Hunters please help?

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Hunters please help?

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Old 03-14-2019, 10:41 PM
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Hunters please help?

Hello all! I am fostering a dog that was started on hunting training before he was surrendered. I am trying to get in as much training as I can while he is here, including house training, but he makes it very difficult. Once out the door his nose is to the ground the whole time. I kid you not, literally the whole time. If I let him out in the yard he is running with nose to the ground until I chase him down, corner him, and catch him. I decided to leave him out as long as he needed to get tired, but that never happened. Got my chair and a book out there. He was running around, with nose to ground, for over four hours. It's all he wants to do outside. That's it, nothing else. On top of making being outside and getting him exercise VERY stressful, house training is so far a total bust. It's been two weeks. He will pee outside fine and now even gives me looks when we are inside to say "hey I gotta pee man!!" So that is going okay. But not defacating. That's a total no go. I can tell he's gotta go, so I take him out but he is immediately too distracted. He doesn't go. I can be out there with him 10-20 minutes and he is still just yanking me around sniffing the ground. I stay in one place to make things as boring as possible for him, but he just sniffs that little area constantly the whole time. Take him back inside, try again later. Same deal. The only times he does go is inside (ARGH), or he'll partially go mid run around the yard while still on the hunt. Which means he isn't learning anything... Have any hunters out there had this problem? What did you do? I imagine there isn't really an off switch to prey drive, but is there a way to call them off the hunt even if only for a little while? I don't mind the whole long way of getting him to pay attention to me outside, but this isn't my dog and I don't have that much time to get him trained.
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Old 03-15-2019, 07:47 AM
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High hunt drive, genetic. All I can really say is good luck. Not saying this is the case with yours, but if he was really seriously bred to hunt- some of those dogs just dont make great pets. Great hunting partners yes, pets not so much. You could try satisfying the hunt drive with scent games and work some obedience training into it. I've seen quite a few serious hunting dogs that were totally obsessed with scent. Genetic programming is very very hard to work against. Try teaching him to find different objects in your yard. A fun game to satisfy that hunt drive. Once he's learned that start obedience inside where he wont be distracted. Then take him out for a find it game as reward. I spent about half my life in an area where hunting was huge. Everybody had hunting dogs. My father used to breed coon hounds actually. Depending on the breed some were far more trainable than others. What breed is yours? Alot of the hounds that were seriously bred were crap for obedience. They had good intellegence for the hunt but but they just weren't bred with obedience in mind. There's a forum called gundogs.com you might get some good info from there. That whole forum is centered around hunting breeds. As far as housebreaking you may just want to go to square one just like you would with a puppy. The principles are the same.
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Old 03-15-2019, 04:57 PM
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High hunt drive, genetic. All I can really say is good luck. Not saying this is the case with yours, but if he was really seriously bred to hunt- some of those dogs just dont make great pets. Great hunting partners yes, pets not so much. You could try satisfying the hunt drive with scent games and work some obedience training into it. I've seen quite a few serious hunting dogs that were totally obsessed with scent. Genetic programming is very very hard to work against. Try teaching him to find different objects in your yard. A fun game to satisfy that hunt drive. Once he's learned that start obedience inside where he wont be distracted. Then take him out for a find it game as reward. I spent about half my life in an area where hunting was huge. Everybody had hunting dogs. My father used to breed coon hounds actually. Depending on the breed some were far more trainable than others. What breed is yours? Alot of the hounds that were seriously bred were crap for obedience. They had good intellegence for the hunt but but they just weren't bred with obedience in mind. There's a forum called gundogs.com you might get some good info from there. That whole forum is centered around hunting breeds. As far as housebreaking you may just want to go to square one just like you would with a puppy. Theo principles are the same.
Ah, that is scary! He is a German Shorthaired Pointer. He's doing really well with training inside, very quick learner and very responsive. He's a huge snuggler and listens really well. Indoors, lol. My last dog was a German Shorthair who was started in hunting training, and he had some obsticles as well. But it was easy to curb his need to hunt by taking him bikejoring (since it plays into the prey drive to get them constantly pulling you forward. He did great!) But he never had this, where all he would do is smell. He would hunt in the yard a lot, but also played and napped and most importantly defacated!! This one is still trying to hunt even when exhausted 😧 I will search for that forum, thank you!!
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Old 03-15-2019, 06:57 PM
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Make working with you more rewarding than his environment!

Thank you for fostering this dog! How long have you had him with you at your house? How old do you think he is?

How is his food motivation? I would try training him some very easy tricks like "touch" or targeting where he puts his nose to your hand. Or "focus" where he looks at you for a food reward. Even if it is only for a quick second. Or "gets it" where you point to the ground and show him where you put some food/treats and he goes for them.

Or maybe make a flirt pole, hang it from a tree, and cue that when you go outside in the yard and play with him. Or play "hose game' where he chases/bites at the water. Or buy a cool sound making ball and play soccer in the yard with him. Anything basically to engage him.

I would try to make the initial focus that YOU are more fun and interesting and rewarding than the environment!

Use delicious super high value food bites to redirect his attention back to you. And to teach him that working with you is super fun and rewarding!

