Tag Archives: dog reactivity

Fence Fighting

Does Your Dog Fence Fight?

If your dog fence fights, it can be very frustrating. The best way to deal with it is to practice a solid recall, i.e. the come command. Once you can recall your dog off a small distraction, let’s say tossing a kibble or toy & having him come to you instead of the item you tossed, you are well on your way.  (I don’t recommend balls to start as they bounce for too long, proving a more intense distraction)

For the best results I would use a remote collar, an “e-collar” to achieve this goal. An e-collar is like tapping someone on the shoulder to get their attention when they are tuning you out. Their levels can go up to 100, but we usually train on around 5, which most people can’t even feel. Although you can buy these online, I recommend you get professional training if you go with this tool. They can either help or hurt your dog. The way we pair them with food on a low setting, the dog feels a tiny tingle, is conditioned to look at you when he feels it, then gets the food reward.  Within minutes he’s looking at you with every little tap he feels excited to get food.

Once we teach the dog the tap of the e-collar means “look at me, come to me”, we can start adding distractions. Again, I’d start off with tossing a kibble, like I did in this session with Apollo today. This is his first e-collar lesson on his second day of training:

If you can add a layer of click/reward when the dog comes back to you, great. I get that you only have so many hands. I actually worked for months on the e-collar with my dog before I picked up the clicker. I don’t know if I would have gotten the attention from him without it. But I’ll never know. He was/is a very challenging dog.

Anyway, once your dog is paying attention to you, coming to his name instead of chasing a kibble or toy, change it to a ball you toss. Either tap the ecollar to get his attention and/or click/feed when he comes back. You really need to understand our Work4Food Program before you start. He needs to be hungry, motivated to work. If his belly is full, he will be less inclined to pay attention to you. We want him to have that “broke & hungry. will work for food” mindset. If you can’t get him food motivated, the only other option for obedience is force, yanking him on that leash. We’re trying to avoid that.

Fence fighting is extremely frustrating for both dogs and their owners.

Fence fighting is extremely frustrating for both dogs and their owners.

So, if you can now switch over to the clicker & do the NAME/click/feed in a quiet setting. Call him to you “Buddy, Come” backing up with the leash- click for compliance & give him a kibble. Do this in a quiet setting. Then a more challenging setting. Once your dog is bombproof everywhere else, now work near a fence, where no dog is on the other side. NAME/click/feed near the fence with no dog….closer to the fence with no dog…..now do it with a calm dog on the other side of the fence (if you can find that needle in a haystack), at a distance your dog can handle. When your dog can pay attention to you at the fence of a calm dog, “Buddy, come” click/kibble….now increase the proximity, stopping when you lose control. Back up the progress when he gets too worked up. When you can call him away from the fence of a calm dog, now go back & do it with an excitable/aggressive dog. Start at a safe distance & work your dog’s threashhold. Get his attention “buddy, come” backing up, tugging the leash, click/kibble. When he can handle this distance, increase proximity.

This is a tough goal. The more you practice this, the better. I spent a solid week + feeding my dog only in the car for not flipping out when he saw a person/dog/cat. If you make the time & be patient & consistent, you can achieve great things!

If you are not in the New England area & are in need of a professional trainer, please visit the IACP International Association of Canine Professionals. Remember not all dog trainers are the same, so if you have not gotten the results you want, please do not give up on your dog. Find a competent, qualified trainer near you. And be sure to tell them Laurie Wagner sent you! 🙂

Annyong chill in the car

Clicker Training for Dog Reactivity

How I got Annyong past charging at dogs in the car.

It used to be people too. I got past the people & then it was just dogs he would react to. Now it’s just cats & we are making huge strides. I mean mind-blowing speed huge strides, not just the “we’re working on it” lip service I often hear. I’ve been using a clicker. Yes, you heard it right, a clicker. I know people say verbal markers work as good & you always have your voice (I used to say this too). But I feel the clarity & consistency of the clicker sound to be so unique, that that is why it is so much more effective.

First you need to give the sound meaning. “Load the clicker” they say. So for a complete meal, say dog’s NAME, get eye contact, “click” the moment you get it as you calmly say good & give a kibble. Do this for at least one meal.
Next I was click/feeding him just in the car for no reason. Just to keep building on the association. He needed to be chill, not freaking on anyone. I would just randomly click & feed. This alone kind of settled him a bit too. He was less pacy in the car & more at ease.
Then when I saw a person I would use the food as a distraction. I would NAME/click/feed ahead of the trigger, waving my hand at first if I had to to control his attention. I did this a lot & then started the process the moment he saw a person. NAME/click/feed. Then as we made progress with that, I would give him the chance to see a person, count a second in my head & then NAME/click/feed. Now I’m just clicking/feeding after he ignores a trigger.
I drive him to & from work each day so it is the only time he is getting fed right now. He’s got to be in the car, ignoring a trigger. I actively seek triggers to challenge him. When I was trying to get past people, I would stop at Cumby’s on my way to work & click/feed him with all the people going past us. It was more challenging there, but it helped speed this along.
Then today I found some people walking their dogs together in my quiet neighborhood & I sort of stalked them. At a distance where my dog would start to light up, I would put in park & click/feed until he could handle seeing them without freaking. Then I would drive around & get a little closer & do the same. Each time trying to get a little closer. He started to just watch & not obsess/freak.
I did that with neighborhood outdoor cats this week too. I saw him start to freak when he saw one. Did the NAME/click/feed & it was awesome because the cats were less apt to run, so his reaction wasn’t as intense. They didn’t feel much danger since he was in a car. So again, I put it in park & tried to get him to focus on me for click/feed & then got it so he could look at a cat without freaking out.
I will continue to feed him only in the car until this is a thing of the past. I already feel close to that goal. And I’m just floored at how easy it was once I started the clicker. I may be a new convert. Before you try this, please read through my last article, Who Feeds You? for some better background & understanding of our Work4Food program.

If you are not in the New England area & are in need of a professional trainer, please visit the IACP International Association of Canine Professionals. Remember not all dog trainers are the same, so if you have not gotten the results you want, please do not give up on your dog. Find a competent, qualified trainer near you. And be sure to tell them Laurie Wagner sent you! 🙂