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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Dog: Jaia, 3 year old GSD. I've had him since he was 8 weeks old.

Situation: Every time I put on my shoes or get dressed or some other action that is also a precursor to going outside to play, he would get so excited, he would start SCREAMING non-stop! He also screams every morning when my husband gets up at 4:45.

Background: Many GSDs are very vocal and Jaia is no exception. My husband and I thought it was cute at first, and it started out innocently and quietly enough. We called it "singing". But as time passed, he got louder and louder and it really got to be a nuisance. This is from a yeah and a half ago when DH was taking the other dogs outside during Jaia's neuter recovery... And it has only escalated since then. You can imagine how bad it's gotten recently.

We live in the country, but I know his blood-curdling screams waft across the valley and could even wake up our closest neighbors at 4:45 and again at 6 AM when I take the dogs out. In fact, I asked my neighbor if they had ever heard him and she said all the time. :rolleyes:

And it's not only when I'm getting dressed now. It has progressed out into the yard and into the pasture. SCREAMING all_the_way.

I have "nagged" him about it, telling him to be quiet, but it only works for a moment. It's like the excitement builds up and everything comes out his mouth, louder than before. And I'm talking blood-curdling. It sounds like I'm killing him.

I have stopped the behavior, but I used punishment and I just wondered how people would have done it without punishment. I don't like to use punishment, but nothing else I did had worked. I know I should have asked before, :eek: but it was a spur of the moment decision.

So, how would you have stopped this behavior without punishment?

Thanks for your input. :)

P.S. I KNOW we screwed up by encouraging it. We didn't know it was going to "grow".
 

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id have turned being quiet into a game.

first would come a "quiet" cue. then a "hold it" or "keep going with x behavior"

would have generalized it extensively. then particular worked on it in the areas where this screaming generally takes place.

and then made an effort to start "getting ready, waking up" earlier...like five or ten minutes or so.


and then give the "quiet" cue then the hold it. and treat him for holding it and if he held it throughout the entire process of getting ready/putting on shoes etc id make a mad dash for the door and take him outside for some brief zoomies/tug/fetch.

repeat.
 

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That's kinda cool, though. I guess I just like vocal dogs :)

Don't have any first-hand suggestions, though. I've spent so much time going the other way (trying to INCREASE vocal activity, which I've found very little about for some odd reason :D ) that I don't really know how to go the other way except clicking silence after giving the be quiet cue. No idea if that would have even worked for Jaia. It would work for Wally only because he tends to be quiet when I talk, which was (and sometimes still is) half the problem in getting him to speak in the first place.

Maybe another way I'd try would be to let him "get it out of his system" but when I go to actually let him out, he has to hush or it's no outside for him. Kinda like I'll let Wally bark or hop around or jump up if he's all excited about going out, but at the door, he has to calm down and sit. Or else - too bad, Jack.
 

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Any behavior can have a on and off switch installed to it ;) that's how I teach herding pups to stop nipping heels, I teach them to herd.
Teach them to sing on command, to whisper (this is a fun one) and teach them how to be silent.
 

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While I'm a huge supporter of the positive I'm also realistic enough to know that some things are best handled in a simple, no nonsense way and would probably have done the same thing.

I might have tried one alternative...'put a sock in it'......a large ball. A little difficult to scream with a ball in your mouth but, not that's not a very direct approach to the real issue.

Your story reminds me of a Dog Whisper episode where the dog ate rocks. The owner was amused when the dog chased a rock that she threw for him on a walk.....he became obsessed/fixated with rocks and it became a serious issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
first would come a "quiet" cue. then a "hold it" or "keep going with x behavior"
I did do this. We never got very far with "hold it" because his reward in letting it out was greater than any reward I could come up with. It was almost compulsive. In fact, many times, I waffled on trying to stop it because of the compulsive nature.

I could have kept going with this effort, but I think it's not good for him to maintain that heightened state of excitement three times a day. It's best to just get out to the pasture ASAP, where he calmed right down.

and then made an effort to start "getting ready, waking up" earlier...like five or ten minutes or so.
But it wasn't just when I was getting ready to take them out, it was ANY time I put my shoes on. ANY time I got dressed or changed my clothes or shoes. ANY time I walked into the laundry room (which is the exit to the yard). It was any time I did behaviors that he interpreted to be related to me taking them out. Basically, he was having a screaming extravaganza 5-7 times a day, totally unrelated to me taking them out.

