Pretty basic question on a dogs thinking process
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Thread: Pretty basic question on a dogs thinking process

  1. #1
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    Pretty basic question on a dogs thinking process

    Say you live in a rural setting at the end of a road that gets almost 0 traffic of any kind. You have a few farm animals. You expect and encourage your dog to raise cain and let you know if there are people or cars on your road, and to help drive off any stray dogs or predators- which the dog does with enthusiasm. Now say someone starts riding their bicycle down your road daily with their 2 off leash dogs trailing behind ( no laws against this here ).
    At this point your dog has had weeks to " practice " " driving off " this person and their dogs when they come down the road ( your dog is doing this from inside a fenced area ). My question- would it be unreasonable in your dogs mind to expect him to NOT attempt to run the person and dogs off when your dog is on an unfenced portion of your property and you're with him, AND you have no plans to curb the same behaviour while he is in the fenced area without you?
    I can teach him not to go after these particular dogs while we're in the unfenced portion but not sure what the backlash would be if any considering he'll still be allowed to raise cain over them when he's in the fenced portion without me.
    Thoughts?

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    Senior Member Canyx's Avatar
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    Re: Pretty basic question on a dogs thinking process

    I'd expect a dog who has been negatively reinforced by barking and chasing away strangers to continue doing that. But you can over time teach your dog that a particular stimulus (ie, the biker) is a cue for something else... Like stay and watch calmly, or bark and be still. But it would probably take a large amount of effort and impeccable timing on your part.

    I don't see anything wrong with dogs barking in THEIR fenced yard though. It would probably be a liability if your property was unfenced and they left the property to chase, or if your property boundaries were unclear and some tourist stepped onto your rural-setting field for a photo then was attacked by your dog.
    Soro - 4.22.06 - retriever/X
    Braeburn - 1.29.17 - Dutch shepherd

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    @canyx, do you think it would confuse him too much if he was allowed to run the fence like a mad dog when this guy goes by with his dogs but I teach him NOT to do the same if I'm with him in the unfenced area?
    He doesn't chase bikes or cars normally, he's well behaved out in public so thats not an issue. I guess its the asking him to behave two different ways toward the same guy and dogs that I'm wondering if that would be too much to reasonably ask of him. It wouldnt be too hard to put him on a line and teach him not to go after them when he's not in the fence, but is that going to be unfair to him if I dont do the same while he's fenced?

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  6. #4
    Senior Member Canyx's Avatar
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    Re: Pretty basic question on a dogs thinking process

    I don't see why you couldn't do this! You may just need to use something like a long line at first to prevent failure, as you already mentioned. There is motivation to chase this person, and there is motivation to respond to you when you call him. It's just a question of which is more motivating. If it's the person, the line will prevent your dog from following through the chain of behaviors and actually reaching them, thereby increasing the chances he will come to you for reinforcement. Repeat until your presence when the guy is passing the fence, becomes a discriminative stimulus for your dog to respond to you or stay by you or disengage.

    I think people are specific in this way in many areas of life with their dogs. And I don't think any behavior pattern is cemented (because we can always influence where reinforcement is coming from)
    Soro - 4.22.06 - retriever/X
    Braeburn - 1.29.17 - Dutch shepherd

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    Senior Member PatriciafromCO's Avatar
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    Re: Pretty basic question on a dogs thinking process

    sit means sit.... not to leave the property, and not allow anyone or thing to cross into the property boundary line. doesn't matter how they behave inside the property line. as long as they can learn not to leave the property line and be at fault for any repercussions.

    Did lots of fence training with my GSD's, it was only a barbwire fence so they could go through it if they wanted too. When the open range cows were in, I take them out on a long line and let them run , lunge at the cows rubbing on my fence, once the cows gave space there was no problem about the cows,, it was about the fence. and they did learn not to go after the cows, just when they were bunched up pushing on my fence. They can learn very specific cues. If you can break it down and be consistent in working with them

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    I think I'm going to teach him to come to me when this guy comes down the road. Hopefully he wont generalize this to everyone who comes down the road though......this area does have people who will drive these back roads looking for easy houses to break into so I do want him to raise holy heck when someones back here. Theres an old cemetery right past us, used to have some issues with people going there and smoking dope and crap since its sort of a hidden area. Thats mostly taken care of, but, you know......
    The guy and his dogs are the only thing so far he's not listened to me when I tell him to stay with me. Early on we taught him to stay with me and not run up to cars or people that pull in the driveway so he doesnt scare our guests so he's good that way.....but those dogs that follow the guy on the bike like to mill around outside the fence when they go by so of coarse now theres a bit of history there with them in Beau's mind.
    I guess I need to teach him a stay with me and just watch command and a release command if I need him to help get rid of stray dogs. Might be the way to go with this if this guys going to be cycling down our road regularly now. I just dont want him to end up thinking its not ok to run off other dogs.

