I've decided to test George's progress hanging around strange dogs by enrolling him into a regular intermediate class. I think he's ready. He used to LOVE going to classes. Every class he'd end up in LOVE and try his best to flirt. Last year in the on/off leash train and play he was smitten by Buttons a Bichon Frise:) Everything changed with the run of attacks. Thx to all the mentors listed on the side page and others I have yet to add, it's been an interesting process!
The last thing I wanted to do before class is put "Look Away" rght/lft on cue. I've been capturing and rewarding when George has chosen to "look away" from strange dogs, as a calming tool, to let the other dog know he needs space. Most dogs to date have respected the "look away", if it's established from a distance. If I notice the dog ignoring that signal, I'll just u-turn and walk opposite direction if they're coming head on, or I'll cross the street. I refuse to give bullies the reinforcement from getting into George's face and being intimidating.
"Look away" I used Emily Larlham's hand target method (kikopup)
This way if he gets stuck in anxiety mode, I can cue him from a distance and walk through what he can do to diffuse the situation. I would not have put this on cue if George had not offered this up himself. If you put a behaviour on cue that they're not comfortable offering up naturally, sometimes it BACKFIRES! They will perform the cue, only because you've asked them to but they're not emotionally ready to deal with the response from the other dog. When they don't offer it up naturally, within context of a situation where they'd naturally use that to cue another dog.
George already looks away:
1-when being pestered by Keegan and Taiki if they want to play and he's not into it at that time.
2-if Taiki sniffs George a lot longer than Geroge is comfortable with, I've rewarded George for being patient and looking away until Taiki's done sniffing.
3-George also uses the look away when dealing with the bossy old lady of the house Daizy :)
4-when approaching or being approached by strange dogs, which I've again, rewarded PROFUSELY!
If your dog needs to learn how to use this signal in context, it's easier and faster to find bullet proof dogs who once you cue it to your social nerd or fearful dog, the other bullet proof dog will act accordingly in response. Key is to ensure it becomes learned and predictable. If I do this...that happens.
Our 3rd session of the day, less than 1 minute. After dinner I was able capture repetitions without using prompt from both George and Keegan. I had George practice looking away from Keegan. Next up is naming it.
4th session one day later and VOILA- added verbal cue!
Incoming!!!! This was FUN to teach. Car crash game (Leslie McDevitt) deals with "plan of action" when things go sideways and the other dog invades their space.
Again, you need to make sure they're well on the way to being emotionally capable to deal with a flooding aspect of a charge. Luckily I have 4 dogs and George is a play machine, so I just added a fun spin on this game for him. We've done a little testing with strange dogs, with us running by them, and joggers w/dogs running by opposite way on the other side of the road.
Crossing fingers, toes and eyeballs it works, otherwise, it's back to the drawing board for me :)