KBLover, we thought it was cute at first, too. :rolleyes: I literally have spent hours starting and stopping during the process of taking them out to try to get him to understand that, as long as he is screaming, I'm not moving. And he understood. Totally. He stopped. But he could only hold it for so long and then would blurt it out, complete with saliva gurgling in the back of his throat, till I would think he was dying!

teach them how to be silent.
I taught him to be silent. He knows how to be silent. Under these circumstances, he just didn't.

I might have tried one alternative...'put a sock in it'......a large ball.
Tried it. He spit it out. His reward of screaming was stronger than anything I tried.

I remember that dog whisperer episode. And the fact that we encouraged it at first is probably why I feel guilty now.
 

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the way I do a quiet que is to break pattern.

so he has to be in the process of going through the pattern to break it.

like

pick up the shoe. if he stays quiet. good boy/reward. if he doesn't.. walk out. then come and start over ok..pick it up and reward for quiet. he's being quiet, move to the next step. if he stays quiet, goodboy/treat. if not, leave the room.

build up.

the idea being to cut down on the screaming incrementally.

I had a similar issue with one of my dogs except her screaming had different motivation.
 

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My parents were patient people, Their patience definitely had limits, though. When one of us kids got into a hysterical, tantrum-y crying jag, my dad would say: "You are crying for no reason. Knock it off, or I'll give you a reason." That was the cue to reach down deep and tap that reserve of self control we all possess. Once you stopped crying, calmness returned quickly and everyone was better for it.

There are situations, I believe, where acting out behaviors actually increase the anxiety of the acter-outer. This sounds like one of those situations. I would try a few non-coercive, or minimally coercive techniques first. However, stronger methods are in order if those don't work PDQ.

Yet another case where prevention beats cure.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yet another case where prevention beats cure.
Absolutely! I wish I had known it was going to escalate like it did. I would have stopped it in the beginning.

If anyone is wondering, what I did do was, one day, I was putting on my shoes (to go to the grocery store) and Jaia started prancing and vocalizing. I told him, "Quiet" and he stopped for about 2 seconds and started again. I stood up and told him to lie down on his bed. He did. After I sat back down, he started to get up and I went to him and put my hand on him and said, "Down"... very firmly. "STAY". I returned to my seat and started with my shoes and he started to get up (seems he can only scream when he's standing) and I stood up and went to him, put my hand on his back and said, "DOWN"! "You Stay"! I can be very intimidating without raising my voice, but I did raise my voice (not yell) this day. I was just very firm. He stayed. And didn't move until I released him. By that time, he knew we weren't going out because I had my purse, so the excitement died away.

The next time I started to put on my shoes, I wondered what I was going to deal with. Well, he left the room and stood just around the corner, quietly, watching me. I could just see his face poking around the corner... He stood there the whole time and that's what he's been doing since then. It's like if he's too close to me, he can't control the excitement, so he has to step around the corner and watch from afar. This is okay with me, but I wonder if he's okay with it. Any input on that?
 

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If anyone is wondering, what I did do was, one day, I was putting on my shoes (to go to the grocery store) and Jaia started prancing and vocalizing. I told him, "Quiet" and he stopped for about 2 seconds and started again. I stood up and told him to lie down on his bed. He did. After I sat back down, he started to get up and I went to him and put my hand on him and said, "Down"... very firmly. "STAY". I returned to my seat and started with my shoes and he started to get up (seems he can only scream when he's standing) and I stood up and went to him, put my hand on his back and said, "DOWN"! "You Stay"! I can be very intimidating without raising my voice, but I did raise my voice (not yell) this day. I was just very firm. He stayed. And didn't move until I released him. By that time, he knew we weren't going out because I had my purse, so the excitement died away.
Where's the punishment? Speaking firmly? Placing your hand on him?

I guess the tone of voice could be considered punishment, though. I'd call it redirection (and maybe a bit negative reinforcement if you consider the "hostile" social pressure easing up when he complied as part of the scenario), almost along the lines of teaching an incompatible behavior. If he can't scream while lying down, then the Down is incompatible to screaming and that is what was reinforced (by the easing of social pressure/tension)

Otherwise, I think he just learned to give you space and not anticipate the going out, but observe and read the situation. A little uncertainity in a situation seems to make the dog observe instead of assume, which can be beneficial to both parties.

I'd say he's okay with it. Does he look stressed at all, or is he just watch in anticipation? When you do take him out, is he still eager for the event?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Where's the punishment? Speaking firmly? Placing your hand on him?
Just the entire interaction. It was aversive to him, and it caused the behavior to stop. That's the definition of +P. Something added to the environment that decreases the chance of the behavior being repeated.