  9. #7
    Senior Member PatriciafromCO's Avatar
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    Re: Pretty basic question on a dogs thinking process

    I get were your coming from deal with the exact same situation for our property and area , I would just isolate your training as recall training , that isn't just connected to the person and his dogs. it's just about you recall and your pup learns no matter who what when or why,, recall is the act of returning to you for the command, not the event, do your training at all times, in all areas so it's not just connected to one event. And let your dog react to the guy and the dogs while at your side how ever they want without interference. the only correct answers is returning and staying at your side. nothing else to it.

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    Re: Pretty basic question on a dogs thinking process

    My young dog rushes the fence when he sees deer outside the fence. I let him. I hate the deer too. OUTSIDE the fence I see the deer first and then I give him a "job." My default is Platz and then I do a recall. I have an e collar on him. He has also been conditioned previously that ignoring the recall will result in a stim and then the safest thing for him is to come back to me and we have a very large party.

    When no one is watching and he is inside the fence he can do whatever. Outside the fence he needs to be under control. Because of his age and very high drives, he wears the e collar. I will add I have not had to use it BUT we train a LOT.

    As Canyx notes, a long line will also work. When I am outside yard with my dog I am either training him (so he is focused on me) OR I am working and cannot have a long line too (moving/carrying wood, working around the place with tools in my hands etc.). The E collar is easier and allows me to work. I HAVE used a long line on other dogs and successfully removed it and not had to go back to using it. Some dogs you MAY have to keep it on as they can have very high prey/defense/fight drive and they know when there is no line on (or E Collar for that matter).

    A last thing to note is the fence itself. Your dog is behind it when he is "driving trespassers away." Behind a fence is VERY different than in front of a fence. If we have a dog being trained for IPO (now IPG) and they are a bit nervy and defensive in protection (or just YOUNG and unsure), we often let them watch other dogs work while BEHIND a fence (on a line with their handler). The decoy may actually approach them from the opposite side of the fence and when the dog barks back away. This teaches the dog he/she can control the decoy with barking and the dog is safe (behind the fence).

    You may find your dog's behavior is different outside the fenced area, especially if you are relaxed and just doing yard work etc. Of course, I would have him on a long line but you may see a large difference in his behavior simply because there is no fence and his aggressive behavior (out of defense drive) could result in a different outcome (the dog is no longer safe and the interloper can get to him even if they do not or would not).

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    Re: Pretty basic question on a dogs thinking process

    Wow. I'm a human and still confused by this expectation in a decision making process! But I'm also looking at it from an urban lifestyle perspective, and not truly in a rural setting. Excluding the use of an e-collar, dogs are fairly binary in their thought process (on or off, yes or no, okay or consequence!!). There's a big difference between what your dogs have been permitted to do (aka or discouraged from doing) and whatever they can get away with. Meaning in your absence, behind a fence, it would be difficult for them to discriminate between types of intruders. And certainly, just based on the level of an intruder's frequency on your property (as I think you are trying to qualify in this situation). That is, UNLESS you are able to foster a friendship relationship between your dogs and the biker and his dogs. Of course you would have to work the situation with their cooperation. Play in the yard, building trust with the stranger, dispensing treat rewards. Learning they are friends. So that your dogs would be disinclined to bark at them whether or not they meet inside or outside the fence. That's the real key. For the sake of your own liability, I wouldn't think you'd want any dog exhibiting the same kind of protective behavior they do inside your fence, as doing so outside your fence (off leash)! You would have to have a very strong, dependable relationship with your dogs, having taught them to focus only on YOU (and at your direction) no matter what. It's like training protection behavior. And a good place to visit, to ask this question would be visiting this website: Leerburg.com.

