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Dog Mind Games ~~ Playing for Confidence and Compliance

Discussion in 'Dogs - all breeds / types' started by MyPetTherapyDog, Dec 2, 2006.

  1. MyPetTherapyDog

    MyPetTherapyDog New Member

    Thought I would share this great article someone sent me via e-mail. I don't know who the author is but it is a great concept.
    It is similar to Nothing in life is free, something every dog owner should be using as the doggie bible.

    Dog Mind Games ~~ Playing for Confidence and Compliance

    I do not believe that dogs view human beings as if they were other dogs. However, I am convinced that when humans act in specific ways that dogs usually react in a predictable manner. A handler can use these specific reactions to modify a dog's behavior--to help a fearful dog feel more confident and to influence an uncooperative dog into becoming more biddable.

    If your dog shows one or more of the following symptoms, take him to your vet and ask about doing a six function plus TSH thyroid test, before you start the Mind Games. If your dog is hypothyroid, problem behaviors can disappear or become much less pronounced with treatment. Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include:

    inexplicable and persistent weight gain

    inexplicable weight loss

    unusually heavy or thick coat

    unusually sparse coat

    unusually greasy coat

    areas that have been clipped down grow back very slowly or not at all

    generalized all over itchiness

    generally crabby or crotchety attitude

    spaced out some or all of the time

    lethargy or reluctance to exercise

    seems cold most of the time or seeks out warm places

    suddenly fearful of things that weren't a problem previously

    softening of muscle tone even with regular exercise, particularly noticeable in the face

    There are a number of leadership programs around, some of them more detailed than others. The following is what has worked for me and for clients of mine but it's not written in stone. If any part of the following is too difficult to carry out or might get you bitten, don't do it! You don't have to play all the Mind Games with your dog to get some benefit from the program. The more Mind Games you play, the faster and more dramatic your results will be.

    If you are having serious problems with your dog, consult a dog trainer or behaviorist experienced in working with difficult dogs before changing any of your dog's routines.

    Note: a house line is a 6-8 foot length of cord attached to your dog's buckle or limited-slip collar for your dog to drag around the house. Spray it with Bitter Apple (or other anti-chewing product) to keep your dog from removing it.

    If this is the first time you've used an anti-chewing product, make sure your dog doesn't accustom himself to the taste by giving him the “shock” treatment with it. Apply some to a cotton ball or tissue. Then go to your dog and gently pop it into his mouth. He'll go YUCK! and spit it out--praise like crazy, that's exactly the reaction you want. You should only have to do this once. Again, if this is likely to get you bitten, don't do it--consult an experienced trainer or behaviorist as soon as possible.

    Mind Game #1: No More Kibble From Heaven!
    Free feeding is the equivalent of kibble from heaven--some dogs seem to imagine that they own their bowl and that the food appears whenever they want it.

    Feed your adult dog twice a day (puppies may need 2-6 meals per day depending on age and health status). Before you put the bowl down, have your dog do a sit. If your dog tries to dive on the bowl before you give him permission to eat, pick up the bowl and start over. When your dog stops eating and walks away from the bowl, pick up any remaining food and dispose of it.

    Mind Game #2: No Free Lunches!
    Dogs that never have to do anything to earn their living (their food) can become very spoiled. They see no reason to obey their owner at any time because they can get what they want (food) without any conditions at all.

    At least four times a week feed your dog his entire meal from your hand. Divide your dog's meal up into 15-25 parts (depending on the size of your dog, this might be anything from individual kibbles to small handfuls). Have your dog perform a simple command for every part of his meal. It doesn't have to be complex--it can be sits, downs, stand, shake hands, salute, roll over, etc.

    If your dog is overly rough about how he takes food, work on his eating-from-your-hand skills with his first meal fed this way. If he tries to grab the food roughly from you, pull your hand away, give him a short time out, then offer the food again. If your dog refuses to carry out known commands, quietly put his food away until the next regularly scheduled meal. It's completely up to him whether he eats or not--don't try to convince him. Let him discover where his own best interests lie!

