Head Trainer's Blog
7/9/2013 - Jennifer again. Bonnie is showing some progress with her patience. She is beginning to see the correlation to her wiggling and how much affection she receives. So far, she is not allowed to be pet unless she is calm and collected (no wiggling, chopping, or excessive foot movement). She must also not raise her head into my hand or begin to lick me fervently when my hand reaches out to pet her. If she begins to do this, the hand shoots back and I wait. Which means, she must also wait. A gentle, calm almost whispered "no" is spoken and I look away ignoring her altogether. She has begun to respond to this approach and is now visibly calming her body much quicker. The second her body calms and she collects her emotions, I go to pet her. But, if she again pushes up her head or lifts her front slightly off the ground to meet my hand sooner, I retract again and we start over. Patience is truly a virtue.
Along with calm, collected behaviors when being pet, she must also wait to enter or exit outside. She is given the command to sit (instead of wiggling her butt and tail, turning in circles, scratching herself, whining and looking up at me, etc). She must sit and wait until the door is completely open and I give the release command. Which is the word, "okay" that Shawna also used. Bonnie has difficulty with this task. She must be corrected as if she were still quite a young pup learning to wait for the first time. When Bonnie is corrected for trying to release herself from the sit, all that is needed is "no" (almost whispered) and an ever so slight quick pull back on her collar. She then sits again and the little pressure on the collar is released completely. I require that she sit without fidgeting. The time she must sit without fidgeting will be increased (within reason) to help her remain calm and collected for as long as it takes. The other dogs in our household know that they should not cross the threshold of the door unless called on specifically. In fact, they each know that when their name is called only they are allowed to go through the door. Bonnie does not know this and so once she tried to bolt out the door when I called Aslan's name. I brought her back inside and asked for the sit. She did so and then I called Aslan again. This time I caught her right as she was about to move from the sit and she corrected herself. It will come.
7/8/2013 - Jennifer here. Today we had guests over to see the dogs. This was very interesting to me, as I wanted to see how Bonnie would react to strangers. She did not perform well meeting a family in Denver and so, I was anticipating that she may be show similar behaviors. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Bonnie did not mind them at all. She was super affectionate, did not show any fear or even indifference. Rather, she went straight over to them and asked to be pet, not with over-indulgence, but just determined. It was very lovely to see.
Now, I'd like to take this opportunity to analyze the Denver encounter with strangers in hopes of shedding some light on why she reacted with fear and some slight aggression. First of all, let me try to describe the scenario and then I'll describe her reaction. I had Bonnie on a slip lead when the SUV pulled up alongside the sidewalk we were on. They were just slightly ahead of us and the two children got out of the car first... on the sidewalk side. The children, a girl and a boy, were around 12 and 8, somewhere around there. When they got out, they immediately looked at the dog, staring into her eyes and moving toward her with their hands outstretched. The mom also looked at her eyes and exclaimed at how beautiful she was. I could feel the tension on the leash before I looked down. Bonnie had scooted back, tail tucked and snarled very low and deep. The family stopped. Good idea. After that, I had the family walk with me, keeping Bonnie on the outside. She calmed easily and we went to sit down. She was never really herself, though. She remained suspicious of the family for the entire 30 minutes or so. As we sat down, Bonnie leaned into me as I let them know she could be pet on her back now. Bonnie allowed this with ease, although I could feel that her body was still tensed. Everyone pet Bonnie without a problem, but her eyes told me that she was still not completely enjoying the affection. After talking with the family for quite a while, I suggested that the girl take Bonnie for a small walk, with me closed in on the other side. Bonnie did pretty well, although her tail was still slightly tucked and her rump slightly rounded. She rolled on her back and allowed the girl to fawn all over her and give her hugs, but Bonnie's eyes were glued to mine, seeming to say, am I doing okay and when will this end. She was visibly relieved when they eventually climbed into their car and drove away.
