German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
38 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I recently (a month ago today) adopted a Belgium Malinois puppy (long story but the shelter basically got a litter from a byb) and so far he's been amazing. He's mellow, laid back, and he's not off the wall. However, he's pretty skittish (cautious?) in new situations and it seems as if his initial instinct when confronted by something new is to bolt. Sometimes after a minute he'll return and investigate. At the moment I'm trying to get him used to going to and from new buildings and apartments.

For example two weeks ago I took him over to a friends house who has two Schnauzers to socialize him. He did NOT want to go through their front door and then sat down by my chair and did not interact with my friends or their dogs for a good hour (then he cautiously began sniffing around). Last night I brought him over again (his second trip there) and he still put on the brakes when we got to their door but this time he was up and around sniffing about their home in a matter of minutes. I was just wondering if anyone had tips on how to better socialize, build confidence and if you guys think his skittishness is a temperament issue or a lack of socialization issue. Thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,005 Posts
I owned Belgians fro over 30 years, the coated varieties and will tell you that is not desired behavior. I don't know the age but would say it is a socialization issue. It is always harder to enter where other dogs live as they can fear being attacked. Try taking him to classes even if at first he just wants to watch. I also like to go to lumber/hardware stores. They don't mind pets but they have lots of new things. If he is nervous sit outside malls, grocery stores and just watch. Also walk by schools, pick a time when kids are out in the field and stay back if he is nervous. Then when his confidence is going up, invite people of all ages and sizes to pet him and offer treats. I offer teh people the treats and explain I am socializing apup, most will help. By the way keep the leash on so when he tries to bolt you are in control. I calmly walk toward the fear thing as they calm down to show there is nothing to fear, but never drag the dog to it. Good luck
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,451 Posts
This dog is the PERFECT candidate for clicker training!

At our training club, what we do with these types of dogs is actually mark and reward them for noticing/alerting to something. For example, say we have a dog in the class and we knock over some soda cans. The dog will stand up and look in that direction. Immediately at that moment we mark and reward him for noticing. The mark/reward when timed correctly seems to block the following unwanted behavior (barking at the cans, bolting, etc). It's like the dog goes "oh, so I can look at that and get rewarded for just standing here and not running over to investigate? Well, I can do that!" It's something the dog does naturally. Clicking and treating for it helps block an escalation of skittish behavior and builds the dog's confidence b/c it's so easy for him to earn that mark and reward.

I would clicker train in general, as well. MRL will come here and give you some good links I'm sure....
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
32,304 Posts
Originally Posted By: LiesjeAt our training club, what we do with these types of dogs is actually mark and reward them for noticing/alerting to something. For example, say we have a dog in the class and we knock over some soda cans. The dog will stand up and look in that direction. Immediately at that moment we mark and reward him for noticing. The mark/reward when timed correctly seems to block the following unwanted behavior (barking at the cans, bolting, etc). It's like the dog goes "oh, so I can look at that and get rewarded for just standing here and not running over to investigate? Well, I can do that!" It's something the dog does naturally. Clicking and treating for it helps block an escalation of skittish behavior and builds the dog's confidence b/c it's so easy for him to earn that mark and reward.
That's basically an un-cued "Look at That!" from Leslie McDevitt's book Control Unleashed. It's even better if you can put it on cue. Rather than teaching dogs that they must ignore sights/sounds that worry them (which can stress them out further) they are allowed to check it out, and then they are rewarded for reorienting to the owner. It's a terrific technique for reactive dogs, or dogs that stress out under social pressure, such as at a trial.

The click happens as the dog is looking at the trigger, the reward happens when the dog looks back at you. Usually it's taught with a benign object initially before working up to using it in the presence of triggers, which of course would be at a distance and then gradually closer. If at first the dog won't look back at you, you can feed them while they're still looking at the trigger. As Lies said, it gives the dog a rule structure to follow when stressed, you've turned the presence of triggers into a game he can play with you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
38 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
He's a little over four and a half months old. I got him just a week before he hit four months. I do bring him to a puppy obedience class and he does fine. It's in an open area by a large field and I think he's comfortable there (its the field on campus that I take him to all the time, so he thinks its play time whenever we go).

I took him from building to building today on campus and he def. put the brakes on initially, but I coaxed him through and after the second door i started throwing his toy around and he got comfortable enough to chase after it. After that he was going with me to and from the buildings. Everytime we went to a new building I'd give him a treat and play with him a bit, with a lot of "good boys" thrown in. I will try and do the clicker training (I don't have access to a clicker but I will try verbal reinforcement). It does seem to me that he's just scared of new places/situations.

My other question is...if he doesn't go through the doorway or want to walk in a new place and coaxing and treats don't help, what should I do if I shouldn't drag him?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,034 Posts
Originally Posted By: DoggieDocMy other question is...if he doesn't go through the doorway or want to walk in a new place and coaxing and treats don't help, what should I do if I shouldn't drag him?
We just learned this past weekend that our new girl Sasha (rescue, 10-12 months old, had her 2 weeks now) is very afraid of new people. So here's what I did today when we had people over for lure coursing.