I do this all the time with my Puma pup who loooooves our backyard and absolutely loves to watch squirrels, birds, etc.

PS. I am not a hunter at all, but I do tons of behavioral modification with my dogs and others

Last edited by AthenaLove; 03-15-2019 at 07:00 PM.
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Old 03-16-2019, 08:04 AM
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Aren't german shorthairs one of the more trainable breeds? I'm sure you'll get it under control since it sounds like you've got some good experience from your last one👍
I didnt mean to sound negative.........sorry if it came across that way. I come from an area where people breed some pretty hardcore hunting dogs. My hometown used to host the largest annual coon hunt in the country if that gives some idea of how it is there. I think since he's responding to training you'll be fine with enough time. Athenalove can give you some really good tips!
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Old 03-20-2019, 12:16 AM
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Originally Posted by AthenaLove View Post
Thank you for fostering this dog! How long have you had him with you at your house? How old do you think he is?

How is his food motivation? I would try training him some very easy tricks like "touch" or targeting where he puts his nose to your hand. Or "focus" where he looks at you for a food reward. Even if it is only for a quick second. Or "gets it" where you point to the ground and show him where you put some food/treats and he goes for them.

Or maybe make a flirt pole, hang it from a tree, and cue that when you go outside in the yard and play with him. Or play "hose game' where he chases/bites at the water. Or buy a cool sound making ball and play soccer in the yard with him. Anything basically to engage him.

I would try to make the initial focus that YOU are more fun and interesting and rewarding than the environment!

Use delicious super high value food bites to redirect his attention back to you. And to teach him that working with you is super fun and rewarding!

I do this all the time with my Puma pup who loooooves our backyard and absolutely loves to watch squirrels, birds, etc.

PS. I am not a hunter at all, but I do tons of behavioral modification with my dogs and others[IMG class=inlineimg]https://www.dogforum.com/images/smilies/smile.gif[/IMG]
He has been here for two weeks and a part? And he is a year old. He's been doing pretty good with "focus", and is definitely food motivated, but not when he is outside or sees anything that moves. I will definitely try and see if he will play with a flirt pole when his rest period is over (just had him neutered the other day), but so far nothing seems to be able to snap him out of it.

Today I learned that he is even reactive to computer mice cursors! He got fixated on the movement of my tiny little circle and tried several times to launch himself at my monitors. I tried using it to work on the "leave it" and "focus" but to no avail. He would only follow the food when the mouse wasn't moving for a while.

But that did make me think that maybe he'd like to do some agility? Jumping over things and such. Idk. I will try.
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Old 03-20-2019, 12:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Sthelena View Post
Aren't german shorthairs one of the more trainable breeds? I'm sure you'll get it under control since it sounds like you've got some good experience from your last one👍
I didnt mean to sound negative.........sorry if it came across that way. I come from an area where people breed some pretty hardcore hunting dogs. My hometown used to host the largest annual coon hunt in the country if that gives some idea of how it is there. I think since he's responding to training you'll be fine with enough time. Athenalove can give you some really good tips!
Yes I have heard that. And he learns commands quickly, but is SUPER reactive to movement. I have little doubt that I could work through this with him, but I don't think I have enough time. He'll be up for adoption pretty soon 😞
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Old 03-20-2019, 04:28 PM
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New environment and change could add to stress and behaviors

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He has been here for two weeks and a part?
So.... your foster dog is still extremely new to his environment, your home/yard and your family. Lots of change. And more change coming.

When I first adopted my Gracie dog from the shelter she was very scent/outdoor obsessed as well. She is heeler/pointer mix. On walks, she would literally pancake/flatten herself out on the grass, nose all the way to the ground as if she was hunting something underground. Or sniff a bush or even a leaf for a really, really, really, really long time. And her potty habits were odd, too. She would only poop up high into a bush, not on flat grass like most dogs do. So strange. And outside she had zero focus on us. Zero!!

Gracie was a fearful, anxious, nervous, cautious dog. I think a lot of these extreme behaviors for her were actually attributed to her stress at the time. And related to her insecurity, unfamiliarity and unsteady home life--before us she had been returned to the shelter at least 4 times over three years. Last family kept her 5 days...then tossed her right back to the shelter.

But---over time, the pancaking stopped completely. As did the obsessive leaf sniffing, and high up bush pooping. And now she certainly can focus back on me when we are outside. In fact, she would much rather come over to me for petties then chase the squirrels. Whew!

But-- I have done tons and tons of work over time with her to build her confidence, acclimate her to her environment, counter condition her to not be fearful of a ZILLION things in her world.

And we do tons of relaxation work, such as T-touch like massage and "watch the world go by" so that her body and her brain are "re-pathed" to relax and not be so continually stressed or anxious.

Also I did lots of impulse control fun games with her.

I don't know if any of this pertains to your foster pointer, but I would not be surprised if it is similar in your case. I would definitely incorporate relaxation exercises like I wrote about. I know you don't have much time before he gets a new home, but maybe start up a relaxation protocol with him and teach the new family who adopts him about it ---so they will have long term success with this dog.

