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Pesto's got your back
11th February 2009, 09:01 PM
I haven't been on here for a while, but I'm in need of some input. Pesto is generally a nice friendly dog, but over the past year (he is now 2 1/2 years old) he has been retaliating with growls/snaps/bites (no puncture) when he is approached and knows he's doing something wrong.

Our dog trainer recommended having a pinch collar (*not* a choke chain) on him at home with a short leash, and giving him a sharp and quick yank when he acts up like this.

It has helped when we have the chance to use it, but that doesn't seem to lessen the intensity of a later incident. It's almost like he can't control himself. My wife had him in the car today and he got into a rawhide he was not supposed to. He had the collar on but not a leash. She got the rawhide away from him but then had to move him off of her seat, which is when he snapped and bit her (teeth marks on the hand but no puncture). He was still thinking he was under threat of discipline when she moved him, so he retaliated.

I raised Pesto myself so I know he doesn't have a history of abuse (of course there was a learning curve in understanding the appropriate correction for the bad behavior, but nothing that could be described as abusive). I've read that unless this sort of aggressive behavior is present in the puppy at a very young age, it is fixable. I'm just wondering if the pinch collar with a short leash is the best method - it works on the spot, but long term is he really learning respect? I haven't seen evidence yet - and how long to expect improvement if it is to come.

His little snappy bouts are not random. It's only when he thinks someone is reaching out to him to correct or move him when he's being bad and knows it. Usually he's chewing on something he know is off limits or might be taken away. Since we plan to start having kids soon, I wonder what method and timeline we should expect in order to have an improved dog within a year or so.

We're thinking some other changes might help too. We're kicking him off of the bed as of tonight, and no more perching on top of the back of the couch, etc unless invited.

Thoughts?

joe

Karlin
11th February 2009, 09:18 PM
Oh my God. Please get another trainer who uses rewards based training, please read www.smcavalier.com (http://www.smcavalier.com) so that it is clear why no cavalier should ever, ever, ever be in a prong collar, and please buy one of Dr Ian Dunbar's excellent guidebooks for training so that you have a good respurce to start to address this serious problem before it accelerates further.

A snapping dog is a VERY serious problem. Trying to manage this through punishment is one probable way of making the problem worse (setting aside that most dogs snap because of fear, and by punishing, you are making him more fearful and reinforcing the snapping!). What you are describing is simple resource guarding. It is easy to positively train away from. By grabbing things then punishing your are reinforcing his own fear and the fact that he needs to defend things he wants even more aggressively. (PS a dog isn't misbehaving by finding treats it is interested in if people failed to safely put them away -- it is just normal, natural behaviour for him to seek out something like this! Unless you have him perfectly trained for a downstay, that is... which most owners do not. Otherwise how does he 'know' the treats -- which you would give him later -- are not to be had now? You have trained him to expect them, after all :)! And yf a dog is safely crated in a car (it should never be loose on the seat) then you also eliminate any ability for it to get into things in the first place -- and he will travel in far greater safety than if outside a crate. Management techniques often solve most problems!)

In addition, no dog 'knows' it is doing wrong. It sounds like he has learned to read from people's actions that they are about to punish him, and in fear, he retaliates in advance by warning off (growling and snapping).

If he continues to be trained in this matter, you are probably going to end up with a dog that bites and then ends up being put down. :(

A trainer with APDT or CPDT certification is what you want. The websites for these organisations have searchable databases by location for qualified trainers.

