Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 20 of 37 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My brother recently adopted a 4 year old male labrador retriever a couple of months ago that has turned out to be a handful... I have been working with the dog trying to use my experience and knowledge with dogs to help.

I have worked with many dogs over the years and for the most part I have gotten very good results with my understanding of dog behavior and training theory... I am mainly a follower of Cesar Millan but I use and am fully onboard with using +R when possible. The owners are attempting to be consistent with owning space, not letting him own the house or them, control access to objects and take a leadership role, including but not limited to the walk and inside space and objects in the house...and observe dog social rules of leadership...


Although I have had some success helping my brother with this dog I have seemingly hit a wall... This dog is what I would call incredibly reactive, somewhat nervous but not extremely so and exhibits some dominant behaviors... He makes demands and often attempts to control his owners...

I assume most understand what I mean there...

When attempting to correct various behaviors the dog is incredibly resistant to a standard correction...or even reclaiming objects or space.. I have a variety of methods but my initial move is usually a Caesar type touch and a No! If that doesn't work I always change my move and or simply make the action desired happen to the extent possible.

This dog is almost immune to correction at times, will bark back after some corrections in protest, ignore them or run away (avoidance) and attempt to turn the correction into a game by making you chase him...

This makes initiating corrections seemingly difficult to pointless. Follow though is attempted and once you get to the dog he will simply submit. I mean totally submit, lay on his side put his head down and surrender... With continued work I have had some good results.. The owners say since I have been helping he has been getting better.. I have used a combination of direct correction, follow through to submission as well as in other cases simply ignoring him and using calming signals, also seems to help... He will often stop (barking) when ignored and clearly did not get the reaction he wanted, often simply attention, food or an object, etc...

After surrendering however he will often just spring up, wait 2 minutes or less and then start again with the same unwanted behavior..


Outside I have been working trying to get the dog to recall... However, unlike most of the other dogs I have worked with this dog is completely, well almost completely absorbed by the environment. Birds, sounds, people, seeds dropping, smells, grass, etc all are what this dog is fully immersed in...

Now, with great effort I can get the dogs attention and get him to come... I will use a consistent, get attention, say his name, say come, use a hand motion and then once he comes back say "Yes!" and reward with praise and excitment...

Although I have had some success I have not seen or adapted a way to reliably get his attention... If he is smelling grass or just day dreaming he may not care what I do... He does not appear to have any interest in pleasing as I have seen with most other dogs, and otherwise seems to have no real interest in what humans want...

So, to start off with, how does one get the attention or interest of a dog that just isn't interested in the program? Food, treats, attention -- empty environments help but still he doesn't really care or care for long, even treat rewards wear off... He seems out to lunch, "I'd rather smell the air than do whatever it is you want from me right now..." Is the message I get from this guy..

This seems very odd to me from my experience with dogs and training them... I would say he is medium to high energy, seems to have possibly a bit of nervous anxiety, is submissive and reactive as far as I can tell but does give orders and make demands, physically and vocally in the house...

Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
222 Posts
You're not interesting enough to the dog. Also the shutting down and submitting isn't a good thing. You need him to stay engaged with you not shut down on you. Be more interesting than the environment you're in and find what motivates him and use it. Praise probably isnt enough. Try playing fetch or even tug with him as reward. You might start by playing a game of fetch and having him sit for you in the middle of the game. You need him to learn to work with you- it sounds like you're working against each other to some degree.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
222 Posts
Think outside the box. Food rewards and praise aren't all there is. Some dogs just dont care enough about food rewards for that to work all the time. Rewarding with a game or toy he really likes may work better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
You're not interesting enough to the dog. Also the shutting down and submitting isn't a good thing. You need him to stay engaged with you not shut down on you. Be more interesting than the environment you're in and find what motivates him and use it. Praise probably isnt enough. Try playing fetch or even tug with him as reward. You might start by playing a game of fetch and having him sit for you in the middle of the game. You need him to learn to work with you- it sounds like you're working against each other to some degree.

Well the submitting is what he is doing... I was talking about: 1. Correcting unwanted behavior and 2. Training recall...

Are you suggesting not correcting unwanted behavior?

