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Thread: Dog trainers

  1. #1

    Default Dog trainers

    Hey guys/girls.
    I have a staffy x bullterrior (amity) she's only a year and a half old. She's pretty good with her commands sit, shake, lay down etc. But when she's around people she doesn't know especially kids she becomes very protective Wether she's at home or out and about. I've tried smacking her when she barks and snaps at them but she doesn't seem to get the message. I've told her off in a stern voice but still nothing. Any advice is appreciated.

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  2. #2
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    I've tried smacking her when she barks and snaps at them but she doesn't seem to get the message. I've told her off in a stern voice but still nothing.
    All this is called "positive punishment" or just punishing your dog. In the scientific jargon - it's only actually punishing (reducing the undesired behaviour) if it works. If you're hitting and scolding the dog and the behaviour is not improving so you're just being mean.

    So pretty sure this is what happens in the dog's mind. The dog sees a stranger and warns them to stay back and alerts you. And then you join in the alerting and warning. You think you're scolding the dog but the dog blames all that bad stuff on the strangers.

    Including being hit or "smacked".

    It's not working. You need to try something different.

    I would keep her on lead around the new people, and when she looks at them like she's about to start up - or maybe just when she looks at them - call her attention back to you and give her lots of praise if she can pay attention to you. Ask her to do a sit or a drop and a stay - drops are really good - because it lowers the dog and she can't be all protective and high and mighty and warn off the strangers and lots of praise and pats for this so she knows that's what you want.

    If she can't pay attention to you - you need to make a bigger gap between you and the strangers and try again.

    I used to use food as well as praise and pats for rewarding the behaviour I do want but my dog learned very quickly to be naughty and nasty and then sweet and good and pay attention to me - to get the food.

    And I cannot scold the other people or bad dogs - no matter how much I want to because she always "helps". Pretty sure when you sternly tell your dog off - she thinks you're helping warn off the strangers.

    And if you smack her too - in her head - the stranger just attacked her - ie strangers mean bad things happen so better make them go away fast.

    As for strangers' children - children can be very cruel to dogs and a bull terrier x staffy can do a lot of damage very quickly in self defence. So I would always have my dog on lead and closely supervised if she didn't like children or the children were being a bit crazy - running around - screaming and yelling or doing anything to tease the dog.

    out of curiosity - what made you think smacking the dog was a good idea? It's pretty "old school" by today's standards. People who smack their dogs are way more likely to be bitten than people who just interrupt the bad behaviour and give the dog something else to do and praise that.

    A couple of training games that will help your dog with self control - are
    "collar grab"
    and "its yer choice"
    you can google those.

    PS if you can't get distance from the trigger (strangers and their kids) - what I do is hold my dog's collar, if she starts to get aggressive - I lift her front feet - ever so gently off the ground so she can't bark and lunge. If she calms at all I put her feet back on the ground and ask for attention on me and tell her what a good dog she is and keep that up until the trigger is gone.

    For us the trigger is most large cream coloured curly coat dogs - because she has been so often harassed and attacked by them. And the owners are typically clueless about preventing it or stopping it if it starts.
    Last edited by Hyacinth; 09-11-2015 at 12:11 PM.

  3. #3

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    Thanks hyacinth,

    We were on our way to the dog park yesterday and my cousin was there, she runs a day care facility and was at the park with the kids. I went over with amity on the leash and immediately starting barking and snapping. Mind you she's never even met these kids before, so I slightly yanked on her chain and called her name and made her sit, my cousins fiance came over to pat her so he put his hand out to let her sniff him but instead of sniffing she nipped him. So then I smacked her on the snout. It's not like I bear her it's just a little tap and in my mind I was smacked as a child and I learnt pretty quickly haha. I'll google those two methods you suggested and have a look.
    I don't want an overprotective guard dog I just want a companion and be able to talk her to social situations like the beach and stuff like that.

    When it comes to meeting someone new how do i go about introducing them without them getting bitten?

  4. #4
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    I think you are going to have to go back a few steps. You need to try and get her comfortable before you allow someone to thrust their hand into her personal space. You will probably notice as your dog approaches these situations she is not relaxed and is showing signs of arousal such as the barking. You need to stop right there, before she gets to that point. You need to reward her at the distance she is not dosplaying stress symptoms. So make it a pleasant experience with lota of small treats. Encourage to look at the kids from a distance and reward her for being calm and encourage her to look back at you for another treat. Gradually close the distance over time and this could take weeks. Avoid putting her in a situation that puts her over her comfort threshold.

