• Teresa Stanczak

    September 11, 2011 at 2:52 am

    Sounds like you have been doing great work with Dublin. I would definitely recommend making your way through the different phases of obedience using the Foundation style to teach fair and gentle corrections even though he has already trained in obedience. He should make progress quickly through each phase since he has a solid background.
    As you progress through the phases of obedience, you will be in a better position for desensitizing and counter-conditioning.

    Be careful using corrections gentle or otherwise to correct undesired behavior, rather I would recommend reinforcing a command for an alternate incompatible behavior. For example let’s say Dublin is lunging at a person or dog who is passing by. To correct this issue instead of giving a correction for lunging, I would ask him to sit, climb, heel etc and then reinforce him staying in that command. Giving a correction for lunging can further his anxiety and negative association with new people or dogs. Alternatively, once it is taught that there is a beginning and an end to every command, and correction is introduced independently of any trigger , gentle correction for remaining in a command is understood well by the dog, without furthering the negative association.

    Using the “watch me” cue can be very helpful. I would definitely try practicing this at a distance from triggers where he is below threshold. You can definitely use a ball as a reward for this. I like using a ball on a rope when rewarding a dog who is leashed. This makes it less likely that the ball will get too far off from Dublin or you, and you can easily recover it for the next repetition. It also makes it possible to add in a quick game of tug (which can make the ball even more rewarding if he likes the game). Also reward for automatic check-in’s in the presence of a trigger. As you gain success from one distance, you can systematically decrease your working distance.

    Also consider teaching him to wear a muzzle for safety during counter-conditioning and desensitizing at close proximity. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbcJdThGG-A

    A fair goal would be to practice a scenario like our Greeting Drill, which we use often in Aggression support group class [video]http://www.selfhelpdogtraining.com/Video/video/aggressionrehabandmanagement/AggressionSupportGroupClass-Greetingsexercise.html[/video]

    I hope this helps give you a better picture of how to approach this situation. keep us posted!