Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

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Bettyna
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Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby Bettyna » Mon Jul 14, 2014 5:50 am

We met with the behaviourist on Saturday. I feel like finally I know someone locally who knows what she's talking about in terms of understanding dogs and teaching us how to manage Kobe. Before, in Singapore, the trainers were very limited in their skills, those who dealt with aggressive dogs were CM followers, and the others generally taught puppy class/agility/obedience. Even the one whom we worked with had no idea what was BAT, although she was APDT trained.

I think I know most of these concepts which she has told us, it is just good to have a coach - someone who can guide us and show us where we should tweak our routine/methods. AND I think it was good for the husband to hear it from a professional, and not just "the wife just found something else on the internet that we need to do"

1. After hearing the behaviours which Kobe displays, she said that his behaviour is classic of a fearful dog - not really a surprise to me, but it does give me some relief to know that Kobe is not extraordinarily bad, just regular bad.

2. Kobe might have learned his aggressive behaviours in his puppyhood (although we couldn't pin point exactly whether there was an incident which started it), and learned that the barking/lunging/snapping was the fastest way of getting rid of whatever was bothering him rather than going through the other avoidance behaviours.

3. I realised that in my trying to do BAT with Kobe, I was going much too quickly. The behaviourist spent just 10 min throwing hotdogs, just moving from 2metres (not looking directly at him) away from the baby gate where Kobe was to coming up to the gate, where he then actually did a sit and down for her. She didn't meet him directly at all. She said just getting him to accept her moving very slowly towards Kobe was sufficient.

In the past, I have gotten friends to throw treats at Kobe from behind the gate. But I didn't realise that the looking directly at Kobe made such a difference! And I always tried to get them closer to him faster. This is our homework before meeting her again. We have to invite a couple of friends over just to do this.

4. She taught us a good technique to use the long lead when we go to the park so that he can have a little more freedom to explore, so that we can release and pick up the slack in the lead better.

5. She showed us how to use the lead so that if Kobe tries to make a break for it, we do not jerk Kobe to a sudden stop, rather try to let him come to a slow steady stop instead - not sure about this one in real life...

6. She talked about food and nutrition, and how some colourants and preservatives might exacerbate aggressive tendencies - we were ok on this one...

7. She talked about not letting Kobe practice the bad behaviours e.g. barking at bicycles from inside the car (we got a soft crate just a couple of weeks ago so that he wouldn't do that :thumbup:)

8. She talked about muzzle training, which I had started back in SG but need to pick up again here - I just need to find the muzzle in the boxes which we shipped over...

I am looking forward to practicing these techniques... and looking forward to updating you with some positive changes in Kobe's behaviour!

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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby SherriA » Mon Jul 14, 2014 9:28 am

This sounds like a great meeting! I'm so glad you have a resource you're comfortable with and confident in.
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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby Jen » Mon Jul 14, 2014 9:43 am

That must be such a relief! I know "feisty fido" class was great for the same reason. You feel like you have support and a plan and can see light at the end of the tunnel.

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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby Bettyna » Mon Jul 14, 2014 3:07 pm

And she is going to help us do some set ups!

That's the big piece I was missing in trying to practice BAT on my own. I mean I couldn't find anyone or anyone's dog who wanted to stand there and get barked at by Kobe!

To top it all, we had a great time a the park today (except for a short reactive episode barking at a huge black dog).

So glad we found her.

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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby JudyL » Mon Jul 14, 2014 5:23 pm

This all sounds very encouraging. I'm glad you found someone to work with.

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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby Calypso » Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:07 pm

I'm so glad you were able to find someone who understands and can help!

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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby maxs_mommy » Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:28 pm

Yay! Having a plan and someone to demo are huge in getting it right the first time. You'll do fab with him! ( And I totally hear ya about "Another thing she's found on the internet" justifications. Ha!
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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby Amanda » Mon Jul 14, 2014 9:54 pm

Sounds fantastic! I hope you see big results quickly. :)

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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby Moemer » Thu Jul 17, 2014 6:39 am

That's great! who did you see?
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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby emmas_mom » Fri Jul 18, 2014 7:37 am

So glad you found someone whose philosophies match yours and who, by the sounds of it, has great teaching and support skills too.
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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby MaisyPancakes » Fri Jul 18, 2014 3:40 pm

Sounds great! I was also surprised how SO very far below the threshold you're supposed to work your dog. Looking forward to hearing about Kobe's progress! :D

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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby Bettyna » Mon Jul 21, 2014 12:52 am

Moemer, the behaviourist we are working with is Heidi Zouroudis (Pet Dilemmas).

Yes I was rather surprised too, but it does seem to work. Kobe really is much better if people ignore him, do not look at him or call him, and do not try to pet him or lean over him.

