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Discussion Starter #1
So, I have a dog that I rescued from the animal shelter several months ago. I named her Piper, but we mostly call her Pip. She started out as very shut down, phobic, high-energy, no-off-switch, bitey, and also reactive. Since I am a dog trainer, I wanted a dog that needed help with someone who had more experience and knowledge. I send updates regularly to the shelter and they love her progress. I guess I decided to put down some of her progress here, too. Especially seeing quite a couple of threads on people working with their reactive dogs.

My biggest goal is getting a CGC on her, but I also want to eventually trial with her. For now, we are pursuing the trick titles and other titles which are very accessible for reactive dogs.

Here is some progress with my punk:
https://youtu.be/kgouJrSLHBs

The Miss Bitey I'm talking about at the end of the vid is this particular behavior issue:
https://youtu.be/i_QQ1K2vzP8

She also learns tricks and is probably ready for her next trick title.
https://youtu.be/iYxHvmjB_Ko
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Another trick accomplished!

https://youtu.be/NkX1D6FgTEs

This one was a doozy for her. I started training it as a chin rest and just kept increasing criteria until I could get food on her nose.

I feel like the self control required of this one helped her globally with having the self control she needs not to just spiral into panic when I walk her around. I also work a ton on impulse control games and having her choose work over rewards a lot. I'll get a video of that later probably.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
WOWOWOWOW. Pip went to Petco and didn't bark at anybody. She just sniffed people's feet a lot and even got pet by the cashier all over and ate tons of treats too. She was comfortable enough to show off her favorite tricks: Heel and nose-touch.

She is still very uncomfortable with older people. The age range she likes the best is probably 20-35 range. She is least happy with the above 50 range. She typically likes men more than women.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
More good news (and also some links to our work with distraction training--old vids, but good vids).

Pip successfully met with some dogs in our apartment complex. As a rule, she's dog friendly to small dogs, but very fearful of large dogs and will react to them. She reacts more to people, which she is very afraid of. I have been working on her dog reactivity a lot lately by pairing her with my students' dogs. The dog she works the most with is a shepherd x husky mix. She's curious of Penny and we worked at distances at first in which she was not reactive. She actually got close really fast. Penny's dad brought his other dog one of our sessions (a Lab) and Pip did awesome with the curveball. As the lab is an older, mellow girl.

Pip also met with some Chihuahuas and tons of other small dogs (her favorite). We also worked on moving on after seeing dogs or not meeting the dogs at all.

On her walk last night, a Basset hound mix which Pip had previously reacted to appeared and Pip showed calm interest in the dog, so I had them meet. They sniffed each other's butts and then went bouncy, so I dropped her leash so they wouldn't get tangled. I called her to me with a hand target, she came, and then we continued our walk and met with them again on the way back. The owner was so impressed that Pip was so nice with her dog now! And the second time around proved it wasn't a fluke!

This week she also met with a puggle and a shih tzu, but I thought that the big dog and her being friendly was so incredible! I'm absolutely proud of my Pipster!

So here are some vids of us working on distraction training and building the habit of choosing me over stuff, which is a large part of focus outside and ability to respond to cues in busy environments.

Teaching her to choose listening to me over stealing easy-to-grab rewards:
https://youtu.be/9XVE7TKHw5E

Using targeting (pedestal, crate) to introduce being able to go on top of rewards:
https://youtu.be/jHAD750rJ8Q

Challenging her with very high value reward/distraction (first session on this):
https://youtu.be/y5oEZJ44Ta8

Bringing her outside:
https://youtu.be/6MElbUuNNso

Can't believe what a good dog she is. I love her.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Love this girl! We're working on a nose-touch with duration. She's doing awesome with it so far and we've actually been able to get a couple of good solid seconds today. This girl learns so wicked fast.

I actually use a chin-rest with duration for helping her calm down. She loves it. One of her favorite behaviors. We worked on that, too. It helped her offer the duration on the nose-touch since she already has a very firm touch.

