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Skylar is being clicker trained, started in obedience. She responds so well to it, but I have issues figuring out what behaviour i'm supposed to mark, I know it's good behaviour but i'm horrible with figuring out when that is.
So, She has started to get really protective of me when on walks, when strangers pass and especially other dogs. She's fine at obedience, day care, etc with other dogs, its just on walks- she growls, barks and pulls at them. I'd like to use her clicker when this happens, but when should i click/treat? We usually go into sit/stay but she still lunges when they pass. I think she'd learn faster if I use the clicker.
People always want to bring their dogs to her, because she looks nice and walks nicely, etc so if they see us a ways down the trail they think she'll be nice to their dogs, which isn't always true, she's not aggressive, but she is over protective. I tell them she's being trained so please don't come over, just walk by, but they still come over so i've had to say she's aggressive just to get them to take me seriously, :eek: and I hate doing it because she's not.
She has been socialized a lot but this is a new behaviour and i want to catch it and correct it.
SO, when should I click? And she's 5 1/2 months, is that one of the "fear stages"?
I just need like step by step instructions on how to handle this.

thanks!
 

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When using a clicker, you "click" a few seconds after the desire behavior. You want to click and treat as soon as the dog does the desired behavior.

I can tell you how to use the clicker, but I don't yet know how to get the desired behavior of walking by another dog without lunging.
 

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She's not being protective... at least not of you. She's scared and "protecting" herself by acting mean to make the scary things go away.

I don't clicker train so I can't give you step by step instructions. The most advice I can offer is that she gets clicked/treated/praised when she sees the other dogs/people and remains calm.
 

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Clicker training will increase her confidence! My puppy is fearfully reactive around other dogs and basically what I have been doing to starting a good distance away from other dogs and working my way closer to them, meanwhile click/treating for desirable behavior (ie looking at the dog without reacting, etc). If she reacts, I move back to a distance that she was successful at and then start to work my way closer, again.

From what you describe, it sounds like she is a little fearful and is trying to make herself look "big and bad" to discourage the approach. However, I am far from an expert : ). It certainly may be a fear stage.

You could also try to build a focus command that you would basically use as a distraction as other dogs pass. This basically just allows her to focus on you instead of the other dog.

These are just a few things I have been trying/having success with, but as I previously stated, I'm sorta a newbie so I am also interested in other suggestions!!

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
thanks!
i found this: Dog Training Basics - Quick Tips To Increase Confidence & Decrease Fearfulness
and i've been doing pretty much everything wrong :crazy: So with some more socialization the right way, we'll work through it, i think. :) Skylar learns so fast and it seriously is me that needs to be trained.
She learned a focus command in obedience class, I just didn't think of applying it here.
I really like the first idea, hmmiller05, kind of desensitizing her, which i could totally apply to her clicker training.
 

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When using a clicker, you "click" a few seconds after the desire behavior. .
This is not correct.

You click to mark the behavior you want. If you click a few seconds after the behavior, you are marking the behavior that is occuring a few seconds later.

This isn't something I would personally use a clicker to train for, but that's JMHO.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Rerun, how would you deal with it?
It seems that when she's in a familiar place (moms boarding kennel, obedience, home, our regular walking route) she's pretty fine (occasional issue) but outside, like hiking trails, vet, etc. she's reacting to every.single.dog. so i think we'll start working on her confidence and see how she does.

I'm open to any and all opinions/advice!
 

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There have been a few discussions lately regarding how to train a reactive dog. Personally, I correct them for this kind of behavior. Clicker people/positive only trainers usually say it'll ruin your dog. I use the backslash in there because not all clicker people are positive only, but almost all positive only are clicker trainers.

It's your personal preference as to what you believe, but I've worked with a lot of rescues and if this problem crops up, a proper correction and redirect to handler always works and nips this problem in the bud before it gets out of control.
 

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This is not correct.

You click to mark the behavior you want. If you click a few seconds after the behavior, you are marking the behavior that is occuring a few seconds later.

This isn't something I would personally use a clicker to train for, but that's JMHO.
I'm sorry I got that wrong.
 