So, having that experience. I was very curious how she would react to strangers again in my presence. That is why I was so pleasantly surprised when she initiated affection from them in such an outgoing way, on her own, without being asked. She was super polite and respectful to them. Going up with confidence, but asking them with her eyes and nose if they wouldn't mind petting her. Here's the scenario. Bonnie Lee was outside on a leash when the mom and son (about 23 years old) came with me out the back door. They did not pay any attention to her at first because they saw the three big dogs in the kennel and were immediately infatuated with them. Bonnie Lee came up to sniff their legs and did not receive any glances toward her since they were taking pictures. When we went back inside to sit down on the living room furniture to talk, Bonnie came with us. That is when Bonnie went right up to the young man, calmly yet determined, and looked at him straight in the eyes her nose touching his hand. He immediately began petting her and she moved her body into his hand. It was such a loving reaction.
Bonnie also reacted this same way to me when I first came to Shawna's house. Remember, she had only seen me once in her life when she was 10 or so weeks old, and that initial meeting was extremely brief, maybe 8 hours at the most. So, I was practically a stranger to her when I saw her again at Shawna's house. I did not initially look at her when I came into the door. After putting my bag down, I sat down on the sofa at Shawna's house and pet the little Lapso Apso that jumped up on the couch beside me wanting to meet me. After that, Bonnie came up to me and without looking at her I put my hand out for her to sniff me. She then came closer and I pet her head. She did not shy away or react in any fearful way. It was not shortly after that that Bonnie allowed me to pull her toward me, looking straight into her eyes and into my body for hugs.
So, with all of that experience with strangers, it is now my belief that there was a lot going on for Bonnie at that time. It was her first time away from Shawna and the other dogs and we had just left her house only 15 minutes before. When the children immediately stared at Bonnie coming straight for her with their arms out, Bonnie felt attacked, disrespected and probably wasn't sure of anything in that moment. She remained distrusting of them after that. I do not believe that Bonnie is genetically shy or aggressive, quite the contrary, actually. But strangers who meet her must understand that she does not want them to accost her with their enthusiastic (and according to Bonnie, uncivilized) approach and affection. She wants a calm meeting where she is initially in charge of the approach. But, at the same time, it was a heightened time, emotionally, for Bonnie after just being removed from her home. The combination of those two factors were enough to create that fearful reaction in her.
7/7/2013 - Jennifer again. Bonnie indeed learns quickly. It is absolutely astonishing how intelligent she truly is. First of all, she is extremely compliant. She is willing to do whatever it takes. Since she got to our house, she has been outwardly afraid of our open wooden stairs, which take you to the loft where we spend much of our day in the family room there. Last night, climbing them to get ready for bed, she shook like a leaf. She wanted to turn around, but I was behind her, coaxing her on. With the sweetest little whine and the most uncontrollable shaking, she bravely moved her front foot to the next step... knowing what I wanted her to do. She braved those twelve steps and made it safely to the top and after that one incident, she now goes up and down the stairs with ease. Such a brave young lass.
Also, Bonnie and I did some formal training again today. As I mentioned in the previous post, we are working together on placing for the heel. Shawna and I decided that we should return to the basics and help Bonnie remember that heel is a position, in which you stay no matter where the handler goes or what she does. Bonnie and I also worked on 'down' and 'sit' from different starting positions. Bonnie and I trained together for a good 18 minutes before I felt I needed to end the session on a positive note. By the end of the session today, Bonnie was moving into position without being cued with a tap on the leg or the words "Get In" which we want her to associate as moving into position... that includes adjusting her position to a better one if necessary. I will continue working this until she's getting into position consistently with only one verbal command. She was a bit more distracted at the end of our training, although still willing to work. She would go and get a drink and scratch herself and go to the stairs and then return. I'm not entirely sure if she wasn't doing these behaviors in order to help herself refocus. Each time, she came back focused and ready to continue. (Incidentally, she did not eat her dinner last night and today worked well for the treats.) I offered her food after our training session and she did not eat, so we'll perform a second training session later tonight and see if she'll eat after that.
