Author Topic: Looking for animal (dog) behavioralist/ trainer to assist...  (Read 1491 times)

Offline Dragonfly

  • Posts Too Much!
  • *****
  • Posts: 2330
  • I ME MINE
Looking for animal (dog) behavioralist/ trainer to assist...
« on: October 05, 2012, 06:22:16 PM »
Diver is a 3 year old (as of october first) Boxer. He's been with us since he was 8 weeks old and was possibly abused/neglected before we adopted him.  He was fearful and very timid when we first got him but opened up quickly to us, and to any visitors we had at our home. When he was 12 weeks old he was attacked by a pit bull mix that belonged to a friend of ours. He was attacked in our home. He was bit on the nose (sliced) and had puncture wounds on his neck.

Fast forward a few years. He's anxious on a leash around strangers. (our fault, after he was bit we sheltered him a bit) He's always been slightly weary with strangers. (hackles raised, tense) but opens up quickly and wants to play. He has warned people who approach him to quickly and try to touch his face or get into his face in any way. He's never been aggressive  or standoffish towards a child, nor has he ever actually bitten anyone.

This afternoon we took him for a walk. I ran into the store for a minute and while I was gone an elderly man approached him (and my husband). My husband warned the man to approach him slowly and to stay away from his face. The man let Diver sniff him and then ignored the rest of his advice and leaned into his face. Diver than jumped at him and nipped him.The guy was fine and apologized for not listening after making jokes about splitting the insurance money. The man wasn't hurt in any way and understood  completely.   

I did not see it. I was just told what had happened. If it was anyone else, or if the man had reacted in any other way Diver could very well be in doggy jail right now facing death.

Diver is fine with everyone when he is off leash. He is still standoffish but not mean, or aggressive in any way. I am going to call the vet Monday and ask for a referral to a behavioralist and to make an appointment  to check for any health issues. I am just looking for any advice or techniques I can work with over the weekend.

Can anyone help or know of any resources I can look into.

Love the Creatures. Love the baby. Love the life.

Offline Dragonfly

  • Posts Too Much!
  • *****
  • Posts: 2330
  • I ME MINE
Re: Looking for animal (dog) behavioralist/ trainer to assist...
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2012, 07:24:14 PM »
I have looked into some training techniques and such that can help with this, things that we can do to help.
 
I think we may get a gentle leader head collar tomorrow and start working on using it with him.  And just start by showing him how we want him to react around other people and dogs when he's on a leash. So basically redirection and  then praise when he ignores spmeone or  or is redirected away from individuals.

 I am thinking about having him sit when other people are in his proximity and giving him LOTS of praise when he stays in a sitting position. And then go from there.

He's never been clinker trained before, but I am also thinking about doing that as well so that the clicker can work as a distraction to, particularly while we are just out walking and some one or some one and their dog walks by.

These are just ideas from preliminary research... 
Love the Creatures. Love the baby. Love the life.

Offline slynx

  • Posts Too Much!
  • *****
  • Posts: 918
    • Maya's blog
Re: Looking for animal (dog) behavioralist/ trainer to assist...
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2012, 12:00:34 PM »
I'm glad you're looking for a behaviorist!  There are a lot of great resources out there, but having someone knowledgeable and kind right by your side is priceless.

The book I'd suggest you start with is called The Cautious Canine, by Dr. Patricia McConnell.  Great little book which covers a lot of the basic tools and concepts for working with a cautious dog, clear without being overwhelming.  There are a lot of other good books out there too, but this one is so practical and straightforward that I think it's a great place to start.

Be prepared to take a long time acclimating him to the Gentle Leader.  Straps on their face are aversive to many, many dogs, and it takes time, patience, and a ton of treats to build those positive associations.  Building positive associations is pretty much what you're going to become really, really good at though, since that's the way to help a cautious dog.  So besides the ideas you are already starting with, which mostly seem to use praise, get ready to start learning to be a great feeder -- praise is terrific, food is better!

Good luck to you and Diver, and I hope you'll keep us updated on his progress.

