I'm always trying to figure out what makes a dog fearful? You know the kind, that stares straight thru you like "deer caught in headlights" look? Or perhaps so fearful, the dog displays aggressive fear related moves? Is it genetic, it is learned? What is the cause? This article brings home some very valuable understanding, enjoy!
Cooper, the blind hunting dog very inpirational!
I cannot warn you strongly enough that this dog you just adopted from rescue, will RUN. They all do it. They GOTTA do it! It’s like they get a “wild hair” and have to run off steam or something. The scary part is when they don’t respond to you screaming his/her name as they run away from you, without even bothering to look back. Remember, this dog was probably a stray. WE do not know it’s name, HE does not know his name, so what makes you think this dog will listen to YOU calling for him? He won’t. The minute you begin to panic and chase for your dog, the game is on, and he will kick in the after burners and run faster and further away from you, possibly right into oncoming traffic. Eeeeks! So, I’d like to help you all with recall training ASAP.
Once your new rescue has gotten adjusted inside the house, to your rules, and routines, it’s time to work on COME. Rather your buzz-word is COME, HERE, or something else, it’s important your dog knows the command and that everyone involved with training your new dog is on the same line with commands. Everyone use the same command, no variations. This dog needs to know his name. If you changed his name, it will take about three weeks for him to get used to that. Some take less, others longer. Ok, so your dog finally responds to his name, good! Now let’s add COME! For example, I’ll use my own dogs name here: ‘MAGGIE COME!’ I like dogs’ name first, got their attention, command next. Call your dog everywhere, in the house, in the yard, EVERYWHERE. MAGGIE COME! Good girl, ‘praise’ when they do come! I use training gear for this. You’ll need two tools: (1) Get yourself a good pinch prong collar; make sure it’s adjustable, removing/adding links as necessary, and sturdy, so it will not fall apart. You want the collar to have a little give/pinch to it; (2) a 30’ check cord, or a 20-30’ pcs of clothes line with a good hardware clasp on the other end. Now it’s training time!! Put pinch collar on your dog, attached 30’ rope. Go for that walk. If you like tie the rope around your waist, making you hands free. So, we’re walking, walking, MAGGIE COME!! Immediately start reeling her in by the rope, hand over hand, until she’s right in front of you, not out there, not over there, RIGHT HERE. Good girl!! Start that walk again, let the dog out…walk, walk, MAGGIE COME!! Reel, reel, good girl! You can do the entire walk like this. She will have good days and bad days about coming. So will you. When those days come, skip it. Why stress your dog and yourself further? Start again tomorrow.
This could take months to get that dog reliable on COME command. Don’t give up. In general a dog’s attention span for training is short.
Do not over do it. And always make time for a little play after training, takes the stress off your dog! Pretty soon, you’ll notice your dog is coming on command, and you are not reeling anymore! Yeah – but, can you trust that dog off lead yet? Remember any prey that crosses their paths, they will turn off the hearing and be gone. If your dog is to be a hunter, he will have to be trusted off lead. What I like to try next step, tie a brick or heavy object to your handle side of that long rope, and let him go. ONLY TRY THIS IF THAT DOG IS COMING TO YOU 99% OF THE TIME!! MAGGIE COME!! Is she? If not, that brick will slow her down, so you can catch her! I also like my dogs to be whistle command trained. Ie, when I’m giving verbal commands, I’m also introducing them to a certain tone on my plastic whistle. My dogs learn what I mean for how many toots on the whistle. So NOW, instead of calling verbally, I can whistle them back to me. That’s a whole other training session. For now, get COME down pat, that is the beginning! Next issue, heal and whoa!
