Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I hope I'm posting this in the right spot.
I got a long coat Akita at 3 mo, he was already very well socialized with people and other dogs. For the next 2-3 months, I continued to take him where I could: walks in the neighborhood, pet stores, Home Depot, Lowes, etc.
He matches the long-coat Akita personality to a T. He's very mellow, and when other people or dogs approached him, he'd just ignore them. Even when petted by people, he'd ignore them. He even refused treats unless given to him by my boyfriend or me.

One day, coming out of the vet and going to the car, a great dane pops out of the car beside mine and aggressively barks at him. The owners reacted well, but it scared the living daylights outta my dog. Since that moment, things that didn't previously bother him now scare him.

Walks became an ordeal because he tried to run from joggers, children, cars, lawnmowers 15 houses away, people sitting on porches, dogs barking behind 6ft fencing, EVERYTHING!
I'd stub my toe on the curb, dog goes "what the hell was that?!"
I tried, but I can't take him inside stores at all anymore. :(

To make matters worse, over the next few months, walks had ceased due to bad weather, medical issues(both dog and mine), and work schedule conflicts. So I tried to at least take him to a dog park twice a week til he tired himself out. He LOVES dog parks. Was shy at first, but loves running around and playing with other dogs. Still avoided people, but didn't run from them. He even let a couple people pet him!

He's just been neutered, and I was told not to let him do anything more than walking for 2 weeks. Bye dog park >_<
The mosquito swarms have died down and his grass allergies have calmed a bit, so now I'm back to taking him for 2 walks a day...
The walks are nightmarish. The moment he sees or hears a person or dog, he freaks out. First, he'll poop on the spot, then he tries all he can to run away. I'd put all my strength into not getting dragged away, but he'd pull, weave, and body slam me. He totally ignores anything I say. I'm sure having an E-collar on doesn't help, but I still have a week before I can take it off.
Today, he calmed down as soon as we got in the house, but yesterday, because he was so erratic, I had to pin him to the floor til he calmed down.

I'm at my wit's end! At this rate, I almost can't take him on walks anymore because it literally scares the crap outta him, but he needs an energy outlet somewhere...


Side note:
Positive reinforcement with treats and toys doesn't work well
He responds well to "pack mentality" training, but only inside the house.
He's easily distracted by everything, including air. Not joking.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,911 Posts
First question: What do you mean by "He responds well to "pack mentality" training, but only inside the house."? What kind of training are you doing with him?

Also, you can probably take his e-collar off for walks - it's designed to stop him from licking his incision when unsupervised, so if he's being directly supervised by you, it isn't necessary. Just make sure you put it back on him when he's back in the house and not physically attached to you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Good point about the e-collar, I'll take it off for walks. The pack mentality thing is like making sure he understands that my boyfriend and I are the alphas. So, we do the basic dominance things I guess. Giving him his bowl when he's sitting and calm at food time, imitate a nip or bite with our hands when he gets testy with us, turn our backs to him if he gets overly excited. Show lots of affection when he shows good behavior. Almost like a Caesar Milan sort of thing. We don't beat him or anything, he's not afraid of us at all and still loves the cuddles.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,911 Posts
Good point about the e-collar, I'll take it off for walks. The pack mentality thing is like making sure he understands that my boyfriend and I are the alphas. So, we do the basic dominance things I guess. Giving him his bowl when he's sitting and calm at food time, imitate a nip or bite with our hands when he gets testy with us, turn our backs to him if he gets overly excited. Show lots of affection when he shows good behavior. Almost like a Caesar Milan sort of thing. We don't beat him or anything, he's not afraid of us at all and still loves the cuddles.
This is sort of what I was worried about. I'd suggest you do some quick reading about a few things, including "pack mentality" and Cesar Milan's training methods.

For a quick rundown - pack mentality has been disproven by many recent studies. Dogs do not view you as dominant, or themselves as subordinate. You are a human, they are a dog, you are not part of their pack. Training with 'pack mentality' and the whole 'walk through doors first, the dog can only eat after you're done' thing is pretty outdated (but a commonly held notion by a lot of dog owners, so don't worry, it's not just you!).

Cesar Milan is a tv personality, not a well-respected dog trainer (in the world of dog trainers) and uses negative reinforcement and oppression in order to train his dogs. Article about it here: Time Article. While his training methods may be briefly effective on harder dogs, they will do nothing but completely traumatize a softer dog who requires more positive reinforcement.

It sounds like your dog's fearful behavior, while probably not caused by you (he could just be naturally timid), is being exacerbated by your training methods. Pinning him to the ground while he's in a heightened state probably only served to further traumatize him.

What do you do when he starts misbehaving on walks? Do you jerk his chain, try to force him to stop, pet him and reassure him it's going to be okay?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,194 Posts
Agreed with everything Hiraeth said about Cesar Milan. I would stop using his techniques immediately. Some things are fine - like waiting for your dog to sit quietly for his food, or ignoring him if he jumps and is rowdy. But they work because they teach impulse control (you sit quietly, you get good things), not because he thinks you are dominant. If you re-frame your thinking into rewarding him when he does what you want (doesn't have to be treats, can be getting to go through the door, sniff something, etc) you will have more luck. And pinning him is just making him more scared.