    Mind Game #3: No More “Pee-Mail”!
    Dogs sometimes use urination and defecation to mark their own territories. Some males are particularly persistent about urine marking as many places as possible (some bitches do this as well). I call this “pee-mail”--dogs send social messages to other dogs with their urine. Dogs do not need to assert their ownership over a large territory; some dogs who mark the same places on a regular basis become quite territorial.

    Urine marking is different from regular urination--the dog sniffs something (often a vertical object or a place where another dog has peed), then moves forward a little and sprinkles that place with a few drops of urine.

    If your dog is in the habit of marking during walks on lead, take control of his pee-mail. Give him (or her) two chances to urinate at home and then insist that your dog keep up with you during your walk. You may have to use a head halter to give you control over your dog's nose.

    Mind Game #4: Patience!
    Dogs that are overly pushy and dogs that are too fearful share one important personality trait: they tend to be impatient. They move, act and make decisions too quickly. Having your dog do a thirty minute down stay every day helps teach your dog how to be patient and just relax.

    First teach your dog to do a down. Then put him on leash, have him do a down and run the leash under your own foot. Leave your dog enough slack to lie comfortably but not enough to be comfortable sitting or standing.

    If your dog gets up, just stay quiet and keep pressure on the leash. Let your dog discover how to be comfortable. Your dog will eventually relax and just hang out.

    If you do this regularly, your dog will start to relax sooner and sooner.

    Mind Game #5: Learning His Place!
    Controlling the best spots to sleep are one of the games dogs play with each other to establish authority. As almost every dog could tell you, the best spots to sleep in any house are the furniture and human beds.

    If you are playing Mind Games because your dog lacks respect for you, prohibit your dog from getting up on the furniture and on your bed. If he doesn't respect your “Off!” command, attach a house line to move him when he doesn't feel like moving. Don't be harsh, just firm and matter of fact.

    If your dog has a favorite place to sleep (a particular corner or dog bed), make sure to take control of that place at least once a day by making your dog move out of it and then sitting or standing in it yourself for a few minutes.

    If your dog sneaks up on the bed with you after you fall asleep, put him in a crate or shut him out of the bedroom.

    If you are playing Mind Games because your dog is fearful or anxious, it is important to get your dog out of the bedroom. British trainer John Rogerson has noted that he has never seen a case of separation anxiety in a dog that routinely sleeps outside the bedroom. I have seen a few cases of separation anxiety in dogs that didn't sleep in the owner's bedroom but *did* sleep with one or more other dogs. Removing the other dogs did trigger anxiety, so make sure your dog is sleeping in a room alone.

    Mind Game #6: Taking Back Your Space!
    Dogs can take control of a space by lying in the middle of the traffic pattern or by lying in the doorway. Anxious dogs are trying to prevent their owner from leaving, dogs with leadership ambitions are trying to control their owner's movement. In dog society, the lesser ranked dogs have to move around the higher ranked dogs.

    If your dog is lying in your way, shuffle your feet and shuffle right through him. You don't want to hurt him (that’s why you're shuffling) but you do want him to move for you.

    Don't ask your dog to move or warn your dog that you are about to make him move. Make it your dog's responsibility to keep an eye on you and to move as needed to accommodate you.

    If you think your dog might bite you, consult a trainer or behaviorist with experience dealing with aggressive dogs ASAP! In the meantime, put a buckle or limited-slip collar on your dog and attach a house line. Use the house line to move your dog.

    Mind Game #7: Follow the Leader!
    Teaching your dog to follow you teaches your dog to keep an eye on you and to accommodate your movements. You're an important person in your dog's life and if he doesn't know it, it's time for him to learn it.

    Tie your dog's leash to your belt or around your waist for at least one hour each day. Go about your every day business without paying particular attention to your dog. Don't warn your dog you are about to move, don't pay attention to your dog, don't coax him to come with you. Make it his responsibility to follow his leader (you!) around.

    It's inconvenient to do--but the more often you can do this, the faster you will see a change in your dog's behavior.

