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Post by Nifty staffy on Sat Mar 16 2019, 19:05

We’re starting to get out and about more with Opium and more specifically, walks on the local bridleways.
Opium gets very wound up when we cross cyclists or runners. She barks and jumps all over the place, leading to her coughing fits Sad

Aside trying to distract her and praising when she stays calm, is there anything else that can help us ?
I never had this problem with Nifty, I think this is Opium’s fear reaction - attack back


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Post by Guest on Sun Mar 17 2019, 15:41

Rather than distracting, which can work on a certain level but isn't always effective as you're finding out, I prefer to give an alternative and incompatible behaviour that is trained and that you can reward. If you have a dog that is jumping up and down in one direction, you could either try something like lying down, which is incompatible with the jumping, walking to heel in the opposite direction, fetching a toy that is sent away from the cyclist/runner, or something similar. Ideally you can combine different things to keep her focussed, it all depends on where you are and how much time you have/need. What that means is that you don't have a void, a 'nothing' behaviour' that leaves her looking for something to do, and it also means that you're not relying on negative 'don't', but instead can do something that she finds easy that you can reward.

While I appreciate that there is an argument that you're not directly addressing the problem, very often breaking the habit and forming different associations is enough. Don't forget that training the behaviours when you don't need them is the key to being able to use them when you do.

It sounds like Opium is one of those dogs who is always thinking, looking, needing things to do. I would work on a selection of trained behaviours, so that you have a range of 'tools' in your box.

I'd also think about clicker training for her. It's very, very good for these super switched on animals but you do have to be disciplined or they can learn how to control the situation without you realising. And it's rubbish for working with 2 dogs at once as they compete for the click/treat!

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Post by Nifty staffy on Sun Mar 17 2019, 16:03

Thanks so much for your advice !

Opium is very sharp and very intelligent.
Where can I get more information on clicker training ? I always thought the clicker was an alternative ‘reward’ to treats for indicating good behaviour.
I actually received a clicker in her puppy welcome pack so we’re already equipped with the tools, at least.

This situation is likely to happen when I have Nifty too as I like them both to get out and about. Should I take Opium out by herself until we can handle this issue solo ? Nifty didn’t move nor make a sound, as usual


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Post by Guest on Sun Mar 17 2019, 19:28

If you search on here for 'clicker' written by me you'll find some posts, I know I've written stuff before.

It is a reward but it's more than that. For a start, if your timing is good it's incredibly precise, you can click a look in the right direction, a single step. That makes it very easy for the dog to relate to and creates a really strong 'what do I need to do to get my click'. As you progress, you can separate in time the click from the treat, so you can also reward at a distance. The other thing I used to love teaching it to clients is that it makes you extremely aware of exactly what your animal is doing - what is she looking at, what are her ears doing, the second a muscle relaxes, and it teaches you to respond with precision.

If you can't find what you're looking for to get started, let me know. I'm in France at the moment so am not online every day but I will check in from time to time, signal permitting!

On the bike bit, if you can work with Opium with Nifty no joining in, and can concentrate enough on her, then walk them together. If you find your concentration is split or for some other reason it's not working, then work with Opium on her own. It's a question of playing it by ear, really.


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Post by Nifty staffy on Sun Mar 17 2019, 21:53

Thanks again for your help !
Nifty is trained to sit, lie down, come to me, all with my eye movements or blinking. So yes, I think clicker could be a fun challenge. Smile

Have a good trip in France and if you should think of any good books to recommend on the subject, it’d be great.
Off to consult your posts in the mean time Big Grin


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