Friday, March 25, 2022

Understanding Impulse Control or Self-regulation.

 


Is your dog impulsive, rushing into every opportunity that presents itself?  
Of do they demonstrate some self-regulation by resisting certain temptations unless they are given permission to enjoy it?

Common Impulse Control Dog Training Methods

Leave It
Many dog owners train some form of a "leave it" cue although they use a wide variety of cue words such as "not for you", "mind your business", or even "mine, not yours."  It doesn't matter what verbal cue you use, the basic idea is the same and many owners start out with a simple food lure to teach the skill.  Owner may place a dog in a sit or down position, asking them to stay which is the first step in self regulation.  Then owner often will present a treat in their hand or on the floor and covered so the dog isn't able to steal it, give their cue and then once the dog ignores the treat the dog is reinforced for that decision with the treat.  Some owners practice this to extremes asking the dog to ignore multiple treats placed on them and all around them, often building up duration making the dog wait longer and longer.  Sometimes owners move away from using treats for this cue and apply the "leave it" cue to distractions or other things in the environment.

Zen
This is another method, taught much the same as "leave it" but involves setting the dog up for success instead of tempting the dog with a treat or desired option.  This is often thought to be a more force free method of training because it is based on multiple force free training methods to achieve the end results slowly by adding distractions, distance, and duration over multiple training sessions proceeding through various training levels until you reach the end result.  

You can learn more about Zen at Sue Ailsby's website under Training Levels.

It's Yer Choice
This is a game taught by Susan Garret, where the owner provides free access to a lower value food such as kibble then rewards the dog with a high level such as chicken when the dog ignores the first offer.  Again this is taught with success in mind, by making the choice easy for the learner and slowly increasing difficulty level over time.  You can learn about this game by listening to Susan Garrett's Podcast #91, and probably a few others as well as she talks about this game often!

No matter what method of training you use to teach your dog some impulse control, you eventually want to be able to apply this to real life situations.  By teaching them to control themselves around people food, you often don't have to worry about counter-surfing or stealing of dinner.  By teaching them to ignore that cat, dog, or wild animal, you can avoid having your arm pulled off every time something new enters the environment your in.  

But how do you move from training into the real world?  This is often where many people struggle!  Se here are a few tips to help you out.

  1. Manage the environment!  If your dog loves to steal food, keep it under lock & key, out of their reach.  If your dog pulls towards distractions, you can use a harness with front & back clips and a dual clip leash to prevent sudden jerks that may injure you.  No matter there struggle, there are some steps you can take to manage the environment to reduce the dog's ability to repeat those behaviors you don't like.
  2. Training for calmness!  Again, you may have to be creative to come up with a way to train calmness around whatever is causing your dog to be excited, whether that's food, animals, people, cars, etc.  Not that long ago I was hosting a puppy for a service dog foundations board & train term.  This puppy loves FOOD so much that at just 5 months old she had already be brave enough to jump on owners lap and steal food right of their plate, basically right out of their hands.  One of the first things I implemented was a calmness routine based around mat training during my meal time.  And after just 3 days, puppy was already relaxing at my side while I ate dinner without even attempting to steal my food.
  3. Empower your dog with the wisdom to make good choices.  This may be easier said then done, but my method is to make sure I present my dog with choices every day.  Parents will commonly give toddlers simple choices in their day-to-day, such as setting out 2 outfits so the child can choose what to wear, instead of that child picking out clothes from a full closet with clothes that may not be appropriate for the day ahead.  The importance here is giving your dog choices that you as their owner can live with, no matter what choice they make.  One of the first choices I give my dogs, as a puppy or new rescue, is the choice to eat their food from a bowl or from an interactive toy such as a snuffle box.  You can put breakfast down in both the bowl and the toy and wait to see what they choose, then pick the other one up and save it for later.  Now some dogs might instantly want the food you just took away, so in this case you can offer different options that are easier for them to decide.  I take my dogs outside for a relaxed sniff-a-bout nearly every day.  During this time, the dogs choose where in the yard we go, the tree line, the barn, the hillside, etc.  Azul is always on a longline so he can't travel out of our yard for safety which also means he can't choose to go too far away from me on these walks.
  4. Build skills up over time without asking your dog to do things that are above their current skill set.  I can set my dinner down in my seat and leave the room with 2 dogs in the room and neither will go near my food.  But I didn't start there!  It took time to develop their leave it skills around people food, first with training sessions to develop skills, then short duration leave it's with another family member supervising while I left the room.  If you push your dog too far, too fast they are likely to make mistakes and practicing the behavior of making those mistakes will make it harder for them to learn what the choice is the good choice.

