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Changing behaviour

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Rincewind, Mar 14, 2019.


  1. Rincewind

    Rincewind PetForums Member

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    I’m a bit concerned over my dogs changing behaviour. He’s a two year old working Cocker Spaniel and just lately he’s got a lot more nervous, I was told a little while ago that if you fuss and cuddle dogs they get anxious is this true ? because that’s what I do . I also when meeting other dogs I get him to sit stay till they pass for fear of attack’s, does he pick up on my fear? One more thing when we start our walks he’s 100mph all over the place then settles into a nice walk . Any advice would be appreciated thanks
     
  2. Jamesgoeswalkies

    Jamesgoeswalkies PetForums VIP

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    If your dog has become 'a lot more nervous' as you say then you may need to look at how you are handling particular situations. Rather than 'pick up on your fear' your dog may be unsure of what to do as you you are not offering a confident cue. I would look at working at your confidence in these and other situations so that you can use his training to good advantage.

    Sitting calmly to let other dogs go by is fine but think of it more as being polite than 'for fear of attacks'.

    And I would have though running around at 100mph for a while is natural for a young working cocker :)

    J
     
  3. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    No (at least, not unless it is the contact itself that he dislikes). You can't reinforce fear with reward. If you were horribly afraid of snakes, and I gave you a chocolate every time you saw one, you wouldn't become more afraid of them. If I held your hand and took you away from them you night become less afraid though.
     
  4. Rincewind

    Rincewind PetForums Member

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    Thanks everyone, thought it might be me ! As my dog training lady says “ John be more confident! “
     
  5. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel PetForums VIP

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    No - but i think i know what the person that told you that meant. Say for example your dog cowers into your leg whenever an off lead dog is approaching at speed - if you pick up your dog and cuddle it in that sort of situation then that will do absolutely nothing to help that dog gain confidence - you are rewarding the dog with a big cuddle for showing an anxious reaction.

    Slightly different situation i witnessed yesterday - a lady in a cafe with a dog on her knee that kept barking very loudly. Every time it barked, she cuddled it in closer in an attempt to quieten it. So really, she was rewarding that dog every time it barked. Does that make sense?

    If you approach other dogs (as in walk by) with confidence and not show alarm when other dogs come close, your dog will not pick up on your anxiety.

    You can, as James suggests, put your dog into a sit and offer treats as other dogs pass by. Or keep your dog's focus on a ball or something. If your dog learns that every time a dog goes by, he gets a treat, he will soon learn there is nothing to fear.
    On the other hand, if you yourself become anxious, dogs are quick to pick up on that anxiety down the lead so the sight of other dogs becomes associated with anxiety and fear.

    Bold and calm behaviour from you is the way forward! Good luck!
     
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  6. Rincewind

    Rincewind PetForums Member

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    Many thanks tablemabel
     
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  7. mrs phas

    mrs phas my home, my sofa, my rules

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    if you think you are projecting nervousness down the lead to your dog
    try singing nursery rhymes in your head
    i defy anyone to be nervous whilst singing Mary had a little lamb, or hey diddle diddle in their head
     
    #7 mrs phas, Mar 15, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
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  8. kimthecat

    kimthecat PetForums VIP

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    Can you give more detail, What is he nervous of and how does he react eg barks or tries to hide. ?
    Its not true that if you cuddle of fuss your dog it will get more anxious or fearful , the only thing that will make your dog more fearful or anxious is if you behave anxiously or fearfully .

    I expect that he picks up your fear, is there much risk of other dogs attacking where you walk him ?
    Does he get much change to meet and play with other dogs?
     
  9. kimthecat

    kimthecat PetForums VIP

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    but wouldnt feeding treats be rewarding your dog for showing anxious behaviour?
     
  10. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel PetForums VIP

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    Hmmm - you might have a point there! I was thinking of a scenario where the handler sat the dog at a safe distance and then had the dog's focus on him. So the dog's focus switches to the handler and the treats
    I suppose it could all go badly wrong if the timing was off though so i do take your point.
     
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  11. kimthecat

    kimthecat PetForums VIP

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    @tabelmabel
    I guess a lot depends on the individual dog and the circumstances the dog is in at the time .
     
