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Message started by Ef_Deal on Aug 4th, 2010 at 4:20am

Title: Can chows be non-reactive?
Post by Ef_Deal on Aug 4th, 2010 at 4:20am
Moonlight is doing extraordinarily well on leash training.  I now can walk her with a loose 3' leash and she stays right by my side.

However, I simply cannot control her when we get near to another dog.  I have tried the method recommended by the trainer I consulted, which was to make her sit before she spots the other dog and speed-feed her her favorite treat. Oh, she LOVES the speed-feed up until she sees that other dog. Then she goes berserk and I have to drag her away completely.  Even then, she is on her hind legs still trying to lunge for the other dog.  A few times, I tried NOT responding and letting her approach the other dog.  All was well until about a foot away, and then she lunged and snarled at the other.  And no, it wasn't a play growl looking to engage, it was her angry growl.

Does anyone have recommendations for a training method that works?  I had really hoped to conquer this over the summer months that I have vacation, but  she just isn't responding.  Who has had success getting chows to be non-reactive?

Title: Re: Can chows be non-reactive?
Post by Merlin on Aug 5th, 2010 at 12:55pm
Find a new trainer!


What you need to do is "defer" your chow's attention on to something else. Treat training is always a poor method of problem solving ( JHMO)  as you can now see.

If your dog goes after another dog, you give the command to "heel", and move on in a terse manner even if it means you have to put your dog through  2 or 5 minute session of  paces of sit/ stay/ down/ heel a few times, to "defer" his attention. When your chow learns that his reward for chasing or aggressing other dogs is to work hard, he'll re-think his strategy. Don't try this yourself, get a better trainer who can show you how this is done.

You also need to work this dog in a muzzle around other dogs to re-condition his mind.

This is a clear sign that his temperament is escalating in a very unwanted direction.

Title: Re: Can chows be non-reactive?
Post by Ef_Deal on Aug 5th, 2010 at 6:12pm
Thanks, Merlin. I had initially consulted this trainer because she herself owns three wonderfully responsive and well-behaved chows, so I assumed she knew a bit about training chows. 

Do you think a weekly group class would be more effective?

Title: Re: Can chows be non-reactive?
Post by Merlin on Aug 5th, 2010 at 6:29pm
I totally agree, anyone with 3 well behaved chows should certainly have the required knowledge, but you're saying here that what you were shown isn't working. So... where does that leave you?

It leaves you with two distinct possibilities
1- the type of training isn't effective
2 -the home follow up isn't being followed up

Temperament is largely a breeding issue. Maybe the person you worked with simply has these wonderfully bred chows, with wonderful temperaments.  Not all chows are bred with wonderful personalities, and any trainer should be able to make that definition too. I''m not bashing the trainer at all, so don't mis-understand me here.

Also, and I've said this before; It takes two to tango, and because the character of this chow, which you've had for some time now is changing, a large portion seems to be emanating from her home style and the handling that takes place in the home.

No amount of training is going to help your dog if you don't possess or develop the necessary skills to train your dog - and sorry to say this, we all know what happened to the last one.

I do maintain my position on treat training being very non effective for assertion dogs.

I truly hope you get a grip on this chow's changing temperament.
Best of luck


Title: Re: Can chows be non-reactive?
Post by Ef_Deal on Aug 6th, 2010 at 7:32pm
I will admit that other than working on the improving leash behaviors, Jack and I have been lax in the basics training.  Moonlight is getting better at backing away from the door and waiting for people to come in, but we don't really take regular time to train her in the basics like "stay" or "heel" or "leave it."  I am thinking that signing up for a basic training class will help train all of us--Moonlight AND Jack and me.  You recommend getting a professional trainer; would you agree that classes would work?

Title: Re: Can chows be non-reactive?
Post by DutchChow on Aug 7th, 2010 at 2:08pm
Ef-- and MM--,

One of the problems is the 'human' him-/herself behind the Chow Chow.
Education, socializing and let's call it 'training' should be done right from the pupyhood on. Re-condition a 'learned' attitude later is very tough and needs a strong hand with lots training moments.

As you know we have four Chow Chows at our place and all four differ in character. The best and most social Chow Chow in that respect is our Kiang. He is very friendly and not the one making problems with other dogs or humans. Very much obedient, until...until...... there is a cat.....popping up. He is one block of energy then and one point of focus..... No chance....
Of course such a meeting is always during a walk and Kiang screams, yells and pulls......!
What we do is having a complete freeze and no respond at all. Most of the time the cat disapperas and after calming down we continue the walk....
However!!!! There are cats who simply freeze too and have lots of fun and teasing the dog.....
It means the only escape after a couple of minutes is pulling Kiang away. The effect? Kiang gets confirmed cats are there to be hunt for.....

Peter

Title: Re: Can chows be non-reactive?
Post by Ef_Deal on Aug 7th, 2010 at 10:13pm
I'm very fortunate that Moonlight is so sweet tempered.  If I take her to the groomers, they actually fight over who gets to groom her, they love her so much.  And when we go to the vet even just for shots, all the other doctors and all the aides stop in to see her in the exam room because they just want to hug her.  She never reacts to probing, thermometers, or needles.  She just licks the aide's hand or face. 