Heidi also works with a company who also does dog house sitting. We met a sitter over the weekend at their house. The meeting went better than expected!

Heidi told us to tell the couple not to look directly at Kobe, and toss treats in his direction. Only let him approach them if he wants to. We went to their place (really cute cottage with a decent garden). Kobe met them in their garden. He barked and growled at them at first, but then I took him away and let him sniff around their garden below his threshold. After a few minutes of them ignoring him, he did go closer, and eat the treats which they tossed on the ground.

After some time, he was actually relaxed enough to be let off leash to explore more, and even picked up a toy and did a play bow to Natsu. The husband (even though i said not to), tried to feed him a treat and bent over him. Kobe tried to jump up at him then, no contact thankfully. The wife just sat there, not focusing her attention on him, and Kobe just walked around her, and she was able to bend over and pick up a toy very close to him, and even put down a water bowl close to him after about 30min into the meeting.

AND THE BEST PART IS... they are willing to look after him! I was worried that after seeing him bark at them, they would not want to accept him. Such a relief. We are going to do a couple of days as a trial run, while we are in the area, just to make sure that they are really comfortable. And if it all works out, we will be able to go back to Singapore in February to visit family. *\(>.<)/*

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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby Bettyna » Mon Jul 21, 2014 7:41 am

Just received a call from the pet sitter... She has reconsidered and doesn't think she would like to look after Kobe after all.

Sad face...

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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby JudyL » Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:03 am

Have you thought of asking the behaviourist if she knows anyone that would be willing and capable of caring for Kobe, and that wouldn't try to fix him?

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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby Bettyna » Mon Jul 21, 2014 9:31 am

She works with the same company which the pet sitter is from, and she thought this couple would be a good fit too!

We will ask her when we see her next.

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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby Moemer » Mon Jul 21, 2014 2:08 pm

that stinks about the sitters! I hope you can find someone, it's killer to find boarding/walking for dogs with people-issues.
Just a note on her title... it doesn't look like she's a behaviourist. That doesn't mean she won't be a great trainer to work with you and Kobe (sounds like she's great!) but the certification requirements are very different (http://www.animalbehavior.org/ABSApplie ... haviorists). Anyway, no concrete outcome of pointing that out, but I know I'm really uncomfortable when someone calls me a "behaviourist" what that's not my certification, although I do work with behaviour problems like reactivity/fear/aggression, so I thought I'd mention it.
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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby Bettyna » Mon Jul 21, 2014 2:28 pm

Thks for pointing it out though. I thought I read somewhere that she was, although I might have made the assumption cos she does vet referred behavioural consults?!?

Sigh can I blame it on pregnancy brain..

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Re: Dog Training for Kobe BAT diaries

Postby Bettyna » Tue Jul 29, 2014 3:36 am

We had our 2nd session today.The trainer did a BAT setup with a stuffed dog - Bruce.

It was very interesting session! We found it hilarious that Kobe actually thought the stuffed dog was a real dog - we thought he couldn't possibly be fooled by a stuffed dog.... :whistle: :rofl:

The trainer asked us to start with Kobe on a long line, walking around and sniffing. She let Kobe come up to her and threw treats on the ground. Kobe very quickly took to her (ooh! cheese lady!!) and was sitting in front of her for treats very quickly.

She took the stuffed dog, Bruce out of the car. She started with Bruce looking away from Kobe and we let Kobe go closer at his own pace. We did 3 sessions of 10min each, after each session putting Kobe back in the car with a Kong for a break and to talk about what we did.

Kobe was under the threshold for the vast majority of the sessions... He growled twice, once when we got too close too soon and once when she moved Bruce while Bruce was looking face on at Kobe. But both times he was very quickly redirected and never went into full out reactive mode.

By the end of the session we could walk parallel to Bruce (also walking) about a street width apart.

At the end, she let Kobe approach Bruce since he was relaxed, and Kobe actually went and sniffed Bruce's butt! And when Kobe moved around to Bruce's face, we could see his eyes change, and Kobe immediately went back around to Bruce's butt. I think that's when he figured out that Bruce was not real :lol:

Takeaways from today:

- While the things we did were not new (looking, calling away when Kobe started getting tense, rewarding and praising for turning away by himself), having a setup is really interesting. It takes the pressure off us so that we can really take time to observe Kobe and figure out where his thresholds are, and also practice keeping the leash loose and relaxed

- Noticed for the first time that Kobe is able to self soothe. I read about self soothing but in a real life scenario, I'm usually too busy running away to observe Kobe. He would distinctly look away from Bruce, purposely walk away although he gave these sideways glances towards Bruce. Kobe was using our car as sort of a shield so that he could peek at Bruce from the side, then going around the other side to take another peek. We also noticed that Kobe actually wanted to get in the car when he had enough. I think this tells me that Kobe is capable of avoiding conflict. We just need to give him the appropriate tools to do so.

