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Training Prey Tolerant On Walks?

Guest HeatherLee

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Guest HeatherLee

I know this topic has prob been done to death, I've read a lot of threads already but wanted to be more specific. I have 2 hounds, Gambler (6yo male) and Holly (3 yo female). I've had Gambler for 3 years and Holly for 9 months.


The apt complex I used to live in had lots of feral cats, and before I got Holly I had just gotten Gambler to the point of tolerance with cats by training "leave it". Though tbh even though he had prey drive.. It wasn't extreme. Not to mention he calmed down a lot as he got older.


But along came Miss Holly, she's tiny at about 54lbs. But good lord she's got an intense prey drive. Once she jumped halfway up a concrete wall.. GRABBED a cat and brought it to the ground and her and Gambler went at it. Don't know how the poor cat managed to escape that but it did. I did my best to intervene.


This was definitely a freak accident and I'm usually pretty good about spotting triggers but Holly is good. She's gone through bushes, etc. I joke that if the apocalypse comes, I'll never go hungry bc my girl will catch me tons of food. Hahah. Anyway..


She's food motivated enough and pretty smart. I have no desire to take her to dog parks or places that will set her up for failure however she does need to be ok walking in public since I live in an apartment and small dogs also happen to live there. I'd like to be able to take her hiking or a walk to a coffee shop. I don't typically go when places are busy bc I just don't like it but inevitably there will be a small dog somewhere. Or a bunny passing by occasionally. I've tried "leave it" with her to no avail. Starting at home with treats, etc. maybe I'm doing it wrong? She just learns differently than Gambler And maybe I haven't quite figured her out yet.


Today I was walking both and someone with a lab and small fluffy Maltese came around the corner while my back was turned,picking up poop. She lunged at them. Gambler followed, they got scared naturally. I usually try to stay calm, pull down on the leads instead of up but it caught me off guard. I yelled leave it, Gambler actually listened.. But when I was yelling after Holly to stop, he starts barking at her! ( he usually scolds her in these situations, doesn't make things easier) but I lost hold of Holly and she almost ran into the street.


The good thing is that.. Even though it was chaos, she did not try to eat the little dog like she would have with a cat. Which makes me wonder about her small dog prey drive. She barked and ran in circles around both. And I did catch her. No one was injured.


So my question is, what kind of training would work? She does well with clicker training and has "lay down" nailed. Would teaching her to lay down as you would sit with other dogs be a good idea? I'm absolutely not going to use a spray bottle on her or a halti lead, I'm looking for positive reinforcement. She's a lunger, she's flipped over before. She also goes into a statue if the prey is far away and I have to drag her away.


I walk her on a 4 ft leash, I do wrap it around my wrist. Gambler is also on a 4 ft. Both are usually in martingales. More exercise would help I'm sure but it's Phoenix. Our summer is like winter and extended outdoor time is just not healthy and I don't have a yard. I usually take them to a baseball field., but it has since Installed locks.

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I'd suggest you muzzle her if she's that bad. And consider a harness just so she can't escape. I'm lucky that I don't have a dog like that. I imagine it's doubly difficult to handle two when one of them is a bit nutty for small fluffies!


Susan,  Hamish,  Mister Bigglesworth and Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming, George, and Buck