Does he look stressed at all, or is he just watch in anticipation?
He looks stressed. More accurately, I'd say he looks wary, uncertain. He looks the same way he does when I get the hose out, although I've never squirted him with the hose. He's just uncertain.

When you do take him out, is he still eager for the event?
Absolutely. Everything there is 100%. As soon as I stand up, he runs outside ahead of me (silently) and does everything the same except for the screaming. He KNOWS it was the screaming that was the problem because of the last year and a half of me nagging him to be quiet.
 

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Well...yes, technically it was P+ and I most likely would have worked on my down stay without physical touch, but in a situation where the dog is screaming like a maniac the firm verbal correction and R- applied is not out of control punishment on your part.

Since this behaviour took a long time to cook up and develop it is not easy to stop it immediately..what I would recommend you do (simply because this is an impulse control issue..so very GSD..lol) is work on Karen Overall's protocol of relaxation with the dog. If you are not familiar with it, is a desensitization exercise...which has you repeating several different movements/sounds etc all while the dog is in a sit stay..it has helped Cracker with her SA..as part of it involves opening and closing the door etc.

I would also have changed up my "pre leaving" order of things. Shoes in a different place, leave by a different door, keys in hand then left somewhere else, etc. He has developed a routine based on yours, change the routine and train a new behaviour.

Don't feel guilty about the P+ that you used, it was relatively mild and it worked. Now start working on the alternates to ensure it doesn't happen again.
 

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We kind of are working on the same behaviour with Akira, he whines to wake up us in the morning because he's bored :eek:

We had the behaviourist come over for some other thing and she told us to completly ignore him when he does that.

Meaning that even if my bf had to get to work while he was whining to do everything without paying any attention to him.

We're going through the extinction burst but it's kind of diminishing so I hope we're close to the end. We've been lucky that our neighbour hasn't complained!
 

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My parents were patient people, Their patience definitely had limits, though. When one of us kids got into a hysterical, tantrum-y crying jag, my dad would say: "You are crying for no reason. Knock it off, or I'll give you a reason." That was the cue to reach down deep and tap that reserve of self control we all possess. Once you stopped crying, calmness returned quickly and everyone was better for it..
I heard this too. 'Quit your crying or I will give you something to cry about.'

It did not reach down and create self control for me. It simply replaced the reason for crying with FEAR OF MY PARENTS. I feared my Father especially for years.. then I hated him for years and then I felt nothing for more years. I made my peace with this and now he has Alzheimers. My sorrow over this extends to my Mother.

So, remember, while something may APPEAR to be self control, it may actually be something a LOT different.

If anyone is wondering, what I did do was, one day, I was putting on my shoes (to go to the grocery store) and Jaia started prancing and vocalizing. I told him, "Quiet" and he stopped for about 2 seconds and started again. I stood up and told him to lie down on his bed. He did. After I sat back down, he started to get up and I went to him and put my hand on him and said, "Down"... very firmly. "STAY". I returned to my seat and started with my shoes and he started to get up (seems he can only scream when he's standing) and I stood up and went to him, put my hand on his back and said, "DOWN"! "You Stay"! I can be very intimidating without raising my voice, but I did raise my voice (not yell) this day. I was just very firm. He stayed. And didn't move until I released him. By that time, he knew we weren't going out because I had my purse, so the excitement died away.?
You did what I was going to suggest. You repalced the beahvior with another one you preferred.. lie down and stay.

The next time I started to put on my shoes, I wondered what I was going to deal with. Well, he left the room and stood just around the corner, quietly, watching me. I could just see his face poking around the corner... He stood there the whole time and that's what he's been doing since then. It's like if he's too close to me, he can't control the excitement, so he has to step around the corner and watch from afar. This is okay with me, but I wonder if he's okay with it. Any input on that?
I would nto allow that either. I would put him in a down and stay and have him do that. I don't believe in giving choices on things like this.

By having him in a down and a stay, you have given him something else to do. It is just NILIF. The reward for the Down and Stay is he gets to go out with you. If he breaks the command, you put him back in it. There is NO SLACK.

The deal is this. If you give a command the dog is to obey the command until he dies or your give another command or until you release him from it. Every command. Every time. You do not let the dog decide or to think (and when I first heard this I thought is was TERRIBLE.. but it is not). Honestly, it works. You do it with every command you give. Dog does not "think" or "anticipate" and act out.

This means lie down is lie down forever or until I say sit or come here or go ahead (my realse words).