- Kobe's main issue is having people/ dogs stare at him. We noticed that when Bruce was looking directly at Kobe and moving towards him, he was much more tense. This will be our end goal, for Kobe to be able to be calm even when people / dogs approach, looking at him.

- she gave us a great tip about trailing people / leashed dogs at a safe distance to practice BAT instead of always running away

We have 2 more sessions with her. She will try to get a live dog for the next session. I don't expect Kobe to be "fixed" by the end of four sessions, but we will definitely be able to manage him better. It would be amazing if she could organise more set ups for us... I would willingly pay for that!!!

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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby SherriA » Tue Jul 29, 2014 5:52 am

Bettyna this all sounds so positive! I love reading these kinds of posts. Thanks for sharing your journey with Kobe with us. :)
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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby JudyL » Tue Jul 29, 2014 8:32 am

Your session sounds great, Bettyna, with lots of information to use and build on.

I'm giggling though about how a stuffed dog can move or walk on a leash. Was Bruce continually repositioned or was he on a skateboard?

fwiw, ChiChi also thought a stuffed dog was real when my DH brought home a life sized mini Schauzer from the thrift store that is almost 2-3 times her size. Chi went right over to it and scraped it with her paw on the front of its shoulder trying to get it to engage and play. lol I should get it out and see how crazy bubbleheaded Benson reacts!

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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby Bettyna » Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:47 am

Seriously... I should thank the wonderful people on this forum for listening! I don't know many people who would be interested in my doggy training stories/ disasters... And also provide great input!

Judy :lol: the trainer had a harness and leash on the stuffed dog and was just repositioning it using the harness. It was so funny! We couldn't stop laughing. Right up until the 2nd time Kobe sniffed the stuffed dog's butt, you could tell he still thought it could be alive!! When he went round the front of the dog, when I said his eyes changed, I meant he actually got a little tense, almost like he would have with a real dog.

:ROFL:

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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby Amanda » Tue Jul 29, 2014 2:33 pm

So glad to read about your progress. Sounds like you are on a great track!

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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby maxs_mommy » Tue Jul 29, 2014 7:42 pm

Fabulous! I'm so glad it went well! I got Max a small stuffed dog once thinking he might see it as a puppy but all he saw was a stuffed toy, lol.
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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby Jen » Tue Jul 29, 2014 11:22 pm

Sounds wonderful! I'm glad you had a good experience and feel more confident (I'm convinced human confidence is half the battle)

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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby Bettyna » Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:41 am

I really don't know what is was about Bruce that made him so lifelike! The trainer said, because Bruce had a harness & leash on, was beside a person in public; by association, that was a dog. :rofl:

Max is more savvy than Kobe then! :thumbup: Silly Kobe.

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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby Moemer » Wed Jul 30, 2014 5:33 am

I always give a disclaimer before pulling out "Boat", my stuffed dog (actually, there is "Big Boat" and "Little Boat", named by a kid in my classes). Some people get really weirded out. (And of course I always ask if the dog is behaving the same way as with a real dog, and the answer is always yes, if not for minor exceptions) Melissa&Doug stuffed dogs are life like enough that it fools my clients and people walking past! A guy once pulled over to tell me to get my dog on a leash

It's actually really helpful for me to read this, sounds like your trainer approaches behaviour work in the exact same way as I do (re philosophy and method), so it's great to read the story from "the other side"!
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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby Bettyna » Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:10 am

Side story- the trainer told us that she parked outside her house and had Bruce in the back of her car. she pulled him out by his ear and was going to bring him inside when she heard a loud *GASP* from the other side of the road. She looked up to see a neighbour staring at her!

She had to quickly shout across the road- 'it's not real, it's a toy!" So yes even people are fooled!

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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby Moemer » Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:54 am

haha ya... I often leave the school with it and put it in my trunk... I always feel awkward doing that.
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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby UpwardDog » Wed Jul 30, 2014 3:55 pm

Yay! and congrats!

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Re: Dog Behaviourist for Kobe

Postby whiteboxerboy » Wed Jul 30, 2014 8:02 pm

ha ha, when i took Gringo for his 'evaluation' with the trainer before starting manners class she brought out a stuffed dog - looked like a BC and was BC size. i was shocked that Gringo not only thought it was real but also had quite a reaction to it --- his hair went up and his stance changed... i couldn't stop apologizing and telling the trainer how Gringo never behaves that way with ANY dog. she pointed out the prick ears, stance and lack of smell of stuffed dog. :lol:

sounds like you guys are getting really good stuff from the trainer, that's excellent! while Kobe may not be 'fixed' at the end of four sessions you'll be well on the way and you can always check in with her if you need her, right?

good on you for working so hard with your handsome boy!


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