I like heel for various reasons, mainly control. I AM IN CONTROL, not the dog! Your dog needs to learn to heel by our side on command. You can increase your recall training easily into teaching this dog heel at the same time! Dog is on lead, you are practicing recall while walking....now let's teach the dog HEEL. Shorten up on the lead, tell your dog NAME (got his/her attention?), HEEL! Then immediately position that dog on shortened up lead to whatever side you want them to heel on. I like pinch prong collars, and check cords for tools. That pinch chain should be high on neck, right behind the dogs ears. Always guide the dog to the side you choose to heel at, and never vary. Once again, repetition, repetition! If you are a right handed gunner, you will want to heel your dog on your left, to free up your rifle carrying arm for that purpose! Or vice-versa. But always remain consistent, heel on one side or the other or you will confuse your dog. I heel the dog on command for a short while, the give "release command" and loosen up/lengthening the rope and allow the dog to get back out in front. Incorporate your COME command periodically, and praise when they do come, then put them into that heel position, then release for regular out front walking! You can use whatever release command you prefer, either "hup" to get them moving, or a simple, silent tap on the hiney can do it! Just be consistent. If your dog wants to pull forward past the area you have in your mind as it's heel area, here is a simple little trick a hunter taught me...with the other end of your lead, and dog in position, shortened up at your side, (but dog is pulling forward), start lassoing the other end of that lead in front of you and your dog, vertically. Round, and round, and if your dog proceeds to step from it's heel area at your side, it will get wapped with that lead spinning in front of you both, and he/she will not do it too many times again, and will back into your heel position. PRAISE your dog for any good behavior! But make it fun! At the same time, because mine is hunting breed, I may also teach the dog "Whoa". (indicating STOP, look or listen for me to give your next move). Same deal, walking, walking, practice COME, HEEL, and now, WHOA! Immediately STOP, STAND STILL. Do not let your dog move. If they move, reposition them back to WHOA, repeat command, reward, release. Repetition, repetition.
A dog's attention span may be short. Don't over do it. Your dog will have good training days and bad. Go with the flow. Do not expect them to 'get it' in one day! If you are having a bad day, don't force your dog that day. They may disappoint you and you may take it out on them, which could cause the dog to not trust you. With any dog, especially rescue dogs, TRUST IS A HUGE ISSUE. You WANT their trust. Don't do anything to make them not want to trust you! If you loose patience, stop for that training session, start again another time. After training, always have fun with your dog, allow play time after training time. It will take the stress off your dog. You must know your dog's temperament, so you don't push them too hard, or not hard enough. Every dog is different. Pay attention.
Never give up! Even if training your dog takes months....if you give up, they will too. I've heard it said "the only time you can't train a dog, is when you are pitching dirt on it's grave". I'm hear to tell you, this is very true!
I find it an excellent bonding tool to spend one-on-one time with your dog, and even participate in basic obedience courses, or in our breed's case; hunt training.
Remote collars should only be used in obedience training as a finishing tool. In other words, the puppy or dog should learn the commands with motivational methods first. E-Collar is a last resort.
Using an ecollar is more humane than scraping your dog off the street after being killed by a car, or putting him down because he wandered off and bit someone. Sorry to be so graphic, but I have a hard time swallowing the rhetoric of those who have no idea about ecollars. I use them on ALL my dogs and recommend them for everyone who has a dog who needs a lot of exercise. My sister uses one on her 14 lb Jack Russell Terrier with great results. When I pull the collars out, my guys go crazy because they know we are either going for a run or hunting. I can run my dogs at the local school while a soccer game is going on, and my dogs stay with me and never bother anyone. It is an absolutely humane and invaluable tool. Start with the check cord and pinch collar together. Make sure the pinch collar is snug, remove links if you have to. It has to be snug enough that when the link is pulled just a little, it pinches him. Get him in an open area, with as little distraction as possible, let him venture out to the end of the cord. He will figure out that the end of the cord "ends" and he will know what his boundaries are. When he seems to be at this point, give him a happy "here" command, be nice about it, nice commands get results. After the first "here" give a fairly firm tug on the check cord and give another "here" command. Make sure you reel him all the way in to a head touch (at least) better that he learns to go to heel from a "here" command. If he starts back but ventures off course, repeat the command, tug and