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...........So, She has started to get really protective of me when on walks, when strangers pass and especially other dogs. She's fine at obedience, day care, etc with other dogs, its just on walks- she growls, barks and pulls at them.....
thanks!
Sounds like if she is growling, barking and lunging, she is being aggressive.

I doubt if she is really being protective at her age - sounds more like a little fear aggression at that age. And it probably won't get better unless you start now to do something about it.

There are many threads on what you can do about it on this forum but I would urge you to start now while your pup is still a baby and it is easier to approach than when she gets older.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
thanks, codmaster.
I emailed her breeder, and she gave me tips and we tried them tonight, I'm going to work with her everyday doing what the breeder said, which is to make her sit/stay while people/dogs walk past us, and give her tons of treats when she's just paying attention to me. She did alright tonight, i'm sure that when I do it consistently she'll learn fast. I didn't use the clicker, and she still responded to me.
thanks for the advice and opinions!
 

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There have been a few discussions lately regarding how to train a reactive dog. Personally, I correct them for this kind of behavior. Clicker people/positive only trainers usually say it'll ruin your dog. I use the backslash in there because not all clicker people are positive only, but almost all positive only are clicker trainers.
I do not know anyone who is a "positive only" trainer. Even clicker trainers do not ONLY use positive reinforcement.
However personally I would not recommend using corrections for this issue. The dog can learn to associate the correction with the approach of another dog, and it can make reactivity worse. This seems to be what happened with Bianca. Being given corrections when she reacted to another dog reduced her confidence a lot and caused her to view the other dog as the cause of the correction. She may have stopped barking when she was corrected, but although the behavior was reduced the underlying cause was not addressed so she ultimately became even more reactive because to her other dogs=corrections. I didn't use clicker training with her for this issue but I did use a lot of positive associations with other dogs. That does not mean I use ONLY positive reinforcement in all training, but in this situation corrections only made things worse. So IMO I would not recommend using corrections for this issue.

As for how to use the clicker for this, I would start by working at a distance, under the dog's threshhold. Once the dog is over threshhold, learning is difficult and they may not even be interested in you or your rewards or clicker anymore, so when you start you will need to keep at a distance where your dog is not totally focused on the other dog. As you work on it more you should be able to get closer and closer.
There are a few ways to work on this. One is to reward your dog whenever another dog appears and as soon as the other dog is gone the rewards stop. Another way is to work on them looking at the other dog calmly, click/treat whenever they look at the other dog without reacting. Another is to teach them to focus on you (watch you) whenever another dog appears.

With Bianca I started by telling her to watch me when other dogs were around, at first at a distance and then closer as she began to improve. This helped her to associate the other dogs with good things rather than corrections, and also taught her to remain calm with other dogs nearby.
I later started to reward her for looking calmly at other dogs instead because I found that she would 'watch me' so intently that she would not realize another dog had gotten close, and it would surprise her. Before we started she would bark, growl and lunge when she saw another dog even way down the block or across a big street, and forget about walking her past a dog on the sidewalk without going nuts. Now I can usually have her in close quarters with other dogs with no reaction, although once in a while something about another dog will set her off but even when that happens I can now get her attention back after a bark or two, rather than having her ignore me and bark/growl/lunge until the dog goes out of sight like she used to do.

Another thing that helped me a lot is learning to recognize the steps Bianca went through before she got to the barking and lunging stage. There are subtle signs that indicate a dog is likely to react, they can be very quick so you have to really watch but once you know the early warning signs you can often snap them out of it before they get to the barking and lunging point. For example with Bianca a good indication she is getting to the point where she may react to another dog is staring. If I catch her staring at another dog I can call her attention back to me and prevent it from escalating. Another early sign is freezing or stiffening. Other signs you may see in your dog are tail stiffening or raising, hackles going up, stiff tail wag, low growl (may be barely audible), stiffening/tensing of the lips and/or face, sudden change in tail and/or head position...
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Wow, thanks Chicagocanine!
It helps to hear how others with the same problem dealt with this.
Today I took skylar for her walk, and whenever i saw a dog/person/child, i gave her treats the whole time we passed them, then a bunch when we were almost out of sight. I decided not to use the clicker as that would be another thing for me to think about while distracting her, and the hotdogs worked really well. I'm thinking if i give her the treats whenever she sees another dog she'll associate it with a good thing, it worked with strange people that are far away. I also kept my voice really upbeat and happy so she knew she was doing good.
 

