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An update and another question about dog obedience

Posted by CamG (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 14, 13 at 12:08

Hey everyone,
I posted some months ago about how to get our 6 year-old lab/dalmatian mix to stop growling at our son. We saw a local trainer, and kept him next to us always on a leash for a long time... long story short, we've pretty much fixed that problem. Whether from mere time or the steps we took, I don't know, but we're thrilled. (We of course still keep a tight watch over the kid and dogs.)

Well, fast-forward to today: my wife gave birth last week, so we've got a new baby in the house. We've got lots of family coming over constantly, and we're facing a new gigantic problem: the dogs freaking out when people come over.

Mostly, it's the lab/dalmatian. Our trainer had us correct him with his collar, but when people come over, he couldn't care less how hard we correct him. He's just got a one track mind: jump on the guests! We've now had people come over almost every day for the last two weeks, and we thought it might improve, but it hasn't significantly.

Any thoughts on what to do? We've worked with several trainers, and no one seems to have any effective ideas. We love having company over, and our dogs love people and calm down after the first few minutes, but the absolute chaos when people first come over is too much to handle.

We try to have the dogs lie down and stay on their dog mats in the living room when people come in, but almost nothing can keep them there. I'm considering getting remote control training collars that can vibrate to warn the dogs and then provide varying levels of shock to correct them when they ignore the warning and up from their crash-stays. I'm not terribly concerned this will hurt the dogs, as their pulling against the collars like crazy right now has to hurt, but it must not hurt enough for them to avoid the behavior! I would hope we wouldn't have to keep them on long. We previously put on automatic bark collars which had worked really well, so I know the minor shock works well for the dogs. But the collars are pricey and I don't want to go through a long time working with if they won't work or if another method would be better. Thoughts? Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: An update and another question about dog obedience

Glad to hear you've had some success, but I have to say I don't understand why the trainer isn't able to handle the dog via the collar. Either they don't have the collar on the neck correctly, or the handler is keeping too much tension on the leash as they're holding the dog.

I don't think the use of shock collars is going to accomplish anything at this time. The dogs should be able to stay when told but you have a lot of excitement and activity going on in your home and IMO it's not a good time to train your dogs. In order for any correction to work well you'd have to ask the help of your visitors, and asking that of someone who would rather be visiting with the new baby doesn't seem right.
Instead of buying shock collars, I would put the money into 2 large crates and crate the dogs whenever anyone comes over. When you notice they're lying quietly within their crate, give them a treat or pat as a reward. They'll soon learn that relaxing brings benefits!
You then get to enjoy your company!

Congrats on the new baby!!


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RE: An update and another question about dog obedience

Thanks for the thoughts. We tried crate training the 6 year old years ago, and he would bang his head against the door so much he would dent it. Very possibly we did not properly train him then--but is it possible to do it correctly now? And I'm worried that this is not a good long-term solution... if we have company over for hours at a time, they will stay in there all day, and if we let them out, I imagine they will go sprinting to the new people. Lately we've been locking the dogs in a back bedroom when people first come over, but the lap yelps and scratches at the door, for 30 minutes or more, and when we finally open it he races to greet the visitors.

Maybe we're not doing the collars right? The trainer said to put the choke collars all the way up on the dog's neck as high as it goes. But still the dog instantly pulls hard and keeps a high tension on the leash--there's no way to tug as a correction. That's the same problem we're having teaching the dog to heel--the dog never lets the leash go loose so we can correct him.


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RE: An update and another question about dog obedience

What makes you think that the shock collars will work when the level of corrections you're giving isn't? Pain is pain.

You're just going to have to keep raising the level of correction until it hurts so much that they couldn't ignore it, even they wish they could. Maybe they'll get used to that level of correction also and then you'll have to turn it up again. Or maybe they won't get used to it but like now, will be so over threshold that they don't particularly care too much about any level of shock. What then?

Maybe you could do the sensible thing and hire a competent trainer who will counter condition them to the presence of guests. Or is that too humane and scientific for you?


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RE: An update and another question about dog obedience

Because of my recent experience with the Gentle Leader Collar...I would HIGHLY recommend it for anyone with a dog that needs more control. My dog gets worse the more she pulls, this is called leash reactive. Regardless of how absurd it sounds in a human brain...your dog somehow associates people coming in with the pain the collar causes in her neck. They do not GET that they are the ones pulling and causing the pain. When I put a choke collar on my dog, she would lung and bark at dogs and people. Now with the Gentle Leader, she is a changed dog! Believe me....I was completely opposed to the concept of putting a collar around my dog's face but everyone kept telling me that it is highly recommended by trainers. I believe the choke correction is very old school training and for many dogs, simply does not work and even makes it worse. Be prepared for your dog to throw a fit when you first put it on and watch the video at their site to see how to size it correctly or it won't work right and will bother them. OH and you need to have lots of yummy treats...you can use teeny tiny bits of treats and it works the same as a biscuit. I cut up wieners into tiny bits.


