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How to desensitize a puppy

Stinkycat
April 26th, 2010, 04:07 PM
Luna is now 6.5 months old and still the same problem, she loves people to the point of it being dangerous for her.

I never walk her without a leash but if she see's a person she will lunge to go see them, if I don't hold the leash tight and close to the collar she will jump off the sidewalk and I'm afraid a car will hit her. Or like today we live on a side road with no cars other then parked cars and if a car was to go down it it's quite slow (5kms) cause it's a dead end road, but Luna saw someone she knew while she was for a pee break and darted across the road without hesitation.

How do I fix this? She LOVES people and I don't want her to, it sounds bad but I don't want my dog to be obsessed with people, I want her to be a dog, say Hi to people and carry on with whatever she is doing. If a person is around she's obsessed with them, trying to jump all over them (which we've made progress with jumping on people, now she'll sit and if they don't pet her she'll jump, then sit and wait again).

How do I train her not to like people? Is it even possible?

Thanks

BTW: I've tried to desensitize her by having her sit with these distractions and to concentrate on me (with GOOD treats) but she doesn't care about my food, she'll sit if I catch her before she see's the person but if she see's them first she's gone. Food isn't a motivator, people are WAY better then food

And also she gets PLENTY of exercise, 2-4 hours per day, on the weekends 4-6 hours.

DoubleRR
April 26th, 2010, 05:12 PM
You need a trainer to help you--getting advice without someone to show you is much less than perfect. There are many good training/behaviour modification books out there, but again, with no one to help you in person, who can SEE what Luna is doing, and what you are doing, it is next to impossible to give you specific advice that will work for you. You chose a working breed that is high energy and she will be harder to keep busy than another breed might have been--the older she gets the harder it is to change unwanted behaviours. I applaud your efforts, and hope you can find someone near you to help. Have you asked at groomers and vets to see if they recommend anyone? Even other BC owners?

TeriM
April 26th, 2010, 07:18 PM
How do I train her not to like people? Is it even possible?


Why on earth would you want that :eek:. Count your blessings that she does love people and then use that to your advantage.

IMO what you need to work on is teaching her some self control. That means all day long in very little ways she must learn to wait to get what she wants. Examples could be holding the sit stay or down stay before going outside, or having to sit stay when you toss the ball. You will likely need to start all those type of exercises with her on leash and then gradually up the distraction level.

With the people thing I would suggest that when she sees someone and lunges .... immediately assess her some penalty distance (walk backwards away from the person). When she stops pulling then use a reward marker (clicker or say "yes" etc) and move towards the person. The minute she starts to pull again then assess penalty distance again. When you can finally get close enough then I would reinforce the visiting with a command such as "go say hi". I would set her up with some people you know to begin with as it could take her a bit but if the ultimate reward is to visit the people then she will likely catch on quickly.

Stinkycat
April 26th, 2010, 11:00 PM
Why on earth would you want that :eek:. Count your blessings that she does love people and then use that to your advantage.

IMO what you need to work on is teaching her some self control. That means all day long in very little ways she must learn to wait to get what she wants. Examples could be holding the sit stay or down stay before going outside, or having to sit stay when you toss the ball. You will likely need to start all those type of exercises with her on leash and then gradually up the distraction level.
She already knows sit and stay before crossing any door, she's VERY good on this. She's GREAT with tossing a frisbee, I do drop (down) stay, I throw it and she stays perfectly still, I release her and tell her to drop and she will instantly. She can sit stay for over 5 minutes with no problem, even with distractions but the problem is if I don't SEE the distraction before she does.

With the people thing I would suggest that when she sees someone and lunges .... immediately assess her some penalty distance (walk backwards away from the person). When she stops pulling then use a reward marker (clicker or say "yes" etc) and move towards the person. The minute she starts to pull again then assess penalty distance again. When you can finally get close enough then I would reinforce the visiting with a command such as "go say hi". I would set her up with some people you know to begin with as it could take her a bit but if the ultimate reward is to visit the people then she will likely catch on quickly.
I've been doing this and I don't seem to be getting too far, she's still crazy when she's in a sit position, as soon as she's getting excited I turn her away and we walk back a little then introduce her again, as soon as she gets excited we stop and start over. This takes time and I've done it for 15 minutes before, then as soon as she's calm I let her say hello and she ignores them for a bit then out of nowhere she'll go insane on them and jump all over them, wanna lick them, start wiggling everywhere, then it stops and she's normal in a split second. When I say stay down she will, but everything is "IF I CAN CATCH IT BEFORE HER"

