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Everything posted by mbc1963

  1. My trainer talked about dogs who had to have the windows covered until they stopped the self-reinforcing behavior. I know he mentioned actually nailing wood to the window frames, which I was reluctant to try! Buddy did tear up one windowsill in my house when I first had him. (Lead paint, which was scary!) I had to start keeping Buddy in the back of the house when I wasn't home, because the front room was too stimulating. The neighbors tell me he doesn't bark anymore when I'm not home, so I think he adjusted to the noise and commotion and just sleeps during the day. But the initial move from wherever he was (not many humans) to this environment (humans going by his windows, within 6 feet of him, constantly) was stressful in the beginning. And in spring, when the windows come up again, the new noise still gets him more agitated than usual. What about putting plywood OUTSIDE the windows to block his view? I'm not thinking anything permanent - just some pieces of wood leaned up against the lower part of the window so he can't see out at the stimulating view? He won't be able to get at the plywood to rip it down. Good luck! It's tricky!
  2. This is odd for my town, which is a slightly-down-on-its-luck former mill town with a strong middle class and strong new-immigrant base, not a lot of money all around. But a woman recently opened a homemade, gourmet dog treat shop here. I've been in twice, for cuiosity's sake, and it smells like HEAVEN in there. And... I'll admit it... last time she gave me some sample treats for Buddy, and I tasted one. And it was DELICIOUS. It would make a perfect breakfast biscuit, with some nice tea. I wish I could get the recipe. However, I'm pretty sure it must include lard or butter or some other deeeelicious fat that we're supposed to avoid! I'd also love some homemade treat recipes. Mary
  3. Ohh... good points! Also, consider this: Before I got my dog, I had no experience dealing with the kinds of issues he has. Now, after a crash course and two years of experience, I'm much more confident about reactive behavior. And next time I adopt a dog, I think I'll probably use my experience to take in another dog with similar issues, specifically because I've gotten so much on the job training with this one. So, newbies who end up with these dogs might eventually end up as experienced handlers who help more dogs. Mary
  4. It is frustrating... and I think perhaps not all the faults of us adopters! I deliberately turned down adopting a little dog who had been adopted out and bit a kid. This dog was pound-centered, and had decided that the rescue/shelter she was in was her home. I knew she was too much for me. Buddy, on the other hand, was "sweet," I was told. Just shy. I wasn't told that he could be aggressive with men and other dogs. I signed a paper swearing to work on whatever behavior problems he might have. The shelter "contract" said that they gave me the dog without making any promises about him, and that it was my job to try to fix him. I took my "vows" very seriously! But for the first couple weeks I had him, I thought I might have to have him PTS, because I knew if my quiet, calm, 1-person, female home couldn't help him, probably there wasn't a better place waiting. I also think there's a societal message that we hear from the time we're babies: LOVE and KINDNESS can fix anything. After teaching 8th grade long enough, I think that's probably not true with humans who've been through too much, too soon. And why should it be any different for dogs? I was lucky that my guy was still young enough to relearn trust of humans... but four or five years down the line, it probably would have been very different. Mary
  5. I agree - find a behaviorist who knows what he or she is doing! Someone who's worked with dogs like this before... not someone who will tell you to flip the dog over or yank his chain. Staring in the eyes is rude in dog language. When I first got my dog, I had to tell everyone to just not do that. I still have to tell them that if they're big people, or wearing strange glasses. The best person who ever greeted my dog early on squatted down, facing away from the dog, and held her hand out behind her. Buddy immediately went to her with glee. She took away all the scary things - eye contact, face-to-face greeting, quick approach. Take things slowly. Don't force the dog to do anything right now. My behaviorist walked with us, and trained me to watch for calm behavior from Buddy and to reinforce it with treats and a practiced "good job" happy phrase. Something that worked really well with Buddy early on was walking 10 - 15 feet BEHIND strange people and dogs. He doesn't feel scared or threatened when he's behind, and once he knew and trusted the shape/smell of someone, he could be near them without reacting. Read "Bringing Light to Shadow," and all of Patricia McConnell's books. Good luck! Mary