Consequently, Bonnie is also learning so many other things while being in a new house with somewhat different rules. She is learning that I don't pet her unless she has completely stopped wiggling and is not moving her head up to lick my hand as I move to pet her. She is learning that affection is received when she is calm and collected. She is learning to be patient when she wants to come in from outside. She can return when she is not showing any anxious behaviors... such as panting, scratching, whining, digging, and pacing in small circles. Her tendency to do these things right now is okay and we accept her for where she is currently, but she will learn that those behaviors will continue to be ignored and only calm and collected behaviors get results. It will be interesting to see how long it takes her to make the connection.
PS: We will work on her alerting to sounds when we have seen some progress on the heel and the calm patience. It won't take long... she's a quick learner.
7/6/2013 - This is Jennifer Stoeckl, the president of the NAAC. Shawna, our head trainer, asked me to continue her blog regarding Bonnie while she is staying at Vallecito Alsatians. This is Bonnie's first full day at our house and already I've notice quite a few things that might be of interest. First and foremost, I'd like to take this opportunity to share how impressed I am with her intelligence level. Just as Shawna has so eloquently stated several times, Bonnie learns extremely quickly. She is bright and very alert. However, she has a tendency toward over exuberance, especially when happy or excited. It is quite endearing, but can hinder her training. Therefore, she requires calm rewards and a quiet approach to training. Since being with Shawna, Bonnie has learned to love training. She responds well to praise, both verbal and touch, as well as high value treat rewards. I plan to time how long it takes her to become disinterested in training, but for today I did a few quick sessions with her and I'll explain them below.
While at Shawna's house, we talked in depth about Bonnie's difficulties with heeling without pulling forward. Shawna has seen an increase in Bonnie's drive to pull when turning to return home. She has named this phenomenon "homing" and has consistently struggled to convince Bonnie that heeling should be consistent no matter where she is walking. This will be a large focus of our training while she is here to see if we can help Bonnie in this area. She is also in need of some remedial training to remain consistently calm, especially when happy or excited. Her over-excitement seems to happen when she is given praise, so again, praise should be toned down and consistently presented in a calm manner. As per Shawna's request, Bonnie will also continue to practice touch on command that will eventually be moved to turning lights on and off on command. I will also be working on a calm alert when she hears the ding from a timer, a knock on the door, or the ring of a phone.
Today, Bonnie and I had two small sessions going back to the basics with the heel. We worked on getting in heel position only. It took her one pat on the side of my leg and she immediately got into heel position at a sit. The first 5 minute session was quite successful, therefore, on the second session, I moved slightly to the side and asked her to get into position from where she already had been in position. She performed it beautifully. Only a few times of this and she was scooting up and to the side for one step. I will stay at this step until she does not need reminders to get into heel position. I was quite impressed with the ease at which she learned.
6/12/13 - uh oh. Busy week, falling behind with this blog already - so BEFORE I get into Bonnie latest "issue" I want to put an update to the hand bumping. I decided to go with the old adage of - "stop the dog from undesired by teaching them to do it on command. We did some "touch" stuff when puppy was a small puppy but let it go because we had a ton of other stuff to straighten out. I picked it back up a couple days ago - and SHE LOVES IT!! So, now we will quickly move into colored blocks. I painted 2 last night - blue. I will start this morning asking her to choose a touch based on the objects color. wish me luck.
SO now - we must record Bonnie one episode of aggression (so far). and this WAS aggression. not self defense or anything else. She fred one warning shot then within 10 seconds let off a round.
