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Need assistance with my newly rescued BC


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My stock answer for a problem like this is to tether the dog to the owner, or put the dog in a crate, so the dog can not go somewhere out of eyesight to do his business. Then you would take him out at intervals until he accomplished his business, then praise.

 

I know Dexter has issues, but I forget specifically if he can be crated or tethered. If you can't do either of those with him, you will have to get creative in finding ways to always keep him in sight.

 

This^^

 

Baby gates are also great for keeping him in the room with you without him being tethered to you or stuck in a crate.

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You really do have to keep him close to you somehow or watch him very carefully so that you can get this under control.

 

Every time he practices this behavior, it reinforces it. If it continues, then there's a really good likelihood that it'll get worse.

 

He can have some free time in the house without your hovering if he goes, but until he does go, you need to keep tabs on him so that you can prevent accidents from happening in the first place.

 

I'd suggest also that rather than letting him outside unattended (it sounds like that's what you're saying you do) you go with him and praise him for going when he does.

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Derek, if you have a paper towel with some of his poop on it, put it out in the yard where you want him to go. Leave it there for a while. I wouldn't point it out to him, just lead him by the poop. He'll smell it on his own.

 

This might help him get the idea that poop belongs in the yard, not the house. And I second the idea of taking him out on leash for a while. Do you have an idea of when he needs to poop? A lot of dogs are on a schedule, something like soon after waking and then mid-afternoon.

 

If you know about when he needs to go, you can be extra careful about having him tethered to you or confined.

 

Ruth and Agent Gibbs

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I don't give him any unsupervised time in the yard. I'm always out there with him just watching him. I do praise him when he does do it outside and I'm even with him 95% of the day. Just that 5% of the time when he's by himself, like when I go to class or go out to get groceries, I come back and it happens. His poop from previous times are still sitting in the grass in the yard and once in a while he'll go by it and sniff it, making think he'll do it, but a lot of times he doesn't. His poop schedule is pretty random though. I noticed that he only goes when no ones looking, so I can never catch him doing it either. And my roommates aren't much help. I found that the only place he doesn't go is in my bedroom. I think because that's where he sleeps. I would put him in there every time I have to leave him alone, the only thing is that it's quite a hassle to get him in there. He doesn't know stay yet, so when I stand up to close the door, he runs out. I think I'm going to make it a habit to put him in there when I leave the house. At least until I can get his mind on a schedule. And because my roommates don't really 'watch' him when I'm gone.

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So I've been keeping an eye on him the last couple days and he's doing well with the potty. Like you guys said, taking him out relatively often to do his business. I'm also happy to say that all of the fetch inside the house paid off. He's learned how to properly fetch outside now as well. He brings it back almost every time. It's going to be a lot easier to get in some running now. I'm still working on introducing the collar though, and I'm having a bit of trouble. He knows what the collar is and if he sees me pick it up, he'll go into scared mode right away. I left the collar on the ground one night and he came out ONCE to sniff it, which is a really big step I think. I gave him a nice good boy and some pets, then he went to eat his dinner. I think I'm going to do this: throw the collar in the middle of the room and every time he walks towards it, click, and reward. Also I'll gradually move the collar closer to me as he gets more comfortable. Then step it up to maybe placing the collar on me foot then gradually to my hand. Hopefully this works. What do you guys think?

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Hey, Derek,

it might just be fear of the actual unknown "thing" rather than any super-horrible association. Strip it of anything but the buckle and the D ring, work it a bit to soften it and then wear it for a week or so - stuffed under your shirt, wrapped and buckled around your forearm, in your bed, visible to him. You're going to share it with him...soon :). Just normalize it until he ignores it - the vet'll wait. Myself, I'd buy a fresh cloth collar, put it thru a wash cycle and then make sure it smells like you. Sometimes with dogs the best thing to do for a while is ...nothing.

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I've never done this, but I wonder if piling a few treats around the collar (while it is on the floor) will help him approach it more often. Then move the collar around to different places at different times and continue baiting it with the treats.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Haven't updated in quite a while, so here's a little progress report on Dexter. Haven't had any accidents inside the house in quite a while. Actually haven't had any since the last time I posted on here. We got a pretty good schedule down. Still working on the collar very very slowly, but he's getting used to it. Once in a while I'll clip it to one of my belt loops on my pants and he'll come up and sniff it a couple times. I've gotten him to give me his attention when we're playing with the ball as well. That's a big big big distraction for him, so even getting eye contact is pretty tough. Sometimes he'll even give me a high five or a down. Haven't been working on any new clicker training tricks since I been pretty busy with school, but I do want to get a good come and sit down. I don't know how to get him into the sit position though. I tried to lure him backwards with a treat or his ball, but he just seems to walk backwards. I've also tried to lure him up from the down position, but he just gets up and walks backwards. Any suggestions on this?

