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Milo and the behaviour therapist

(41 Posts)
joystir59 Fri 09-Mar-18 16:00:38

We had a 3 hour session with a dog behaviourist yesterday- thats myself OH and our Jack Russell Milo. We found our that we've been letting a 7kg dog rule the entire house and that he has been struggling somewhat with his role in life and hence the behaviour- growling barking excessivly going berserk at every sound and at the door, ripping up the post and last but most seriously, biting every member of the household. It is so quiet today since we got retrained and took back control. Why did it take a lot of money for us to realise what we were doing wrong? We've had him ten months and have spent the whole time letting him tell us what he wants to do and not do because, ahh, the poor boy has really suffered!

Cinnamus Fri 09-Mar-18 16:04:01

That's great news! Congratulations

Doctordonowt Fri 09-Mar-18 16:11:37

Are their any tips that you are willing to pass on. We have had our rescue Terrier 10 weeks. She is 8 and is great 70% of the time. She is very nervous and tends to lunge randomly at stuff.

joystir59 Fri 09-Mar-18 16:39:49

Making the dog follow you every where instead of going in front. Making them wait not just get on the sofa. Making a kind of growling noise to correct them when growling or barking. Dropping keys next to them to stop them barking. Making them wait to come into your space.

joystir59 Fri 09-Mar-18 16:40:31

Praising them only when they do things right.

Doctordonowt Sat 10-Mar-18 07:41:45

Thanks, that is interesting. Our dog goes manic when cat go in the garden, I will try the key trick.

Shambolical1 Sat 10-Mar-18 22:10:45

Please remember that what works for one dog is not a blanket prescription for all dogs. Use an aversive technique like key throwing on what you say is already a nervous dog and you're likely to make it more nervous and may even cause more problems.

Veterinari Sun 11-Mar-18 01:45:50

Making the dog follow you every where instead of going in front. Making them wait not just get on the sofa. Making a kind of growling noise to correct them when growling or barking. Dropping keys next to them to stop them barking. Making them wait to come into your space

It sounds like your ‘trainer’ is using some ludicrously outdated ‘pack theory’ concept that at least 30 years out of date and my guess would be that they aren’t registered with any reputable regulatory bodies (ASAB, APBC, APDT). It may work in the short term as your dog will become stressed/fearful of these training methods but you're Likely to be storing up problems for the future.

I’d advise seeking reputable non-fear, scientific training methods

Doctordonowt Sun 11-Mar-18 08:19:30

I will take that on board. No keys.

RedHelenB Sun 11-Mar-18 19:59:34

Surely letting the dog know you're in charge isnt outdated?

george49 Sun 11-Mar-18 20:17:10

I would have thought letting the dog be in charge is self evidently a recipe for disaster

tabulahrasa Sun 11-Mar-18 23:58:12

“Surely letting the dog know you're in charge isnt outdated?”

Doing random controlling things to try and create being in charge is, yes, because it’s ineffective and illogical.

Veterinari Mon 12-Mar-18 09:11:41

Surely letting the dog know you're in charge isnt outdated?

But none of the things the OP’s trainer has suggested communicates ‘being in charge’ in a way that a dog would understand. It’s junk pseudo-science aimed at mimicking wolf communication strategies and applying them to dogs and people - there’s zero evidence that inter-species mimicking like ’growling at your dog’ is in any way meaningful.

Dogs learn in the same way people and other animals do. Rewarding an action increases the likelihood of that action being repeated - it’s basic learning theory. All animals (including people) behave better when treated with consistent boundaries and clear communication regarding appropriate behaviour: rewarding desirable (quiet calm) behaviour and ignoring or redirecting undesirable behaviours. You don’t need to dress this up as junk ‘pack theory’ and anyone that dies likely doesn’t actually understand effective training methods

joystir59 Mon 12-Mar-18 10:28:55

All I can say is that his behaviour has improved 100%. He is happier, more relaxed and much more respectful. We can move around the house without him trying to stop us (by jumping up and ripping our clothes and nipping us and barking his head off), The door bell goes and he stays in his bed, he is more afffectionate, he is eating better, and he gets loads of praise when he does what we ask of him. We are talking about a seriously aggressive dog who is on his 4th family. He has bitten every member of the family. The training is right for us. We were overcompensating for him having been in Battersea.

Laurel543 Mon 12-Mar-18 10:37:38

Also really disapp

joystir59 Mon 12-Mar-18 10:39:20

And he absolutely understands the low growly bahrrr sound we've been taught to use to correct him. He immediately stops what he is doing and looks to us for instruction. It is an incredible relief to go from feeling that we will have to have him pts because he was dangerously out of control to the house being calm and relaxed. He starts to really feel like our dog.

joystir59 Mon 12-Mar-18 10:42:06

And our trainer came with many recommendations and did not tell us to be at all heavy with the dog. She gaves us small nylon bags containing bits of metal chain that you throw down near (never at) the dog. The sound catches his attention and stops him barking.

joystir59 Mon 12-Mar-18 10:44:06

And how to you control a dog without some form of discipline? Ignoring him and correcting him are effective. Just as they would be with small children.

Laurel543 Mon 12-Mar-18 10:53:27

Also really disappointed to read the outdated 'training' methods being used here.

Sorry OP. It's not your fault. You obviously care about your dog and are a responsible owner. You recognised you had a behaviour problem and sensibly sought help for your dog from someone calling themselves a behaviourist. Unfortunately you unwittingly got someone with some very old fashioned and unhelpful ideas.