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  12. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel PetForums VIP

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    I guess so @kimthecat. I have my own anxious dog behaviour problem newly started at my own house: just last week, our cat (who really does not mingle at all with the dogs and sleeps up high on the kitchen table) has decided that she will lie in wait for Tilly coming in from her late night toilet and attack her.

    When she sees Tilly and I go out into the garden last thing at night, she jumps down from the kitchen table and moves into position under a kitchen chair. Initially, she just gave her a stare but the other night, she went at Tilly with hissing and paws.

    So last night and tonight, Tilly has put the brakes on (she goes out with me on lead into the garden) and i have come into the house but she has come to an abrupt stop!
    Tonight, Beryl the cat hadn't even jumped onto the floor so i just moved to cover the chair where Tilly thought Beryl must be and sort of pulled her in.

    Think i might try out the treat thing tomorrow though - my theory being she will keep her nose to the cheese and forget her fear. Definitely no anxiety going down my lead - i had completely forgotten about Beryl when boldly strolling back into my kitchen. Then realised my lead had gone taut and Tilly was stopped in the garden!
     
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  13. Rincewind

    Rincewind PetForums Member

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    Kimthecat
    To be more specific about his behaviour is tricky because I only have this vague idea of what’s changed but I will try . So scenario’s ....his curled up on his mat quite ( but not asleep ) and then I’ll accidently touch his leg and he jumps out of his skin ....scenario... walking along a cycle track running parallel to a road a car or motorcycle with a load exhaust goes by and his shoulders drop and his tail goes between his legs. Scenario....drive to one of our favourite walks and once he’s out of the car for the first few mins is pulling like mad on the lead hither and thither if that makes sense then when I let him off he’s fine . Last one ...as a general rule whenever I go to fuss him saying “ who’s a good boy then “ he goes into that very submissive pose rolling on his back with his nose tucked into his chest . What do you think Kimthecat ? Many thanks
     
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  14. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel PetForums VIP

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    @kimthecat


    Just tagging her for you in case she doesn't re visit the thread!


    To tag someone, just use the @ symbol and then start to type their username. Members' names beginning with your typed letters will display. Just select who you want.
     
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  15. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

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    Maybe shut the cat out of the kitchen before taking the dog out?
     
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  16. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel PetForums VIP

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    Sounds simple but she only has access to the kitchen at night. During the daytime she stays upstairs. At night she does a mix of ourdoor and kitchen (cat flap) she will not enter the living room area at all since we got murph back in 2013.

    To put her in the garden would be useless - tilly would never do her toilet at all! I have tried repeatedly popping her back on the table but it's a no go.

    I'm looking forward to trying my cheese theory anyway! I see no one at all liked my way of dealing with thing for Reecewind so it will be interesting to see if it is a total fail!! I won't mind admitting it if so:)
     
  17. Burrowzig

    Burrowzig PetForums VIP

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    I'd be taking the dogs out the front door then, and they can pee either in the front garden if there is one, or a short walk up the street.
     
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  18. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel PetForums VIP

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    Ps it has got me thinking though, this thread - especially with what @JoanneF says.
    With human psychology, avoiding difficult situations does not decrease fear. Quite the opposite. To give an example, my son was terrified of hand driers in toilets when he was about 3 yrs old. So, to easy solution at the time was to not use them and use paper towels where possible.

    Unwittingly, i had done the worst thing possible. I had 'validated' to my son that hand driers are really scary. This avoidance increased his fear to a point where he needed professional help!!

    Now, i don't think feeding him chocolates by the hand drier would have worked. No. But holding his hand and leading him out escalated the situation.

    The solution was to take it back step by step so he could enter the toilet area with drier turned off. And he WAS rewarded at each step with stickers and charts. When he was comfortable with each little stage.


    With human psychology, fear will hit a high and then come back down. So if you can find a way of staying in the fear situation, (slowly step by step building up the proximity to the source of fear and getting comfortable at each step) that can work for humans.

    Fully appreciate dogs aren't humans though!
    I would have thought, by sitting the dog in a safe zone and then treating for successful behaviour would have been ok. But your responses have got me re-thinking, that's for sure!
     
  19. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    My point wasn't that reward / chocolates would decrease the fear though - it's that they wouldn't increase it and make the person more afraid (I know we are talking metaphorically here but it's as good a metaphor as any) :)
     
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  20. Rincewind

    Rincewind PetForums Member

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    Fascinating stuff , I’m so glad I have this forum
     
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