Karlin
11th February 2009, 09:33 PM
I'm not sure what he's doing wrong but these are some excellent sites for addressing unwanted behaviour in a constructive, productive, successful way that will make him unlikely to turn and snap in the first place:

http://www.wagntrain.com/TrainingTips.htm
http://www.siriuspup.com/behavior_problems.html
www.dogstardaily.com
http://www.petplace.com/dog-behavior-library.aspx
http://www.diamondsintheruff.com/behavior.html

Some resources:

http://www.dogstardaily.com/blogs/getting-grip-aggression
http://deesdogs.com/documents/dontriskpunishing.pdf


POSITIVE VS. PUNITIVE TRAINING TECHNIQUES: WHAT EACH ACHIEVES AND WHAT WE CAN LEARN ABOUT OURSELVES FROM THE DISCUSSION.
October 1st, 2008 by Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman
I once had the honor of meeting the British ex-Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, at a university event. I was described by the president of the university as an animal behaviorist to which Prime Minister Thatcher replied, “Ah yes, behavior! That’s what it’s all about really.” And she was right on the mark, her wit sharpened by years of debate on the floor of the House of Commons. Her business was dealing with the behavior and misbehavior of people in her own country and abroad.
My business is dealing with the behavior and misbehavior of other animal species, in particular, dogs, cats, and horses, and there are many parallels to be drawn.
One of the current controversies is to whether the punitive methods of dog training, popularized by William Koehler in the 1960s and a sea of dog trainers who have since adopted his methods, offer any advantages over more benign training and, indeed, whether they are even humane.
On the other side of the coin are “positive”, non-punitive training methods using such techniques as positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, and negative punishment. In the context of positive dog training, these techniques are often incorporated into a life style adjustment program including elements such as increasing exercise, attending to diet, instilling true leadership, and environmental enrichment.
Training that involves physical punishment – a spare the rod and spoil the child type approach – is ubiquitous and has been popularized recently by television shows. It is a case of the speed of the hand deceives the eye and the seemingly instantaneous results can be impressive. Unfortunately, practitioners have not properly studied the long-term results and the scientific evidence is that the use of these techniques is associated with an overall increase in the incidence of behavior problems.
“Positive” training, on the other hand, does not always produce such instantaneously gratifying results but its long-term effect is beneficial in reducing the instance of problems and increasing the bond between the pet and its owner. The general principles learned here can be applied to other animal species also, including cats and horses and, probably, to humans.
Two Nobel Prize winners independently stated words to the effect that physical punishment teaches an animal nothing except how to avoid that punishment; but trainers who use such harsh methods believe that punishment is necessary to assure a reliable response. They often criticize positive trainers saying that the animals they trained will only work for food and that the omission of punishment is a recipe for disaster. What they fail to realize is the way in which reward can be used to produce a consistent response and also the fact that positive trainers use a technique known as negative punishment, which in essence is withholding. Bearing in mind the amazing results that can achieved training dolphins in captivity using a clicker and a bucket of fish or the extraordinary feats that can be trained in dogs by using positive methods only, I think that punitive trainers should reexamine their techniques, themselves learn some new tricks, and employ more objective follow up methods.
Why the polarization has occurred in arguments for and against these two different approaches is not absolutely clear but may have something to do with human nature. Some people, it seems, are always in need of instant gratifications and punitive training methods have the edge there. Some people even believe that physical punishment of children is a necessary disciplinary measure while others champion legislation that outlaws it. The dichotomy may be explicable on the basis of individuals’ own early experiences and their need for ultimate control.
One thing is for sure, if you use punishment to achieve an end, the threat of punishment and its occasional use will be necessary long-term to maintain any gains that appear to have been made. Do your research before training your dog. Forewarned is forearmed when it comes to deciding on which training method is best.
Dr. Dodman's latest book, The Well-Adjusted Dog: Dr. Dodman's Seven Steps to Lifelong Health and Happiness for Your Best Friend is available at Amazon.com.

Pesto's got your back
12th February 2009, 01:03 AM
Thanks Karlin for the comments and links.

My wife and I had a talk at lunch today about it. I know there's a debate out there about different philosophies of behavior correction, and I certainly have taken to heart the criticisms of the approach Cesar Milan and those type take. We have seen positive results with that approach in other dogs (long term) who have had aggressive behavior. But I'm beginning to think that it only works on certain kinds of dogs with certain temprements in certain circumstances. (i.e. our dog training class has a disproportionate amount of larger dogs, labs and German Shepherds, very few small dogs and no other spaniels).

