[nagdu] [nagdu' new dog, sniffing, and scavenging
alyshaj at comcast.net
Wed Jul 30 21:08:59 UTC 2014
Raven, I completely agree with your post on corrections and distractions! In
my experience, corrections have never been an effective way to reduce
distracted behaviors for my dog, but redirecting his attention to obedience
exercises, etc. can sometimes make a huge difference. Hammer often thinks of
basic obedience sort of like a fun game. He can do easy tasks like sitting
and lying down and get tons of praise for doing them, so I've found it a
great way to positively re-focus his attention on me. I wonder why the
schools seem to put so much emphasis on corrections as the solution to
distractions. Is this method actually successful for enough people and dogs
to continue teaching it as the primary solution? From the handful of
handlers I've discussed this with, it doesn't seem likely that that is the
case. Personally, I think that a verbal correction or light one-handed
correction, followed by re-working a problem area, can be one helpful way of
solving problems like missing an indicated turn or over-running a curb. In
that case, you're letting the dog know they've done something incorrectly
and giving them a chance to try it again for the reward of treats or praise.
But especially in a high-excitement situation like dog distraction,
corrections seem to add extra drama instead of encouraging the calm demeanor
we want in our dogs. And I'm not convinced that 2-handed corrections,
high-collar corrections, etc. are effective or healthy for a working
relationship with a dog. Often I've heard trainers say that the goal of a
correction is just to get the dog's attention and not to hurt or cause
discomfort. A quick, light tug on the leash should get the dog's attention,
so if the dog still isn't responding appropriately, lack of attention
probably isn't the problem. So then why escalate to harsher corrections? I'd
love to hear other people's thoughts on this!
From: nagdu [mailto:nagdu-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Raven Tolliver
Sent: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 8:32 AM
To: Nicole Torcolini; NAGDU Mailing List, the National Association of Guide
Subject: Re: [nagdu] [nagdu' new dog, sniffing, and scavenging
I think what happens to many dogs is they develop bad habits in the kennels.
Sending a dog to a kennel for 4-6+ months after 1 to 1-1/2 years of living
in a house is similar to sending a child off to college after working hard
to ingrain them with good habits and manners while they lived with their
parents. The child will no longer have someone supervising the way they live
and maintain themselves/their living space, so those good habits go to pot
until they're in an environment or circumstance where they're expected to be
more responsible and well-maintained.
Obviously, the trainers work hard with the dogs' manners in-harness, but
that one-on-one time is not as effective as it would be if the dog was
living in a home. This is one of the reasons why I am so ra-ra kennel-free
training. The larger schools can't do that, but it definitely would put a
dent in the dogs coming out of the schools with bad habits.
When I first got the Golden Guy, he would pick stuff up off the floor and
out of low trash cans. My puppy-raisers said that it must have come from him
being a kennel dog, and that they had ensured that he would not scavenge or
beg. They told me to work on that with him to undo any bad habits he
developed in the kennels. With a few training sessions after I returned to
Michigan, I was able to remind him that he knew better.
I have also seen dogs come out of the kennels eat their own feces, jump up
on people or furniture inappropriately , and do other unacceptable
Corrections will not fix a habitual sniffer/scavenger, or any kind of
habitual distraction. With a distraction like this, you need to address the
problem actively rather than retroactively. Corrections are retroactive
because you're addressing the inappropriate behavior after it has happened.
That might be effective if the dog has not yet reaped the unintentional
rewards of being distracted time and time again. Unfortunately, that's not
You need to be a step ahead of your dog. Learn their body language so that
you know when your dog is about to go for something on the ground. This
information is important. Now, you can catch your dog before they even act
up. As I said in my earlier post, grab your dog's attention and give an
alternative. Sniffing can't happen if the dog sits or keeps moving along.
What I do with dogs is I start walking faster, bouncing the leash, and
speaking in an excited voice. "Come on! Let's go, let's go!" The dog
immediately refocuses and ignores the distraction.
I tried corrections with the Golden Guy when I first got him. He has a
moderate to high dog distraction. Corrections did nothing to help the
situation. If anything, it probably made it worse. When I switched to
positive methods, I was able to work with his distraction in a way that
didn't leave me frustrated, and feeling as though I had not changed a thing.
Positive methods made me think differently. What would I rather my dog do
than go for another dog? Well I would like him to simply move past it. But
we had to work our way up to that. I tried to get him to keep moving, but I
couldn't get him to focus on his work. So I had to break it down into baby
First, I would just have him sit whenever another dog would pass us up.
While he sat, I worked on getting his attention with my voice, sound cues,
and treats. Once I could get his attention, then I reapproached moving past
the dog. I first worked on this with him on-leash and out-of-harness. Then I
added the harness in after he was able to move past dogs while just
on-leash. Like I do with the other dogs I train, I would walk faster past
the dog, speak to him to keep him focused: "Let's go, buddy. Good job. Good
focus. focus, buddy. good work!" and pause to praise him up after we passed
the dog because it's quite a feat! Now this does not work 100% of the time,,
but his distraction is 80% better than it was when we started working
together. And for those times when he will not cooperate, we just sit and
wait it out, or I heel him past the dog. No corrections needed.
On 7/29/14, Nicole Torcolini via nagdu <nagdu at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> Sometimes, corrections followed by rewards can help stop a behavior,
> but it sounds as though that is not the case for you. Is there
> anything in particular that he does when he sniffs? Are there certain
> things that cause him to sniff more than others? Is there anything
> that you know will get his attention? For example, it gets the
> attention of some dogs if you just stop dead in your tracks and drop
> the harness handle. Did they tell you what to do about the sniffing in
> class? I wonder if his puppy raisers let him get away with sniffing.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Danielle Sykora [mailto:dsykora29 at gmail.com]
> Sent: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 6:21 AM
> To: Nicole Torcolini
> Subject: Re: [nagdu] [nagdu' new dog, sniffing, and scavenging
> Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. I agree with Raven. I want
> my dog to work for the possibility of rewards, not to avoid
> correction. Yes, corrections temporarily stop a behavior but they don't
fix it over time.
> When I correct my dog for sniffing, he stops for the moment but will
> start sniffing again a short time later. He has always been sniffy,
> even during class.
> On 7/27/14, Nicole Torcolini <ntorcolini at wavecable.com> wrote:
>> Was he sniffy during class, or is this a new behavior?
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: nagdu [mailto:nagdu-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Danielle
>> Sykora via nagdu
>> Sent: Sunday, July 27, 2014 9:51 AM
>> To: NAGDU Mailing List,the National Association of Guide Dog Users
>> Subject: [nagdu] [nagdu' new dog, sniffing, and scavenging
>> Hi all,
>> I returned home from GDF on Friday with my new dog, a male lab/golden
>> cross named Thai. Since we have gotten home, I have begun to avoid
>> using corrections, especially leash corrections. He tends to be quite
>> sniffy, especially in places with a lot of food. A firm "leave it"
>> usually is sufficient but it can be difficult to quickly get his
>> Also, he will scavenge for food and pick up dropped items which he
>> really should not be eating. This behavior mostly occurs out of
>> harness, but it is still undesirable. Any thoughts on decreasing
>> sniffing and strengthening food refusal skills using positive methods?
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>> nagdu at nfbnet.org
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