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Old 11-28-2012, 03:23 PM
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Teaching calm behaviour

Walnut knows to be pretty calm around us - even when we arrive from work and he's been alone. That's mainly because we don't give him any attention when we get home, until he's calmed down.

He's learned that when we get home, he needs to calm down extremely fast to get attention. His excited, when we get home from work, lasts about 1 minute or less (from 10+ minutes of going crazy when he was younger).

We've told all our friends and family to do the same - don't give attention until he calms down.

However, strangers, neighbors, some friends we bump into, people on the bus, etc. tend to get him all worked up by approaching quickly, making loud baby noises (hate that), and trying to pet him.

Of course, at this point Walnut just wants to stop sitting and play. I'm able to call him back and have him sit nicely...until strangers/passerby's use the baby voice again.


I'm thinking it might be easier to train him to not react to squeaky, high pitch voices, and quick approaches to pet him.

Do you guys think this approach would work well?
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Old 11-29-2012, 09:42 AM
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I think it could help by giving you the opportunities to reinforce the behaviors you do want - in controlled situations (at home and 'out there' using 'set ups' with people you know) , so that it becomes 'automatic' for him. Perhaps you can encourage people you know to perform those 'rude/odd' behaviors you encounter out in public, to give you some 'real life' training opportunities, and reinforce Walnut for staying calm. The 'squeaky' voices tend to trigger curiousity and excitement, so perhaps, work with him using all those high pitched sounds (from you and family members, to start with) as well. The more 'practice' and rewarding for appropriate behaviors you can give him in situations where you can get cooperation from the people, the easier it will be for him to stay calm in those 'out of the blue' situations.
You are doing fantastic. Congrats to you and Walnut!
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Old 12-01-2012, 12:11 PM
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Definitely! We had a terrific instructor who did just this. She was especially good at "teenage girl." "Oh, oh, oh, he's soooo cute. Can I touch his ears? Squeeeeal!" She did this over and over again. Casper is much better around squealing girls now. Not saying he's anywhere near calm, but manageable. I still need to work on being more assertive to stop people that want to wrestle with him. It's only happened a couple of times, but it was horrible being left with a totally wound up dog.
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Old 12-01-2012, 02:20 PM
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Calm behaviour comes with exposure. Anything new is exciting to all of us. Something we have seen a thousand times loses the excitement factor. This comes with age. Go for lots of walks in the city. Eventually he will be saying "Oh dear here's yet another human that wants to pat me! Sigh"

In the meantime try to have reasonable expectations for his age and learn to enjoy their enthusiasm and celebrations otherwise you will be sorely disappointed and unnecessarily frustrated. Remember we love goldens for their passion, tremendous love and joy for life. They are designed to bring joy and fun into our lives.

If you are asking about jumping use an easy walker harness and step on the leash. Dog trainers would say keep up the excercise to release any built up energy that way. Don't worry he will settle eventually
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Old 12-03-2012, 10:26 AM
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Thank you all for the comments.
I've been trying this technique outdoors now (with no pen), and somewhat starting to see progress.

Honestly, I think Doug hit it bang on. He's 1 year old and very excited. He gets LOTS of exercise daily (multiple walks, training, etc). No matter how tired he is, he still has enough energy to get super excited when someone gets him going.

I've recently started walking him from our place as far as I can go (giving him breaks, opportunity to sniff, etc). When I notice he's getting tired, I hop on the local bus back home.

It's great because people in the bus always make high pitch noises (even some men), and pet him, etc. We've been taking him on the bus and subway/metro for about a week now.

I think exposure to more and more people, and just letting random people pet him all the time is actually helping more than training with treats/clicker (or maybe it's the combination of both).

The subway is even better than the bus, because it's pretty crowded with people, and he's learned to sit calmly. Occasionally someone will approach him to pet him, and he'll get up (tail wagging and all), but we immediately give him the "sit" command, and he's able to control himself for longer and longer.


I work in the financial district downtown - super crowded! I remember seeing two ladies training a 6 week old black lab puppy. Well, not so much training...just exposing. Naturally we asked a few questions. They were preparing him to become a guide dog for the visually impaired. They said having him watch, sleep, and play around thousands of people everyday for a week basically numbs them of their excitements around humans. They were actually asking people to come up and pet the little guy, talk to him, etc.

