Tag Archives: anxious dog

Faith In Handler Drill

I wrote about this a long time ago. Back then I was calling it “Reverse BAT”.  But, now I call it the Faith In Handler Drill. After that article, a ton of people have asked me to demonstrate it. Here’s a video of me showing to a dog/handler for the first time.

Conditioned Relaxation Is NOT Massage.

OK……. Conditioned Relaxation is one of those hot topics going around. And, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last 6 months…… you’ve seen it. Or, at least heard it described. The typical view of CR goes like this:

“CR is using massage to get a dog relaxed.”

Massaging a dog until they relax IS NOT putting relaxation on cue!

I mean….. Yes……. you do need to use massage to get the dog relaxed. But that shouldn’t be the way it stays forever.

Look at Sit. I can push the butt to the floor to “create” sit. But if someone says “Did you teach your dog to sit?”, you wouldn’t say “Sure, watch.”, then push their butt down.

If you’re still pushing their butt down…… That dog don’t know sit!

There in lies the rub (pun).

People see the massage wrong.

The first mistake people make in CR with “touch” is they pet, scratch, or stroke the dog. And that might be “relaxing”…… But not on a Therapeutic level. If I went to a massage therapist and they gently stroked my hair…… Not what I need.

Then, once people realize the therapeutic benefit of touch, they begin to go to “work” on their dogs.

AND IT WORKS!!!

Then comes the second mistake.

Since it works, they keep using it.

Like people that say “My dog knows sit”, but they have to have food in hand!

You can get your dog relaxed but you’re still relying on the inducting method.

You’re still pushing on the butt, or grabbing a cookie for sit!

Like all solid obedience commands….. You want to wean of needing to induce, or coerce!

Have had a number of conversations over the past couple of weeks that has made me realize that people don’t “get” the idea that it’s an “obedience command”.

Some examples:

Woman dreads the toll booth, cause her dog blows up.

I, after suggesting crating the dog till they’re past the issue, said “Cool, work his CR until you can use it a the Toll Booth”.

She asked, “How am I supposed to massage him from the drivers seat at the toll booth?”.

Last night, I was doing a little clinic for a local rescue. Several of the volunteers were clients. And I was talking about dealing with difficult dogs. CR came up. I got a gut feeling the above example wasn’t a lone misunderstanding. And, I said…. “You guys know that CR isn’t just massaging your dog till they relax”.

And, holy shit……. almost every single one of the people that I HAD TAUGHT were shocked. Like…. kinda upset.

Like…… “What the fuck do yo mean it ain’t massage?!?!??!”

Now I know break things down well. And, I know that I am very careful in my teaching to avoid misguided learning. And, if my own clients, I taught myself, are confused about that…….

There’s no way folks out on the interwebs trying to self teach aren’t fucking that up.

And there’s no way the skeptic “CR is bullshit” crowd isn’t using that as reasons to dismiss.

Hell, that WOULD be bullshit.

You can’t give your dog a 10 minute deep tissue massage every time you drive through the toll booth!

But…. you have to induce it to “capture” it.

Food goes up- butt goes down. Once that’s reliable you name it sit. Once they “know” it….. you fade off the food.

CR is the same…. Massage to induce relaxation. Name it. Fade off massage.

Both are oversimplified….. there is more to food luring & CR but, you get the point.

Anyway, if you’re still reliant on food lures, leash pressure, or butt pushing…… Your Sit isn’t “finished”.

If you’re still breaking out the massage table for a long session…… Your CR isn’t finished.

Yeah…. It’s kinda the defining feature.

But it’s not the “END”.

For more info on CR:

Go directly to the source. Kayce Cover!

Chad Mackin covers CR in his Dogmanship Workshop.

And I do it in several of my workshops as well!

Extinction Burst

You walk up to the elevator.

Push the button…… Wait.

Push the button…… Wait.

Push the button…… Wait.

“One more fucking time, and I’m taking the stairs” you say.

Push the button…… PUSH THAT STUPID PIECE OF SHIT BUTTON 55 GOD DAMN TIMES!!!!!!

Quit, and take the stairs.

That’s the extinction burst.

It’s the burst or “trying” that happens just before the quit.

OK. So what’s this got to do with dogs.

When people are training, I watch an epic “Race To The Extinction Burst” play out.

Here’s the scene. They are teaching their dog to stay. The dog breaks once every 3 minutes. The person calmly replaces them. The dog starts to have his extinction burst AND STARTS BREAKING EVERY 5 SECONDS. The people mistake it for them being “dominant”, or “falling apart”. They get exasperated. And start sounding that way when they replace them. Goes from a real easy “no”, to “UUUGHH God Dammit…. NOOOO”.