As far as the fear thing outside, personally I would take him out in the front yard and just sit with him. You can bring treats or not, but the important part is to just sit peacefully and let him relax. Don't have an agenda, don't make him go anywhere. Try not to expose him to his triggers just yet (people and dogs) and just let him be. Talk to him gently and be kind. If he can relax in that environment, try walking a little bit. At that point, have treats on hand (really high value stuff - liver, cheese, hot dogs, etc) and if you see a person or dog approach see if you can get his attention on you before he flips out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,186 Posts
Definitely dump the pack mentality Cesar Milan stuff.

You should familiarize yourself with dog body language. Before a dog goes nuts, they do a lot of subtle stuff that says, "I'm uncomfortable." If you learn to recognize those signals (calming signals), you can prevent a major freakout before it happens.



You should also visit http://fearfuldogs.com they have a lot of tips for helping a fearful dog become more confident. I would also suggest looking into LAT/BAT training. It's very useful for fearful dogs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,253 Posts
I'd lose the pack mentality style of training, stop pinning him to the floor regardless of how erratic his behavior seems to be, stop using your hands to replicate a bite etc.

Can you give more details of why R+ w/treats and toys don't work well? Your training will probably be easier if you can find something that your dog is willing to "work" for and then properly implement *that* in a basic LAT program, for example. Praising and petting for this likely won't cut it, at least not during the initial learning phase. Most dogs who seem to refuse food treats for one reason or another, can eventually be brought around to accept them. Often times, treat refusal is simply due to a dog's high stress or excitement levels, so you'll have to begin wherever/whenever those levels are low. A couple of terms and concepts to research and bear in mind would be 'triggers', 'threshholds', and 'remaining under threshhold' typically by way of distance. Toy drive can usually be developed, but it may require some extra effort, creativity, and thoughtfulness on your part. Still, I'd work on that too so that later on you can have multiple ways of reinforcing good behaviour at your disposal. Perhaps try out a homemade flirt pole for starters and see how it goes.

Once you've got the treat and toy issues figured out, I'd begin the whole process with rewarding calm, voluntary attention on you in an environment free of any distractions and/ or triggers similar to what elrohwen described. You can build up gradually from there.

Amaryllis has provided some good thoughts and links as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,186 Posts
98% of the time, when people say their dog is not food motivated, there's one of two things going on. (1) They're not using high enough value treats. For something like this, go straight to the top: meat, cheese, hot dogs, sausage. Put it in a plastic baggy in your pocket. Yes, your hands will probably be greasy/slimey and your pockets will smell weird, but your dog will be happier. (2) They're using high value treats, but they're trying to train when the dog is already reacting. Once the dog is fully reacting, you can't train. It won't work. You need to move away from whatever is setting them off and try again later from much further back/different situation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Oh my god o_o I've been a total asshole!

For the panic attacks on walks, I done most things good and bad. I've jerked on the leash to keep him from dragging me, I've stood my ground in hopes that he calms down eventually, and I've tried calming him with soft talking and petting, but he's already freaked out at that point and doesn't listen.
That illustrated chart hit home too. Licking, scratching, yawning, he does all those A LOT. I figured it was all because of his grass allergy (he's had hives and bumps all summer, we've been giving him benedryl everyday as per vet orders).
I strayed from positive reenforcement (outdoors only) because when I have a treat in hand he ignores me and tries to attack the treat. When I put the treat in my pocket, he paws at the pocket. When I turn from him or say "no!", he gives up and immediately trots away and proceeds to ignore me. When I pull the treat back out, he doesn't care. :( this only applies outdoors; when we're inside, he's incredibly focused and learns quite quickly. Inside, treats aren't even needed all the time, he'll just happily do whatever. He's like a completely different dog outside.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
915 Posts
My replies in bold.

Oh my god o_o I've been a total asshole!

Hey, it's ok. Now that you know you can start fresh. Seriously. If there was one thing I could do I would go back and apologize to my childhood dog. And then I would never ever train her how I thought you were supposed to ("pack mentality" and "Cesar Millan"). I know there are a few other members that have made the same mistakes.

For the panic attacks on walks, I done most things good and bad. I've jerked on the leash to keep him from dragging me, I've stood my ground in hopes that he calms down eventually, and I've tried calming him with soft talking and petting, but he's already freaked out at that point and doesn't listen.

So it's pretty simple in theory, if not in practice. Stop the jerking (this is hard especially if it's a habit. But try to be more mindful when on walks, it helps. Standing your ground (aka becoming a tree) is a good thing. But sometimes I just pack in my bags and call it a day if it's clear my dog isn't going to calm down/isn't physically capable of listening or calming down.

Still, with enough patience waiting it out can be very effective. If he's already freaked out, you may need to back up until he is under threshold.


That illustrated chart hit home too. Licking, scratching, yawning, he does all those A LOT. I figured it was all because of his grass allergy (he's had hives and bumps all summer, we've been giving him benedryl everyday as per vet orders).