Her heels have been doing awesome lately. I need to get a good video of her work on it. But... I also need to charge my video cam. That's the mission for tomorrow. If you guys peek on my Youtube, her left turns were super-duper bad before. Definitely improved!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Some more progress with Pipster.

She actually is doing super awesome in her behaviors and also with her social behaviors. We took her to the dog park and she did awesome. She has wonderful dog social skills. She isn't overly fixated on dogs in play or aggression (many dogs are overly interested in other dogs). She is polite and sniffs around until she finds a compatible play mate. She also asked to be pet!!! She walked up to some strangers and hung around after sniffing them. They put down their hands and she stayed close by. They pet her a couple times and then she walked over to me.

So proud of her!!!

Outside of her progress with social skills, we have been training her with tons of other stuff. She's learned a new finish into heel position:

https://youtu.be/HSYQHQnZTbU

We have also built her off leash skills to the point where she is a great off leash dog. We got tons of compliments at the dog park when she came when called every time. People wanted to know how we accomplished that and I was able to say, "Actually! I used only positive training."

https://youtu.be/PsBltEJKhxA
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Pip did awesome out and about. She's getting braver all the time. Still more stressed than my liking (I'd like her to one day look as chill and confident as she does in the nail clipping video). My co-workers cannot believe that she's the same girl I adopted back at the end of August 2015. She used to be so shut down that she wouldn't move. Now she's curious about people, though still nervous.

Now more about my Pipster's other training:
She's AMAZINGLY smart. She's just picked up rear feet targeting. We're turning this into the hand stand trick later. She also awesome at sustained nose touch. I love calling her from across the apartment while I'm laying in my bed and she comes flying into the room, leaping onto my bed, and as soon as she touches my hand, it's like she's frozen in place, waiting for her release cue.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yesterday. Was. Awesome.

Pip worked a lot on training with me outside. She fell apart and barked at a woman who was interested in what Pip was doing (apparently, front and finishes and heeling are super exciting). I got to explain that she was a bit of a sharp dog in temperament, but has never bitten anybody, that she was "nice" when the woman first met her before months before because she was completely shut down and now that she has confidence, she was a bit more vocal about the way she felt about people. But I assured her she was much better trained now and was really rocking the things we had been teaching her. Once Pip saw that the woman wasn't coming over to touch her and relaxed enough to work.

I called her to "touch" and she whirled around and touched my hand with the same intensity she did inside the apartment. When she did that, I knew she was going to be on fire today (and with an audience!). I could also use "front" in the same way. When nervous, I noticed she had a habit of anticipating "get in" after front and flipping into heel. And she'd do that from time to time. But I'll work on that separately. I was celebrating what she was giving me now. The people thanked me for showing her off and went on their way. There were still a few people watching us outside, which was fine because I wanted Pip to get used to people and they weren't walking up to us like the first person did.

Once she was in the rhythm of working, she was largely non-reactive and focused solely on the work. Sometimes, she would drift to look at one of her bogeyman to make sure they stayed far enough away, but I always helped maintain that distance, so her trust in me was very high. And then, something amazing happened.

She played tug with me outside. With people watching.

Now even though Piper medium-high to high drives across the board, she also is a very tender, sensitive dog and has an extreme fear of people that she will turn off when she sees them (usually). Instead of starting to shut down or stress down, she chose to hit that tug harder than I've ever seen her hit it outside and just let loose and start playing. It wasn't as intense as she could be inside, but love seeing the intensity she brings to the table outside.

This has been a huge milestone for the Pipster. Our hard work together is really paying off. Love seeing my Squirmy Miss Bitey doing amazing things.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Pip's starting to be able to work in busy places! Took her to the petstore again and she was my dynamite girl! I always let her sniff everything when I come in so she can process her stress and the environment. And she actually didn't need to do that the whole time. She was able to do short obedience routines.