Dog thinks…… “Hmmmm……. I think Mom/Dad’s about to quit”

And, they’re right. Mom/Dad quits.

And, they just taught their dog to really be persistent if they want a human to give up.

Son of a bitch.

I Think dogs still watch body language. And intention. So, they subconsciously understand what they’re seeing. They can tell you’re breaking.

But, even if you believe that dogs are just classical conditioning machines, you have to see that your frustration at their extinction burst preceded your quitting. That teaches them what your frustration means. THE QUIT IS COMING!

So…..

Understand that when your dog is going through that, you just have to hold on. If you don’t show your quitting “tell”, they will eventually give up and “take the stairs”.

If you do that consistently in the beginning, the dog will have the clarity of knowing you don’t quit! And the whole game of “obedience chicken” will cease.  Remember, It’s not the “structure” dogs need. It’s the Clarity.

This concept of consistency, and clarity in training, will make HUGE headway to that end.

Now, get your poker face on and show your dog you don’t quit!

Those “Graduation” Moments

This is Firkin. She used to be super reactive. If anyone listens to the Podcast…. She’s the one that snapped the long line and went Zombie style on the door I narrowly exited.

But that was then…….

THIS. Is now.

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This was outside a Starbucks in a strip mall. There’s a grocery store, a pet store, and a children’s bus stop there. No small feat!

Notice, the leash. Definitely prepared in case there’s a mistake…. But, loose from Firkin’s perspective. Not adding any negative energy. Her owner is learning to trust her ability to make good decisions.

New life for Firkin!

Good job.

Advanced Socialization Seminar: Saco Maine!

Finish Forward Dogs presents…

Pack to Basics™ Advanced Socialization Solutions
with Chad Mackin!

When: Saturday April 26 & Sunday April 27, 2014

Where: 30 Spring Hill Rd. Saco, ME. 04072

Contact: Shannan Nutting, Jay Jack, and Amanda Buckner
info@finishforwarddogs.com
207-251-2296

Time: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm (Both days, may run slightly longer.)

Fee: $349 per person/dog

*All spaces are on a first-come-first-serve basis, and space is limited.

A system that builds dogs’ social skills to balance their lives…

The key to Pack To Basics is to use the dogs’ naturally strong social behavior to reduce stress and fear; build confidence and language skills, allowing for many common behavior problems to slip away. This is an approach like none other! No punishment and no traditional training is needed to radically improve a dog’s behavior in and out of the home.

Dog aggression? Reduced or resolved in a couple of hours in many cases.

Rambunctiousness? Dogs quickly learn to moderate their own behavior.

Excess energy? Drain your dog of the frustration that causes destructive chewing, anxiety and much more.

Pack to Basics is a comprehensive approach to canine socialization, specifically geared towards dogs with known socialization issues. It includes everything from the initial evaluation to pre-training dogs before they can enter the social arena and preparing the questionable dogs to safely enter the socialization classes.

Pack to Basics is an advanced socialization process that focuses on the dogs that are typically excluded from doggie daycares and other socialization venues. Because of this fact, Pack to Basics offers us an opportunity to help dogs that otherwise might not be able to ever run with other dogs.

Our Pack to Basics classes are revolutionary in their approach and in their results. By allowing dogs with difficulties getting along with other dogs to interact with the right kinds of dogs, they learn not merely to control their aggressive behavior, but to actually enjoy getting along with other dogs.

The two day Pack to Basics workshop is a fun and informative workshop designed to enable dog trainers to share the benefits of Pack to Basics socialization with their clients and their dogs.

Pack to Basics is a unique system for socializing dogs who otherwise might not be allowed to socialize in dog parks and doggie daycares because of anti-social tendencies. We have seen amazing results in hundreds of dogs who have been labeled dog aggressive or dangerous by other dog professionals.

Included in your Pack To Basics Workshop:
• The causes of aggression, the number one reason dogs fight, and how to quickly stop a dog fight. • How to recognize true dog aggression versus bad manners and poor social skills.
• How to evaluate dogs, and their owners prior to the class.
• How to prepare dogs and clients who need some work before socializing.
• How to safely run a class, and how to recognize trouble brewing before it becomes trouble. • When to let things go and when to step in, as well as how to safely step in.

We use a combination of videos, live demonstrations, active socialization sessions, and discussion to reach all students. While the workshop is designed for dog professionals, many dog owners have attended these workshops over the years and all have learned a lot and had a great time. Running Pack to Basics classes is the most valuable thing I offer my clients and it allows me to quickly solve problems other trainers take months or even years to solve.

