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Running up to people [Help]

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by MGarland, Jan 30, 2012.

  1. MGarland

    MGarland PetForums Member

    Aug 23, 2010
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    So my dog Nova is a SBT and therefore loves people.

    She is 4 months old and I have pretty much all her behaviour in check except for the charging people.

    I ask people to ignore her completely which helps just fine with recall and her following me off in the direction I am going but she will not approach anyone calmly no-matter how much I try yo hold her focus.

    Is she too young for me to expect her to be reserved?

    The main reason I ask is I got my first proper experience of Staffy hate.

    *story time, irrelevant to the question*

    So I was walking Nova in a very busy dog walking place yesterday to socialise her. All through the walk I am stopping to do random obedience drills etc to try and hold her focus. Anyway I am walking past some people I have met before saying hello etc and being friendly. As I pass them I see something rather strange in the distance... A FAMILY WITH NO DOG. This to me always sets of the alarm bell of oh crap what if they do not like dogs....

    So as we are getting close to them I shout out "You will have to excuse her enthusiasm she is still in training, if you ignore her she will not bother you." The mother looks at me like I just asked her to wash my feet for me and instantly grabs her two kids. I now fully know this will get ugly.

    Nova sticks to me really well, probably because she can sense I am uneasy... So I think everything is going really well. I get past them with her just raising her nose to them and even say "Oh thanks, she is still very young" to the mother. As I pass them Nova turns to look at them and instantly charges to them. The mother gives her a big shove away with her foot (This is not a problem, she has every right to move my dog away from her.) I dash over and get Novas attention before apologising and walking off.

    As I get away the mother so I can hear her says "Yet another silly boy with a dangerous dog he can't control"

    Now this upset me, because I am trying really hard with Nova and she gets lots better every day but she is only young, I often think non-dog people assume dogs come trained!

    *end of story time*
    #1 MGarland, Jan 30, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2012
  2. Sammy123

    Sammy123 PetForums Senior

    Nov 9, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Did you consider using a 10 m’s long training line? It makes it much easier to control a dog and to stop unwanted behaviour before it escalates? You do know that, by calling your dog while it is running away from you, does more damages to recall training than not to call it at all? They can learn to ignore you or to be nonresponsive to your call. Long line allows you to remind your pup that you are there by slowly pulling it back to you, and when their eyes are back on you, to recall it back. I did get lots of funny looks and sarcastic comments when I was dragging that line behind me however, it pays off, you feel like you can control your dog, and even if unpleasant things like this happen, people more clearly see that you are trying. :)
  3. smokeybear

    smokeybear PetForums VIP

    Oct 19, 2011
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    I am afraid that with the current state of dog attacks that many people (dogless and/or dog owners) are far less tolerant of the unwanted attentions from a rogue dog.

    TBF everyone has the right to walk unmolested by other dogs or people and it is up to US to extend to others the courtesy we would expect for ourselves.

    I wonder why you did not put your dog on the lead?

    It is quite simple, then you prevent the problem from occurring. It also prevents your dog being injured by other people and/or dogs etc.

    It is not rocket science really is it?

    If you have not got a recall yet then do not let dog off a lead or off a long line until you do.

    There is really no point in pointing the finger at the other person, as it is YOU who allowed this to happen and your dog's welfare is YOUR responsiblity.

    So why not prevent her from practising inappropriate behaviour?

    This might help.

    Why can’t I get a reliable recall?

    ‘Come’ is no harder to train than any other behaviour but in real life it has a huge number of criteria that have to be raised one at a time in order to guarantee success.

    Often when puppies are brought home to their new owners this is the first time they have ever been separated from their dam and siblings and so they naturally attach themselves to their new family by following them about everywhere. Owners find this quite attractive and wrongly assume that this trait will continue into adolescence/adulthood, whatever the circumstances. A dangerous trap to fall into…

    At some point in time, usually from around 6 – 10 months, depending on the individual, “Velcro” dog will morph into “Bog off” dog (this is especially true of a breed that has been developed to exhibit a high degree of initiative). This is the time when owners suddenly realize that their dog will not recall when it sees another dog/person etc. Not only is this inconvenient but potentially dangerous as the dog could be at risk of injury from a car/train/another dog etc.

    How and when do I start with a puppy?

    My advice is to prepare for this inevitability from the day you take your puppy home. If you are lucky the breeder will have started this process whilst still in the nest by conditioning the puppies to a whistle blown immediately before putting the food bowl down during weaning.
    Dogs learn by cause and effect ie sound of whistle = food. If you, the new owner, continue this from the moment your puppy arrives you will lay down strong foundations for the future.

    By using the whistle in association with meals/food you need to establish the following criteria:
    • Come from across the room.
    • Come from out of sight
    • Come no matter who calls
    • Come even if you are busy doing something else
    • Come even if you are asleep.
    • Come even if you are playing with something/someone else
    • Come even if you are eating

    Once this goal has been realized in the house, drop all the criteria to zero and establish the same measures, one at a time, in the garden.

