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25 June 2012 @ 03:23 am

Hi all. I was having a discussion on FB with some others and wanted to link to an article about why the alpha roll and wolf pack dynamics are not applicable to dogs. I know I've read several, just can't find them. Help?


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Hello. We will be training a PSD, psychiatric service dog, for my fiance who is an Iraqi War veterin. He served in the USMC, United States Marine Corps, and now has PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well as major depression. We are working with an organization that usually gets it's dogs from shelters, fosters them for 2 weeks in the homes of volinteers and then trains them with the veterins, using a guided owner trainer approach. However, with a 3 year old child, 2 Siamese cats who were tragically born without either balls or backbones, I.E. they are super passive, gentle cats, and 2 Seeing Eye Dogs who cost upwards of $67000 each to breed, raise, train and place in our home, so I just didn't feel comfortable bringing a shelter dog into our home. The trainer, who is also the head of the program told me that if I wanted to purchase or adopt a pure breed dog from a breeder or from a very reputable breed rescue with a much more extensive screning, temperment testing and fostering process that we were welcome to do so. I've been looking around for an adult dog between 2 to 4 years of age, male or female from breeders and breed rescues for the following breeds: golden retreavers, labrador retreavers, german shepherd dogs, dobermins, rough coat and smoothe coat collies, boxers, and standard poodles, which comprise 99% of the guide dogs in the US and are commonly used in service dog work. I have had the most success with finding adult collies, of the smoothe and rough varieties, note, not boarder collies, and have several perspective dogs that I am looking at. I didn't have a spacific preference, but the collie breeders have been the most helpful, had the most possible candidates and it's just sort of worked out this way. I am very familiar with GSDs and labs and somewhat familiar with goldens, dobermins and far less familiar with boxers, poodles and collies, so I am here to ask a few things.
1. Are there any training tips spacific to the collie breed that you can recommend that we keep in mind? This program uses primarily positive reenforcement, clicker training, verbal correction, capturing and shaping with it's dogs.
2. Do you think that this would be a suitable breed for the work? PSDs do things like go into a dark room ahead of the handler to turn on a light, pick up dropped objects so handler doesn't have to expose their back, walk a little ahead of heal through crowded areas to help descourage people from entering the handler's personal space, moving to body block approaching individuals from the front, side or behind to help maintain a comfortable distance for the handler, wake handler from a nightmare by sensing cortosol levels or other chemical or hormonal olfactory cues, comfort handler after a nightmare, interupt repetative or self harming behaviors like compulsive nail biting, paw and lick handler to bring them back to reality during a flash back, go and get help and or stay with and draw attention to handler if a flash back causes them to become unresponsive or to take cover, and so on.
3. Are there any particular benifits or problems associated with the breed that we should keep in mind givin the type of work we want to train this dog to do?
Thanks so much for your help.
09 September 2011 @ 11:04 pm
I'm posting this video here as an example of the behavior I have now seen in 3 dogs. I am unsure if it's a fear response or a pain response.

None of the dogs I've seen or heard of the behavior existing in have been hit. In fact, the dogs do not exhibit a fear response to noise aversive or collar corrections and are generally confident in their behaviors, and none of the dogs had been corrected (in any way shape or form) during the training sessions where they exhibit the odd behavior.

2 of the dogs are Border Collies, 1 is an Australian Shepherd.

Behavior typically starts suddenly in the middle of a training session and in some cases will progressively worsen until the dog becomes fearful of any movement on the trainers part.

Things that have been ruled out: tooth sensitivities, static shock, accidental pairing of treat with a collar correction, stepping on dog accidentally while giving the treat.

Here's the short video of a heeling session:

The dog in this video only displays the behavior while taking a treat in motion (while heeling or while treating during a walk to distract/redirect)

He has had his teeth examined by a vet and no problems were noted. His eye sight is good (and he has been examined by an ophthalmologist), he is wearing a padded harness to prevent any kind of uncomfortable tension.

The other two dogs will display a similar behavior suddenly when being treated in a stationary position. In fact, they are LESS willing to continue working (the dog in the video wants to work, but is reacting while being treated) It should also be noted that even though the dog in the video is working, he is showing signs of stress which occurred only after the fear/pain response started... the training continues for the purpose of getting a video. The other dogs will shut down completely and becoming increasingly fearful to the point where when the owner dropped the leash the dog panicked.

Ok community, I now implore you to explain the behavior. I am at a loss.