More interesting training sounds good but I am trying to get him to recall not sit... Using a toy to get him interested is a possibility...

Humans in general are not interesting to him at least in terms of pleasing ... Perhaps this is related to how he has seen his previous owners or current owners as subordinates or peers...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Think outside the box. Food rewards and praise aren't all there is. Some dogs just dont care enough about food rewards for that to work all the time. Rewarding with a game or toy he really likes may work better.
Yes, I was thinking trying that too... I just feel like there must be a way to get him more interested in his people..... More engaging.. And more deferential and respectful to his humans...

It's unintuitive to me that a dog should be so consistently interested in grass, birds and leaves falling, vs interacting with his human (social)... This is a working breed after all...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
549 Posts
I don't know what the 'caesar touch' is but I would never ever touch a reactive/dominant dog.

I would do basic training sessions with high value treats on an empty stomach (your dog's stomach, not yours, lol).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
222 Posts
Being more engaged with humans starts with the humans being more interesting than the environment. Working breed yes, but you'll find that an awful lot of dogs from working breeds are far more motivated by games and toys than food and praise, especially outdoors. Trust me on this one, its coming from experience. I'm not saying not to correct bad behavior, but if the dog is barking back at you or shutting down, something's not right with your corrections. If I had to hazard a guess I'd say the dog is seeing your corrections as being unfair. You need to teach him what he is supposed to do in place of the bad behavior first. Then if you do correct him, its followed up by him doing what he is supposed to, which is then followed up by a reward that outweighs the correction. You've got to remember those tv training shows have alot going on behind the scenes that they dont show. Just for the record, we have a black lab and a german shepherd. Neither one cares much at all for food rewards when outdoors. Both of them would walk through fire for a game of fetch or find-it though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I'm not saying not to correct bad behavior, but if the dog is barking back at you or shutting down, something's not right with your corrections. If I had to hazard a guess I'd say the dog is seeing your corrections as being unfair. You need to teach him what he is supposed to do in place of the bad behavior first.
Barking back is protest... there is no "fair" in the dog world in the human sense... Fair are the rules set by PL/humans... When corrected they may protest because they are suddenly being told they cannot have what they want... Always giving them what they want creates this.. Dogs will often protest when they are used to controlling humans and then asked not to... They are used to controlling and subordinates in the dog world are not permitted to control the authority figure it would be instantly corrected and shut down...

Much of this flies in the face of "Caesar's way"...and the concepts there...rules/boundaries/limitations and immediate correction of unwanted behavior with follow through... We do in a sense teach what to do -- as in give up that space or give the human his space and make it happen... The bad behavior isn't consistent with how a subordinate deals with the authority figure in dog terms--calm submission is... This could mean giving space, not claiming objects or not to make demands (barking) to control, protest... My techniques according to the owners are helping but I want better results...

Respect and deference to PL is part of natural dog social interactions and behavior within the pack... Such behavior is dealt with by other dogs using body language, sound and touch (correction)...

I will try the ideas for getting him more interested but I still think there is a leadership role breakdown of sorts and potentially years of incorrect socialization/structure...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,782 Posts
Read what Dexter said.

A dog that barks back at you is showing you that you are not being CLEAR with the dog. The submitting is bad news. In all of this it sounds like you and his owners have not made doing the right thing rewarding. Nor have you.

Here is the thing about corrections. Unless the dog CLEARLY understands what is being asked, the correction is meaningless. If the correction is delivered at the wrong time, it is neither clear nor effective. I suspect this dog is getting corrected and does not know why. When he solidly knows something and blows you off, the correction should be swift and meaningful so you do not have to repeat it. If you have to correct a dog more than once for the same thing, you are doing it wrong or the dog does not understand.

He also sounds like a dog that needs structure. Quite honestly? I would start with Nothing it Life is Free. Nothing. From getting out of to going into the crate. From entering a room to going outside to everything. I also would not feed this dog out of a bowl. Every bit of food this dog gets he would have to earn. I would start that by not feeding him for 3 days (trust me.. he will live) to make food more valuable. A hungry dog is an interested dog.

I would find a toy he likes. I would teach him to trade for that toy. I would try working him with two toys so you always have one (and if he is at all normal, the toy you have will be "better" so he will want that toy).

