taylor is about 1.5 years old.
she is generally calm and laid back, and she gets plenty of daily exercise, but she is easily distracted and highly excitable.
when she gets excited, not only does she behave rudely and annoying, but she can be dangerous with her over enthusiasm. she jumps, she swings her legs in the air, her tail whips, and her nails might scratch. she buttucks in tight circles, running so fast, and out of control. she once ran into SU's legs, which caused him to spin around and twist his angle.
taylor's biggest problem is with visitors at the house, including whenever SU comes home.
you might even say she is overly friendly, but it wasn't just jumping on people. she just gets too excited and gets wild.
for several months, i put a leash on her, which worked to keep my control over her, but she strained and pulled and barked and became frustrated that she couldn't get to greet the visitor. the visitor was not too keen on meeting taylor like this. i wouldn't want to get near her either.
when taylor gets like this, she becomes deaf to commands, and she struggles. i have to pin her down to the ground to force her to relax. i did this consistantly whenever she got this way. she had to be physically restrained and pinned to the ground every time. she was not improving at all. her frustration seemed to increase each time she was retrained, and while pinning her down got results, at what point was it ever going to end?
then it got to the point where my hand reaching out to her neck area would cause her to automatically fall to the floor and belly up, not just when visitors came to the house, just whenever i'd reach out to her.
this is NOT the kind of relationship i want with taylor.
taylor is highly motivated by food.
knowing this, i decided to use them to help me get through to her. i was tired of working against her.
the very first visitor we got, i clipped the leash on taylor and i took a handful of her regular kibble. SU let the visitor inside, and we were amazed at the difference. at first, taylor got excited about the new person, but she could see and smell the goodies inside my hand. she seemed torn. she looked up at me, so i gave her a morsel. she was hooked. visitor? what visitor?
with the goodies in my hand, taylor stayed right in front of me, sitting so nicely, and so focused on me. we went through some commands she knew, praticed WAIT-for-the-treat several times, and generally had a good time together, while the visitor was a few feet away from her. the leash was slack, in fact i dropped it. taylor remained with me and focused on me and the goodies. after several mintues of giving her something to do for the goodies in my hand, she was able to calm down and relax on her own. taylor was able to ignore the new person, and then later nicely greet the visitor instead of going crazy with excitement and frustration.
i was so relieved. with treats, i was able to work with taylor, not against her. it was so much easier and less stressful to have her working for treats instead me manhandling her and force her to shut down.
we are still training her in this manner, and it is going very well. she is improving each time.
one day i'm hoping that whenever a visitor comes to our house, taylor's first thought would be to run immediately to us and sit nicely to get rewarded instead of acting wild. right now, she still charges the door, but then she comes to me when i call her. she knows that coming to me means that she will get goodies - sometimes it's kibble, sometimes liver or cheese, etc. i can even open the door and let the visitor inside while taylor is near me focused and waiting for the goodies.
luke is just so easy. he is perfect all by himself, without much help from me. luke does what i ask simply because i asked it. with taylor, i've learned a lot about the power of motivation. for taylor, the motivation to tackle new people is much stronger than the motivation to avoid punishment, but the motivation to obtain goodies is stronger than all the rest.
"Properly trained, a man can be dog's best friend." ~ Corey Ford
Nice case study! ;DSami is highly food motivated too ... it really helps make training easier, and certainly is more enjoyable for them too.luke is just so easy. he is perfect all by himself, without much help from me. luke does what i ask simply because i asked it. with taylor, i've learned a lot about the power of motivation. for taylor, the motivation to tackle new people is much stronger than the motivation to avoid punishment, but the motivation to obtain goodies is stronger than all the rest.
They are both so cute ... I'm sure Taylor is pretty perfect too ;D
Great case study! Thanks for sharing that. Theo is like Taylor--it's the price of a drivey dog. I love it, because when he decides that he WANTS to do something, he does it with great bravado and intensity.
I bet that she's focused enough on you now that you can start weaning the treats. You can go to a variable schedule of reward, so the focus is you, you, you. I've read that delivery about 25% of the time (at random intervals) is ideal. Or use differential reinforcement--just reinforce the best responses (e.g., if she manages to come to you without charging the door, or if she does so especially quickly and energetically).
What a great idea!!!! Raven is the EXACT same way. I tried other suggestions with no avail. I think I will try your method.
Thanks for posting this -- I love hearing about training experiences in a detailed way!
Erin & Toby<br />
i brag about luke a lot, but it's taylor that has really helped me become a better dog person.
she is so smart and spunky. she has a lot more drive in her, and that quick brain of her gets her into trouble sometimes.
i was getting really frustrated and even angry at her for "ignoring" me and being "defiant" when really i was failing to get her attention and communicate what i want from her and providing a good reason(motiviation) for her to cooperate. taylor either couldn't make the connection between the unwanted behavior and the punishement or in some cases, she didn't have the self control needed to avoid the unwanted behavior that would result in the punishement.
we are working on attention and self control excercises daily, and it has really helped in training. i get eye contact from her a whole lot more now and she seems very aware of where i am and where i'm going. she really seems to enjoy being able to do something right, even when treats are not involved, so that's what i'm focusing on for taylor, and it is working well for us.
"Properly trained, a man can be dog's best friend." ~ Corey Ford
We are going through the same thing with Lola and I will definitely try your method.
Dominic & Ellie<br /><br />
A very helpful post.
For me, the best part of it was that you re-evaluated what you'd been doing and its results and tried a different approach.
When something isn't working -- re-evaluate, try another approach.
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
Fantastic post. I think a lot of people misdiagnose "alpha" and "dominant" behavior in Labs, when really they just need to be more compelling to their dogs.Originally Posted by luke from georgia