Dog Tips, Care & Training
by shibashake 370 Comments
May 3, 2013 at 11:47 am
How to I tactfully tell my neighbor that their dogs barking is annoying, bothersome, and rude. Is it too much to request they not let the dog out til 7 am ??? All she does is bark!
April 28, 2013 at 10:02 pm
Hi There, I really need your help and thank you for your article. I have a 7 month old labrador and our issue is that he constantly eats every bit of bark, stick or mulch in the park. I have tried clicker training with “leave it” and “drop it” and int he park it does not work. I tried to keep him on leash but that didnt burn the energy a 7 month lab has. I recently started using a shock collar on him, I started with the beep and vibration and the first two days there was an improvement. He doesn’t seem to react to the collar I think as his head is bent munching he is not feeling it.
My main questions to you is what can I do to stop him eating all the sticks/mulch/bark in the park. Its not an issue when walking but a major issue off leash. I understand all dogs chew but the quantities are excessive and it cant be good to throw up all the time and have a sore tummy. Many thanks, D
April 29, 2013 at 1:02 pm
Training a strong recall may help- http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-articles/teaching-your-dog-to-come-when-called
When I do recall training, I start in a very low stimulus area, e.g. my backyard.
With Sephy, I also did controlled “leave-it” exercises with outside objects that he likes, e.g. pine cones. Once he is doing well in a low-stimulus environment, I very slowly raise the environmental challenge, number of tempting objects, and distractions. What works best with Sephy is to start small, take one step at a time, do training in a structured environment, and set him up for success.
Consistency is also very important. If there is something that I do not want Sephy to eat, I consistently supervise him and stop him from getting any. If he is allowed to eat it sometimes and sometimes not, he will be encouraged to try harder, because the next time he may get lucky and be allowed to eat it. If I give the “Leave-It” command, I make sure he does not get whatever it is that he is trying to get. Otherwise, the command will lose all meaning.
April 29, 2013 at 6:04 pm
Thanks Shiba for your response. I will keep working on the leave it command but I am hoping he also grows out of this habit in time as I really cannot isolate him from all the garden/park things he eats to 100% control the meaning all the time. I am starting small but I have a lot of Labrador energy to burn and when he is at the park he is fixated on sniffing out things – not sure if its a puppy thing or if he is destined to be a working dog sniffing out things. Thanks for your help and ill let you know how we go in time.
May 6, 2013 at 3:27 am
I would also look at your dog’s diet, even excellent diets don’t suit every dog and a lot of dogs eat harsh things like sticks and bark to deliberately make themselves sick to sort out an upset tummy. It may be a displacement behavour but I know that sometimes we can look at training to stop dogs doing something but in fact their are health reasons for the behaviour. This may be completely off for this but it’s something I’ve found happens.
gaby ward says
April 18, 2013 at 11:44 am
have one american bulldog  and one ambulldog/labmix about every 3months bulldog gets a”little” excited and starts tearing into other dog…bad,messy gettin them apart very scary,then they feel baaad,scared and hiding….,think scockcollar is the answer on the am bulldog…off leash great…love people,just that…..scary for me …and love them both….
April 18, 2013 at 12:46 pm
Using a shock collar while in the middle of a dog fight will very likely worsen the situation.
Adding pain in the form of hitting or shocking the dogs will often escalate the fight and make it worse, so don’t hit them with anything or expect a shock collar to work. ~~[The Dog Training Secret]
Do NOT use a pinch collar or any other pain-to-neck device (including especially a bark-corrector or remote shock collar) on any dog with an aggression problem. Pain tends to increase aggression. For dog-aggressive dogs, any pain in the neck can trigger the same fight response as would be triggered by being bitten in the neck by the other dog. So use of neck pain to a dog who is dog aggressive is likely to cause the dog to start a fight as a pre-emptive strike under less and less provocation from the other dog. ~~[Big Dogs, Huge Paws]
Even aversive trainers who use shock collars in training, advise *against* using them in a dog fight.
People talk about using cattle prods or shock collars to break up 2 pets that fight. I can tell you that many times this is not going to work. The electric cattle prod or electric collar will only put the dogs into higher fight drive. When they are shocked they will turn and bite the prod, or when they are shocked they will think the other dog is causing the pain and they will fight harder. ~~[Ed Frawley]
Once a dog fight has started, the dogs are in instinct mode, and are no longer capable of learning. The best we can do at that point, is to minimize the damage inflicted to both dogs and people. As is stated in *all* the articles above, breaking up a dog fight requires experience and skill, is risky, and can result in bites on us (redirected aggression).
Therefore, the key with dog fights is prevention.
What has worked best for my dogs is to manage their level of excitement, set up a consistent set of interaction rules (so they know exactly what to expect from each other), and use desensitization techniques to raise their instinct threshold.
For serious aggression issues and dog fighting issues, I would get help from a professional trainer. http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/
April 17, 2013 at 9:37 am
I have always been very strongly against the use of shock collars, but am starting to wonder if it’s the only way I can keep my dog safe. She’s a beagle who has developed strong hunting instincts and has now disappeared in pursuit of deer 4 or 5 times. The most recent incident, she was gone for 2 hours. I don’t have any safe and enclosed parks nearby, just acres of forest. I don’t want to confine her to walks on the lead for the rest of her life, but I also don’t want her to be hit by a car or train while chasing something.
Is there really any likelihood that I can train her not to chase deer with any traditional methods? I just want to keep her safe, but still let her enjoy life and a good romp in the woods.
April 17, 2013 at 12:47 pm
Yeah Beagles are bred to follow their nose. When they catch a scent, instinct will take over and it will be difficult to override their DNA and stop them from following the scent trail – whatever training methods we use, including shock collars and invisible fences.
Here is an excerpt from the National Beagle Club of America,
Beagles are scent hounds, bred for many, many generations to follow a scent. It is their instinct. Ideally, they require a fully fenced yard with at least a 5 foot fence and chicken wire or cement buried at the fence line. Invisible fencing alone is not suitable for beagles, in most cases. They must also be walked “on leash” at all times. Young beagles are quite active and will be happiest in a home that can provide a safe and secure yard in which to play. ~~[National Beagle Club of America]
As for recall training, this article from the ASPCA gives a good list of methods. It is important to note, though, that recall training will never be 100% reliable, especially with breeds that have high prey drive or scent hounds that have been bred to follow their noses.
Given that shock collars are risky, increase stress, and are not fully reliable, it is *not* something that I would use on my own dogs; except perhaps in the very limited case of snake aversion training. Even there, though, shock collars can result in more behavioral issues down the road. Therefore, given current data, it is not something that I would recommend to others.
Are off-leash dogs happier than on-leash dogs?
April 14, 2013 at 10:46 am
Thanks for writing an excellent article. I despretly want to be able to run around the woods with my belg sheepdog and I am considering getting a shock collar. I voted “more important to have off leash than stress” but I am aware that if I didnt work and go to school, I wouldn’t need this shortcut. Maybe ill go to the dogpark today and get the e collar next weekend.
April 11, 2013 at 9:32 pm
I have two labradoodles ages 2 and 6. We have lived on an acre of land with a big backyard and an invisible fence that kept them safe and in the yard and they learned quickly and didn’t mind it and were happy. The dogs bark constently and loudly every morning when neighbors are still asleep and in the middle of the day aswell. We are haveing to sell our house and downsize and our soon to be new back yard for the dogs is much much smaller and the houses are close together and we are afraid the barking will cause problems with the neighbors and result in them poisining our dogs. We are thinking of barking shock collars, but I love my dogs very much and dont Want them to stress or be in pain but they MUST stop barking! Our dogs are very spoiled and are terrible with training (they think they’er the boss) what do I do to stop the barking and help make the move easier for them to adjust to the new house and backyard?
April 12, 2013 at 2:23 pm
I love my dogs very much and dont Want them to stress or be in pain
I think that that is a very good goal.
In terms of barking, dogs may vocalize for a variety of reasons. To fix the behavior, I first identify what is causing it. For example, one common reason for dog barking is anxiety. Some dogs may get anxious when they are separated from their people, and this may cause continuous barking and whining. This is also known as separation anxiety.
Anxious behaviors are not the result of disobedience or spite. They are distress responses! Your dog displays anxious behaviors when left alone because he’s upset and trying to cope with a great deal of stress. If you punish him, he may become even more upset and the problem could get much worse.~~[ASPCA – Separation Anxiety]
Anxious behaviors are not the result of disobedience or spite. They are distress responses! Your dog displays anxious behaviors when left alone because he’s upset and trying to cope with a great deal of stress. If you punish him, he may become even more upset and the problem could get much worse.
~~[ASPCA – Separation Anxiety]
Some dogs may also become anxious or fearful because of negative associations made with the environment. For example, the studies described above show that dogs may associate the pain received from a shock collar to the environment, rather than to a particular behavior. This may in turn cause the dog to become anxious while in the shock environment (e.g. backyard), and result in vocalizations or other stress coping behaviors.
Some things that help my dogs with anxiety and barking – 1. Daily exercise and structured positive activities. Exercise helps to relieve stress, and gives my dog a positive outlet for his energy. It also helps with bonding and fulfills his need to explore, smell, and see new things.
2. A consistent routine and a consistent set of rules. In this way, my dog knows what to expect from me and his environment. He also knows what I expect from him. This reduces uncertainty, which will reduce stress. When we moved to a new place, I set up some routine and rules right away. In this way, I can re-establish some consistency amid all the large changes. I also increased my dog’s daily exercise.
3. I put the barking behavior under command control. In particular, I teach my dog “Speak” and “Quiet”.
D. Richards says
April 6, 2013 at 6:28 am
I need to buy a shock collar for our Aussie. She wants to attack the 2 baby calves we just bought. Also, about 800 feet away from our house is my parents house. She goes up there and scares them. They wont even go outside cause she wants to attack them. There has never been any incidents between them, and when we are there she is so sweet to them. I can not spend 100.00 on a collar.. please advise what is best?? Oh, She has been fixed, she gets chained at night (And is loose only when I am outside) . And she is not allow to wander and I live in the country. There is so many brands, so expensive. Please advise ASAP. D Richards
April 7, 2013 at 8:53 am
Some things that help with my dog – 1. I do people desensitization exercises with him to teach him how to interact with people and to help him associate people with positive events.
2. In my previous house, I did not have a secure yard, so my dog stayed inside the house with me. For exercise and socialization, I would take him out on several supervised walks every day. This creates a consistent structure and routine for him, which helped significantly with his behavior.
3. I try to redirect my dog’s energy into positive structured activities, including training exercises, working for his food, structured games, etc. Herding training may work well for an Aussie. It will engage her in a positive ‘job’ with her people, and put her herding drive under command control.
In terms of chaining, my understanding is that it can cause frustration in dogs, and lead to behavioral issues including increased aggression. A bit more on chaining.
Sharon McQuirk says
April 5, 2013 at 12:13 pm
I’m considering the electric fence to keep my dog from chasing deer. We live in a wooded area that is pretty remote and there are allot of deer. He goes completely nuts and will chase them for hours 6-8! He has come home with every kind of injury you could imagine. We now have a second dog that will run with him, so we have to keep him on a chain and I think the electric fence would give him more freedom. What do you think?
April 7, 2013 at 8:32 am
Yeah, my Sibes also have high prey drive and like chasing deer. In my old house I did not have a secure yard, so what worked well is to have my dog inside the house with me, and then I would take them out on daily supervised walks.
Chaining can cause frustration in dogs, and lead to behavioral issues. More on chaining.
The electric fence also has some issues – 1. Dogs still escape from electric fences, and once they leave, they will not want to return. If they return, they will get shocked again, so they learn to stay away from their own home. 2. Dogs often associate pain from the fence with their environment or with the people, dogs, and other animals in their environment. This may cause a dog to become fearful of their own home. Polsky’s study and other studies also show that the electric fence can lead to increased aggression towards people and other animals. 3. Schalke’s study shows that electronic collars increase stress in dogs and leads to a lower quality of life. 4. The electric fence does not keep other animals from coming into our dog’s space.
What works best for my dogs is to only leave them unsupervised in a fully fenced area. To save on cost, we can also fence up a smaller area or a dog run. For exercise, we go on daily supervised walks.
March 25, 2013 at 9:51 pm
We have a 7 yr old Jack Russell who’s been a very non-typical JRT for most of his life. In the last year or so he has become obsessive about barking when he hears noises – even neighborhood kids outside will send him into a frenzy. He rushes the door when someone knocks or rings the doorbell and barks non-stop until it’s opened.
We don’t want to completely discourage him from barking at an intruder, for example… but this constant and obsessive barking at noises is becoming unbearable.
He’s already very sensitive to being reprimanded – a lot of the time it just takes a look to make him appear ashamed. However, we are running out of ideas when it comes to the barking issue. We don’t think that an audible collar would work as he also obsesses over squeaking and other noises. We’ve started looking for other options, and are thinking that we may have to go to a shock collar. The main concern is that we don’t want to stress him any more than he already is.
Would love to hear your suggestions.
March 27, 2013 at 8:29 am
Hmmm, what is his daily routine like? When he is out on walks, does he show similar behavior with people and other dogs? Or is this something that only happens when he is in the house? Did something change a year ago when his behavior changed? Have you noticed any physical issues – e.g. with his sight?
When my dog shows reactive behavior, I start by identifying the cause of the behavior. For example, is it from a physical issue? Is it because of stress? Is it because of frustration? Is he guarding?
