Breakthrough with Zeke

Tonight we did our 2mile urban canicross to the dog park. After about ten minutes of being there alone, one of the regulars came with his two dogs, Cookie (small dog) and Koda (medium dog). Zeke and Cookie get along fine, mostly just greeting each other and then going their separate ways. Koda is more of a loner dog, choosing to investigate by herself. Zeke, being the overbearing greeter that he is, tries to insist Koda play with him. She never wants to and UNfortunately she lets him know by snarling, snapping, and semi chasing him. That’s exactly what he wants, Zeke loves to be chased. He barks at her, she lunges and barks back, he runs, process repeats. I don’t think she realizes she is reinforcing his annoying behavior. Unless that’s all part of the game…
In the past, I’ve reacted to this in different ways. I find the constant barking between them annoying and once it did escalate into a brief tussle. Since then I have decided not to let it progress past one or two bark exchanges. Up until today I would be able to distract Zeke about 60% of the time. Today we were at 100%!
I started by putting him into a sit and stay as she and Cookie entered. I gave them a chance to sniff around before letting Zeke go, this helped immensely. They all sniffed each other and around the park for several minutes. Usually the barking starts right away. Victory #1!
When Zeke went over to Koda and he barked, she snarled, etc., I called Zeke! Then I turned and ran away from him. This is how I’ve managed toget his recall as good as it is. If you call and run in the opposite direction, your dog thinks it’s a game and will chase you. With Zeke, I vary the rewards he gets for chasing me, if I am predictable with the rewards he will hesitate or not come. Today I alternated running away from him, running and then turning to chase him!, having him target to my hand, pointing at a bench and saying Up! (His favorite behavior), scratching him, saying good boy and, finally, having a bout of wrestling. They all worked, every time. It was wonderful. The wrestling really got his attention away from Koda because that was the source of his frustration, he really just wanted someone to play with him. I admit when I first saw Koda coming I was thinking here we go again with the barking…but it feels great now to have made the extra effort to curb his behavior and being so successful with it. Hope it works next time too…

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~ by manicivy on March 1, 2013.

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