I would drop all the Ceasar stuff. What works for Ceasar works for Ceasar. And even there it does not always work. Leave his technique with him.
Period.

I am also going to guess that this dog has little pack drive. This is a desire to be with anyone. He has his own agenda and does not care about anyone else. That alone is a large challenge. As a result, this dog would never have any freedom off line (not even to go potty).

A dog like this is a LOT of work and success may be limited. If you continue training the way you are, you will have little success. A dog with little pack drive gives not a single care if you say "Good Dog!"

For everything this dog does there has to be "something in it for him." Make food valuable by making him REALLY hungry. Make him earn his toy. I would even try training him using no praise words.. just a clicker or YES for marking the correct behavior. It is VERY important for this dog to know when he is right and there is something init for him when he is right. Make doing the right thing valuable to the dog.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I don't know what the 'caesar touch' is but I would never ever touch a reactive/dominant dog.
Reactive by definition is not dominant...AFAIK They may exhibit dominant behaviors, claiming or trying to make demands but that doesn't mean the dog is dominant..

This dog gives up and submits instantly when actually corrected.... He isn't a high ranking male...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
222 Posts
Trondyne, what you've been doing isnt working for this dog so try something different. No one method works for every dog. Cant pound a square peg into a round hole.
3gsd4ipo is trying to help you- has alot of experience- youd do well to take the advice given......
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Read what Dexter said.
I did.


A dog that barks back at you is showing you that you are not being CLEAR with the dog.
I can't agree here at all...

His barking on many occasions is clear protest.. He objects to being denied what he wants, it's as clear as if he spoke the words... People eating he comes into their space to claim the food, he is corrected and moved and barks... LOL He knows exactly what we want and that it means he can't have what he wants...


The submitting is bad news. In all of this it sounds like you and his owners have not made doing the right thing rewarding. Nor have you.
I'm not sure if we are speaking the same language here.. By submitting I mean that when you move in and correct (if he can't avoid) he lays down... This is how a subordinate responds to the boss.... If you are going to call it "Bad news" then I would ask you to elaborate...

Make not controlling/demanding rewarding? Example?

Unless the dog CLEARLY understands what is being asked, the correction is meaningless. If the correction is delivered at the wrong time, it is neither clear nor effective. I suspect this dog is getting corrected and does not know why. When he solidly knows something and blows you off, the correction should be swift and meaningful so you do not have to repeat it.
Not repeat it meaning you correct something and it never happens again?

He knows exactly what he isn't supposed to do but as you say:

He has his own agenda and does not care about anyone else.
So knowing doesn't matter according to your own analysis... Right?

If you have to correct a dog more than once for the same thing, you are doing it wrong or the dog does not understand.
But you said:

He has his own agenda and does not care about anyone else. That alone is a large challenge.
Yet one well done correction should be enough...?

He also sounds like a dog that needs structure.
Yes, that's what I've been saying...

Quite honestly? I would start with Nothing it Life is Free. Nothing. From getting out of to going into the crate. From entering a room to going outside to everything. I also would not feed this dog out of a bowl. Every bit of food this dog gets he would have to earn. I would start that by not feeding him for 3 days (trust me.. he will live) to make food more valuable. A hungry dog is an interested dog.

I would find a toy he likes. I would teach him to trade for that toy. I would try working him with two toys so you always have one (and if he is at all normal, the toy you have will be "better" so he will want that toy).
I like this but I don't know if his owners are able to or prepared to go this extreme...

I would drop all the Ceasar stuff. What works for Ceasar works for Ceasar. And even there it does not always work. Leave his technique with him.
Period.
"Use what works and discard what does not, and add what is uniquely your own..." -- Bruce Lee..

I agree with much of what Cesar does, what works and is consistent with dog behavior is always worth keeping and understanding...

I am also going to guess that this dog has little pack drive. This is a desire to be with anyone. He has his own agenda and does not care about anyone else. That alone is a large challenge. As a result, this dog would never have any freedom off line (not even to go potty).
I agree.. Again there are limits... I like the idea of nailing things down...

