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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What a week! Beau will be 8 months next Wednesday and is giving me a run for my money but we ended the week on a high note so I wanted to share with you all who have helped me by reading and commenting.
First celebratory event with backstory first - some of you may recall the issues with crating that we’ve had from the start. Beau has never settled in a crate, never fell asleep in a crate, never quieted in a crate, nothing ever. Keep in mind, I have been crating him starting with tiny increments of time since the day he came to me (Oct 11). He has screamed constantly every single time and not like a fussy cry for a few minutes then settles - a full-on blood curdling scream. BUT....I am pleased ro report that Monday I was able to get him to settle and crate for 30 minutes (8 for 10!) and actually go to the little market across the street for some overpriced groceries.. Tuesday wasn’t great with 15 minutes spent screaming and scratching (5 for 10). Wednesday and Thursday were a little better but not much at about 15 mins or so (6 for 10) and Friday was nominally better; I crated him while I was present in my office working on a deadline and got 25 minutes where he settled after 5 minutes but whined the rest of the time. Today´s victory - I got him crated for 45 minutes!!! He screamed for 4 minutes then laid down and whined on and off until he FELL SLEEP about 28 minutes in! Huzzah! I was able to go to the proper supermarket which was amazing!
Second reason to celebrate which is actually just a little brag (I need it after this week) on our training. Every day, I do a lot of training with Beau. From formal sessions outside to incidental things in the house and today was no different, except I filmed it. We spent a few minutes working on everything (except heel) and I taught him a new trick - poke. Hey, if I use a natural behavior and trickify it, who can blame me. :giggle: It was a good session and he seems to really enjoy working. You can see our session here:
Now, if I can get him to settle when he sees another dog on our walks life will become a whole lot easier. I am working with a trainer, going back to basics (redirecting with a treat, pulling an about face heel, etc) but if you experts have any advice I am open to it. He does not growl, he does not lunge. He stares as I do my best to redirect and then he starts ’talking’ and it sounds like the Exorcist beast. Not what you want Doberman-fearful folk to see/hear.

BUT enough about that, I am taking these victories above to bed with a glass of wine and a tired puppy. Thanks for reading!!
 

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So. "Go train Beau"... Very Good MMc ! (with imaginary treat)

Seriously though, he is doing a very good job training you. Uh, I mean...

And Mel said, Il est beau! But, I guess you must have known that when you named him. LOL

John Lichtwardt
Portland OR
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
@ECIN, thank you! It’s a marathon, not a sprint, right? After the vexing week we had, I needed that. Ha! That is my zebra wood tenor ukelele. Sadly, Beau is unimpressed when I play but he sure loves the songs I make up for him. In fact, I made up a song this morning. 🎶🎵🎶🎶This is MY coffee, it’s not for you, this is my coffee and you have to shoo🎶🎶🎵🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
@LadyDi, thank you! It has come in handy to redirect him but we still need work to do it the first time, every time. He has this adorable little trick that when we come inside and I try to hang up my coat, he bites at it. Now, I tell him ‘go place’ and problem solved.....after I have 2 holes that need to be repaired in my down coat.😳
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
OK I should have known that an intellectual is also a poet and she do not even no no it.....
At least you appreciate it. The pup just thinks my signing means He gets my full attention...which is true. Hey, @4x4bike ped WAS correct, Beau is training me. 😁
 

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Congrats! Little successes keep you going :)

As far as the fixating on other dogs goes.... Some people really like the "Look at That" game from Control Unleashed. I've seen varying levels of success with it. Some people have had good success with BAT (Grisha Stewart's method). I've seen some people have excellent success with that.

When Sypha was young, her arousal level started going up seeing other dogs, and given my past experience with a highly, highly reactive dog I needed to take care of that. Given her temperament and who she was, what worked with her was getting distance (and I would say that's factor number one in pretty much every scenario) when we were out on walks), and then teaching a focus on me. She loves, loves, loves to be "correct" and get rewarded, so she loved to earn a reward for her "look" at my eyes. I either use that, or I use a "scatter" of treats on the ground, which is also a really effective method for dogs that aren't SUPER worried about other dogs - the treat scatter is a distraction as well as classical conditioning at the same time.

Edited to add, I also had Sypha constantly in classes with other dogs, which was also really important.

The other two methods are probably better for dogs that are worried or very over aroused with other dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Congrats! Little successes keep you going :)

As far as the fixating on other dogs goes.... Some people really like the "Look at That" game from Control Unleashed. I've seen varying levels of success with it. Some people have had good success with BAT (Grisha Stewart's method). I've seen some people have excellent success with that.

When Sypha was young, her arousal level started going up seeing other dogs, and given my past experience with a highly, highly reactive dog I needed to take care of that. Given her temperament and who she was, what worked with her was getting distance (and I would say that's factor number one in pretty much every scenario) when we were out on walks), and then teaching a focus on me. She loves, loves, loves to be "correct" and get rewarded, so she loved to earn a reward for her "look" at my eyes. I either use that, or I use a "scatter" of treats on the ground, which is also a really effective method for dogs that aren't SUPER worried about other dogs - the treat scatter is a distraction as well as classical conditioning at the same time.