command. This may be new to him, we don't know, but you'll probably figure it out in the first few tries what he knows. You can do this for about 15 minutes at a time, but after a training lesson, pull the pinch collar and hook to the regular collar and give him a reward of a good run or walk for a good session. This is the beginning of training for an e-collar. The ecollar recall, can be learned in less than an hour after a good base of pinch collar/check cord training is established. Once the dog is reliable on the pinch and check cord, you can substitute the ecollar for the pinch collar, it is the same stimulation. Let him venture out and give him a here command, nick him with the ecollar (start low, he may twitch, but you don't want him to yelp), and another here command (Here, Nick, Here) and reel him in if you have to. If he ventures off, repeat Here, Nick, Here until he comes straight to you. Give lots of praise. I will usually, after a half a dozen times of this technique, just drop the check cord and walk the other way. I let the dog venture off, but not too far, and give him a Here, Nick, Here, by this time he should come to you. If he doesn't, go up a notch on the power, and repeat. If he bolts, but by this time he shouldn't, go up on power and repeat Here, Nick, Here until he comes. He may be yelping by this time, but I can almost guarantee that he won't bolt with the collar on again. This is in extreme cases, and if you do your pre-collar training correctly, it won't come to this. You may find out that after this training, he may stick pretty close to you. It may take him a little bit to venture off and feel comfortable with the range you are willing to give him. Never nick the dog without using a command, they won't learn anything. If you chose an ecollar with a paging system, I use the tone setting for a here command instead of nicking the dog every time. To teach the dog to learn this, you must incorporate the tone with the nick. So your sequence would be Here, Nick, Tone, Here. It takes a little dexterity, but eventually, the dog will come when he hears the tone. I also like to mix up my sequence, Here, Tone, Nick, Here. If you get to the point where he will come to the tone, but starts to ignore it, take a step back and re-incorporate the Nick. Take your time, be systematic and your dog will come around quickly. Because my dogs are trained on the collar, they have a lot of freedom, have better manners, and they have a lot of fun that dogs on leashes just don't get. Good luck, have fun, and feel free to contact me with any more questions.
I’m new at this ‘writing’ business, so if you have more specific questions about your dog, please feel free to contact me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
As you can see on the website, no matter how diligent or smart we are, dogs get loose, and can be gone for long periods of time.
As a rescue group, with years of experience under our belts, we try to pound recall training as being the most important aspect of adoption into all of our adopter’s heads. More than once I have run out of the house, in my skivvies (not a pretty sight, mind you) yelling for a dog, in the hopes that he WANTS to come back to me. Please notice my emphasis on the word “wants”. Our dogs have 100 years of hunting instinct, athleticism and powerful senses that drive them to seek out game, bred into them. Along with that is the domestic side of breeding which entails a cooperative mentality as well, so we need to take advantage of that. Recall training is extremely important, but with our newest charges, we have to give them a reason to want to come back! Affection, safety, and comfort are the reasons that a dog wants to be with his family. So our first priority is giving our dog an environment that entails all three. This runs parallel with our recall training. After a training session, it is good to get back to the house, have a treat and interact with your dog on non-obedience, comfort level.
Another good technique to use, along with check cord recall training, is to start getting your dog familiar with your neighborhood. When you walk them, take them along different routes up to a mile away, to get them familiar with their extended surroundings. This gives them a chance to get back home even if they do get away.
If you have adopted a known runner, no matter what age, you must be diligent at all times, because reliable recall training can take months. I advocate e-collars which when properly used, can shorten this training to hours, and many of the dogs we get have already been accustomed to being on an e-collar. If anyone is interested in an e-collar, I can help with choosing a brand and model. We can also set up a training session where I can show you how to use and train with your collar.
I remember when I was young, watching my mother walking through the neighborhood, in her bathrobe and slippers, waving a piece of bologna in the air, yelling “TREAT” to a running, young dog we had just gotten from the humane society. While not high on my recommendation list, still, a very effective tactic. That dog came running back to my mother, and never left her side again. Maybe, instead of supplying check cords with each adoptee, we should just make sure everyone all has bologna in the fridge?