    Mind Game #8: Take Control of Your Dog's Body!
    Dogs prefer to be touched on their own terms. Some dogs want to be petted constantly and some dogs would prefer only to be handled by invitation only.

    If your dog solicits petting constantly, stop all free petting. Insist that your dog earn each petting session by performing one or more commands and keep each petting session short in duration.

    If your dog doesn't enjoy being handled, make sure that you handle your dog all over every day. Make sure you can touch and examine every part of your dog's body, including his ears and between his pads.

    If it gives you more confidence in handling, wear gloves until you feel safe handling your dog. If you think there is a high probability that your dog will bite you, seek professional help!

    Mind Game #9: S/he Who Owns the Most Toys Wins!
    In dog society, the dog able to control the most resources is usually the highest ranked. Giving a dog lots of toys that no one else touches can give that dog a mistaken impression of his own rank in the world. Overly confident dogs can become aggressive resource guarders and overly fearful dogs feel stressed by the enormity of their responsibilities.

    Pick up and put out of your dog's reach all of the toys, including chew toys. Hold one play session per day with your dog where you bring out one toy and use it to play with your dog for 10-15 minutes.

    If your dog declines to play with you, put the toy away without comment.

    Mind Game #10: Daily Chores!
    Remind your dog that he works for his living by holding two short daily obedience sessions. For 5-10 minutes in each session, run through all the commands your dog knows or teach him new ones.

    These can be combined with hand feeding sessions.

    Mind Game #11: A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body!
    Dogs need physical exercise to stay physically and mentally healthy. Make sure your dog is getting 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every other day. Aerobic exercise is any exercise that makes your dog pant steadily. Depending on your dog's size and fitness level, this can be on lead walking, jogging, road work, treadmill, retrieve games, swimming or pulling.

    It's difficult for many people to walk fast enough to give a medium or large dog aerobic exercise (any dog over about 25 pounds). If on lead walking is the only option, you can increase the ooomph factor by teaching your dog to pull a drag from a nonrestrictive harness. I start small with loops of rope and work up to motorcycle tires (depending on the size and condition of the dog). This has an added advantage for conformation people of building the dog's rear.

    Avoid retrieve games if your dog doesn't play nicely. Playing nicely means respecting your space when you have possession of the object (in other words, not leaping on you to rip it out of your hands), bringing the object directly back to you and allowing you to take the object out of his mouth.

    Make sure your dog is getting a high quality diet with moderate amounts of protein and fat. I believe that a homemade diet based on raw ingredients (meats and veggies) is healthiest for dogs. There are high quality kibbles on the market for those who prefer to feed a commercial diet. Money saved on cheap kibble often gets spent at the vet, so there's no point in trying to economize with cheap dog food.

    Mind Game #12: Rewards From Daily Life!
    All dogs have things that they enjoy doing. Earning these daily pleasures can help your dog learn confidence and compliance.

    It might include things like going out in the yard, going for a walk, being fed, going for a ride in the car, being groomed, being petted, getting scratched in that spot that is always itchy, etc. Before you let your dog have any of the things on that list, have your dog perform a known command, then reward him with the intended activity. If he refuses to do the behavior, don't comment, just walk away, wait for five to ten minutes and try again.

    Play as many of the Mind Games as you can for at least a month. If your dog's attitude has improved, slowly start dropping some of the games. I recommend that you keep the first game (No More Kibble From Heaven!) and the last game (Rewards From Daily Life!) for life. You may decide to keep playing more or all of the games. If your dog's attitude starts to get worse again, re-institute the game you most recently dropped for at least another month.

    Mind Games Checklist

    ¨ Medical exam, including thyroid check

    ¨ Mind Game #1: No More Kibble From Heaven!
    ¨ Mind Game #2: No Free Lunches!
    ¨ Mind Game #3: No More “Pee-Mail”!
    ¨ Mind Game #4: Patience!
    ¨ Mind Game #5: Learning His Place!
    ¨ Mind Game #6: Taking Back Your Space!
    ¨ Mind Game #7: Follow the Leader!
    ¨ Mind Game #8: Take Control Of Your Dog’s Body!
    ¨ Mind Game #9: S/he Who Owns the Most Toys Wins!
    ¨ Mind Game #10: Daily Chores!
    ¨ Mind Game #11: A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body!
    ¨ Mind Game #12: Rewards From Daily Life!
  2. hermann muenster

    hermann muenster New Member

    great games!