Adolescent Struggles with Impulse Control

There is a reason adolescent dogs seem to forget their training and seem to be uncontrollable!  Starting as early as 6 months old and lasting through around 2 yrs of age, is the hardest time in a dog's life known as adolescence or the teen phase.  During this time, mature nature is basically re-writing the dog's brain as they move away from puppy safety net thinking into an adult dog.  This doesn't happen all at once, but in short bursts throughout their development.  You may have heard that dogs go through fear stages as adolescents where they may develop certain phobias or have short periods of extra fearfulness around new things.  But what many owners do not realize is that dogs also go through periods of development where their brain connections temporarily become disconnected until they get re-wired into a connection that will last their lifetime.  We tend to compare these times to behavior terms that apply to humans such my dog is stubborn, willful, dis-obedient, won't listen....and the list goes on.  However in truth, our dogs don't understand what is going on at this time of life any more then most owners do.  The dog may have known tons of behaviors (sit, down, stay, etc.) from their puppy obedience classes, but all of a sudden they might be struggling with one or more of those behaviors.  With the re-wiring of the brain that is taking place, the dog often forgets the verbal cues that they have learned previously.  The good news is that this forgetfulness is short-lived!  They won't automatically remember something, such as we humans might forget where we placed our keys then like a lightbulb we remember.  But if we back up in training and lure that behavior a few times, they will make that new connection for that behavior pretty rapidly.

The other thing that adolescent dogs struggle with is distractibility.  Nearly everything becomes a distraction.  Right now, after a long winter of very few birds around, Azul has a new found love of little birds that are searching the ground for food.  He basically forget what songbirds are as the only birds that live through the winter here are large prey birds like eagles and hawks that typically keep a good distance from us.  Now the sight and sounds of the birds returning this spring has him distracted again.  This is just part of the Spring Fever that effects humans and dogs alike!

But for me, the hardest part of adolescence for our dogs, is that they loss the ability to control sudden impulses or self-regulate their behaviors seeming to have a one-track mind focused on whatever seems to have caught their eye at the moment.  For a dog that loves sniffing as much as Azul does, smells very quickly can send Azul over the edge and into a state where all he can think about that amazing smell and how he's going to get to it.  Whatever those cute puppy behaviors such as jumping on people, barking for attention, pulling on the leash, and so forth, now seem to come back with a vengeance! Only those behaviors are not so cute any more, especially with larger dogs that can now hurt you when they jump on you or pull to the end of the leash suddenly.  We worked hard to train the puppy to do the behaviors we wanted and now that seems to have flown out the window and nothing helps.  We need to remember that this is a stage, and our dogs are not trying to be disobedient they simply lack the ability to use any self control.  

Now does this mean we let them get away that obnoxious behavior?  Absolutely not!  Practicing bad behaviors help to set those behaviors in which will make them lasting behaviors into adulthood.  But if our dogs can't focus on what we are trying to train them to do and they can't help themselves, how are we supposed to move past this issue?  This is where management and setting up for success really come into play!  Our dog's often don't get to choose the environment they go for a walk in, or how often they go for a car ride, or pretty much any environment they are in.  We as people decide where to take our dogs and what activities to do with our dogs.  If we know an environment is overly stimulating for our dogs, we probably should be avoiding that environment temporarily until we see our dog's focus beginning to come back.  

Right now, Azul has a slight problem with wanting to somewhat bully or boss around dogs at the dog park so we are avoiding the dog park.  He doesn't want to hurt or fight with the new dogs, but he gets so fixated on one dog that he won't leave them alone long enough to catch their breathe.  I don't want this harassment or fixation to become a lasting behavior, so avoiding the dog park until Azul demonstrates some self-restraint around new dogs will prevent him from practicing the behaviors I don't want to see at the dog park.  Instead, we have playdates with Azul's friends because he can stay under threshold with dogs he knows so much easier and thus the undesired behaviors don't happen around friends.  Azul will still love to visit the dog park every day, but I choose to avoid it for now.  When weather allows us to walk the nearby trails and work at a distance around the outside of the dog park and Azul has the ability to control his sudden impulses more effectively, we will slowly build up to visiting the dog park again.  

This is my management tool for this issue, avoid the triggers until we both are better equipped to set up training sessions designed to be successful for both of us!  When we realize our limitations and our adolescent dog's limitations we can create better opportunities that allow us to repeat the activities that we both enjoy.  This keeps everyone happier and will help our dog's to become more rounded adult dogs that can handle these challenges better once their brain has stopped it's rapid development stage.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Announcing the Crazy Canine Adolescents Classroom

Registration is officially open for the Crazy Canine Adolescents Virtual Classroom!