Here's what happened: I was returning from a very hot "run around" doing errands with Dave. We had visited a government establishment downtown Denver earlier in the day and emotions were high. That evening, I was to do an "emergency groom" on a long time client whom Bonnie has met and gotten along with on many previous occasions. The reason it was an emergency groom is that the dogs owner was dying. Literally. They needed the dog groomed so it could visit with its dying owner one last time. So, needless to say, new dog was charged with sorrow and the helplessness of her household.
-Theres a knock at the door, and I put my 2 in the bedroom. Bonnie doesn't like to go in the bedroom with them because they harass her and take out their frustrations on HER while I check in dogs. So I left her out. Lucy (thats the new dog) comes in first, her owner gives her about 3 feet of lead in front of her. Lucy has head and tail in normal raised position. I do not recall anything Lucy did to heighten the excitement. There was direct eye contact, but Lucy shifted her eyes pretty constantly.
6/3/2013 - Ladies and germs.....announcing....A FULL compliment of walking procedures on Bonnie!!!!!! YAY!!!!! FINALLY - she went for a walk yesterday with Dave & I. She heeled respectively - At eased with grace, and pulled back into a heel without full vocal, all I had to was click. We'll start addig dogs, and varying terrains. In a little while. Give us a chance to enjoy pleasure walks before we have to go back to work.
5/31/2013 - not much to report borng day. As I type, Dave is playing Mandolin and B has got the full compliment of squeekies out.
5/30/13 - This morning we did a 5:30 am walk - and lo and behold I think she's got it. It was the first time we had enough to work with to get her to "heel" long enough so I could release her from it into an "at ease" walk. We've never before had enough success for her to learn the difference.(No Halti by the way - just trainers lead - whew!) Public Transportation I'd say she's got it downIN. Next step with that is innner city and crowds. But I really want to get this heeling thing down before we start with that and "awwwwee" - she got her first mat behind her ear in the nest of spriggins. Adorable!
5/28/13 - This afternoon she got clumsy and tripped into her water dish when I went to get her out from the kennel outside. BEFORE I could mimick or feign my dissappointment at the mishap - she skipped out of the way of the water and flattened her ears and dropped herself, looking and behavnig as though she were aware of that being a bad thing. This is remarkable to me because I do not recall (and I've thought about it carefully) Bonie having the occasion to spill something. Nothing, no liquid to my knowlegde has ever hit the floor due to BONNIE. Now, there have been occasions when more rambunctious grooming or boarding dogs have dumped the water, some where in her vicinity. . - Close enough for her to have "watched" my reaction to the spilled water. BUT These reactions were NEVER OUTSIDE. I couldn't understand her reaction otherwise. and she was clearly giving submissive signals indicating that she was looking for a negative reaction from me.
5/27/13 - B went to work today - She has been exrta good lately. 2 comments made by my coworkers are worth mention. #1 comment
Coworker "In case they want a regular dog, not a ROBOT DOG, is what I meant."
Me "A robot dog?"
"Not in a BAD-ROBOT sort of way. I meant a programmable dog, like a robot."
There are some disadvantages to having a Robot Dog - I'm not totally sure what they are - but I'm sure some one does.
#2 - After bringing B in from her afternoon potty break - she USUally gets water. I did not have any, this time . B looked at the spot it usually is and seemed uneasy. No, - "uncomfortable". It was obvious and was felt by everyone in the room. I refilled the water dish and when I placed the dish, she had to demeanor of - "Phew - OK - everything's where it should be". Everyone laughed but it concerned me a bit. She wasn't thirsty, but the absence of the normal really made her uncomfortable.
We have completed breaking down coming home into steps. Alot of "wait" which we use instead of STAY. placing before doors and equipment handling. Still a drive for her, but shes doing well at controlling it.
