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Brenda Wilkinson
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2015 4:14 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

After reading the posts on muzzles thought it might be good to have a thread for coping with briard quirks.
My own thoughts are there is not a one cap fits all but the basics are similar and tweaked to fit. Personally
I like to replace negatives with positives and reward for good behaviour.
I deplore harsh punishment and believe they are counter productive.
Firm and fair treatment for me is the best policy.
The problems become more difficult when they have been allowed for what ever reason to carry on over a period of time and become a learned behaviour that has to be unlearned the retrained and takes time an patience.
Fear and lack of trust are very often misunderstood for aggression when it is really a defence mechanism.

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Amanda Elsdon-Dew
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2015 6:26 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Having just invested in a Sarah Whitehead online teach-in on dog language (special reduced offer, but I suspect that she regularly sells through that method!) I have to say that I have been really enjoying spending time with dinah and Brion and concentrating on 'their' language (which is not so hard to read, just that I find it easy to forget to tune in properly), and been thrilled with how delightedly they have responded. Of course playing at home and in the garden doesn't touch on any of the main pressure points - encounters with unfamiliar people and dogs -but I like to think it might must be sort of 'date time' with me!
One thing that has come up is possessiveness over feeding bowls. Yesterday I fed the two dogs too close and Brion thought Dinah was moving towards his bowl, so snapped at her, she snapped back and then they had a noisy rolling over fight. No damage done but she certainly was upset for the rest of the evening. Today I gave them each a little milk and tea in a bowl each either side of me as I had a cup of tea, and they were cool as could be about that. It was a good moment because they'd been happily retrieving balls side by side. They don't at all mind me putting food in their bowls, coming close etc when they are eating, but can be guardy with each other. I took care to feed them their proper supper well apart but I am glad to report that they were perfectly calm about that again, and licked out each other's bowls once both had finished. Dunno if I helped with the milky tea but I hope so, since I reckoned it was given when they were anyway chilled and enjoying themselves, not expecting it (so no chance to stress about upcoming food, as Brion is a bit inclined to) and they ate v close to each other without fuss. I don't plan to always give them tea, but do plan to play more with them and feed them close to each other when it seems a good and calm moment to do so.
Amanda

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Ruth Richardson
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2015 7:16 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Ooooh Amanda, I think you have the first question for Brenda!
Here's the second, Brenda: What do you do if you have a young briard who jumps up and grabs at your sleeves when he gets over-excited by something outside? With Hugo, I resorted to grabbing a handful of scruff from the back of his neck which seemed to calm him very quickly (and protected my arms from him). I was careful not to pinch him, but I would like a kinder way of dealing with the situation. If I tried to get hold of his collar, he could still twist round and mouth my forearm. Trying to move away from him just made him want to chase me. Speaking to him calmly didn't work. Nowadays, I can foresee what things would get him in to that state and avoid it, but I'd like to know how I could have handled it better for future reference.
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Zizou
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 8:06 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Brenda Wilkinson wrote:

Personally
I like to replace negatives with positives and reward for good behaviour.
I deplore harsh punishment and believe they are counter productive.
Firm and fair treatment for me is the best policy.
The problems become more difficult when they have been allowed for what ever reason to carry on over a period of time and become a learned behaviour that has to be unlearned the retrained and takes time an patience.
Fear and lack of trust are very often misunderstood for aggression when it is really a defence mechanism.


whoomph there it is.. Very Happy . Amen to that.

I'd like to add, do not leave them alone for long periods of time. I see dogs who are are left alone all day while the owners work, then the owners wonder why the dog has issues. So I coped with "separation anxiety" by leaving him for 2 minutes , then 5 minutes and so on until I could build it up. He still only gets 3 to 4 hours maximum alone, on rare occasions, otherwise my dogs get babysitting. I used to go out for the day, and just send him round to my dog loving neighbour. She did the same with her dog. I think boredom and Briards is a bad mix. Whenever anybody complains about their dog, my first questions are: how much time do they sppend alone? How much exercise are they getting? How much stimulation are they getting?