Volunteer Trainer/Hunt Evaluator
Wisconsin German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue, Inc.
"Old age means realizing you will never own all the dogs you wanted to."
Whenever I give advice to someone about their dog’s behavior, the question that runs through my mind is: “Is my method going to work for this dog and handler?”
I have had the pleasure of working with many rescue dogs that I am able to handle that others aren’t, only because of my physical or mental attitudes toward this dog’s behavior. Sadly, there have been a few that I have not had the time to work with, or that my own experience was not enough to change this dogs behavior due to a previous owner’s neglect.
I think that when we bring a rescue dog into our group, we must remember that while some of these dogs have been abused or abandoned, the majority of the reasons that the dogs was given up was due to their behavior. This is not dogs fault, but the owner’s who did not realize the level of care, and discipline, necessary to handle their dog.
We all, my self included, feel in our hearts the plight that so many of these dogs have endured on their journey to our special, loving group. While we must have compassion, we all must be mentors to these dogs so that those we do not keep ourselves, and those we do, become well behaved members of someone’s family. We can never accept bad behavior, and we must correct it immediately, even if it means accepting assistance from a more experienced member of the group. Sometimes these methods seem extreme to us, and I have seen my share as well that I will not employ, but we always act in the best interest of the dog.
I had a great time last Sunday (7/29/07) working with a fantastic group of open minded individuals who gave me the opportunity to show them the use and effectiveness of an e-collar. When properly used the e-collar is an extremely effective, efficient tool in training a dog. While the initial use may seem a bit heavy-handed, with the continued use of this method of correction, the behaviors that we desire in our dogs come through quite quickly. The dog learns what our expectations are, so corrections become milder and fewer, or go away all together.
I had a big test on Sunday, trying to convince a very loving owner that my method was the one to use to keep his dogs safe. The question I ask myself ran through my mind a thousand times as I watched the look of despair on my new friend Bill’s face when I strapped the e-collars on his beloved Carleigh and Morgan. I also watched him hold his girls and apologize after what was probably their first “shock” during undesirable behavior. After the initial corrections, he was able to have his dog off leash, which he could never have done before with any security without an e-collar. He played ball with her in his own big, beautiful yard, secure in the fact that she would not be able to run off.
I also got to see that look on Bill’s face as well. Priceless.
WGSPR Volunteer Trainer/Hunt Evaluator
For Chase – Unknown ~ September 2, 2007
I am lucky enough to have been given a forum, so I am going to take advantage of it for my own personal use. That said, I am going to relay some things from my experiences with my beloved Chase, who we recently lost so quickly and tragically on September 2nd.
By all accounts, Chase was a model dog. Now why he was abandoned by his previous owner(s) is beyond universal understanding. He was loving, obedient, loyal and fit into our family however he seemed needed. He would wait for his turn for attention, never being too pushy and probably being ignored somewhat for this trait more times than I care to admit. With the addition of our twin sons, I could see how he would step aside and be content to lie quietly on the couch until the hustle and bustle calmed down and he was invited to sit beside me or my wife.
When it came to hunting, he was sometimes tough to control, which may have been the reason he was lost, never sought after, or abandoned. His drive was unmatched and his full ability had yet to be seen. Even on a walk around the neighborhood, if there was a shrub, bush or tuft of grass, he wanted to examine it for possible prey. I pictured myself, and my family hunting with him for many years to come. I had to teach him some things for my own control’s sake, but the majority of things were of his own accord.
All of our dogs have the ability to become model dogs, but we must aspire to become model handlers. I am not saying that I am a model handler, but I do aspire to be. Chase was a good dog, and some seem to take less effort than others, but we all must rise to the level that our dog needs to become model dogs. The seemingly worse the dog, the more we have to better ourselves to help them. So, as good as Chase was, maybe I was just an idiot, unless you have met his little Wachtelhund brother Becker (who we lovingly call ”the Challenge”).