  6. I agree - BABY STEPS! My dog was really dog reactive when I got him (human reactive, too)... and the best advice was to go really slowly. Walk the dog FAR from other dogs at first - where he can see them and still be far enough away to not react. Reward for calm behavior when other dogs are in sight. Then move the radius closer and closer. My dog does best if I make him do a "lie down" when he meets a big, new dog on his "turf." Flooding my dog with too much, too soon only made him worse. Correcting him with leash jerks just seemed to make him even more angry to be near dogs and people. I think Donaldson and McConnell are the best ones to read. Their advice helped more than any "corrective" advice, or dominance theory. Making the dog associate other dogs with GOOD things seemed to be the magic trick. Mary
  7. It may be an age thing. My dog will tolerate almost ANYTHING from puppies until they're about 6 months or so. But after that, he has this incredibly intense need to put adolescents in their place. He's completely intolerant of anything "in your face" dogs do between the ages of about 6 months and 12 - 18 months. He will pin them to tell them "NO!" Perhaps not remarkably, he only ever has to do this a couple of times per dog, and they learn to give him a 5-foot radius of personal space. After that, we all get along fine. Buddy will even play rolling tumbling wrestling with the young dogs, as long as they know boundaries. Mary
  8. My dog has almost exactly the same issues. He is fine 90% of the time, but any long eye contact or tense motion during a dog-dog meeting, and he will get snarly with the other dog. It's MUCH worse with bigger, male dogs. Much easier with smaller, female dogs. Buddy still likes to play with some dogs - he'll roll around and chase and whirl. Most of the time, though, he's concentrating on sniffing out who's been at the park before him. The first few minutes in a park, he won't even notice other dogs are around, because he's too busy doing his job. So I'd agree that a lot of dogs just don't need that much dog-dog social time. I don't worry much about not letting Buddy play much, because I don't think he cares. I did train a pretty solid "LEAVE IT" with Buddy, and most of the time, I can get him to stop going after another dog with that command. The other day, he started running to join in a dog fight... and he actually stopped midway, turned around, and came back to me. MAJOR progress! I'd say just do lots of training, teach him that the aggressive reaction is not OK with you, and maybe give him another behavior to replace it. My dog knows he's supposed to lie down rather than charge when he sees another scary dog at a reasonable distance. (NOTHING works when the other dog charges us - I can't control Buddy then! Aiiee!) Good luck! Mary
  9. Hmmm... I don't think the treats will reinforce the staring behavior IF you give them only when Freckles exhibits the behavior you want - coming AWAY from the cat and paying attention to you. Good luck! Mary
  10. My dog used to be kind of like that - because he was so afraid of everything. A guy ran at us once, and Buddy literally tried to hide between the curb and a parked car, shaking and cowering. Sudden movements by dogs or people - especially on bikes - would freak him out. Sudden movements by strangers still startle him a bit. I think what worked with Buddy was the old standby: gradual, slow desensitization with rewards (clicks if you like) for calm behavior. The first few weeks, I flooded Buddy WAY too much, and he reacted constantly with barking, growling, and fearful breakdowns. Then I got smarter, and kept him far enough away from the scary things to avoid letting him have a breakdown. We did lots of walks in the woods, where very few people went, and I would take him off the path and have him "sit" as people did go by. Having something to do (sit) when he saw a fear stimulus seemed to help him a LOT. After just a very little while - a few weeks? - he started taking himself off the path and doing a "sit" when he saw scary things. What a smart boy! So... that's my experience. Hope it helps! Sounds like your dog might not be scared, like mine, so maybe there's another trick someone else can give you. Mary
  11. Quirky, but not uncommon, I think. I have to work a lot with strangers coming into my house. They have to sit, give my dog treats, etc. before he stops barking. He will get calm with them, begging and letting them pat him, but then if he walks into another room and returns, it's as if he's forgotten who the stranger is, or that he made friends. Same thing happens if the stranger changes posture suddenly - stands from a sit, most commonly. Or moves into another room. I think it's a contextual thing. The big thing I've learned having Buddy is that dogs don't generalize well. So, if Buddy knows a guy is safe and friendly in the living room, it doesn't necessarily mean he knows the guy is safe and friendly in the kitchen, or back yard. Safe sitting doesn't necessarily mean (to Buddy) safe standing. Once the dog knows someone really well, he'll let them turn themselves inside out without reacting. But it takes a long time for him to really trust someone. Maybe this person your dog reacted to had a certain smell or look, and each time he met it in a new context, he reacted to it? Mary
