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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I came across this tonight while researching a repetitive habit my dog seems to have developed.

When she first wakes up in the morning, or gets excited after a period of inactivity, or is nervous ..... she scratches like an ol hound dog. It's a habit and not a real itch- it's a body posture and thumping the ground like she's trying to send Morris code.

In every situation she does this... the only commonality I have found is the possible release of hormones and/or adrenaline that release stressors or are caused by stressors in her system. She's getting ready - anticipating what comes next and can't wait. So she gets pent up and I think.... these hormones/adrenaline demand she do something physically RIGHT NOW - so she defrays to scratching that one way, that one spot until her release....

Just a thought, and for what I've been seeing - this guy - in his first few paragraphs - is likely right on in describing what's going on with her.... helps me understand.:smile2:

Here's the link;

PRESSURE & RELEASE | What A Dog, LLC
 

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indeed. similar to yawning, full body shakes, etc. "stress" is so overused and generally perceived as negative or cause for concern, but it's basically, pressure & release.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
indeed. similar to yawning, full body shakes, etc. "stress" is so overused and generally perceived as negative or cause for concern, but it's basically, pressure & release.
Yea, I knew that I was seeing - but it was always preceded by "good things to come" after a period of inactivity....so I knew it wasn't a negative thing but a "prep" thing (adrenaline release works for me).

But until I found this trainers post and explanation... I was concerned it would become a compulsion habit...I started redirecting on this about 5 days ago and when she does it first thing when I wake up, now I make her leave the room, she goes in the other room to scratch but in the last 5 days, not so much- she's stopping the pattern because she'd rather be in the room with me. also -giving her the "in house" ball to chew or putting 1/2 cup of food in her bowl to break the pattern.

I've also seen the more advanced stuff in her that I attributed to "prey drive" that is the building up (again adrenaline) to a point where it can come to a satisfaction plateau and the push and habit to achieve that and get the self reward does present it's own problems in the pet owner....

If this is true - this is the key to so much with her training - with the DA-prey drive etc. This is the behavior aspect explanation I've been seeking to help me understand what's going on with her. It all fits. She's super smart and wants to please me but there's this "pull" sometimes....in anticipation.... This would also explain why, when she had such a bad problem with DA on the dogs walking down the alley - the first time I redirected with the ball - those dogs no longer existed in her world - the anticipation-the energy had to come out.
 

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Thanks for posting that article!It helped me understand more clearly one of Samson's behaviors I would like to help him work through.There is a gravel driveway leading to a private lake directly across the road from us.Not daily, but every so often there will be folks walking or driving in or out of that drive when we are out in the yard.
He's very anxious about that spot and is continually glancing over there and ready to rush to the road and bark in order to send them on their way and away from "his" yard.
If I see or hear the people or vehicle first I can walk him calmly away in the opposite direction.But my vision and hearing are obscured and dampened by trees and undergrowth so he's off to the road like a shot about 50% of the time.I call him back immediately but he startles the heck out of people and it reinforces his habit.
So now that I understand more clearly how he's building up to release the anxiety/adrenaline I can formulate a plan to stop the cycle.It would be so much easier if we could practice daily.For now I will work on keeping his attention elsewhere.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
That's great:) Have you decided how you'll proceed? When I read the first part...it sounded all too esoteric for me - but the 2nd half something clicked and so I read it again...and a third time lol!

I always thought that "redirect" was pertaining to refocusing solely the mind and that correction and keeping on it was the thing to do...but with the physical component added - the redirect needs to also have a physical component to it for a release. Just rewarding with a piece of cheese for a show of suppression isn't going to cut it...

Also, what I got out of it is a more complete understanding of why it's doubly crucial to stop a behavior before the build up and self reward cycle can start. I really didn't know about this as a "process" for the dog and thought of it more or less as just a bad habit that was mindless but ingrained.

I'm not sure yet, the steps I will take to change some stuff. I just want to watch her for a couple of days and see if I can spot where this is going on...the squirrel chasing in the yard - I know this is exactly what's going on - but I'm not sure I want to stop it - it's her huge big joy in life and it's not hurting anyone or anything. Lol! Here's her little buddy, he's made the woodpecker hole his new apartment this week. It's 10 feet out our back door and Summer's beside herself:)
 

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Awww!Adorable!I don't mind mine chasing squirrels since they go right up a tree not cross country.I know you're afraid Summer will run up that one tree and over the fence:(
I don't know exactly how I can keep him from worrying about that driveway.There's no way to practice.It's not practical to redirect every time he glances that way.What I may try is training a bullet proof down/stay as he's running away from me.He has a pretty good one running towards me but we haven't practiced like we should in a while.Then he would get his rush,a command,recall and game of tug and praise.
Last month he rushed a group of people along with my daughter's Schnauzer.I called him back,had him sit/stay in our driveway while I chased the Schnauzer back home.After his rush/release he was totally chilled,sitting calmly watching me getting yappy girl back.
 

