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Poisoned cues and questions about putting a behavior on cue

943 Views 7 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  3GSD4IPO
Because my dog learned to heel with a choke chain, I'm pretty certain that the "heel" cue elicits a negative emotional response. After her horrible couple weeks of compulsion praise training, I started luring her into a heel off leash and used the same cue when she reached the desired position. It was my newb attempt at creating a cool and positive behavior and erasing the misery of the choke chain. Everything seemed ok in my house when I cued the behavior off leash and she really seemed to handle it well.

I walk her on a harness and still use the cue "heel" and it's a management tool to keep her next to me for her safety. I'm not asking for much in her position and just randomly reinforce when shes in the general position as we go. The behavior isn't proofed and she breaks from it when distracted. I'll try an attention noise or I'll put pressure on the harness if shes stuck sniffing. I'm sure the latter solution probably contributes to stress as well...:redface:

I'm not sure if it's the stress of being restricted from investigating the environment, and or in conjunction with a negative conditioned emotional response to the cue, but she really falls apart. It could also be trigger stacking or that my reinforcement schedule is too arousing. All of these things most likely! Anyway, you can see that I'm dealing with fun stuff here...:(

So I have never really put a behavior on cue the correct way and I'm curious about the timing in adding the cue to the behavior. She offers the heel position at times. I guess this means the behavior lacks stimulus control? So is it possible that I can just properly time a new cue to the behavior as she offers it? What does this timing look like? Does the behavior itself have a negative CER or is it just the cue?

Also, How does one go about putting stimulus control on a behavior. HAHA I know I have asked a lot already, so feel free to ingore this one!

I saw a Sue Sternberg lecture where she advocates a competition heel for reactive dogs in order to manage them out of problematic situations by limiting the dogs view and having them so excited to perform this behavior. I guess I'd like to have this in my arsenal and I'm not sure where to start.

I'm sure I'll figure it out eventually, but I'm hoping someone here can advise and possibly expedite my education.

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In my opinion, if you're going to teach competition-style heeling, you'll need bomb-proof eye contact. Eye contact - and moreso, sustained eye contact during increasingly distracting situations - is the place to begin. It's square one. Make sure you have that before adding any motion.

Honestly though, Im not sure if comp heeling is a good idea for reactive pet dogs. Maybe, maybe not. It can work for some, but possibly exacerbate stress levels in others. Consider carefully whether your dog is a candidate or not
I probably should have used the term 'attention' rather than 'eye contact'.

Anyway, I don't think the OP was wanting to do an entire hour-long walk under stimulus control / comp heeling. As far as I understood it was more of a momentary or situational kind of tool, to be used for short periods whenever the dog came within proximity of triggers and was likely to react.
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