Amanda? Do you remember that time when Brion was happy for Zizou to eat out of his bowl? I think it was yogurt? My two eat their own food, then switch to see if the other may have left a morsel. The Rottie is on slow feeding bowls because she is a gannet, but they are relaxed enough around food...thank God.
Very Happy Very Happy
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Zizou
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 8:15 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Ruth...for me. Throwing the lead to the ground (away from him, but in view) and a loud and gruff "That is ENOUGH", followed by a sit and stay and letting him calm down worked for me. My action of slinging the lead in a temper and my tone of voice, and look, let him know he'd gone far enough. That word "enough" works wonders.
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Amanda Elsdon-Dew
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 8:35 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Throwing the lead away, that is interesting. I have a friend who has a rescue GSD/Collie cross dog, who was a big handful early on and she was mortified to find her friends hurriedly leaving the local rec ground whenever she appeared because her dog had 'seeing off' tendencies. He also used to chase her rabbits and guinea pigs in their runs which was a big no no since she runs a small pet boarding business. A dog trainer suggested the old method of throwing down stones in a bottle. In desperation she tried this b but she says that she was so desperate about the small pets that she threw the bottle really h ard at a wall and absolutely shouted, 'Leave'. Amazingly, this worked and from now onwards she has been able to just rattle the bottle a little when out on a walk and the dog won't charge at other dogs. She now does agility successfully with him, and he is quite a transformed dog. I know because I met him out on a walk recently with her partially sighted husband (also why she had got fairly desperate about this antisocial behaviour of her dog). Her husband called Ben, the dog, who came happily back to his side and sat. Dinah, I have to say, danced around on the end of her lead like a bucking bronco.
Amanda.
p.s. yes, I was amazed and pleased to see Brion happily eating out of Zizou's bowl without either dog growling at the other, also to see Zizou happily let Brion take a chew from him. I am still working on such issues with Brion at home and I think that his tendency to guardiness is what makes Dinah sometimes so. I always have to watch that with them and sadly don't give them bones because I fear bloodshed. And, yes, re leaving dogs alone all day, I would say that ours are definitely much happier and less hyper now that I don't work full time, working part time at home instead, although I can imagine folk could make it work if their dogs had a really good walk at lunch time and lots of attention at either end of the day and at weekends. Our problem was our particular dogs, who absolutely refused to go out with a dog walker.

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Zizou
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 9:00 am Reply with quoteBack to top

He knows when the lead is thrown down in exasperation, I've "had it." This way, there no scary noises, no pain: just body language between me and my boy. Very Happy
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Ruth Richardson
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:31 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Yeah, I went part time when we got Hugo and now work mornings only, so he is never alone for more than a few hours. When we got Oscar, my husband was working shifts and, on the rare occasions we were both at work in the day, I would go home at lunchtime or pay friends to go and keep him company for a bit.
The trouble with the lead thing, is that we live on a main road and it was always at the start of our walk, so I couldn't just let go of the lead (although that did work on the field when he was pulling! It also worked with Oscar in the park when he wanted to go in a different direction and dug his heels in!) When we were close enough to home for Hugo to understand what I was doing, I would simply take him home until he calmed down and that worked, but it sometimes happened further away and not in a place where I could let go of the lead. Sometimes it was a reaction to another dog, so I certainly couldn't risk letting go.
The stones in the bottle would probably have worked for Oscar, but it simply made Hugo more worked up. Same with a raised voice, Oscar would skulk away, Hugo would perhaps bark or jump at you. Only calm voices and actions work with Hugo. Anything remotely suggesting you're annoyed or losing your temper winds him up. As a former high school teacher, I can understand why, as a raised voice suggests a loss of control and leadership. Hugo can be a bit like a challenging teenager - so for us, calm, but firm is the way to go!
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Amanda Elsdon-Dew
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:49 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