    Thanks for all of the training tips -- I'm getting my "bible" in order!
  3. MyPetTherapyDog

    MyPetTherapyDog New Member

    LOL You are welcome.
  4. Nik

    Nik New Member

    Hi Sue, what a great article!

    We live by the NILF bible, and most of what is on your Mind Games way of life, is a way of life around here... however, I got a couple of questions?

    Floob does know I'm the boss. He holds back to go through doors, he lays in the doorways but jumps up as I approach, then lays straight back down again. He does 'down stays' for at least half an hour, and will hit the deck the second I say 'down'. I feed him out of my hand, using commands, but only occasionally, so I'll work on that.

    My questions are, he knows I'm the boss, but he still acts like he has to protect himself when we're out walking, mainly at night. He's quite edgy around strangers and I've worked so hard to get him to casually walk past them (which he does in daylight now, but not after dark). I want him to have confidence and relax but he's so twitchy. He's super sensative to every move and reacts to EVERYTHING. I just don't know how to make him chill out on his leash.

    I have to explain that he's Border Collie x German Shepherd, so alot of his behaviour is typical, but I know he can be so much better.

    He's intense in everything he does, like when he drops his boomerang or frisbee, he always runs the exact same run and will stare at it for hours until you throw it. It's like he just can't relax, and yet he's quite chilled out at home.

    I'm not sure how much more to tell you so you can have a good picture, so please ask me any questions.

    Thanks in advance if you have any tips to try.

    Oh, a big part of Floobs problems on leash go back to him being attacked when he was just under a year old. He was on his leash at the time, and I was screaming, fighting the other dog off, swinging Floob around by his leash so the rott couldn't get a good grip. It was traumertizing and I have to work on it every day... that was 2 1/2 years ago.
  5. MyPetTherapyDog

    MyPetTherapyDog New Member

    Ok, First it is very hard to answer behavior questions on a board without actually seeing the dog and the owner and evaluating the entire picture in person.
    So, I will give it my best shot from reading your posts.

    When you say "He still acts like he has to protect himself when we're out walking, mainly at night"
    My first thought that came to mind is this:
    He is probably feeding on your actions. You are probably acting fearful of your own surroundings as well as his due to his behavior when he sees an approaching stranger and/or dog. probably due to his past attack and your body language because its dark and you know how your dog is going to react.

    Your dog will need to be systematicly desensitized to his leash walks. You should begin this by starting his practice sessions Here is a great article I have kept in my files and have successfully used for MANY of my clients! I am not the author of this article but I can tell you it WORKS!!!
    You also may wish to use bach flower to helpl take the edge of of his emothional fear issues. http://www.doggiesparadise.com/bach.shtml

    When you begin this, you need to be relaxed and calm. Any fearful body language you show, your dog will pick up on quickly. Sing a song, resite a poem, and show happy body language (i.e. skipping)
    This will help your dog realize you are in charge of the situation and he has nothing to fear.
    I hope this helps you.
    You can e-mail me directly if you wish and I will give you my phone number to speak with you directly if you need more assistance.

    Desensitizing dogs to other dogs

    Some dogs are lacking in the social graces department. (Nothing to be ashamed of, so are many humans)!

    The problem many dog owners have is an on-leash encounter with other dogs. This is called on-leash aggression. Obviously, on-leash aggression hinders dog owners from walking their dogs as frequently as they wish, since it’s nearly impossible to avoid meeting other dogs during our daily encounters.

    The law of learning tells us that what is reinforced remains and grows stronger with each reinforcement, and what is not reinforced, will eventually extinguish. As of now, each time you walk your dog and he/she is given the opportunity to stress over other dogs approaching, the behaviors you DON’T want are being reinforced just as if you were purposely teaching them to your dog.

