so we've been working on this.....(sorry long post)

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so we've been working on this.....(sorry long post)

This is a discussion on so we've been working on this.....(sorry long post) within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; clover has some fear issues when it comes to people that he doesn't know and we've been working on counter conditioning pretty much since the ...

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Old 09-16-2009, 02:58 PM
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so we've been working on this.....(sorry long post)

clover has some fear issues when it comes to people that he doesn't know and we've been working on counter conditioning pretty much since the day i got him. i have so far made the mistake of being lax with the counter conditioning bc he had improved to a point where he seemed comfortable to me, and then learned that he was not actually comfortable and had to start over i move too fast sometimes! anyway, since i learned my lesson from that i have been very careful not to repeat the mistake and i now make myself go over board with the treats even if clover seems comfortable. we have had a lot of success so far, we can now approach almost any stranger outside of the house and instead of ducking away, clover walks up to people wagging his tail and happily waiting for a cookie he got a bit spooked by someone carrying a big tripod w a camera on it, but he didn't freak out, just went around him to say hello to others in the group.
in the house is a different story but we have seen improvement here as well. yesterday he was in the house w my roommate, alone, and accepted treats from her for the first time (up until this point he would wait for her to be out of sight to eat them)
because i have a tendency to push too hard, what would you all say is the threshold for a dog like this? forgive me if i am wording this funny but what i mean is i don't want to push too hard so when would you say the dog is telling me he has had enough?
last night we had a friend visit from out of town, who is male (clover's problems w people are almost exclusively w men) clover just loved him, he even asked for really intense massage/petting and responded to commands for sit, down, shake etc. more people came over, clover had met this friend and his girlfriend a few times already and again really responded well, showing all signs that he wanted pets. as the evening progressed a few more people came over. of course we were having some beer and everyone was excited bc we hadn't seen one another in a bit, but clover did really well, though at this point he was no longer interested in petting and i didn't allow the new visitors to get too friendly w him (it is next to impossible to convince people that the dog doesn't want you to pet him, but my friends respected my request even though i could tell they thought i was crazy) clover accepted treats from each of the visitors when i told him to "go say hi" then came back to me. i put him in a "down stay" next to me on the floor and gave him a steady supply of treats and praise while everyone was hanging out. he did well for a while though i could tell he was still a bit anxious.
then some of the guys got excited about some story they were sharing and started yelling and giving high 5s and that was the deal breaker for clover, his head popped up and he started growling, nothing intense just a warning that he didn't like what they were doing but i didn't want to push too much so i called it quits then and there. clover actually seem reluctant to leave the group....
anyway, sorry about going on and on but was that too soon or too late? should i have called it sooner when he was getting anxious or should i let clover let me know as i did in this situation?



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Old 09-16-2009, 04:35 PM
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First refresh me a bit...how long you had him now? How old do you think he is? Iam sorry, I have horrible memory...

I think allowing him to let you know is fine, provided hes not cornered, theres no kids (for now), and can retreat if he wants too. As long as he doesn't feel cornered, he shouldn't do much more than make noise.

Also as long as he knows he CAN retreat...as stupid as this sounds, som' dogs don't realize that walking away is an option, and they don't think to do it, so they stand there and bark/ wig out/ cower...when they can simply leave the room.

I don't think your moving to fast...in fact I think it may be time to up the ante a bit... now hes used to calm friendly people, and getting used to slightly wierder people (like the tripod guy) now its time for him to learn that the loud bizzare stuff is awesome too...

I'll use Tippy as an example, since its easier for me to explain that way... she has massive fear issues as well...we did the basic counterconditioning stuff (like your doing strangers=treats etc etc) but she never really got past a certain point...then we started on the "mean" stuff....

I'd run into the room screaming like a lunatic and then throw a handful of food at her...I'd run at her very fast stomping my feet...click/treat.. I'd pretend I was going to hit her and then click/treat...I'd throw stuffed animals at her click/treat, grab her collar roughly..click/treat...make the stupid "ppssssttt!" (ceaser sound) and poke her..click/treat... etc etc etc.


Now I can run into the room stomping my feet screaming acting like Iam going to hit her and she is happy as all git out...

Of course you build up to this stuff...maybe start the pretend hit with a raised hand c/t and then a strike in slow mo click/treat...

Click the same time you make the motion or yell. There will be a "Ah ha!" moment when the fear switch clicks off...they will get excited instead of jumping. They call that a conditioned emotional responce.

Then off course you have friends who will think you are crazy...do it for you. lol

If I have time tonight I'll post a Tippy vid with examples...

at least thats my .02 lol



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Old 09-16-2009, 05:40 PM
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okay, so i've had him since 5/3 about 4 mos. he is somewhere around 1yo give or take a couple of months.
there usually aren't kids in the groups i hang out with except the neighbor's 4 yo. i am very careful around kids, but clover responds to them almost the same way he does to dogs, he really wants to be around them. he is generally gentle around them too, doesn't knock them over to get to a toy and that sort of thing. the other day the neighbor kid came over and clover went to the door and whined when he left......

i'd already been doing the pretending to hit him game. one day i threw something to him over-hand instead of underhand and he hit the ground so fast and crawled away from me to hide...i couldn't take that happening again so i started pretending to hit him and giving him treats instead....he hasn't cringed in a long time.

i have a few people in mind to help with the yelling and running around crazy "mean" business i'll start doing more aggressive desensitizing. i haven't had a dog that has been so fearful before, it is a lot of work! luckily most of the people i associate with are really understanding and they want the dog to like them so bad they are willing to help out with this sort of stuff.

thanks for the info



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Old 09-16-2009, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by fawkese1 View Post

i have a few people in mind to help with the yelling and running around crazy "mean" business i'll start doing more aggressive desensitizing. i haven't had a dog that has been so fearful before, it is a lot of work! luckily most of the people i associate with are really understanding and they want the dog to like them so bad they are willing to help out with this sort of stuff.

thanks for the info

glad you have friends willing to help. All my friends aren't animal people and think Iam insane when I hand them jerky and point at a dog to give it to.