Stress and obsessive behaviors seem to go hand in hand, whether with dogs or humans.

Again, thank you SO much for helping this dog!!!!!!!

Last edited by AthenaLove; 03-20-2019 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 03-20-2019, 05:16 PM
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If dog cannot focus while training, try HIGH VALUE food treats

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Originally Posted by Nameless View Post
He's been doing pretty good with "focus", and is definitely food motivated, but not when he is outside or sees anything that moves.
Today I learned that he is even reactive to computer mice cursors! He got fixated on the movement of my tiny little circle and tried several times to launch himself at my monitors. I tried using it to work on the "leave it" and "focus" but to no avail. He would only follow the food when the mouse wasn't moving for a while.
You may know all this already (probably do) and if you do, great! If not, it is something to really think about when working with any dog. Many people simply don't think about it, and thus have less success than they'd like with their dogs.
**********

So, when you guys are working outside (high stimulation zone) and he isn't able to focus on you, and not interested in your food rewards I always like to ask the question:

WHAT foods rewards are you using??

Are you using dry treats or biscuits or kibble or store bought treats? Most of these dry, non smelly treats simply won't work for high distraction areas (or fearful situations)

I use only the HIGHEST VALUE foods when training super hard situations.... or helping a dog overcome their fears. The food has to smell really good to divert their attention away from the other exciting stimuli. (or fearful stimuli) Examples I use regularly are home cooked chicken, meats, cheese, liver, gizzards, hamburger, hotdogs, low fat deli turkey, etc. No dry food for these occasions until they can start focusing on me regularly and easily.

And I give very small pieces, so I can reward, reward, reward all good behavior choices!!!

A good example of mine regarding this concept:

Ahhh, reminds me of just the other day with a dog I just met named Lily. Very sad.

The owner was trying to sell this dog at a garage sale. The sweet looking little dog was tied up to the fence, visibly shaking.

Super shy nervous fearful 6 month old dog. I asked the owner if I could go meet the dog. I went over very quietly and gently approached the shaking lil dog. I kept my distance and did NOT try to pet her. Upon my approach, even though I kept my distance and kneeled down, she instantly peed herself.

I had to fight back my tears, knowing how fearful she was. Understanding her feeling of distrust and caution, especially since my own Gracie dog came to me like as a fearful cautious dog.

So, I asked the owner if she had any treats that I could offer Lily. She scrambled and handed me some dry milk bones biscuits. I offered one to Lily, still shaking, and of course the answer was "no thank you, no way." I instantly got the please don't hurt me "paw up" and the head turning away. The lame dry biscuit was simply not worth the RISK for her.

I understood.

But--It was Sunday, the only day I am without my dogs and my dog treat pouch, so I had no high value food on me. Rats!!!! I kept thinking: if only I had my delicious home cooked chicken with me, I bet I could have engaged Lily--- and maybe even taught her that interacting with humans is a GOOD thing, a rewarding thing.

Even if I am only one person, one interaction, one day, she just may rethink her view of people as scary, unknown, or not to be trusted. Each trusted encounter will help Miss Lily to see that humans are good.

Sigh, I still today wish I had my high value treats with me that Sunday. I pray little Lily finds the right home where they will really work with her. My heart goes out to her.

Last edited by AthenaLove; 03-20-2019 at 05:22 PM.
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Old 03-20-2019, 08:48 PM
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Computer mice: Probably too new and exciting to focus back on you

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Originally Posted by Nameless View Post
Today I learned that he is even reactive to computer mice cursors! He got fixated on the movement of my tiny little circle and tried several times to launch himself at my monitors.
I tried using it to work on the "leave it" and "focus" but to no avail. He would only follow the food when the mouse wasn't moving for a while.
Yup, as you have seen, asking him to "leave it or focus" is probably waaaaay too hard for him right now with the new exciting over stimulating computer mouse.

My Puma pup recently found out that dogs are on TV shows! You shoulda seen her...so cute. Very focused on the TV. She initially barked at the TV dogs while remaining on her couch, then got up and went over to ring her bell to ask to be let outside! I guess she wanted to go outside to "find' the dog that was on the TV. So funny. Luckily no lunging at the screen like some dogs do. I became worried that she would end up becoming reactive to the TV dogs....

She barked at the TV dogs a few more times while we watched some dog TV shows during the next few days. We talked to her nicely about it, just like we do when we see live dogs in person. Then Puppy Bowl came on TV....Oy! I was nervous about that one! So many dogs, so much dog movement.

But by then Puma was ok with it all and she just sat quietly and watched with interest in the dogs as she sat calmly on our bed. So odd. Puma is a very intense (not meaning aggressive at all) and thoughtful dog. Likes to just observe things quietly. After a bit she stopped watching and I looked over and she was napping.

Anyway.. sorry, back to you guys...my obvious advice:

Probably need to practice "leave it" with something super boring to him and then work your way up to harder, more exciting things. Baby steps.

I like to always set my dogs up for success by challenging them with things I know they will be able to do, and then reward the heck out of that so they will continue to want to work with me. Fun times while learning.
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