What is Pack to Basics?
Pack to Basics is the best answer to the socialization question. It is more than merely letting the dogs run together. It begins with proper evaluation of the dog, continues through pre-training dogs who aren’t ready to socialize off leash, and finally it ends with safely socializing dogs who are ready. Workshop attendees can expect two informative days about dog aggression, canine body language, canine socialization. Each day will include lecture, practical work, and video presentations. Every workshop is different because the dogs at each workshop will be different.

Who should attend P2B workshops?
P2B workshops are open to any adults who want to attend. While the workshops are geared for professionals, there is usually one or more dog owner attending who just wants to understand their dog better. The feedback from them is always positive. The program avoids a lot of jargon and instead relies on plain English to communicate ideas so people of all backgrounds can usually follow. However, the material is best-suited for those with dog experience.

Are you a dog trainer?
Learn how to cure your clients problems quicker than ever before possible in a way that will be fun for your owners and their dogs. Bring clients back over, and over again into your business by offering occasional social classes. Your services will be so unique that you should expect more referral business than ever before.

Own or work at a Doggy Daycare?
Learn how to evaluate dogs to determine who is safe to play and who is not. You’ll immediately benefit as you avoid damage to your clients’ dogs. By offering a solution for problematic dogs, you’ll turn unacceptable dogs into your customers…and those people will bring their friends. Also, bring your key staff members. Help them learn dog handling and dog safety rules for dogs at play. Keep your staff and your investment safer.

Are you a pet sitter or dog walker?
Know what to look for when socializing dogs together in your environment or theirs. Make progress with dog behaviors that the average sitter or walker will never understand. You’ll become the “go to” professional in your location.

Can I bring a dog?
Please do! While the workshop could be done without any dogs (we have enough videos to make up the difference) there is a real benefit to having dogs there for practical demonstrations and practice. Any kind of dog will be useful. Some dogs are not suitable for socialization sessions, but they are valuable for the workshop nonetheless because their evaluations are the most important. However, all dogs should be crate trained, attendees will need to provide their own crate.

Can I see video of what this all looks like?
You can see a video at www.packtobasics.com. The focus of the video is a dog named Ringo who was in danger of being euthanized by Southeast Texas Lab Rescue because of his aggressive behavior towards other dogs. After a little less than two weeks we shot the video of Ringo running with a group of other dogs in an 2,000 square foot room.

Who is teaching the workshop?
Chad Mackin will be teaching the workshop. Chad has been training dogs professionally since March of 1993. He developed Pack to Basics after being introduced to Large Field Socialization by Dick Russell. Chad immediately recognized the value in what was happening and set about finding a way to make it work in smaller spaces. Chad brought all his years of experience with difficult and aggressive dogs to the problem and over time Chad developed the program presented in workshops today. Chad is a former President of The International Association of Canine Professionals, as well as the current Director of Training for A+ Dog Obedience in Webster, TX. He has presented on Pack To Basics at the IACP Conference in Hutto TX, and at National K-9 school for dog trainers, as well as private facilities across the US and in Canada.
Please see his website for more information: www.PacktoBasics.com You can also join his on-line community at: www.facebook.com/Pack-to-Basics and www.twitter.com/PackToBasics

Will I receive a Certificate of Attendance?

A Certificate of Attendance will be provided!

When: Saturday April 26th & Sunday April 27th, 2014 Where: 30 Spring Hill Rd., Saco, ME 04072
Time: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm (Both days, may run slightly longer.)
Fee: $349 per person/dog

To Register – Mail Check & April2014 – Socialization – Maine to:
Finish Forward Dogs Inc.
30 Spring Hill Rd.
ME 04072

For more information, please contact Jay Jack:

Email: 3badbullies@gmail.com

Phone: (207) 712-5955

7 Mistakes You’re Making In Behavior Modification

I found a really cool article on Sacramento Dog Behavior on the 7 common mistakes people make in their Behavior Modification work. It’s really interesting. Check it out:

7 Mistakes You’re Making In Behavior Modification

YOU’RE TOO CLOSE

Are you afraid of spiders? Me too. But I’m not running around and screaming because of the freakishly large spiders in South America. Why? Because they’re too far away to present a threat to me.

Distance affects reactivity. The closer you get to something you fear, the greater your level of stress. Once the stress reaches a certain level, the brain tells us to react in some way that increases our chance of survival, which can include avoidance…or aggression. The other thing the brain tells us is to stop wasting energy on non-essential functions in that moment. Like eating. Or thinking.