A dog like this is a LOT of work and success may be limited. If you continue training the way you are, you will have little success. A dog with little pack drive gives not a single care if you say "Good Dog!"

For everything this dog does there has to be "something in it for him." Make food valuable by making him REALLY hungry. Make him earn his toy. I would even try training him using no praise words.. just a clicker or YES for marking the correct behavior.
Agreed but in many cases he specifically wants something... If he wants something then denying him doesn't allow for a replacement per se.. Standard correction would be used as soon as intent was shown... You have to understand this is a dog trying to control people... He does not approve of humans eating or cooking without giving him food, he does not approve of humans interacting or touching each other unless he is involved...

It is VERY important for this dog to know when he is right and there is something init for him when he is right. Make doing the right thing valuable to the dog.

Well this is more or less practical depending on what the behavior is... If we are talking about not demanding a dinner preview off the stove.. what would be in it for him? We established praise does not seem to work well... In these cases humans correct and reclaim space... Then he would protest -- why? Because he wants a lamb chop...he is demanding a lamb chop... LOL

If you continue training the way you are, you will have little success.
Thanks...

Well according to the owners I have had more than a little success working with them and the dog, and they are actually quite thankful... I am the one who wants better results... :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,182 Posts
This dog gives up and submits instantly when actually corrected.... He isn't a high ranking male...
Shutting down when "bitten" as CM (who is a lousy trainer, by the way) suggests doesn't mean he's learning anything, other than the fact that he can't trust you.

Barking at you is frustration, not rebelliousness of dominance. You are not being clear about what you want him to do, or else you are asking him to do something that is beyond his current ability.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,182 Posts
Well this is more or less practical depending on what the behavior is... If we are talking about not demanding a dinner preview off the stove.. what would be in it for him? We established praise does not seem to work well... In these cases humans correct and reclaim space... Then he would protest -- why? Because he wants a lamb chop...he is demanding a lamb chop... LOL
This is where management comes into the equation. Don't want the dog counter surfing during meal preparation and while the family is eating? Put up a gate to keep him out of the kitchen as an interim measure. Then, start working on mat training, so than he can learn to stay on his bed while meals are being prepared and eaten. Another management tool is to simply crate him during meal prep and until after the family has eaten.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Shutting down when "bitten" as CM (who is a lousy trainer, by the way) suggests doesn't mean he's learning anything, other than the fact that he can't trust you.

Barking at you is frustration, not rebelliousness of dominance. You are not being clear about what you want him to do, or else you are asking him to do something that is beyond his current ability.
See what I wrote... He is barking because he wants something that he thinks belongs to him... Like dinner... I can make him bark at will.. All I need do is eat something or engage his owners without his consent.. This is well established control behavior that manifests due to a lack of structure...presumably for years...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
621 Posts
I am going to gently suggest that you stop working with this dog until you further your knowledge of dog training & behavior beyond the teachings of CM. Books I would suggest you start with are:

'Culture Clash' by Jean Donaldson & 'How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves' by Dr. Sophia Yin

To get you started,here is an article by Dr. Yin which discusses dominance theory & its related methods of training, which (as you are experiencing) don't work all that well.
https://drsophiayin.com/philosophy/dominance/

The reason this dog doesn't care about people & what they want, is because (I'm going to guess) he hasn't ever had a person in his life that has made it worth his while. It says a lot about his solid temperament that he simply 'lays down & submits' when you perform your corrections, rather than bite you. For your own sake, as well as his, please take some time to learn about other, newer, arguably better ways to train.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
This is where management comes into the equation. Don't want the dog counter surfing during meal preparation and while the family is eating? Put up a gate to keep him out of the kitchen as an interim measure. Then, start working on mat training, so than he can learn to stay on his bed while meals are being prepared and eaten. Another management tool is to simply crate him during meal prep and until after the family has eaten.
Agreed... Of course I had hoped to not use crates and such... Plus he is an enormous Lab at around 90-100 pounds...
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,928 Posts
First, Cesar Milan is a TV personality...not a trainer. His methods often backfire, and he has little to any actual understanding of dog behavior. It would do you well to drop his methods and try something else. This dog is not interested in you, and from what you have written you have given him little reason to want to do what you want him to do.