    Working within the laws of learning, there are MANY things you can NOW do to set up your dog for SUCCESS!

    Correction is probably the least thing you need to do in this particular scenario. If each time another dog approaches, you become tense, knowing how your dog will react, you will unconsciously tighten up on the leash, your body language and scent will REINFORCE just what the dog is now thinking: That the approaching dog is something to be worried and stressed about!

    We often unconsciously naturally reinforce exactly what we don’t want.

    We are now going to begin with a program of systematic desensitization. Let’s start with your own human posturing. Set yourself up to give off “Calming signals” to your dog. These are dog language signals dogs use to communicate with each other. Like, sniffing, head turning, lip licking, turning sideways, freezing in position, yawning. Practice giving off these signals, and LOOSENING THE LEASH!

    When you see another dog coming in the distance on your walks, immediately begin to yawn, stretch, stop and give your dog a scratch and a treat. Sing your favorite song out loud. Get your dog RELAXED!!!

    As the dog approaches closer, note your dog’s calming signals. This is an important part of desensitization and becoming pro-active—learning to SEE when your dog stresses, and just what signals he/she gives off. He/she will begin to display these signals:

    He may freeze; he may hold his ears very erect, he may gaze steadfast on the approaching dog. Note any kicking of back legs, and if the hackles are raised. Note at what POINT this begins to happen. Is it 100 feet away? 75 feet? 50 feet? Find the point, and you will begin your desensitization a few feet BEFORE the dog normally exhibits his stressing behaviors!

    Why do you ask? Because you DON’T WANT TO TRIGGER THE BEHAVIOR! This will force you to be reactive. Instead, you want to PREVENT the TRIGGER from being activated. You become pro-active and catch your dog doing something good instead. You REINFORCE this!

    Keep your pocket full of the most succulent, TINY treats that are soft enough to be eaten quickly. You don’t want the dog to have to stop and chew, now is not the time to give him any boring milk bones.

    Use high-powered treats ~~ cheese and cut up hot dogs are highly recommended! The object here is you want to make yourself out to be the most fascinating person in the entire world. You want to be the giver of all good things, the person to turn to when stress begins.

    Watch for an approaching dog, when the dog is just about in the range where your dog begins to display his/her inappropriate reactions, turn slightly INTO your dog so he/she will have to look up at you to not get stepped on.

    Now is the time to give a upbeat cue word such as “ Watch me” when he/she looks at you, IMMEDIATELY give him/her a delicious treat - then move into him/her another step, again say your cue word “Watch me” as soon as the dog watches, give another treat. Keep doing this, moving in a circular manner into your dog, and moving away from the other dog.

    When you’re going the opposite direction, begin turning back toward the oncoming dog, who will not be well into your dog’s comfort zone. Keep reinforcing attention to you, using your happiest voice, animate your body language,( MAKE YOURSELF FUN AND ENTERTAINING FOR YOUR DOG) Try skipping & constantly treating, throw off a few calming signals such as yawning & stretching.

    If your dog begins fixating on the approaching dog, turn into him/her again and continue to keep reinforcing attention on you! All you want at this point is to keep him from obsessing.

    As the dog gets really close, keep turning circles, and moving a few feet in the other direction, keeping your dog’s focus on you all the while madly treating and high praising!!! Use your body language in conjunction with treating and circling. Skipping and singing your favorite song works wonders!!!

    The dog will probably make it past you and your dog without giving your dog time to stress!

    Continue to practice daily. Set your dog up to practice in places where he/she will gradually encounter other dogs on leash. The more you reinforce the quiet behavior’s, the sooner he/she will come to realize there is nothing to fear, there is no reason to challenge other dogs because HE/SHE CAN LOOK TO YOU FOR LEADERSHIP AND FOR ALL GOOD THINGS!

    In this manner, many dogs have successfully been desensitized including dogs exhibiting major fear-aggressive behaviors. It can take up to 3-6 months to desensitize dogs using daily walks and training sessions. Upping the walks to twice daily increases your chances of desensitizing your dog at a quicker pace.