Edited to add, I also had Sypha constantly in classes with other dogs, which was also really important.

The other two methods are probably better for dogs that are worried or very over aroused with other dogs.
Thank you! This is excellent advice. Yes, the need/desire to nip any reactivity in the bud is critical for me. I love to hike/walk/camp and explore my city and plan to have Beau accompany me so we need to be calm and collected in all situations. I had a rescue Boxer that was super reactive to all things and it was not a great experience. I learned a lot but it was exhausting and his quality of life was diminished because he couldn’t go anywhere.

I will explore both the ”LAT” and the BAT methods today and appreciate the recommendations!

Beau knows “look” in the house, in the halls, the elevator and the lobby when no one or just people are around - add a dog that goes out the window - but we are working on it. He knows “find it” to seek out treats or kibble scattered and that does seem to be effective when a dog is on the horizon.

In puppy class he loved all the other dogs but was very vocal about it. Working my private trainer, he brought his 2 Malinois as distraction and Beau was fine doing heeling exercises and not looking at either dog but in the past 2 weeks he has decided to be very aware. Given that I want to try competing in Novice Rally, I really want to fix this.

I am working to determine his distance bubble and am always careful to keep it big. I will note that Friday he was doing great and then, a person with a small dog pulling at the harness walked within 15 feet, despite me moving us further away and the little dog barked to which Beau responded with sounds of a demonic possession as we walked away.
In the past few days, I have really started to ramp up his distraction training and it seems to be going pretty well. We just got back from 30 minutes of outside training at the churchyard and we saw 6 dogs (all at separate times) across the street and heard a dog in a house barking his head off (ostensibly in the window watching us) and the quick high happy tone of voice and heel around the yard worked well. We did place and down on the 20ft lead with lots of distractions and he did well overall. I’d give it a 9 for 10. Now, he is sacked out (yay!).

How is Sypha now? Do you have to be hyper vigilant or were you able to get her righted?
 

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I understand how you feel - having a reactive dog can leave you with some PTSD. I've been there. I don't want to rehash my experience with my first Doberman - it was really traumatic. I loved her, and she taught me so much. Her story is all over this forum in bits and pieces and long time members know it, but...owning that kind of dog really changes you. And she was my first dog.

In any case, it actually took some time with Richter, to learn not to have expectations of a dog BEING reactive. To be calm, and to know that he was normal. So there was some of that...to let go. If you have any of that going on...that could be a factor, too. Dogs will absolutely sense it.

With Sypha, she's really normal. When I saw it cropping up, I knew it was normal for the breed to simply be that "aware" of other dogs. I didn't panic. It really, really helped that she was regularly exposed to normal experiences with others. She was having a lot of class time where she didn't expect to interact with anyone, and knew that I "had her back." She's very much a "rules" dog...she has clear expectations of how things "should" be and doesn't like things to deviate from that plan! So it helps that I don't ever let my dogs interact with other dogs on-leash. When we're in class or on walks, that's a no. (And yes, we've absolutely been charged by off-leash dogs...it sucks. I get out in front of my dogs, and there's a whole protocol, but that's for a different thread). But Sypha also had positive interactions with dogs off-leash that were trusted, too. I personally think that helped, but my dogs are dogs that do that and will do that ...it may not be something that you care about.

I never needed to be hypervigilant, just on my game for a while to be sure I was proactive. I still reinforce regularly, but it's reasonably casual. She doesn't especially care about walking past other dogs when they are across the other side of the street. She notices, and she looks at me - I do generally reinforce that, because I like that behavior. She absolutely does NOT like being barked at by insane dogs behind a fence if we're super close to the fence - that will get her fairly aroused, but she doesn't go nuts - she just looks at me like, hey, you going to do something? Can we hustle past them with some treats here? And I don't blame her for that - I don't like it either. And we don't have those situations often.

She will also look at me when we are in close quarters with other dogs in buildings or something and we have to patiently wait our turn, but she's not really aroused, just trying to earn a cookie. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
@MeadowCat thank you. That is all incredibly encouraging and useful. I know that PTSD and I know my emotions go right down the leash. Working on getting Beau some off-leash time with trusted dogs as I know he loved my mother’s dogs and likely misses the playtime he had with them. Beau is very food motivated so I appreciate knowing that ‘working for the cookie’ has been successful. I think @melbrod put in a recent thread ’one step forward, two steps back, do-si-do, cha cha cha’ or something like that - the Doberman training dance. 😎
 

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I think one other thing that probably helps is that I still have some measures in place in my house from when I had my very reactive dog...didn't think too much about that but I remembered yesterday. Our main level windows are still covered with the window clings that are like frosted glass - lets in light, but the dogs can't see out. So they never got into a habit of watching things go by in the street and barking at them and getting all worked up. I do think that makes a difference - I see so many dogs on our walks that watch dogs (and people) walk by every day and just work themselves into a frenzy. Little things like that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I think one other thing that probably helps is that I still have some measures in place in my house from when I had my very reactive dog...didn't think too much about that but I remembered yesterday. Our main level windows are still covered with the window clings that are like frosted glass - lets in light, but the dogs can't see out. So they never got into a habit of watching things go by in the street and barking at them and getting all worked up. I do think that makes a difference - I see so many dogs on our walks that watch dogs (and people) walk by every day and just work themselves into a frenzy. Little things like that.
Another excellent idea! Ordering frosted clings today!!
 

