference for you.

Doc

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