Wits End Dog Training: helping you to help your dog be the best it can be

Wits End Dog Training, helping you to help your dog be the best it can be.

Wits End Dog Training | Specifics

9. Reactions to distractions

The dog is never wrong, set the dog up to succeed and then reward him for success.
The dog is not stupid, the dog is not stubborn, he is just being a dog.
If he does not get it yet, look in the mirror, the teaching is the problem.


Three keys to successful dog training:
1. Rewarded behavior becomes more frequent.
2. Ignored behavior fades away.
3. Once a behavior is established, variable rewards will strengthen the habit.

Three dog training rules to live by:
1. The dog is never wrong, set the dog up to succeed and then reward him for success.
2. The dog is not stupid, the dog is not stubborn, he is just being a dog.
3. If he does not get it yet, look in the mirror, the teaching is the problem.


Training Skills Analysis -
Systematic Progressive Desensitization

A technique to help the dog become used to a distraction that previously concerned him.

The way we do this is to expose him to the distraction at a low level of intensity so that he gradually gets accustomed to the distraction. We can start by considering that almost every distraction can be reduced in intensity by increasing the distance from the subject. Therefore if we start working on the distraction when it is a long way away we should be getting only a very, very mild feeling of concern.

The first session we are aiming for one experience for a short duration and a safe conclusion.

The next exposure might be identical, and the next, continue until the exact same repetition causes no reaction at all, no feelings of concern. We can consider that the dog is now accustomed to the distraction at that distance.

The next stage might be to perform the same repetition with a slightly reduced distance. Most people just think the dog is fine now and move way too quickly to reduce the distance which increases the concern and sets you back in your training.

Remember - Slowly, Slowly, Slowly!
SLOW IS FAST!

If you do this progressively and stay attentive to your dog’s reactions you are starting a new neural pathway. However, it is vital to understand that the old pathway is still there! A common mistake is to assume that the new pathway overwrites the old pathway. IT DOES NOT! The new pathway becomes stronger and deeper like a trail in the woods the more correct repetitions you practice. The old pathway disappears only from disuse over a long period of time, for this to be successful you must manage the environment so the old unwanted behavior is never repeated. If you allow your dog to walk the old pathway just once in a while the path will never disappear!

The difficult part of this technique for most owners is that they are not tuned in to the subtle signs of concern
exhibited by their dog.

The quickest way to gain this connection is to video the behavior. Then watch it frame by frame, preferably with an experienced trainer to point out the signs you might miss. Most owners, and many inexperienced dog trainers, have a tendency to only see the signs when the dog is close to or even exceeding their threshold of ability to cope. They pay attention only when the dog is doing a Tasmanian Devil impression. The common refrain “It came out of nowhere!”

The difficulty with this from a rehabilitation perspective is that the increased level of excitement results in increased release of hormones into the blood stream. These drugs are then flooding the dogs body and can take up to 24 hours to subside! In effect the reactivity is rewarding the dog chemically, sometimes in such a strong way that the performance becomes a doggy drug habit! (Fence guarding and fence running is a commonly seen situation with this scenario).




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