If your dog is exhibiting any type of avoidance or aggression in the presence of a dog, person, or other trigger, you are too close (early warning sign – your normally polite dog starts painfully ripping the treats from your hand). Anything you attempt at this level is only going to amount to temporary suppression of behavior, which is not the same as changing the underlying emotion behind the behavior.

Behavior modification happens at a distance the dog is aware of the trigger but not showing any negative reaction, often referred to as under-threshold. If your dog reacts, MOVE. Get her out of the situation and to a distance that she can give you a behavior you can reward.

YOU’RE TOO LATE

So, you don’t like clickers because they seem gimmicky, and you don’t want to say “Yes!” because it sounds silly. Frankly, I don’t care what sound you use, but if you’re going to be effective, you MUST have great timing. You will never have great timing with just the treat in your pocket.

The point of a clicker (or “yes!” or a click of your tongue, or whatever) is that you have a unique sound that marks the moment of your dog’s brilliance. That sound has been consistently paired with rewards so that the moment your dog hears it, the reward centers of the brain start churning out dopamine, which feels good. So, even if you are caught digging around in the pocket of your jeans for the treat, you’ve still captured the behavior the instant it happened, increasing the chance that your dog will do it again next time.

Why not just use “good dog/boy/girl?” Well, because it’s slower but, more importantly, you probably don’t give your dog a food reward after saying it, so it doesn’t have the association needed to have that feel good effect. Worse, if you say “Good boy” before patting your dog on the head, which he hates, you could be using a marker that has a bad association.

Things can happen quickly with a reactive dog and if you don’t instantly capture that brilliant moment your dog looks at you the moment he spots a new dog, you’re going to end up rewarding the wrong thing.

Read More….

Calming Signal Or Stress Signal

Apparently, there’s a little “controversy” going on regarding “calming” signals.

Some people call them calming signals, and mean that they are signals that the dog is calming down. As in, they are self soothing, and those are the “tells”.

Other people say that they are “stress” signals. As in, the dog is worried and feeling anxious, and those signs are their “tells”. I’m not talking about ALL “stress signals”. I’m talking about the overlapping ones. Obviously, “Whale Eye” isn’t a “Calming Signal”. The arguments occur in the overlapping ones. “Yawning”, “Shake Offs”, Etc…..

Still, other people say that they are trying to calm other beings down. This is popular socialization circles. They see the dog doing “Shake Offs” and feel like it’s not a “tell” of their feelings, but that they are actually trying to signal the other dog to calm down.

These discussions can get heated.

(Of course….. everything gets heated on the internet)

So…. Who’s right?

They all are.

Dogs use signals for all of those reasons.

Communication evolves. And here is my opinion of how these developed.

Dogs naturally display certain indicators of relaxation. These are the classic indicator type of calming signals. The dog isn’t consciously doing them. They are “tells” of their deepening relaxation.

When this is done enough….. Dogs have trained themselves in conditioned relaxation. As in, they associate those actions with a deepening sense of relaxation, and when they start feeling stressed, they do them in an attempt to induce the sensation associated with it. It’s the same signals designed to self soothe. Same signals….. Drastically different causes.

This happens when they interact with other Dogs. They feel stressed, and so they display those signals. The other dogs see this and (if they aren’t rude little shits) back off a bit. Dogs see the pattern, and realize that those signals can induce relaxation in others. Now they are using them as a communication. Same signals…. Another TOTALLY different cause.

Damn…..

That doesn’t seem helpful.

If they can mean all three things, how are you supposed to know what they mean?

Ah….. The same way that you know your wife is pissed, before she says a word. The same way you know your best friend has a secret they’re just dying to tell you. You get to fucking know your dog!

The same expression can mean they are getting calm, and that calm is leaking out. They’re getting stressed and trying to self regulate. Hell, they can literally be asking you for help with that same signal! As in “Mom….. help! I’m scared of that!”.

Your main job in this relationship (hell in ANY relationship) is to learn their communication. It’s about very subtle differences, and context.

If my dog is laying in front of a fire place and yawns….. He’s probably deepening into “relaxed”. That’s a calming signal.

If I’m having him face some of his issues during training and he yawns. He’s probably self soothing. And that’s a stress signal.

If he’s playing in the yard with dogs, and yawns out of nowhere, and that’s just before play stopped for a second. That was a calming signal as in “hey let’s take it down a notch”.

You have to go through training and life experiences with your dog until you “know” what they’re saying.

So, they’re all right.

Pay attention to your dog, and let them tell you what they mean.

Next time you are on the internet with someone over the meaning of dog signals….

Quickly look over your shoulder and see if your dogs isn’t sitting there just trying to tell you something.

It’s a relationship. Go relate.