    Systematic desensitization early on can save you a multitude of problems down the road.

    A few things to remember: NEVER, NEVER tighten up on your leash when a dog approaches. This reinforces that there is something to worry about.

    NEVER correct the dog for acting aggressively towards other dogs. YES, I KNOW THIS GOES AGAINST EVERYTHING YOU HAVE EVER HEARD. But, we know that using aggression to diffuse aggression is very tricky business, and this rarely works unless the handler is extremely experienced in methodology, even then, the problem can exacerbate. You are far better off distracting the dog and then rewarding—reinforcing the GOOD BEHAVIORS he/she is exhibiting.

    Remember to circle. If the dog is fixated and freezes into position, you don’t want to have to pull hard on the leash to get him/her to move. Move INTO the dog and he/she will automatically give you his/her attention. Don’t give him/her a chance to obsess and start the stare down with the other dog. This is the key: BE PROACTIVE AND KEEP THE DOGS FOCUS ON YOU!!! REMEMBER YOU ROCK YOUR DOGS WORLD!!!!!!
  6. MyPetTherapyDog

    MyPetTherapyDog New Member

    Learn to Interpret Dog Language

    Here is something else I have that I thought would be helpful to you and your pooch.

    Learn to Interpret Dog Language

    Have you ever observed the following dog behaviors and used the subsequent interpretation of the behavior? You're not alone. So often we interpret our dog's behaviors through our human-specific thoughts and experiences. We believe that a dog that looks guilty must therefore feel guilty. Dogs do not communicate using our language and behaviors. Until recently, dog language was not well understood. This is changing thanks in part to the work of Turid Rugaas, a Norwegian dog trainer who works to rehabilitate dogs that have been severely emotionally damaged. She has written a ground-breaking book on dog signals and communication based on years of experience and observation. Understanding these signals increases our ability to communicate with our four-legged friends. Just as we learn how to read words on a page, we can learn how to read the signals our dogs use to communicate with us and other canines. As Turid writes:

    "Dogs, being flock animals, have a language for communication with each other. Canine language consists of a large variety of signals using body, face, ears, tail, sounds, movement, and expression. If we study the signals dogs use with each other and then use them ourselves, we increase our ability to communicate with our dogs."

    The most important dog signals that we can learn are what Turid terms the calming signals. Calming signals are used to maintain a healthy social hierarchy among the pack. Dogs use calming signals to calm themselves and other dogs in the face of danger, fear, shock or stress. Most importantly, humans can also use these signals to communicate with their dogs in the face of stress or fear.

    Common Calming Signals

    Turning of the head: This calming signal can be a swift movement, holding the head to one side, a tiny movement of the head, or turning the head from side to side. It can also be as slight as moving the eyes from side to side. If your dog is approached too quickly, or head-on, it may use the head-turn signal to tell the other dog to calm down or to calm itself. If you are angry with your dog, it may hold eye contact with you briefly, and then turn its head away in an attempt to calm you down.

    Turning to the side: Dogs will turn sideways or turn their backs on an approaching or aggressive dog. The next time you encounter a fearful or nervous dog, turn sideways or turn backwards. More likely than not, the dog will then approach you.

    Licking: Licking the nose is a calming signal that dogs use when being approached or when approaching another dog. The movement is sometimes so quick that it is missed by the human eye. My friend has an adopted ex-racer that is a spook and skittish around new people and in new situations. While looking at the many photos I have taken of Buckaroo, I noticed that he is often captured with his tongue pasted on his nose! The act of approaching him with a huge black box in front of my face forces him to use nose-licking to calm himself.

    Freezing: A dog may suddenly stop all movement and stand still, lie down, or sit when a dog it perceives as more powerful approaches and starts sniffing. Have you ever called your dog and it didn't come? As you become more annoyed (and your voice gets sharper), your dog may simply stop and stare at you. This isn't a defiant dog! It's a dog that senses your anger and is trying to calm you down.