Offline Dragonfly

  • Posts Too Much!
  • *****
  • Posts: 2330
  • I ME MINE
Re: Looking for animal (dog) behavioralist/ trainer to assist...
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2012, 12:15:07 PM »
We got the head collar on Saturday, and you're completely right, He HATES it. We took him with us when we picked it out because we wanted to be sure that it fit comfortably. He let us put them on, and then he started scratching at his face. If it wasn't so sad, it could have been funny to watch. One good thing, he was GREAT at petco. Everyone who approached him was warned about his stranger fear and everyone acted appropriately. One women pushed a little girl in a stroller by him and he tried to follow them all over the store. He didn't once act fearful or jump out.

We are slowly working with getting him used to the head lead, unfortunately he is not the most food motivated dog at times. But it's going. We're thinking about trying him out on a walk with it sometime this week. He's doing really well in the yard with it on, as long as we keep moving and we talk to him. As soon as we stop walking or talking he starts rubbing his face on things.

I'll keep everyone updated and look into that book!
Love the Creatures. Love the baby. Love the life.

Offline slynx

  • Posts Too Much!
  • *****
  • Posts: 918
    • Maya's blog
Re: Looking for animal (dog) behavioralist/ trainer to assist...
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2012, 12:52:37 PM »
It's very common for nervous dogs not to be consistently able to take treats, or be consistently interested in food.  Annoyingly!  There are a number of ways to make food more valuable, starting with using uber yummy things (though I seem to recall Diver has some food sensitivities), but also including things like pairing food with things he already loves, or even making him work a little harder for some of his food.  It took my girl about a year to be able to consistently lose her mind over really scrumptious treats, and I think she probably started out more invested than Diver sounds.  Dogs can be challenging!  Funnily enough, clicker training nearly always has the side-benefit of raising the value of treats.

I have a video somewhere on muzzle acclimatization that I think is really well done.  The physical mechanics are a little different, of course, but something similar could be done with a head halter.  It really can take weeks, or even months, to get the truly positive association, but it's worth it.  Ah, here's the video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1FABgZTFvHo

Or for more video guides, some of them very specific to head halters (and all done by qualified behaviorists), this is a nice site:  http://abrionline.org/videos.php  Not everything may be right for you, but there are some really good tools and tips demonstrated in some of those clips.  Hope they help!

Offline ZooKeeper83

  • Donor
  • Posts Too Much!
  • *
  • Posts: 1133
  • Meep
Re: Looking for animal (dog) behavioralist/ trainer to assist...
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2012, 01:56:02 PM »
This is probably going to be extremely long winded, but I'm dealing with similar issues right now, so I definitely wanted to add to this thread.  My girl border mix, Lacey, has leash and fence dog reactivity, anxiety issues, and impulse control issues.

It's going to sound like I'm over-reacting, but clicker training has changed our lives.  I've had Lacey for over 4 years now.  Her issues started showing a bit after I adopted her, but I swore I had enough animal knowledge to work through them without additional help.  I read a bit on clicker training, but never really bothered using it with her.  Again, because I figured I could deal with this with my previous knowledge.  Four years later, she is better in some ways, but others I just couldn't get by.  I was finally ready to admit I needed more help and knowledge.

I probably started things a little backwards, but my first step was actually enrolling in Karen Pryor's Dog Trainer Foundations Course rather than jumping in with a professional.  (https://www.karenpryoracademy.com/dog-trainer-foundations)  I'm a very visual learner.  If you just give me a book, I'll retain some but not enough.  This course was fantastic for me - and Lacey.  It's $360 for an approximately 8 week long online course that's broken into 7 lessons with slides, videos, and activities.  I work full time and was still able to 'finish' in under 6 weeks (the last two activities of walk and door manners are pretty much ongoing work for us.)  I absolutely loved it! 

Oh, and it actually has an activity about working up to your dog to wearing a gentle leader.  I was able to work up to Lacey to wearing it, however the first time we saw a dog during our walks with it on, she freaked out at an even higher level due to it being on her face.  I stopped using it for now, and just went back to the front hook harnesses.  We may try again later on.