She's VERY obedient with other dogs around, it's just people. I don't want my dog to be obsessed with people, I want her to ignore them...really. It sounds funny I know :rolleyes: but I got this dog to be my partner in crime, companion and buddy, if she is so obsessed with every person it makes you feel like you're just like everyone else, no one special to her. I'm just the mean one who disciplines her.
Maybe she needs hard training, I have noticed she's hard to train, she doesn't respond to nice talking and treats. I need to be very firm and sometimes loud to get the point across and it works on everything I've done it on.

TeriM
April 27th, 2010, 01:06 AM
Maybe she needs hard training, I have noticed she's hard to train, she doesn't respond to nice talking and treats. I need to be very firm and sometimes loud to get the point across and it works on everything I've done it on.

I think maybe you need to step back and remember that she is still very much a PUPPY :lovestruck:. It sounds like you have done a lot of wonderful work with her :thumbs up but she is only 6.5 months old so she will do a lot of natural settling down as she matures. Her ability to concentrate at this age is limited to shorter periods so do lots of short sessions with fun breaks.

What kind of treats are you using? When I think of yummy treats I think of things like cut up hotdogs, cheese, chicken, roast beef etc. You wouldn't necessarily need those for day to day but when in high distraction mode they will likely be necessary. Another option would be to utilize her favourite toy (frisbee, Squeeky toy, tug toy etc) as a reward or even to help as a distraction to prevent her from mugging people. You said she has an excellent sit stay so what happens if after you permit the greeting you then put her into her sit stay for a minute and then release to say hello again? You could then work up to longer periods of staying.

Be very careful about how you choose to train at this age. If you want the type of partnership you describe then you need to be firm but fair which includes being aware when your expectations might be a bit high for her age. You want her to think of you as the best thing ever so you need to work on developing a fun training bond. I found that when I upped the "fun" (playing tug, using a ball, acting silly, fun tricks, tossing the treats etc) in our training with Riley it really helped to improve our bond.

Good luck :goodvibes: :goodvibes:.

luckypenny
April 27th, 2010, 11:34 AM
I never walk her without a leash but if she see's a person she will lunge to go see them, if I don't hold the leash tight and close to the collar she will jump off the sidewalk and I'm afraid a car will hit her.

What kind of leash are you using? Have you considered a shorter leash?

Or like today we live on a side road with no cars other then parked cars and if a car was to go down it it's quite slow (5kms) cause it's a dead end road, but Luna saw someone she knew while she was for a pee break and darted across the road without hesitation.

That sounds like normal behavior for a dog :shrug:. Is there a reason she wasn't leashed at the time? If she gets away with it every now and then, that in itself is extremely rewarding and guarantees she will try it again.

BTW: I've tried to desensitize her by having her sit with these distractions and to concentrate on me (with GOOD treats) but she doesn't care about my food, she'll sit if I catch her before she see's the person but if she see's them first she's gone. Food isn't a motivator, people are WAY better then food

It's not working because the distraction level is too high. You have to back up a bit where she's further away from stimuli when conditioning her to do something else rather than zoom for what's attracting her attention. Is there a baseball field nearby you. You can practice when there's a game on and ppl are busy watching rather than coming to see your pup. Choose a spot that's far enough away that you can get her to focus on you and you can run her through a few tricks. If she can't, then you're too close. If she can, move a couple of feet closer each time. As soon as she's lost focus, take a few steps back to the last spot and try again. If she's successful, end the session right there on a good note and return home, or continue on your walk. You only want to be doing this for a few minutes at a time. Too long and you'll have lost her attention. You can also use playgrounds, parks, public swimming pool areas, store parking lots, etc for places to practice.

In regards to treats, make sure you're not using them as bribes to get her to do what you want. They should only be used as rewards when she offers the behaviors willingly and, even better, spontaneously.

And also she gets PLENTY of exercise, 2-4 hours per day, on the weekends 4-6 hours.

What kind of exercise is she getting?