    You should not allow people to hold their hands out to her. Rather allow her to sniff them, maybe get them to hold a treat that she then decides to take. At the moment If they make sudden movements or hold their hand out it is almost guarantueed to make her react. Trouble with smacking she may learn not to warn of her intentions which then makes a dog more dangerous.

    I was alo smacked occasionally as a child, but for doing things that I knew were naughty, never for being afraid of something. She is anxious and afraid of being forced into a situations she currently cant handle. Smacking is unlikely to get you anywhere in that situation and will possibly make things worse.
    Last edited by Kalacreek; 09-11-2015 at 02:21 PM.

  5. #5
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    immediately starting barking and snapping
    At this point I'd stop approaching - well ideally when she goes a bit stiff and fixated - before she starts barking and lunging and work on getting her back to a calmer state - praise that and then try approaching again - repeat as necessary.

    There's no way I'd let her continue to approach that excited and upset. If I wanted to say hi to my cousin - I'd put my dog back in the car or in her crate or tie her up or leave her out of reach of the kids.

    slightly yanked on her chain and called her name and made her sit
    I'd leave out the "yanked on chain", I'd just call and ask for a sit (no point forcing it)... My dog would hide when it was walk time because of the chain and being yanked around - that's why I had to learn a whole "new" way. It's not very new - the science has been in place since 1930 something maybe longer if you count what Pavlov studied.

    my cousins fiancé came over to pat her so he put his hand out to let her sniff him but instead of sniffing she nipped him.
    Not very surprising sadly. Lots of dogs view a human hand out "for a sniff" as threatening especially if they get smacked a lot. And look what happened, she got smacked (Argh). What body language was she displaying as the fiancé approached? If she licks her lips and looks away or goes behind you away from him - she's not comfortable with the approach and if it continues and you don't protect her from this scary human, she's got the usual choices "fight, or freeze". The third choice "flight" is not an option in a choke chain on a tight lead in the mind of a dog. And Bully breeds aren't well known for the "Freeze" option.

    At least the nip was gentle.

    But you punished that. What you get by punishing that - is suppression. Have you also smacked her for growling? What this might do is teach the dog to suppress the warning growl. So you suppressed the growl but probably increased the discomfort and anxiety about approaching strangers (cos that means getting smacked). And now you might get suppression of the warning nip too. You really don't want that.

    Because the next way the dog might deal with its discomfort is to tear the threatening "greeting" hand to shreds. I know quite a few dogs at my old dog club that have this problem. No warning (apart from the look away and lip lick the owner never noticed), straight to a very nasty bite. And this was an instructor's dog. And when he got a new dog he was teaching it the same thing. ARGH.

    So how to greet a new person safely. Take it slow - there's a fair bit of bad stuff to unlearn now.

    Your dog needs to see new people as good things. It helps if you see them as good things. Even if you're worried about your dog's potential reaction - you have to fake a happy praise voice for your dog and the approaching stranger. Praise the stranger too.

    I have a "cue" for approaching good things - it sort of developed by accident - "who dat dere?" - means there is someone she knows (or you know and like) bearing good things like pats and super yummy food. And if I say that it can completely change my dog's mood from anxious and worried to really happy like dinner is being served with a full body massage.

    So you start pairing a cue word or phrase with people you know she recognises and likes. And practice that. As often as possible or convenient. So then you can use that phrase with people you want her to greet nicely.

    The opposite of the "who dat dere?" phrase is "Go Away" said in a really stern growly voice - guaranteed your dog will help. For us it works most excellently on door to door sales guys combined with shouted "I can't hold her much longer".

    You might not get her to greet a stranger nicely for a few weeks. Don't push your luck if she's not keen. You don't want her "practicing bad behaviour" eg nipping - so don't put her in situations where she feels that is her only choice.

    I feel friendly people do seem to understand "Bad Idea" with one hand held up like a stop signal at them. I don't say it growly stern tho. I say it more mockingly eg "Stupid Idea" tone (I don't say "stupid" tho) which stops triggering my dog into "helping" them keep their distance. people don't want to approach and be thought stupid.