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Guest Oliver

We've only had two different Grey's ourselves and our first one was a breeze to train, I mean a breeze. I swear that boy just read our mind and did the right thing. Spoiled us to no end. Then sadly we lost him prematurely to an illness. Along comes our new Mr. Oliver! Holy cow, we have had to actually sit up and work at training him. He's a big boy on top of it - 84lbs. He just came off the track a few months ago so you could bounce a coin off his muscles still. I describe Oliver as a "BIG" personality. Every day is a party in his mind. He's an extremely happy boy, which I love about him, but it can be too much at times. We've been struggling with a way to train him in general. He has terrible overall anxiety, of course SA is part of this. He gets way over excited to go for his walks to the point he could knock me down if I wasn't so good at dodging him. I'm fortunate I have some good connections and I actually was able to speak to someone from Florida who is a "Bark Buster". Funny name, but Bark Buster's are highly trained behavior management trainers. His help in one phone call has changed our lives. Here's what we learned and I think it will help you too. It changed our wild eyed boy into a pup that has the proper respect for us and overall everyone is happier and safer in every area of our life. He reminded us their brood mama would never tolerate bad behavior and when letting them know what behavior to check, she wouldn't communicate with her young with "words". He also explained when we teach them with words it's a "task" learned behavior and not a new "learned" behavior. For example if Gambler saw prey and you were not there to say "leave it", Gambler may go ahead and have a tasty snack. He hasn't necessarily changed his behavior, he's just learned a command to follow from you. First, there are two positions you need to always remember. Standing tall and confident means your sweet babies need to be respectful and seeing your posture as you being in control. If you bend forward, this is a position they will learn as an inviting position where they can come to you for love and praise. The next thing you need to learn is to make a sound somewhat similar to growling. He suggested to make the "aaahhh" sound (such as when the doctor asks you to open your mouth and wants to look down your throat), then add a "b" in front of that... so a "bbbaaaahhhh" sound. This sounds a little like a sheep, but works and is easier for humans to do rather then try to growl like a dog, but if you can growl well, that's all the better. To start with, in your apartment, make the growl sound, when either or both stop and look up at you, immediately bend over, "clap", welcoming them to you, then praise them. He pointed out, if you growl and they look up - if there is no praise then this training will not work. There must be praise if they pay attention to the growl. There is no need for any words at all unless you want to use some when praising, but all actions is sufficient, since dogs don't use words when the mama teaches her pups. Begin using the growl technique in every part of your life with Gambler and Holly where they are not showing respect. For example, with us, Oliver would be over excited to go somewhere and jumping around, racing us to the door, being loudly vocal, etc. The trainer explained we should be the first to go through the door opening, leading Oliver, not Oliver leading us. This gave him the "alpha" status in his mind. He taught us when we approached a door, to close the door in his face if he tried to go through before us (of course being careful not to hurt his long nose). When we close the door, we were told to use the "baaah" sound. Repeat the actions, closing the door, baahing, over and over until he "learned", he cannot go through the door first because mommy and/or daddy are both alpha over him and he must show the proper respect. Of course once they get it right and no "baah" is needed, give lots of praise. This changed the crazy running to the door and jumping around with crazy excitement ended in one day. Now he shows a healthy excitement he is getting to go somewhere, but when we get to the door he stands very composed and waits for us to LEAD HIM through the door with no verbal commands at all. The trainer explained this does two things, one now he shows the proper respect, but two, he has learned he can safely go through the door now because mommy and daddy would not lead him into an unsafe situation. We need no sounds or words anymore, because it is a new "learned" behavior. This is very significant because of course if somehow a door would be open by accident he would not go through it now because one of us is not there to lead him through. We have begun using this "baaah" sound in coordination with the clap to help him relearn any unacceptable or unsafe behavior and it's been amazing. Behaviors which we saw as super extreme, such as your Holly having such a strong drive to catch prey, we've been able to get in line in just one or two days. And, the good thing is, the new behaviors have been relearned, they are not instructional words. His anxiety has dropped tremendously because he has learned he can trust us to keep him safe. I also realize the prey issue is deeply ingrained in Grey's; however, there is still a pecking order, even in the wild. So, if you put yourself in the position of being the respected alpha to Holly and Gambler they will learn they cannot move forward on their prey instinct unless you grant them permission to do so because you are the alpha dog. The big key to all of this is to "baah" with confidence and authority, always keeping a "stand tall" posture showing confidence in your body language, and praise when they respond to the baah sound. The trainer explained to us without the proper body language it's pointless. I really hope this will help you. It changed our lives in our house. We haven't accomplished everything yet, we're still working on the SA, but we've only begun working on leaving together using these new techniques we've learned yesterday. Just a side note, we've always used a harness to walk both of our boys and found it to be a much safer way to go. They cannot slip a harness and if there is any pulling you won't have any neck issues. We just put it on when it's time to go somewhere, so he is comfortable when in our home with only a collar on. I hope all of this helps and good luck to you!

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