Not sure how to proceed... nervous behaviour - opinions wanted. - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-30-2011, 05:21 PM Thread Starter
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Not sure how to proceed... nervous behaviour - opinions wanted.

I am just looking for some opinions on this:

For those who know of Stark's "issues" I have a question.

Stark is at a point in his training where when he becomes uncomfortable with a situation (someone approaching from the front, side, running at us, etc.) he will look directly at the thing and then DIRECTLY to me for a reward. Excellent behaviour that I continue to reinforce with treats and praise.

He has been playing with children off lead which before we couldn't even walk within 100ft of a child without him barking. It was a behaviour that I believe was due to his own insecurities and lack of leadership in the moment from myself.

He has always been great in crowds but when someone approaches or passes by singlely (is that a word? haha) that is when he is most likely to react. Like I said, he has been doing fabulous with this!

The one thing I notice he does is when someone is walking behind us, he keeps looking over his shoulder at them. I know it is a nervous behaviour but I am not really sure how to handle it?

I have been rewarding for the glance and calm behaviour and not correcting him for trying to pull in the opposite direction. It's almost like he is walking and looking behind him at the same time, which results in me pulling on the lead as I continue walking down the street or hall.

I *KNOW* that if I was to stop and allow him to fixate on the person behind him that he would react. I know this.

I usually say something like, "come, on; let's go" or something similar. Should I give a formal command like "heel" which is my loose leash walking command (not focused heeling command)? Or should I reward the glances?

I don't want to encourage the nervous behaviour, but I do want to encourage the calm quiet behaviour.. although he isn't really calm..

Not really sure how to proceed with this, and was looking for some opinions with those who have or have dealt with reactive dogs in the "maintance phase" of their training.

Oh and a side not and a little brag. Stark met two new children today in the park and was super awesome with both! He did bark at the soccer ball sitting in the grass by them and the kids laughed when I told them what he wanted.. lol. They allowed him to play soccer with them for a bit (on leash) and were thrilled when Stark would wait nicely for them to kick the ball near him.. lol.

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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-30-2011, 05:41 PM
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first way to go Stark with the new kids Masi isn't fond of small kids the older the better ;(

Masi is also known to look behind us if someone is following us..I don't associate with nervous behavior, more like "who is that behind us and what are they doing?" If she really starts to fixate, which isn't often enough to mention, I usually do as you do, make no big deal, and just say "oh leave it, lets go"..continue on, and GOOD girl, for blowing it off.

I find Masi ALSO is much more relaxed in crowds vs a one on one approach. I think because to much going on in crowds to fixate on 'one' thing. Again, if I think she's fixating, I just tell her to 'leave it', and continue..

Sounds like Stark is doing good by looking to you, since Masi isn't to food motivated, I usually have her frisbee on me, or she's carrying it in her mouth..her frisbee is "everything" to her)

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-30-2011, 08:19 PM
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Chance always keeps an eye on anyone who is behind us when we walk. I consider it being protective and aware of his surroundings. I let him look behind us, but keep walking. would rather he was aware of someone behind us than not, especially since I live in the city. to me, he is doing his job. I protect him and he protects me. He does not get hyper or upset, just likes to keep an eye on anyone behind us.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-30-2011, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by lisgje View Post
Chance always keeps an eye on anyone who is behind us when we walk. I consider it being protective and aware of his surroundings. I let him look behind us, but keep walking. would rather he was aware of someone behind us than not, especially since I live in the city. to me, he is doing his job. I protect him and he protects me. He does not get hyper or upset, just likes to keep an eye on anyone behind us.
Abby is the same way. If someone is behind us it's like I have to drag her forward. If we were to stop and let the person approach she would just wag her tail and introduce herself and that would be that. What I usually do is start jogging to distance us from the person behind and break her concentration. I am sure there are better ways but that works for me.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-01-2011, 08:38 AM
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I don't have any personal experience with this topic, but my 2 cents worth would be....if the dog is more occupied with the *passer-by* aka singular person hehe....I would make myself, a toy, food...more interesting at that point that he starts to focus on that passer-by...I am guessing Stark would not like to turn his back to that passer-by, even in tug...but what I might try is to make him miss the toy and chase the toy *whilst the toy is still in my hand* of course, maybe you have a word you use that he responds to, that initiates play...like* ready!?!* or make some encouraging noise like I do lol. Ultimately, the dog might learn, that as much as he wants to *react* or *pay attention* or *stare* at the passer-by...in the end the real fun will over-ride that impulse. I would *mark* eye contact, that is great!..I might also follow with a brisk game of tug or ball, following that mark...to keep the dog engaged with me longer, through that reactive moment...enforcing the idea that, more fun with me buddy!...not watching that person, or that object. A rule of thumb I try to do by, is to always have my dog engaged with me, so even if he comes across something he wants to fixate on...a word or phrase I might use...implys fun is coming...and hopefully the fun I provide is enough of course lol...and in turn gets me focus/engagement. I guess inna nutshell, my humble input would be, to challenge his reactive behaviour towards passer-bys or situations, with very high reward actions that you and Stark love to do. Just my humble thoughts I am learning everyday myself...and still many eons of learning to go! hehe
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