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Terriers In Training

July 8th, 2011, 10:09 AM
I have posted about my travails with my 3 dachshund/JRTs. I have been working with them extensively for the last 3 weeks and am finally seeing real progress.

First, I work with them all separately. I backed off from where I had been and started with them right from the beginning again.

Started just loose leash walking in the house, in the yard, on a quiet street, down the main street, down a crowded main street and finally now on a quiet trail in the morning.

Bean - the 7 month old who used to go completely berserk with barking on the trail is my pride and joy. We walked by motorcycles, bicycles, met people on the sidewalk yesterday and here is the best part, all of that conditioning i have been doing, (ie stuffing their faces when they see somethign they could potentially react to) is TOTALLY paying off!!! I noticed if she saw or heard anything that was strange to her, instead of barking per usual, she looked up at me!!! YAY! So we tried on the trail this morning, bicycles were no problem at all..her only weakness is other dogs and even that is controllable. I just have to keep working on that area with her.

Kirk- her 7 month old brother who is a bit shy of people, barks a bit more..usually when we first get out of the car and we are in a new and exciting place but we went to the park and just observed people coming and going from a distance and worked our way closer and closer...he is really doing good. I knew the trail wasn't too busy so i also brought him there this morning..he is good with bicycles too. He still needs more work but is much much much improved!

I spent almost 2 hours with the trainer last night working with my dog with the biting problem. We worked by a trail and on her beign able to see other dogs without reacting. She is much better around calm dogs and her first sign of reactivity comes at about 30 feet with other dogs..shes not too bad with people. I mean she doesnt' bark at people, i wouldn't let her meet any strangers like the other 2 do.

All in all i am happy with their progress over the last few weeks. I'm not saying it is not a lot of work (I spent 5 hours including driving time training them yesterday) but results are starting already.

Do I have time to spend 5 hours training them? Not really..but if that is what i NEED to do...then that is what I'll do.

July 8th, 2011, 02:49 PM
HORRAY!!!!!!!!!! :thumbs up If only some dog owners could realize the pay back if only you spent the time. I have a terrier that lunges at dogs on leash, but she's all bark no action. I should really bring treats along and try that training method.

July 8th, 2011, 03:44 PM
It's always a plus when you can see some payback for hard work! Good job, violagirl! :highfive:

July 10th, 2011, 07:22 PM
Class in the park tonight with oldest dog.

She had no problem with the other dogs in class. She even did down stays for 1 min+ not too far away from an excited golden and a barky Amstaff.

I noticed she has started looking at me and wagging her tail when we see people or dogs on the trail. Big moment! We practiced leapfrogging on the trail and she had no problems going by or being behind other dogs and stayed loose leash.

I'm wondering about one thing though. When we start the class we spend about 15-20 minutes working on things like down/stay, attention, emergency comes etc around the other dogs. Then we proceed to the trail. Where she had no problems with the dogs from the class.

Why then would she react to another dog on the trail? What would be the difference between that dog and the other dogs from class? Does she relax if she is around a few for awhile whereas meeting on the trail is a bit more confrontational when meeting a dog she has never seen?

I also noticed that one one dog in class started barking of course everyone barked and she was the last one to stop and even when she did stop she was on "alert" for awhile.

July 11th, 2011, 01:15 PM
It may be that to her the other dogs in the class are "known" quantities. She has seen them doing the same things for the same cues (probably not perfectly, but reasonably reliably). She now knows how these dogs will act. Strange dogs are still "unknowns" who may or may not react in a way she can predict. (This is just a guess mind you - wouldn't it be nice if we could just ask what was going on inside those fuzzy little heads, and get an answer?) It may also be that in class they don't meet head on until they are ready. On a trail, they are almost forced to meet face to face right away, instead of approaching at a less confrontational angle as they would in a more open setting. I read somewhere, and I can't remember where at the moment, approaching head on is confrontational for dogs, a sideways approach is more polite and preferred by the dogs unless they know each other, are young, or unsocialized.

July 12th, 2011, 10:32 AM
I have noticed that all of my dogs tend to be sensitive to meeting other dogs.

Case and point - brought puppy to class in park yesterday. Before class we walked around and went past kids, bikes, joggers. We actually sat right in front row at kids water park..he didn't get excited. Only time he barked was when a mother came up to him with child on her shoulders..a silouette he'd never seen before plus someone coming into his space. But as soon as we got to the place where all the other dogs were he just went CRAZY with the barking. Except maybe crows..but i assume his reaction to crows, pigeons and chipmunks to be more of a prey drive excitement.

