Sometimes it Takes Time

Good morning all,

Today I want to share with you a video of last week’s session with Stanley and expand a bit on the topic of Time and Work.

I have been working with Stanley for a few months now and last week we had a breakthrough which was really amazing.
For the first time, Stanley was able to look at a moving dog and switch off several times at a relatively close distance and gladly accept and look for food reinforcers.

Stanley was very reactive to other dogs even at long distances and as soon as he sees them he tends to bark, lunge and move around in a frantic manner.

This will rapidly lead to a high state of stress and higher sensitivity.

At the beginning of our process, we changed Stanley routine and activities to lower stress levels, promote calmness, and avoid exposure to other dogs.
This is a massively important step has it will increase the ability of the dog to deal with the triggers later on in the sessions.

Because there is a long reinforcement history for the behaviours mentioned above, these are the behaviours that will be engaged as the first option and is our job to arrange the antecedents the best we can to avoid that, and also develop and achieve a master level in the mechanics necessary for training like lead handling skills, reinforcement strategies, body awareness and overall coordination when applying all these when necessary.

Also, because some dogs are showing intense behaviour problems, managing antecedents to the ideal point become really hard. Adding to that, because the behaviour is so deeply rooted, our opportunities for reinforcement are very small.

As you might understand after this short explanation, there are many factors in play, and if it was just about teaching new behaviours with a clicker, it would be much easier for everybody, but it is not.

It takes a lot of knowledge and skills to arrange all this in a way that the behaviour we plan to achieve is actually going to be achieved.

But sometimes, it takes time!

It takes time because the unwanted behaviour is deeply rooted. It takes time because we need to change schedules and routines. It takes time because the human parents of the dog need to develop several skills and some people need more time than others. It takes time because besides the sessions, you, me, or anybody, will need to keep going with the work “at home”. It takes time because we are building new reinforcement histories for new behaviours in the environments which call out for old behaviours.
It takes time because that is just the reality in some cases.

Sometimes, Time is the answer. But it is only the answer if you keep going with the work you started and if you stop, then time will not be the answer anymore.

If you are not ready to keep going, if you are not ready to provide what is needed, if you are not ready to go through some discomfort, if you are not ready to just keep doing the work, then I will tell you that it will be very hard to achieve the goal you dream about.

Thank you,

Dog Behaviourist Ricardo Ministro

Clova, Reactive Behaviour around other Dogs S.2

Good morning all,

Here is a video of my second session with Clova and I am sharing this one so you can see how much progress can be done in such a short time when the right methods are applied.

If you have not watched the previous video of my first session with Clova then you should so you can follow up with the process.

Clova and her mom came to see me because Clova started to show lunging, barking and snarling behaviours towards other dogs when on lead.

As you can watch in the video we are making use of appropriate lead handling skills and marking more desired behaviours in the presence of dogs.

Because Clova is a really fast learner she quickly understood what to do in the presence of other dogs and that allowed us to get really close by the second session.

It is important to understand that a high rate of reinforcement in the presence of other dogs is going to build a classical conditioning effect as well.

We are still working on it but at this pace, things will be much better soon.

Any questions or thoughts are welcome.

Thank you,

Dog Behaviourist Ricardo Ministro

Clova, Reactive Behaviour around other dogs

Hi everybody,

Here is a video of my first session with Clova the Lab.

Clova is a sweet girl which I had the pleasure to work with recently.

Clova and her mom came to see to improve her behaviour around other dogs.

As described by Clova’s mom “Very anxious when on lead. Pulls badly and cries, ears back and acts very stressed. Then very aggressive towards other dogs by barking snarling and lunging.”

We started our session by working on basic lead handling skills and the use of positive reinforcement to improve Clova’s behaviour.

Within one session we saw amazing progress.

We will be working together for the foreseeable future but this is indeed a great start.

Thank you,

Dog Behaviourist Ricardo Ministro

Working with Blaine on Recall and Over Stimulation around Tennis Balls

Good morning all,

Here is a short clip of yesterday’s session with Blaine.

You shared a post about Blaine previously, but if you did not see it here is an intro.

Blaine and his parents came to see me because they were having problems with recall.

Blaine loves tennis balls but would get overstimulated around them and once he would have access to them he would not come back to his parents when called.
Blaine is a very social dog and he loves to meet other dogs, but if they had a ball he would steal it and run away from both the dogs and the humans.
Drop a ball was also completely impossible in these conditions.

During 3 sessions, we worked on calmer behaviours around balls, improved the recall and taught Blaine to drop a ball on cue.

Yesterday we mixed up all those together and with Blaine off the lead in the centre of the park, Blaine came every time when called, was able to drop the ball the majority of the times when asked and had a couple of interactions with other dogs with their own balls a never tried to steal them. I would say that it was a perfect walk in the park.

I am super happy with the massive improvement over the last couples of weeks and this is, of course, a result of the work we carried out in the sessions but also out of them by Blaine’ parents!

Thank you,

Dog Behaviourist Ricardo Ministro

How to avoid others from approaching your Reactive Dog?

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This is a topic which I discuss often with my clients with dogs who are showing reactive or aggressive behaviour towards other dogs and or humans.

This is an important topic and my bottom line is this:

“Your Dog Is Your Top Priority. Do What You Got To Do. Even If It Will Offend That Stranger Down The Road.”

Within the same lines,
Here is a sum-up of an article written by Eileen Anderson I just read.

“It is a perennial problem. How can you get people to leave you alone when you are out with your fearful, anxious, or reactive dog? There you are, out with your anxious dog, minding your own business. You went to a secluded spot. On a rainy day. And at a time when nobody else should be out. But here comes that person with the “All dogs love me!” look. Or the “I’m about to give you ridiculous advice about training your dog, whom I’ve never seen before” look. Or the “Can-my-kid-pet-your-dog-here-we-come” look. These folks often have this inexorable zombie walk straight at your dog and just Will. Not. Stop.

Here’s are some of the reasons I think people do that.

1. Dogs are magnets for a large subset of the human race.
2. There’s so much mythology about dogs that you can’t get people to be sensible.
3. A few people are just overconfident jerks and aren’t going to be cooperative whatever the topic is.
4. Most of us have a very hard time not engaging socially with humans who approach us.

What To Do:

-Teach your dog a Let’s Go cue or an Emergency U-Turn cue.
-Leave the scene far earlier than you think you need to, and don’t engage with the human at all.
-Pick the appropriate body language or combination:
There is nothing in the world besides me and my dog
We have urgent business elsewhere
-If you feel you must, you can shout an apology or excuse over your shoulder while you are getting out of Dodge. “Can’t-talk-right-now-bye!” But be sure you are at a safe distance and can continue your escape before you say anything, lest you get sucked in.

It is perfectly OK not to socially interact with a stranger who is approaching you. Just give yourself permission. (This is also true if your dog is not reactive, or hell, if you don’t have a dog with you at all!) You don’t have to smile, you don’t have to say hello, and you don’t have to make an excuse. You don’t have to stick around for their training suggestions and critique. Do not make eye contact. Eye contact is the beginning of the end.”

Thank you Eileen Anderson, I fully support your approach.

Thank you,

Dog Behaviourist Ricardo Ministro