She already knows sit and stay before crossing any door, she's VERY good on this. She's GREAT with tossing a frisbee, I do drop (down) stay, I throw it and she stays perfectly still, I release her and tell her to drop and she will instantly. She can sit stay for over 5 minutes with no problem, even with distractions but the problem is if I don't SEE the distraction before she does.

Are you nervously looking for distractions when out with her? It doesn't matter if you don't see it first, just continue whatever it is you're doing ie. going for a walk. Do you ever umbilical with her? I think in the long term, this would be a fantastic tool to use with her.


I've been doing this and I don't seem to be getting too far, she's still crazy when she's in a sit position, as soon as she's getting excited I turn her away and we walk back a little then introduce her again, as soon as she gets excited we stop and start over. This takes time and I've done it for 15 minutes before,

If she doesn't get it after 2 or 3 tries, I'd move on with a "too bad" and try again next time.


...then as soon as she's calm I let her say hello and she ignores them for a bit then out of nowhere she'll go insane on them and jump all over them, wanna lick them, start wiggling everywhere, then it stops and she's normal in a split second....

Is she on a leash? How about just taking a few steps back (don't jerk the leash) so she doesn't have access to the person?

I'd also try to find folk who will be willing to practice with you...and make sure they completely ignore her when she's next to them. Have them turn their backs to her if necessary. If they don't, then she's getting rewarded for the unwanted behavior. Let her sniff if she's calm. When she settles into a sit or down on her own (without being told), mark it immediately but quietly and reward her. Practice, practice, practice. I swear this works with overly exuberant greetings. We've done it with our Penny who goes totally bonkers with greeting ppl she adores with much success.

The more I think about it, the more I get a strong feeling that Luna's excessive behavior with people is based in some anxiety. How do people you meet usually react to her? What exactly do they do? Is there ever anyone she doesn't react to this way?

Stinkycat
April 27th, 2010, 02:01 PM
What kind of leash are you using? Have you considered a shorter leash?
I'm using a 4ft leash, but I hike it up so there is only about 1.5 ft of slack.



That sounds like normal behavior for a dog :shrug:. Is there a reason she wasn't leashed at the time? If she gets away with it every now and then, that in itself is extremely rewarding and guarantees she will try it again.
When we take her for pee's and poo's right outside the door we don't use leashes because we've actually never had a problem until now, she's never ran for someone while going to the bathroom



It's not working because the distraction level is too high. You have to back up a bit where she's further away from stimuli when conditioning her to do something else rather than zoom for what's attracting her attention. Is there a baseball field nearby you. You can practice when there's a game on and ppl are busy watching rather than coming to see your pup. Choose a spot that's far enough away that you can get her to focus on you and you can run her through a few tricks. If she can't, then you're too close. If she can, move a couple of feet closer each time. As soon as she's lost focus, take a few steps back to the last spot and try again. If she's successful, end the session right there on a good note and return home, or continue on your walk. You only want to be doing this for a few minutes at a time. Too long and you'll have lost her attention. You can also use playgrounds, parks, public swimming pool areas, store parking lots, etc for places to practice.
I've started over 40 ft away (across the whole park) and worked my way up slowly over the last couple months, she gets within 15 ft and she starts getting excited then I reward her for staying without me holding onto her. Then her attention is on me, then as soon as I stop feeding her treats she goes "ohhh people" and tries to go for them. So at moments it's like they're not there then all the sudden she can't control herself.

In regards to treats, make sure you're not using them as bribes to get her to do what you want. They should only be used as rewards when she offers the behaviors willingly and, even better, spontaneously.
I use real chicken, but like I said, people are WAY better then chicken or her toys, when I use toys as rewards she brings them over to the people and jumps around them to play with her



What kind of exercise is she getting?
Walks, socialization with new dogs every couple days, 1.5-3k runs 2 times a week, training ALWAYS goes on during walks, basic sit, heel, then I release her to go sniff, then after 15 minutes I'll put her in a heel for 2 minutes, maybe practice recall if we're near a park, little sessions like that to keep her mind going. She goes to agility on Sundays for 1 hour. She goes to dog parks every second day for 30-45 minutes, play with a frisbee everyday for about 30 minutes.