I also had one of my students bring his dog over. This was a dog that Pip's met before. They worked around each other, though Pip was more nervous, so I didn't ask her to do much other than just "be" around the dog. Then, she surprised me. She wanted to work. She wanted to work with me even though Penny was working with us there and we practiced awesomeness. She is still scared of the fish section (sumps running + the loud music playing there), but I'll work her there on her own time. I met a woman who was teaching her son to ask before petting and then explaining how some dogs don't want to be pet and that's OK too. Over all, an amazing day.

Now, she's laying in my lap, tired from working hard but not overwhelmed. My co-workers could not believe it. One of my co-workers hadn't seen Pip since the first few months I had her since she had been recovering from a car accident and she was so impressed with the difference in my girlie. She told me that Pip seems so much more confident and eager. She was in excellent condition. She said she thought Pip was all black, but her skin and coat was in such bad shape when I adopted her that her hair was dull and you couldn't she was brindle unless you looked really closely.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I almost have to laugh when people say positive methods don't work. Today, my mother (who is visiting) and my cousin and sister did a barbeque. It was a great spread with my family. I knew that, since it was my family, they would do great with Pip and give her space if she needed. We also invited Otis, my dad's dog--who I also trained.

Otis used to be incredibly dog aggressive/reactive. He was the dog that taught me everything I know about training and the reason why I could handle a dog like Pip. I knew that he'd get along with her because they are compatible. Neither of them likes dogs that run up to their faces and neither one is a dog who does that. They enjoy chasing games. I used positive methods for Otis and have carried over what I learned from him for Pip's reactivity.

The dogs did amazing and were both easy to handle because they were more than ready for this picnic. Everyone enjoyed the both of them there!

I have some video and pics:

https://youtu.be/5D1kVF6QeCg













 

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Discussion Starter #13
Took Pip out to the Petco again. She did amazing. It was crowded with many dogs and people because I had to go later than I usually did due to my bf being in an accident and now we're sharing cars.

She was well-mannered, but not attentive because it was a little more stressful, so I let her sniff around as much as she wanted and encouraged her to walk away from her old triggers. She did not react once and was actually really quite confident, but not confident enough to offer obedience past nose-touches and heeling (she loves heel). This is actually the first time in months that my boyfriend came with me to one of our public outings and was so impressed with Pip. Especially when she was on-point as a man started filling his litter.

I asked people if my dog can sniff them without them petting her and several people actually obliged. I only asked the people who didn't try to pet her in the first place, but looked as if they wanted to interact with the sweet doggie. There were a few people who tried to reach down and pet my dog (without asking or WHILE asking!) and she ran away as she was trained instead of barking.

She's able to walk through a crowd confidently. I usually walk through as if I'm in a hurry and nobody stops to pet her. It was a lot easier with my boyfriend with me, too.

The only bad thing that happened there was when we were out in the store, someone was with their SDIT and they hit the dog every time they passed me and Pip if the dog showed an interest in her. Piper is actually amazing at moving past the dog and maintaining focus (she has no trouble with focus around dogs--just people), but every time they hit their dog, Pip flinched. We high-tailed it out of there and jollied her back up. My boyfriend and I were disgusted with how people could treat a dog in such a way. We were so proud of our Pipster for being brave and quiet and sometimes offering attention.

We ordered an IN TRAINING jacket for Pip to wear when we go in public so we don't have too much issue with people touching her suddenly or wanting to interact with her.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
We got her IN TRAINING jacket/vest thing and it's amazing! People read it and they don't need to come over and interact with her.

We're taking her to many different places outdoors and just working on offered focus and attention. If she offers it, I ask her for obedience and WOW is she doing amazing when she's in the zone. She has a slight edge to her work that just brings out the flourish and flash when she's outside because she's stressing up and now, she's channeling that into her obedience rather than shutting down or losing her brains in react-mode (aka, the bark & bite mode).