Just the entire interaction. It was aversive to him, and it caused the behavior to stop. That's the definition of +P. Something added to the environment that decreases the chance of the behavior being repeated.
It doesn't have to +P. It could have been simple as insisting on the down stay and putting the dog back into the down-stay everytime he got up. It is really NILIF. Dog must be in a down stay to go out with you.

Of course another option is to mix up the routine. Go thru the getting ready and not going out immediately. Getting ready in a different room and not stopping between uncrating the dog and going out the door.. do it all in one smooth motion.

We humans tend to routine our behaviors and as such our pets and animals anticipate what comes next. If we mist it up and do the unexpected all the time.. the animal will not anticipate.

I will make it more simple. If you are training a dressage horse to canter from a walk and you ask for the canter from the walk at Letter A and letter C every time you go around the arena, guess what? Pretty soon the horse will canter from a walk at those places.. and then start doing it early.. every time around the ring. You have to mix it up or you will not have a good test.

If you get your shoes on and get ready to go out the same way every time.. guess what? You have a dog that anticipates and will express that anticipation every time you do those things. So mix it up.

And teach your dog(s) that a command is to be done until another command is given, the dog is released or the dog dies. Every blessed time you ask for a command. Any command.

And when the dog BREAKS the command it is because you have asked for too much too soon in that situation. That is why the mixing it up is good to do as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Don't feel guilty about the P+ that you used, it was relatively mild and it worked. Now start working on the alternates to ensure it doesn't happen again.
I don't feel guilty about using punishment. I don't really have a problem with mild punishment. In fact, I think it's necessary sometimes. And while I do look for alternates and intend to continue to do so, I won't feel bad about using reasonable punishment. What I feel bad about is that I may have gone overboard for him this time. That's the danger in using punishment, but one I pretty much never have to deal with because I know my dogs well enough to know where their lines are.

And I was firm and intimidating. Real intimidating. I went there because I wanted to stop it with the least amount of repeats, you know? I'm wondering if I came across as angry or something and he's afraid or something now. :confused: I don't know. He's absolutely fine the rest of the time, but when I start to put my shoes on, he's outta there. And I know why. It's hard to explain.

I heard this too. 'Quit your crying or I will give you something to cry about.'
So did I. And many times I got something to cry about. I was severely punished as a child. Anyway...

I would put him in a down and stay and have him do that.
That's a great suggestion. I'm not sure I agree about giving them choices, but in this particular situation, I think that's probably a great idea. That way I can praise him for something and get the interaction going again. This emotional distance is bothering me. I'll start that tonight.

The deal is this. If you give a command the dog is to obey the command until he dies or your give another command or until you release him from it.
I'm not going to do that right now. :) That's way too much control for me. It's not that I think it's terrible, it's that I don't have the need for that strict a control over them. I'm sure it works, it's just not who we are.

It doesn't have to +P. ... It is really NILIF. Dog must be in a down stay to go out with you.
The problem with that is that he wasn't going out with me every time. (I tried this, too) He goes into this when I'm changing my clothes at night. He did it when I was putting on my shoes to go to the store. So when I had them on and he didn't get to go with me, it became no longer worth it to him to stay down. I praised him and gave him other rewards for staying down before I went off to the store, but it wasn't enough to quell the compulsion to shout and scream. I've been working on this for some time now.

Go thru the getting ready and not going out immediately.
I hate to keep saying this, but I did this. There was no routine. It wasn't a routine that triggered it. It was putting on my shoes (for example). Regardless of the routine, at some point, I had to put on my shoes (or get dressed, etc). It was the individual steps in the non-routine that he was responding to.

Getting ready in a different room and crating him might have worked. That's something I didn't try. But we don't have crates.

Good ideas. Thank you all.
 

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I'm not going to do that right now. :) That's way too much control for me. It's not that I think it's terrible, it's that I don't have the need for that strict a control over them. I'm sure it works, it's just not who we are.
Let me share this and let you think on it. I personally don't care because they are your dogs and you are the one dealing with them. I handled my dogs exactly as you do now until I stopped and this is that story.

When I first had dogs.. and for many years.. I too thought the idea of the dog obeying a command until given another command, released, or the dog died, was also "too much control." I believed it with my last dog, Kazi when I first gotg her.

Then I started her on herding cattle. I needed her to pay attention and do as asked INSTANTLY or it could have resulted in cows thru the fence (ever milk a cow that has cut her teats going over a fence? Not pretty) or worse.

Suddenly I needed a dog to do as asked until I asked her to do something else. I needed that at the get go because when I wanted her OFF a cow.. it had to be immediately. And that is when I recalled the dog trainer telling me that you needed the dog to do as told until told to do something else.