We hope you enjoyed the FAD (Focus Around Distractions) Workshop!  The information presented in that workshop was just the tip of the iceberg.  We have a ton more information in the Crazy Canine Adolescents Classroom!  Check out this video for a sneak preview of the virtual classroom!



If you want to register for the Crazy Canine Adolescent Classroom, click here!

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us!

Yooper Paws Logo

Yooper Paws of Love
Penny Beeman, Trainer & Behavior Consultant
Website:  yooperpaws.com
yooperpaws@gmail.com

FAD Workshop - Day 4

Welcome to Day 4 of the FAD Workshop!

The number 1 distraction among those who registered is other dogs and today's information is focused on that issue!  At almost 2 yrs old, Azul's biggest distraction is new dogs entering into our environment so we practice remaining calm often.  Check out today's video for more information about training exercises you can do with your dog around other dogs. Then check out the games below!


Here is a Google Presentation on Exercises that shows you how to do 2 great exercises with your dog with the help of a friend with their dog.

Magic Hand Game


Food dropping: with your arm bent at a 90° angle allow the dog to move on it’s own and drop a piece of food from between your fingers. 

Don’t worry if they don’t catch it right away. They will learn. 

This teaches the dog to follow your hand.




Whip It or Flirt Pole Fun

You can buy a flirt pole made for dogs or a horse lunge works nice for large dogs.  But you can also make a homemade flirt pole with a rope or old leash.  The idea behind this game is to build value for playing with you, the handler, by extending your reach out further away from your body so that your dog has to chase the toy more enthusiastically.

If I'm teaching this game to a house with older kids, we make a homemade version of attaching a soft tug toy or soft webby ball to about 6ft of rope.  The kids can run dragging the rope behind them and add in some quick turns or gentle swings of the rope toy.  If you are not a runner, or plan to play this game from a chair, you can attach the rope to an old broom handle, rod, or stick to extend your reach farther.

The first thing I do is work on getting that On/Off Switch we discussed previously in this workshop.  Your dog will get amped up with this toy, so don't punish them if they struggle with the drop or stop cue you've previously taught.  Just be patient and wait them out.  If the toy stops moving and you stop tugging, typically the dog will get bored and drop the toy allowing you to play some more.  

Practice this arousal up, arousal down exercise with simple cues until it becomes easy for your dog to follow your cues.  Then you can add in more advanced cues to help your dog focus on you more.




Be careful playing this game!
If you're dog is spinning to fast or making quick direction changes, they could injure themselves.  Be sure to play at a speed and difficulty level safe for your dog!

Also be careful to avoid tangles with the line that could injury your feet or your dog's feet.  The first thing I teach my dog is an "All Stop!" cue so that if a tangle starts we can fix it ASAP and then play some more.




Wednesday, March 23, 2022

FAD Workshop - Day 3

  


Welcome to Day 3 of the FAD Mini-Workshop!

On Day 3, we take a look at the distractions our dogs get most amped up about and how we can set up training sessions in the environments where are dogs can be most successful then slowly building up to more distracting environments.



A to B/ U-Turns Games 


U-turns are important no just to teach proper heeling/loose leash walking and to avoid unwanted things, dogs, cats, strangers, or even shopping carts in stores. The basic idea is to turn quickly with your dog, in either direction. 
  1. The game is simple, with the lead in both hands, slide the hand closest to the dog down the leash, close to the dog. 
  2. As you turn, call your dog toward you. 
  3. This should be done in both directions and on both sides of the dog.
Again, start in. Low distraction environment and gradually add distractions. 



Pace Games - Quick, Quick, Stop! 


When your dog is slightly distracted by something in the environment, changing your pace can be an awesome way to get them re-focus on you.

  1. Since most dogs like to move faster then we do, I tend to make the first pace change a bit more rapid then our typical walking pace.  I use the double cue, Quick, Quick, to build some excitement and encourage Azul to change pace to keep up with me.  This cue also works well if we need to cross a road or move more quickly to avoid an obstacle or distraction.
  2. The second pace change I add in is a rapid Stop!  I like this one because if my dog is not focused, they get gentle encouragement to help them be successful.  I will place my hand gently on Azul's back a second before I cue the Stop, then if he doesn't stop he can feel the hand drag slowly down his back. Then after a bit a practice they learn to focus more intently during the Quick pace knowing that I could quickly Stop at any moment.
  3. Once your dog has those 2 pace changes down, you can get creative with other changes.  Some of my favorites are Slow Mo mode, left/right turns, a brief wait at an intersection or when something is crossing our path then right back into the previous pace, and so forth.