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Skylar is being clicker trained, started in obedience. She responds so well to it, but I have issues figuring out what behaviour i'm supposed to mark, I know it's good behaviour but i'm horrible with figuring out when that is.
So, She has started to get really protective of me when on walks, when strangers pass and especially other dogs. She's fine at obedience, day care, etc with other dogs, its just on walks- she growls, barks and pulls at them. I'd like to use her clicker when this happens, but when should i click/treat? We usually go into sit/stay but she still lunges when they pass. I think she'd learn faster if I use the clicker.
She has been socialized a lot but this is a new behaviour and i want to catch it and correct it.
SO, when should I click? And she's 5 1/2 months, is that one of the "fear stages"?
I just need like step by step instructions on how to handle this.

thanks!
This is NOT protection, so be aware of that. Whether it's inappropriate excitement/greeting...or a reactive fear thing.......... it is NOT protection so don't think of it as in any way being something we want from our GSD's. (I don't think you do :) ).

There's a great game you can clicker train that's perfect for this and here's the video! The Surprise Party!

 

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Discussion Starter #17
thanks so much maggieroselee! we'll be playing the surprise game, for sure!
I don't think it's protection anymore, it's definetly insecurity, she's been chased by other dogs only on walks, which is the only place she reacts negatively to them, we even tested it out tonight and my mother took our boy, and i had skylar and they just walked by on leash, and we couldn't even pass! so it's definetly an insecurity agression when we're out on leash, she's fine with our other dogs, kennel dogs, daycare and obedience. I certainly don't want her to be "protective" unless she absolutely has to, and i won't train her or help her be "protective"
I made a flirt pole for tug of war so we can build her confidence, and i'm going to be working with her 4-5 times per day just passing other dogs, my mom owns a kennel so it's easy to do and i'm more calm knowing my mom knows which dogs won't react in turn to skylar.
 

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Wow, thanks Chicagocanine!
It helps to hear how others with the same problem dealt with this.
Today I took skylar for her walk, and whenever i saw a dog/person/child, i gave her treats the whole time we passed them, then a bunch when we were almost out of sight. I decided not to use the clicker as that would be another thing for me to think about while distracting her, and the hotdogs worked really well. I'm thinking if i give her the treats whenever she sees another dog she'll associate it with a good thing, it worked with strange people that are far away. I also kept my voice really upbeat and happy so she knew she was doing good.
That sounds good, that is one of the methods I've seen suggested in training books.
If you do want to use the clicker but don't want to be fumbling for it you can also come up with a marker word. This would be a short word, preferably something you do not say normally, which would mean the same thing as the clicker. Some people use "zing" or "x" as they are short and not something you might say in other situations. You would charge it the same way you do the clicker (pair the marker word with the reward until the dog connects the two) and then use it just like the clicker.
 

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in potential reactive situations you want to catch the behavior well before it happens............so, you know your dog is going to react in these situations, head it off before it does happen........

if you see someone coming give yourself alot of distance from them. veer off and find the distance in which your dog is not reacting........then you can confidently work with things...........with postive re-inforcement.......this takes time and patience, but just remember the more your dog reacts in these situations it becomes a learned behavior.........So, the goal is to avoid the reaction threshold........also by removing your dog to a safe distance you are making the decision for him, and he will learn to trust you, etc.....look to you etc........
 

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in potential reactive situations you want to catch the behavior well before it happens............so, you know your dog is going to react in these situations, head it off before it does happen........

if you see someone coming give yourself alot of distance from them. veer off and find the distance in which your dog is not reacting........then you can confidently work with things...........with postive re-inforcement.......this takes time and patience, but just remember the more your dog reacts in these situations it becomes a learned behavior.........So, the goal is to avoid the reaction threshold........also by removing your dog to a safe distance you are making the decision for him, and he will learn to trust you, etc.....look to you etc........
debbiebrown is exactly right about using distance as your friend.....

It also helps to keep your body between your dog and the 'whatever' they are upset about. Don't have the dog ahead and meeting the 'whatever' with you in the rear.

There are also Calming Signals our dogs throw out that can give us early tips to how they are feeling.

 
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