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Thread: Help Please - How can I help my new dog to not react to my horse

  1. #1
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    Default Help Please - How can I help my new dog to not react to my horse

    Hi Everyone and sorry for the long story but ...

    I have a new dog, we got him from a rescue in Victoria. He is 2 years old, staffy x, and delightful. He originally came down from Canberra, so we assume he was a 'city' dog.

    When he first arrived at our property he was very reactive with everything, the roos, chickens, sheep and my horse. He just seems really excited about anything that moves, but in a 'nice' way - waggy tail, goofy face and definitely no hackles or anything, just barking and lunging on the lead.

    My husband and I have been working very hard with 'look at that' and treating him when these distractions are around and he is getting much better - we can walk past the chicken pen most days with just a look but no tugging and he will sit quietly and check out the roos and the sheep but not bark his head off and lunge.

    My problem is my horse. I'm not sure if Chad (the dog) thinks Baz (the horse) is the biggest dog he has ever seen and just gets over stimulated or what. I have previously tried to let Chad sniff the horse and have succeeded on one occasion only. I take Chad to the paddock every afternoon when I feed the horse and tie him at a 'safe' distance. He started out barking his head off and lunging as soon as I go in the paddock. I thought maybe he was worried about me and my safety so I would go back and get him to calm down and treat him for being quiet, but the minute I stepped back into the paddock it would start again. But once I'm in the paddock he will calm down and stop barking and just stand and watch after a short period, so when I come out I tell him 'good boy' and give him a treat for standing calmly.

    Recently I have been giving him a pigs ear to chew on when he is quiet and this has seemed to work the first time I go in the paddock, then I will come out and we sit quietly and watch the horse have his dinner. Then I go back into the paddock and he will start with the barking again - even with a pigs ear!

    I am really sorry that this post seems convoluted, but I was just hoping someone may be able to give me some suggestions to help the dog just relax around the horse, I don't want to have to tie him up forever. BTW, we have only had Chad for 6 weeks and considering where he came from, we are very happy with his progress and I am sure eventually he will get use to the horse, but if I can do something to speed things up and help him I would be appreciative.

    Cheers
    Leec

  2. #2

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    'leec' - I would continue on with what you are doing. As you said – you have only had your pup for 6 weeks or so – so it really is only early days. You are having success with the chickens, sheep and kangaroos – all in 6 weeks – well done !

    One of my neighbours has a horse and he comes home every couple of weekends. What I did with my pups was to feed the horse carrot/apple/bread at the fence line and also gave the same to my pups. It didn't take my 2 long to work out that having the horse close and everyone behaving - meant good times for them.

    Maybe you could try that ?

    Anyway some links for you:

    Leave it part 1 - YouTube

    kikopup - YouTube

    Knowledge Base | Steve Courtney Dog Training


    Specifically look at – behavioural interrupter, leave it and stop barking.
    Good Luck and Heaps of Kudos for bringing home a rescue ! smiley-eatdrink004.gif
    Last edited by RileyJ; 02-25-2014 at 03:43 PM.

  3. #3
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    He originally came down from Canberra, so we assume he was a 'city' dog.
    Canberra is very rural for a city. There are broad wide grassy areas between every suburb - great for walking - most have bike paths. Canberra has the highest per capita ownership of horses - with horse and riders using the maccas drive throughs in some areas. It's about 10 minutes to farm country in any direction and about 2 minutes walking to an open space.

    And Canberra traffic accidents - about one in three - involve a kangaroo.

    But it is possible that your Staffy was a back yard garden ornament and only got out because of something really scary like fireworks.

    So with the Look at That - really really important to only reward when the dog is calm. Otherwise you reward the excitement and it gets worse (Frosty and the Lawnmower man - we had to quit using food rewards she was that bad).

    He started out barking his head off and lunging as soon as I go in the paddock. I thought maybe he was worried about me and my safety so I would go back and get him to calm down and treat him for being quiet
    Close - o so close.

    Mistake perhaps - was going back to him while he was barking. That was all the reward it took for him.

    A horse is a much bigger distraction for your dog than maybe a chicken. But it doesn't really matter what the distraction is or how big it is. The thing to remember is "is that a behaviour I want to reward?".

    Reward includes attention, yelling, praise, food, games, getting off lead, getting dinner - lots of variations on the theme.

    If a behaviour is getting worse - you have to be thinking - what could I be doing that might be rewarding/encouraging that? Or even - is it self rewarding (barking and lunging can be self rewarding).