It's not that he doesnt LIKE other dogs, they just exite him like nothing else. A few times i just had to walk away because there was nothing, even waving special treats in front of his face that was goign to get his attention.

I'll just have to do more work conditioning them to like or rather to not react to seeing other dogs from a distance at first and then work up to closer and closer.

He usually barks when he wants to play and when he is frustrated, and at things he thinks might be threatening. He is not particularly territorial, he doesnt' bark at home when he sees somebody in the yard unless the other 2 are barking. Maybe he is frustrated because he wants to meet the other dogs and can't and maybe there is a bit of nervous excitment in there too. I should probalby stop trying to figure out what he is thinking. lol

I would just like to get to a point where i can walk all three together in a manageable way. They don't have to be perfect heeling angels or even never get excited or bark...i just have to be able to calm them down quickly.

The whole 3 separate walks a day and multiple dog classes pretty much take up every non-working hour. My husband still thinks i am crazy walking them all separately and doing this much work but i don't see that there is a choice. And he's not volunteering to work with them. He just wants a nicely behaved dog that he can walk when he feels like it.

July 12th, 2011, 12:17 PM
It's amazing how much dogs in a pack can feed off of each other. I always tell people with multiple dogs to invest time in training them individually and spending quality one on one time with each. Makes a big difference.

July 12th, 2011, 03:10 PM
Way to go Violagirl!
I've been walking my two girls seperately for last couple of months. I used it do it every now and then. But then adolescent hit and I was noticing that they weren't responding to me as well as before and were starting to push the boundaries of obedience.

I do a 20-30 minute walk each in the morning before work and 50-60 minutes each after work. Some folks who think I'm crazy but I'm seeing results in both their solo walks and when their together. It's also teaching the one left at home to learn how to cope without their sibling.

The seperate walks also gives me time to work on training. They learn in different ways and enjoy different activities.

On top of that, I've gone down a pant size :P

July 18th, 2011, 08:19 PM
My little boy finally graduated from puppy kindergarten tonight. For the first time he did not get out of the car barking when we got to the park. He kept mostly focused on me, came when i called, even did downs, walked loose leash. Didn't bark at the other dogs or bark at people walking by. It felt good.

At this point they are all at a similar level as far as reactivity. And instead of that level being 10+++ (super crazy), they are probably at a 3 for most things (alert, interested).

I need to do more work on proofing with meeting other dogs on trail and expose one dog to more children but they are progressing well.

Also working on oldest ones arousal level when people come to the house. She gets super excited and it can spill over into jumping and biting fingers and toes. I'm working on getting them to keep feet on floor when we come home. Can't bite fingers if she can't reach them!

July 18th, 2011, 08:22 PM
Way to go, violagirl!!! Patience and persistence pay off!! :highfive: You're doing such a good job!

July 18th, 2011, 10:20 PM
Way to go! Dogs are so forgiving, the hard work almost always pays off! I'm impressed you are able to train 3 dogs! :thumbs up

July 19th, 2011, 06:49 AM
I am really working hard because when I was a kid we had a black lab that was completely untrained. My parents ended up putting him to sleep when he was only a few years old. The only training he got was what I as a 10 year old gave him. I taught him to sit, to stay and i could put a cookie on his paw, walk all the way around the house and he would still be sitting there with it. I dont' know how i convinced him to do that haha. But that was about it. He had some issues as an outside dog but nothing that a bit of training wouldn't have helped. I guess my parents were pretty old school about dogs - my mom didn't want one and dad worked away so poor Shadow sat outside and barked. I feel really bad now that we didn't do anything with him but what did I know? I was a kid!

I do not want to have another untrained dog, thus the herculean effort. I do not believe in giving way family members or having them PTS because of something I failed to do so the logical decision is to train them so they are manageble.

It would have been easier to have one and get a biddable breed ( i actually wanted a black lab), but kind of too late for that isnt' it? :o

OTOH, my trainer said that if i ever want to become a dog trainer i could definitely assist her. So hey, if accounting doesn't work out, I could have a fall back career.

August 11th, 2011, 10:55 AM
Latest update. I haven't been doing as many individual walks in town as I had been. I got frustrated by all the time I took to drive downtown to get to walking trails only to have no dogs and very few other people there. The whole point of doing it was to get dogs used to meeting other dogs on trails etc. Grr. :mad: Of course they say it has rained 70% of the days since May so I guess there are just fair weather walkers out there.

Friend came over with her puppy last week. Lots of initial craziness what with a new person AND a new dog coming into their space. Oldest was the most upset about it but I just had her and her puppy sit there and kept oldest on a leash. We backed off to other side of yard and then gradually moved closer and closer in a curve. Had her sniff butts and in about 5 minutes she was fine. It feels like longer when you have a dog barking like mad. OTOH she didn't try to bite my friend at all since she was so occupied with the dog.

