Hello from SoCal

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Hello from SoCal

This is a discussion on Hello from SoCal within the Introductions forums, part of the DogForum Community Welcome category; Hello Everyone, I just recently joined you forum hoping to learn a lot and share some as well. I am an animal science student just ...

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Old 08-14-2014, 02:32 AM
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Hello from SoCal

Hello Everyone,

I just recently joined you forum hoping to learn a lot and share some as well. I am an animal science student just about to graduate with my BS. I live in North County San Diego and walk dogs for a living. So I get a lot of playtime with tons of pups!

My family owns a mixed breed medium sized dog. He is around 7-8 years old and we really don't know what breed he is. Some people have guessed shepherd, greyhound, yellow lab...and so on. As a joke the family just calls him a yellow dog. He is very high energy with high levels of anxiety. He is technically my stepfathers dog, who has very little sense when it comes to dog behavior. Along with some family drama mostly involving the house dogs (My late dog Pepper, RIP, and a step sisters dog as well) I had no say over how Dino was handled. Now that we only have Dino and the stepfamily has moved out, (step father for work) Dino became my responsibility since I moved back from college.

I have been starting from the ground up addressing his multiple deeply engrained anxiety ridden habits and trying to get him onto a normal playing field. But I'll cut that short here, I'm sure I'll have more posts on him later. I'm mostly looking for advice and knowledge as I am quickly changing my own training style. I had been around a lot of positive punishment mixed with positive reinforcement when handling animals and have made changes to remove the punishment. I'm still learning about behavior and training, and am taking in the most info I can.

Enough of that but now for some pictures right? I'm an avid hiker/backpacker and since I have returned from college Dino now joins me for my adventures.
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Old 08-14-2014, 03:10 AM
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Welcome, fellow SoCal-ian! Awesome pics! So glad to read you're coming to the realizations that most of us here have. I can't tell you how rewarding it is to let go of that approach, for both you, your spirit, and your relationship with your dog and the dogs you work with. You will never regret it, I guarantee you that. This forum promotes evidence-based, science-based, productive and humane methods, and it's not just because we think it's the right thing to do, or it being just our opinion on the matter. It promotes true learning, without negative effects, and it's absolutely beautiful to watch, especially versus 'traditional' training.

You'll likely see a huge difference in your dog with the use of force-free methods, especially because you're dealing with anxiety issues. Fear and anxiety should never, ever be dealt with with any form of positive punishment.

Thanks for joining, I hope you'll have a great experience here, as I have. Dino is such a cute YellowButt!
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Old 08-14-2014, 11:01 AM
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Thank you! Its been a long journey for me to make these mental changes towards how I view training and dog behavior. I had heard a lot of people saying they only worked with +R but had bad timing, and didn't understand the difference between treat bribing and rewarding good behavior. These dogs didn't change, were still aggressive, problematic and overall not good companions. So I had a hard time with supporting a method I didn't see as working. Then I worked for over a year at the San Diego Humane Society (Wonderful, wonderful place) thats where I was mainly introduced to +R and its benefits.

I still have a long way to go still sadly, old habits are hard to kill. As you said, with a dog like Dino I have seen him only get worse and more anxiety ridden. So I'm just hoping I can help him be a more relaxed, happy member of this family and in society.

Thank you! Glad you think so, knowing me I'll have tons of video and photos up soon enough of him.
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Old 08-14-2014, 01:25 PM
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Welcome to the forum!
Dino sure is a handsome guy. And it's awesome you're open to new ideas and exploring the force free world of dog training! It absolutely takes work (on mindset and actual handling/training skills) to make the shift but it is so worth it!

Quite a few of us have fearful and/or reactive dogs (I have 2 - the brown with black mask peke and white mixed breed in my avatar) so lots of support and info available here. In fact take a look in your free time at the threads here, in particular the ''Reactivity, on leash aggression, and barrier frustration'' thread. It's a nice place to start and may have some info new to you.
https://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/
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Old 08-14-2014, 07:55 PM
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Thank you Kmes! =)

I actually took a great deal of time reading through that thread a week or so ago. There is some great info there! I've been lurking and reading for about three weeks now and decided to join the forum and ask some more direct questions. Though I couldn't find articles on dogs that are not treat/toy motivated. If you know any of those I'd be super happy to read on those. Its very hard and frustrating that he is not treat or toy motivated. (that way I don't have to make a post on something that has been discussed, if not I'll be happy to make one...)
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Old 08-14-2014, 08:58 PM
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Welcome to the forum!

It is always exciting to watch people have that lightbulb moment when they finally see what the big deal is about force-free training.

I understand what you mean about dogs that aren't a big fan of treats or toys. I had a dog that thought toys were completely beneath her, and would interact with them for my sake only, very disdainfully, and she expected to be handsomely rewarded for her trouble.

On the flip side, I've also had a dog that would refuse all treats. She would like to sniff them, but if she could be coaxed to take one, she would spit it out on the floor immediately, and just look at you. It could be anything, including the high value ones of cheese, roasted meat, and wet cat food. What she did like was to SMELL new things, so we ended up training her with the reward being the chance to sniff a rotating cast of smells that we kept in small sealable bottles. It was unwieldy for sure, but it worked for her and us.

It sounds like what you have is a medium drive dog. Not so unmotivated that all he wants to do is stay home on the couch, and not so motivated that he'll jump through hoops for a treat or a chance to chase a ball. In all likelihood, unless he's outright refusing treats, you just haven't stumbled upon the magic tastyfood that will get his attention well enough for him to want to do things. Try all sorts of things in really small increments. The toy-hater above was particularly food motivated, but would go absolutely nutso for grapefruit pith and tomato cores.

The great thing about PR is that the more a dog is rewarded for a behaviour, the more ingrained it becomes, and often the behaviour itself becomes rewarding. This is the secret for teaching a dog to work for toys or for lesser treats. Often dogs who are trained to a high level will do tricks or behaviours for the chance to do other tricks or behaviours that they have already formed a positive association with. It's an awesome spiral. Here's a good discussion of how to build toy drive without food from one of this forum's 'sportiest' posters: Building Ball Drive. Give that a go and see if his interest doesn't pick up. I used a tug instead of a ball when I was working with my most recent pup.

Good luck!
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Old 08-14-2014, 11:19 PM
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Thank you thank you! Wow you guys are jumping right into it, thats great!

He is a funny guy. Thats a great article and I would love for him to be more toy driven. Anything that he thinks is fun and willing to focus on. Some of the stuff we do he thinks its great. About turns into him are the best thing in the world to him! Just the focus on me when there are distractions is getting us trouble.

I'm going to leave that there and may make a post later in the training section to continue this. I'll explain more too.
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Old 08-14-2014, 11:23 PM
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Sounds like you are doing good, but just need practice proofing in more distracting environments. I'll keep an eye on your training journal for now.

ETA: Sometimes it isn't what you're feeding, but how often. If there is a treat that he will take AT ALL try upping your rate of reinforcement, like through the roof. Don't just give him one, but feed them to him as fast as you can shovel them in his mouth at first, and see if that gets his attention.

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Old 08-15-2014, 12:19 AM
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Welcome from a fellow crossover. Handsome pup--looks like you two have some great adventures! Oh! Not a AS major, but zoology! Close enough, yes?! Enjoy the forum.
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