    Once this goal has been realized in the garden, drop all the criteria to zero and establish the same measures, one at a time, in the park/field etc.

    To train this, or any other behaviour:

    1. Make it easy for the dog to get it right
    2. Provide sufficient reward

    Do not expect a dog to come away from distractions in the park until you have trained it to come to you in the park when no diversions are around. Be realistic and manage your expectations; your sphere of influence/control over your dog may be only 20m to begin with, therefore do not hazard a guess that the dog, at this level of training, will successfully recall from 50m or more away. Distance, like every other criterion, must be built up over time.

    Some simple rules to follow when training the recall:

    • Whistle/signal/call only once (why train the dog to deliberately ignore your first command?)
    • Do not reinforce slow responses for the dog coming eventually after it has cocked its leg, sniffed the tree etc (you get what you train!)
    • If you know that the dog will not come back to you in a certain situation, go and get him rather than risk teaching him that he can ignore you. (If you have followed the programme correctly you will never put your dog in a position to fail).
    • Practise recalling the dog, putting him on the lead for a few seconds, reinforce with food/toy etc and immediately release the dog. Do this several times during a walk etc so that the dog does not associate a recall with going on the lead and ending the walk or being put on the lead with the cessation of fun.
    • Eventually, when the behaviour is very strong, alternate rewards ie verbal praise, physical praise, food, toy and also vary the “value” of the rewards, sometimes a plain piece of biscuit, sometimes a piece of cooked liver etc so that you become a walking slot machine (and we all know how addictive gambling can be)!

    In my experience recall training should be consistent and relentless for the first two years of a dog’s life before it can be considered truly dependable. You should look on it as a series of incremental steps, rather than a single simple behaviour, and something that will require lifelong maintenance.

    What about an older or rescue dog?

    Follow the same programme as outlined above however for recalcitrant dogs that have received little or no training, I would recommend dispensing with the food bowl and feeding a dog only during recalls to establish a strong behaviour quickly.

    Your training should be over several sessions a day, which means you can avoid the risk of bloat. It is essential that the dog learns that there will be consequences for failure as well as success.

    Divide the day’s food ration up into small bags (between10 – 30), if the dog recalls first time, it gets food, if it does not, you can make a big show of saying “too bad” and disposing of that portion of food (either throw it away or put aside for the next day).

    Again, raise the criteria slowly as outlined in puppy training.

    Hunger is very motivating!

    For those of you who believe it unfair/unhealthy to deprive a dog of its full daily ration, not having a reliable recall is potentially life threatening for the dog ……………

    How do I stop my dog chasing joggers/cyclists/skateboarders/rabbits/deer?
    Chasing something that is moving is a management issue. Do not put your dog in a position where it can make a mistake. Again you need to start training from a pup but if you have already allowed your dog to learn and practise this behaviour you may need to rely on a trailing line until your dog is desensitised to these distractions and knows that listening to you results in a great reinforcement. Chasing is a behaviour much better never learned as it is naturally reinforcing to the dog, which makes it hard for you to offer a better reinforcement. If you want to have a bombproof recall while your dog is running away from you then use the following approach:

    Your goal is to train so that your dog is totally used to running away from you at top speed, and then turning on a sixpence to run toward you when you give the recall cue.

    You need to set up the training situation so that you have total control over the triggers. For this you will need to gain the co-operation of a helper. If you have a toy crazy dog you can practice this exercise by throwing a toy away from the dog towards someone standing 30 or 40 feet away. At the instant the toy is thrown, recall your dog! If the dog turns toward you, back up several steps quickly, creating even more distance between the you and the toy and then throw another toy in the opposite direction (same value as one thrown)..

    If the dog ignores you and continues toward the thrown object, your “helper” simply picks the ball up and ignores dog. When dog eventually returns (which it will because it’s getting no reinforcement from anyone or anything), praise only. Pretty soon the dog will start to respond to a recall off a thrown toy. You will need to mix in occasions the toy is thrown and the dog is allowed to get it ie you do NOT recall if you want to make sure it does not lose enthusiasm for retrieving.

    For the food obsessed dog, you can get your helper to wave a food bowl with something the dog loves in it and then recall the dog as soon as you let it go to run towards the food; again if the dog ignores you and continues to the food, your helper simply ensures the dog cannot access the food and start again. (It is extremely important that the helper does not use your dog’s name to call it for obvious reasons).

    Gradually increase the difficulty of the recall by letting the dog get closer and closer to the toy/food. Praise the moment the dog turns away from the toy/food in the
    early stages of training. Don't wait until the dog returns to you; the dog must have instant feedback.