Moonlight's reaction to other dogs is also fine at dog parks.  She is playful and never aggressive, and if another dog barks at her aggressively in any way, she just walks away. 

If there is another dog being walked across the street, I can either distract her with treats or control her by turning her away, and she complies.  I'm just never certain when we pass another dog on the same sidewalk whether she will happily sniff and walk on or suddenly growl and bark.    I cannot see what makes her react differently, which is why I'd like her to be more nonreactive or at least more responsive to my control.  When I said she would lunge at other dogs, I didn't mean attack them, biting, but rushing forward and not responding to my leash direction.

Title: Re: Can chows be non-reactive?
Post by Merlin on Aug 8th, 2010 at 1:35am

Ef_Deal wrote on Aug 6th, 2010 at 7:32pm:
I will admit that other than working on the improving leash behaviors, Jack and I have been lax in the basics training. 


There is always a price for the dog to pay when the owners are remiss in training the dog.


Quote:
Moonlight is getting better at backing away from the door and waiting for people to come in, but we don't really take regular time to train her in the basics like "stay" or "heel" or "leave it."


We then realistically you can't expect to go into more advanced issues if you haven't covered the fundamentals.


Quote:
  I am thinking that signing up for a basic training class will help train all of us--Moonlight AND Jack and me.  You recommend getting a professional trainer; would you agree that classes would work?

Yes, absolutely classes will help you. Group classes come with both  negative and positive features, the positive side being that your chow will enjoy loads of socialization.  So that is good, and you'll learn some fundamental methods of working with dogs.  As long as the courses are quality courses not based on treat training, you should definitely benefit.

Title: Re: Can chows be non-reactive?
Post by Ef_Deal on Aug 9th, 2010 at 1:53pm
We have our orientation class tomorrow evening, just the handlers--no dogs.  I talked with the trainer when we signed up. Their method seems to be "work for food"--using the dog's own ration of food to train.  It's not treat training, but still positive reinforcement.  I hope this works for Moonlight.

I never heard folks here talk about training their dogs.  In fact, until I just today saw Peter's picture of his chow on the riser, I wouldn't have thought he took his chows to a trainer.  Is it taken for granted that dogs must be trained?

I grew up with dogs--two boxers, a wire-haired terrier, and a mastiff-mix. We never took them to classes or to trainers.  We taught them sit, lie down, bed, paw, and roll over as a matter of course.  The first dog I had on my own was a lab-Newf mix, and he was adopted at the age of 8 and already knew his commands.  When we adopted Shadow, who was 3, he had been completely unsocialized, left out in the backyard ungroomed, unpet, and left to his own.  When I tried training him on basic commands, he refused to even look at me, and I couldn't find a single reward treat for him.  I'd never heard of "work for food" and it never occurred to me to get a trainer since I'd never used one, and no one here spoke of using trainers.

I really do appreciate all the advice you've given, and I look to the collective experience here for a lot of guidance.

Title: Re: Can chows be non-reactive?
Post by Merlin on Aug 9th, 2010 at 2:00pm
You'll come to discover that most chows are poorly motivated by food unless they are kept at the brink of starvation, and again, the dog learns to work for the food and not for the owner , and it's been my experience that keeping assertive dogs on the 'edge of hunger', that way isn't going to help you in the long run. You may  even find your chow will become more aggressive.   In fact, around assertion dogs, the concept of giving them food, ( giving up your food),  actually helps diminutize yourself in front of them - alluring them to believe that you are their subordinate.  In the wild, the subordinate dog gives up food to the dominant dog, and chows are still very much not civilized nor bred to work with man, say, like a retriever would be, so we always need to remember who they are and feel free to discuss this with your trainer.

If you hunt around you'll see that trainer who train high performance dogs, dogs for the movies, shutzhund, search & rescue and another other serious type of training never use food.

You'll also find that there are many trainers who won't work with chows because of the low success rate using food based methods, and these trainers often  turn around and tend to blame the breed rather than the training method.  Food / treat based training is based on Pavlov's law of mental conditioning, and this doesn't hold strong with independently minded dogs and humans for that matter.


Other breeds are not the same as the Spitz group of dogs, so it's very common to hear your stories out of families that have had other breeds of dogs in the past, then, they get a chow and everything falls to pieces.

There are far better off with "marker" or "release" training, but that' s just my personal opinion.

Also to be perfectly honest, there are some people that no amount of training will help when it comes to owning chows and other similar breeds. I'm not saying this is the case in your case, but often, the personality of the owner is in direct conflict with the type of personality that could harmoniously live with a chow.  The two shall never meet properly and these individuals should stick to other breeds of dogs. There is no shame in that, they just don't have the character traits necessary to own certain types of animals.

Anyways, good luck with the courses and I hope it works out for you.

