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Murphy's Human, Kam
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi
I have an 11mth old guide dog in training and am hoping to mine some other minds on how to work through dog distraction. When he's working he's got a jacket he wears and every dog/person is a leave it and for the most part he is fine with it. The challenge is that if we see a dog he stops dead and quits walking until they've moved on. I always say leave it when I notice the dog and try to keep walking, however it can be a struggle. he's fine once dog is out of sight.

When not working, he can't just sniff/greet dog and move on, he wants to play and can be very insistent about staying/playing. I recognize that a blind person won't be able to tell the dog to leave it and move on so he has to be able to see dogs and just ignore them.

I've walked along areas with tons of dogs and kept on saying leave it but I feel like a horrible person if I take him there everyday so we can practice ignoring other dogs. Maybe that's what I need to do. I'd like him to pass versus fail but do understand this could just be an obstacle for him. I know that he's not as bad as other puppies in training so I'm not sure if that is good or bad.

Any suggestions or advice to offer?
Thanks
 

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Well..... When Rem was younger I used a high value treat for leave it with dogs to lure him away and then once he passed them I gave the treat. We are still working on it but it's came a LONG way and now it's only some dogs and then it takes just a couple reminders with the command with those dogs

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A good rule of thumb with distractions is to find a low enough level that the distraction is present but it doesn't completely consume the dog's attention and then to work there until the dog is used to that level of distractions. Then you increase the distraction level slightly and practice in that environment.

For example, you could go to the dog park and then work on leash outside the fencing, far enough away from the dogs that your dog can see them but isn't close enough to get fixated. Then, you run through the dog's skills in that elevated-distraction context. Once he has the hang of it, you move closer and restart the process, moving gradually closer, session by session, until you're pretty close to the fence.

If your dog is unworkable at any point because he's too fixated or excited (you can call this "over threshold"), you can just lower the distractions by moving the dog further away from them. In a dog's mind, distance is a huge part of the power of a distraction.

Group classes also work great for this kind of situation. We work with guide puppies to teach them exactly the skill you're talking about. They need to be aware of other dogs without becoming fixated, pulling, barking, etc.
 

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Murphy's Human, Kam
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Tippykayak I read your blog about context and that is part of the challenge. When he's in a group of other guide dogs all working he's absolutely fine and you would swear dog distraction is not an issue. If we're sitting on patio alone when training while dogs walk by usually no issues either. Walk through parking lot with dogs barking in cars, no issue.

He's never been food motivated so treats don't work in this context. Dogs, people, then food is his order.

I'll try being across street from dog area to see if that works and I guess reward by letting him go say hello/play afterwards??? (It's not fenced, off leash pathway along beach)

It's possible I notice it more because right now he's out of jacket more than in jacket versus when placed with client where he'd be working more often than not whenever he's outside.
 

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Tippykayak I read your blog about context and that is part of the challenge. When he's in a group of other guide dogs all working he's absolutely fine and you would swear dog distraction is not an issue. If we're sitting on patio alone when training while dogs walk by usually no issues either. Walk through parking lot with dogs barking in cars, no issue.

He's never been food motivated so treats don't work in this context. Dogs, people, then food is his order.

I'll try being across street from dog area to see if that works and I guess reward by letting him go say hello/play afterwards??? (It's not fenced, off leash pathway along beach)

It's possible I notice it more because right now he's out of jacket more than in jacket versus when placed with client where he'd be working more often than not whenever he's outside.
Lots of dogs aren't interested in treats when there are heavy distractions present but will still find them rewarding if you get further away from the distraction. But if your dog is truly uninterested in treats all the time, even really stinky stuff, then you have to find other things that are rewarding, like a toy, a game, a scratch in a special spot, etc.

But I don't think it would work to reward him just with playtime at the end of work time. Dogs typically need more immediate, frequent rewards while working.

I would practice in more situations where you can work but distractions are present, and then work up to get closer and closer to the distractions so he gets practice with more and more intense levels.
 

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I personally wouldn't let him greet dogs at all. There is no need for a service dog to socialize with other dogs. If there are other dogs in the home, that is different, but I would teach a dog that when they are out, there job is always to ignore other dogs, vested or not. Strange dogs should become like a piece of funtiture to them - aware they are there, but not have any significance to them.
 

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Murphy's Human, Kam
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
His sister is food motivated and much easier in some respects. Sadly we're also learning other more stressful things so I think the value of cheerios and apples (his high value treats) has also diminished. Poor guy. It's also a catch-22 in that ideally we don't want them doing things just for treats, so we're encouraged to not use treats if possible. I think its also a learning/maturing process too.

Actually it's probably more important to make sure a service dog is well socialized with dogs of all sizes, breeds, on-leash, off leash, etc because of how often they are out in public and they have to be able to handle whatever comes along and not freak out. Most working dogs will usually look at dogs when they see them, cuz they're still dogs and may smile at other dogs when going by. At least that's the way of the assoc we're with, which works for me.

The dog distraction is more of an issue out of jacket than in so it's certainly workable. Let me tell you, when we're working and some person walking by lets their retractable leash get longer so their yappy dog can come say hello, it's very irritating when they can hear me say Leave It to him. So he gets tons of praise & treats for leaving it and ignoring. Thanks for the tips. One day at a time.
 
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