Are you nervously looking for distractions when out with her? It doesn't matter if you don't see it first, just continue whatever it is you're doing ie. going for a walk. Do you ever umbilical with her? I think in the long term, this would be a fantastic tool to use with her.
Not always.... Sometimes I catch myself looking around to see if a distraction will interrupt her train of thoughts. I do umbelical with her when she's being difficult (some days), sometimes she wont' even listen to me when I ask for a sit, so I umbelical her and run side to side, back and forth to get her attention on me, it works.I've been doing this from around 12 weeks old.




If she doesn't get it after 2 or 3 tries, I'd move on with a "too bad" and try again next time.
Do you mean walk away from the fun stuff?




Is she on a leash? How about just taking a few steps back (don't jerk the leash) so she doesn't have access to the person?
Yes she usually is on leash, but sometimes we're at my friends backyard and she's not leashed. If I back up she ignores them. She's sneaky! She'll sit so perfectly for the person to pet her, wait about 4 seconds then if they don't pet her she'll jump up on them and sit again.

I'd also try to find folk who will be willing to practice with you...and make sure they completely ignore her when she's next to them. Have them turn their backs to her if necessary. If they don't, then she's getting rewarded for the unwanted behavior. Let her sniff if she's calm. When she settles into a sit or down on her own (without being told), mark it immediately but quietly and reward her. Practice, practice, practice. I swear this works with overly exuberant greetings. We've done it with our Penny who goes totally bonkers with greeting ppl she adores with much success.
I never thought about letting her sit or lay down on her own.

The more I think about it, the more I get a strong feeling that Luna's excessive behavior with people is based in some anxiety. How do people you meet usually react to her? What exactly do they do? Is there ever anyone she doesn't react to this way?
I kinda thought this as well after hours of research. She's VERY submissive, when greeting people and dogs, but after the initial greeting she's very confident with her tail wagging and held straight out from her body

Stinkycat
April 27th, 2010, 02:19 PM
Forgot to answer the last question:

Most people act how any person would "Hi puppy." and goes down to pet her after I tell Luna to stay down, then she goes into a sit and puts her tail inbetween her legs and wags it, it looks like a furry (you know what).

Some people who I try to avoid use HIGH pitched "hello!!!!!LUNA LUNA LUNA" And it makes her retarded!

Me and my boyfriend are the only 2 people who she greets politely, she will come and sit infront of us and not move until we pet her and she gets happy and goes around the house to say hi to everyone.

luckypenny
April 27th, 2010, 08:38 PM
I'm using a 4ft leash, but I hike it up so there is only about 1.5 ft of slack.

That's good. She shouldn't be able to get into the road like that. If I'm not certain about the environment I'm in, I hold the handle of the leash in my right hand, grab it about 1' away with my left and stick that hand in my pocket...just to ensure that the dog is not feeling any tension on my part (they often pick up on it before I do).

When we take her for pee's and poo's right outside the door we don't use leashes because we've actually never had a problem until now, she's never ran for someone while going to the bathroom

Again, keep her on leash from now on (you can give her a longer one 10-20' if there's ample room without her getting on to the road)...any time she's able to get away will become the reward and will reinforce that behavior so you'll want to avoid that altogether.

I've started over 40 ft away (across the whole park) and worked my way up slowly over the last couple months, she gets within 15 ft and she starts getting excited then I reward her for staying without me holding onto her.

What do you mean by holding on to her? Her leash should be slack for this exercise. If my imagery of this is correct, I think you may be telling her that "when I let go of you, you get a reward," not the message I think you really mean to get across.

Then her attention is on me, then as soon as I stop feeding her treats she goes "ohhh people" and tries to go for them. So at moments it's like they're not there then all the sudden she can't control herself.

I think I get what's happening here. You're feeding her treats one after the other to focus on you and desensitize her to people, am I correct? I do that with dogs who fear people/objects so that they can learn to associate strange stuff with good things...but your girl already knows that...too well :D. Using that method, you're reinforcing the behavior you don't actually want. Like this: I use real chicken, but like I said, people are WAY better then chicken or her toys, when I use toys as rewards she brings them over to the people and jumps around them to play with her She's learned the two go hand-in-hand.

What you want to do is mark/reward/reinforce her looking/taking her attention away from people. Try it this way for a while and see if it doesn't make a difference...

Sit her at a safe distance from people in your area of choice where she doesn't react. Let her look. Give her a few seconds to look back to you...if she doesn't, gently call her name. As soon as she makes eye contact, mark the exact second with a "yes" and reward her after. It helps if you keep treats in your pocket or a belt bag, don't hold them in your hand.

