Ginger gets very excited in the car, especially reacting to oncoming traffic by barking and
whining. To help redirect her and create a positive association to traffic we used a Treat & Train, a treat dispensing machine. We started out on back roads with minimal traffic while I
periodically dispensed treats with the remote control. Whenever she saw a car approaching I would also dispense some treats. Within a few minutes Ginger laid down next to the machine, waiting for her treats. We then turned on to a busy road, with cars constantly whizzing by. Ginger initially became excited, but I continued to dispense treats from the machine. Within another few minutes she was calmly watching cars go by, then eagerly eating her treats. Success!
TIP #1: ASK YOURSELF "WHY?"
If your dog is exhibiting some behavior you don't want, you may have wondered, "Why is he doing it?" Does he not love you? Is he trying to dominate you? If he knows you don't like whatever it is he is doing, then why does he keep doing it? Is he not your best friend, after all? I think the answer is that he behaves the way he does simply because he has some need that the behavior helps him meet. He may not even find the behavior particularly fun to do, as is the case with most reactivity. But your dog has learned that behavior is a way to get what he wants or needs.
Think creatively about what your dog gets as a result of doing a problem behavior (whatever he's doing that you want to change). In other words, what is the functional reward for his behavior? Think of the functional reward as a "real life" consequence that reinforces the problem behavior. Has your dog learned that barking at strangers makes them move away? The fact that the person moves away creates safety in the dog's mind by putting distance between him and a stranger. That is the functional reward for his barking.
Once you know the functional reward(s) for your dog's problem behavior, the next step is to find other behaviors you can encourage your dog to do that can reasonably lead to that same reward. For example, you can reward your dog's choice to turn his head away from approaching strangers instead of barking at them. That would make looking away a replacement behavior for the problem behavior of barking. Sniffing the ground, yawning, sitting, or looking at you are also appropriate possible replacement behaviors for reactivity. Reinforce the replacement behavior(s) by using the same functional reward that your dog earned from doing the problem behavior. For example, when he looks away (a replacement behavior), happily walk your dog away from the stranger, thereby increasing the distance between dog and stranger (the functional reward). That's the core concept of Functional Analysis - using the functional reward of the problem behavior to pay for more appropriate behaviors. The functional reward concept can be applied to just about any problem behavior. Behavioral Adjustment Training is a way to apply the scientific concept of Functional Analysis to reactivity problems: use the functional reward of reactivity to pay for more appropriate social behaviors.
- Excerpted from Behavior Adjustment Training
TIP #2: LESS COMMANDING, MORE REWARDING
Dogs are persistently manipulated with verbal commands, equipment, and physical prompting to perform behaviors (such as pushing them into a sit) become reliant on their pet parents to do everything for them. This is equal to doing a child's homework for him or her. A child might get better grades if an adult did his homework, but he or she would not learn the skills needed to function successfully in the world. This same concept is also true for your dog. If you have been doing his "homework" via constant reminding or demanding obedience, telling him, "No," all the time, and/or using leash manipulations and physical prompts to keep him in line, he will not have learned the skills needed to function calmly in life.
Dogs, like children, must learn to problem-solve when life comes at them, and providing your dog a motivation to perform behaviors through rewards will help him learn those skills. In order for that to happen, however, he will need different, and well-practiced behaviors that will give him the answer to the question, "What do I do when (fill in the blank) _______?" If your dog's current answer to that question is to spiral up and become wild, out of control, inattentive, or reactive, he has very few tools from which to choose.
When your dog has a limited number of tools, he will continue to use the ones that are the most readily available and familiar since those are the easiest to grab. If your dog's behavior toolbox includes impulsive or reactive behaviors and little else, he has no choice but to use the tools that have served him best in the past.
For training to be effective, your dog needs to learn how to handle different situations without grabbing the old tools from his toolbox. Those old tools will always be there, but as you teach your dog that he will be rewarded for calm and relaxed behaviors, those old tools will be buried deep at the bottom of the toolbox under all the new ones, making access to them difficult and unlikely.