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Had some more meandering thoughts I thought I'd put down for you...came to me as I was walking the dogs today :)

So much of what I do really comes down to trusting my instincts and knowing my dog, and being a pretty good judge of the dogs we see as we're out and about. Is the dog approaching us on high alert, straining on their leash, or are they relaxed and ignoring us? Is their owner paying attention? Are they on a normal leash, or a flexi?

Is this the early part of the walk, when Sypha is more hyped up about being out? Or is it the end of the walk, when she's more tired and relaxed? Or, maybe it's the end of the walk, but we've walked past 4 dogs that have been straining/lunging at the end of their leashes, and she's just over it... Is this a time when I can see that the dog coming our way is just...not one I want to walk by, so I turn the corner or turn around, because a longer walk is a small price to pay for a dog that is calm and doesn't have to deal with that?

I don't know if all of this makes sense, but it's really sort of a constant assessment of your dog's state of mind and body language, knowing how they react and what the best course of action is. It's being really aware of the environment without being stressed by it, and being proactive about it.

Today's walk - I walked both dogs together (I prefer to walk them separately, for a lot of reasons, but sometimes it's just more practical to do one walk). Early on in the walk, I see a standard poodle approaching...the poodle is pulling toward us and the owner is starting to move off the sidewalk to give more space. My dogs are entranced by some turned up grass on the side of the sidewalk because we're in a park...the sniffs are SO good. I simply step a ways into the grass and drop a handful of kibble. They are already sniffing, so a simple "find it" means they never even look up at the poodle. Both Sypha and the poodle are happy with this.

Later, we see another dog, enough distance that Sypha doesn't care at all.

Dogs behind fence barking like maniacs - we're across the street. Sypha walks over for a treat. I can tell she doesn't really care, but why not reinforce?

Final dog on the walk - I see from about 3/4 of a block away...we turn down a different block. That dog is on edge. Not worth it.

That's how my walks go...
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
@MeadowCat thank you! It is great to read your experience and management techniques with Dobermans And I appreciate the time you took to provide me more detail and experience.

What you wrote is pretty close to what I do (and have done for years) and I have found that while my Boxers were aware of their surroundings, Beau makes them look comatose. He is incredibly alert so I’ve begun to do a lot of redirection work and insta-training moments every time we go outside. I am also trying to chill the eff out and not worry what others may think when he starts talking. He is not the first dog to bark in DC and he won’t be the last.

I love that you wrote about ”find it” That is the 3rd thing I taught Beau as a little pup. Coincidentally, I tried the “find it” myself with kibble this morning and it worked really well. I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me before now, I was just shoving treats in his face. Clearly I am not the Queen of the Obvious.

On hour mid-morning walk of 45 minutes we encountered 5 dogs and it was a big improvement over last week.
  • The first 2 dogs were heading towards us on the sidewalk of a busy street where there is no room to get off onto the shoulder or to move onto a busy street or about face fast enough, so Beau and I did circular heeling on the tiny spot of grass by the street with his favorite treat as they walked by (choking themselves at the end of extendi-leashes) within 4 feet. He did really well, there was a bit of barking and demonic yodeling but it was much improved.
  • The 3rd and 4th were across the street or across a field and I was quickly able to redirect as they were both more than 50 yards away.
  • The 5th we saw coming up the street about 30 feet away so we took a hard left up the alley and wound our way back to the street but wouldn’t you know it, they had the same idea and we met them at the corner of the two alleys. Beau was surprised, as was I, but the owner was conscientous and had her dog shored up well and after some quick redirecting and backward glances we were on our way.
One of my favorite books is How to Speak Dog and I reread it at least once a year. Body posture, ear and tail set, and more help me to help my dogs but Beau is more dog than I‘ve ever had. Even more than a 150 pound Boxer/Dogue de Bordeaux cross we had in rescue who was labeled aggressive (huge pussy cat, called him Ferdinand).

When you treat are you using high value treats or her kibble now that she knows the deal?

I feel like Beau and I will make great strides with this but it sure is something to see/hear a punky teenage Doberman “yodel” at dogs. It either terrifies passers-by and amps up the idiots that expect a fight. I can do without either segment.
 

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As just a quick response (about to have a quick Zoom meeting) - I used to use higher value treats with her, but now mostly kibble).
 
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