Understanding the root of the behavior is important because using a shock collar on a stressed out dog will likely increase his stress, and worsen his stress symptoms and behaviors.
When my Husky got stressed with certain loud noises, I did noise desensitization exercises with her. This helped her to build her confidence, and also enabled her to better cope with the stress. Here is more on dog anxiety and stress.
More on dog barking.
matt j r says
May 17, 2013 at 1:21 pm
I’m Just everyday guy, hope this helps. Just to put things into perspective, people say, jokingly, don’t look them in the eyes, that’s when they got you. If the dog’s, looking at you, such as in pitiful begging eyes, so that you won’t tell it No or enforce that. My personal opinion, the dog found out it works, and every animal will get it’s way if it can. Dogs do not recognize being considerate, in my experience. If you want the dog to still bark at intruders, what good is a shock collar. Consistency, tell him Quiet, but not as though you are competing with him for loudness. Of coarse you have to teach him Quiet first, it helps to give the dog a recognized command that will remove him from the situation. The alternate command, Leave It or Go Away perhaps will give him an idea that you don’t need his help in that regard. If he does not respond, block him, or hold him by the collar, assuming you can stoop that low, he may be too focused on barking to notice your command. If this does not work, remove him from the situation for a while. You may have to reintroduce him to the stimuli and remove him many times before he understands command. And obviously, praise him when he does right, even accidentally. Except not immediately after he stops, because then you’re just telling him you liked what he was just doing right there. Without the praise he may never know what you Do want from from him. Show him right and wrong.
March 23, 2013 at 8:56 pm
Hi I have a 5 year old Siberian husky named Bowie. Bowie is a rescue dog that is neutered and seems calm,until he goes into prey mode. We are currently working with a dog trainer for behavioral problems i.e his high prey drive. We have tried rewarding him with treats but that didn’t seem to work for long. We also tried the prong collar to help with the training but he ended up breaking the collar and attacked a small dog. Bowies prey can be anything from dogs to kids. He so far ignores every command even when presented with treats for good behavior. Our trainer now wants to try the remote shock collar in order to snap him out of prey mode. Should this be out next option or is there a better one? Please note that he has broken out of the prong collar twice and has attacked two dogs and a child.
March 24, 2013 at 3:51 pm
Re Prong collar:
Yeah, it is common for prong collars to break or pop open especially when put under strong pulling pressure. I used a prong collar on my Shiba Inu in my very early days of training, and we used a flat collar together with the prong. In this way, if the prong breaks, I still have control of my dog.
The article I quote from below has some really good information on prong collars and leash corrections.
Dogs can and do break, pop open or simply cause the prong collar to open & fall off unexpectedly. Should that happen, the fail-safe strap is still connecting leash to buckle collar!~~[Suzanne Clothier]
Dogs can and do break, pop open or simply cause the prong collar to open & fall off unexpectedly. Should that happen, the fail-safe strap is still connecting leash to buckle collar!
Here is a bit more on my own experiences with Shiba Sephy and leash corrections.
Re Dog-to-dog aggression:
Sephy, my Shiba Inu, was also quite reactive to other dogs. Here are some things that helped with Sephy. I did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with him early on, and that helped to raise his instinct threshold and impulse control. The key with desensitization training is to start with a very weakened version of the stimulus; weak enough that our dog is able to stay in control, and to learn.
Here is an article on how I deal with my Siberian Husky’s prey drive.
If a dog gets shocked every time he lunges at another dog, there is a very high likelihood that he will associate the shocks to the other dog instead of to his lunging behavior. This is also true of lunging at children. Polsky’s study and many others show that there is a high risk of dogs making the wrong associations with shock collar training. This can lead to more problem behaviors, including increased aggression.
This article from the RSPCA has more useful information and scientific studies on shock collars as well as aversive training.
Re dog training and dog trainers:
I started with an aversive based trainer with Sephy. He taught us some useful management techniques, and knew a lot about different aversive collars, and techniques. However, the training he proposed did not bring us good results.
There is a lot of misinformation out there about dog training, and there is very little regulation on dog trainers. Later on, I found the APDT site to be a useful place to start when looking for a good trainer. http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/
As for dog training information, I usually turn to scientific studies, behavioral articles from good vet schools (e.g. UPenn, UCDavis), and articles from well-established dog advocate organizations (e.g. RSPCA, ASPCA).
jacki warren says
March 11, 2013 at 4:43 am
Hi I have two sube dogs. We have the underground electric fence and never thought it would work on our then 2 year old, Spirit, who loved to run. However it was perfect and at 7 she stays in the yard with no collar. Our other pup, Princess, learned early on to jump thru the shock to get the yummy treats (geese, turkeys, ducks) the farm up the road had to offer. We cannot keep her in the yard without tying her. However occasionally she gets loose and we get “treats”. We are very lucky to have understanding neighbors. Recently she got loose and got into a fight with the neighbors dog who then needed stitches. This has me very concerned about what may happen the next time. She is good with Spirit and with our new 4mth old shepherd pup. You do have to keep an eye on her that she does not get too worked up. So I was wondering if you thought I should be concerned about her behavior with the neighbors dog? No one was there to see why she attacked it. When she gets loose we can not get her back until she is tired and comes home on her own. (She is 4 years old). Any thoughts or advice welcome. I am very concerned about the neighbors and getting in a row with them but love my dog.
March 11, 2013 at 3:05 pm
So I was wondering if you thought I should be concerned about her behavior with the neighbors dog?
Yes. Dog fights are never a good thing, our dog may get hurt, someone else’s dog may get hurt, and people may get hurt when they try to intervene. I love my dogs very much as well, and it would be terrible if one of them got attacked or got hurt from a fight.
As you say, dogs can consistently escape through an invisible or underground fence. In addition, Polsky and other studies show that such fences can also encourage aggression. As you say, dogs can also escape from tie-outs, and there are other associated risks. Tie-outs and invisibile fences also do not prevent outside dogs, and other animals from coming in to our dog’s area and starting something.
What has worked well for my Huskies, is to build a secure fence around our backyard. We also put concrete blocks below the fence to prevent them from digging out. Some people bury their fence or use blocks of wood to prevent underground escapes.
To save on cost, we can start by first fencing off a smaller exercise area. Alternatively, we can keep our dogs inside, and only have them outside under human supervision.
Patty Sills says
March 10, 2013 at 1:03 pm
I have a one year old french masiff who is generally well behaved except has “excitement aggression” towards whom ever is walking him. At the end of a walk for instance, he will suddenly start jumping at me, trying to bite my arms and feet, for no apparent reason. He may occasionally do the same activity if some else pets him or a dog plays with him, yep he turns to me and becomes uncontrollable. I have to spray him with vinger several times to settle him down, but the whole routine is becoming a fiasco. Embarssing and sometimes painful…otherwise a great dog. ECollar?
March 11, 2013 at 1:35 pm
For dog-to-people and dog-to-dog excitement or reactivity issues, I do desensitization training with my dogs.
With desensitization training, I first expose my dog to a very weakened version of the stimulus, e.g. stand a comfortable distance away from a calm person, who is not giving any attention to my dog, and is just sitting still, reading a book. I teach my dog to focus on me, stay calm, and use alternate behaviors (Sit) in the presence of the “person-stimulus”.
Once we are comfortable doing this, we take one step closer to the person and repeat the exercise. As we have more successful sessions, my dog learns to associate other people with positive events, being calm, and looking to me for direction.
Here is more on people desensitization exercises and dog-to-dog desensitization exercises.
Here is my story on being embarrassed by my dog.
March 8, 2013 at 10:04 pm
I have 6 month old german sherped mix, who loves to whine. He will whine when he sees us putting out boots on to take him out, he whines if he see our lab mix go to the door be it for us to take them out or her hearing something in the hall. He whines if he doesnt see our lab, he even whines when she in her kennel next to each other. He also whines any time either of us go to walk into the hall that leads to the door, which is the same hall that leads to the kitchen which sets him off too. We tried ingoring it but he had started to bark. So we followed advice from a breeder/trainer friend of mine and bought a training spray that taste nasty to him. It stopped the barking but he contunies to whine no matter how much or how often we use it. His even whined when we been standing right next to his kennel. At first i thought it meant he had to use the washroom but now its so often i have no idea what to do. I really dont wanna use a shock collar but this is getting ridiculous. They both get tones of attention, they get lots of play time together as well as one on one time. They get there long walks too. I just dont understand, otherwise his pretty well behaved dog.
March 9, 2013 at 4:07 pm
He only vocalizes when he is in the kennel or at other times as well? Does he only whine after a certain period of time in the kennel or does he start right away? Does he seem anxious or stressed when he is in the kennel or away from his people? Does he usually get let out when he whines? Do people go over to him when he whines? What is his routine like?
Often, puppies whine because they want to be close to their people and family. I put my puppy’s crate in a people area, so that she can still see and be with people even during her crate time. When our Shiba Inu was young, he used to whine whenever he couldn’t see us. After we put his crate and enclosure in a people area, he was happy to be in there and stopped vocalizing.
There are many other reasons why a dog may whine.
How we stop the behavior will depend on why the dog is doing it. Sometimes, it may be out of anxiety. Other times, dogs whine because it works. It gets our attention, and at the very least, we go over to them to check things out. This rewards the behavior because whining = get people to come over.
If a dog is whining to get our attention, then we want to make sure *not* to reward the “whining” behavior. For example, I always wait until my dogs are quiet before I go over to them and let them in or out of the house. They know that whining = don’t get anything, but stay quiet = get rewarded with greater freedom, play, walks, and other rewards.
Here are some methods on how to stop dog barking.
Scientific studies also show that shock collars are *not* more effective than spray collars for dog barking. In addition, shock collars are very risky, especially for younger dogs.
March 7, 2013 at 1:16 pm
I have an aussie that is almost 2. We also have an older lab (8.5 yrs). The aussie tries herding the lab by nipping her behind her collar. When aussie was younger, lab would put him down when he tried to teeth her like this. Now he is gaining dominance over her and it seems his herding/teething is getting worse. For the first time today he put his teeth on a neighborhood dog in an aggressive way behind the collar. He didn’t break the skin, but I am concerned about this behavior and wonder if this might be the kind of thing that requires a shock collar. What do you think?
March 9, 2013 at 10:20 am
What works with my dogs is to teach them clear dog-to-dog interaction rules. Some of my rules include no-humping, no stealing, and no bullying.
If one of my dogs is too rough, I no-mark, and stop play temporarily. Then I refocus them on doing something else with me, e.g. doing some simple commands with me, including movement commands. This gets them to calm down and to refocus on me. Then they can go back to playing after they have calmed down.
If my dog does not listen or goes right back to being rough, then he goes to timeout briefly.
This teaches him that if he plays too rough or does not follow play-rules, then he does not get to play and temporarily loses his freedom. Since my dogs really love to play, this is a very effective way to get them to follow my interaction rules.
Another thing that helps with my dogs is to manage their excitement level. During play, I throw in many play-breaks, so that they learn to regulate their energy and do not reach a state where they lose control of themselves.
I set the rules, I supervise to make sure the rules are followed, and I resolve any conflicts that occur. In this way, my dogs learn that they do not need to use aggression with each other, because I will handle things in a fair and consistent manner. They also know exactly what behaviors are acceptable and what behaviors are not.
Finally, it also helps to give my dogs alternative outlets for their doggy behaviors. For example, my Huskies love to dig, so I take them to places where they can dig, and also set-aside a large area in the backyard for their digging pleasure. My dogs are not herding dogs, but I have come across some places that do herding training as well as practice. This may be a fun activity that will also help to put the herding behavior under command control.
Here is a good article on shock collars and herding.
March 9, 2013 at 8:29 pm
No its not just in his kennel ( which is in the living room which is also right next to our bedroom) his doesnt whine when we go to bed so i doubt its for not being able to see us. He also doesnt whine when we leave them for work or if we are going to dinner or something. He whine while sitting in a room full of people and his getting all the attention and boots (our lab) has gone out of his site. I know his whined to try to get her to come back but she ignored him and went about her business ( this was at my in law, which his not yet allowed full range because his not house broken and they dont want him making a mess) he has also whines in the car when let boots out first. We have tired ignoring him for long periods of time but he just keeps at it, i end up waiting over an hour one day and he still hadnt stopped. Thats when we started using bitter apple spray with ack ack ( his tiger word for him not being allowed to do something, which works great with bounders and when he gets to rough with the cat) but for some reason doesnt seem to be working for this. When we were just ignoring him we would either stand out of site or with our backs turned to the kennel so we were giving any attention to him etc. As for his routine my bf take him out in the morning when he comes to pitch me up from work ( because I work over nights and have the weekends off) goes for the car ride , comes back does his business again comes in side which they get their first meal of the day. Which after I do some basic sit, stay, come etc training for 10-20m after that I get on the floor with both of them and play with them till they both get tired out. Which at that time I take him out again before he falls asleep for his mid morning nap. Which when I hit the hay for a few hours. So I normally sleep for about four hours which is normally when he wakes up and starts playing with his toys cause I wake up to him playing with the squeakier. Then I get up dressed feed the fish, then go put my shoes on and coat. Before I even able to put one shoe on he starts whining…. Is the most hi pitched whine I have ever heard. Once he quits down long enough for me to take him out I do. I do my very best not to give him any attention because i know it rewards the behaviour (i done a lot of reading up on it, but none of seems to work, and i hoped someone might know something that isnt written down or i havent been told/ tired before) while we are out this time I take them down the long gorgeous nature path we have beside our place, which allow them to run and play with each other. (Which last any were from 45 mins to about 2 hrs at most depending on weather and condition of the path) If its to mess we go for a shorter walk then I take them down to our under ground parking ( which no one uses because there no cameras and no good view into) which then I let them run and play chase each other then they both just lay down and give me that look of okay Mommy we are done now lol. Its also a good place for me to do 1-1 and group training with them. Like today we spent almost two hours down there doing training and play time, when they got in they both passed out until after dinner. Normally they dont sleep for that long though. Normal days they would sleep for couple hours after that/ after his done picking on the cat ( mind you the cat picks back lol) Though once they are both out again I’ll curl up on the couch watch tv/ nap on and off or do what ever needs to be done around the house. After that my bf normally gets home from work, dogs go out again come back in get play time with either one of us or both of us while the other makes dinner. Once dinner is done we feed them both so they are eating dinner at the same time as we are. After that its more play time with my bf till they both go chill/ sleep or just play with toys. ( by then i am normally back in bed taking a nap before work) then when I go to work they come out with of us for the car ride, bf comes home with them goes for a short walk, then they get free roam to play and do what ever till he goes to bed at 1-3am in the morning. So breaking it down he whines every time we go to take him out to use the washroom. Even when we go to get him his food and water. He whines any time either of go into the hall/ in the kitchen. His even whinnied before when I went to take a shower ( mind he hasnt done that in a long time) he whines when we go to get out of the car, even when we even havent opened the car doors yet. Etc.