5/25/2013- B chewed a lighter. I found it on the bedroom floor. She did this as I overslept 1/2 hour. I can remember hearing it now - but it didn't register at the moment. I don't use an alarm clock. Lighter had teeth marks on th e side and the metal cap was popped off. I was thinking about the differences in the chewing I've experienced with B - and other pups I've raised. Her destruction (if you'd call it that) all seems to be meticulous and even. I've regretted to take pictures, and now seeing the similarities I wish I had. List of things B has chewn and how:
1st thing. Both sides of laces on work boots, down to the third lace hole. all peices of lace I found were more than 3 inches in length.
2. Dave's work hat. Just the entir edge of the entire brim. the edge was evenly shredded.
3. Corner of the bed. gnawed on it - again while I overslept - over a period of about a month. Little by little, and aan even amount from side to side.
4. Heel part from my slipper. One three inch length along the upper fuzzy part, just the edge, shredded.
and thats been it. Ever tell yu about the Golden Retreiver Pup that ATE my dining room table in two hours? Took the legs off and everything.
5/24/13 - All better this morning. She is going to the south side of the house and gettin' stuff. She did some obvious sniffing and air scenting right in the direction of a bot fly nest under Rhi's window. Nose right up in the air and very concerned.
5/23/2013 Bonnie is sicky today. Drooling a steady stream. Like drip * drip * drip * The drool is clear, not overly hot-not frothy. So.....something is wanting to flush out of her mouth. I looked closely for wood caught in teeth or anything teeth. She's acting perfectly normal. Just very very wet. Hot pepper remnant from trash maybe? Maybe an insect bite?
Late afternoon drool has lessened to just when she is active. At rest she's fine. This reminds me of Pearl a few years ago getting a wasp sting that we were able to treat very quickly.
5/22/We walked at 5:30 am. Pretty morning. Did great with the Halti. Took it off for the way back - rather left it off from leaving her tethered outside the store. (Within my hawk eye view of course). . She started applying pull right away. She had an entire body length to work with, but still decided to go beyond the box. Its almost like its not a decision at all. Mechanical - blind ambition. When using a jerk method she will right but wil not carry it past 15 seconds or so. I still do not feel that she understands to stay with me withn the possibility of reaching home by herself. In fact, I'm still sure that if she were to get loose from me anywhere within our block she would not stay with me but dash home.
5/21 - Our morning was pretty normal. Returning home she jumped on me and I had to throw her off me . Quick recover - lots of chopping of course ( the now-a-days diminshed kind). I've noticed she has adapted teeth grinding when I touch her head and neck area and shes expected to not chop and remain still. When I "hug" her I can hear it. Spent about an hour in her Outdoor kennel, ate a little did not drink until she came inside.
May 20 2013 - This is being written 8 days after May 12tth - and now I regret not recording it every day in detail, instead of trainers shorthand notes. Bonnie's progress has been incredible. 8 Days ago I began a program with her to tweak and fix some unwanted behaviors and quirks Bonie was developing. We started on May 12th. _______________________________
Bonnie is hyper active - she runs from place to place - charges doors , can't do a "still" sit. DEEPER - she reacts to soft touch. Not hard touches. Whisper your fingers on her and it sends her into a tizzy. "Spank" her and she doesn't even notice you touched her. She'll often chew where you petted her last. (Yes - plenty has been done to eliminate iriitants from her environment - thats NOT it.) She can't be petted with stillness. One of her favorite games is to run hersolf along your hand and ..."Pet herself." Is the only way i can describe it. I've recorded up to five minutes of this circling self petting happen. All I do is put my hand out at body level and she does the rest herself. I don't encourage it. But it has developed into a habit for her. A discomfort for me.
*****All of this and some other of her behavior is all too familiar. A certain Corgi mix living with us has much of he same behavior.????******
This hyperactivity dropped into over drive around May 2nd. I have no idea why. I can't seem to find anything other than her age. Some crucial learning growth I missed. ANY walks we went on quickly regained complete loss of partnership. She had lost any progression i nheeling. (Which hasn't been easy from the get go) - she became overly concerned with being ahead of me. When placed behing me, with a wall blocking one side, she would force push by my leg to get ahead. ABSOLUTE Blind ambition. I applied as much into the training leash as I could feel comfortable with an adul t dog. When ever I used the turn around method, she became increasingly nervous every time we turned, and finally chopping herself into shutting down.