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RE: An update and another question about dog obedience

ms_minnamouse: Just as I would tell a child: if you can be polite, you can speak to the adults. If not, please keep to yourself.

Arkansas_girl: That doesn't sound absurd, that is exactly what happens--the more we pull the more they are reactive, that was a good way to put it. We actually have gentle leaders for both of ours dogs, and we had some mixed success before with them. The lab would still gradually pull forward, so we tried a different method. But that's not a bad idea here, it would certainly keep the dogs from pulling nearly as hard as they are now. The multiple trainers we've hired have all wanted to use either prong or choke collars, using intermittent tugs to correct, but you can't tug if there is constant tension. Thanks, we'll give the gentile leaders a try.


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RE: An update and another question about dog obedience

YES that was always my question about using a choke chain for instant corrections is: How the heck can you accomplish that when they are pulling with all their might?

Some people still use the prong and swear by it but after seeing how my dog reacted once the choking came off of her neck...I'm a believer that some dogs just cannot have that on their necks. Others people will become enraged at the mere mention of prong collar or choke chain. I believe they can work if used correctly and on some dogs but not all of them. They are individuals and as children/people/etc...what works for one may not work for another child/person.

When my dog was rescued, she had been chained up in someone's back yard...I can only assume that is where her leash re-activeness developed. At first I using an Easy Walk type halter which helped do away with the re-activeness but did nothing for giving me control. I still keep her Easy Walk on her for extra control.

Below I am giving you and anyone else that is interested in a great training video link to look at. This in not your issue but it is related and she uses the GL collar to control the dog. Please watch...it's a great video and she has other training videos too. HTH!!!

Here is a link that might be useful: awesome dog training video!!!!!


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RE: An update and another question about dog obedience

Sigh.
POSITIVE Reinforcement.
Google it.
Learn.
Please.
Hopefully, the attached link will get you started.

Here is a link that might be useful: Positive Training Works. Negative Training Doesn't.


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RE: An update and another question about dog obedience

Akansas_girl, great videos. I actually am thinking hard about buying her product, their "before" videos about bad door behavior looks all to familiar!

Betsyhac, that is certainly the experience we've had. The problem we're having is that, while my lab loves food and the golden loves pets, when people come to the door, their excitement overrides their desire for positive reinforcement, so we turn to punishment, but their excitement overrides their desire to avoid punishment, too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Obedience training product


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RE: An update and another question about dog obedience

Arkansas Girl:
That IS an awesome video. I have a dog like that, and I can't wait to try those methods.


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RE: An update and another question about dog obedience

Well, I understand that. My dogs always get excited when someone comes to the door. But isn't that natural? And you really don't want them not to, do you? I have little dogs, so it's not a huge deal to me, but I have seen training on this where you train the dogs to wait, and approach in a calmer manner. You can practice with a friend coming to the door. Sometimes, and it varies greatly from dog to dog, it just takes a stretch of continuous, repetitive training, and then, BOOM, they get it - as in that video. As much as I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE dogs, I really hate it when someone hasn't trained their dog not to jump on people.


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RE: An update and another question about dog obedience

If you were in my area, I would jokingly suggest you try and rent a Australian Shepard dog by the name of Milo. He seems to be as good a trainer as many humans. If your dog tries to get fancy with him, the dog is put in his or her place with a min of fuss.

The owner said as the second dog to come into the family, Milo changed the first dogs' behavior for the better. Milo and my old dog got along well, but my new dog does a dance to try and start a tussle. Milo puts him in his place within a few seconds.

On a serious note, are there dogs that can work or even move in for a few days, to help train other dogs?


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RE: An update and another question about dog obedience

Correcting unwanted behavior is done much easier by preventing the behavior before it starts. That also allows more opportunity for positive reinforcement techniques.

There are several ways to prevent behavior. Correction before the behavior starts is the goal. The requires close awareness of the dogs body language and actions.

The largest block to preventing unwanted behavior---especially when other methods have failed---is how the handler/owner s emotions are during the training.

The human has to mask any fear/anticipation/etc. behavior. Simply because the dog has become attuned to such cues and associated those cues as signals as how the dog should behave.

You need to start correcting the lab mix when people arrive in the driveway. Your(whomever is handling the dog) needs to adopt the attitude the dog has to obey simply because you say so. That is usually much more difficult to do than to say. I use that technique and have sometimes blown a session simply because I was not paying attention and allowing other things to block my mind. And, it takes time.