March 11, 2013 at 1:01 pm
Thanks for the detailed response.
To retrain behaviors for my dogs, here is generally what I do – 1. I observe my dog’s behavior closely and try to identify common elements.
For example, does my dog only show the behavior when *I* am not around, when he is alone, when the mailman comes, when there is a certain noise outside, when the doorbell rings, etc. Sometimes, it may be a combination of things.
Identifying the triggers that cause the behavior will also help me understand the behavior better, whether it is from anxiety, stress, excitement, or something else. This is important because it will determine the best way to retrain or redirect the behavior. For example, punishing a dog that is already anxious will likely increase his stress level, and worsen his anxiety symptoms.
So breaking it down he whines every time we go to take him out to use the washroom. Even when we go to get him his food and water. He whines any time either of go into the hall/ in the kitchen. His even whinnied before when I went to take a shower ( mind he hasnt done that in a long time) he whines when we go to get out of the car, even when we even havent opened the car doors yet. Etc.
Need more observations of the dog during all this.
Is he roaming freely then or in his kennel? What is he doing at the time before he starts to whine? Does he try to follow you? What is his body language? We want to try and understand what he is trying to say to us.
What are the common surrounding elements?
All this is detail is difficult to get without actually being there to see things as they unfold. Getting a good professional trainer can be helpful because he can visit with the dog, get to know him, understand his routine and environment, and more accurately identify the triggers for the behavior.
2. Once I identify the source of the behavior, I can start to retrain it.
If it is from anxiety, then I will probably use some sort of desensitization.
If it is from excitement, I make sure I am very calm and move in a very calm pace. I may also try putting the behavior under command control, e.g. Teach my dog the Quiet command. In this way, I can teach my dog that when he is “Quiet” he gets to go out for our walk, but if he is not, then we have to wait until he is calm and quiet before we go. From this, he learns –
calm + quiet = door opens and walk starts, whining = door remains closed and walk does not start.
3. I try to set my dog up for success.
I manage my dog so that he does not find himself in situations that he cannot handle. When training, I always start small, and only very slowly increase the environmental challenge. With each success, he will gain confidence, learn to trust me, and also learn what his role is in the family.
I set up a set of consistent rules and a fixed routine. In this way, my dog knows exactly what to expect from me and vice versa.
Finally, the more successes we have, the less he will practice the undesirable behavior. As a result, he will be less likely to repeat the behavior in the future. The opposite is also true – the more a dog practices a given behavior, the more likely he will be to repeat it in the future.
Here is a bit more on how I deal with bad dog behaviors.
March 5, 2013 at 5:13 pm
We have a one-year-old Labrador retriever who is in training as a hunting retriever. She’s got tons of drive and loves nothing more than playing serious fetch. She even knows quite a bit of handling already. My younger brother and I spend a lot of time training her. She has, however, learned that once we send her and she is out of reach, she’s off the hook–her responses slow down when we whistle-sit her. We are not at all interested in “magic cures” or “quick fixes”. We are totally willing to take our time and do things right, but as far as I can tell, there are few alternatives to an e-collar to tighten up her obedience at long distances. (If she doesn’t sit in the right spot, that is, as soon as we whistle her, the retrieve is inefficient and it takes too long.) I’m not trying to win a contest or anything, just trying to get Cassie to be the best I know she can be. What do you recommend?
March 6, 2013 at 1:50 pm
As I see it, it is all about priorities. My Huskies love digging, so I take them to places where they can dig. We also left a large part of the backyard un-landscaped so that they can have fun digging.
They are not required to catch anything, they are not required to dig a hole according to human specifications, and they are not required to dig the biggest hole in the least amount of time.
I care about my dogs’ quality of life and I want them to enjoy doing the things that they love, in a safe way. That is my priority, and I make my decisions based on that. Different priorities will likely lead to different decisions.
When I have to make big decisions for my dogs, I always ask myself – am I making this choice for me or for them. My dogs do not care about winning competitions, they do not care about making quick, precise turns, and they do not care about digging the biggest hole in less than 5 seconds. Therefore, it is clear that using something which increases stress, is risky, and can easily cause fear and other unwanted associations, is not right for us.
I try to enable my dogs to be what *they* want to be, not what *I* want them to be.
Here is more information from the RSPCA about shock collars or ecollars.
Here is an article on shock collars and herding training.
February 23, 2013 at 9:27 am
Hi, I was desperately reading articles on e-collars. Until now I was strongly against any kind of punishment as a method in dog training, but I have amazing, beautiful and super smart 10 month old English setter. She was a rescue, and she was always extremely fearful and anxious. I`ve managed to build very close bond with her and to correct most of her issues, slowly using rewards and praise’. However just before New Year`s we ran into a group of kids who threw a bunch of firecrackers just behind us while we were walking, that scared my dog to death and she started running like crazy without any control. Now whenever she hears any crackling sound she runs. I`ve tried desensitizing but it`s a slow process with a lot of set backs. Also she has very strong hunting instinct. To sum it up I have a dog that is fearful and submissive on one hand and has strong instinct on the other. We live in a densely populated area with a lot of traffic and speedway nearby, and when she gets scared or something distracts her she starts running without control and calling her and luring her with treats doesn`t work. That`s why I started considering e-collar. Would you be so kind to give advice if shock collar could help me. Even though I dread using it somehow seems less scary than my Bug being hit by a car :,(
February 23, 2013 at 8:42 pm
I`ve tried desensitizing but it`s a slow process with a lot of set backs.
Can you elaborate more on the desensitization exercises you have tried and the reaction of your Setter? What are the set backs? The more detail the better.
My Husky Lara was also afraid of the sound of firecrackers and also the sound of coyotes. What helped her, was to get a recording of the sound, and then start training her to tolerate it at a *very very low* volume. Here is more on what I did to get Lara more comfortable with the different sounds.
Here is a bit more on dog anxiety and fear.
As for shock collars, Schalke’s study shows that shocking a dog for recall, will cause elevated levels of stress. A dog that is fearful and anxious, is already under a great deal of stress. Therefore, it seems that introducing more stress and pain into the situation will only make things worse.
Here is a list of recall training techniques (training a dog to come when called) from the ASPCA. http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-articles/teaching-your-dog-to-come-when-called
Note though, that whatever recall training we use (including shock collars), it is never fully effective. As a result, off-leash training and work is best done when we are far away from roads and cars.
For neighborhood walks, where there are cars nearby, I use a no-slip collar and leash to walk my dogs.
February 24, 2013 at 3:33 am
Thnx for your quick response. As for desensitizing I`ve tried playing firecracker sound recording first low and then bit louder, and then clicked the clicker (clicker also scares her to death) while giving her the tastiest treats I could find and walking through apartment asking her to “sit”, “stay”or “come”. She was okay with sounds of firecrackers played on my MP3 as long they were not too loud, and the sound of clicker would be fine when muffled , but as soon as I`d click the clicker at a regular noise level she would run below kitchen table, tail between legs, shoulders bent, avoiding eye contact, and would become uncooperative, not responding to “come”or “sit”or any other command. I an not sure if it is of any significance but she was abandoned by a hunter when she was 4 months old I am not aware of what kind of training she went through before I adopted her. She was afraid of everything including collar and leash, confinement anxiety , and she had extreme separation anxiety (now she`s walking on leash and off leash as the real champ – unless distracted or scared – and she`s more relaxed when left alone, for months I didn`t find any damage when I return home).
February 25, 2013 at 8:04 am
the clicker (clicker also scares her to death)
The clicker is just a marker. It is often used to let a dog know that she is doing something good and that a reward coming. If our dog is afraid of the clicker noise, then it is no longer useful as a “positive-marker” because it is no longer positive.
We can also use our voice as a marker. For example, when my dogs do something good, I say “Good Girl” or “Good Boy”. For a fearful dog, I use a softer and calm voice, so that I do not spook her.
Here is a bit more on markers and dog training.
The key with desensitization is to help our dogs gain confidence, and re-associate the scary noise with calmness and positive events. Therefore, we want to try and always keep our dog below his instinct threshold, i.e., we want to make sure not to use sounds that are too loud, that will overload him, scare him, and cause a fear reaction.
I always go very slowly. I start with a very very soft volume, and keep sessions short, rewarding, and positive. The more positive experiences my dog has, the more confidence he gains, and the more he learns to tolerate the “scary stimulus”. The more negative experiences my dog has, where he gets afraid and runs away because of a loud noise, the more fearful he will become.
Therefore, it is important not to only maximize successes, but also to minimize fear reactions. I very carefully manage my dog’s environment, so that he does not get exposed to more than he can handle even during walks, and at all other times. I only very slowly increase the environmental challenge when he has progressed in his desensitization training and can handle louder sounds.
I start walking my dog in the house or backyard first – where it is quiet and safe. When I take him out, I start with very quiet areas of the neighborhood. If that is not available, we may drive him to a quiet field or quiet hiking trail, etc.
For fear issues, I always try to set my dog up for success, so that he will gain confidence, enjoy his walks, and in this way, learn to become less fearful.
I also visited with several professional trainers while training my Shiba Inu, Sephy. It was helpful to get a good trainer to observe Sephy, his body language, environment, etc., identify how I can improve his training, and also learn new ways of training.
Big hugs to your girl! It is great that she has now found such a good home and a good friend. 😀
February 24, 2013 at 3:53 am
Oh, yes, when we have a “set back” she is not only unresponsive to commands she also refuses food, water, she doesn`t pee or poop at all, and it takes a day or 2 to regain her trust by cuddling her, praising her, offering treats etc, and it`s like she`s learning everything for the first time over and over again.
Trisha Wulf says
February 21, 2013 at 11:51 am
I’ve had my dog for 8 months and I live on 18 acres. There is a fence but it is old and there are holes in it, sometimes I can’t even find where she got out. On one side is the interstate and on the other railroad tracks. Jasmine used to stay in the fence but now she has started finding ways to get out and doesn’t come back when she is called. She was literally seconds from being hit by a train once. The longer I have her the less she listens (we even did obedience classes) I cannot afford to re-fence the entire yard so I was going to do the shock collar because treats don’t make her come anymore but now I am hesitant because she is a rescue that was abused (2 yr old pit mix). I don’t want to keep her tied up or have to resort to walking on a leash in such a large yard. What else can I do?
February 22, 2013 at 11:49 am
As you already know, there are no perfect solutions to this issue. Shock collars have a lot of risks, often lowers quality of life, and are not fully reliable, whether used as an invisible fence or as a recall training tool.
Other options that come to mind – 1. Some people fence off a smaller portion of their yard.
This saves on cost, and still provides a safe, enclosed space for their dog. A fence also keeps other animals out, including other dogs. A shock collar will not help with this, since it only operates on the dog that is wearing it.
2. A very solid recall.
Training our dog to have a very strong recall is a very important part of off-leash walking. We have some very nice trails close to our neighborhood, and many people walk their dogs off-leash on those trails. When there are people biking, or when they see other dogs, they will call their dog back and put them on-leash temporarily until the distraction passes.
Recall training is partly dependent on breed and the temperament of the dog. Dogs with high prey drive will be harder to train on recall, because they have a very strong instinct to chase after prey, especially moving prey. The environment also matters a lot. A high distraction environment will be more challenging then a low distraction environment.
Finally, I find that training my dogs is a lifetime activity. The more I successfully repeat an exercise with them, the better they will be at it. Therefore, I start small, and then slowly build up the challenge.
For recall training, I start in my backyard, which is fully enclosed, safe, and does not have many distractions. This sets them up for success, and significantly increases the chances that they will come when called. The more often they come when called, the more likely it will become a habit. Similarly, the more often a dog does not come when called, the less likely he will come on the next call.
This article from the ASPCA has a good list of different recall training techniques and on what to do when our dog does not come.
