Brainstorm for a pawing problem

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Amanda
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Brainstorm for a pawing problem

Postby Amanda » Fri Jul 03, 2015 11:57 am

I'm having a bit of a challenge with Zeke. He is very paw oriented. He paws for attention, greeting, when he's excited, etc. If I pointedly ignore him when he is attention-seeking he will give a vibrating sit waiting for my response, but unless he gets that "cue" of me ignoring, he will paw. He has pawed Joel's face a couple of times now and it's really hard to manage with his size. I know that his energy and excitement are inherent in the breed. I knew that there would be times when the kids got knocked over or whatever, but I need some help with ideas to keep him from pawing us. I have bruises all over my legs. And that's the biggest issue... Not reacting to the pawing is next to impossible. He always gets a reaction. If I ignore him trying not to give the "cue" type of ignore, he will paw harder and I can't ignore him if he is hurting me. I take him to his crate when he does this, but it isn't seeming to make a change in his behavior. At class yesterday, we were talking about putting unwanted behaviors on cue and then gaining stimulus control over them. I don't want to encourage any paw type behaviors though for fear that it will make the behavior stronger. We also started touch nose targeting over his head so he can lift his feet of the ground. He only gets clicked if he keeps his feet off of me, but if you could see him, he is all legs and has no control of his body. A lot of this is self-control and maturity. Body awareness etc. but in the meantime, I need to keep myself and especially the kids safe from his chaos.

Here's my thoughts and I would love feedback or ideas for specific training that might help keep his unruly paws to himself.

I will probably have to keep him in his crate whenever we are all home and my attention isn't 100% focused on him. I was trying to let him have the kitchen/living room as free space, but that isn't working.

Get up early and take him for a more vigorous walk. This is where we are struggling. I am timid to allow too much exercise with his leg issue history. He is not exercising enough so pent energy is a problem. I am afraid added crate time will exacerbate this issue.

Spend time focusing on nose targeting various things. Shape a leg bump with his nose, etc. Perhaps getting more rewards for nose use will decrease the paw use.

Personal issue of mine is to dedicate more specific time to training. Schedule it and stick to the schedule even if housework or other things crop up. I am super busy with an unexpected move happening. I am committed to our dog classes, but have been slacking on homework for the classes because I have too much going on. I need to personally commit to cutting out personal free time to use more productively.

Any thoughts on increasing his exercise safely, and even more, creating an environment where he isn't rewarded for pawing and we can get it to stop?

Moemer
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Re: Brainstorm for a pawing problem

Postby Moemer » Fri Jul 03, 2015 2:05 pm

It sounds to me like you're on the right track! Teaching an alternative (make that super strong and resilient!) and extinguish the pawing. Did anyone teach him 'give a paw' or is that all hims natural inclination?

I wonder if thinking of it as 'ignoring' isn't serving you well... think of it as "withdrawing/removing reinforcement". So if he's pawing at you and you continue to stand there, he's still hopeful. If he's pawing harder and you're grimacing and shoot him a very subtle hate-ray from your eyes (we all do it...), he's even more hopeful, and chances are at some point in the past he's been more tangibly reinforced for this after his persistent poking at you.

I'd also add in a marker word to isolate the very first instance of the infraction, and follow it up with a more obvious withdraw. So instead of continuing to stand and ignore, the moment a paw comes out use a marker word ("too bad" etc), and walk away, step over a gate, etc. Make it SUPER clear that the very first time the paw comes out, he loses contact and potential contact with you. Doesn't have to be an excessively long time, but be careful not to chain behaviours you don't like.

In conjunction with this, keep working on the alternative way to get your attention. The worst thing you can do to a dog is eliminate their ability to communicate, so he needs some other route to communicate his needs. I think you're also on track with the brain games, exercise, stimulation, etc.

Now the tough part is the kids, since that adds a whole other variable into the situation... They can do the same thing, but it will be much harder to be consistent among multiple people.
Emily
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Amanda
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Re: Brainstorm for a pawing problem

Postby Amanda » Fri Jul 03, 2015 3:11 pm

Yes and very difficult to have a two year old giving consistent feedback to the dog. :) I think I may have inadvertently backchained this behavior. Paw me, I become a tree, he sits, and gets rewarded. So he is getting my attention to start the "game" of ignore me so I am good and you pet me. And then when I don't play the game, he just tries again harder til I react. I like the idea of removing even the potential of my attention if a paw is presented. He is definitely hopeful for attention every time he sees me. I have a lot to pay attention to and I thought he would be getting attention from more than just me, but he's too much for the kids to handle so they don't like to be near him right now. (Don't blame them.) He is bigger than I ever thought he would be and at this age, especially. They are supposed to be a "medium" sized dog. He is not. lol

He has not been taught to shake or high five. We did teach him to buzz a game show type buzzer with his paw but haven't played that for a long time. Asking for a sit actually seems to increase the pawing because he can rear back on his hind legs to get one or both paws up that way. If he's standing and getting pets, he tends to wrap his paw around my leg. I joke that he would turn himself inside out if he thought he could get closer to me like that. He just loves to be close. Velcro dog, indeed.

I have some planning ahead to do. Taking each day with a more scheduled intent, I think. Our family kind of goes with the flow and in summer we have no flow, so we just kind of do whatever and things get put on the backburners easily. Plus all the kids are home all day, so my nap time alone time for training has disappeared. Time to put it back into the plan of the day. Nosework is back on the agenda. Nose targeting, and formal retrieves are on my radar as well. Some things that are easier for kidless people (like 7 mini walks a day in interesting areas) have been suggested by people on the clicker group on Facebook. But I am trying to figure out how we can use some of these ideas. I can practice loose leash walks in front of my house or in the yard while kids work on projects or ride bikes or something. Our new house is a half mile from the dog park. I know, not the best place all the time, but I will be so close I can learn the slow times and just let him run when we aren't overwhelmed by people and dogs. We move August 1! Ah! I thought summer would be a break without the rush and chaos of school mornings but it's turning out to be busier and more taxing on me and the hubby with how much is happening around here.

Thanks for your insight, Emily!! No reward mark and withdraw along with shaping a new behavior. Hopefully we can nip this thing.


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