Secondly, the dog is not trying to take over the house, dominate humans, or do any scheming to take over the world. Dog-Human relationships do not work that way. The dominance theory is based on outdated information from observations of non-related captive wolves. If you explore this site a bit, you will find an absolute plethora or scientific based information on training theory and dog behavior that I think will help you greatly in understanding this dog.

Third, would you work for free? No, I'm guessing you wouldn't. Neither does your dog. You need to find what motivates him whether that be food or toys. Help this dog understand that everything awesome in life comes from his handlers, and that working for you is fun and rewarding. You do not want a dog who is running away from you or cowering on the floor because he's terrified of you. You want a dog who comes to you with a wagging tail, happy to learn from you and train with you and do whatever you want him to do. It takes time and work to build that type of relationship. Respect is earned, and that is true in both dog and human relationships. Fear is earned, too. Decide which one you want.

This dog does not understand what you want from him, which is why he's "talking back." To him, you are correcting him for absolutely no reason. He does not understand what he did wrong. It is your job to teach him the correct behavior and reward him for doing it. You want appropriate behaviors to be far, far more rewarding than the inappropriate behavior. Once you KNOW he clearly and completely understands that behavior in ALL PLACES under ALL CIRCUMSTANCES (dogs do not generalize well. Sit might mean put your butt on the floor in your living room, but they might not understand that sit means put your butt on the floor outside, too), only then can you consider correction for blowing you off. I mean, you wouldn't hit someone with a ruler for not knowing what 2 x 2 is when they haven't learned to multiply yet, right?

Also, if this dog is truly anxious and reactive, I wouldn't be using any corrections at all. Corrections have the possibility of truly backfiring, and you might make the problem worse, especially if your timing is just a wee bit off.

Remember, you are the human and you have the thumbs. You control the dog's access to the world. You control his resources. Use it. It can be as simple as sitting before a door opens, sitting before a meal, a loose leash before continuing to walk, or even simply offering eye contact to get a reward. Start small, take baby steps building your relationship. You do not have to view this as the dog working for control....the dog does what works to get what they want. You have to teach the dog that to get what they want, they have to do what you want.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Secondly, the dog is not trying to take over the house, dominate humans, or do any scheming to take over the world. Dog-Human relationships do not work that way.
Mischaracterization -- I didn't say that, you did...

the dog is demanding objects, controlling space and giving orders.. Yes, dogs do that...

Third, would you work for free? No, I'm guessing you wouldn't. Neither does your dog.
So what is his reward for not demanding a pork chop? And this isn't my dog...

You need to find what motivates him whether that be food or toys.
This is a clear case of a dog who is trying to control his humans... I am not going to keep repeating what he demands... It's obvious to anyone watching...

Help this dog understand that everything awesome in life comes from his handlers, and that working for you is fun and rewarding.
Working means something other than not raiding the kitchen or objecting to one person touching another....not fetch... Let's delineate different kinds of training.

You do not want a dog who is running away from you or cowering on the floor because he's terrified of you.
This dog is not terrified of any of his humans... If you think that's why he lays down then all I can tell you is you are mistaken... He runs to turn correction into a game, then lays down to appease the correction... He knows from a lack of leadership that the correction won't stick (changing that) so he does it again... Other posts have captured the spirit of this dog having his own agenda, yes he does...

He understands exactly what is wanted, he has other ideas from long established patterns of how to get what he wants...

I have been moving is a very clear direction giving him what he wants when he exhibits the desired behavior ...

Again, let's delineate different kinds of training for different problems and challenges...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,390 Posts
So, to start off with, how does one get the attention or interest of a dog that just isn't interested in the program? Food, treats, attention -- empty environments help but still he doesn't really care or care for long, even treat rewards wear off...
I have rarely if ever seen a healthy, well-adjusted LAB who is not interested in food treats. At least not if they have a good, positive relationship with their owners or trainer. Even the thread title seems to be a contradiction to me. Labs are arguably THE easiest breed to train, especially if one adopts a force-free approach with few if any physical corrections.

If food rewards are "wearing off", you should be examining the value of your rewards, and your application of schedules of reinforcement.
 
1 - 20 of 37 Posts
Top