That said, she does require a rather lengthy period of warming up in order to get there (aka offered focus) but I feel like that will shorten in time as she finds working outside is just as fun as working in my apartment.

However, working in indoor areas that are not my apartment are more difficult for her than working outdoors, so that's something I have to work towards. I'm really excited and believe she may be trial-ready some time next year.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Working more with Pip the Pi Piper. So we are working on sit-and-down stays outside around people and she does really good. She was able to focus really quickly when she saw it was just being nice and calm that was earning her cookies. Sometimes, I ask her for more difficult things, but it was really busy yesterday.

At the end of her training session, she got to play with one of her best friends named Zebo. I had her hold the down-stay as Zebo walked by and then, his owner asked if they could play. She held her stay until I released her and OMG, she was ecstatic. She loves that dog and was bouncing around and frolicking with him. It was adorable.
 

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I took Pip to the July 4th thing with my family. It was a small picnic get-together. It was the first time I took her off leash in a large open area without a fence. She did amazing. I brought her long leash just in case and she started on it. I took her off and she played with Oats again (played loudly).

My goals with her is to eventually have a dog who can totally do awesome in trials, but I'm still working on her confidence in new places. She's definitely a lot more nervous in indoor areas as well as busy areas.

She wasn't perfect (though did so well considering her issues) as she reacted to my grandfather a few times (just barking). It didn't help that the first time she reacted to him, he started yelling at her for barking and that made things a whole lot worse. He's very old school.

I was able to redirect her by asking for a nose-to-hand touch and she was pretty good about maintaining her distance from him for most of the picnic. It was only when he would approach her and try to touch her that she would react.

Thankfully, nobody else was so hard-handed and forward with her. She was relaxed for most of the picnic and Otis being there helped her a lot. She got along well with my uncles and my one uncle's wife, my dad and my grandmother.

My uncle and his wife were so impressed with the fact that she and Otis came when called every single time and were generally really great off leash dogs. My boyfriend was worried when Pip went really far off, but she showed off her excellent recall when I called her.

She even played a little bit at the picnic! I'll update with some videos in a few days. It takes a while for me to transfer them from phone to computer.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
So, it's been awhile since I updated with some of what Pip has been working on.

First off, her heeling has been getting better and better. We have also started working on the pieces of the behavior chain for the formal retrieve. Doing obedience stuff is a confidence booster for her and is really fun for me.

https://youtu.be/HbYsQ4OmOok
https://youtu.be/c1gEog176nM

We're trying to get more accuracy in position changes. She's definitely improved a lot!

https://youtu.be/yq5HMkS5s_0

She's not trial ready yet and won't be for awhile, but I like seeing how hard she works, even when she's really stressed about the environment. She doesn't give up even as her behaviors fade. I never used a physical correction on this dog nor a verbal one in training. I keep training cheerful and upbeat.

https://youtu.be/QDKys5zuhJA
https://youtu.be/_6MGj5QkXQo

She's started to be slightly more social in public outings, actually allowing a few people to pet her sometimes and seeking attention but it's rare and depends on the day and how she feels. Small steps.

She is so much easier to live with now and we recently took her to another family event and she did great there, despite being in a crowded area. Definitely did better than I expected. Sadly, I have no video from there. But I do have a family picture hanging on my fridge where she's posing with me and a bunch of other people (plus Otis, who is now her best friend doggy).
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Been recently focused on getting Pip to be more confident in new areas. I'm just bringing her top toys and rewarding her interest in the toy. Shelving using treats to reward obedience for now. Not asking or making her do anything when we go out--just playing. She definitely is starting to get a little bit more into toys in new areas. Her heeling is where I like it to be.

She's starting to look incredible and performs without treats in areas she's comfortable with, in love with the work in and of itself. However, new areas still stress her out--not enough that she looks like she's panicking--but enough to take away her pizzazz and to make her worry too much to let loose and play.

She's slowly getting there and I think she will be able to compete next year if she keeps up with her progress.
 
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