Doggie DI Boot Camp–Day Five

Imagine my surprise when the delinquent duo refrained from jumping on the gate when I approached. Of course, I had to make a big fuss over their change in behavior because the gate issue is a big one.

Don’t think for one minute that they were good as gold on the other aspects of gate work, no sir. In case you don’t know, “gate crashing” and “door dashing” are the terms used for such behavior. Most people have some sort of problem with this type of issue and the key is to teach boundaries and not to slack off and make exceptions to the rule.

In most cases, people get tired of making their pets adhere to the rules. Pets are more persistent. The camp owner lamented that she hoped that the dog owners would maintain the behavior changes once the dogs go home. More often than not, people won’t do the work to maintain the new work.

I remember a couple of dobermans who had been in training with a Los Angeles based trainer and the owners called me because they were unhappy with the results. The dogs were awful but I suspect that the people did not maintain the work that had been done.

Trainers and behaviorists can correct and train better behavior but it is up to the household to maintain it. That requires work and accountability. The pups will go home with a list of commands and a regime for maintaining the good behavior. They are going to need an hour of off site exercise per day plus training reviews and consistent rules on a daily basis.

The rest of boot camp day five was the same old struggle. Crating with this pair is sometimes good and sometimes not. The ideal is to say, “crate” and to have the animal go into the crate the first time. The pair feed off of each other so that doesn’t always happen at first. However, by the end of each working day they both are better at compliance.

I got to see how the two reacted to ranch animals outside in the real world. The dogs both ignore the horses, llamas, and miniture ponies when they are behind a fence. BUT this changes for dog A when the animals are out on the trail.

The camp owner told me the dogs are showing aggression in their quarters when other animals pass by. I got to witness it several times as I stayed to visit with the camp staff after yesterday’s session.

Territoriality and barrier frustration are two big problems that are usually found in dogs that are kept outside and are exposed to external stimuli–that triggers barking and fence fighting or running. I mentioned this before when I was talking about barking problems, the behavior gets worse because the perceived threat or stimulus appears to be “driven away” by the behavior of the dog behind the fence.

Yesterday, I was able to verbally tell the dogs to “knock it off” and they ceased the behavior. In the next week or two I will be taking them to different locations to see if I can get them to maintain the behavioral changes in other environments and around other people. I suspect that when I introduce someone else to the gate, and other variables, that they will fail to maintain the current trend.

I call the upcoming changes exposure to different “levels of distraction.” We are in high distraction at the camp but even so, these dogs go into stimulus overload and trigger off movement and the energies of each other. It just escalates.

In your home situation, you might see that your dog does well with the family but that if you have company–they go hog wild. OR you might have good behavior in the home or yard, but not in public. This is because you have to gradually build up to maintaining behavior in higher levels of distraction.

Anyway, I started the “sit” behavior on command yesterday. They dogs did okay but not super great. They both get into a mindset that reminds me of horses that are herd bound and want to head back to the barn. Once they assume we are heading back–they cease to pay attention. They anticipate reuniting with one another and prefer that dynamic.

This is why when training any animal you should use as many variables as possible so you are not too predictable. Consistency versus predictability is an article I wrote that you might want to check out to learn more about this.

The duo both wanted attention last night but were so crazed that I actually had to leave the pen. This is one area they need a lot of work. They compete against each other and they also have always pushed themselves onto people for attention. Since they don’t always respond to the water syringe reprimand (or any reprimands in that heightened state) the best thing to do in my arsenal is to withdraw.

So, I hope you are picking up some tips as I journal this experience for you. Stay tuned–there will be more!

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  1. I forgot to mention that the duo were better on the fit pitching–and because they did well–I brought them their favorite “toys” empty water bottles! They were in doggie heaven…