A good example of different training techniques: When a dog jumps up.
The other day I stopped by a place in Hollywood to pick up some stuff and I had Boogie with me. The first time I was here, it was quiet with only one person working there, so it was a surprise that on my return visit the place was full of staff.
One guy entered the room and shouted: “Look! It’s a bulldog!” (People often mistake Boogie for a Frenchie because of his big bully head)
Boogie was relaxed and friendly but I still did my usual spiel: “He is in training and he is nervous around strangers so please don’t get close”.
Guy exclaimed: “Don’t worry! I am a dog trainer! I know all about dogs and I can read dogs very well. He’s not nervous! He’s fine! ” And then he proceeded to babble on about how well dogs can read people’s energy, and that he could see that Boogie was not at all troubled by his presence.
I said, “OK, here is a treat that you can give him”. Which is usually what I do with strangers meeting Boogie for the first time.
Guy said “Sit”. Boogie sat and received the treat.
Me: “Did you see that?!! Did you see him cower when you stuck your foot out at him? Please don’t do that!”
The guy: “Yes, I did that to stop him from jumping up. That’s how you train dogs not to jump up.That’s how I train my dogs not to jump up. You stick your foot out”.
I was horrified. I don’t know what disturbed me more – that a total stranger had taken it upon himself to *train* my dog without my permission (how obnoxious!) or that he did not even see or care that Boogie was cowering in fear as a result of what he had done. After spending months training this hypersensitive Boogie that “Strangers are OK”, this douchebag comes along and shows Boogie that strangers are not to be trusted and can strike out at you when you least expect it! You can imagine how disturbed I was by this incident… Yeah, I naively assumed that because the guy is a dog trainer, everything should be OK!
I said to the guy in my calmest voice: “My dog was kicked by his previous owners and it’s a big issue for him to have people stick their feet out like that”.
Later on, I realized that “kneeing a dog in the chest” is in fact a legitimate dog training technique. Sarah confirms that there are lots of old school Compulsion-Praise trainers who do this. Some also STEP ON THE DOG’S FEET to stop them from jumping up (!!!)
Check it out: Kneeing a dog in the chest to make him back off
On the other hand… Back in the MODERN Clicker-training universe…
In our lesson yesterday with Sarah, we addressed Boogie’s jumping up behavior.
I’ll be honest – I LOVE IT when Boogie jumps up to say hello!!! Yes, I know it’s bad doggie manners but the fact is, I have come to rely on Boogie’s “jumping up” on a person to gauge whether or not he likes someone. If he is fearful or nervous around someone, he won’t jump up on them (he will avoid them) and this tells me that it is not safe to make him interact with that person. So really, there is reinforcement and relief for ME when he jumps up to greet a person. The problem is that I can’t stop him from doing it to people who don’t want to be jumped up on. Boogie could also suddenly get scared if someone stuck their face too close to his, and he could lunge up and nip.
I wanted to know how I could train Boogie so that I am not eliminating the behavior but managing it. Sarah said most importantly we want Boogie to check in with me first before greeting anyone. He should not be allowed to initiate greetings. Solution: Train a SIT STAY (= Duration Behavior ), and here is where it gets interesting because we use a clicker-training technique called backchaining.
Sarah: Duration behaviors have three cue/behavior pairs.
#1 = “Sit” (butt goes down + duration–1 second up to one minute and beyond)
#2 = “Ok!” (dog changes position or gets up)
#3 = “Click” (dog orients to you and eats)
To back chain, we train these separate behaviors starting with the last one (#3) first…
#2 + #3
#1 + #2 + #3
We train the OK! (release) cue first before we add the SIT cue. (The “Look At That” game is another example of backchaining where we train the head turns before training the verbal cue) This is how I understand it in my own “non-scientific” terms: As Boogie learns that he will be rewarded with a treat (or freedom to get up and move) for every release cue, this makes it much easier to teach him that it’s a good thing to sit and wait for the release cue. I have a lot of practicing to do :)
Sarah’s video on Backchaining:
The results of which we would then apply to the scenario below:
Yesterday, we trained the separate behaviors then tried this out with a friend entering my apartment. Interestingly, when I gave the OK! cue, Boogie ran forwards to greet her without jumping on her. Since our lesson yesterday, I have practiced this protocol with a few other people and it was interesting to note that Boogie sat, then went forwards and also did not jump up. Sometimes he wasn’t even interested in greeting the person and would instead go off and do something else or turn around and come back to me!
A much friendlier “No Jumping” training method that kneeing a dog in the chest, right?
P.S. While I know that the old school Compulsion-Praise Training method may suit other people and other dogs, with a hypersensitive dog like Boogie who is prone to freaking out and snapping at people, it makes more sense for me to use Clicker-training and I am so grateful that this method exists!