    So I had this problem for a while with Frosty and her crate at agility training. She wanted out the crate so she would yell her head off. Really horrid. So I'd go back to the crate and close the cover on it so she couldn't see out. And walk away - no speaking to her or nothing.

    If she was quiet (start with a really short time - a few seconds) - I'd go back and lift a bit of the cover so she could see out a bit. And if she could be quiet for a while - few minutes - I or someone else - would chuck some food in the crate. If she ate the food we knew she was fine. If she's really freaked out about something - she won't take a treat no matter what it is. Not even an oily sardine.

    So then the game became like that kids game "what's the time mr wolf" - so if you could get all the way to the wolf without it barking - then you could reward the wolf but if there was any barking - you'd have to turn around and walk away. This works best where she can see and hear you - so you treat the barking (or any other unwanted behaviour - besides something self rewarding like digging), like owner repellent. Eventually the dog works out the only chance she has of getting out of the crate or even some attention - is to be very quiet.

    So we're good now. Every now and again I get a bark - just to make sure I haven't forgotten her - and I might tell her "I see you" or "innaminit" or something so she knows I haven't forgotten her but I'm not going back to the crate exactly when she does that.

    Hope that helps. I use the car as a crate a fair bit of the time but I've been very lucky. It's never occurred to her to eat the upholstery.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by RileyJ View Post
    'leec' - I would continue on with what you are doing. As you said – you have only had your pup for 6 weeks or so – so it really is only early days. You are having success with the chickens, sheep and kangaroos – all in 6 weeks – well done !

    One of my neighbours has a horse and he comes home every couple of weekends. What I did with my pups was to feed the horse carrot/apple/bread at the fence line and also gave the same to my pups. It didn't take my 2 long to work out that having the horse close and everyone behaving - meant good times for them.

    Maybe you could try that ?

    Anyway some links for you:

    Leave it part 1 - YouTube

    kikopup - YouTube

    Knowledge Base | Steve Courtney Dog Training


    Specifically look at – behavioural interrupter, leave it and stop barking.
    Good Luck and Heaps of Kudos for bringing home a rescue ! smiley-eatdrink004.gif
    Thank you. I will check out the links later. I am very pleased with him, he is adorable. Time, patience, consistency me thinks.

  5. #5
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    Feb 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyacinth View Post
    Canberra is very rural for a city. There are broad wide grassy areas between every suburb - great for walking - most have bike paths. Canberra has the highest per capita ownership of horses - with horse and riders using the maccas drive throughs in some areas. It's about 10 minutes to farm country in any direction and about 2 minutes walking to an open space.

    And Canberra traffic accidents - about one in three - involve a kangaroo.

    But it is possible that your Staffy was a back yard garden ornament and only got out because of something really scary like fireworks.

    So with the Look at That - really really important to only reward when the dog is calm. Otherwise you reward the excitement and it gets worse (Frosty and the Lawnmower man - we had to quit using food rewards she was that bad).



    Close - o so close.

    Mistake perhaps - was going back to him while he was barking. That was all the reward it took for him.

    A horse is a much bigger distraction for your dog than maybe a chicken. But it doesn't really matter what the distraction is or how big it is. The thing to remember is "is that a behaviour I want to reward?".

    Reward includes attention, yelling, praise, food, games, getting off lead, getting dinner - lots of variations on the theme.

    If a behaviour is getting worse - you have to be thinking - what could I be doing that might be rewarding/encouraging that? Or even - is it self rewarding (barking and lunging can be self rewarding).

    So I had this problem for a while with Frosty and her crate at agility training. She wanted out the crate so she would yell her head off. Really horrid. So I'd go back to the crate and close the cover on it so she couldn't see out. And walk away - no speaking to her or nothing.

    If she was quiet (start with a really short time - a few seconds) - I'd go back and lift a bit of the cover so she could see out a bit. And if she could be quiet for a while - few minutes - I or someone else - would chuck some food in the crate. If she ate the food we knew she was fine. If she's really freaked out about something - she won't take a treat no matter what it is. Not even an oily sardine.

    So then the game became like that kids game "what's the time mr wolf" - so if you could get all the way to the wolf without it barking - then you could reward the wolf but if there was any barking - you'd have to turn around and walk away. This works best where she can see and hear you - so you treat the barking (or any other unwanted behaviour - besides something self rewarding like digging), like owner repellent. Eventually the dog works out the only chance she has of getting out of the crate or even some attention - is to be very quiet.

    So we're good now. Every now and again I get a bark - just to make sure I haven't forgotten her - and I might tell her "I see you" or "innaminit" or something so she knows I haven't forgotten her but I'm not going back to the crate exactly when she does that.