For my next training step, I'm actually lucky enough to have a top reactive dog trainer in my area, Ali Brown.  She's the author of Scaredy Dog! - another book I'd definitely recommend reading, but I could be biased.  :)  We started reactive dog classes as soon as I finished the KP Foundations course.  The Foundations course gave me so much starter knowledge for Ali's classes.  We were able to skip straight over a lot of the basics (like the fact that I arrived with clicker and treat bag in tow and she was easily able to skip the 'What's a clicker?' stage  ;)) and get to the good stuff.

We definitely still have a lot to work on, but we've come farther since July than I had in four years alone.  We're actually going to our first Nose Work class later tonight (it's what's used for search and rescue dogs, drug sniffers, etc).  I never would have thought to do this without working with Ali.

Just getting Diver to associate the clicker with treats and learn that what HE does causes the click and treat will be your very first steps.  A professional trainer will be able to figure out which individual activities will be right for your dog's particular issues after that.  We had a bit of trouble getting Lacey to realize that her reactions caused the click.  She simply sat waiting for me to tell her what to do, while I stood there waiting for her to do something that I could reward.  Her finally coming to that realization was HUGE and the beginning of fantastic things.

The only thing I'll ever regret is not having started all this sooner.  We're already so much more of a team and while I know we've loved each other for years, we've become a lot closer over the last few months.  I actually want to become a certified clicker trainer through KPA's Dog Trainer Program, but that has to wait until I'm sure Lacey will be able to handle being in large class with up to 10 other dogs without going crazy.  We're definitely on our way.

Good luck with Diver!  If you have any questions, let me know if I might be able to help.
Owned by: Dopey the basset; Lacey the border mix, Stinky, Lila and Happy the kittehs; Diesel the ball python; Rosie the dumeril's boa; Chili the children's python; Angus the bearded; Petri the leopard gecko; Addy the crested gecko

Offline Kati33

  • Posts Too Much!
  • *****
  • Posts: 2975
  • Howdy!
Re: Looking for animal (dog) behavioralist/ trainer to assist...
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2012, 04:03:03 PM »
Along with the above post- I've been using BAT training with Case puppy. It helps the dog learn alternative behaviors to getting upset and encourages them to make the "right" decisions rather than forcing them into it (distraction with treats when a dog is near, etc). It helps to have a trainer on hand to help you out and I'm super lucky to have my best friend CPDT certified and wanting to work with aggressive dogs.  Here is a link to the basics of BAT: http://functionalrewards.com/
Kati33
Watusi, Charolais, Orca, Puffin, Sloth and Sifaka the Rats
Some dogs, reptiles and a husband...
Past Rats: Jag, Otter, Wolf, Frog, Bear, Moose, Emu as in Komodo Dragon, Squirrel, Turtle, Elephant, Ox, Opossum, Octopus, Okapi, Cassowary, Goose, Squid, Coati, Flamingo, Zebu, Bo(vine)

Offline Dragonfly

  • Posts Too Much!
  • *****
  • Posts: 2330
  • I ME MINE
Re: Looking for animal (dog) behavioralist/ trainer to assist...
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2012, 11:21:21 AM »
Things with Diver have been going fairly well. He hasn't had any adverse interactions with people or other dogs since I oringinally posted this. One thing that I think is having an impact is my pregnancy. He is very protective of me. He's fine with people approaching us at this point, he's tense but once he gets passed his initial reaction (slight hackling, head down, ears back) he's good (tail wagging, head up, hackles down, then usually into a play bow). Unless, people try to hug and or touch the belly in any way and then he jumps, growls, and other wise tells people to back the heck off.

I have been warning people and letting them know that he can be reactive and is weary of strangers. I have talked to a couple of trainers that are local, I have never worked with any of them with Diver but have asked for advice. A few of them have suggest clicker training, head collars etc, but have also mentioned that much of the training will have to happen after the baby is born just because he is so reactive to people touching me.

We'll see though.
I am going to have to look into that one online class, that might be worth looking into in  the end..
Love the Creatures. Love the baby. Love the life.