The training you have received is based on masking the problem, not tackling the root cause. These aversive methods can and do seem to work in the short term (which is why they are so popular in tv shows - instant results!) but in the long term they are unlikely to be useful to you or your dog.

You are obviously someone who cares and I would be willing to beg that you will probably be really interested in more modern dog training approaches. It will be especially useful to look up aversive vs positive training methods. I'll look up some links though am sure others will come up with some useful ones too.

I really don't mean to be critical of you personally and I expect you will be a little reluctant to feel like you have to 'start again' but please do consider getting a second opinion from a positive trainer whose methods are based on science and evidence rather than the debunked Cesar Milan school of dominance theory. I think you will be pleasantly surprised!
Good luck!

Laurel543 Mon 12-Mar-18 10:54:28

'Bet' not 'beg'

Nesssie Mon 12-Mar-18 11:15:21

I think the methods suggested by the behaviourist are coming across as the outdated 'pack theory', but actually are just teaching him discipline and routine which is proven to work.

By making him follow instead of leading is essentially just making him wait for instructions rather than doing what he wants. For example making him wait until you are through a door before he goes through, or being invited up onto the sofa - he is learning self control.

The key idea will work if the dog is not of a nervous temperament - I'm sure the behaviourist would have assessed the dog first. Its just a way of breaking their fixation on something. She is not throwing the keys at the dog.

Its not like the behaviourist has told them to alpha roll or eat first to establish dominance hmm

Having discipline is key to have a well behaved dog, and unfortunately many people that get a rescue dog try to compensate for a tough past by being too lax which can lead to behaviour problems.

Sounds like this has worked for you, so congratulations on your newly behaved dog!

Laurel543 Mon 12-Mar-18 11:43:26

Nessie I completely agree that some of the ideas (especially putting clear boundaries in place) are fine and valid.

It is the reasoning behind the training that I am questioning
Dominance theory is based on the idea that a lot of unwanted behaviour stems from the dog 'wanting to be in control'. It sounds as though the OP's trainer advocates this and I was pointing out that it has been soundly debunked by science.

Throwing keys/rattling a bottle with stones in etc to stop an unwanted behaviour is classic aversive training. It may work in the short term but does nothing to address why the dog is reacting in the first place. All you are doing is adding another level onto their stress and teaching them to suppress that reaction. Yes aversive methods do often work to stop the behaviour temporarily but unless the dog's issues are properly recognised, diagnosed and treated on a more sustainable level, all you are doing is hiding them and the unwanted behaviours are likely to resurface again in a different way.

Positive training or 'working on root causes' is not some new fangled do-gooder, poor little doggy approach, it is about following the recommendations of modern, scientific, clinical behaviourists. I know who I trust more with my dog's wellbeing smile

Shambolical1 Mon 12-Mar-18 12:27:45

Wait, what? Battersea rehomed to you a 'seriously aggressive' dog?! Seems strange? What has been happening in the lead up to the bites? Battersea has behaviourists on call who would help I'm sure if you contacted them.

I've owned and trained JRTs and they can be feisty, stubborn little dogs with huge egos. They're also very smart, learn quickly (although not necessarily things you might want them to learn), brave and if not provided with enough entertainment will quickly make their own. They are independent by nature, having originally been bred to go to ground to bolt foxes from or hold them at bay in an earth until dug down to by hunters, who would be guided to them by sound; a quiet terrier was no use. So yes, they bark. It was part of their job. They also have lightning fast reactions (from dealing with vermin) and are well equipped with tooth and claw, also from their original job. They're not the most patient of dogs: they want it (or they want it to stop) and they want it (or want it stopped) NOW. Please keep up! Paying attention around possibly difficult times (taking something away they shouldn't have, grooming bits they don't like being touched, etc.) helps a lot.

The trouble with training a JRT is their hard-wired independence. They want to know 'what's in it for me' if they do what they're told, rather than having the in-built desire to co-operate that other types of dog are born with. Find the 'key', what makes them tick, and you'll have a fun, loyal, all-round good companion. Best dogs in the world. Don't find it, and you could find yourself being run rings round. Had you done any training with your boy, up to the three-hour behaviourist's visit?

I think you might find he will quickly see through the dropped keys or whatever. Is that all that happens? Big deal. What are you doing after you drop them? Is that the only consequence? Just telling him to stop barking? Is there any reward?

Bottom line is, aversive methods wear off and sometimes leave damaging side effects, particularly if they have been escalated. Positive methods last, and while appearing to be slower to get going, leave happier dogs and people once the penny drops.

There are literally millions of dogs eating before their owners, going through doorways first and getting on the sofa for a snooze without attempting world domination.

joystir59 Mon 12-Mar-18 14:20:25

I love how everyone here thinks they know best. We moved a few months after getting Milo and we knew he had behavioural issues but biting wasn't on the list. He's a well trained dog, as in knows all the commands and is very bright, learns after being shown once. He is stubborn, opinionated and determined. And quick to show aggression. He isn't scared of the bag of chains but he does stop what he's doing. He loves getting praised for doing well, that's what's in it for him. And he enjoys being relaxed and handing over the controls to us. The trainer carefully assessed him and us. We have her support for the coming year so she hasn't just shown us a short term fix. She is very experienced with problem dogs/owners.

joystir59 Mon 12-Mar-18 14:21:12

I meant to say we moved North from London so couldn't go back to Battersea for support

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