It is a lot of work...but it will get easier...figure about 6 months solid work for him to be bulletproof. Theres just so many things in the world to desensitize them to.

Also part of it might be age...dogs go through fear periods periodically as they mature, that combines with being sorta newish can make him worse.

I think tho, once you've had him a year, your going to have a solid dog that trusts you 100% around everything.



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Old 09-16-2009, 06:10 PM
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glad you have friends willing to help. All my friends aren't animal people and think Iam insane when I hand them jerky and point at a dog to give it to.

It is a lot of work...but it will get easier...figure about 6 months solid work for him to be bulletproof. Theres just so many things in the world to desensitize them to.

Also part of it might be age...dogs go through fear periods periodically as they mature, that combines with being sorta newish can make him worse.

I think tho, once you've had him a year, your going to have a solid dog that trusts you 100% around everything.
wow, that makes me really happy i actually hadn't been banking on that at all.....i've been telling myself (and clover)everytime we reach a milestone or have an ah ha type moment "i'm happy with you just the way you are so even if i have to do this for the rest of your life, i still love you" just to sort of remind myself that there are limits and to keep my expectation level from making me get frustrated. its good to have longterm hope too, thanks



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Old 09-23-2009, 12:53 PM
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That sounds like your doing sooo well!!! He's got just such a sweet face, I can't imagine the poor guy being scared Give him a big smooch from me

I've never heard of the pretending to hit game? Can you explain? Mikey has a bit of anxiety (he's coming around) and cowers when I'm smacking moths with my book (I have to do it when he's not around). In fact if you even use an angry voice he cowers so anything to make him less anxious sounds good to me!!
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Old 09-23-2009, 01:53 PM
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That sounds like your doing sooo well!!! He's got just such a sweet face, I can't imagine the poor guy being scared Give him a big smooch from me

I've never heard of the pretending to hit game? Can you explain? Mikey has a bit of anxiety (he's coming around) and cowers when I'm smacking moths with my book (I have to do it when he's not around). In fact if you even use an angry voice he cowers so anything to make him less anxious sounds good to me!!
thank you thank you thank you! it seems like it has been so long, but really i've only had him for about 5 mos now! this has been the biggest obstacle with our relationship....lots of work

so, with the pretending to hit i do 2 things. first i give him some cookies and raise my hand and bring it down slowly increasing how fast i move my arm until it actually mimmicks a real "hit" i started by doing this as i was feeding. after we got to a good point with this i started adding in the sounds (a ssss sort of sound) and more aggressive body language. now, he will stand in front of me and wag his tail and smile and i can pretend to beat him(i'm not really beating him or anything...i promise)....omg i just realized that i've probably done this a bunch of times with the blinds open........i wonder what my neighbors think!!!!???
so the second thing i've been doing with the pretending to hit game is i actually hit him when we are playing or petting. clover is definately one of those dogs who likes to be pet and he likes ruff petting he gets really into it and moans and pushes into you when you do it so i give hime some solid smack/pats all over, and make sure he can see what i'm doing. not a lot of dogs tend to be like this so i don't really recommend it. but since i've had clover the more i do this the more he gets happy...i don't do this on or around his head.....



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Old 09-23-2009, 02:13 PM
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i forgot in my last post....we just started to deal with "kicking" right now i am having him lie down and having people step over him...stomp at him jump around him. we've only had 2 short sessions of this and already he is dramatically improved. he even allowed his greatest enemy, my roommate's boyfriend (just joking, he is just really afraid of him for some reason) do it with very little agitation. once we get really comfy with this we are going to keep upping whatever makes him nervous of people...banging in the front door etc.....
ps most of this was on advice from criosphynx....really really helped me get through this w clover



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Old 09-23-2009, 02:30 PM
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omg i just realized that i've probably done this a bunch of times with the blinds open........i wonder what my neighbors think!!!!???
LOL All pet owners need a laminated card-that they can pull out when people are giving us 'the look' That says "I own pets. No explanation necessary" Think of how many situations that would be useful in :P

Thanks for sharing all that-it sounds wonderful!! And I can see how you can extend the same sort of thing to other phobias/anxious situations!! That sounds soo good-I'm going to try it and you keep us posted on how brave Clover is being
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Old 09-23-2009, 03:29 PM
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you should see the looks i get when i take my cat for a walk....it was bad enough when i still had my bunny! sometimes when we have outdoor parties i trolley clover in one tree and my cat...fawkes in another...people just can't believe it, sometimes they thing i'm being mean to the cat, but if i don't take him out regularly he tries to take himself out....



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