We've decided to forgo this pinch collar training and try something else. I have some Ian Dunbar videos for dog training but not the aggressive/biting one, I'll pick that up. I'm just curious on how to handle these particular situations when Pesto lashes out like this without using a sharp corrective. Perhaps it is the case that the bigger picture is that only exacerbates the problem by inducing a deeper attitude of fear which comes out in retaliatory ways. Also, these incidents basically began (though milder at first, no biting just snaps) when we got a new Boston Terrier puppy.

Much to think and read about.

joe

LucyDog
12th February 2009, 01:48 AM
I think that punishment techniques are really not the way to go even w/ larger sized dogs. We had a fear aggressive Chesapeake Bay Retriever and spent a large amount of money and time working with various obedience trainers who really were more punishment based than reward/positive based and not one of them ever helped improve her issues. Now that I look back on it I wish I had known more about reward based positive training techniques. I think some of her fear issues could have been overcome if we had found a trainer who had used those techniques. This is neither here nor there at this point because Lady was PTS 18 months ago after having Lymphoma but I won't ever make the same mistake again. Positive reinforcement is the way to go w/ your dog big or small.

I do agree that you need to solve this problem w/ your Cav ASAP because if your dog bites someone other than you, you could end up having to have the dog put down and/or could end up w/ a lawsuit filed against you. I know people who have had this experience and it isn't something you want to deal with.

As an aside, but just so you know, Cesar Milan has absolutely no formal training or education (other than self education) about dogs or dog behavior. I don't think I would trust the methods of someone who hasn't even been educated in the field they are claiming to be an expert.

Cathy Moon
12th February 2009, 02:35 AM
Yes, get rid of that trainer and quickly find a new one!

Using rewards-based training 100% from now on should help repair the relationship between Pesto, you, and the rest of the family. Everyone who comes in contact with him is going to need to be consistently kind and positive towards him. Right now he is afraid of you, doesn't trust you, and is defensive because he has been hurt/mistreated. He may feel as though he cannot trust anyone!

When you find the right trainer (APDT-certified), you'll learn how to rebuild your relationship with him. There is never any need to get into a power struggle with a dog. If you need to take a high value chew away from him, you'll be offering him a trade of something better, for example several small pieces of chicken, cheese, hot dog, or even pupperoni. If you want him to get down from the furniture, you can start off by luring him with a treat, then reward him for obeying. When his fear and distrust abates, he will actually want to obey you and he should be reinforced with warm praise and rewards. If you want him to go in his crate, for example, just lure him in, praise him, and reward him.

If you don't have the patience to work long and hard to regain his trust, please let him have a second chance with a cavalier rescue. :flwr:

Cathy Moon
12th February 2009, 02:41 AM
PS: please get him a soft harness and don't use a collar any more. If he shows signs of sensitivity around his neck, he may have developed SM from the sharp jerks with the prong collar.

Pesto's got your back
21st April 2009, 08:06 PM
I wanted to post a follow up after a couple of months with a new training strategy.

BIG improvement.

As I suspected, the "sharp corrective" based training was quite successful at producing some immediate results in obedience but it was also fueling a viscious cycle of mutual suspicion between dog and owners. Before going through that, I wasn't wholly sold on one approach or the other. But now its very clear to me.

While far from presuming Pesto will be perfect and incapable of having any future incidents, I can't tell you how much happier Pesto seems with positive reinforcement/reward based training. We haven't gone to a new trainer but we've watched Ian Dunbar's biting/agression video (excellent!!! he is so thorough in describing the issues), stored away the pinch collar for good, and have tried everything we can to make training a positive experience for him. He only got a little snappy once in the past couple of months that I can remember (and that was my fault for being a little too aggressive intervening when he was in the middle of some mischief) and even that was not as frightening as it used to be.