    And then when they are at a distance your dog is comfortable - you can explain in a happy tone - what you need them to do. Eg
    they stand still, you approach to the limit of the lead ish - as long as your dog stays on a loose lead. the second the lead goes at all tight - call your dog all happy like "this way" and turn away from your victim... The victim must stay still. best if they don't stare at the dog directly either. They can and should watch but with their face and shoulders turned away a bit.

    Approach in a curve from the side. Stop any time your dog starts to lip lick or look uncomfortable or stiff or hackles up. If the dog is stiff and hackled - you've gone too fast and back off and try again.

    If your victim is really brave - they can sit on the ground sideways angle to the dog and eat roast chicken... And if the dog gets close but out of reach - chuck some chicken and give the dog permission to eat it. let dog sniff any bit of the victim the dog chooses and back off (loose lead).

    This is where it can get a bit exciting. Dog will usually approach - sneak in from behind (not an ideal dog to dog greeting and can freak a worried human out too) for quick sniff and back off. And it's really important that the dog feels in control - eg the lead is not tight. So if the dog is still uncomfortable - don't allow approach close enough to sniff. The dog can sniff safely from a bigger distance.

    A dog on a lead - if the lead is tight going forwards - they think they can't retreat either - so remember that when approaching - if the lead is tight - the dog is thinking "fight and bite" is their only option if they get spooked.

    I take zero responsibility for anyone being bitten or nipped tho. I cannot tell how well you can read your dog - at the moment I'd guess at not very well. So best not to greet until you're more confident about this.

    Steve Courtney from k9pro in Sydney (ish) used to come in here and post but not so much any more but you can still email him for advice via his website.
    Dog Behaviour Training Services with Steve Courtney - Dog Behaviour Specialist Sydney Hills District

    And if you say what state you're in - we can probably point you at some trainers who can help tho some of them disagree with my opinion (experience) with choke collars. The thing about slip chains and etc - is some of the best trainers are really good at using them. And I am crap. And I think the problems you can cause with them are worse than with food and rewards.

    but you can also (accidentally) use food and rewards to train your dog to be aggressive - I did this too - but I learned how not to: I learned no food rewards when training my dog to be nice to the lawn mower man or poodle cross dogs. Cos she "back chains" behaviours really fast.

    I had zero success training my lawn mower man to keep still until she's done greeting. And certainly can't get the poodle crosses to keep still either. So we don't approach or greet those if we don't have to.

  6. #6
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    You need the dog formally assessed by a professional NOT internet advice. Guarding behavior in these breeds is not 'expected' so what you see as guarding could be confusion etc. Smacking will get you bitten if the dog becomes over excited and redirects because in those situation it does NOT understand fully what it is doing and usually full of adrenalin.

    What area are you in, you need someone good to help you who has experience with bull breeds and their inherent behaviors.
    http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c11/Mali_nut/K9LOGO.jpg

  7. #7

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    I spoke to a dog trainer I'm going for an assessment on Wednesday. I'm in yatala, qld

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  9. #9
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    Thank you Nekhbet. Excellent advice as usual.

    Sampavicic - glad to see you're getting some professional help. And please do come back and update us.

    Pay very special attention to everything they say about reading your dog's body language and comfort levels.

    This article by Steve at K9Pro (the man who used to help out in this part of the forum) gives you the information to help choose a dog trainer and the information to decide when to cut your losses and run - before you or your dog are damaged by an incompetent or inappropriate trainer.

    Not all trainers know what they're doing or have studied the best science. Some trainers work better with some owners than others even when they do know what they're doing - you have to pick the one that makes sense to you and gives you advice you're willing to follow.

    How to Choose a Dog Trainer | K9pro Training

  10. #10
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    pro time is my opinion also. Good luck.

    But can i just add. It is possible to live with these dogs in harmony, with no training whatsoever, just management of risk. And that should be your priority, gaining safe control, with equipment. Then start training in your front room. And dont let this dog greet any other human or dog, till you know what to do that will protect all's safety, and be training good stuff in, not bad stuff e.g. hitting a dog that is aroused: OMG

    Ive had dogs that are very unsociable, and gaurding non stop. Easy to live with and handle, with you getting the right training. Whilst they will never be a dog you can take to the dog beach lol, they will eventually stop being a plonka to others, and just ignore em. Which is fantastic compared to where you are at now.
    Good luck

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