3. Walking a dog on-leash
Leash-walking is a very viable alternative, especially for walking in areas that are close to traffic or for walking dogs that have very high prey drive. My dogs get off-leash time when they are at home and in the backyard. When we go walking in the neighborhood, I walk them on-leash using a no-slip collar. I walk them on a loose-leash so they still have a lot of fun smelling and exploring. Since I do the walk for them, they get to pick where they want to go, and we often make it into a joint activity. I take them to areas where they can dig, I help to clear out brush and rocks on their digging spots, they help me up hills, etc.
Are off-leash dogs happier then on-leash dogs?
February 17, 2013 at 5:53 pm
Please help. I have a 9 month old English Bulldog. She is my 4th dog as an adult and I am at a total loss. I loves dogs! Never have I had a dog that was so bad. She is so incredibly destructive and so much more. She terrorizes my Yorkie too, biting her ear so hard one time she bled. I have to keep them separated. She has chewed up everything from shoes to electronic cords, the corners of my molding, chairs, everything. We crate her when she is bad but she has succeeded in bending the bars so bad the door won’t close. I am truly fearful. My 15 yrs son does not want to give up on her but I don’t know if I can handle much more. One time when feeding her, the food was gone but she chewed on the ceramic bowl until it broke. Thank god she has not bitten a person yet but I worry its only a matter of time. Is there any chance a shock collar will help?
February 18, 2013 at 12:16 pm
Excessive chewing can be a result of stress. Does she mostly do this chewing when you are not home? Does she like chewing on her sanctioned toys? She may not know what she is allowed to chew on and what is off limits.
What is her daily routine like? Does she like going on walks? playing games?
What helps with my dogs, is to set up a fixed daily routine with a good amount of structured activity. In this way, they know exactly what to expect from me, and this certainty helps to reduce stress. The structured activity, e.g. walks, structured play, obedience exercises, interactive toys, etc., gives them positive outlets to redirect their energy.
In addition, I also set up a consistent set of rules and a consistent way of communicating with my dogs. I motivate them to follow rules by using the Nothing in Life is Free program.
I also do bite inhibition training with my dogs. This teaches them to pay attention to the force of their bites, and also that people have much thinner skins than other dogs, so they have to be a lot more gentle.
Here is a bit more on dog anxiety and how I trained my Husky puppy.
leah zerfoss says
February 6, 2013 at 1:03 pm
Hi I have a five month old st bernard who is just ornery. Im having troubles with him getting into and eating the trash. Also destroying things in the kitchen when we go. We keep him in the kitchen. He also tries to eat my son’s food or anyone elses and unless someone bigger than him is there to stop him its chaos. We are contemplating a shock collar to teach him these are bad things because bad dog and making him lay down as a time out arent working. Any advice?
February 7, 2013 at 2:01 pm
What I have noticed with my dogs is that they will repeat behaviors that get them good results and stop behaviors that are not rewarding.
Dogs often get into the trash because when they do, they get rewarded with interesting smelling, yummy stuff, that the don’t get anywhere else. To stop undesirable behaviors, what has worked well with my dogs is to –
1. Make sure they *do not* get rewarded for the behavior. For example, I dog-proof my house and do not leave nice smelling food on tables unattended. I keep trash containers closed, and/or behind closed doors.
2. Make my dogs work for their food. This is a great way to teach my dogs what behaviors they *do* get rewarded for. Instead of giving my dogs their food for free in a silver bowl, I follow the Nothing in Life is Free program. I teach them house rules and positive ways for interacting with people. Then, I reward them well for following rules, staying calm, and interacting well with people.
In this way, they know what are undesirable behaviors that will get them nothing, and also what are good behaviors that will get them good rewards.
Here is a bit more on my experiences with stopping bad dog behavior. Here is a bit more on how I trained my puppy and how dogs learn.
Also destroying things in the kitchen when we go.
During puppyhood, my dogs like chewing and have a lot of puppy energy. What helped was to set up a fixed schedule and routine, which includes a lot of structured play time, walks, and obedience training. In this way, I can redirect their puppy energy into positive activities.
Does your dog seem anxious when he is left alone? Dogs are pack animals, so they enjoy the company of their family. They can sometimes get anxious when left alone, especially if it is unexpected. Here is a bit more on separation anxiety.
February 1, 2013 at 8:35 pm
Came across this article just as I’m at the end of my rope and was looking for ecollar for my 2yr old border collie/lab/perrenese girl.
Great dog, super intelligent but has a very strong herding instinct. She is also Alfa and a jumper. She is super friendly and extremely excitable which is when she herds. I have been bit on more than one occasion, circled and barked at and charged. I try the reward for coming to me and do it regularly during our walks. But it is not curbing the herding. Just a little thing like calling her over from being too ruff on a small dog will set her off. I’m afraid that if I give her a treat every time she herds she’ll herd to get a treat. She’s that smart. She figures out all my tricks and avoids them. Any thing can send her into a herding mode. Sometimes we go periods of just a happy dog but herds more often than not. It’s affecting the joy if the walk fir me and my other dog who is blind and needs to be on leash (who unfortunately gets nipped a lot). How do I not turn to an dollars? Thank you.
February 1, 2013 at 8:37 pm
….. Turn to an ecollar.
February 3, 2013 at 12:29 pm
Yeah, Border Collies can be very intense sometimes, and the ones I have met seem happiest when they have a job to do.
I don’t have a Border Collie, but here are some things that work well for my dogs –
1. Redirection rather than suppression. I come up with a “job” for them to do during our walks. For example, my Huskies like pulling so they help me go up hills during our hikes. They also like to dig, so we go to places where they can dig and where there is a lot of earth critter activity. I take them to good spots, help them clear out rocks and brush that are in their way, and we have fun doing joint activity together.
One of the trainers that I met at our local SPCA told us that her Border Collie really loves to play Fetch, so she set that up as her job. We also visited with a trainer at a nearby Humane Society that uses her Border Collie to help her train other dogs.
The very nice thing about giving my dogs a job is that they have something positive, that they enjoy, to redirect their energy into.
2. Set rules and boundaries for the job. I also teach my dogs what the rules are when performing their job. For example, my Sibes help to pull me up the hill, but they know not to pull while going down the hill. There are also places where they are not allowed to dig.
The reward in this case, is being outside, interacting with people, and performing their “job”, which is something that they really enjoy. Therefore, they are happy to follow the rules. If they do not, then we just go home, and all the fun ends.
3. Group dogs by energy level. I used to take my dogs to daycare, and one of the things that a good daycare center does is group dogs by energy level. This enables the higher energy dogs to wrestle and play, while the more relaxed dogs can rest together without being disturbed.
I usually walk my three legged dog by herself. She is energetic, but she needs more rest breaks, so we go for longer walks with more stops in-between. When I walk her together with my other dogs, she feels she has to keep up, so she doesn’t get to rest as much as she usually does. Also, my younger Sibe really wants to be on the go all of the time.
I have found that it works much better to split them up, and then everyone can go at their own pace and enjoy the walks a lot more.
4. Variable schedule of reinforcement. In terms of rewards, I try to mix things up and reward my dogs with a variety of different things. Sometimes they get affection, sometimes they get a fun game, sometimes they get chicken, etc.
Also, studies show that rewarding a dog intermittently, can motivate them a lot better than rewarding them every time or every other time.
I don’t do herding with my dogs, since that is not their thing, but I know there are places that do herding practice and training. This will still allow a dog to herd, but it will put structure and rules around the activity. In general, I would find something that my dog loves to do, and then make it fun, positive, and interactive.
Here is an article about herding training and shock collars.
Hope this helps and hugs to your furry gang.
Sophia Ravelli says
January 30, 2013 at 12:51 pm
I have an 11 month old Labrador puppy. He is very friendly and behaves well, with one exception. If he is left outside alone for any period of time he leaves the yard and quick. We unfortunately at this time cannot afford to put a fence up. When we call for him, he normally runs back to the yard, but he often runs far enough he cannot hear us calling. We have to drive around the neighborhood looking for him. I don’t know how to keep him in the yard and I am afraid he will get hit by a car. My husband has suggested using a shock collar, but I am not sure I agree with it. Do you have any suggestions that could help us train him to not leave the yard?
January 31, 2013 at 2:27 pm
An invisible fence is probably one of the more risky applications of shock collars. This is because the fence line is invisible, which makes it even more difficult for a dog to associate “the right thing” (something he can’t see), to the pain he receives. As a result, there is a greater likelihood of making false associations, and that may ultimately lead to stress as well as behavioral issues. This article talks more about the dangers of an invisible fence system-
In terms of training a dog to stay inside the yard, some people do “boundary training”. The article below gives a really good and detailed description of boundary training. http://www.petsbest.com/blog/boundary-training-no-fence/
Another option is to build a visible fence. Some people fence up a smaller area of their backyard or build a small dog run. This cuts down on cost but still enables safe containment.
Another possibility is to supervise our dog when he is outside. We would probably want a very strong recall for this option. Good list of recall training techniques from the ASPCA.
January 29, 2013 at 11:11 pm
Hello, We have a 10 year old jack Russell terrier who cries and howls every time our infant cries. We initially thought he would get used to the baby crying but it has been 7 months and he still does it every time she cries. We are not sure if he is doing this to tell us something is wrong or if the noise hurts his ears or what. He seems to want to be right next to us or under our feet when this is going on, which is right next to the baby who is crying. We have tried everything from comforting him when he cries to squirting him with a bottle of water to get him to stop. The only thing that remotely works is to have him go to another floor of the house, but he still howls from there. We have been considering an electronic collar as a last resort. The howling has to stop. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you.
January 31, 2013 at 8:21 am
Some sounds also trigger my dogs to sing. For example, Shania (Husky) will sing when I squeak a soft toy. Lara used to vocalize when the coyotes in the area start to howl. In Lara’s case, it was a new type of sound and she got anxious when she heard it.
With Lara I used desensitization exercises to get her comfortable with the coyote sounds. First, I would start with a very soft version of the stimulus, i.e. play the coyote singing at a very soft volume. Soft enough that Lara can tolerate it and stay calm. Then, I get her to do some very simple commands, and reward her really well for it. If all goes well, then I very slowly increase the volume of the sound and so on. Here is more on noise anxiety and desensitization.
It is important though, that during the retraining process, we do not expose our dog to high volumes of the stimulus. Otherwise, Lara will keep practicing the howling behavior, and it will undo the retraining work.
If the behavior is the result of anxiety, using pain based techniques may cause a dog to become even more anxious, and worsen the behavior.
Finally, studies (Steiss, Soraya, and others) that have been conducted on nuisance dog barking with spray and shock collars, show that spray collars have the same effectiveness as shock collars.
When it comes to calming “nuisance-barking” dogs, a spritz of fragrance under the chin is more effective than electric shock, a test by the Animal Behavior Clinic at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine has found. ~~[Cornell Chronicle]
January 29, 2013 at 6:59 am
We have a 2 year old basset hound that has become very well behaved…listens pretty good. BUT…when we let him outside he jumps on the house and the doors, has ripped screens out of windows…because we are inside. If we go out with him, he doesn’t do it. HOW do I get him to stop? We are getting new siding and windows this summer and I do not want him jumping on the house anymore. The only suggestions I have been getting IS the shock collar…because we can be in while he is out… Would REALLY appreciate any advice. Thanks!
January 29, 2013 at 10:26 am
Based on what you describe, it sounds like it may be a separation anxiety issue. He may be trying to get back into the house to be with his people because he is anxious and stressed when left alone outside.
Does he stay in the house alone sometimes? What does he do when he is home alone?
What helps my dogs with anxiety is to- 1. Help build up their confidence through desensitization techniques. 2. Exercise them well. 3. Socialize them well to new things and new environments.
Here is a bit more on separation anxiety. Here is a bit more on dog anxiety issues.
I also teach my dogs door manners so that they do a simple pre-trained command, e.g. Sit, before I let them in. If they do behaviors that are undesirable, I no-mark and tell them what to do instead, e.g. Sit. However, if it is separation anxiety, a dog may be too stressed to listen to commands so desensitization and counter conditioning techniques would probably work best.
Getting a professional trainer to come over and observe the behavior may also be helpful. A good positive based trainer will be able to identify the trigger for the behavior (whether it is from stress/anxiety or something else) and be able to suggest a good plan for re-directing the behavior.
January 30, 2013 at 6:49 am
Hmmm. Anxiety. I really appreciate your input! He does HATE his cage. He only goes in it when we are not home….because I don’t trust him. (He ate the sofa cushions once) He is better now when we leave the house and leave him out for short periods of time. If we put him in his cage he drools all over it and leaves a HUGE puddle. He does the same thing by the back door when he is trying to get in. When he know he is going to go in his cage, he starts piddling on the floor the whole way there. He’s a good dog, very smart (knows how to get ice to come out of the door of the fridge so he can eat it). Just need to figure out how to get him to not jump on the house. Thanks for the links… Michelle
January 30, 2013 at 10:16 am
Yeah, excessive drooling is another sign of anxiety. Here are a couple of articles more on separation anxiety- Separation anxiety from the ASPCA. Separation anxiety in dogs from the Animal Humane Society.
Anxious behaviors are not the result of disobedience or spite. They are distress responses. Your dog displays anxious behaviors when left alone because he’s upset and trying to cope with a great deal of stress. If you punish him, he may become even more upset and the problem could get much worse.~~ [ASPCA]
Anxious behaviors are not the result of disobedience or spite. They are distress responses. Your dog displays anxious behaviors when left alone because he’s upset and trying to cope with a great deal of stress. If you punish him, he may become even more upset and the problem could get much worse.