Kirk always rushes out with hackles up and barking but in less than 30 seconds he was ready to play. They played non-stop for about 2 hours.

Bean wasn't a fan of the new dog. She would just bark at it off and on. Not territorial barking but the same kind of barking she does at the broom. Fear I guess. Then when she wanted to play with her brother and he was too busy playing with the puppy, she barked at him. Such is the life of the third wheel.

I've discovered that I always have to keep playing sessions to 1 on 1. Add another dog and it devolves into a bullying event. It is interesting to see the multiple dog dynamic. Chase playing doesn't have to be one on one..but any wrestling has to be.

As for biting when someone comes to the door: She has started getting a toy and greeting with a toy in her mouth. I try to encourage this. Also trying to get her to do it when she wants to chase one of the cats. I'm really trying to work on no jumping on people but they don't always remember. Also getting them to go to their bed when the doorbell rings. Oldest now goes when she hears footsteps on front porch. Just have to convince them to STAY there...much less frenzy and barking when someone comes.

Key to training terriers - IMPULSE CONTROL. Every dog, and person for that matter, needs impulse control but terriers have to work at it more than the average dog. When we play ball there must be no barking at me or I won't throw the ball, sometimes i make them sit before i throw and sometimes, I make them down..all 3 before I throw..Kirk is extremely reluctant but he does it. Sometimes I make them stay down for just a touch longer before I throw the ball.

Still a work in progress but we're getting there.

August 12th, 2011, 02:33 PM
I haven't said much before because I didn't have anything helpful to suggest, but I wanted to say how impressed i am that you have had the patience to keep training so intensely. And how happy I am to hear that you making progress. :highfive:

November 21st, 2011, 06:18 PM
I haven't posted about les chiens in awhile.

I just want people who have reactive dogs to know a) they are not alone and b) it can get better.

My "puppies" are now a year old and friends and family have noted all the dogs are significantly calmer within the last couple of months.

When people come to the door, not to say there isn't pandemonium, but they calm down within about 30 seconds. The one with the nipping problem is not as inclined to jump and nip now. Directly related to a lowered excitement level.

Also I have been working on redirecting her, she can't nip if she has something in her mouth. She often voluntarily runs to get a toy and then goes to meet people at the door. I encourage that behaviour.

As for walking them. If i have one, they walk loose leash 95% of the time. Woohoo! Especially the girl puppy, in training class on Sunday she was the model dog. Greeted other people and dogs nicely, sat, did down on hand s ignal from about 30 feet...i mean...there couldn't be a better dog!!!!! She is going to start her first agility class soon.

Boy puppy is still much more unfocused, but he's getting better, or perhaps i'm better able to read him and handle it. Last walk we did, as soon as we got out of the car we met about 5 dogs on the sidewalk coming from various directions. He is always pretty excited the first 10 min into a walk so i was not happy to meet all those dogs right off the bat. I think he came down off his barking fit quite quickly though. It would have been a different story if he had seen them at the end of the walk. He is more focused then.

I don't really get embarassed and upset anymore when they get crazy. I just get through it the best i can and try to set them up to be successful the next time.

I can walk 2 dogs at a time now. Not on the trail, that is still too exciting for two, but they do better at sidewalk walking, or on the road where we can see other people and dogs coming and give ourselves enough distance to pass by without excitement.

Biggest lessons learned this summer:
1. Don't push them beyond what they can do.
2. Baby steps.
3. If you need to put 20 feet between you and another dog to keep them below threshold..then you do it.
4. Notice beginning signs of arousal and work to bring it back down.
5. If you have to leave someone home and only walk 2 or even 1..then that is what you have to do.

November 21st, 2011, 07:40 PM
Very impressive, violagirl! :highfive: Hard work pays off! :D

November 22nd, 2011, 07:36 PM
Thanks! :)

In fact, I learned so much this summer that I am starting to volunteer with the dogs at the local SPCA. I figure if I can get my dogs to behave, I can teach a Lab to walk nicely.

I have also discovered, that as much as I say why didn't I get nice biddable dogs, I really like the challenge of the more independent thinkers.

I have been warned by my husband that I will not be able to bring any more dogs home but I hope I'll be able to handle the emotional side of the shelter.

November 23rd, 2011, 09:57 AM
Good job! I'm glad you're making progress. If it makes you feel better, you aren't alone! My two adoptees are both works in progress too. Sometimes I want to choke them! :laughing: