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I have two questions about a sit-stay and reactive dogs, which I just decided to put in the same thread since they both fall under the same training category.

1. I'm reading the book, "Train your dog like a Pro" by Jean Donaldson. There is a whole chapter on teaching the "Sit-stay" and "Down-stay" cues. I've never read her process for teaching them like this before, but I really want to try it. She puts the dog in a sit and pays it. Then you're supposed to hold a treat about a foot away from the dogs nose. If they get up to reach for it, you cancel the reward. You do this until they get they're supposed to wait/sit for the reward to come to them instead, build up distractions and wa-la you have a sit-stay.

What confuses me here is that she never tells us to say "Stay" as a cue. It's just "sit". Is this supposed to teach that sitting also means a default stay? Always? What about the release cue? It never goes over how to release the dog from a sit-stay. Is there a separate cue for stay still? Or is it being smushed with sit automatically and we never have to say "stay" in our life?

2. My dog Molly is dog-reactive, so I've been training her everyday with the "watch me", instead of bark like a crazy dog solution. In all of my reading about reactive dogs, they teach you how to stop the dog from barking and watching you instead. However, I haven't read any sources that talk about your dog finally being able to greet other dogs on walks. Is this not possible? Will my dog always have to ignore other dogs and watch me instead? Or is it possible that one day, she will be able to meet other dogs on walks? And I will be able to say hello to other dog walking humans?

Thank you!!
 

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I think "watch me" is a really good cue, but for reactivity we've had a lot of success with BAT. My trainer originally did the 1.0 version and we made a fair amount of progress, but we took a break because she got ill (she's better now so we'll be rescheduling). I've since bought the 2.0 book and it seems to be better set up. There's info in it on how to proceed once your dog is actually ready to meet the trigger.

I like this program a lot because there's not a lot in the way of distracting the dog from what it fears, just letting the dog take in information and making good choices rewarding. We've had a bit of success here with the creatures that my boy finds frustrating and once the weather warms up just a bit I'm going to hunt for places where we can find people but still get a good distance between us (or, do some setups. Hopefully my trainer can help with that too).
 

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"Watch me" is a really useful tool in many scenarios.

Regarding "stay", my dad trained field labs while I was growing up. He never taught "stay". It was actually very common in that discipline not to teach it. Sit always meant "sit until I tell you otherwise", down always meant "down until I tell you otherwise". Personally, I teach stay.
 

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@MollyDoggy

I like it because sometimes I don't NEED a sit or a down so I don't want to give the opportunity to ignore those commands. Sometimes (like when I'm hiking and I want to go up a steep climb first) I'll just have her stay in a specific spot before calling her. The idea behind not training it for field work is that they typically want less commands to get the dog to the bird. This was years ago so it may even have changed. I think for a general dog owner, it's just preference. If you go into specific sports, the choice becomes a little more regulated.

I hope that makes sense haha
 

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I have two questions about a sit-stay and reactive dogs, which I just decided to put in the same thread since they both fall under the same training category.

1. I'm reading the book, "Train your dog like a Pro" by Jean Donaldson. There is a whole chapter on teaching the "Sit-stay" and "Down-stay" cues. I've never read her process for teaching them like this before, but I really want to try it. She puts the dog in a sit and pays it. Then you're supposed to hold a treat about a foot away from the dogs nose. If they get up to reach for it, you cancel the reward. You do this until they get they're supposed to wait/sit for the reward to come to them instead, build up distractions and wa-la you have a sit-stay.

What confuses me here is that she never tells us to say "Stay" as a cue. It's just "sit". Is this supposed to teach that sitting also means a default stay? Always? What about the release cue? It never goes over how to release the dog from a sit-stay. Is there a separate cue for stay still? Or is it being smushed with sit automatically and we never have to say "stay" in our life?
There are just a ton of variations on training stays.
Some people train ''sit,'' "down," and "stand" as their cue for stays. Means not only which position but they have the additional criteria of maintain position until released or cued to do something else. Sounds like this is what your book is describing. Dexter and Leggs know to hold positions (shorter lengths of time normally) until released or cued to do something different.

Some people train a ''stay'' cue. It follows the position cue.

Some people even have more than one stay cue!
My dogs also know ''stay'' and ''wait''. "Stay'' is for a longer, relaxed stay. I also always return to get and release them. I use "Wait'' for a short, stay always followed by a different cue. My dogs are normally on their toes anticipating the release/following cue. It's typically at a distance (start line stay, stopping behind balls for treibball, etc.) or in the heeling context. Often already in position so no need to cue sit/down/stand. It's more a freeze and wait for further direction type stay.

Just seems to be pretty individual to the trainer. Depends a lot on how they learned and their needs. There's no one right way.


2. My dog Molly is dog-reactive, so I've been training her everyday with the "watch me", instead of bark like a crazy dog solution. In all of my reading about reactive dogs, they teach you how to stop the dog from barking and watching you instead. However, I haven't read any sources that talk about your dog finally being able to greet other dogs on walks. Is this not possible? Will my dog always have to ignore other dogs and watch me instead? Or is it possible that one day, she will be able to meet other dogs on walks? And I will be able to say hello to other dog walking humans?

Thank you!!
I do teach my dogs name recognition, but none, even the reactive/shy guys have a watch me cue....
People tend to use it as a chant and I feel like it can result in some conflict for the dog as they aren't being allowed to assess a situation and more importantly aren't learning to make the correct decision on their own. It just seems for many ''look''/''watch me'' becames an almost hopeful prayer of ''don't look over there, look here, please don't look there" and they don't progress past it. Idk if that makes any sense? And I'm def not saying that is they case with what you are doing. I just see it a lot!

Attention is a criteria I build into behaviors. They don't get to work with me if they aren't attentive. If they look away/get distracted when working, then I normally step away from them. I almost never ask for anything, without attention. Attention is rewarded with the opportunity to play the game/work/earn rewards. It's a process and it's hard to really describe in just a single post. If wanting to learn more then Denise Fenzi's Dog sport skills book series is nice. She also has blogs posts on the topic. And there are lots of good reward based, competition trainers out there teaching their take on attention/engagement. It's not something often talked about or really applied much in basic obedience and pet classes, ime.

Anyway, if wanting to actually work toward intros/greetings you're likely going to need to expand your training, ime. You'll likely need to work more on systematic desensitization and counter conditioning. Also skills like parallel walking, walking past other dogs, stays, and other obedience skills in proximity of other dogs. Impulse control exercises are helpful for both fearful reactive and frustrated/overly excited reactive dogs. For the later it can actually be the fix, ime as they really just need to learn some self control in order to get what they want (to greet the dog). Some dogs/owners may not care to progress past here, but for those who do, these skills allow for eventual greetings/intros with dogs who are comfy and relaxed with each other in close proximity.

Parallel walking for example is great way to introduce dogs. There's also 3-second greetings and a wide variety and variations of other methods. Need the obedience, confidence, and comfort first with the other dog in close proximity before a nice greeting can take place with a reactive dog. At least that's been my experience.
 

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I have an implied stay with my girl. She hears "sit" and she stays sitting until released. Same with down and stand. Her stays are awesome! I proof them a lot. Her release cue is "go free."

Also, Pip is a shelter dog who is afraid of most everything. I know it's not dog reactivity, but we're working on her reactivity towards people. She gets a ton of treats just for counter-conditioning and desensitization. We taught her how to do nose-touches to redirect her. We played look-at-that game (found in Control Unleashed book) and "click the trigger." We also used BAT type set ups. Most of the time, we don't have people touch her yet, but there are some people who she has met several times that she allows them to pet her. It took several set-ups with the person (she has to be comfortable first, as mentioned above) and when she was ready for the 'get touched" part of the whole thing, we made it so that she approached and not the person. She's still not ready for the person approaching.

I recommend finding a training center to help you out.
 

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My dogs are taught to sit/down until released. I never say stay. Sometimes if it will be a long stay I say "wait."
Same here. My puppy knows "wait" for when we are hiking or he's on a long line and I want him to freeze momentarily (I generally don't make him sit on trail). While I haven't worked up to great durations yet, he will sit/down/place for a few minutes until he is released or given another command. Still working on duration for paws up and stand.
 

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I have two questions about a sit-stay and reactive dogs, which I just decided to put in the same thread since they both fall under the same training category.