Here is a link to Nala, a 3 yr Aussie, and her handler playing this game for the first time.

Here is a link to Maverick, a 1 yr Husky, and his handler playing for the first time.  Note that Maverick is much more excited and offering a jump every now and then.  This is an important example of being careful to not amp your dog up too much or they will struggle more with the rapid stop.


Wrap Up of Day 3

We hope you enjoyed the games and information presented today!  It's important to remember that while we can not control all the distractions in our environment, we can control the environments we put our dogs in.  Start small with less distracting environments and slowly build up to more distracting environments after you've had a chance to build up a history of playing the games in this workshop.


If you have questions, you can post them in our FAD Workshop FB Group here.  We would love to see your videos playing the games and hear your feedback from Day 3 of the FAD Workshop!



Penny Beeman

Owner of Yooper Paws of Love

Professional, Force Free, Dog Trainer

& Animal Behavior Consultant, ILLIS

Visit my website at: www.yooperpaws.com

Find us on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/YooperPawsOfLove/


Cindy Campbell

Owner of Cindy Campbell Dog Training

Visit my website at: https://cindycampbelldogtraining.com/

Find us Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/BrienwoodsAmericanFlyerNikolaRN

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

FAD Workshop - Day 2

  


Welcome to Day 2 of the FAD Mini-Workshop!

On Day 2 we are going to be talking about the emotions our dogs feel, understanding those emotions and applying training sessions correctly to help change our dog's negative emotions into positive emotions.  This video is a bit longer, but it's super important to understand how the distractions in our environments make our dogs feel.  With that understanding, we can then decide how to best help them be successful in multiple environments safely.



Distraction Marker

The distraction marker is a noise used to bring your dog’s focus back to you, especially in distracting situations. 
  1.  I start by making an unusual noise. 
  2. When the dog comes toward me, I reward, then release again. 
  3. It’s important to start in a low distraction environment, then gradually move to more distracting areas. 
If your dog goes lots of places with you, I suggest using something other than kissy noises.



Cue Game or On/Off Switch

I use this game to help develop Azul's ability to calm or settle in more exciting environments. Since Azul's favorite game is tug, so we develop this game using a tug toy but you can use any toys that your dog loves.

  1. You want to start by amping your dog up just slightly with some play. You want to watch to not get them over-excited, but engaged in fun.
  2. To encourage your dog to disengage, you have 2 options: If you're dog previously knows the cue to drop and item and has good success, you can simply use that cue. However, if your dog does not have a stop or drop cue that is reliable, you can also have a 2nd toy at the ready. When you disengage from the first toy, your dog will tend to look at you. When my dog has disengaged with the toy, I will ask them to sit or down and hold that position.
  3. The goal is to have your dog pause for a brief second between stopping play and then re-engaging when you cue or invite them to begin again. Over time you can extend that time in the stop or hold position. After my dog has held the position for the time I want, I will present the toy in an inviting way and tell my dog to to get it.


Sorry about the poor quality of this video, I was trying a new camera.


Check out this video demonstration Tug to Teach Retrieve which also has a great example of the Cue Game or On/Off Switch Practice

https://youtu.be/x2dWS3Y59cg

And here is a video that shows an On/Off Switch from Absolute Dogs

https://youtu.be/0NvKyCnIpNo


Wrap Up of Day 2

Understanding our dog's emotions can help us in a wide variety of ways!  I also have additional resources available on this topic as part of my February Theme, Focus on Behaviors.  Here are a few of the blog posts.


Understanding K-9 emotions and how emotions can effect your dog's behaviors.
This post explains how our dog's emotions and excitement level effect the behaviors they give us.


This post explains Core Effect Space in simple terms that any dog owner can use to better understand their dog.

If you have questions, you can post them in our FAD Workshop FB Group here.  We would love to see your videos playing the games and hear your feedback from Day 1 of the FAD Workshop!



Penny Beeman

Owner of Yooper Paws of Love

Professional, Force Free, Dog Trainer

& Animal Behavior Consultant, ILLIS

Visit my website at: www.yooperpaws.com

Find us on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/YooperPawsOfLove/


Cindy Campbell

Owner of Cindy Campbell Dog Training

Visit my website at: https://cindycampbelldogtraining.com/

Find us Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/BrienwoodsAmericanFlyerNikolaRN

Monday, March 21, 2022

FAD Workshop - Day 1

 


Welcome to Day 1 of the FAD Mini-Workshop!