This is definitely an ongoing process of rebuilding mutual trust. There is an example in Dunbar's video that closely resembles Pesto's problem. In the video a couple had a dog who was generally sweet but when he got hold of kleenex of all things it's like he became another dog in his possessiveness. For Pesto, it is when he stole certain things from the laundry, and reacted extremely aggressive if he felt it was going to be ripped away from him (especially if he was under a table and we reached under to take it away). That can probably be traced back to overcorrection in that type of situation early on.

Well it's at the point now where Pesto's almost glad to give something up at times. It's still frustrating when he doesn't listen, but no way are we going to let our frustration translate to aggressive correctives.

He is still possessive when he has some kind of high value treat like an organic rawhide. That's when he might retreat to back corners under tables, etc and will potentially growl and snap. He gets most snappy with our Boston Terrier Basil if she gets too close to him in that circumstance. But we've been working often on giving him a high value treat, rewarding him for giving it up, returning it to him when we decide, etc. We hope to really turn this around before we start having small children crawling around.

thanks again everyone

joe

Karlin
21st April 2009, 11:38 PM
Wow what a great story! I am glad you felt comfortable trying a different approach -- a lot of people give up in frustration and it takes dedication to rethink where things have come so far and where you want them to go. A great owner sticks with the challenge for a great dog. :)

kmatt
22nd April 2009, 01:50 AM
Congrats keep up that hard work! :lotsaluv: The best part about having dogs in general is that sometimes one method that has worked in the past doesn't work and you have to try a new approach. A lot like how life is. Anna is understanding now that if I hold a treat for her she won't get it until she sits. Smart little girl.

Cathy T
22nd April 2009, 05:20 PM
I loved reading your post!! How neat to hear and that Pesto is doing so much better and the results you've seen from positive/reward based training.

Now can you tell me which video this is??



Ian Dunbar's biting/agression video


I have an issue with Jake after eating (he gets on a "food high") and it takes him a few minutes to calm down after eating. I bet I could benefit from this video!

It's just so great to hear you've made such great strides with Pesto. I remember when you first started posting about him, he's such a little pistol and such a cutie.

brotymo
22nd April 2009, 06:50 PM
What a great story. I had thought about you since reading your original post. I am glad to hear things are turning around.

Pesto's got your back
22nd April 2009, 08:13 PM
I loved reading your post!! How neat to hear and that Pesto is doing so much better and the results you've seen from positive/reward based training.

Now can you tell me which video this is??



I have an issue with Jake after eating (he gets on a "food high") and it takes him a few minutes to calm down after eating. I bet I could benefit from this video!

It's just so great to hear you've made such great strides with Pesto. I remember when you first started posting about him, he's such a little pistol and such a cutie.

Yeah, here is the amazon link to the dvd:

http://www.amazon.com/Dog-Aggression-Dr-Ian-Dunbar/dp/B000NTQNV8/ref=pd_bxgy_d_text_b

Is Jake actually snapping and biting or just being unruly?

In the DVD there is not going to be any sensational demonstrations like Cesar Millan or something. He does a lot of explaining about what situations cause dogs to snap and bite. It's about looking for those situations, identifying what it is about them that sets the dog on edge, and working with the dog to prevent those kinds of situations from turning into biting incidents. That typically means a long term working with the dog in overcoming fear and anxiety.

Cathy T
22nd April 2009, 09:31 PM
there is not going to be any sensational demonstrations like Cesar Millan or something


Good ;)

My problem with him is that after eating he's in what we refer to as a "food high". He is unaware of anything around him and just basically has no self control. We just let him run around after he's done eating (the dogs are fed in their crates because his behavior can be unpredictable) and he's fine (he doesn't go after Shelby or anything like that) but it's getting his snood off that causes the most problems. As I'm taking it off he tries to snap at it and will catch my hand if I'm not careful. If we let him keep it on for 5-10 minutes after eating we can gently slide it off his head without a problem.