I brought her out on leash and walked as close as she was willing to get to the people. As soon as she put backward pressure on the leash I stopped ... and just waited. It took her about a minute or two to relax enough so that we could take another step or two forward - and then she stopped.

Yes, it took me about 15 minutes to get her close to the people but since I wasn't forcing her she did it at HER pace.

You need to give them time to figure out for themselves that nothing 'bad' will happen.

And don't talk baby-talk to them - or try to comfort them. It just makes things worse. With Sasha I either didn't say a word to her (just kept talking to the people) or I told her in a very upbeat voice that she was being a sillly dog.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16,649 Posts
My question for you is...where are the pictures?
I have an adopted mal and he's the best. He does startle, especially when something falls from above or there is a loud noise. I try to remain upbeat and I can use a ball to get him almost anywhere so I keep using the ball to work with him and build his confidence.

Basic obedience is a great confidence builder as is lots of positive, reward-based training.

And I think clicker training is a great idea. One fun exercise is 101 things to do with a box. You can find that, and lots of other great articles on clicker training, at Karen Pryor's website: http://www.clickertraining.com/node/167
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
38 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the feedback everyone! I'm def gonna work him with clicker training. Once he hits 5/6 months I'm going to start him on agility as well. I hear dogs that are more submissive really can build confidence with agility or other similar courses.

Here's a shutterfly picture site I set up for him.

http://jackthemalinois.shutterfly.com/
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
15,195 Posts
puppy classes and socialize, socialize and more socializing. also find a trainer.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16,649 Posts
Jack is very cute! My last dog, Kai, was afraid of all kinds of things and I used clicker training and counter conditioning with him and it worked great. One command I used a lot with him was the "Touch" command. Since he was scared of basically anything he hadn't seen before, we used that that a lot but it really did work b/c he knew he would get lots of yummy treats for doing it. I found that making everything into a fun came and breaking things down into small steps was the way to go.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,609 Posts
Would someone please help me with this? I have seen clicker training in action on tv (bits and pieces of a show(s)) and I immediately said "Not for me!" and turned the station because:

1) The clicker for me is annoying to listen to.

2) I do not want to have to be carrying around and fumbling for a device for my dogs the rest of my life. I have a hard enough time remembering my glasses & my cell phone and becoming famous for misplacing my keys.
I'm beginning to feel like I'm carrying around a diaper bag of dog necessities just like I did when I had babies.
I'm becoming resentful of this and resentful is NOT acceptable.

Those are my negatives, which I am willing to swallow if it will help me and my dogs. I'm thinking that I am apparently not totally comprehending or I'm missing the boat somewhere on how this device can be supposedly so useful and beneficial. I thought the sound of my voice, lots of "good boy/girl" with lots of lovin' when they do good would be enough and would actually be preferred over a noise-maker.

Is there some way to zero in on why/how this little gizmo is supposed to be like magic moreso than the owner's voice & associated usual praise when it comes to building confidence?

Also, going to http://www.clickertraining.com/store/?item=clickerkits

which clicker would you recommend? I'm leaning towards the i-clicker to ease my own frustration/annoyance w/the sound and fumbling for the clicker button. But since I've never tried either one, I would appreciate input from those who have.

Comments on this would also be appreciated:
http://www.clickertraining.com/store/?item=clickerkits

Would I have to carry a clicker around with me the rest of my (my dog's) life if I start using one and it works?
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
15,195 Posts
i'm missing the boat when it comes to clicker training. i've never used that method and all my dogs are well trained.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,034 Posts
I don’t use a clicker because I am not coordinated enough to handle a leash, clicker and treat. I use my voice.

The key is to have a single word that represents the click - I use YES! I say it very loud, upbeat, fast and draw out the S a little.

The other important part of any type of marker training (clicker or voice) is getting the timing right. You need to mark the EXACT behavior you want to reward the dog for.

And no, you don’t need to carry around treats and a clicker forever.
Once the dog learns the behavior you can reward with your normal words or physical affection.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
32,304 Posts
Originally Posted By: Riley's MomWould I have to carry a clicker around with me the rest of my (my dog's) life if I start using one and it works?
As Lauri said, no, you don't need to carry one forever. I like to use a clicker for some of my training, it's a very distinct precise sound that makes it very clear to the dog (as long as your timing is perfect!) exactly what you are marking and rewarding. But I also use "Yes!" as a verbal marker, because I may not always have my clicker handy, but I do have my voice.

Clickers are training tools. If you're not actively training a new skill, you don't need the tool handy. With any reward based training the idea is to mark what the dog is doing right, at the exact moment they're doing it, and then deliver a reward. The rate of reinforcement needs to be very high at first, you're going to reward every single repetition. But as the dog "gets" what the command means and is consistently complying you can move to a variable reinforcement schedule where you only reward randomly, and then phase it out all together. I like to also use praise and physical affection along with food or toy rewards, so those would continue once a behavior is established and rewards are no longer necessary.