January 28, 2013 at 4:45 pm
I have a two year old boxer/pit mix that is full of energy. We live on a farm and have some chickens and sheep. She has a strong prey drive so animal that attracts her attention sets off a chase. I just started use a collar so I can break her off of the chase. Do you think there are better ways?
January 29, 2013 at 9:09 am
There is a guy who comes every winter to clear out the brush in our surrounding hill area. He has a large number of goats and a helper Border Collie dog. It is amazing watching his dog work. He doesn’t train using a shock collar, but he works together with his dog and has very good command control.
His dog is very focused on doing his work, does not try to attack goats, and sometimes chases off coyotes that come too near. Here is an interesting article on herding and shock collars.
Of course, breed also matters as well as the temperament of the dog.
If I were looking for alternative training methods involving livestock, I would probably look to the people who do herding using positive reinforcement techniques.
There are also management and prevention methods such as fences, leashes, etc.
January 25, 2013 at 4:54 am
Hi. I have a 3 1/2 year old Australian Shepherd / Border collie mix, named Marty, and he’s a fantastic dog. I inherited him about 5 months ago. He’s gentle and loving and typically gets along well with other animals. My girlfriend just got a lab puppy and Marty gets along very well with the pup. My problem is that when anyone comes into my house Marty becomes extremely aggressive, he barks, and the hair down his back stands up and he’s quite scary. He has not bitten anyone, but they sure think he’s going to. I’ve tried to discipline him to show him that this type of behavior is NOT acceptable, but nothing seems to be having any kind of impact. In most cases, when the person is in the house for a while, he seems to gradually calm down and accept them, but the other night we had a couple over for dinner and he just kept on and on and on, I finally had to take him downstairs and shut him up in the bathroom, so we could enjoy the evening. I finally started to consider a shock collar because I’m at my wits end. I need to be able to teach him that this behavior is unacceptable, but I don’t know how. Any ideas?
January 25, 2013 at 1:03 pm
Dogs may get reactive to new people because they are an unknown quantity and may be a threat. As a result, a dog may try to protect himself and warn the new people away, try to protect his family/pack, and/or try to protect his belongings. This is especially true when on home turf.
What has worked well with my dogs is to retrain them to associate people with positive experiences and outcomes. I use people desensitization techniques to help my dogs be more comfortable around new people, and to teach them new behaviors to deal with stress.
The key with desensitization is to start with a weakened version of the stimulus – for example a new person who is sitting far away and not moving. Also no talking, and no eye-contact, which can also be seen as a threat. I get my dog to do commands with me and reward him well for staying calm, in the presence of a new person. Once we are comfortable with this, I move one step closer to the person, get my dog’s focus again, and so on.
I make sure to go slowly and I keep training sessions short and rewarding. Through this process, my dog learns to relax around new people and learns to associate new people with positive, or at worst neutral experiences.
During the retraining period, I also make sure *not* to expose my dog to people-situations that he cannot handle, i.e., I take him out on a walk when friends come over to visit with the family, or put him in a very quiet part of the house where he won’t be disturbed. I only try regular people greetings when I think he is truly ready, and I keep him safe and on-leash.
January 20, 2013 at 7:03 pm
I have a 13 month old German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois crossbreed. She knows her basic commands – sit, lay down, short stay/long stay, leave it, drop it, etc etc. but I am having a lot of difficulty when I take her for play dates, as she has recently begun showing a lot of aggression toward other dogs. It started last summer when another dog (about 50-60lbs) jumped on me and my girl heard me say “No!” very firmly. She proceeded to tackle this dog and keep her pinned. When I got my dog off of her, there was no sign of physical harm, she had simply let the dog know this was not acceptable. The problem now is that every time we schedule play dates for these two dogs, my dog immediately wants to attack her. We have only had a few play dates since, as I am worried of my girls behavior. Each time my girl attempts to tackle this other dog in some way but ONLY when we are outside (where the initial event happened). If we all play indoors, there isn’t much problem. I was considering a shock collar to correct her behavior, as well as enrolling her into obedience classes and doggy day care one day a week to start; I am very fearful of how she interacts with other dogs. She was even slightly aggressive with a puppy and doesn’t seem to understand that she is very rough! I’m mortified, as she never showed any signs of aggression until literally that one jumping incident. Suggestions?! She is well acquainted with clicker training, as we started training at 8 weeks old. She is beyond obedient for me when we are home…. I’m just lost to the rest of it!
January 20, 2013 at 7:06 pm
I also add she has never physically left a mark on another dog, and has been knicked twice but doesn’t seem phased by it. Her pain tolerance is extremely high, hence my consideration of a shock collar. But I don’t want to make her more aggressive! I want her to play nice, which is impossible off leash and outside right now…
January 21, 2013 at 8:43 am
My Shiba Inu, Sephy, also used to be pretty reactive towards other dogs. Here are some things that helped with Sephy – 1. I only do small supervised play sessions with him. During these play sessions I set up very consistent play-rules (e.g. no humping, no stealing, no playing too rough). If he breaks any of these rules, I no-mark the behavior, and stop play temporarily. Since he really enjoys playing, that is a very good motivator to get him to follow play rules.
2. I throw in a lot of play-breaks. My Huskies are very food focused so every so often, I call them over, get them to do some simple commands for me, and reward them really well for it. This gets them all to calm down and focus on working cooperatively for me. Most importantly, this helps me to manage their excitement level.
3. I try to stay very very calm. If I am stressed, frustrated, or fearful, then Sephy will pick up on my energy and become even more reactive.
4. Sephy enjoys being with playful, goofy dogs most. He likes to wrestle and chase, so he plays best with larger dogs. He does not like dominant dogs because he will not back down when challenged. I try my best to set him up for success and pick playmates that will work well with his personality.
5. When Sephy was young, we also did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with him. This helps him to get more comfortable with other dogs, but in a very structured way. It also teaches him to use alternative behaviors for dealing with his stress.
January 13, 2013 at 8:15 pm
Hi, I have a 10 month old male German Shepherd, named George. He’s shown signs of food aggression literally since the night we got him – at only 8 1/2 weeks old. I’d never seen a dog that young growl like that before. We started professional training, and while he’s learning and become pretty well trained across the board, his food aggression has only become much worse. We’ve done the whole “be the alpha” thing, and he knows I’m the boss..unless it involves his dish. He has always growled/snarled if you’re near his dish – but tonight he bit me (for the first time in about 6 months). He continued to growl and snarl at me (until I (terrified) took him to the ground and threw him outside). He’s 85 pounds. He’s the sweetest dog 95% of the time…but when it’s feeding time he’s meaner than mean. The funny thing is, I can feed him out of my hand and he’s fine (sits and waits to be released to eat, eats gently)…but when food is in his dish, or even his dish is empty he’s very aggressive. We plan on having children in the next few years…and honestly I’m terrified. He’d be at face-level with them. We’ve come to the conclusion that we have 3 options: 1) avoid it, and just feed him alone in the garage for the rest of his life…2) try to adopt him out? or 3) put him down because we don’t know what he’ll do next. I love him so much, but he scares the crap out of me. And I shouldn’t have to feel like that. Can you offer any advice?? I really don’t know what to do. It would break my heart to give him up, but I’m too scared to see if he’d hurt someone else, a kid, or me again. Shock collars have been suggested to us, but I’m scared it’ll just make it worse (more stressful for him). Please help – I feel like we’ve tried everything.
January 14, 2013 at 2:06 pm
What kind of training techniques are you currently using with George? What did the trainer advise wrt. to his food aggression? What was George’s response to the techniques?
He continued to growl and snarl at me (until I (terrified) took him to the ground and threw him outside).
Hmmm, not totally sure what you mean by “took him to the ground” – was it an alpha roll? If so, here are some of my experiences and thoughts about alpha rolls.
While training Sephy (my Shiba Inu), I found that he is very sensitive to my energy. If I am fearful, angry, frustrated, or otherwise not-calm, Sephy will pick up on it. This will cause him to get even more excited/stressed, and his behavior would worsen. Here are a couple of articles on my early experiences with Sephy –
Pack leader to an aggressive dog. Afraid of my dog.
Here are some of my experiences with Sephy and food aggression. Some things that helped with Sephy’s food and resource guarding behavior.
Note though that Sephy never attacked me, anyone else, or other dogs over food or resources. He was starting to show guarding behavior, e.g. growling and defensive posture. We started to retrain him at that point. I think it is important to retrain food aggressive behavior because if I or someone else accidentally drops some food on the ground, I do not want Sephy to suddenly become aggressive.
Some things that helped with Sephy during our difficult times- 1. I visited with several professional trainers (both reward and aversive based). 2. I did a lot of research into how dogs learn and on various dog training techniques. There is a lot of misinformation out there, so it really helped to understand the science behind dog training. This also helped me to evaluate the trainers that I talked to. 3. I observed Sephy a lot more closely, tried to understand his body language, and tried to understand where he was coming from. 4. I instituted a very fixed set of rules, a fixed routine, and a very consistent way of communicating with him. I also follow the Nothing in Life is Free program with all of my dogs. They work for all of their food and don’t get any food from a bowl. 5. I had clear and safe plans on how to address each of his difficult behaviors. 6. I set Sephy up for success by not exposing him to highly stressful situations that I know he won’t be able to handle. The more he practices bad behaviors, the more likely he is to repeat them in a wider variety of contexts. 7. I try to stay very calm when he misbehaves. The first step to getting Sephy to calm down is to stay calm myself, and have a clear and safe plan of action.
January 9, 2013 at 5:52 pm
Hello, I thought your article was very unbiased and well written. I own a 1.5 year old pug that doesn’t know much about cars. I am leaving the country for a little while and I have to leave her with my parents. They do not have a fenced yard and a my pug is capable of being on a road with frequent traffic. She doesn’t necessarily chase cars but sometimes her instincts take over and she chases the tires. I have tried calling her off the car but she is totally distracted by the car. I was thinking a getting shock/vibration collar for her. I plan on watching her from a window and making her collar vibrate if she approaches the road (I want to teach her not to go to the road at all). I know she doesn’t like vibrations (because she doesn’t like my phone when it vibrates). If she persists I will use the shock mode on low. Do you think this will be an effective method? If not, what are my other choices?
January 10, 2013 at 11:07 am
This article from the ASPCA has a good list of recall training techniques- http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-articles/teaching-your-dog-to-come-when-called
The thing with off-leash training though, is that no matter which methods we use, there will still be some outlier moments. Dog behavior is not always predictable, and is very dependent on surrounding context, which is also very unpredictable.
I only do off-leash work with my dogs in a safe enclosed space, or when we are in large hiking parks, and are far enough away from the road.
One of my neighbors has a pug who walks with her off-leash, but he is a very senior dog and his days of chasing cars are far behind him. Her little guy sticks very close to her most of the time, but there are still some moments when he sees a running cat, squirrel, or another dog, and he tries to move into the road. He is not very fast though, and she is right next to him, so she picks him up. Still, there is some risk involved.
Is your girl an indoor or outdoor dog? Is it possible to do on-leash walking and be in the house for the rest of the time? Some people may also enclose up an area of the backyard to create a small dog-run.
I really would not take any chances when it comes to dogs and cars. A collar also does not prevent other dogs from coming over and starting something.
January 7, 2013 at 9:46 am
I intend to buy a shock collar for one, and only one purpose: I live in a region, where poisoning of dogs as a preparation for burglary is common. I have trained my dogs to never eat anything, that is not in their food bowl or given to them by my girlfriend or myself. Works 100 %, as long as we are with them. One of us has laid out different treats (including raw meat) on a known course, the other than walked that course. The dogs show no interest in the treats. BUT, if we leave something on the outside and then let the dogs out in the yard, while they can not see us, they eat it immediately.
I see no alternative to the shock color, that has the potential to stop this behavior. As changing this behavior might save the dog’s life one day, I want to do everything in my power, to do so.
If anybody here has better ideas, I would be very grateful to hear them!
January 7, 2013 at 10:39 pm
My younger Husky, Lara, used to like digging on our landscaped backyard grass. She does not do this when I am out in the backyard with her, but when alone, she may dig if she smells something good under the grass.
To stop Lara, I stay inside the house where she can’t see me. However, I am watching her from my hidden position. As soon as she starts to dig, I give her a loud no-mark (Ack-ack) to let her know that it is an undesirable behavior. She usually stops when this happens. If she does not, I will go out and bring her in and she loses her backyard privileges temporarily.
After repeating this a bunch of times, Lara learned that even though she can’t see me, I am watching her and she can’t get away with digging on the landscaped grass. The behavior became unrewarding, and she stopped doing it. Now, she only digs in the back part of the yard that is not landscaped.
All Lara needed to learn was that even though she can’t see me, she still has to follow backyard rules.
In addition, one common method for discouraging a dog from chewing on or eating particular items is by using taste deterrents. http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/using-taste-deterrents
I always make sure that the deterrent is safe and does not upset my dog’s digestive system.