That's helpful, Ruth, thanks. Patient Brenda knows that I am always inclined to be impressed by severe methods that work, and I know that they sometimes do, viz my friend and Ben, though my experience with Dinah so far (and what a lot of trainers we have been under, some recommending pure patience, consistency and kindness, which tends to frustrate me hugely because those methods get results sooooo slowly, and some have used aversive methods on Di, which have seemed to work but actually I haven't been happy with at all) is that she is hyper sensitive and my absolute golden rule is not to break the trust that she has in me. It is great, Zizou's owner, that you have it with Zizou, but I definitely have to be very careful with Dinah. My theory, for what it is worth, is that her aggression towards other dogs, and sometimes guardiness with B, stem from quite a number of very bad frights she had as a young pup, quite a bit caused by Brion himself, and so we are dealing primarily with fear, so I have to be v careful not to reignite that.
Bertie, her uncle, was a confident dog, and actually could be over-bearing with our Pug, not to mention our cat, and we used an ironing water spray to keep him from terrorising Pug, which Bertie found amusing. If he began one of his low crouches and runs in towards Pug, who he liked to hit amidships and send bowling, which really scared Pug, I had only to pull out the spray bottle and Berts would put the skids on just out of range and do a tremendous rodeo act, but leave Pug in peace. Bertie was not aggressive towards strange dogs, which is I think the point, he didn't have Dinah's fear issues.
Amanda

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Ruth Richardson
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 1:26 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Yes, Amanda, a lot of it definitely comes down to fear, as Brenda also mentioned. I do sometimes think a harsher method is a bit of a cop out. While the odd stinging slap to the back of my legs didn't really do me a lot of harm as a child, I think most of us recognise that there are kinder ways of dealing with naughty children and, yes, they may take longer, but hopefully work better in the long run. It's surely the same with dogs. We are human and it is hard not to lose our temper or become really exasperated at times, but I think that's what we should be aiming for. It's definitely not easy to establish that you are the leader and earn the respect that's needed. I know the ideal is to have a calm, submissive dog and a calm, assertive pack leader. I am naturally a passive person (not always calm, either), whereas my husband's confidence and assertiveness can sometimes hint at aggression (although he is far from aggressive), probably also because he doesn't remain as calm as he should. Neither of these is ideal for our highly-strung boy. I had 25 years of practice at never losing my cool as a teacher, but you can fool teenagers that you are inwardly calm and totally in control through your words and actions, but unfortunately, dogs can sense what is really going on inside! I aim never to lose my temper with Hugo, although I admit to getting exasperated with him in the past which hasn't helped.

P.S. With Zizou, I suspect it works because you are actually a fairly calm person and NOT really in a temper or exasperated and he knows it. Your actions are probably just telling him "enough," as you said and letting him know that you are in control.

P.P.S. Just noticed I wrote practise instead of practice and had to correct it. And me, a qualified teacher! Embarassed


Last edited by Ruth Richardson on Thu Oct 15, 2015 2:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Amanda Elsdon-Dew
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 1:50 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Brenda often says that Briards are brilliant at reading our inner thoughts and feelings. Oh dear!
Basically I totally agree with you Ruth and do enjoy your posts, with so many sensible suggestions. I fear that I can be fearful myself, which of course doesn't help with the dogs, which is prob why I like courses and experts so much, but in the end it does come down to our own inner confidence I am sure. So I have to sometimes walk away from a situation with the dogs if I know I am likely to react fearfully towards it, or let my husband, who is not fearful at all (though sometimes annoyingly disregarding of all my training ideas), take over.
Amanda

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Zizou
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 2:26 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Ruth Richardson wrote:


P.S. With Zizou, I suspect it works because you are actually a fairly calm person and NOT really in a temper or exasperated and he knows it. Your actions are probably just telling him "enough," as you said and letting him know that you are in control.


Aw Ruth, thanks, but I am not a calm person, ask my husband. Laughing

The thing with me and Zizou is, from the start, I wanted it to be more of a team. He does stuff for me and I do things for him, but we both have to abide by certain rules in society, and, of course at home too. I don't go for "the pack leader" thing because he is not a wild wolf: he is a domesticated dog. However, he has a working drive; is a social being and required guidance. And, he needs to be reminded of the rules from time to time, as I need to be reminded of things myself. Because I am responsible for what he does, I have to help him stay out of trouble. Very Happy