I decided to see if using one of the other dogs as an example for her would help. No difference at all with the poodle. When we went with Solly though, I got a very good detailed report of all of our problems.
BOnnie was uncontrollable. Would not listen to me for the sake of doing it. Any commands she obeyed coming from me were to avoid force and correction. NO desire to walk with me. We turned and walked in the opposite direction as Solly, nd she pulled back and whined and stressed. She would not focus ahead of her but insisted on seeing Solly. She even walked sraight into a wall She chopped her tongue once and it bled some. The whole walk was disASTROUS. But, now.....We've isolated the problem and we know what needs to be done.
LOOKING BACK - B & Solly were not playmates at all. UNTIL one day when she was just 6 months old I looked over and hey were play bowing in the living room. This pleased me as Solly has some history of aggression. I laughed some. And that's all she wrote for Bonnie. From that very morning on she was his constant shadow. Then within a few days, she went from shadow to really really obnoxious little sister. She had developed harassing him to a science. She lost interest in amusing herself with toys quietly, lost interest in anything Solly WASN'T doing. I thought carefully if this was an exaggeration, but no, it is not. Constant. Harassment. Loss of interest in things that used to make her happy. Acting out Not sleeping normally. Anxious? Is Bonnie Depressed?
This development was very upsetting to me. ; in the way that she has lost or stopped engaging me as her partner and has turned her allegiances to Solly, relying on him to comfort and instruct her. This happened fast - something within the past few weeks to do this. What did I miss?
**Note that I DID wait for Solly to grow agitated with her antics; and he DID - even snapping beyond-yelling at her on a few occasions. It did not daunt her perseverance and being up his butt****
At first, I attempted separating them, household even. Without Solly's presence she grew increasingly disinterested in toys, tasks, or even eating and sleeping. She WOULD engage, but with obvious reluctance and always an eye on the door.
When Bonnie was away from home & Solly, as mentioned before she quickly re-developed a problem with leash pulling. Her rate of increase went from 20 seconds (loose leash to intolerant pressure) down to 10 seconds, and under some circumstances 3 seconds.
I was successful after just a couple of run-throughs, at commanding Bonnie to not play with Solly. That's as far as THAT got. and it became....a command to be obeyed, therefore the initial action had to be started in order to be stopped. My timing was impeccable, but she did not at any time absorb that it was PLAY I was CORRECTING - not commanding a stopping action to be rewarded.
She would engage, but every time she got the toy, she would immediately seek Solly out to engage him with the toy. The straw that broke the camels back so-to-speak was when I left the house and she did not notice for 15 minutes (Dave reported.) during which time she was involved with harassing an attempting to sleep Solly.
This mode of training also transferred to Rhiannon, who is now 13. Bonnie would not behave calmly when Rhi was in the house, and would perform then run right over and jump on Rhiannon.
I've pin-pointed the timing and reason for the sudden shift in Bonnie's Behavior. Although she was very slowly and methodically introduced to the circumstance of being out-in-the-house "sans" kennel during the day while I'm at work (5 hours max usually - 2 days a week) we have entirely removed the kennel she was housed in during alone time. It has been removed from the house. Now knowing all this, I can pull together the why's and hows of Bonnie's issues, and can use her Unique Temperament to "fix" it.
And that's what I did. "Fix" it. With other breeds, I might be tempted to bring the kennel back in, and do more separation of Solly & Bonnie. BUT - I shouldn't have to sacrifice my comfort for the dog's behavior issues. If I wanted to do that I'd go to the pound and pick up any old mutt.