January 6, 2013 at 3:04 pm
Hi shibashake, Thanks for the great article. We have never considered a shock collar, but our Giant Rat Terrier (Decker) Merlin has us really tempted… We have a great dog park and go almost every day…Merlin is young (4 years) and athletic, and gets lots of exercise playing with his friends (several of whom are Shiba Inus)…a very positive activity. At the dog park, Merlin is a frantic marker. He was neutered at 8 months and does not lift his leg all that much elsewhere, NEVER in the house, but at the dog park he has a 3 gallon desire but a half cup bladder…after a few minutes it’s mostly just ritual, but he’ll lift his leg several times a minute. No problem EXCEPT…. He tries to pee on everything more than an inch tall, which of course includes other dogs, which everyone seems to accept, but also PEOPLE, which is at best embarrassing. He’ll lift his leg on a half dozen people in a 45 minute visit to the park. Virtually always just leg lifting, not actual peeing, but still… Because he can cover ground so quickly it’s of course impossible to stay all that close to him, and even if I’m just a few feet away a shout does not stop him quickly enough to prevent the leg lifting. Your perspective on how the shock fits into the dog’s sense of the cause and effect of it all makes me worry that he will just associate the shock with leg lifting rather that the particular circumstance of lifting on a person. If he’d just realize fence post ok, log ok, rock ok, person not ok it would be a wonderful thing, but we sure don’t want to punish him for lifting his leg at the dog park…any thoughts on our dilemma?
January 7, 2013 at 12:19 pm
Does Merlin show this behavior when playing at home with other dogs? How much time does Merlin spend playing and how much time does he spend doing the marking behavior? Does he do this every time he visits the park? Is there something that triggers the behavior (e.g. when the park is crowded, etc.)? Does he start marking right away as soon as he arrives or does he do something else first?
From what you describe, it sounds like the marking *could* be a displacement behavior that is a result of stress or anxiety (similar to biting nails, pulling hair, or pacing in humans). Dog parks can be exciting, but they are usually also high stress environments because there are frequently many dogs in a fairly limited and enclosed space. The environment is very unpredictable because new dogs are arriving, existing dogs are leaving, there may be kids playing, there is a lot of excitement, energy, and little supervision or structure.
What worked well with my Shiba Inu is to invite friendly neighborhood dogs over to have smaller and more structured play sessions at our house. In this way, I am able to supervise well, establish clear play-rules, and Sephy still has fun playing with other dogs. The situation is more predictable, less risky, and I can use it to teach Sephy positive behaviors because he is very motivated to keep the play session going.
Here is a bit more on our enclosed dog-park experiences- http://shibashake.com/dog/enclosed-dog-parks-good-or-bad
This is a pretty interesting article on dog displacement behavior- http://voice4dogs.blogspot.com/2011/05/displacement-behaviors.html
January 3, 2013 at 1:49 am
Hi, very nice and helpfull article. I have a 4 and halph year old Labrador. He is still very playfull and good-natured dog, but he is also alfa male, trying to be dominant, specialy to smaller dogs. We did some basic training and I could say that I can control him 100% when he is on the leach. I live in the suberb and he is most of the time off-leash. Most of the time when there I see another dog, I call him, he comes and we pass on the leash. Most of the times, but a few times it happened that he attacked another dog. Since I would like to have him off leash I am thinking of Shock collar training. What you think? I would be very glad for you advice. Thank you. Kind regards, Jure
January 3, 2013 at 10:35 pm
The risk with shock collar training is that the dog may associate the shocks not to his behavior, but rather to the environment, or to elements in the environment, for example, another dog. If a dog consistently receives a shock every time another dog is in his proximity, he may associate the pain he receives to the other dog, rather than to his own behavior.
Dog to dog aggression may arise for a variety of reasons. What I do with my dogs is this- 1. I first identify the trigger for the aggression, e.g. is it only small dogs, another dog posturing, another dog entering his space, small dogs that move around a lot, etc. – what exactly is it that triggers the aggression. The more observed detail I can recall, the better it will be for management and retraining.
2. Once I identify the trigger, I can more easily manage my dog so that he is not exposed to situations where he will practice the bad behavior until he is trained and ready. The more a dog practices a behavior, the more likely he will repeat it in the future. For the safety of everyone, I always keep my dog on-leash until he is fully trained, I trust him to come when called, and I absolutely trust him not to start anything with other dogs.
3. During the retraining period, I use desensitization and counter-conditioning methods to slowly raise my dog’s tolerance of the trigger stimulus, and teach him alternative behaviors for dealing with stressful conditions.
Given that there has already been a fight, it is likely best to contact a professional trainer to help with this matter.
January 2, 2013 at 8:48 pm
Dear Shibashake, My family and I have a 1/2Boxer/1/2American bulldog (Lucy).We’ve had her since she was 7weeks old and she’s now 6/7months old.Lucy is a wonderful puppy she’s already protective of my family and plays great with my 2yr old daughter,crate trained,potty trained. WONDERFUL …but about 2months ago we adopted a kitten that my daughter had caught (we live in the country on a farm) It had a bad leg but we got her back in good health. Our problem is Lucy is rough with her! I realize she’s a puppy but its kind of weird. When both the cat and dog are inside she plays good with the kitten but when we are all outside she chases the kitten away to where she flees up a tree or under the car. My husbands family has always had boxers and my husband and father-in-law say that boxers are funny towards cats and will eventually Lucy will probably just kill her. So I had thought about the collar and using it if she tried to get the cat but after reading this I dont want it to backfire and make the situation worse. I just dont want her to kill the kitten. My husbands boxer when he was a kid killed their cat and all of the kittens. Should I just get rid of the kitten or is there something I can do to keep the kitten from being Lucys chew toy?
January 3, 2013 at 8:10 pm
Many dogs chase cats because of prey drive. Both my Huskies have high prey drive, and they usually get very excited by cats, especially fast moving cats.
I don’t have a cat at home, so unfortunately, I don’t have much training experience in this area. I have always liked this ASPCA article though, and it may provide some good tips- http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-articles/introducing-your-dog-to-a-new-cat
I also like this discussion on the Shiba Inu forum about helping Shibas get along with cats- http://www.shibainuforum.org/forum/discussion/7120/problem-with-cats/p1#Comment_125511
Hope this helps and good luck.
January 1, 2013 at 11:56 am
My seven-year-old Labrador is the light of my life, but, for several years, he has had the undesirable issue of eating dog poop (his own and others’). It may have started from boredom (I would let him out in the yard while working in my home office) and then transitioned to a guilty pleasure to disobey his master. Once I discovered that he was doing it (I trained him to have a potty zone behind the garage so he wouldn’t go in the yard), I tried chili powder but he proceeded to just eat fresh poop and leave the chili-doctored poop alone. I try to clean up poop right away so he can’t be tempted, but he’s sneaky and sly: I’ll walk away for a short while and he’ll have pooped and snacked on it in that quick period. If I’m there to spy on him, then I can prevent the behavior (he knows, from repeated instances of catching him in the act and scolding him immediately, that that is undesirable behavior in his master’s eyes), but I can’t always be there and he’s too smart for his own good. The dog park has exacerbated the issue since so many owners just stand around texting instead of taking direct responsibility for their dogs. I can’t go anymore because he would be fine in the beginning (played fetch, etc.) but then, it inevitably turned into a “snack” search on his part. He would run off, sometimes in the middle of playing fetch, and go to an area he had sniffed/made a mental note about prior. I started picking up poop right away that he sniffed in the beginning because he would just go back to it later. That’s a losing battle, though, not to mention thoroughly disgusting and not something I want to have to do every time. Obviously, avoiding the dog park will help, but, if he doesn’t get vigorous daily exercise, he gets mopey (dog walks happen if nothing else but it’s not the same). The final piece of this issue is that I cut back his food a half-cup/day last year at the recommendation of my vet, but, considering that this has been an issue for years prior to that reduction in daily calories, I don’t think that was the “cause.” He has been to the vet once for a case of giardia, which I have no doubt came from eating infected poop at the dog park, so I feel like using a shock collar is my only remaining option. He knows in no uncertain terms that the behavior is not acceptable to his master but he looks for ways to do it, regardless. My intent would be to use the shock setting only once and then use the vibration setting afterwards, as needed, to curb the disgusting issue from a distance (so he thinks it’s somehow connected to the poop and not me). The thing is that, as you point out with association, he’ll associate the shock with the special collar that he only wears from time to time, the same collar his master put on him (so the shock was from me, by association). I’m really frustrated because, other than this issue, he obeys the sit, stay, down, off commands just fine. He had an issue with separation anxiety earlier on and would dart out open doors, but we worked on it a lot and he doesn’t do that at all anymore. Despite communicating to him repeatedly that eating poop is not acceptable, I’ve been unable to create a change with his behavior. What is your advice?
January 3, 2013 at 12:09 pm
As you say, the dog park environment is too unstructured and often times, a dog picks up bad habits from other dogs. One thing that worked well with my Shiba Inu is to have smaller, supervised play sessions with friendly neighborhood dogs. During our walks, I try to keep an eye out for friendly dogs who like to play. We were lucky in our last place because our neighbor from across the street, has a wonderful Shepherd-mix, called Kai. We would invite her over to have fun play sessions with Sephy almost every day. In this way, he gets to play with other dogs, but it is done in a structured and well supervised environment.
Sephy really loves his play sessions, and he understands that if he does not follow the rules, the play session ends. He is very motivated to follow play-rules.
In terms of poop eating, I think you point out, rightly so, that supervision is key. Many dogs eat poop because it feels natural for them to do so. It is not so much to disobey us, but rather because it is rewarding to them. The same is true of eating trash, rolling around in dead stuff, and all the other wonderful things that dogs love to do. 😀
Here are some things that help in terms of stopping my dogs from eating poop-
1. During the training period, I make sure I am there to catch Lara (Husky) every time she tries to eat poop. Consistency is very important at this stage because if I am not consistent, she will figure out (very quickly) that it is not ok to eat poop when I am there, but ok when I am not there, or when I am distracted. Dogs are very good at observing us, and since eating poop is very rewarding for some dogs, they will figure out all the special exemption clauses.
2. I motivate Lara not to eat poop by making the behavior be totally unrewarding to her. Lara only tried to eat outside poop. She really likes cat poop and may sometimes sample poop from other dogs. Since I am there to supervise, I give her the Leave-It command (pre-trained). If she listens, I reward her very well for following the command and not eating the poop.
If she ignores the command and tries to go for it, I make sure she doesn’t get to the stuff; then she is not allowed to stop and smell for the rest of the walk. Sometimes though, she will sneak in a little bit when I think she is just smelling. If she does that, I no-mark right away (Ack-ack) so that she knows which behavior is undesirable, then I end the walk right away; i.e. I march her directly home. She know that I am absolutely strict with that – if she ever tastes the stuff, we go home – Do not pass Go! Do not collect 200 dollars!
In this way, “trying to eat poop” becomes very unrewarding because I showed her right from the start that every time she tries, the fun walk ends. Since the behavior always results in a very undesirable outcome, she stopped doing it.
As you point out, we can’t always be there to supervise. When Lara was a puppy, I would put her in an enclosure when I can’t supervise. For poop eating issues there are several other possibilities – a) Keep the dog in a poop-free area. b) Make the poop taste bad. There are additives that can be put in a dog’s food to make their poop taste bad or bitter. It is probably best to consult a vet on this. Since it is added to the food itself, it makes all of the poop taste bad. This can help discourage a dog from eating his own poop. It will not help to stop a dog from eating cat poop or poop from other dogs.
No matter what method we choose to use, consistency is key. We need to ensure that the behavior is *always* not rewarding. At the same time we want to motivate our dog to do something else (e.g. Point, Sit) and make that be very rewarding.
Here is a bit more on dogs and poop eating.
December 23, 2012 at 11:31 am
We are looking at getting a shock collar for our rescue Saluki cross. He is 2 years old and will run up to people and start barking at them. If they ignore him he leaves them alone, if they react he keeps barking and our rescue Labrador cross joins in and this terrifies people. They do not bite but we are afraid that someone is going to hurt them by throwing rocks and hitting them with sticks.
A shock collar sounds like it would be very effective. He runs up to someone, starts barking, gets a shock. It would probably stop the barking at people problem very quickly but not solve the anxiety problem he has which makes him start barking at people in the first place. We have to let him off leash as he needs to run and we are running out of places to take him. He is also being a bad influence on our other dog.
We are worried about him associating the shock he gets with the people he barks at and then getting more aggressive. When I see him running up to random people I wish I had a button to press to shock him. The collars we have seen just shock when the dog barks which would work fine in the situation.
Any advice you could give us ?
December 23, 2012 at 8:23 pm
With Sephy, I did a lot of desensitization and counter conditioning exercises to get him comfortable with people and other dogs.
I like desensitization because it helps to increase a dog’s threshold level, helps the dog gain confidence, and also teaches the dog alternative behaviors for dealing with stress and anxiety. Desensitization is not a quick fix, and will take time, patience, and effort. However, I like it because it targets the source of the problem behavior, has long-term results, is safe, and helps to enhance quality of life.
During Sephy’s early days, it was also helpful for me to visit with some professional trainers. We visited with both aversive and reward based trainers. It helped to give us a better idea of what was available, and the various pros and cons of the techniques. The dog training field is not well regulated though, so I always ask a lot of questions over the phone, and make sure they have good experience, good credentials, and a good understanding of behavioral science.
December 20, 2012 at 11:24 am
Great article. I was going to use the shock collar on my 11month old golden retriever. He has an obsessive personality. I can’t let him run in the yard because he will grab the dirt and grass( football size) and eat it. He won’t drop it or let it go if I tell him to. He gets an obsessed look in his eyes and nothing will make him stop.He is like this with soft toys and tennis balls. I’ve tried to distract him but nothing seems to work and thats why I was going to try the shock collar but after reading this article, I don’t think I want to. Any suggestions?