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I saw a trainer take a dog that didn't want to sit (actually, I think the dog was confused) -- kneel to the side of the dog and hold a treat above his head with one hand while you use your other arm behind the dog. Therefore, if the dog backs up, your arm should stop him and help fold his back legs into the correct position. It was very gentle. But your dog has to allow you to be close and to his side. Is Dexter comfortable enough with you to allow that?

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It's good to hear from you Derek, this is one thread I've always followed closely.

I know that with teaching the sit to Jack, it started as a default behavior then I eventually gave a name to it. I still have to w.a.i.t.....for him to get bored enough to sit (he's 5 months old now) but then I gush about it "gooooood sit!" etc.

My clicker books say to "shape" to sit if it's not one of the default behaviors for your dog. Like if his hind end even starts to bend into a sit, to click and treat for that and so on. I know these experienced BC parents will probably have better and "more to the point" advice than I. ;)

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Hey, Derek. I was just thinking about you and Dexter and thinking I might have to ask for an update. ;)

 

Good to hear that things are generally going well.

 

You could try to shape the sit as kat3cats mentions, but it will take some time.

 

Another option would be to capture the sit when he does it on his own. This means that any time he sits on his own, you immediately click and run for a treat if you don't already have one on you. A mouth click would work if you don't have a clicker on you. This will take some time, too, but in a different way than shaping. If you shape the behavior, you'll do it by taking some time daily for training sessions. If you capture it, it'll happen over time rather than during a session. Hope that makes sense.

 

I trained Bodhi to "take a bow" (a front stretch) and later "do your Yoga" (a front stretch followed by a back leg stretch) by capturing his morning stretches. It took several weeks because I had to wait for him to do it on his own, i.e. to capture the behavior. When he did, I'd mouth click and treat. When he was finally doing it pretty consistently -- actually offering the behavior more often than he'd previously stretched, then I started adding the verbal cue to it.

 

One thing . . . he does sit on his own, doesn't he? The reason I ask is because if he doesn't, there could be something wrong in his back end that makes sitting uncomfortable. If there is, you definitely don't want to try to make him do it until you've had him checked out by a vet.

 

As for training sessions, I get that things can get hectic with your school schedule -- been there, done that. ;) But do try very hard to find at least five minutes once, or better yet, twice a day for some training. It doesn't have to be for long, but daily training for short periods daily will probably get you better results than less frequent but longer sessions.

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I second the capturing thing. Pour a beer, get comfortable, have the clicker in your hand, treats beside you - now wait him out. He's going to wonder what you're up to and you're not going to tell him - but stay connected with him while he wonders. You may see him scrolling through all his clicker learning to date, which you'll have to disregard for now. What should happen is that he'll sit down to ponder some more and like lightning you go click/treat. :) Then get up and walk around to get him moving, and then bore him again.

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You guys know what? Coincidentally, I was playing catch with him inside the house last night and I got a bit tired so I hid the ball. As he was staring and waiting for me to throw it again, he sat down! I had to throw the ball for that. I tried it again, and he did it again! He got really good at it actually started doing it almost instantly he gave the ball back to me. He learned it within 5 minutes too. I try not to give free throws. He's got to give me SOMETHING before he gets a throw. I think that's why he prefers to play with my roommates over me haha. But nonetheless, he had it down last night. Going to try it again today and see if he remembers.

 

@gentle: I was kind of concerned about him being uncomfortable to sit as well. He definitely prefers to lie down over sitting though, but after last night, I'm convinced he's okay with it. As for the training sessions, I'll definitely try my best to get some in daily. I might also try to charge the clicker with the ball too. His ball seems more valuable than his treats.

 

Collar update: From as early as I can remember, collars were his biggest fear. Picking one up would put him in scared mode and he wouldn't come out from behind the couch. Today, I've got the collar on the floor and he's pretty much ignoring it. I put his ball inside the loop and he'll pick it up. I can throw the ball in that general direction and he won't even look at it. I even picked it up and he just looks at me. I think I'm going to start holding it more often and maybe playing catch while holding it so he can approach me with the knowledge that I am holding the scariest thing in the world.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Collar update: So just right now, I called Dexter over and picked up his collar right in front of him. He didn't move! Then I kind of put it towards his neck, and there was a small reaction. Just a little backing up, but no sudden movements. While this was happening, his ears were still up and front and no whale eyes. I only did this for a brief moment, but gave him big praise after this. I have yet to try to put it around his neck though, but it does seem like he's getting used to the presence of the collar. Once I get it on him, I'm going to do the same for his harness and leash. Hopefully it'll go quicker if I'm more consistent with those and then we can finally go on walks, just in time for Spring.

 

Also, he's gotten sit down! So how he has three good tricks up his sleeve. We're working on bow right now and he's getting it down really quickly. It also seems like his ball is way more motivating than his treats, though I will switch it up and use his treats every once in a while. Well, that's it for now. I'll keep you guys updated when more exciting things happen!

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For collar stuff, I've worked with a few dogs who are very head shy. I usually bust out a clicker and treats, shape familiarity with the collar then lure a gigantic slip lead or comically oversized collar.