On May 12th, I came home and jumped on me. Not only was this the first jump EVER, but it hurt me. Big long scratch down my legs. I also noticed in this time that she had become just as excited and lose control of herself when SHE got home. Again, with the separation of work to home. SO -
My first line task is to observe and break it down.
No. 1 Where does B fall in Breed temperament mechanics? with undesirable behavior?
No 2. OBSERVE - what desired behavior does she do well? Where is the desired behavior in breed temperament mechanics?
ANSWER NO 1: Bonnie's BTM (Breed Temperament Mechanic) is to the Leader (or Alpha - I haven't permanently labeled it yet).
Is there any behavior that could be attributed to "killer" ?? - YES - She reminds me of a Labrador in the way that she wants to be happy. Your comfort is secondary. Most of these behaviors are Prey Drive in Basis.
Is there any behavior that could be attributed to runner? YES - I see some flock guardian and some herder. Just fine points though, none of it is complete one way or the other.
No 3. Where do these behaviors fall with her RAW temperament.?
Some components of sound and touch sensitive plus as mentioned, prey drive.
No. 4 Bonnie's F Number is 19? 20? 21? Gosh - brain fart - I don't remember - anyway -
A quick look at Dingo x Vinny scores to check some things
What we've got is this: No. 1 + No. 2 + No. 3 + No. 4 = Training program for Bonnie lee - to calm her down and stop all the Solly fussing behavior. To have her heel properly and regain focus on partnership of handler & her.
To engage her again in service work - and begin to work her into a specialized service. Goal for this (barring finding her a way to Durango soon) is August 1st. Ready for service Sept 1st.
INSTRUCTIONS: The American Alsatians learning pattern is that of Alpha. Not for domination, being "top dog" or anything along leadership roles. We are speaking of LEARNING PATTERNS. The components of the Alpha pack member's brain that understand social interaction, community operation and living and order; setting and keeping boundaries and territory, care about and for the unit as a whole, treating each rank accordingly. All of this needs very detailed instruction as an Alpha in training. All patterning of conditioning and training MUST be done with this in mind.
Bonnie likes instruction, she does not do well with reprimand. She can be engaged (although temporarily) by new things. Enjoys performing but can't slow down long enough to engage in complicated chains. CAN calm easily once immobile.
What we need are - Strict 24 hour conditioning using confinement and leads. No alternate equipment will be used ACCEPT for a Halti if the occasion arises. Reasoning for this is subject to research, and difiicult for me to describe as I lack the vocabulary. - I do not beleive Bonnie can feel pain as...."pain". I beleive the "hard" aspect of the American Alsatian is amplified in this tightly bred dog to the point that it is transmitting improperly. Non life threatening or injurious pain gets transferred to her brain as ...."itchy?" So does discomfort emotionally - transfer as "itchy". Therefore - prong collars or even jewel link - or physical force to employ discomfort to the dog simply DON'T WORK. All she knows is she's itchy.
Next thing to remember is that we are not "obedience training." I fall down often and especially I think during Obedience Class sessions that I teach, I often get back into the groove of thinking I am OBEDIENCE TRAINING for desired behaviors. That is NOT what is going to happen. Rather, I am PROGRAMMING the dog's behavior with instruction. Telling her how to behave wile she "sitting" or "down staying", or eating her meal, or interacting with strangers. The truebred American Alsatian is designed to have this "programmable" temperament. Without specifc (I mean SPECIFIC) instructio n on how to behave, they will draw from the nearest source of instruction in their environment. - locate resources and and assume that behavior until instructed otherwise.
Let me put it this way: In obedience class I ask - what is the main goal of attending obedience class for you & your dog?" Speciifics like stop jumping barking ect are given, but 90% of the time are followed by "I want him to calm down!"
My reply - "I can teach you excercises and such that will allow you to control your dog. Teaching them to control themselves is greatly up to genetics and a whole lotta work on your part. . If you've got a hyper dog, they will always be hyper. Yo can teach them to sit and stay still for hours, and they will obey, but you can't alter the basic personality of the dog." and 90% of the time thats true. Every once in a while we run across a dog made silly-mad by their owners nuerotic behavior. Its rare - but these dogs can get their true personality back.