December 21, 2012 at 5:30 am
Hmmm, when did this behavior start? A big part of it will depend on the cause of the behavior – whether it is from stress and anxiety or something else.
There is a type of disorder called Pica –
Pica (pron.: /ˈpaɪkə/ py-kə) is characterized by an appetite for substances largely non-nutritive, such as clay, chalk, dirt, or sand.…More recently, cases of pica have been tied to the obsessive–compulsive spectrum, and there is a move to consider OCD in the etiology of pica.~~[Wikipedia]
Pica (pron.: /ˈpaɪkə/ py-kə) is characterized by an appetite for substances largely non-nutritive, such as clay, chalk, dirt, or sand.
More recently, cases of pica have been tied to the obsessive–compulsive spectrum, and there is a move to consider OCD in the etiology of pica.
This article has some pretty good information on OCD- http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/13_9/features/Dogs-With-OCD_20062-1.html
If we suspect it is OCD, it is best to consult with a qualified behaviorist.
Sephy does not have OCD but he does get very focused on certain things. A Shiba owner once described his dog as having “a very singular state of mind”. I think that is also a very apt description for Sephy.
Some things that help with Sephy- 1. I provide him with a fixed routine and a lot of structure. This certainty helps him to manage stress. 2. He works for all of his food through training exercises, grooming, and interactive food toys. 3. I provide him with a range of structured activities which help to keep him from getting too focused on any one thing. 4. I walk him daily and also change where we walk, sometimes we go to the park, hills, etc.
December 19, 2012 at 10:26 pm
Thank you for your article. It was thoughtful, kind, and well researched.
I have trained several dogs and have never considered using a shock collar till now. I’m at the end of my rope. I can’t leave the house or get a decent night’s sleep. I rescued a 1yo Weimaraner, a beautiful boy who was injured, abused, and mistreated by a former owner. He is a wonderful animal who deserves a great home.
He has one problem, severe separation anxiety. He is in good health. I have tried the squirt bottle, prescription meds, Thundershirt(he ate it), DAP collar, desensitization training, and reward training. With little in the way of positive results.
My poor Blue screams and whines like he is being tortured whenever we leave the house and at least once a night. He sleeps in our bedroom in his level III crate. Level III because he escaped from everything else when we left the house. He can see us and the other dogs. It’s not the crate. He doesn’t mind the crate at all. He runs to his crate whenever he sees his food bowl and gets lots of treats in his kennel.
No, he doesn’t need to go potty at night. He wants to get in bed. He will sleep all night in bed but there’s not enough room for one Weim(about 100lbs) and 2 people. And sooner or later the other dogs will get jealous. They DO keep track!
We need to be able to sleep for 6 hours and leave the house. If a shock collar will distract him and discourage his bad behavior, I’m ready to give it a try. It certainly isn’t my training method of choice but I have pretty much exhausted my other options. I just need to make sure I get a collar that will be triggered by the screaming. I’m hoping that a couple weeks will do the trick and we won’t have to use it anymore.
December 20, 2012 at 8:21 am
That sounds like a difficult situation.
When I was doing my research into shock collars, I came across a study by Steiss (2007). This study shows that there was no significant difference between spray collars and shock collars in preventing dog barking.
The issue is that the collars may only suppress the behavior temporarily. The anxiety will still be present, and a dog will likely look for other outlets of stress relief.
With Sephy, I found that it was most effective to target the anxiety itself. His chewing and vocalizations were symptoms of stress. Once I was able to set up a very fixed schedule, reduce his stress, and teach him other coping mechanisms, the symptoms went away.
December 19, 2012 at 3:48 am
Hi, i have a whippet and usually she is quite well behaved but when there are others dogs in site (even in another field) she just bolts to get to them, nothing i do or say can stop her. She also sometimes just ignores me completely and refuses to come. I have considered the collar (mainly the vibrate) to try and distract her attention, do you think this will work? do you have any other advice to help with this?
December 20, 2012 at 8:35 am
As I understand it, the vibrate option acts like a marker. To affect behavior, we will need to associate the marker with something else.
For example, when a doorbell rings, a dog will usually run to the door. This is because the dog has learned to associate the doorbell (marker) with “someone at the door”. He runs to the door in anticipation of a happy greeting. Depending on training, some dogs may run to the door to chase the ‘intruder’ away.
If we consistently ring the doorbell and then feed our dog his dinner, he will learn to re-associate the bell with dinner instead of with someone at the door. Once this new association is made, the dog may run to the kitchen instead of the front-door when the bell rings.
In terms of coming when called, this article from the ASPCA has a very good list of techniques for recall training- http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-articles/teaching-your-dog-to-come-when-called
For most dogs, moving people, other dogs, running squirrels, etc. are going to be very interesting and very strong stimuli. It will take consistent training and perhaps a good counter-stimulus to balance their effect. Here are some of my experiences with my dogs and bolting after squirrels.
December 17, 2012 at 7:22 pm
Great article! My miniature Schnauzer barks A LOT and recently has gotten worse. He it 10 years old so Im not sure about the “you can’t teach an ikd dog new tricks” but I wanted to know if there is anything you would suggest I could try out. Thanks 🙂
December 18, 2012 at 10:16 am
Here are some things I looked at for dealing with dog barking. http://shibashake.com/dog/woof-woof-stop-dog-barking
December 10, 2012 at 7:49 pm
I have 3 rescue dogs that consist of 2 labs & a collie/ husky mix (all males). I was considering the shock collar to help wit the collie husky’s aggression towards the oldest lab. It seems to be a jealousy issue whenever I want threw the door he attacks and chases/ bites him. The lab doesn’t participate, he tries to run away. He is otherwise a great dog but this problem is quickly becoming unbearable to witness. I feel terrible even considering to cause pain to him but I also feel terrible for my lab that’s getting attacked :/ Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
December 12, 2012 at 4:32 pm
Here are some things that I do with my dogs to keep the peace at home – http://shibashake.com/dog/second-dog-introducing-a-second-dog
Another useful technique is desensitization and counter-conditioning. http://www.peninsulahumanesociety.org/resource/pdf/dog/DesensitizationCounterconditioning.pdf http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-to-dog-aggression#desensitize
December 6, 2012 at 3:44 am
My 2yr old border collie mix is a fence climber. Funny thing is this just sarted. I want to try a shock collar but don’t know if it would work. Any suggestions?
December 7, 2012 at 8:27 am
Here are some of my experiences with dog escapes- http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-escape-why-dogs-run-away
Aishling O'Doherty says
November 28, 2012 at 8:16 am
Hello, I was wondering if you had any more information on the pros of using shock collars? I’m against them myself but have a debate in college on them and i’m unfortunetly on the pro side. Any science papers, articles or books you could reccommend would be a great help as I’m finding it hard to find anything scientific! This is for my behaviourism class in my veterinary nursing course. Thank you! PS beautiful dogs!
November 29, 2012 at 1:38 pm
Wikipedia may provide some leads, but make sure to verify the cited sources.
Some proponents of shock collars use Tortora’s 1983 to support their case. However, that is for extreme situations where there are few options left to the dogs, and it is between euthanasia or extreme shock treatment. http://shibashake.com/dog/tortoras-study-dog-aggression-and-shock-collars
As you say, there is very little scientific evidence that support the use of shock collars.
November 26, 2012 at 9:48 am
Hi My wife and I read your article as we were looking into a shock collar. We have a rescue dog great pyrenees/retriever mix about 18 months old who has been fixed. She is mostly friendly and loving, however sometimes when my wife loves on her, and has been doing so for several minutes, she starts growling. There is no rhyme or reason. She can be loving on her, and petting her for 2-3 minutes, and Akela will roll over for my wife to rub her belly, and then when she does, Akela will start to growl.
My wife has tried standing up over her, and reprimanding her with a firm “Bah” but that doesn’t doesn’t help. My wife has walked away, and Akela will come and seek her out and ask for more attention.
This is driving my wife and I crazy. It doesn’t happen all the time. She has growled at me, but not as much. I’m thinking this is a alpha male issue.. We’ve had her about 7 months, and this is still an issue.
What type of training besides shock collar will work in this type of situtation?
November 26, 2012 at 10:59 pm
Hmmmm, it is difficult to say without looking at the dog and surrounding context. My dogs will sometimes vocalize when they are getting affection. It is a low vocalization, but more like a “cat purr” in intent, and they are totally relaxed.
What is Akela’s body language like? Is she tense (stiff) or relaxed? Does she only start growling when she is touched in a particular location? Is it a particular type of touch that triggers the growling?
Dogs may sometimes vocalize if they are feeling physical discomfort when touched in certain areas. Does she seem to be walking, jumping, and generally moving normally?
Another possibility is that it could be a miscommunication issue. Dogs communicate differently than we do. For example, dogs do not really “hug” each other whereas that is what we do to show affection. During puppyhood I did a lot of touch exercises with my dogs to get them accustomed to human touch and human affection. The key is to teach our dog to associate certain types of human touch with positive experiences. In this way, they grow to enjoy it (or tolerate it) rather than seeing it as a threat.
Getting a good professional trainer can also be helpful. A trainer can help us read our dog’s body language and also identify what is triggering certain behaviors. I visited with many trainers when Sephy was young. The tricky part is finding a good trainer who is qualified, experienced, and knows what he is talking about. Dog training is not regulated so anybody can come along and claim to be an expert. Still, I learned many useful things from the one or two good ones that I found, so it was definitely worth it, especially during Sephy’s difficult period.
November 25, 2012 at 9:35 am
I, like you am on the verge of using a shock collar for one purpose- leash aggression with other dogs. I live in the city and so not using a leash is not an option. I have a very stubborn breed (doberman pinscher) who is very well behaved otherwise, but we do have some alpha issues.
I have tried reward training, unfortunately when another dog is around has absolutely no interest in the treat at all. For that matter, she is not that food motivated at all.
Do you have any ideas how to address this?
November 26, 2012 at 10:00 pm
Here are some things that helped with my Shiba-
1. Dog-to-dog desensitization exercises
As you say, if the “dog-stimulus” is too strong, our dog will go into a rear-brained state (instinct state). When in this state, a dog is focused on his target and will no longer be interested in food, commands, or anything else.
I learned that the key with my dog (Sephy) is *not* to expose him to such a strong dog-stimulus during training. This is where dog-to-dog desensitization exercises come in. With desensitization, we start by exposing the dog to a very weak version of the stimulus in a controlled environment. In this way, the dog is still able to respond and learn. We can then help our dog to re-associate other dogs with something positive. At the same time, I was able to retrain Sephy to use alternate behaviors to deal with his stress rather than aggression.
Here is more on dog-to-dog desensitization.
2. Saying Calm
With Sephy, I found that it was very important that ~I~ stay calm. In the beginning, I would always get stressed when we see another dog, becauseI was anticipating a bad encounter. Sephy would pick up on my bad energy right away, get stressed himself, and start acting out right away.
What works best is when I stay calm and just focus on creating neutral experiences.
3. Neutral Experiences
When we see other dogs, we just ignore them. I create as much space as possible (cross the road, go in driveways, etc.), I control my energy, and we just walk along at a measured page. Since every time we see a dog – nothing happens – it became a non-event. Since nothing happens, Sephy learned to relax instead of anticipating an action-charged meeting.
Here is a bit more on what I did to help Sephy with his dog-to-dog aggression.
Here is a bit more on reward training and aversive training.
November 24, 2012 at 1:32 pm
Hello, I have an 8 year old rescue doxie/ chihuahua mix. Very sweet, small, male dog who up until now was the alpha. My daughter brought a stray pit/chihuahua male home a year ago. Both dogs are peeing around the base of my bed and I was looking at shock collars as a possible tactic to curb this frustrating territory-marking. After reading the article, I don’t think this is the way to go. Do you have some suggestions as to how to correct this problem behavior? Thank you…
November 24, 2012 at 7:23 pm
Hmmm, when did the peeing start? Was it just recently or has it always been that way? If it was only recently, was there anything that changed during that time? Did anything else happen when the behavior started?
What is their daily routine? Do they mark when out on their walks?
November 24, 2012 at 6:40 am
Hi… I’ve found your article to be very helpful, as well as your comments to people… I’m wondering if you have advice for this situation… 3 months ago I had a baby and my almost 3 year old havanese has become extremely protective of her. He barks like crazy at visitors but more concerning, if I am sitting on the couch with the baby and someone (even an extended family member that he has a great relationship with) approaches us he growls and barks frantically. I love our dog. He is our first baby- but I am VERY concerned that he is going to snap at someone while trying to “protect” the baby. Clearly I can’t have this.
November 25, 2012 at 12:40 pm
Congratulations on your new baby girl!
In terms of guarding behavior, here are some things that help with my dogs-
1. People desensitization exercises.
Desensitization exercises help the dog to associate people coming near him with positive events and outcomes. It also teaches the dog new ways to deal with stress rather than through aggression.
2. I do the protecting so they don’t have to do it themselves.
I establish very clear and consistent interaction rules – with other people and with other dogs. In all cases, I teach my dogs that if there are any issues, I will come and resolve it so that they do not need to do so themselves. For example, when Lara was young, she would try to guard her “affection time” with me. If one of my other dogs come to join in, she would play bite them to keep them away.