  12. I teach kids who are 14... and I can say that I do think it's likely that she's that age, and not an adult pretending. Or at least her posts sound like ones that would be made by someone of that age. They don't have a lot of sophistication or emotional maturity, and don't show any ability on her part to discern how her actions appear to others. Adolescent egocentrism. It's in the psych books. I've often run into this on the 'net - that kids post strange stuff, misrepresent themselves, and when adults call them on it, the adults are accused of being bullies or overbearing. I've never quite figured out why. In the "real world," when kids pull this stuff, they are disciplined by the responsible adults around them. Fact is, lying is lying. I knew kids who were liars when I was 14, and I know adults who are liars now. I don't support it or accept it in a person of ANY age - it's the ultimate wrong, in my opinion. And I really, really think that this kid's father is completely unaware of what his kid is caught up in, which makes me very concerned. She's posting her name and address all over the 'net, and presenting herself as a grown adult. That's a dangerous situation for any kid. Having said all that, I suspect that a BIG chunk of this is, subconsciously, a fantasy world this kid is trying to create. Still dangerous for her and the dogs, but a different kind of problem, maybe. --Mary
  13. I think people in both camps are using their chosen methods, effectively, to do the same thing: create a common language between dog and human. I don't do clicker, but I did prime Buddy with a sing-song "Good Job!" when I first got him home, and this lets him know when he's doing something I want. It works pretty similarly to clicking... he knows when he hears that particular phrase that it's a GOOD thing. On the other hand, he also came home knowing what "NO!" meant, and that has been a wonderful, wonderful tool. So I can tell him when he's doing what I want, and I can tell him when he's doing what I don't want. "No" makes him stop. Meanwhile, I use tons of hand signals and all kinds of body cues to show him what behavior I want to attach to a word. I don't wait for him to do something and then reward with a "good job." I point or gesture or lead him, and then reward. But in the end, he's told when he's doing what I want. For those who imply that +R dogs are only doing things for clicks or treats... couldn't we just as easily say that dogs trained by adversives are only doing things to AVOID the adversives? In neither case is the desire to run through the tunnel a reasoned decision on the part of the dog. Both of these methods are ways of communicating to the dog that it's in his best interest to do what the human says. I've never understood the certain level of derision that exists about "bribing" dogs with clicks when compared to "bribing" them with the promise of no leash tug. ::Shrug:: I think this whole discussion parallels very neatly with the "spank or no spank" debate society has followed. All our grandparents were spanked, and they ran the world at least as effectively as we run the world. Yet I wouldn't choose to spank, because it seems as though there are other things that are equally effective as spanking, without the potential negative fallout. I'm guessing that good parents, even in the old days, based most of their discipline on factors other than spanking, just as good parents do now. Spanking was just one tool in their repertoire. I think the key is choosing a method and being consistent and fair - that whole "calm assertive energy" thing agin. Mary
  14. LOL! I have long been saying that this is true of human society, as well! My theory is that it's genetically programmed in some people to seek exterior rank through high positions in jobs, politics, etc.. But the real control of society lies in the hands of mothers, secretaries, teachers, and folks like that. Those people grind away day after day, setting the tone of a home, a community, or a workplace more directly than upper management or politicians ever can. Since I've been working, I've watched the "big bosses" come in, lay down new (often silly) mandates, be largely ignored by everyone in the trenches, and then disappear. Meanwhile, the job goes on, dictated by the masses who work and do their jobs well (or poorly), day in and day out. I've never spent much time worrying about studies that show women have less chance of reaching power positions in politics and business, because I think the "power" of those positions is largely made up of puff and show, rather than substance. I'd love to see a study of human society and social dynamics done by an outside species - say, some superintelligent, single-sex aliens. Mary
  15. Hmm... I watched many episodes of "TDW" on DVD, about 8 months into owning my reactive dog. Discussing them at the dog park, someone pointed out the controversy surrounding Milan, so I googled that and read the opposing viewpoint. Here's MY take: Cesar is right about the PEOPLE in the families. You can tell on a lot of the shows that the people are neurotic, overpermissive ninnies. It's like watching "Supernanny," where the kids have no manners because the parents are afraid to teach them manners. I agree with Cesar that calm, assertive ENERGY is necessary to train a dog. Panicky hyperventilation, smothering, and obnoxious permissiveness will create bad dogs, just as they create bad kids. And just as a 5-year-old wants structure and boundaries, so does a dog. Failure to provide those things leads to neuroses. I also agree with Cesar that the dog needs exercise, exercise, exercise. I think a lot of dog problems in our houses come from dogs who are ignored until they