    Hope that helps. I use the car as a crate a fair bit of the time but I've been very lucky. It's never occurred to her to eat the upholstery.
    Thanks Hyacinth. I know Canberra very well, we are originally from there Our place in Central Victoria is oh so different. I remember when we first moved here our 2 staffies were frightened of the dark - no street lights, no moon - very dark. My girl would hug my leg when we went to put the bins out, go figure

    I don't go back to him anymore until he is quiet, I will just stand in the paddock with my back to him, basically ignoring him, until he quiets down and is just looking at me. But, he will still go off sometimes. I will make a conscious effort not to interact with him in any way until he is calm and responsive from now on - thanks for the hint that yelling may be interpreted as a reward, bad me. I would imagine that sometimes I give in, I hate it that the neighbours might think he is a loony, although I have spoken to them and they know he just needs a bit of training.

    When my hubby comes down with us it is much easier of course, as he can deal with Chad, reward him for being quiet etc. But mostly it is just me and Chad and when I am in the paddock it takes me more than a couple of seconds to get out of the paddock back to him to praise him for being quiet. Maybe, I just have to make him the number one priority at the moment and even if he is quiet for 10 seconds, get out of the paddock and go back and praise him. Problem with this being that the horse then gets impatient waiting for his dinner and starts pawing at the fence which then sets Chad off. Bit of a vicious circle, but hey, my horse could use some training in patience as well

    Thanks for all the thoughts guys, I will keep trying with your suggestions thrown in, but the most important thing I have learnt is that yelling can be misconstrued as reward - I won't be doing that anymore.

  6. #6
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    If you can go out a few times - a bit early and just practice with him... ie go back when he is quiet and reward a bit more often...

    Another thing that might help him feel better about being ignored while you tend to the horse would be to give him a chew treat while he's over there. Eg a black kong stuffed with frozen dog food keeps my dog busy and happy for quite a while. Then she doesn't mind so much if she's left on her own in the crate or at home. She even looks forward to me going out because sometimes she gets a yummy chew treat. I'm a bit random about it but she isn't quite so clingy.

    And if he starts to get better - you can reward him by having him a bit closer.

    I'm not sure about my dog and horses. We've had a couple of bad experiences - swinging on the tail - that was fun but freaked me out. And then the same horse came into the back yard and wanted to say hello / sniff the dog and the dog freaked out and the more Frosty barked - the closer the horse came and I was cornered with her in the yard - had to get other people to take the horse away. That horse thought it was a human. The owners had to keep their house doors locked to prevent it letting itself in.

    Mostly she barks at them if they're close and not so much if they're further away. I don't get much chance to practice - no horses around here so mostly I just keep her on lead around them.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyacinth View Post
    If you can go out a few times - a bit early and just practice with him... ie go back when he is quiet and reward a bit more often...

    Another thing that might help him feel better about being ignored while you tend to the horse would be to give him a chew treat while he's over there. Eg a black kong stuffed with frozen dog food keeps my dog busy and happy for quite a while. Then she doesn't mind so much if she's left on her own in the crate or at home. She even looks forward to me going out because sometimes she gets a yummy chew treat. I'm a bit random about it but she isn't quite so clingy.

    And if he starts to get better - you can reward him by having him a bit closer.

    I'm not sure about my dog and horses. We've had a couple of bad experiences - swinging on the tail - that was fun but freaked me out. And then the same horse came into the back yard and wanted to say hello / sniff the dog and the dog freaked out and the more Frosty barked - the closer the horse came and I was cornered with her in the yard - had to get other people to take the horse away. That horse thought it was a human. The owners had to keep their house doors locked to prevent it letting itself in.

    Mostly she barks at them if they're close and not so much if they're further away. I don't get much chance to practice - no horses around here so mostly I just keep her on lead around them.
    Thanks Hyacinth. I am able to do extra 'trials' on weekends, when we go out for no other reason than a little walk and hang at the paddock. At these times I have heaps more time to focus on him and he does seem a little better.

    I have been giving him a bit of dehydrated roo tail when going to the paddock the last couple of days and he is great the first time I go into the paddock, but the second time I have to go in he gets all excited and barking ??? Really strange, that's why I was starting to think it may be attention seeking. I might just have to change my feed practice with the horse for a while and put all his food out at once and then Chad and I can sit and watch and leave on a good note. Do you think this might help?

    I am not really at all concerned if he never really 'likes' the horse, I'm not deluded in thinking they will be friends, I just want Chad to feel comfortable in his presence.

    Thanks again

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