 

Start with the collar on the ground. Click/treat for the dog looking at it or moving closer to it - this is the shaping part. Stay here until the dog will sniff the collar of his own accord. Then put a treat in the collar and see if he'll eat it when everything is flat on the ground. Next step is taking a treat from in the collar when your hand is on the collar (still flat on the ground). If they do that, then lift one side up an inch off the ground, so the dog has to put his nose a little bit in the collar to get the treat. Work an inch at the time, when the collar's halfway off the ground start holding the treat in your other hand, only asking the dog to put his head in a couple of inches to get the treat. Once it's off the ground at a comfortable height for you, start asking him to put his head further into the loop to get a treat.

 

Essentially, you're teaching him to put his head through the collar. He controls the action, so he's a lot less likely to react towards you - just to pause or retreat if he's uncomfortable. It also sets you up better for adjusting the collar once it's on, since you haven't made any movement towards him.

 

This is in contrast to what I see some other people doing, which is to push the collar over the dog's head. I know what I do is overkill and takes longer, but I don't get snapped at nearly as often.

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^Thanks for the advice! I was going to give that a try if what we were doing didn't work, but today I was able to get the collar on him. He definitely didn't want to, but there was little resistance. He didn't snap at me or anything either. Once I got it on, I tried to give him lots of praise and lots of treats, but he wouldn't take them. I think he was too freaked out. Soon after I had my buddy come over with his dogs to play and that pulled him out of the gutter. Since the collar is on now, I'm going to start working with the leash. I think I'm going to just clip it on and let him drag it around for a while. Then progress to picking it up with no tension, then having him walk while I'm holding it. Will keep you guys updated.

 

Also on Thursday we're going to have a little birthday party for him and one of my friends' dogs. He absolutely loves other dogs, so it should be really fun.

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Derek, The clip the leash on and leave it on worked really really well for Jade. She wasn't so worried about the collar but she hated the leash...so I clipped it on and it stayed on 24/7. And gradually she would allow me to pick it up (I would just test periodically and the first sign of her not being comfortable I just put it down) and then she would walk way out in front of me in the house and finally she let me walk beside her with it on. Then I moved to the harness because she hates the collar and I actually have better control without any pulling on her neck...which is what I think freaks her out. She will sit for the harness to be put on which is definitely easier for my 81 year old mom.

 

Dexter is making huge steps foward. As one of the other posters stated, he is going to be an awesome dog when he grows up. :)

 

Also, the rescue is putting Jade up on the "adoptable pets" page. I think I have taken her as far as I can in my household so now we will start the search for a perfect family for her.

 

Thank you for all your postings. They definitely helped me do some things differently than what I started out thinking I would do.

 

Teri

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  • 2 weeks later...

Glad I could help :D

 

So I'm starting to introduce the leash again and he's deathly afraid of it; even more than his collar. I brought it out about an hour ago and he's been hiding in my shower for the past half hour. I think I'm going to try to pile a bunch of his toys around it and see if he'll come up to it and grab a few. I just want him to be comfortable with it around him on the floor first, which currently he is not. Hopefully he'll get over this fear quickly so we can go explore the streets of Riverside!

 

On a good note, we've put a couple new tricks in the bag. I've gotten him to stand on two legs for a quick second and I've gotten him to 'bow' almost on command. Still working on the latter, but he's getting there quickly. His other tricks he's a pro at now: sit, down, and high five.

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Nice work on the tricks. I'd recommend keeping 'touch' current in your arsenal as well (just reread and saw he knew this one).

 

I worked with an older longtime-stray spaniel mix who was dead set on biting if you got near her collar with a leash (it's not like she'd let you touch the collar either). We worked through it by associating the leash snap sound with a treat (charging it like a clicker), shaping a nose touch to the leash (can you look at the leash, can you lean towards the leash, can you take a step towards the leash, etc.) and then doing an advance/retreat with the leash working towards touching the buckle with the snap end of the leash in my hand. Eventually I got so I could clip it one-handed. In all of this, my stress gauge was 'will she still take treats'. If at any point the answer was no, we ended the session.

 

He definitely didn't want to, but there was little resistance. He didn't snap at me or anything either. Once I got it on, I tried to give him lots of praise and lots of treats, but he wouldn't take them. I think he was too freaked out.

 

With a really fearful dog like you have, be very careful about pushing his comfort level. It may make for an immediate victory, but it doesn't always translate into the fear going away. Worse, it damages some of the hard-won trust he has in you and makes it harder for you to convince him to work with you on the next scary thing.

 

Normal dogs can usually bounce back from a little push now and then just fine. Sensitive dogs are just a rule unto themselves.

Edited by d112358
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That is actually really good advice. I think I'm going to do that. Thanks! Yeah I think I'm going to take a bit more time with the leash. I was just dead set on getting the collar on him because sometimes my roommates leave the front door open and MOST of the time I'm there to shut it, but Dexter has gotten into the front yard twice already. I have no gating in the front so I'm just scared he's going to run off. It was more of a safety thing. Sucks that he doesn't understand haha.

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