- Excerpted from Chill Out Fido!
Before tonight, Cooper's success rate when responding to Down or Stay was about 50%.
By the end of our session he was asked to down/stay and the entire family went upstairs,
and Cooper never moved. He was awesome!
We taught Kane how to Down and Stay on cue. Down was not a problem for him, but stay was more of a struggle, especially when we went out of sight. Kane gets excited and jumps up at the table when the family sits down for dinner, so down/stay will help with this dinner time behavior.
Today Remmi learned how to Give It and Leave It. For the give it we practiced with her toys, and she was happy to give it to us in order to chase it again. For the leave it we practiced with food, and she was able to take her attention away from it whether it was on a table or if we dropped it on the floor.
Duke is coming along nicely with his basic manners training. Tonight he learned how to
Wait and Stay. He likes to charge out the door, so waiting for the cue to go out the door was very hard for him, but he eventually got it. Stay was much easier for him, and we were able to walk away and put our hands in his food container, open the frig, and walk to the front door, and he didn't get up!
TIP #1: LIVING AND TRAINING IN HARMONY
You do have the time to train your dog. Whether you realize it or not, you already are spending a lot of time training your dog. Every minute you are with your dog you are training him. Your everyday interactions with him are the most powerful training tools you have.
Your dog depends entirely on you for all of his needs. If he wants to eat, you feed him. If he wants to go outside, you open the door. If he wants to come out of his crate, you let him out. If he wants his toy, you get it our and throw it for him. Everytime your dog wants something, that something can be a reinforcer for something that you want him to do. If you are going to give your dog something he wants or needs, that is an opportunity for you to ask for something in return. Head scratches, belly rubs, play sessions, treats, and walks are all things that you dispense to your dog and they all represent training opportunities. Since you do all of those things everyday for your dog anyway, you can train your dog without taking anymore time out of your day than you are already giving your dog.
Remember these two concepts:
For example, anytime your dog wants to go out or come in the house, you have a golden opportunity to train something. He wants something that only you can give him. Why not get a little something form in return? Ask your dog for a sit before he rushes through the door. You should work on door etiquette, where your dog sits and stays before the open door until you release him.
- Excerpted from When Pigs Fly! Training Success With Impossible Dogs
TIP #2: USING A "U-TURN" TO LEAVE TROUBLE BEHIND
A "U-Turn" is a great tool to have in your training repertoire. A U-Turn is exactly what it sounds like: You and your dog are walking forward, and on your cue, you both instantly turn 180 degrees and move in the opposite direction. Your dog turns because he knows your cue means: "Quick! We're going to play the turn-around-really-fast-and-go-the-other-way game!" Your dog doesn't turn because he hits the end of the leash. That would increase the tension and could elicit the very behavior you're trying to avoid. He turns because he knows the game, hears the cue and almost without thinking, wheels away from trouble.
Like Watch, the action itself is simple, but it needs to be mastered to be truly useful. And like Watch, a U-Turn is another behavior that is incompatible with your dog barking, lunging or stiffening. A U-Turn differs from a Watch cue in that you use it when you know your dog will be too aroused to perform a Watch or has already barked or lunged at another dog. The goal of a U-Turn is to get you out of sticky situations, and if you and your dog master both the Watch and the U-Turn, you'll be able to handle most of the situations that life can throw at you.
- Excerpted from Feisty Fido
Some people say that St. Bernards are lazy and dumb. In fact, I found a list that ranked the St. Bernard #117 on a list of breed intelligence. But Chewy continues to excel at his manners training, learning Leave It in a very short time.
We also taught him Drop It when he has something in his mouth, and to Wait before going out the door, all in less than an hour. There is no doubt that intelligence list is flawed, as every, single dog is an individual and the ability to learn is influenced by many factors that don't include what breed they are.
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, FFCP, CTDI