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The answer to what is going on is much simpler than even that. When a nerve impulse occurs the body begins to make changes to the synapse (the gap between nerves a signal must jump) to make it occur easier the next time and spend less energy. It is the core reason for habitual behavior. We have the same repetitive habitual behaviors as humans we just usually don't give much thought to them. If you really took a conscious look at every pattern of behavior you did all day you would find inefficiencies nonsensical patterns and find compulsions to do things that are silly just because it's what you always do because they are the most familiar courses of action. The core reason behind it is biochemically it is easy to follow the pattern of behavior because neurologically you are being lazy. The neuro impulses are following a path of least resistance like water flowing in a riverbed.

Pressure and release is basically operant conditioning but Chad is anti intellectual in a lot of ways and refuses to see it. He thinks he found something new and in reality its been explained to death already. Also the IACP is a joke. Just had to get that out there.
 

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By the way, allowing dogs to chase critters is a very very dangerous behavior and unless you hunt with your dogs and have it set up on cues it is something that should never be allowed. If I had a dollar for everytime I've heard a story about how someone's dog got killed cause it crossed the street to chase a cat or squirrel and got lost and hit by a car or hit by a car and killed that way in full view of the owner I would be going out to eat somewhere nice with dead dog dollars, and bringing a date too.


So no you don't create an emergency down or fool proof a recall (for that reason anyway)

You just punish the behavior of doing it or showing intention to do it. Calling them off requires you to be able to see them and stop them in time which makes the assumption you will be tuned in enough to see it happen which is a very very big leap of faith. Punishing it straight out stops the dog from engaging in the behavior in the first place. If you want to see your dogs prey drive in action do a sport or game that displays it. Don't let your dogs chase wild animals or neighborhood cats.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Awww!Adorable!I don't mind mine chasing squirrels since they go right up a tree not cross country.I know you're afraid Summer will run up that one tree and over the fence:(
I don't know exactly how I can keep him from worrying about that driveway.There's no way to practice.It's not practical to redirect every time he glances that way.What I may try is training a bullet proof down/stay as he's running away from me.He has a pretty good one running towards me but we haven't practiced like we should in a while.Then he would get his rush,a command,recall and game of tug and praise.
Last month he rushed a group of people along with my daughter's Schnauzer.I called him back,had him sit/stay in our driveway while I chased the Schnauzer back home.After his rush/release he was totally chilled,sitting calmly watching me getting yappy girl back.

I fixed the area where she was coming close to going over the fence. There's an obstacle there now (patio swing) and she can't access that particular spot so that's all good now.:smile2: I know what you mean about trying to train out something that is one place specific and it happens infrequently. I had Summer off rushing the alley fence when a dog's walking down the alley she went right for the ball instead - but we only had 3 successful redirects and now, not another recurrence in over 6 weeks.

Lol - I feel like knocking on that ladies door and saying "can you please bring your dog to run loose along my fence line like you always used to??? lol!
 

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I fixed the area where she was coming close to going over the fence. There's an obstacle there now (patio swing) and she can't access that particular spot so that's all good now.:smile2: I know what you mean about trying to train out something that is one place specific and it happens infrequently. I had Summer off rushing the alley fence when a dog's walking down the alley she went right for the ball instead - but we only had 3 successful redirects and now, not another recurrence in over 6 weeks.

Lol - I feel like knocking on that ladies door and saying "can you please bring your dog to run loose along my fence line like you always used to??? lol!
Exactly!If only I could hire a group of people to walk out of that driveway every afternoon:)
 

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I do my best to correct a dog for even thinking about chasing and/or charging-barking.
How do you correct the "thinking about it"? I have Deja's wildlife-chasing under control by ways of the E collar but now she "just" follows their scent. On walks her nose is low except when I use a toy as entertainment. I have not done anything about that sniffing yet but am pondering it.(she acts like a Beagle)
 

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Dogma- Honestly, back when, I thought a call off or some sort of alternate command was a decent solution for stuff like what your dog is doing. It's not. I do my best to correct a dog for even thinking about chasing and/or charging-barking.
We just came inside after cooling off in the shade and watching two deer and a flock of turkeys out in the field behind us.They aren't allowed to chase and they don't even try.The dogs are allowed to chase squirrels,chipmunks,and mice.They used to go after snakes and toads but have been trained to leave those alone too.And no rabbits either!