So, I got very very strict in my requirements. It was then I invoked waht previously felt like too much control.. like too much precision. This made her RELIABLE when herding and it was very very good.

I worked the cows or heifers with the horse and with the dog. As time went on she learned her job and I got her working off whistles. Eventually this segued into her having more freedom and thinking. She and the horse would actually work the herd (driving) and if either saw the other was overwhelmed, they would go and help the other animal. It became a 3 way partnership and there were times when I just went along for the ride. Both these animals were thinking and working and communicating to each other across species lines AND communicating to the Cows.. yet another species!

However, if trouble brewed (and it could) I could still stop the dog or the horse or turn them or redirect them and avert the trouble. That control was just as amazing to many as the inter species communication was to me (and still is to this day).

From now on, every dog I work with I start with all the strict "dog does it until told to do something else or released or dies" and from there we have such a solid platform, the dog can actually do ANYTHING. From that solid footing, I then launch the dog into thinking for the job she is being trained for or is already doing.

I guess I put it this way. It is like learning the alphabet b4 learning words. Then reading those words in sentences and writing words and then sentences... and how all of this eventually leads to writing creatively. The writing creation cannot occur successfully without a foundation (for most writers).

That is why I do things this way with dogs. Once you have that foundation, things can be truly amazing and wonderful.

You do what you are doing but keep this with you. You may find someday you need it.

For me, all this came out of one dog and me wanting her to help move cows. You may find a need someday for much loftier goals.
 

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The deal is this. If you give a command the dog is to obey the command until he dies or your give another command or until you release him from it. Every command. Every time. You do not let the dog decide or to think (and when I first heard this I thought is was TERRIBLE.. but it is not). Honestly, it works. You do it with every command you give. Dog does not "think" or "anticipate" and act out.
Yeah, Wally tries to guess my next move sometimes and that's when I intentionally start mixing stuff up, even if it's during a training session. Then I start doing that trick where you act like you're gonna say the cue then say something else. Wally now hates that game LOL - he's like "oh come on, now" :D

I'm also trying to get him to hold (or continue) an action until it's done or I give a different cue. It's hard for him because it seems like he has ADHD sometimes. :)

There's a time for him to think - when I give a direct cue isn't one of them, unless it's to figure out how to do what I told him (which is cool and why I want to encourage problem solving).
 

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I would use abandonment. Every time he started screaming, I would leave the room, if he followed me I would shut a door between us. When he stopped screaming, i would come back into the room repeat a million times. I have 2 very vocal dogs (a shepherd and shepherd mix). Allie has gone from a dog who would SCREAM while we were leaving the house, while we were in the car, basically any time she was excited. It took a long time (a few months) but now she is silent, well an occassional whine, but when that happens I leave her. She had been rewarded for 5 years prior by her previous owners for screaming. When she screamed, she went outside, when she screamed, the car moved. Sometimes she would scream so hard and loud she would puke. I had to be 100% consistent in this and it took months.

We are now doing the same thing with Nash (have had him for a couple of weeks, maybe 3 weeks?) and he is catching on.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thank you, Elana55 for the detail in your response. I can see why it's an important concept to you. :)

I would use abandonment.
Here's where I have a problem. To Jaia, my velcro sweetie, I think abandonment would be even more confusing and "hurtful" (aversive) to him than my direct commands (intimidating as they were). So, if abandonment worked (and I have my doubts that it would with him) it would also be punishment (albeit negative punishment). I don't have a problem with negative punishment at all, but in this case, I think it would have been more aversive. So I chose the lesser of the two.

I have always communicated very straightforwardly with my dogs and I really prefer that.
 

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I heard this too. 'Quit your crying or I will give you something to cry about.'

It did not reach down and create self control for me. It simply replaced the reason for crying with FEAR OF MY PARENTS. I feared my Father especially for years.. then I hated him for years and then I felt nothing for more years. I made my peace with this and now he has Alzheimers. My sorrow over this extends to my Mother.

So, remember, while something may APPEAR to be self control, it may actually be something a LOT different.
The point of my anecdote was not to equate my upbringing (or yours) with how to treat a dog. I'm certain it's generally a mistake to do so. I was merely illustrating how hysterical behavior can feed itself, and short-circuiting the pattern can be the correct response. It works the similarly when you get a case of the giggles in church or in a business meeting. Behavior creates anxiety, anxiety exacerbates behavior, which in turn exacerbates anxiety, and so on.
 
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