become coiled springs. They have no way to use up their energy! I see a few people at the dog walking area who clearly have watched a lot of Cesar Milan. At the least pull towards another dog, they do the ZHHHT! sound and a collar tug. Honestly, their dogs behave exactly the same, week in and week out. I haven't seen any progress in 2 years. (I think in both cases, the dogs are ignoring Cesar's and most trainers' #1 rule: give the dog enough exercise! The poor animals NEVER get to run loose to burn energy.) Some of the dogs who were allegedly "cured" on the show looked really, really scared to me. The dog scared of linoleum didn't look unscared at the end - he looked terrified. Maybe flooding does work for some dogs, but I don't think it works for all of them. My sensitive dog used to be extremely reactive when meeting other dogs and humans. I tried chain yanking and such for maybe 3 weeks after I got the dog - but it was obvious that it was making him angrier and more lunging, rather than less. He'll now happily do a down/stay if a scary dog is approaching us, with no lunging or barking. That's a replacement behavior - I think he thinks it makes him safe. I taught the behavior with nothing but rewards and positive reinforcement. People actually compliment me on what a good dog I have - and I think his calmness comes from his trust that I'LL be calm to him. (It took a lot of months to build that trust, and at that point in time, any physical corrections I used would have made us go backwards, rather than forwards.) I'm guessing that calm, assertive energy from the trainer would probably work wonders combined with any positive training program, at least for sensitive dogs. My gut is that the dogs on the show react to the energy or self-confidence that Cesar's putting out ("I'm in charge. You let ME make the decisions now...") as much as they are to the chain yanks and such. Mary
  16. Hi, I can take food away from my dog, but I'm not sure others could. Since I live alone with him, I haven't really been able to practice letting other people take food. BUT... My trainer had good success with his dog, who is an Akita who started out reactive and ill-socialized, if I recall. The man has a grandchild, so needed to get the dog rock-solid on allowing peple near his dish. He practiced "trade" a lot. He would trade the food bowl for some high-value treat like chicken or hot dog. Then he'd put the bowl right back. Eventually, he'd have the toddler walk up to the bowl and drop the high value treat right in - so the dog came to associate the approach of anyone to his food dish with happiness and high expectations of good things. I'm sure there's more to the system than I can remember. The trainer has a website with advice columns he's written for the local paper. The section on general aggression talks several times about food bowl aggression. http://www.1gooddog.com/training_advice/ag...food_possession Hope that helps! Mary
  17. Hi, Dana, I just did a quick search of the Canidae website, using the town listed under your username, Greeley, CO. According to Canidae, they sell out of these stores: Country Corner Feed and Pet 970 351-0868 711 28th St Greeley, CO 80631 J & T Country Feeds, INC 970 378-0240 6380 W 10th St # 1 Greeley, CO 80634 Tail Waggers 970 353-3736 3618 W 10th St Greeley, CO 80634 Pet Spot 970 351-7387 2146 35th Ave. Greeley, CO 80634 I'm not sure if you're actually in that town - but there do seem to be a number of dealers all over CO who are selling the Canidae. http://canidae.com/company/storelocator.html Good luck! Mary
  18. Yeah... the thing that reassured me was the fact that they don't use ANY gluten in their food, and that they don't import ingredients from overseas. ::Crossing my fingers:: Buddy does so WELL on that food. Mary
  19. Oh... yup, didn't mean to imply that she hadn't learned "sit." I was just framing it the way my early trainer did: the dog has to sit before ANYTHING good happens. When sitting, the dog can't be jumping. It helps if you can make every bloody person who greets the dog force him to sit before they give him any attention. As for teenagers... oy! My dog came home and within 2 weeks learned to "sit/stay" before he could get out of the car, for safety reasons. But then, after a few months of doing it perfectly, he decided he didn't want to do it anymore. I would say "sit," and he would stand in the back seat, starting me dead in the eye, and I swear, I could hear him LAUGHING at me, saying, "Lady, I'm not gonna sit. Whatcha gonna do about it?" Grr. Worst of all, it was my own fault, because I had gotten inconsistent with making him do the behavior. So he was just waiting me out, seeing how long he had to play chicken before I caved. After I left him standing in the back seat a half dozen times while I faked going about my day, he stopped mocking me so brazenly. Mary