The American Alsatian - is different. Of course, depending on the F-#'s (most recent outcrosses) you will have fluctuation in temperaments (thats what the RAW scale is for folks, USE IT!!!!!!) but for the most part, the truebred AmAl - is programmable.
And this is what we did:
DAY 1 - Began early afternoon when I got home from work. Trainers leash in hand, (my 2 barking - Bonnie doesn't - yet) I unlocked the door and had it pulled from my hands and banged open by one Miss Bonnie, pushing through everyone and knocking things over. The trainers leash is the Bold Lead Designs Multi Functional lead - flat 1 inch softf leather with slip lead attatchment. o On her first jump The Lead swooped over head and my meanest monster vioce came out. "SIT!!!!!" Lead remained taught until she was ready to sit still. No release, we followed with heel through the house (she didn't - I had to yank on her the whole way).
(Funniest thing were my dogs, eyes got all big and they were like "oh shit!")
We went out to the kennel, and with no fanfare placed in. _Its important for me to note that the degree of strict has to be caefully guarded, and monitored, for all the canines, as too much can cause anxiety about my arrival home (which has been demonstrated to be not pleasant - therefore something for them to worry about while I'm gone)_
It is the garnering principle behind LAP therapy. Physically and emotionally forcing the dog to remain quiet (emotionally) and still (physically) while they are in your lap, (or proximate) This teaches the dog how to behave in the presence of human beings. This does not instruct the dog what position they are to be in when someone enters the door (sitting) or when supper is being served (laydown) or walking down the street. This will teach the dog community interation, social order and It sets personality if you will. The wonderful thing behind the LAP therapy is that its primarily applicable with the adult American Alsatian as well as the pup.
B was put under 24 hour lockdown on leash. My first procedure was to "whirlwind" and get her out to the kennel on leash. I left her out there until i saw her eyes soften, breathing slow and ears fall down a bit. Once the excitement had passed. The whirlwing was maybe a level 7-8? Pretty intense.
The next thing was fix the "down". She has a habit of rolling over to show belly on the down. We will split it in 2. One command for belly rubs, one command for down. We'll do this with marking and food. My MARK is belly on the ground.
----------3 times was the charm for that and all things Bonnie- I Marked when her head went down to the ground, and rewarded with cheese. Took cheese away on 5th attempt. We are now on a good "Laydown", and she has no problems with it. Haven't as yet started a command for belly rubs. Its IMPORTANT TO NOTE that food was not being used as reward - just to MARK desired behavior. (My clicker is broken - I'm good though with voice maks.) I've kept the command harsh as I feel this command gets used most during frustrated times, or hurried. Softer while speaking to her but low volume. NO excited tones for this dog.
After that - we spent 18 hours with the trainers leash on. She slept overnight tethered to the bed, and under constant watch. The next morning I kept the leash on her and kept her in the same room as myself.
I did no new training, and did not introduce any newness in territory during this period. For any arrivals into the home (dog or human) she was placed on a down wait. For any of HER arrivals home, B was placed directly into the kennel and contact with Solly was eliminated.
At the 24 hour mark almost exactly I began to see a relaxing happen. Gait was less hurried. Breathing less rapid, tail a little higher. All body movements right down to blinking slowed.
For the next three days I used BLD leash decreasing downtimes and easing vocal commands.
My focus was on teaching Bonnie how to behave. Permanently. What I expect her personality to be. I used obedience commands that she had been taught to communicate this.
More than any other breed I have had contact with in my life, this breed will behave as you instruct. - Temperament basic personality CAN BE altered through short term conditioning using obedience.
Today (Finally finished the transfer June 1st - ) Bonnie is much calmer and all I did was tell her to.