Move to a different location a few feet away. Repeat. Keep doing this 5 or 6 times as a long as she's calm. Then move on your way. I'd aim for a foot closer every session as long as she doesn't react. If she does, go back to where she did good last...if she succeeds, then end the session there.

I do umbelical with her when she's being difficult (some days), sometimes she wont' even listen to me when I ask for a sit, so I umbelical her and run side to side, back and forth to get her attention on me, it works.I've been doing this from around 12 weeks old.

I'd suggest you umbilical during your regular daily routine in and around the house without all the excitement. Remember, it's not a punishment nor playtime but a gentle method to teach her to follow you. Every now and then, when she comes to sit or lay right next to you without being prompted, mark the behavior and give her a little reward...whether it be praise, a treat, or a toy she can calmly play with.

Do you mean walk away from the fun stuff?

In the case of out of control greetings, absolutely. She learns on her own that too much exuberance (eg. jumping up) makes the good things go away. It won't be long before she catches on. I'll give you an example of how this works. We're doing some work with our dogs and I'm being met with some resistance from our Lucky. I ask him (my tone of voice is soft and very matter-of-fact) for a sit/stay before I open a door (he likes to charge through them if there's something strange on the other side). He usually does but bounces up as soon as I start to open the door. So I close it. And he barks and barks at me :rolleyes:. So I walk away and ignore him for a few minutes so as to not reinforce that unwanted behavior. I come back 5 minutes later and try again. The second time around, he holds the sit/stay position while I open the door and give him the release. So what did he learn? Getting up to charge = door closed. Barking at me = me leaving the room and him staying inside. Holding a sit/stay until released = being able to investigate the yard and join in on the play with the other dogs.

She'll sit so perfectly for the person to pet her, wait about 4 seconds then if they don't pet her she'll jump up on them and sit again.

It sounds like she's reminding them that she's there..."hey, look at me...I'm sitting, pet me now" :D. Can you videotape this? You may see some other detail that's encouraging her to jump up like that. Does she get any attention at all for doing that? Even a simple "no"?

I never thought about letting her sit or lay down on her own.

Ahh, that's the secret of marker/reward based training. You don't have to tell her what to do or what not to do. She'll learn to figure out what gets her attention from you, from others, and what gets her rewards...those being food, playtime, greeting others, etc. The trick is to catch her in the exact moment of the act/behavior without being prompted.

Most people act how any person would "Hi puppy." and goes down to pet her after I tell Luna to stay down, then she goes into a sit and puts her tail inbetween her legs and wags it, it looks like a furry (you know what).

Her body language says it all...she's very submissive and perhaps very anxious upon initial greetings. Ask people to help with her training and instruct them to ignore her. If she's calm, she can sniff them. Call her to you, reward, and move on.

Some people who I try to avoid use HIGH pitched "hello!!!!!LUNA LUNA LUNA" And it makes her retarded!

Oh yes, I have a friend just like that who can make Penny roll, jump, roll, jump, run, drop, jump, roll all within three seconds...you know who you are if you're reading this Frenchy :D. But the last time she came over, I only let the dogs in one at a time. She ignored them completely and called them to her for a hello only when they were 100% calm. We learned Penny can act like a normal dog :eek: :laughing:.

Me and my boyfriend are the only 2 people who she greets politely, she will come and sit infront of us and not move until we pet her and she gets happy and goes around the house to say hi to everyone.

That's because you've taught her well with respect to you and your bf. It's the other humans who are going to need lots of training too. Like TeriM pointed out, Luna is still very young and she will catch on in time. Don't only keep up with the training, but keep up with the positive gentle bonding and she'll grow to be the most wonderful loyal girl :cloud9:.

Choochi
April 28th, 2010, 03:03 PM
Treat it as a manners on leash problem, not a people problem. Work on basic obedience, sit/stay and have a specific release command for her like "go say hi". Getting her to focus better on YOU is what you need, not focus less on the distraction (that will come naturally as she learns to focus on you). This is not a desensitization issue, this is an obedience under distractions and basic manners issue.

If you're not too far from Pickering, I would highly recommend you take the Reactive Rover seminar through Who's Walking Who. That would address some of the same issues you're dealing with.