Training Sparky to be calm around birds

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Training Sparky to be calm around birds

This is a discussion on Training Sparky to be calm around birds within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; So the dogs have been barking a lot lately. Sparky mostly. He doesn't bark so much at night anymore, but at day time, around birds. ...

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Old 03-09-2011, 05:09 AM
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Training Sparky to be calm around birds

So the dogs have been barking a lot lately. Sparky mostly. He doesn't bark so much at night anymore, but at day time, around birds. He gets a long walk each day, mulitiple training sessions, play, nose work, but still has to bark at birds that come into the yard.

Now the birds that he barks at are magpies usually, but any bird that comes into the yard will do. On a walk, he never barks a birds. It's only when he's in the yard. I don't think it's because he's bored either, we can be playing tug, and he'll just bolt after a bird. I think it comes from when we used to feed the dogs kibble, and it was left there, and the birds came in for a feed. So they chased them away. Now Sparkys chasing them whenever, even though theres no food to gaurd.

It's annoying mum, so for I told her I'd have him sorted out in a month. Now what should I do... I know I should click/treat for calm behaviour around birds. Should I have him on a leash and ASK for him to sit, liedown etc, or WAIT for him to show calm behaviour?

And should I train him this while on walks, even though he doesn't bark at birds on a walk? Or should I sit outside in the yard all day with him until a bird comes along?
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Old 03-10-2011, 10:52 AM
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It's annoying mum, so for I told her I'd have him sorted out in a month. Now what should I do... I know I should click/treat for calm behaviour around birds. Should I have him on a leash and ASK for him to sit, liedown etc, or WAIT for him to show calm behaviour?
I would ask for lie down/sit/stay around birds. If it's just the barking, and not the chasing, you might even let him chase a bird after he does one of those things and is quiet (bark = no bird for you, dawg)

Otherwise, c/t when he's quiet and maintaining the position you want. If he breaks position, body block him from the bird (so he doesn't self-reward by chasing a bird away) and re-state your instruction (sit/lie down/stay).


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And should I train him this while on walks, even though he doesn't bark at birds on a walk? Or should I sit outside in the yard all day with him until a bird comes along?
I would. Even though he doesn't do it on walks, any thing that can turn the bird cuing barking to the bird cuing lying down/quiet behavior would help. In fact, if he doesn't do it during walks, it might give many opportunities for getting the reinforcement in him so that when it does happen in the yard, it might help him to stay calm.
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Old 03-13-2011, 03:37 AM
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Thankyou! Unfortunatly I can't let him chase the birds, he gets to noisy when he's having fun. You should hear when he's playing with other dogs, or just a toy lol.

I think I'll have more luck seeing birds on walks, since the birds come into the yard at random. Theres this really old bird that lives around here, that we can walk up to and it won't fly away. It might hop a little further away and be ready to fly, but I can stand there with both my dogs occassionally lunging or barking (when I'm not doing my job right with them....) and it's doesn't flee. Kind of sad to see it because I think it'll die soon, but right now it's great to just walk up to to train my dogs. (Deedees decided that she wants to join in to. She doesn't bark and chase very often, but I might as well train her too)
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Old 03-13-2011, 09:00 PM
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Being a "bird person" I want to politely disagree with allowing him to chase the birds (even though you said you can't) because this will terrify the poor little things. :-(

Try clicker training so that Sparky must focus on you and the treats you provide instead of the birds.

Or, if you are walking towards birds and he starts to bark, turn abruptly and walk the other way to distract him and show him that that reaction gets the opposite result. (As if you were training to not pull).
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Old 03-14-2011, 07:47 PM
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Being a "bird person" I want to politely disagree with allowing him to chase the birds (even though you said you can't) because this will terrify the poor little things. :-(
I understand what you are saying.

Just saying what worked for me and Wally. Instead of saying "Focus, focus" etc, giving him what he wants a couple times when he looked at them had him looking back at me (waiting for my signal) which then became a behavior in itself I could reward.

So he sees bird, looks at me, and then we can go about our business.

Basically, premacking instead of trying to constant redirect, etc.
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Old 03-14-2011, 07:58 PM
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Oh, I totally understood where you were going with it and if it were something that could really handle it then great, but not birds so much...
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