Maybe I'll see what other videos he has.

kmatt
22nd April 2009, 10:12 PM
Good ;)

My problem with him is that after eating he's in what we refer to as a "food high". He is unaware of anything around him and just basically has no self control. We just let him run around after he's done eating (the dogs are fed in their crates because his behavior can be unpredictable) and he's fine (he doesn't go after Shelby or anything like that) but it's getting his snood off that causes the most problems. As I'm taking it off he tries to snap at it and will catch my hand if I'm not careful. If we let him keep it on for 5-10 minutes after eating we can gently slide it off his head without a problem.

Maybe I'll see what other videos he has.

Are his ears sensitive? that could cause irritation and not want you around them?

Cathy T
22nd April 2009, 10:19 PM
I don't think so. He's fine with his ears being touched. I thought it might have had something to do with his mouth. He had a dental a couple of weeks ago and had 3 extractions. I thought maybe his mouth was hurting him, but he still continues to try and snap at the snood as I pull it off. I really think it's an issue with something coming over his head like that but just don't know how to resolve it.

kmatt
22nd April 2009, 10:31 PM
I know that personally you don't like Ceasar Milan, but his ideas on food are nearly spot on, IMHO. Your pups should allow you to do whatever you want to do to them while they are eating. Maybe you need to try to only feed them when they are super calm. feeding only a little at a time. Does he growl at you or anything if you try to approach his food? That is key because it shouldn't happen.

He had to do it with a young couple in Dallas with a Bernes Mt. Dog who was getting food aggressive.

My only advice if you really are against Ceasar Milan, Exercise rigeriously (sp?) before food. Make sure they are about to fall asleep and are dead to the world within ten minutes. That should help alot, but make sure if you wanted to pet and mess aroudn with your pup all that happens is they look at you as if to say, "can't this wait i'm eating PWEASE!":wggle:

Cathy T
22nd April 2009, 10:37 PM
I don't have a problem with him myself. I can take his food bowl away, put my hand in it, touch him while he's eating....anything. He and Shelby become aggressive with each other during mealtimes. I had a trainer come in and work with us and we decided it was best to just feed them in their crates (or basically just separate them at mealtimes, and the crate was the most logical solution).

He just continues to confound me with his issue with my taking the snood of his head :confused: and it would be easy to solve...if he didn't have to wear a snood :o but since they eat raw there's no way around it. If I let him keep his snood on for 5 or 10 minutes after eating he's fine.

kmatt
22nd April 2009, 11:09 PM
Hmnmm problematic. I guess the easiest solution then would be to get a spaniel bowl of some kind, but I don't know if you want to do that. Also even though the trainer and you have come to the conclusion that it is just easier to separate them is absurd IMHO. Something is wrong if they can't eat together. Something does need to be done to have that taken care of. I've never allowed dogs to fight over food and I do not tolerate it. They must understand that if they want to eat they will eat together and peacefully.

I would try to figure that one out. If it was me I would keep both of them side by side and feed by hand to whomever is calmer. If one trys to lung or bite, pull them back by a leash and force them to sit and only feed by hand. It has worked for me in the past when I was helping a friend with two Golden's that went at each other's throats over food.

I hope you can work something out! :xfngr:

Karlin
22nd April 2009, 11:40 PM
Also even though the trainer and you have come to the conclusion that it is just easier to separate them is absurd IMHO. Something is wrong if they can't eat together.

With all due respect, this is absolutely not true.

Most trainers STRONGLY advise against feeding dogs near each other. The more dogs you have, the higher the risk of a problem. It is a very natural dog behaviour to fight over food; it often becomes a flash point for dogs over time, and it can be difficult to impossible to train dogs NOT to do this.

Surely, injury to the dog or owner, or even a fatal injury to a dog (and I know of these!) is not wrth trying to force dogs to eat close tgether? :eek:

I feed all of mine at least two feet apart and constantly supervised, or else in crates.