Title: Re: Can chows be non-reactive?
Post by Merlin on Aug 9th, 2010 at 5:23pm

Quote:
There are cats who simply freeze too and have lots of fun and teasing the dog...

oh dear! I guess Kiang is the one with the very strong prey drive.  You'll have to take Kiang hunting some day.

Title: Re: Can chows be non-reactive?
Post by Merlin on Aug 9th, 2010 at 5:31pm
Eff

To help you better understand:

Food / Treat Training:
You tell your child to clean up his room.
When he does, you pay him money.
Unfortunately one day you might run out of money. You child will stop cleaning up his room - or will only clean if there is a financial reward involved.
( If your boss stops give you a paycheck will you continue working?)



Mark / Release Training.
You tell your child he does not go out to play until he cleans up his room. Once his room is clean, work is over and he gets to play.

Keep reading this to yourself until  you understand the full depth &  potential of this analogy.

Title: Re: Can chows be non-reactive?
Post by Ef_Deal on Aug 9th, 2010 at 8:24pm

Merlin wrote on Aug 9th, 2010 at 5:31pm:
Eff

To help you better understand:

Food / Treat Training:
You tell your child to clean up his room.
When he does, you pay him money.
Unfortunately one day you might run out of money. You child will stop cleaning up his room - or will only clean if there is a financial reward involved.
( If your boss stops give you a paycheck will you continue working?)



Mark / Release Training.
You tell your child he does not go out to play until he cleans up his room. Once his room is clean, work is over and he gets to play.

Keep reading this to yourself until  you understand the full depth &  potential of this analogy.


This sounds like the method of leash training we employed, where Moonlight is not permitted to pull at the leash, and if she doesn't walk at my side, or tries to pull ahead, I stop and do not move until she stops pulling and sits.  I'm curious to see how this method works in other areas.

Title: Re: Can chows be non-reactive?
Post by Ef_Deal on Aug 11th, 2010 at 4:29am
Well, Merlin, I think you'll be glad to know that the class I enrolled in is indeed a Marker / Release training class.  I am very excited to learn.

Title: Re: Can chows be non-reactive?
Post by Sirchow on Aug 12th, 2010 at 9:31am
Merlin I am really likeing what I read here because I have Bramble who is a completely uninterested in treats type of chow and I have had to devise my own method of shaping her behaviour which did not involve rewards (which I prefer to call them) of the food kind.  I now have Izzie who is totally food orientated but has the attitude that if I cant see you you dont exist and if you get me to do what you want I will happily take some food but I wont do what you want unless you make me!!!  Food or treat rewards is clearly not the answere with her.

Could you please give a brief example of the method you are talking about for, say a chow that wont be caught or come to you when they dont want to.  I am having trouble getting my head round the actual way you work with this method.  Is there a web site I could read perhaps?

Thank you.  :)

Title: Re: Can chows be non-reactive?
Post by Ef_Deal on Aug 12th, 2010 at 2:51pm
I did find a website when I researched it after Merlin mentioned it, at http://leerburg.com/markers.htm. ; To give you an example, in this first week I have to teach Moonlight a marker word.  I chose "Yes."  So I spend a minute or two a few times a day saying "Yes" and giving her a treat so she associates the marker with a reward.  Then I have to use the marker to get her to look into my eyes when I call her name.

The problem I'm discovering after a full day of this is that she gets too bored with treats to stay with me, even if I switch up the treats.  She walks away and goes to one of her sleep cubbies.  This is going to be tough!

Title: Re: Can chows be non-reactive?
Post by Sirchow on Aug 12th, 2010 at 4:24pm
Thank you Ef.  I think that I kind of get the idea - there is a lot of reading on that site on the subject but it seems like there is still a lot of food/treat rewards being offered.  Basically on that site they are saying the marker is used till the reward can be given a few seconds later.  I thought what Merlin was saying was to get away from giving food or treats as a motivation.  I am still quite confused.  :-/

This wouldn't work for Bramble as she will not accept food or treats from your hand and certainly not outside the house.  I can see how I can start to train my food monster Izzie to pay more attention to me though.

Title: Re: Can chows be non-reactive?
Post by Ef_Deal on Aug 12th, 2010 at 6:05pm
As I understand it (and I have only been to the orientation class where our homework is to teach the dog the marker and to teach the dog to pay attention) the food is only to reinforce the marker. Praise is also given right after the marker. Once the behavior is shaped, praise or toys and play replace the treat.  Our handout on teaching the dog to pay attention states: "Repeat this step frequently so the dog becomes comfortable with looking up at your face even when no food is visible. Begin varying your reward.  Instead of always using food as a reward, praise, pet in a pleasing way, toss a toy, start a game." 

My challenge is finding a variety of treats to keep Moonlight interested in learning.  Our first session on learning the marker word was great.  The second session, she walked away after two treats.  I switched to cheese, which she loves.  That worked for the third session last night.  This morning, she couldn't be bothered with cheese.  I tried a slice of roast beef, and that worked really well.  So I took a second slice out, and she walked away, and I couldn't lure her back.

I'm thinking that I might head back to the trainer tomorrow to see if I'm doing everything right. I don't want to make any mistakes on this because it's too important.

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