    Once the dog is fluent at switching directions in the middle of a chase, try setting up the situation so that it is more like real life. Have someone ride a bike/run/skate past. (It is unrealistic to factor in deer/rabbits however if your training is thorough the dog will eventually be conditioned to return to you whatever the temptation in most contexts).

    Until your training gets to this level, don't let the dog off-lead in a situation in which you don't have control over the chase triggers. Don't set the dog up to fail, and don't allow it to rehearse the problem behaviour. Remember, every time a dog is able to practise an undesirable behaviour it will get better at it!

    Most people do not play with toys correctly and therefore the dog is not interested in them or, if it gets them, fails to bring it back to the owner.

    Play the two ball game, once you have a dog ball crazy. Have two balls the same, throw one to the left, when the dog gets it, call him like crazy waving the next ball; as he comes back throw the other ball to the right and keep going left right so that YOU are the centre of the game and the dog gets conditioned to return to you for the toy. Once this behaviour is established you can then introduce the cues for out and then make control part of the game ie the game is contingent on the dog sitting and then progress to a sequence of behaviours.


    ETA ANY breed or non breed would be considered potentially dangerous and out of control, but as the spotlight is on SBTs, you need to be even MORE vigilant than other owners.
    #3 smokeybear, Jan 30, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2012
  4. TheFredChallenge

    TheFredChallenge PetForums Member

    Feb 17, 2011
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    I sympathise with you as my Lab has always thought that everyone can be greeted and that we should know them?!!! However of course this is not the case and he too will often approach people with no dogs....or should I say 'would' as I don't let him practice it.

    He has done this from the word go and now at 14 months although he is harmless and wouldn't bite/growl at anybody I do know (although it's generally less these days) he probably would jump in his greeting. However as I can pretty much predict his behaviour, as I've said; I don't let him have the access. He is leaded back up and I tell him to heal (often with a game/treat) as distraction and we walk on past. You talking to the woman in your story would probably indicate to your dog that she too can interact and a great deal of it was made rather than trying to ignore the fact.

    For my boy this has been a habit that's been hard to deal with as some dogs are just more interactive and nosey than others...and when you have one of those dogs it's bloody hard and gives you extra issues to work on and you have to be more aware of your surroundings. Whereas with another dog perhaps you may not have an issue at all and it be quite happy to mooch along by him/herself and not be interested at all in other humans whilst out....god I wish I had one of those!!!! :blush:

    So I'd say long line practise or if on a general lead; lead-up (making no big deal) and also do that when there is nothing approaching otherwise the dog clicks on to this and you won't get the focus. You yourself have to have in your mindset that the people aren't there. Use interesting and varied treats, play 'look at me' , 'which hand?' and get her to focus on you. Try and make as little deal as possible, keep your emotions calm but be interesting to your dog and ideally you want to get it to a stage where you can have a loose lead as you go past. That indicates less interest and they'll either be mooching of their own accord or focusing on you. I am happy to say we're quite successful with that these days. :smile5:

    What I would say is if you're preventing her from meeting people whilst out then try and work on the issues with visitors at home (asking for their help and do a bit of training). Otherwise you don't have a chance to try and remedy the problem. It's better that they ignore the dog completely initially (no touch, no talk, no eye contact - as Cesar would say) and when the dog is calm and sitting....*try to get them to sit before they even enter the house* then either reward with a treat or then let there be light contact with the dog. That though is a whole different scenario. Books on training (from the library) were a great free resource as well as the forum of course ;)

    This is how we've gone along and so I can only share my experiences of how it's working. We also go to a class and he did puppy class when he was younger. It all helps but it isn't a quick fix!
    #4 TheFredChallenge, Jan 30, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2012

    SEVEN_PETS PetForums VIP

    Aug 11, 2009
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    I certainly would not like your dog charging at me. Unfortunately, being a staffie, charging at people could end up with someone reporting you. All people have to do is feel fear of being attacked, and a charging staffie is not going to be at all welcome.

    Whether I have my dog with me or not, I don't like dogs charging at me, and personally I think if your dog charges at people, it should be on a lead. Don't let your dog off lead until you can almost guarantee you have trained it out of her. Use a longline or flexi lead to gain control.
  6. deybecumu

    deybecumu PetForums Junior

    Feb 18, 2011
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    A family without a dog is certainly strange!! refrain from saying anything for a start or shouting anything, your dog feels the stress in your voice and so do humans whether they know it or not ,you are already expecting trouble so thats what you will get!! also ,yes shes a bit young to be reserved and if your mind is not reserved read calm nor will the dogs be!!.... "if you ignore the dog you will be fine" ... unknowledgeable human will hear.. if we dont,we will be eaten by staffie and be in the newspaper along with all the other b.s. about anything.................being under calm control on lead would be the first thing to master.................... he is not a sbt he is a DOG,THE SOONER YOU UNDERSTAND and BELIEVE THAT , SO WILL OTHER PEOPLE!:p
    #6 deybecumu, Jan 30, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2012
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