So where am I going with all this? I let Chase be a dog first and foremost. Sometimes he hunted a little to far from me, and I corrected him. Sometimes he jumped up on people; I mean all the time he jumped up on people! And, I tried to correct him, but it was hard for anyone to complain about Chase. He would eat a whole stick of butter off of the counter if it was accessible, and he was corrected. He doesn’t sound quite so good now does he? It is easy to dwell on the bad things, but how bad were they, really?
What we need to remember is that they are animals, but animals that have been bred to be cooperative if we make them so. If your dog is doing something that you don’t want him to do, MAKE him stop, if you don’t know how, ASK. Just don’t expect it to happen with the first correction. Just make an assessment of what is acceptable to you and act on it, but be reasonable. They are just dogs. We are supposed to be the smart ones. We are the ones that can make the difference in their lives.
I dedicate this to my friend Chase. I write with teary eyes and a broken heart for my big handsome boy who was taken from me too soon and so fast. I held him to his last breath and laid him down on his bed when his heart stopped. I regret missing any moment I could have had with him. Hunting season is coming up, and it will be so hard not having him in the field. I will miss his perfect points and uncanny tracking ability, but also his sloppy retrieves. I will miss his head on my pillow next to mine as he tried to shove me off the bed. I will miss the good and the bad, but none of it was ever really that bad.
There will never be another like him.
Dog on Dog Aggressiveness A.K.A. “It can be a dog eat dog world”
Many times when bringing a new dog into our homes and lives, some dogs get along great with our family, friends and neighbors but not with our own pets. It can be doubly hard with a rescue dog because we have no idea what that dog has gone through with possible abuse or neglect. Usually abuse manifests itself with some outward aggression and/or fear of people, but tends to set the dog lower in the pack status and not be a trigger for dog on dog aggressiveness. I am going to stick with the dog on dog for the time being.
These days, many of us are familiar with the term “pack leader” and it can be seen in many places and formats with respect to dog training. Much can be read on developing the pecking order within a multiple dog household. For example, the top dog eats first, goes outside first, etc, while the humans are the pack leader or leaders. This mentality can actually cause challenges within your pack as your top dog ages or you have a dog that is truly not an alpha status dog because of his demeanor. I do not make any one dog the top or alpha, I assume that role. My dogs are all kept on the same level. They will establish there own less obvious pecking order, but I don’t encourage it.
Bringing a new dog into a well established pack can be disturbing for a dog if he does not understand the dynamics of the pack. It is necessary to show the dog what being in this pack is all about. Otherwise, the dog may take it upon himself to establish his own dominance within the pack. This is where the problems start. The human may have never outwardly needed to be a pack leader because of the demeanor of their dogs, so now is the time to show this new dog who is in charge. The establishment of the pack dynamics will make the new dog feel more secure and less likely to impose his will.
Dog aggression begins long before the fur starts flying. Growling, posturing, rising hair, tail flicks, and even subtle looks can be the first signs of a dog trying to take his place in the pack. When these signs arise, the pack leader must immediately redirect this behavior in order to show the new dog who is the pack leader, his motives are recognized and his behavior is unacceptable. Recognizing these signs is the hard part. The majority of the time, the aggression will be seen while indoors or in close quarters. So be prepared before you even see the signs. When the dogs start coming into close contact, keep on alert. Controlled walks in close proximity can help in getting your pack used to those tight quarter situations.
There are many techniques ranging from a simple touch to redirect the dogs focus to actually biting your dog. It may seem extreme, and a little fuzzy, to bite your dog, but it is what they understand. The severity of the technique depends on the reaction of the dog. If the dog responds and changes his focus to a touch and a “hey”, that’s great, keep it up whenever there are signs. The behavior should change. If the dog does not respond to the touch, maybe a pinch on the thigh may turn his attention. If it seems to take much more to change the dogs focus, you should probably consult a pro trainer or behaviorist.
While we can never know what can trigger dog on dog aggression, we can usually assume that the behavior has been learned from an aggressive dog who has established himself as the pack leader. As owners and handlers, we have to establish ourselves as well, but we have the ability to not make it a “dog eat dog” situation.