    Sitting down: Dogs use this signal either by turning their backs and sitting down or simply sitting down when they feel stressed. Dog owners can instruct visitors to the home to sit down (on the floor or couch) if they own a dog that becomes afraid or nervous when meeting strange people. I witnessed an example of this calming signal when I was at a very large gathering of greyhounds and owners. While surrounded by three hundred people and several hundred greyhounds, my dog abruptly sat down with her back to the crowd of people and dogs, refusing to move. I thought it was endearing and even took a photograph of her in this pose. I did not understand, until afterwards, that she was coping with a very overwhelming situation and was trying to calm herself in the face of fear.

    Walking slowly: Movements that get slower, often so slow that there is hardly any movement at all have a soothing effect. Your dog may use this signal as soon as it sees another dog, when it senses you are angry, or when mayhem is erupting around it. Try using this signal when a dog seems frightened of you or when you do not want to scare a dog. I saw several calming signals used in conjunction at a lure coursing trial I attended recently. A greyhound that was reluctant to be re-captured was eventually leashed by the owner who slowly walked towards the dog, knelt down, turned to the side and slowly reached out to the dog when he finally approached. The owner had calmed her dog and assured him it was safe to approach.

    Yawning: Yawning is the human signal of boredom or fatigue. In the dog world, yawning is a calming signal. Dogs yawn when they are in stressful situations. Observe your dog for yawning the next time it is in the veterinarian's waiting room, at an obedience class, being hugged or held tightly, or another dog is in its personal space.

    Sniffing: A dog may start sniffing the ground when another dog is approaching, when someone is walking straight towards him, or when you call him to come with an annoyed voice. Sniffing is the dog's way of saying, "I am not here, please ignore me, I see and know nothing." Try walking two strange dogs past one another. Often, one of the dogs will sniff the floor, indicating to the other that he presents no threat.

    Observe your own dogs or take a trip to the local dog park and you will start to see some of these calming signals in the every day interactions of dogs. Try using a calming signal when you sense your dog is stressed or nervous. When you communicate that you are calm and relaxed, your dog is likely to pick up on these cues. If you have a dog that interacts poorly with other dogs (growling, lunging, or snapping behaviors), use a calming signal, such as turning your back, or yawning, instead of the traditional leash pop or verbal reprimand. Once an aggressive behavior has started, a reprimand is ineffective because you are making an already nervous dog more fearful and the next time this situation arises; the behavior will likely become worse.
  7. Nik

    Nik New Member

    Hi again,
    Thanks so much for some absolutly brilliant advice!

    I've learned through this site, and reading some books (Cautious Canine and The Other End Of The Leash to name a couple) that it was my behaviour in the few weeks after Floobs attack that left him feeling more and more weary of approaching dogs.

    I spent alot of time trying to correct it, using alot of the techniques you've mentioned, some worked and some just didn't have enough of an impact to relax him enough to work.

    There are still a couple of dogs we pass on our street that he just won't tollerate, but it's gone from a full on barkfest to a stare, and maybe a little growl, if I haven't done enough to distract him. I used really good treats and possitive, exciting praise whilst passing them, for months, but it's had little effect. I keep it up every time though as I'm a beleiver in consistancy so won't ever give up and let it slide, just once.

    I started to use an extention leash, this was so if I did tense up on the handle, he couldn't feel it, and that seems to be working too. Maybe it's because I'm more relaxed, I really don't know.

    We've just had a great 2 hour walk up the feilds so he's having a rest for half an hour before I take him to walk and meet my partner from work. This is something I've stopped doing as the nights have drawn in, but I'm going to try some of the 'calming bahaviour' when people are approaching and see if it makes any difference.
    I think he's more likely to be laughing at me soo hard for stretching and yawning in the street, that he won't even see a person passing us :lol:

    Thanks again, and thanks for your number. I'll keep it, just incase... but lord knows how much a call to the USA would cost!

    I'm sure if Floob could look at you right now he'd say a big thank you too :)

    Almost forgot...
    I looked into the Bach Flower Remedy too, and have ordered a concoction, so we shall see.

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