See:

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&A=2250:

If you are currently feeding your dogs together, changing to separate feeding is important, whether you’ve already had problems or not. Even if you’ve fed your dogs together for years, tomorrow may be the day it becomes a problem. Once that happens, your chances of one or more dogs developing dangerous behavior that will be difficult or impossible to reverse begin to climb.

http://www.shirleychong.com/keepers/archives/many.txt:

In-Home Multiple Dog Management

It's far better to AVOID fights then to try to break one up. There are
some dogs that will never fight, but many perfectly good dogs will. Here
are some suggestions for pack management with dogs who might fight:

1.) All meals are served in the dogs' crates, behind baby gates, or in
separate, closed-door rooms. This prevents fights over food and also stops
the 'piggy' dog from chowing down all the goodies out of the 'skinny' or
shy dog's bowl. Nobody should be put in a position of defending their
food. Mealtimes should be peaceful.


http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&A=1580:

Plan to separate your dogs for feeding, even if they are compatible. If you have a dog accustomed to free-feeding, plan to retrain that dog to scheduled meals. It's much safer to separate dogs for feeding before there is a fight rather than waiting to see if there will be one.

Every trainer I have ever worked with says to feed multiple dogs separately. Just at the most basic level, it allows you to accurately watch how much dogs are eating. if they are off their food, if they have eaten medications, etc.

Experimenting with dog aggression at feeding times and trying to push multiple dogs into eating in close proximity is very risky to both dogs and owner and as noted above, can actually lead dogs to far greater problems. It is always better to avoid problems in the first place through good management than to wait til a problem arises, especially a problem that may result in severe injury.

Love my Cavaliers
23rd April 2009, 02:22 AM
Like Karlin, I separate my pack's food bowls by at least two feet. I actually feed the boys on one side of the room and the girls on the other. Oz and Madison have been known to fight over chew toys, so I am in between them when they are eating and stay with them for a few minutes afterwards also to make sure nothing happens right after they finish. I want to see each of them walk away from their bowls calmly and not be in each other's face before I leave the kitchen. Also, Riley is a very slow, but steady eater and I don't want them to hover over her while she finishes. I only feed them once a day so monitoring each mealtime is no big deal. Sometimes I'll even sit on the floor in between the boys and the girls and they each come up for a little lap time and head rubs after they eat. I treasure that time.

kmatt
23rd April 2009, 03:24 AM
With all due respect, this is absolutely not true.

Most trainers STRONGLY advise against feeding dogs near each other. The more dogs you have, the higher the risk of a problem. It is a very natural dog behaviour to fight over food; it often becomes a flash point for dogs over time, and it can be difficult to impossible to train dogs NOT to do this.

Surely, injury to the dog or owner, or even a fatal injury to a dog (and I know of these!) is not wrth trying to force dogs to eat close tgether? :eek:

I feed all of mine at least two feet apart and constantly supervised, or else in crates.

See:

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&A=2250:


http://www.shirleychong.com/keepers/archives/many.txt:


http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&A=1580:


Every trainer I have ever worked with says to feed multiple dogs separately. Just at the most basic level, it allows you to accurately watch how much dogs are eating. if they are off their food, if they have eaten medications, etc.

Experimenting with dog aggression at feeding times and trying to push multiple dogs into eating in close proximity is very risky to both dogs and owner and as noted above, can actually lead dogs to far greater problems. It is always better to avoid problems in the first place through good management than to wait til a problem arises, especially a problem that may result in severe injury.


Like Karlin, I separate my pack's food bowls by at least two feet. I actually feed the boys on one side of the room and the girls on the other. Oz and Madison have been known to fight over chew toys, so I am in between them when they are eating and stay with them for a few minutes afterwards also to make sure nothing happens right after they finish. I want to see each of them walk away from their bowls calmly and not be in each other's face before I leave the kitchen. Also, Riley is a very slow, but steady eater and I don't want them to hover over her while she finishes. I only feed them once a day so monitoring each mealtime is no big deal. Sometimes I'll even sit on the floor in between the boys and the girls and they each come up for a little lap time and head rubs after they eat. I treasure that time.


I shall just say that we both have heard from different experts and have had different experiences that have worked for us individually. I also do respect your thoughts and ideas, but I'm not sure I'm 100% in agreement.