Today we want to go over the idea of  FOCUS and what it means to us, as well as get you used to the basic format of this workshop.  Every day we will have an informational video created by the crazy old ladies of dog training, Cindy Campbell & Penny Beeman.  The video will be roughly 1 hour long each day.  We will also have 2 games for you to play each day that will help you and your dog learn to more effectively as a team.  Each game will have basic instructions on how to get started if you've never played that game before and a video(s) of Cindy or I playing these games with our dogs.  Then we have an extra special treat for you on Friday when we release a bonus video demonstrating the Crazy Canine Adolescent Classroom that we've been working on.  So without further ado, here is today's educational video.


The Positions Game


The first thing I do before playing the Positions Game is teach my dog how to follow hand targets. If you've never taught hand targets before, here is a video that demonstrates how to teach a dog to touch your hand. I teach hand targets at first by luring a dog to touch my hand with a treat in my hand. Always hold your hand the same way when you are starting out, then you can slowly start moving your hand target into various positions; right hand, left hand, higher, lower, etc. Once your dog knows how to hit hand targets you are ready to play the Positions Game!
  1. Start with 2 positions around you that you want to heavily reinforce. I often chose a position in front of me with the dog facing me and the dog sitting or standing in front of me. The 2nd position I often choose is in a heel or loose heel position beside me. Starting in the front position is often easiest. Present your hand target in a way that helps the dog get into your desired position. Then you can spin to face away from your dog and take a step further away to lure them into the heel position. Switch back and forth between those 2 positions.
  2. Add in another position that easy to get to from the last position. Slowly add in positions that are easy to get to from the previous position. Your choices are pretty much unlimited at this point. Some of my favorite positions are my dog standing in front of my legs or behind my legs, basically across my body & standing in between my legs. You can keep changing up your order of which position you call for next so your dog is guessing.
  3. Add in some speed moving between the positions. Once your dog has the idea of the game, you can start adding in speed by doing multiple hand targets between rewards. Start only using food every other position, then every 3rd position. As you develop a love for the game, playing often becomes self rewarding and you can phase out the treats all together. Azul and often play with a tug toy instead of a food reinforcement and that has really helped us build up speed and additional positions.
  4. If you love the game as much as I do, and reach an advanced level, you can build in some distance calling your dog into various positions starting further away from you. This will really increase your dog's focus when they can move closer and further away from while playing the Positions Game. You can develop a hand target into the game as part of your recall training. It's also a great way to practice down/stays at a further distance as you can release your dog into running to you to play the game.

This video shows Azul playing the game at 6 months old with a young child bouncing around us as a distraction. This is one of the first distractions we played this game around. The child in the video is purposely trying to distract Azul to help with my training.


Additional videos playing the Positions Game at various ages:

18 months: https://youtu.be/ml0dn-lf3KI

First Session with Puppy: https://youtu.be/cZAVMkZfOSE


Orientation Game/Proximity Game


Start this game in a very easy, low distraction environment where your dog is used to playing with you!
  1. Throw a piece of your dog's dinner out, about one meter away.
  2. After they finish eating it, of course, they are going to look back at you for more. At that moment of they orienting back to you, mark the movement with a "YES" or a CLICK (if you use a clicker). If they do not look back at you right away, just wait them out and mark the moment they do look back. You may have to start playing this game on lead first.
  3. Follow the marker with the reward of throwing another piece of food out to continue the game.
Play this everywhere, anywhere as as often as you can!

Here is a video of Nick playing the game!

If you want another example, here is a video of Pau playing the game.

Here is a link to the Absolute Dogs sheet about playing the Orientation Game.


Wrap Up of Day 1

We hope you enjoyed the games and information presented today!  If you have questions, you can post them in our FAD Workshop FB Group here.  We would love to see your videos playing the games and hear your feedback from Day 1 of the FAD Workshop!



Penny Beeman

Owner of Yooper Paws of Love

Professional, Force Free, Dog Trainer

& Animal Behavior Consultant, ILLIS

Visit my website at: www.yooperpaws.com

Find us on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/YooperPawsOfLove/


Cindy Campbell

Owner of Cindy Campbell Dog Training

Visit my website at: https://cindycampbelldogtraining.com/

Find us Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/BrienwoodsAmericanFlyerNikolaRN

Working Paws Comment

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