It's whatever view and behaviour gets you where you need to go.
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Ruth Richardson
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 2:40 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Yes, we're all different and so are our dogs. We were actually given Hugo (the largest male in the litter) because we had had a male briard before (although I suspect Oscar was the smallest male in his litter) and the breeder felt we were better suited to take him on! The trouble is, until you have encountered certain issues, you never learn to deal with them! I am confident I could now prevent many of Hugo's issues from developing in another puppy, but our next dog will no doubt demonstrate behaviours I have not come across, so I will be straight on the phone to poor Brenda! Laughing
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Zizou
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 3:44 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I was worried sick when I got my Rottie, but I turned to the same folk I do in Briards and it's worked out lovely. Very Happy
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Brenda Wilkinson
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 7:00 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

It's great to read your posts all good infomation and methods of training.
In answer to your question Ruth when I have mouthy youngsters I give them a soft toy like a Teddy Bear to hold in their mouths at times of excitement saves the arms Smile and when visitors come they run and get Teddy. A firm no followed by the positive of playing with toy. I've also found rope balls a good tool when training.
As you say Hugo has taught you alot about being abig soft sensitive male Briards who is defensive. Every human dog relationship is different and it is finding a method of handling you dog that you are happy with then sticking with it.
If a dog is fearful there is no point adding to that fear with harsh handling or noise makers etc they need a guardian who will give them the confidence not to be defensive which is difficult when you may be traumatised by seeing your Briard acting what appears to be aggressively for the first time.

I know it's sometimes difficult but calm is best if you feel uptight it's best to put your dog away until you feel calm again.
Good results can take time patience and perseverance.

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Zizou
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2015 7:38 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Agree. Zizou still brings a soft toy to my husband when he comes home from work because that is left over from that initial training as a pup.,

Because my lead is cloth, there is no noise when it hits the grass: it's really just another communication method using pure body language.

And yes, I've walked away to calm myself down before tackling something; I don't only do that with dogs. I like to step back and have a think...

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Ruth Richardson
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2015 1:05 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Oh Brenda, it seems so obvious now you've said it. A soft toy - of course! Why can't I come up with these solutions myself?!
Hugo's trainer would also get her dog fascinated by a particular toy, but then keep it just for walks, so that she could use it to gain her dog's attention when she needed to distract him. In her case, she had a smelly piece of rabbit fur. First, she got the dog fascinated by it at home. She used a sort of fishing rod device with the "rabbit" tied to the end of the line. She would tease the dog, dragging it round the floor, then lifting it up before the dog could get it, so that by the time she actually let him have it, he was desperate to get hold of it. After that, she kept it in her coat pocket and every now and then on a walk she would start getting the dog excited about it by saying "Where's the rabbit?" and rummaging in her pockets. She would eventually produce it and let the dog play with it. Then the minute the dog dropped it, she would scoop it up, put it back in her pocket and not let the dog have it again until the next walk. It meant that if ever the dog was tempted to run off after another dog etc., she just had to shout, "Where's the rabbit?" and the dog would come flying straight back.
A fellow dog walker who always has beautifully behaved dogs once saw me let Hugo go first through a gate and she was horrified. She said she would never let her dog go in front of her. "It's just basic good manners," she said. Hugo has since done his Good Citizenship awards and he will wait, if told to, while we go through gates and doors first, but I don't always remember to tell him, as long as he is just walking through calmly and not dragging me with him. I think dog training comes naturally to some people, whereas I have to be taught (and reminded of) what to do!
P.S. Oscar always brought a toy to us when we came home. It was funny looking through the glass as we put the key in the door and seeing his back end running in the opposite direction in search of a toy.
Oh and back to what Brenda said about fear, Hugo's behaviourist said that on no account was I to scold him for reacting to another dog or stranger (I was inclined to shout "No!") She said it just reinforced the fear by adding negativity to an already negative situation. I was obviously taught how to prevent him from getting into that state in the first place, but when I failed I would have to ask people if they would mind staying there until he had stopped barking, then reward him for his calmness, rather than let them walk away (which told him that his barking had been successful).
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Zizou
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2015 3:01 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

This I do like:"Hugo's behaviourist said that on no account was I to scold him for reacting to another dog or stranger (I was inclined to shout "No!") She said it just reinforced the fear by adding negativity to an already negative situation. I was obviously taught how to prevent him from getting into that state in the first place, but when I failed I would have to ask people if they would mind staying there until he had stopped barking, then reward him for his calmness, rather than let them walk away (which told him that his barking had been successful)"

More music to my ears Ruth. Very Happy
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