Rather than just reward randomly you can also mark and reward to shape better responses - a straighter sit, a faster down, a speedy recall, etc. Routine responses to a command might get a "good boy/girl" and a pat on the side, the best responses would get a verbal marker, or a click, and a treat. Really REALLY good responses might get a jackpot of treats, delivered one after the other, accompanied by enthusiastic praise.

Clickers are also great for "capturing" behaviors as a dog is doing them, basically catching them in the act of doing something good. I used this method with Dena & Keefer as young puppies. Anything I wanted to encourage, things they would normally do many times in the course of a day on their own - lay down, look at me, come to me, I'd click and toss a treat. The more they were rewarded, the more they did these things, and then I could put a name to them - "down", "watch", "come". Because these were heavily rewarded behaviors, by the time we got into puppy class and were teaching basic skills they were already reliably giving me attention and coming when called.

The main thing to keep in mind when using rewards is that the newer and more difficult a skill, the higher the rate of reinforcement. If your dog has been sitting on command forever there's no need to mark and reward every time he does, if ever. But if you change anything about that picture - he'll reliably sit facing you but doesn't get that the sit command also means sit next to you, or with your back to him, or when he's across the room from you, or when you're sitting on the floor or in a chair, up the rate of reinforcement until he's generalized the command to "sit means plant my butt on the floor immediately" no matter where you are, no matter what you're doing. And then phase it out, for that skill.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,451 Posts
Originally Posted By: Riley's MomWould someone please help me with this? I have seen clicker training in action on tv (bits and pieces of a show(s)) and I immediately said "Not for me!" and turned the station because:

1) The clicker for me is annoying to listen to.

2) I do not want to have to be carrying around and fumbling for a device for my dogs the rest of my life. I
These are easy fixes.

1) Use a different marker noise or a word. I don't use clickers I say "yes".

2) No. Do you have kids or know kids? Do they still need to be reminded to use the toilet and be praised when they go potty themselves? Same idea. As with any tool, it's used to initially foster communication with the dog, not as a crutch. My adult GSD has been trained using clicker, prong collar, lots of different tools and now when we go out or go to training class she is on a flat collar or a slip lead and that's it. She has earned titles where none of these tools can be used.

Quote:Is there some way to zero in on why/how this little gizmo is supposed to be like magic moreso than the owner's voice & associated usual praise when it comes to building confidence?
Your question is a good example of the problem. The click is not the same as praise. Praise is a reward. What dogs need in order for you to be most efficient and effective at communicating what you want is a marker. The marker happens the precise moment the dog did what you wanted, then a reward follows. For example, when I am teaching a dog to "come", I say the word and as soon as my dog turns his head and looks at me, he gets the mark (the click or the "yes") and when he is back to me he gets his reward. Doing these mark/rewards makes it easier to build and shape longer patterns of behavior. For example, when teaching a formal heel I can walk a heeling pattern and mark my dog every few steps to indicate she is doing it right, then at the very end she gets lot of praise or the treat. Stopping to pet your dog or feed a treat can interrupt the chain of behavior.

As for which clicker, I use the 50 cent ones you can find at any pet store. I actually like their click better than the more expensive ones.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,609 Posts
Thank you all, this is now making sense. I ordered the clicker pkg from clickertraining.com and looking forward to it's arrival. Both my dogs need to gain self-confidence and this is supposed to help w/that, too. I'm not toooo worried about the timing, I think I can do a good job there with a little bit of practice, I'm pretty good at timing I think. Of course I could make a liar out of myself, but we'll see.

One of the things their web site mentions is that this little do-hicky is supposed to have good success for training dogs that don't respond well to walking w/a prong (which is the only time they wear a prong). The problem is that even on a 2ft leash I still can't get any better than shoulders instead of head at my leg. They like to walk faster than I do. With winter coming and icy sidewalks, I really need to get a better grip on this.

Thanks everyone.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,451 Posts
I have this problem with my 14 week old puppy who is just learning leash manners, and my 2 year old mutt who has always been stubborn and head strong on walks.

What I am doing with both is working on getting them to pay more attention to my body, rather than have a specific "heel" command and require them to stay right at my side. I don't really care if they are a step ahead or behind as long as they stop when I stop, don't zig ziag, and don't lunge forward. How we practice this is we start in an environment with low distraction. We start walking along. If the dog is where I want him to be, I click or say "yes" every few steps and give a treat. Anytime the dog pulls out ahead and stops paying attention, I say "uh oh", turn 180 degrees and start walking the other direction. I don't correct the dog or try to jerk him back, just give my no-reward-marker which is "uh oh", turn, and go. The dog will be like "wait now I'm behind!" and come catch up, when he reaches my side again I mark and reward. We just keep doing this over and over, back and forth, until it clicks in the dog's mind that he's getting rewarded for not pulling and he's getting redirected for trying to pull. If the dog can easily do this in the yard, then we start in front of the house, down the block, at the park, in front of the pet store....etc as we slowly increase the level of distraction.
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top