Tuesday, January 8, 2013
One of the biggest issues that complicates our connection with dogs is pushy, jumpy, grabby, bouncy behavior that is rude in both the dog and human world. It's as if our furry friend has turned into a 6 year old at a birthday party, high on cake and clowns and animal balloons and bounce houses. He gets too close to your face, grabs at you because "YOU HAVE TO HAVE THAT THING RIGHT THERE RIGHT NOW!" and then has a meltdown because you said no.
Basically, the secret to beginning to modify this unwanted behavior boils down to teaching impulse control. Jazz Up/Settle Down and Doggy Zen are my two favorite methods to teach a dog clearly that calm behavior opens the door to everything his little heart desires.
This is Doggy Zen, as instructed by Virginia Wind.
Doggy Zen Steps 1-10
Always be calm.
Other than when instructed, keep your (very verbal species) mouth closed We always want to talk to “help” our dogs get it right. Self-control is best learned by the dog learning to make the right decision without interference. That’s what the clicker or marker word does, it “marks” the right behavior.
Always end on a positive.
To avoid excess typing, when “mark” is used, it means click or say your marker word.
(Melissa's Note: I like to use marker words like "Nice" or "Yes." "Good" is used so frequently in our conversations with our dogs, the value can be reduced. Remember to keep your marker word in a praise tone, but without a lot of excitement or fanfare. )
Doggy Zen Step 1
Put a treat in your hand and close your fist.
Put your fist right in front of your dog's nose, I like to be sitting and rest my forearm on my leg.
Let the dog sniff, nibble and mouth at your hand. If the dog is mouthing or pawing hard, put a glove on. Fireplace/barbeque gloves or heavy winter ski gloves are thick enough to protect your hand.
Be patient. Dogs who have not ever learned self-control take a while to figure this out.
The instant the dog moves the head away from your fist, mark, open your fist, drop the treat on the floor and cue the dog to “go get it”.
When the dog does not mug your fist three times in a row in a cold trial, move on to the next step. Note: a cold trial is the first “trial” in a session.
(Melissa's note: Trainers really aren't kidding about being prepared with a glove for rough mouthers and pawers.)
Doggy Zen Step 2
Hold a treat in your open palm right in front of the dog's face.
If the dog tries to grab it, close your fist. Do not pull your hand away from the dog.
When the dog backs off, open your fist.
The instant the dog backs away from your open palm, mark, drop the treat on the floor and cue the dog to “go get it”.
When the dog does not attempt to snatch the treat three times in a row in a cold trial, move on to the next step.
(Melissa's note: It is a good idea to keep the success rate at about 80% or 4 out of 5 repetitions prior to moving on to the next step.)
Doggy Zen Step 3
From now on, all treats are fed from your hand, you do not drop anything on the ground.
Put a treat on the ground and cover it with your hand.
The instant the dog stops trying to get the treat out from under your hand, mark, pick up the treat and hand feed it to the dog.
When the dog does not attempt to mug your hand three times in a row in a cold trial, move on to the next step.
Doggy Zen Step 4
Put a treat on the ground with your hand right next to it. If the dog tries to grab it, cover it with your hand. When the dog backs off, uncover the treat.
The instant the dog pulls his head away from the uncovered treat, mark, pick up the treat and hand feed it to the dog.
Doggy Zen Step 5
This is the same as step 4, except wait until the dog looks at your face before you mark and hand feed the treat.
If you feel like you are waiting forever, you can make little noises (do not say the dog’s name), the first one or two times.
(Melissa's note: Kissy noises or tongue click should be enough to get the dog's attention directed at you. Do not repeat the noises after one or two trials. The dog has to problem solve to learn eye contact and focus is the desired response.)
Doggy Zen Step 6
Hold a treat in both hands.
As you are feeding the dog with one hand, drop the other treat on the ground.
As this is difficult for everyone except the most coordinated people in the world who use a clicker, unless you have a second person to click, use a marker word.
If the dog grabs the treat off the ground, do not feed the treat in your hand, just do it again.
Doggy Zen Step 7
Drop the treat first, then feed from your hand, then pick up the treat and feed the dropped treat.
The period of time in between hand feeding and the dropped treat will become a "stay".
Increase the duration of the “stay”, but don’t verbally cue the dog to stay until the duration between giving the hand feeding and the dropped treat is increased to a count of 5.
Doggy Zen Step 8
This is the same as step 7, except wait for the dog to look at your face before you hand feed the treat, then pick up the other treat.
And it’s time to name it. “Leave it” is the most common name used, “mine”, “not yours” are also common names. It doesn’t matter what you name it as long as it is something you will say consistently, so make it something familiar and easy for yourself.
Doggy Zen Step 9
Put a wad of treats in one hand.
Drop a treat and then back away from the dog, saying “Leave it!” (or whatever you have named it), “Come!” in your happy voice.
If the dog comes with you, feed the wad of treats, then pick up the dropped treat and hand feed that.
(Melissa's note: This is called a 'jackpot'. Dogs understand gradient praise and reward.)
Doggy Zen Step 10
Put some low value treats (kibble is often a low value treat) in a bowl on the ground.
Walk the dog past the bowl, staying out of leash range of the bowl. If the dog tries to get to the bowl, be a tree (stand still, no talking).
The instant the dog looks at you, mark and treat with a high value treat (steak, chicken, cheese, hot dogs, etc).
Repeat, repeat, repeat until the instant the dog sees the bowl, the dog looks at you.