The only time Samson has barked and charged is when a human is going in or out of that driveway across from us and we happen to be out in the yard.Twice last summer,once this summer.Not with visitors,not when the guy who farms the field behind us is walking around or running his farm implements.No other time.I don't want him to do it ever again.

Since we can't practice and correct the behavior I need a new plan.I can't see or hear people coming until they are a few feet from the drive because of trees and such unless they are talking and joking loudly in which case we walk in the opposite direction and find something else to do until they're not in front of our yard any longer.So a down/stay as he moves away from me is plan A.
 

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How do you correct the "thinking about it"? I have Deja's wildlife-chasing under control by ways of the E collar but now she "just" follows their scent. On walks her nose is low except when I use a toy as entertainment. I have not done anything about that sniffing yet but am pondering it.(she acts like a Beagle)
To me the sniffing is the start of the process.You want to stop any gesture pointing towards chasing a wild animal if you want to succed. Or at least the goal is when the dog starts the process you say stop and it stops. Hard to totally unwire prey drive when real prey is in the area, but you want to try let the dog know no part of the process is allowed.

The 'thinking' stage is sniffing and gathering info in the mind before the dog actually goes running after the animal. Dog doesn't just act imo. It changes drives due to being visually aware or scent detected of prey animal. Then the mind flicks into drive and the process develops or dog goes chasing. Dog will probably try to detect where the scent is really from and so thinking about the situation, what is the animal etc. You will generally have some time to influence the dog before the full on chase has occured. Generally the dog will just be chasing scent anyways as a wild animal will have heard you coming.

My female is more of an air scenter when she senses a wild animal in the area. A Bull mastiff x with intense prey drive for wild animals. She will also stand erect and stare into the woods, listening and then raise her head to air scent. The change in her physical shape is very apparent. She is usually lazy and slow and slouchy looking but when she goes hunting she is rather pantherish.

For me to stop her actually chasing wild animals i just had to switch of all the signs, running around trying to flush some game, looking for scent, staring into the forest, taking predatory stance.

I had a lot of success in training her to not hunt. Can have her off leash in the woods just need to always have an eye on her to be able to stop any escalation. Generally i let her have max 50 m from me and I'll call her back.
 

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How do you correct the "thinking about it"? I have Deja's wildlife-chasing under control by ways of the E collar but now she "just" follows their scent. On walks her nose is low except when I use a toy as entertainment. I have not done anything about that sniffing yet but am pondering it.(she acts like a Beagle)
I wouldn't fight the sniffing, just make it clear that when you say heel, that means heel and the sniffing is done for that time. I don't think the sniffing has to automatically mean they're going to take off, but its one of the reasons I use leave it the way I do. Its a way of just moving on and still letting them do what they want, just a certain amount of attention to me.
 

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I wouldn't fight the sniffing, just make it clear that when you say heel, that means heel and the sniffing is done for that time. I don't think the sniffing has to automatically mean they're going to take off, but its one of the reasons I use leave it the way I do. Its a way of just moving on and still letting them do what they want, just a certain amount of attention to me.
As somebody stated, wildlife most likely hears you coming and is long gone. I let my dogs sniff and track, they enjoy it. I have found it does not lead to chase. I use leave it as well when they are sniffing or tracking and have not had a problem. Maybe it is just the way the breed is hardwired.
 

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I like that approach. Deja immediately comes back by just calling her name. She does heel on command but more intense than in a non-hunting mode. I agree that sometimes you gotta give.
It is fun to see Cam with us in these situations. He kinda copies her because she gets all hyped up but has no hunting drive (yay!!!). When a deer jumps away, he looks at me like "Huh?"
 

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I wouldn't fight the sniffing, just make it clear that when you say heel, that means heel and the sniffing is done for that time. I don't think the sniffing has to automatically mean they're going to take off, but its one of the reasons I use leave it the way I do. Its a way of just moving on and still letting them do what they want, just a certain amount of attention to me.
This is spot on. Sniffing is way different from active prey drive pursuit. Either way you should be able to control and stop the actions though.
 
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