  20. Because my dog was so challenging, I put him through a couple rounds of basic obedience with the same trainer. This guy got 100% non-jumping within minutes by simply removing his attention unless the dog sat calmly. The jumping is all about getting attention and interaction from the human, so teaching that the human would remove that "reward" was very effective. I saw the trainer do this, week after week, with great success. It took him several tries, but each try, he got closer before the dog jumped, and literally 5 minutes later, he'd have a polite little sitting dog. I tried it with a little jumpy dog who I meet at the dog park, and within days, she was sitting when I was 15 yards away, in preparation for getting patted. I agree with the former poster who said that training a "sit" is a good idea. My trainer told me to have my dog sit as if it were the word "please." Nothing good happened until the dog asked nicely. So now he goes up to potential treat-givers and does an immediate "sit" in front of them. I know that he's technically begging... but to everyone around me, he just looks like a remarkably polite dog. Mary
  21. I agree things are getting absurd, and believe it or not, we teachers would love to put the absurdity aside, too. But I think the primary cause is our lawsuit-happy culture. No matter which way a school rules, some parent is sitting on the sidelines, waiting to sue. Deaf kid's parents sue or allergic kid's parents sue. And trust me - the schools don't have the money to pay the lawyer, even if they can win the case. So they jump through ludicrous hoops to try to appease everyone. I have never met an administrator who wouldn't like to run a common-sense school with practical, sound rules - but they're charged with saving the district the money it will lose if an overzealous parent wins a court case. It's a lose/lose battle we're fighting. But everyone wants their little slice of money if they think they have a potential case. Mary
  22. I agree. I'm a public school teacher, and we forbid ALL 14-year-old kids to have peanuts in school, because one of the boys on my team gets an allergic reaction from them. One kid's rights end when another kid's rights begin. If there were no allergies, I think the dog kid would win, hands-down. The accomodations we have to make to be "reasonable" are pretty outlandishly unreasonable most of the time, in my opinion. The dog thing is nothing compared to some accomodations we have to make, which are not only inconvenient at times, but downright unfair to the majority of the school population. Mary
  23. Hi, One thing an early trainer told me to do, which has made future training very successful, is make the dog do LOTS of sit-stays and down-stays before he was allowed to go to his food dish. Within a week my adult adoptee had almost rock-solid stays in both positions... Then I started playing "hide and seek," where he has to wait, lying, in one room while I hide a toy. When released, he's allowed to go hunt for the toy. He LOVES the game, and it constantly reinforced his down-stays. The stays are great, and the game is good for rainy days or mentally unstimulated dogs. Mary
  24. That sounds like a very tough situation. Sounds like a LOT of big life changes for you, never mind your dog. I wonder if you're expecting too much of her: to be able to accept all these new people, new places, and new expectations. My heart is breaking for the dog, to have been uprooted and planted into such an entirely foreign world. Any chance that in the near future you'll have more space for her in a different apartment or living situation? That many roommates who aren't thrilled to have the dog around sounds like a bad beginning, and the neighbor thing makes it sound even worse. Sorry to not sound upbeat. I don't know where you are in life, and I could be way off, but you sound like you're just starting out, and I remember how chaotic and frazzled my life was in my early 20s. I wouldn't have been able to be a good and fair master at that point! Mary
  25. As someone with a reactive dog, I have to give the ladies' point of view. Buddy, off leash and especially on, gets very worried when approached head-on, too quickly. He's great if dogs creep up and better if they actually do a dead stop (that "10 yard stare down" thing) and give him time to accept they're not going to hurt him. But a quick approach, to my dog, means a potential attack. So, to me, it means the potential for Buddy to overreact and snarl/growl at the other dog. Which makes the OTHER owners snarl at ME. ("My dog is just saying hi! Why is your dog so mean?!") I will say that teenage dogs are Buddy's worst triggers. They're just so darn bouncy and happy to meet everyone! So... if I see another dog and person we don't know, I always leash Buddy and try to steer clear, giving them a wide berth and a chance to see that I don't want physical contact between the dogs. It's really challenging when the other person lets her dog run at Buddy despite my visual cues, and often despite my telling her that Buddy will snap at her dog if he runs at us. You'd be surprised at how very many people don't listen to me, especially if I speak in a friendly tone. My guess is that the owner you met has had this experience way too many times, and has had to learn to make her case very quickly and forcefully, in order to be taken seriously. On the other hand, I understand how upsetting it is to have people comment negatively on your dog and your training when you're doing your best, and have worked hard with your dog! Try not to take it personally. The other person probably has bigger issues with her dog than you have with yours, and her tone is probably coming from defensiveness rather than sheer cussedness! Mary
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