I respond by doing a “no-mark” to tell her that this is undesirable behavior. Then, I tell her what to do instead, e.g. go into a Down-Stay. If she does this, then I reward her with more affection and food rewards. I also reward the other dog with the same if she is calm and also does a Down-Stay.
If Lara ignores me and continues with her bad behavior, then I withdraw my attention from her, and totally ignore her. If she continues to harass my other dog, then I calmly say “Timeout” and remove her to a timeout area. When Lara was young I put a drag-lead on her so that I had better control (only with a regular flat collar and only under supervision).
In this way, she learns that if she is calm and in a Down position, she gets lots of rewards and affection. However, biting and harassing others gets her nothing and she may even lose her freedom to be with people.
Dogs often guard resources (e.g. food, toys, people) because they think that someone else coming near their “stuff” means something negative. I try to teach my dogs that they get the most rewards through cooperation and by being calm. I also teach them to associate other dogs and people with food, attention, and other positive outcomes.
November 22, 2012 at 8:44 pm
I have a 7 month old Newfoundland puppy with separation anxiety. He is very well behaved with the exception of food. He’s constantly scouring the floors, couches, end tables (I have 3 year old twins so he’s always on the hunt for something they may have dropped). He tries to take food straight out of their mouths if they are eating a snack. With dinner time, he will calmly lay down and not even beg but the rest of the house he acts like he can do whatever he wants when it comes to food/snacks. I know the easy solution is to keep all food in the kitchen but anyone knows with a toddler, that’s not possible and him taking food from their hands or mouth, NOT acceptable. I can’t crate him because he freaks out and has actually learned how to escape. His crate, he constantly barks and digs at the door and no, I don’t tell him no or give him any attention but I ignore him until the behavior stops and he calms down, but sometimes that takes up to an hour and is obviously very disruptive and now he fights me to go in. He used to go in with treats but he won’t do that anymore. I started instead of crating trying to put him outside. He has toys, a kiddie pool, water, chewies and my other dog to play with but instead he gets “mad” that I put him out and has gone as far as to actually chew ON the house. Today he stole food from my son, I told him no, immediately put him out and when I went to let him in 30 min later he had eaten the house, the deck, 2 cardboard boxes, the hose and a toy crate. I love this dog dearly but I’m at my wits end at what to do about this behavior and any insight would be great!
November 24, 2012 at 5:03 pm
Yeah, dogs are usually very opportunistic about food, especially food that they don’t normally get. In general, dogs repeat behaviors that have good outcomes and stop behaviors that have bad outcomes.
When a dog jumps, grabs at hands, and gets a yummy, unique snack as a reward, he will keep repeating that behavior because from his point of view – jumping and grabbing hands = very good food reward that he never gets otherwise.
The way that I stop this behavior with my dogs is to make sure that they never get rewarded for their jumping and biting behavior. 1. As you say, one possibility is to limit access to people food.
2. We can also use supervision and management. For example, when puppy Lara bites on something she is not supposed to, I no-mark the behavior and then give her an alternate simple command (Sit). If she does it, then I praise her really well and reward her with food, affection, and a fun game.
On the other hand, if she continues with jumping and biting then I use her drag lead to remove her from the location and redirect her into doing something else. Body blocks can also be used depending on the situation. Then I keep her with me for a certain duration.
In this way she associates following commands with food, attention, games, and other rewards. However, jumping and biting leads to less freedom since she has to stay with me afterwards. Most of all, I make sure that she never gets any free food from jumping and biting.
Limited freedom can also be achieved with timeouts, but then, it may not be as appropriate for dogs with separation anxiety. Also, I usually start with very very short timeouts (1 minute or a few minutes).
3. Dogs with separation anxiety chew as a way to deal with acute stress. They may also chew through crates and chew at dry wall in an effort to escape or try and get back to their people. These behaviors are not a result of vengeance or anger. The chewing is a familiar behavior that the dog uses to cope with anxiety, similar to how a person may pace, chew on her nails, or play with her hair when under stress.
Here is a bit more on my dogs and separation anxiety.
November 18, 2012 at 9:34 am
My 15 month old boxer runs wild if he gets loose from us or busts out the doors and runs crazy and Will Not come back. We actually have to chase him and sneak up on him to catch him. We walk him on a leash all the time. When we got him he was confined to a small outdoor kennel and didn’t have a lot of interaction wth owners. Please help.
November 18, 2012 at 12:17 pm
Two things that help with my dogs- 1. Recall Training This article from the ASPCA has a great list of recall techniques and how to teach a dog to come when called.
2. Door Manners I use our daily walks to teach my dogs “door manners”. Every day, before going on a walk, – I call my dogs to me. – When they come, and I ask them to Sit and wait calmly. – I put on collar and leash if they are calm, and reward them for being calm. Then, I hold the leash and open the door. – If they break their “Sit”, I no-mark and close the door. I wait for a while, then try again. – If they Sit nicely, then I give them the “Break” command and we go for our walk.
In this way they learn the following- Sit and be calm = Go for nice walk Break sit = Door closes and don’t get to go for walk.
Dogs often bust out of doors because they inadvertently get rewarded for it; not only by getting a nice trip outside, but also by starting a fun chase game. To teach a dog not to run out of doors, we want to turn things around and reward calm behaviors. We also want to make sure that they are not inadvertently rewarded for their door escapes.
November 6, 2012 at 11:02 pm
Good article. I’m glad I came across it on my search for a collar for my dog. You seem like you have done a lot of reading, so maybe you can point me in the right direction. I have a three year old lab/alaskan malamute. We got her when she was 7 weeks old. She behaves very well when it is just my husband and I, but she LOVES other people. We’ve taken her to dog parks, run, etc. from the time she had her 1st shots. If I’m running with her, I can keep her on track and she doesn’t really pull towards others, but if she’s walking, she’ll pull. I’ll give her leash corrections, or even swat her butt with the end of the leash, to redirect her. However, if she is close to someone or if they make happy noises to her (“oooohhhh, what a cuuuute dog!”), she goes batty and pulls like crazy. I am 109 pounds, and she is 107# of pure torque, so it really takes everything I have to keep her from getting to people. She is super friendly, but I am really afraid she is going to knock someone down. Well, that was my biggest concern, until I had a baby. My son is now 14 months old, and I’m concerned she is going to pull like that when I’m holding him. She went nuts for a guy, who walked over to me today. Luckily, my son was standing just behind me because she gave it all she had to get to this guy, who was terrified. She won’t go to the bathroom in the yard, so she must be walked, so I need to come up with something. Leash jerks really don’t help when she’s in that state because the leash is already stretched out and she is pulling as hard as possible. Even my husband can’t jerk her back, just keep her from going forward. Really need some advice. At this point, a shock is really all I can think of.
November 8, 2012 at 7:56 am
Some people use a head-halti to control pulling for larger dogs- http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-leash-training-equipment#halti
As with any other piece of equipment, that has its own strengths and weaknesses.
As for leash training, I usually start by training my puppy in a very quiet, low-stimulus environment, e.g. my backyard. This gets her used-to various commands and also used-to being together with me on a leash. During leash-training I walk the in-training dog by herself. This allows me to focus all of my attention on the training session.
Once puppy is comfortable with walking in the backyard, then I start walking her in only very quiet parts of the neighborhood. In this way, we start small, and slowly increase the environmental challenge.
I also do some people desensitization exercises with my puppy to help get her accustomed to new people so that she doesn’t get over-excited.
Here is more on my leash training experiences.
November 5, 2012 at 4:53 am
Great info; thanks. I haven’t seen anything directly related to our problem, so maybe you can comment: We typically adopt older dogs since they are harder for the shelters or rescues to place, because they seem grateful to have affection and a stable home to live out the rest or their lives in, and because they typically are less trouble to care for. Recently, however, we couldn’t resist taking in an abandoned 1-2 year old female beagle-pointer mix (maybe some whippet or something – really fast runner). Sadie began to adapt nicely to our environment and our three older dogs (Jake 14, Sasha 12, and Ruby 13 – all neutered) when my wife noticed on a blog she frequents that there was a recent addition to our local shelter who looked a lot like Sadie. Primarily out of curiosity, we checked her out and she was practically a spitting image of Sadie. We adopted Maddie. They are perfect for each other, playing for most of the day in the pasture or in the house. For two months all was good. Then, one day I came home to find blood on the floor and the walls in the utility room and our old dog, Jake, nursing a torn ear and a wound on his back. Still trying to figure out what happened (he is NEVER aggressive – most good tempered dog I’ve ever seen), later that day Sadie and Maddie jumped him in the living room while he was lying down. I had to physically beat them off kick/pushing them away from him (not hard kicks at all). Since then, there have been a couple of times it got close to a dust-up, but we keep them separated when we leave and watch them when we’re home, so no fights. I should mention that Maddie was spayed before leaving the shelter but we were misinformed about Sadie and she came into heat within a few days of the first attack. We don’t know whether to attribute any aggression to that (a friend says being in heat always made her female more docile/good tempered). We are very worried that we might miss an encounter and Jake will be badly hurt (he already hit the road one night while I was out of town – my wife found him in a perimeter canal at midnight after 4 hours of searching). We thought shock collars for the two aggressors but after reading the article are back to not knowing the best solution. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
November 6, 2012 at 11:33 am
What has worked well for my dogs is to establish clear rules of interaction. I just got a Sibe puppy last year, and boy was she full of crazy puppy energy. She is sweet but wanted to play all of the time. The other two dogs like playing with her sometimes, but other times they just want to sleep or laze around.
Some things that helped with my dogs- 1. I made sure that when my adult dogs are resting, puppy does not bother them. 2. I have a fixed schedule and a consistent set of rules for puppy. She gets a lot of play time, but she can’t play all of the time and most importantly, she is not allowed to disturb the other dogs when they just want to rest. 3. During play time, I have safe no-play zones. If a dog is feeling overwhelmed or does not want to play anymore, she just comes over to me and I make sure she stays safe and does not get disturbed by the others. 4. I supervise all their play sessions and make sure there is no bullying, stealing, or humping. During play, I also throw in many play breaks. I call them over and we do some simple commands. They get rewarded well, so they look forward to these mini-breaks. This helps them to refocus on me, and helps to reduce their level of excitement. 5. I don’t leave puppy alone with my other Sibe (Shania). Shania is a 3 legged dog, and she has gotten hurt before from puppy playing. Now, there are clear rules of play. For example, Lara is not allowed to chase Shania. I also do not let her jump over Shania or play too rough with her. If Shania is lying down, Lara has to be lying down as well. She is not allowed to pounce on Shania or step all over her.
In general, what has worked out best is for me to supervise and resolve conflicts before they escalate into something more serious. They can play, but I make sure they follow play rules and I manage their level of excitement. When they get over-excited, is when things are most likely to get out of control.
As for coming into the heat cycle, I do not have much experience with that because both my Sibes are spayed. From talking to my breeder, I know that she separates out any dog that is in heat. This is because the males may try to mount her or compete over her. This creates conflict and may result in fights if the female does not want any male attention, or if the males feel they have to fight over her.
October 15, 2012 at 8:04 am
Hi there – I found your article really helpful, but I am curious for your thoughts on my particular situation. Our 18 month old Wheaten/Airedale mix is a great dog, super loving and full of energy. He does really well off-leash and does great with recall, never strays too far from us, etc. However, often he gets SO excited to play with other dogs, that he gets OVERLY into playing/wrestling to the point where the other dog clearly wants him to stop. But he wont. It’s almost like he fixates on that dog and just wont let up. It has lead to one or both of them starting to get aggressive or nipping a little too hard. We use “off” command, but when he’s in that state, it does nothing. When we try to pull him off, he has a few times gotten aggressive with us. It’s really shocking b/c he is SUCH a sweet and lovable dog, so it’s really weird to see him act like that.
Our dog walker who takes him on daily off-leash hikes, has suggested we try an e-collar to help him learn “off” better. I should also mention he jumps on everyone who comes in the house, except my husband and I. Not aggressively, but just annoyingly. Anyway, I am on the fence about it. I think it could help and I don’t want to get into a dangerous situation with the dog, other dogs or myself. What do you think? Do you have suggestions for helping him to learn when enough is enough? Just putting him on the leash does not seem to work.
October 18, 2012 at 8:38 am
Yeah, Sephy used to redirect on us as well during his bouts at the dog park. He would get into really excited play, and when we go to stop him, he would redirect that excitement onto the lead and onto us. At that point, he is not thinking anymore, just acting on instinct. It is similar to when we restrain people who are in the middle of a fight or some intense activity – they may redirect on the people restraining them.
Some things that help with Sephy during play-time- 1. Play-breaks I have lots of play breaks where I call my dogs over, reward them well, and we do a short obedience session. Play breaks help to refocus them on something else, and helps to calm them down. In this way, they never get too excited, and play doesn’t escalate into something else.
2. Play rules I have clear and consistent play rules that I teach to all of my dogs. For example, there is no humping and no stealing. I supervise them during play and if I see anyone attempting to hump or bully, I stop play right away. If the same dog continues with the behavior, then he goes for a short time-out. In this way he associates “play too rough” = “don’t get to play”.
3. Smaller play groups Instead of large play groups at the park, I found that Sephy does much better in a smaller and more structured play environment. Here are some of my experiences with enclosed dog parks.
The key with stopping Sephy from escalating “play-time” is to stop him before he gets overly excited and switches to instinct. Once that happens, he can no longer listen or control himself. What has worked well, is to redirect him every so often, and manage his excitement, so that he never reaches his instinct threshold.
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