What to try. When you know someone is pulling into the yard---as the dog hears the visitor, start the corrections that signal his excitement before the visitor gets to the door. A training session with another person acting as the 'visitor' would be great. Because you can make the corrections and allow some time for the behavior to settle---allowing positive reinforcement to happen. That is a double training effort---blocking unwanted and praising acceptable behavior.


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RE: An update and another question about dog obedience

Correcting unwanted behavior is done much easier by preventing the behavior before it starts. That also allows more opportunity for positive reinforcement techniques.

There are several ways to prevent behavior. Correction before the behavior starts is the goal. The requires close awareness of the dogs body language and actions.

The largest block to preventing unwanted behavior---especially when other methods have failed---is how the handler/owner s emotions are during the training.

The human has to mask any fear/anticipation/etc. behavior. Simply because the dog has become attuned to such cues and associated those cues as signals as how the dog should behave.

You need to start correcting the lab mix when people arrive in the driveway. Your(whomever is handling the dog) needs to adopt the attitude the dog has to obey simply because you say so. That is usually much more difficult to do than to say. I use that technique and have sometimes blown a session simply because I was not paying attention and allowing other things to block my mind. And, it takes time.

What to try. When you know someone is pulling into the yard---as the dog hears the visitor, start the corrections that signal his excitement before the visitor gets to the door. A training session with another person acting as the 'visitor' would be great. Because you can make the corrections and allow some time for the behavior to settle---allowing positive reinforcement to happen. That is a double training effort---blocking unwanted and praising acceptable behavior.


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RE: An update and another question about dog obedience

There's no reason to be polite to animal abusers. You don't deserve. Consider this a "correction".

It's clear the people here know very little about ethology and really shouldn't even have pets when they care little about what they do to them in the quest to get perfect little robots.

Just like most of the other people, you're cruel and selfish and frankly, you're also disgusting. I don't need to waste my time on disgusting individuals like yourself. This forum is best left to the animal abusers like yourself because that's what you enjoy. I just hope it doesn't come back to bite your children.


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RE: An update and another question about dog obedience

Handymac, thanks for the advice. That definitely resonates as the dogs are much better with trainers than with us. We will keep that inmknd and give it a try.


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RE: An update and another question about dog obedience

I would echo advice about seeking out a trainer who uses positive reinforcement. If a potential trainer talks about choke chains or prong collars, find a different trainer. If electric collars are mentioned, RUN in the opposite direction, and find a trainer who can teach you to shape your dog's behavior by using treats and clickers. Polite greetings is a basic skill taught in all reward-based beginner's obedience classes.

In the words of a wise dog author, it is far better to show a dog the right way to do something, than to punish him for doing it the wrong way. And in the words of an old addage, you will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. A good trainer can teach you how to make politely greeting a guest more rewarding to your dogs than jumping on the guest.

Also I would strongly suggest giving your dogs more exercise. They are both active breeds who require LOTS of exercise. No matter how much exercise they are now getting, they can use more! A tired dog is a good dog. Also a tired dog is more capable of learning than a dog with pent up energy.


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RE: An update and another question about dog obedience

Wow ms_minnamouse, you're way out of line ...

CamG, I don't have anything to add, just can't believe her abuse ... good luck!


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RE: An update and another question about dog obedience

Ark girl:

Glad to hear you like the Gentle Leader. I tried one for the neighbors large hound dog. It broke in two weeks.

This week I bought a smaller one for my fifty pound mixed breed dog. He dances, jumps, and circles, and I need to try something. While he still fights it (only the fourth days he's woren it), it may last better than the hound dog's Leader. He violently shook his head back and forth, and the small plastic piece broke. Maybe it should have been made of metal.


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RE: An update and another question about dog obedience

I have a lab, loving people and jumping on them is in bred into them. The first thing I started doing to correct this problem was I would crate her for the first few minutes someone was in the house. Then when she calmed down, and things were quieter, I'd let her out. This helped, but didn't completely solve the problem so I added a no pull harness to the equation and started using commands to make her sit and wait until the visitor approached her, always rewarding her for a good wait.

You have to make your dog want to please you more than visit the people coming in the door. This is done with a lot of love and positive reinforcement. All my lab needs now is a little shake of my finger at her and she knows I'm disappointed in her. I've never hit her or shocked her, sometimes I may have to give a loud "hey" to get her attention but that's as aggressive as I get with her. Something else that is very important is that your dog probably needs more exercise and socializing. Taking it to a dog park or doggie day care a couple of times a week will not only give the dog the outlet it needs to use up some energy but the staff of a doggie day care can help reinforce the training you are already trying to accomplish.


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