1. I'm reading the book, "Train your dog like a Pro" by Jean Donaldson. There is a whole chapter on teaching the "Sit-stay" and "Down-stay" cues. I've never read her process for teaching them like this before, but I really want to try it. She puts the dog in a sit and pays it. Then you're supposed to hold a treat about a foot away from the dogs nose. If they get up to reach for it, you cancel the reward. You do this until they get they're supposed to wait/sit for the reward to come to them instead, build up distractions and wa-la you have a sit-stay.

What confuses me here is that she never tells us to say "Stay" as a cue. It's just "sit". Is this supposed to teach that sitting also means a default stay? Always? What about the release cue? It never goes over how to release the dog from a sit-stay. Is there a separate cue for stay still? Or is it being smushed with sit automatically and we never have to say "stay" in our life?

2. My dog Molly is dog-reactive, so I've been training her everyday with the "watch me", instead of bark like a crazy dog solution. In all of my reading about reactive dogs, they teach you how to stop the dog from barking and watching you instead. However, I haven't read any sources that talk about your dog finally being able to greet other dogs on walks. Is this not possible? Will my dog always have to ignore other dogs and watch me instead? Or is it possible that one day, she will be able to meet other dogs on walks? And I will be able to say hello to other dog walking humans?

Thank you!!
Just wondering but has your dog ever met a dog she likes? My childhood dog was very dog aggressive but she had a few dogs she would play with. Not sure how I controlled a Dobe/Rotty mix when I was 14 and 80 lbs soaking wet but I did. She really never pulled or broke a command. I mean she amazed me with her Stays. Nothing distracted her. I would always bring her around the neighborhood and if she didn't snarl I would let them get closer. She had a few dogs she loved. A Female Pit, Male Staffy and my cousins Female Shih tzu. Most every other dog she would absolutely snarl and show teeth but not really lung. Anyway my point is if she has a dog she likes I wondering if you could build on that to hopefully someday be able to meet other dogs.
 

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I admit to never having said 'stay' to a dog in my entire life.
'Sit' means sit till I give another command or I come back, reward and release you. My release command is 'that'll do'.
I do this cos it's simple, and I like simple.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Oh dear, sorry for my late response. So scatterbrained this week.
THANK YOU to everyones advice and stories, this has been so helpful. I've decided to teach my Molly a sit means an implied stay, so I never have to say stay ever. Her sit already automatically popped right back up half the time, so I figured why not turn it into stay by working on it. It's already becoming helpful when putting her harness on. She stays until I'm done putting it on now... most of the time.
@PoppyKenna I got the BAT book in the mail a few days ago and I LOVE it! I think this is a book I'm going to read a few times, since there's so much information in it. Thanks for the recommendation!
@Kms
I do teach my dogs name recognition, but none, even the reactive/shy guys have a watch me cue....
People tend to use it as a chant and I feel like it can result in some conflict for the dog as they aren't being allowed to assess a situation and more importantly aren't learning to make the correct decision on their own. It just seems for many ''look''/''watch me'' becames an almost hopeful prayer of ''don't look over there, look here, please don't look there" and they don't progress past it. Idk if that makes any sense? And I'm def not saying that is they case with what you are doing. I just see it a lot!
This is actually exactly how I felt with the "watch me" cue. :/ I started to feel ridiculous. I confess, I've stopped doing it until I have another plan. I want to read that BAT book PoppyKenna mentioned. I've been working more on name recognition instead and if my dog is staring at another dog from a distance, I reward her for choosing to look at me or keep walking with me on her own choice.
@Okeedoke22 She never likes dogs around my apartment complex, but if I take her off leash to a dog park she's completely fine. :/ I only took her there once though. She hasn't met any dogs here that she likes though.
 

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Great, I do think you'll like the book! There is a lot of emphasis on good choices, which I think is really positive. Like @kmes said, the book does mention that a "watch me" cue is sometimes more distracting than anything and doesn't always really help the cause of the reactivity BUT maybe it works for some people - who knows.

There are just so many ways to reward calm behavior and disengagement and I think they're covered really well in the book. I've read it through once (I was cheap/greedy so I have the pdf version) and plan to read through some of the chapters again.

I will say we had a pretty successful incident at the lake this weekend - we passed a barking dog in a yard that made Chisum nervous (he whined but didn't react) and I rewarded him for moving on in the best way he could. We also came across two strange people about 50 yards down the 'beach' and he watched them for a bit, calmly, then continued on down toward the water. Yay!

Of course need to keep practicing and moving closer but I do like that he's able to make his own decisions.
 
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