Keep in mind for context. If he has a rash and is licking, it's probably because of the rash. He might be panting because he is hot or licking his lips because he is hungry. But yes, knowing what these signals are is very eye opening. Observe him more closely now that you have a better idea of what to look for.

I strayed from positive reenforcement (outdoors only) because when I have a treat in hand he ignores me and tries to attack the treat.

Sounds like he is overexcited. You can work with that though, he's excited! He's into the treat! That's better than a disinterested dog. I'm sure the others will have better advice, but maybe find a calm spot and work on leave it? Or at least he can't have to treat if he's being too rough.

When I put the treat in my pocket, he paws at the pocket. When I turn from him or say "no!", he gives up and immediately trots away and proceeds to ignore me.

This is most likely due to the "pack mentality" training. Do you often do something he finds negative when you say "no"? He may have been inadvertently trained to just give up once you say that or use that tone.

Also he may be a soft dog or just have short attention span if turning away causes him to lose interest.


When I pull the treat back out, he doesn't care. :( this only applies outdoors; when we're inside, he's incredibly focused and learns quite quickly.

Probably because he considers indoors and outdoors different places. Dogs don't generalize well--sometimes you even have to re-teach sit when you have from the kitchen to the living room for example. You just need to build a history that focusing on you outside/training outside is awesome!

Inside, treats aren't even needed all the time, he'll just happily do whatever. He's like a completely different dog outside.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
337 Posts
Oh my god o_o I've been a total asshole!

For the panic attacks on walks, I done most things good and bad. I've jerked on the leash to keep him from dragging me, I've stood my ground in hopes that he calms down eventually, and I've tried calming him with soft talking and petting, but he's already freaked out at that point and doesn't listen.
That illustrated chart hit home too. Licking, scratching, yawning, he does all those A LOT. I figured it was all because of his grass allergy (he's had hives and bumps all summer, we've been giving him benedryl everyday as per vet orders).
I strayed from positive reenforcement (outdoors only) because when I have a treat in hand he ignores me and tries to attack the treat. When I put the treat in my pocket, he paws at the pocket. When I turn from him or say "no!", he gives up and immediately trots away and proceeds to ignore me. When I pull the treat back out, he doesn't care. :( this only applies outdoors; when we're inside, he's incredibly focused and learns quite quickly. Inside, treats aren't even needed all the time, he'll just happily do whatever. He's like a completely different dog outside.
Don't feel too guilty, since you're obviously willing to change to benefit your dog.

I agree with things a couple of others have said with that you should start with. Some high value treats you can try are food logs (like natural balance or freshpet), pieces of canned dog food, string cheese, fresh meats, and hotdogs. All ideas of good vs bad for dog goes out the window when it comes to rewards in training for big stuff. I think erlohwen's advice of just starting in your yard and rewarding for all calm behavior is where you need to start. Do this many times before moving on to more difficult environments and tasks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,403 Posts
Here is a great article about thresholds -- basically, when your dog freaks out, he's in a mindset where he cannot learn, and you need to just get him out of there asap and work on preventing freakouts before they happen: http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/16_4/features/across-a-threshold_20726-1.html

Don't feel bad that you used Cesar's techniques on your dog. Many of us here would go back and change how we trained our past (or sometimes even current) dogs if we could. Once you know better, you can do better, and that's what's important.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Thanks so much for the eye openers!
As soon as I got home, I took him to the backyard and then migrated to the front yard while I tended to the plants. He didn't like it at all, but no panic attacks! (even when the neighbors across the street started arguing in their garage) He even settled enough to lay down :) this prompted a reward of liver treats and his wish of going back inside.
Dropping the dominance schtick, will give positive reenforcement a second go!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Have you tried distraction training? i mean if he is scared of things use positive re-enforcements(treats) have him sit and look at you after that bring in something that distracts him, at first like a squeeky toy(best is when some one else squeeks it while you deal with him) as that person squeeks the toy tell him to keep looking at you and when he does reward him, once you can get him to pay no attention to the toy at all no matter what the other person does with it, move on to things that he is scared off, this is a good method i found for when your dog hates hoovers and stuff the more he ignores the stuff he doesnt like the more rewards he gets in the end he will not care about whats going on around him and he will pay attention to you instead.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
7,273 Posts
Thanks so much for the eye openers!
As soon as I got home, I took him to the backyard and then migrated to the front yard while I tended to the plants. He didn't like it at all, but no panic attacks! (even when the neighbors across the street started arguing in their garage) He even settled enough to lay down :) this prompted a reward of liver treats and his wish of going back inside.
Dropping the dominance schtick, will give positive reenforcement a second go!
This is so wonderful to hear! Thank you for listening to the advice here, rather than get defensive as so many do. Your relationship with your dog will absolutely reap the benefits. Please keep us updated on your progress and don't hesitate to ask any questions you might have!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,253 Posts
Dropping the dominance schtick, will give positive reenforcement a second go!
Unsolicited but, a recommendation. Pat Miller's book "The Power of Positive Dog Training". I guarantee you'll get FAR more out of reading it over the course of an afternoon, than you would from watching an entire box set of ... that other guy.
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top