We don't want the numb Walnut, because we enjoy his excitement. We just need to be able to control it a little better. I think i'll lay off the clicker/treats for this one. I'm going to continue taking him on buses and subways, and walks in downtown core.
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Old 12-03-2012, 11:54 AM
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Good to hear things are going so well! Would suggest phasing out the treats, rather than going 'cold turkey'. Would suggest moving to randomly food rewarding the behavior - rewarding the first, then third, etc. correct response before moving to the occassional food reward or phasing out all together. It takes an immense amount of practice (repetition) and rewarding for a behavior to become habit, especially behaviors that are 'difficult' for them, and intermittently rewarding keeps them 'in the game', (like people playing slot machines) and I am always prepared to offer a high value food reward for those mind boggling, 'Wow that was amazing!', moments.
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Old 12-03-2012, 01:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charliethree View Post
Good to hear things are going so well! Would suggest phasing out the treats, rather than going 'cold turkey'. Would suggest moving to randomly food rewarding the behavior - rewarding the first, then third, etc. correct response before moving to the occassional food reward or phasing out all together. It takes an immense amount of practice (repetition) and rewarding for a behavior to become habit, especially behaviors that are 'difficult' for them, and intermittently rewarding keeps them 'in the game', (like people playing slot machines) and I am always prepared to offer a high value food reward for those mind boggling, 'Wow that was amazing!', moments.
Hi Charliethree,
Yes, for sure I won't do it cold turkey. I always carry a bag of treats everywhere I go anyway. We usually keep treats and clickers accesible around the house too. Indoors, I use cookies, home baked treats, etc.

Anytime I step out with Walnut, I fill up a treat bag with the home made liver bits. We also use liver for classes, and able to get his attention with 3-4 dogs in the same room.

By the way - he's still responding really well to home cooked liver and his focus is 10x better! I'm able to walk passed other dogs, people, bikes, etc in daytime and nighttime with no issues. There is zero pausing, freezing, or anything.

Occasionally something might grab his attention for for 8-10 seconds, which I think is acceptable. Plus, if I say this name, or "let's go", he quickly "releases" focus from whatever has got his attention (usually something I can't see...kind of creepy), and carries on walking. It's those times where I give a nice size piece of liver.

Overall, he's doing so much better.
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Old 12-03-2012, 01:40 PM
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We are working on the same issues with Amber. People coming into our home and telling us, "Oh, she is fine! Just let her go.", have reconsidered . My husband spends a lot of time in front of the Big Box stores walking her around people. She calms down much faster now, but we are still working on it. She is also mildly anxious with flags, swings, signs at night and shopping carts. We are working on that, as well. Training continues to be a work in progress. Vicki
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Old 12-03-2012, 01:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walnut_the_Nut View Post
T
Excerpt:
I work in the financial district downtown - super crowded! I remember seeing two ladies training a 6 week old black lab puppy. Well, not so much training...just exposing. Naturally we asked a few questions. They were preparing him to become a guide dog for the visually impaired. They said having him watch, sleep, and play around thousands of people everyday for a week basically numbs them of their excitements around humans. They were actually asking people to come up and pet the little guy, talk to him, etc.
A little scary for them to have a 6 week pup out before he/she has completed immunizations.
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Old 12-03-2012, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Amberbark View Post
We are working on the same issues with Amber. People coming into our home and telling us, "Oh, she is fine! Just let her go.", have reconsidered . My husband spends a lot of time in front of the Big Box stores walking her around people. She calms down much faster now, but we are still working on it. She is also mildly anxious with flags, swings, signs at night and shopping carts. We are working on that, as well. Training continues to be a work in progress. Vicki
We had similar issues with shopping carts, flags etc. I have another thread on that. He's really good with that stuff now.

I know what you mean about "Oh, she is fine! Just let her go." or "He's just a puppy, lets him be".

What we consider "problems" with Walnut other people consider absolutely normal dog behaviour. We plan on continuing to train, so that the little "problems" at 12 months don't turn into major issues at 3-4 years.

I'm sure a bunch of the stuff we worry about (which is really 1-2 things), is highly related to 1) him not being neutered and 2) being only 12months. I think with continued training, aging, and neutering at 14-18months, excitement levels will drop.
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