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Turning a bad behavior in to a good one

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
Ava & Nix

Suburban Farm- Dogs
 
 
Barked: Sat Mar 2, '13 1:04pm PST 
Nix has an annoying habit of eating my chapstick.

I try to keep them out of his reach, but I'm very OCD about chapstick and always need to have a tube on me, and as a result they sometimes fall out of my pocket and end up on the floor where he finds them.

When I first caught him chewing on one, I yelled and he ran off to hide. The chapstick was ruined anyways, and he obviously didn't learn anything from me yelling, because a week later I caught him chewing on another one. wink Then it dawned on me "He's a smart boy. He can bring it to me." so I asked him to do just that, and he did! Chapstick saved!

Then yesterday I dropped my chapstick while fiddling with the keys to open the door. Nix ignored it and ran inside once I got the door open, but I called to him "Nix, can you get that for me?" and pointed to the little yellow tube lying on the ground, and you know what he did? He turned around, snatched it up, ran back inside and dropped it in the dining room. laugh out loud I said to him "Thank you, but I need it." so he picks it up again and brings it right to me. Basically he's learned it's the same thing as bringing me the newspaper, or his toys.

Bad chapstick-eating behavior gone! (Now if only it was so easy to teach Ava to stop eating my socks. She's so rebellious. lol)

So what bad behaviors have you been able to transform in your dogs? smile

Edited by author Sat Mar 2, '13 1:07pm PST

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Shiver Me- Timbers- "Charlie"

My Little Dog, a- heartbeat at my- feet.<3
 
 
Barked: Sat Mar 2, '13 1:54pm PST 
Charlie, back when I first got him at eight months old, had learned that the only way to get attention was to get himself into trouble. Not the case in my home, of course, but he decided to do just that. One day, I walked from my bedroom around the hall into the dining area to find him standing ON TOP of my kitchen table! Tail wagging, staring at me with this cute grin on his mug. The first time, I gave him trouble. But when I realized.. I can turn this into something he does ON COMMAND.. So.. I taught him to jump onto furniture(not kitchen tables of course) on command. smile

I taught him to bring dropped containers to me. Much like your chapstick scenario, Charlie liked to chew plastic containers, so I taught him to bring them to me on command instead. He no longer chews them, and he's about as keen to bring them to me, but he's my grumpy old man, so whatever, lol.

Dig as a trick! One day, out camping, he found a fallen tree and began digging at the small hole that went through the roots into the ground. I turned that one into a command as well. He's NEVER dug up my yard, for the record.

Ria likes to use her paws. On people. Claws and all. Much like a cat. If you point down and say "Down" and your arm is within close range, she'll throw out her paws to grab your arm, drag her claws down your entire arm, and slam into a down, leaving scratches all over you in the process. I turned 'paw' behaviors into 'shake a paw' instead and stopped rewarding when she clawed people and ONLY when she did the command without using her paws.

My foster dog, Beau was a barker. Chronic barker. Barked when he played, barked when left home alone, barked when he was left separated from you in another room, barked at other dogs, barked at people going by the fence, etc. But Beau was also a fear aggressive biter who, on several occasions, had bitten other foster moms prior to me. One day, his foster mom simply leaned over him to put a harness on him - he bit her. He also bit her one day when she was putting him in his kennel(he was a MAJOR resource guarder of furniture, kennel, food, etc)... So I decided to use the barking to my advantage. It was HARD to do... But I captured the moments he did a specific behavior to turn it into something positive. For example, if he was clearly uncomfortable about something and would bark at me, I'd do what he wanted(to an extent) - I'd go away and give him his space, and after a few minutes, I would call him to me and reward the heck out of him once he was calm. He learned that he didn't have to bite me. He could tell me he was upset simply by giving a bark! I NEVER got bit by that dog in the several months that he was in my care, and I managed to work through most of his resource guarding issues too. smile
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Miyu CGC

Bow down to the- Princess Brat!
 
 
Barked: Sun Mar 3, '13 8:45pm PST 
I can't say more than that those are marvelous ideas, bravo to you two! Hopefully others will post their own anecdotes so we can learn from them too.
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Smokey

Let's play tug!!
 
 
Barked: Tue Mar 5, '13 10:50pm PST 
Nix, I had to laugh, because I keep having exactly the opposite happen. We've been working on freeshaping a "pick up and hand me stuff" behavior, and I always pick the worst objects. Then Smokey decides that putting it in my hand and getting the treat would be less fun than running away and chewing it up, he goes tearing across the room with a plastic fork (or whatever) and I come running after, afraid he's going to swallow something sharp, and reinforcing the idea that stealing stuff during training leads to a fun game of keepaway. Stupid human!!
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Smokey

Let's play tug!!
 
 
Barked: Tue Mar 5, '13 10:50pm PST 
Nix, I had to laugh, because I keep having exactly the opposite happen. We've been working on freeshaping a "pick up and hand me stuff" behavior, and I always pick the worst objects. Then Smokey decides that putting it in my hand and getting the treat would be less fun than running away and chewing it up, he goes tearing across the room with a plastic fork (or whatever) and I come running after, afraid he's going to swallow something sharp, and reinforcing the idea that stealing stuff during training leads to a fun game of keepaway. Stupid human!!
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Ava & Nix

Suburban Farm- Dogs
 
 
Barked: Wed Mar 6, '13 9:05am PST 
lol. I think it depends on the dog more than the person in some cases. I was able to teach Nix to bring my chapstick instead of eating it very easily, since he's the type of dog who lives to please, but I've been trying for years to teach Ava to stop eating my socks, but she could care less about pleasing me. She's a very independent dog with a "what's in it for me?" mindset. laugh out loud She's gotten to where she won't eat them if we're there, but if she was left out of her crate when no one was home, she'd go find socks and eat them. (she'd also get in to the trash, cat box, etc.) We always crate the dogs when we leave though, so it hasn't been an issue for a very long time.
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Smokey

Let's play tug!!
 
 
Barked: Wed Mar 6, '13 11:16pm PST 
Oops. Sorry for the repeat.

Smokey is so often anxious that a part of me gets a big kick out of it when he willfully disobeys. I mean, this is the dog who took four weeks to work up the courage to play tug with me, and longer than that to stop following me into the bathroom. It's pretty amazing that he feels safe enough to mess with me! laugh out loud

Have you checked out When Pigs Fly? It's all about training nonbiddable dogs, and it's a really interesting read in general. One thing it mentions is varying rewards, not just in proportion to how good the behavior was, but also randomly. That way your dog has to gamble that THIS won't be the come that was going to result in a meaty bone or a veal ear smile
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