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    Thanks for the replies everyone, they are appreciated. The guy rides through here around the same time every morning now so I'm just going to put my boy on a long line and hang out and wait on the guy to go by so we can work on this. Like I say, its just this guy and his dogs we have this problem with, and its due to his dogs not the guy himself. Those of you with fences know how it can be when you have dogs that mess around your fence line repeatedly while your own dog is behind the fence trying to run them off to no avail- and then he actually gets the chance to get at the dogs. He's not the type of dog that will just run out and bite a human for being there, delivery drivers can pull up while we're in the unfenced portion and he'll stay with me and not run up to the driver when hes told- dogs are a different story. He's not social with other dogs at all. Not a bit. I can have him out in public just fine, he's aloof and doesn't care about other dogs away from the property. Our fence line bordering the dirt road is off the road a good twenty feet so when the dogs come by they leave the road, cross a ditch, wander over a little open area and sniff around the fence while the guy rides on ahead, so I think he does see them as leaving the road and " invading " his turf. What brought this question on was the other morning we were out front, drinking my coffee while Beau was laying near me chewing his rubber ball. Then of coarse in the blink of an eye he saw the dogs at the fence line and took off like a rocket after those dogs and started fighting. It only lasted a few seconds before I got him, no damage done. Like I say, he's been taught its part of his job to drive off loose dogs so in his mind he was doing right. I know it's hard for dogs to differentiate certain things......hence the overall question about confusing him by telling him not to deal with these dogs and then expecting him to deal with others ( when I say " deal with " I mean hold them off until I do the rest. Not deal with it all by himself lol. He's actually never outside at all unless we're home, and never outside the fenced part unattended at all ). He's already saved our little pet goats from a wandering pitbull that was digging under the fence to get at them. I didnt see the dog but he did and held it off until I came out and got rid of it.
    After reading everyone's responses and thinking about it I'm definately going to work with the long line when the guy and his dogs go by. I'll make it about obedience to the recall and/or not breaking a sit or down command rather than about going after the dogs themselves. Hopefully that will avoid any confusion in his mind about his "job". I just dont want to scold or correct him for doing something that he would otherwise get praised for- running off loose dogs.
    In the 6 years we've lived on this property this is the first time we've had dogs out here that he didnt need to go after so this is new for both of us. I guess in a way its good for exposing holes in his training.

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    Re: Pretty basic question on a dogs thinking process

    Trouble will happen if the loose dogs run up to him and he is outside the fence. I STRONGLY suggest you drive them off if they come onto your property and try to come up to your dog which I suspect they will. Advocate for your dog if that happens. Let him know you will take care of the issue. Your dog will be on a long line and that may escalate the situation. I would use a cattle prod or similar and make the lack of welcome CLEAR to the interloping dogs.

    The dog's owner should be courteous enough to keep his dogs off your fence. I would also talk to him nicely and see if he will pay attention and keep them off your fence. It sounds like they are on your property once they cross the ditch and, as a daily ritual, it would seem to me the bike rider would not want that either.. but I won't try to crawl into that person's mind. Nope.

    If he/she won't keep the dogs off your fence and you cannot have your dog indoors when he comes by, you can run a hot electric fence wire (or two) low and along the outside of your fence so the interloping dogs learn to stay off your fence. I would use a low impedance fence controller.. they really get the point across.

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    Senior Member hanksimon's Avatar
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    Re: Pretty basic question on a dogs thinking process

    Don't know if it will help you look up other ideas: Boundary training is a method of training, and 'fence fighting' is a well documented activity. With fence fighting, some dogs will sound and appear blood-thirsty, but open the gate or remove the fence, and the dog calms down, maybe ignoring the target. A number of dogs will bark bloody murder at passersby from inside the house, but calmly or happily lie in the grass while you work in the yard and talk to the neighbors.

    So, training what you described should be straight-forward, and if the neighbor will work with you, should be easier. Strangers will still provoke an alarm response.

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    Yeah, I'm going to talk to the guy about his dogs ( in a nice way initially ) I have seen one of them wander up the driveway a bit. I figure I'll let the guy know that when he rides by in the near future I'll be using him as a training opportunity, so not to worry when he sees us. The guy will probably get a laugh out of it cause Beau is definately going to mouth off at me when he realizes he's allowed to go after those dogs lol. But he will definately fight them and I really dont want this guys dogs getting hurt ( or mine ). Beau's not some super aggressive dog but even a little scuffle can cause injuries.
    Just goes to show the unexpected can happen even out in the middle of nowhere. We moved out here to be away from people dangit!
    Lol its never a dull moment with dogs around.

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