ETA: none of the actions on the part of the trainer (the treat giving, the bending over, the walking, the standing still, etc) seem to have an effect on the dog in and of itself. I know, in the video, it looks as though the bending over causes the reaction at one point, but the dog is fine with people bending over and standing up right next to it (and over top of it). All of the dogs will eat treats readily and have no sensitivities. Handing the treat to the dog will not always warrant this response. And typically, the dog in the video walks a lot closer while out on a walk!
13 March 2011 @ 09:33 pm
Hello, I'm hoping you can help me.
My boyfriend and I adopted a one year old German Sheppard, Toki. He's very submissive to us, initially he wouldn't even make eye contact (which made for difficult training!) but he's gotten much better at that. Some things he has picked up - albeit slowly. For example he knows to sit at the door until we go in, to go to bed on command, to sit and stay for his food etc. But some stuff he just does NOT get, no matter how consistent we are.
He has a habit of putting a paw on the couch while we're sitting on it. I make a noise to correct and push his paw down. He does again, I do the same. This goes on and on until eventually I just stand and walk away, ignoring him. We also pet him when he is sitting by the sofa *not* pawing it, he simply does not get the connection. Any advice would be helpful.
Secondly, he spends quite a bit of time inside but is put outside for meals, vacuuming etc. He is very reluctant to go outside if we're not already out there. Coaxing doesn't work and if I try to go alpha on him by asserting myself and crowding him out (nudging him with my knees, takin up his space) he drops down belly up and urinates a little. I'm obviously not an expert and can't understand how he can be simultaneously submissive and disobedient; he knows we want him to go outside, he knows we're the bosses, but instead of obeying he just shuts down. Any insight is appreciated.

This is the first time (for both of us) trying to train a dog we haven't had since they were infants, and it's a learning curve! Many thanks,

06 December 2010 @ 12:48 am
Download free songs from the Through a Dog's Ear company, one each day from 12/06 to 12/12 and possibly win a bunch of CDs for your favorite rescue. Details here: throughadogsear.com/7_days_2010.htm

Keeping it short because I'm spamming the pet coms I'm on, pass it on to anyone you know who could benefit.
15 November 2010 @ 05:03 pm
  Okay a few days ago I posted about the newfie mix at the shelter. Well today i took him out. Boy does he love to run. And he loves charging towards you, not threateningly, but still it is with his size. He's a sweet boy though. You need to use a firm and dominant voice with him though, no baby talk. The only time that works is when you pat your legs for him to come here.

Bad thing though. Once I had my back turned towards him. I turned around just in time to see him charging at me. I tried moving but of course my reaction to something coming towards me is always freezing. I did that and he knocked me over. I heard a cracking sound as I fell and knew it came from my foot. I know he was just playing. Rather roughly because he hasn't been out of that kennel much. And he even seemed sorry because he whined when I fell. But then he continued running around. This was in the play area though so it was fine.

Now i'm at home and my ankle hurts. Sort of like the tired feet feeling, but has pains when I move the foot in a circle. Suffice to say i only walked one more dog after that incident because my ankle. Don't worry nothing's broken and I definitely didn't yell at him. Like I said it wasn't his fault.

Oh and we also got another Newfie in, he's younger by 2 years at age 3, but just as big. Though he's beautiful I don't think i would be able to control Gunner (the one that ran me over). I mean if he was able to run every day i'm sure he'd be manageable but he just charges at you. Anyone know why he does this? Maybe a fun game of " i tag you you tag me"?

UPDATE: well my foot is tender now. When I touch a certain spot it hurts and hurts a bit when i walk which causes me to limp a bit.
12 November 2010 @ 08:54 pm
Has anyone or does anyone own a Newfie? There's one at the shelter where i volunteer and he's a beauty. A huge, black boy. He listens well when told to sit and listens most of the time when told to lay down, so I know he's had previous training. Most likely he was given up because of his size. He IS huge. But he seems okay. I've actually never seen him out of his kennel. I'll try walking him Monday in the play area.

But I wanted to know if they are easy to train? And how they are with other animals? I know it barks at strangers but didin't bark at this one dog that got too close to his kennel, so maybe he's okay with dogs? Or at least other big dogs? The woman who works there said that he wasn't aggressive, just shy (thus the barking whenever you got close to his kennel). I realized this because he seemed mean but wanted to make sure so I showed him a treat (these chicken flavored dog treats) and told him to sit (to see if he knew how) and he instantly did it. I tried getting him to lay down. I just said down and he plopped on down. Now he'll bark at others (still a problem) but whenever he sees me he never barks and just sits. :) So that's how I found out he knew commands and loved food lol.

But any help you can give for a hopefully gentle giant would be much appreciated.
12 November 2010 @ 03:20 pm
 My one year old Bernese Mountain Dog will not leave my cat alone. Whenever the cat is around, Henrik (my Berner) will nudge at the cat, put his paws on him, mount him, and play bite him. Nothing I do, short of separating them, will stop him. Thankfully the cat doesn't mind all that much (he's usually very calm), but I can tell that sometimes it stresses him out. And it certainly annoys the hell out of me too. It used to be cute when he was a puppy but now I just feel bad for my cat. Right at this very moment I can hear Henrik panting and stomping around while he chases him up the stairs. 

What can I do to make Henrik treat the cat with more respect? How do I show him that the cat is not a toy? 
Current Mood: annoyedannoyed
10 September 2010 @ 05:44 pm


I'm hoping someone can help me find this information:

I recall coming across a bit of information (it was either a study or info incorporated with a study) that was done on pet owners and their personalities. It broke them down into labels such as "master and pet", "the observer" and these labels were supposed to help trainers work harmoniously with different pet owners.  The idea was, label the personality (and it could be more then one) and use techniques and ideals that they would feel comfortable with for a better overall training experience.  Everyone knows the dog is the easiest to train.

Does anyone know what I'm talking about? Now and again I've tried to re-locate this or find expanded information on it to no avail.