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kruber
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PostSubject: barking back   Fri Sep 03, 2010 9:40 am

Hello all, I'm new here.
I have what sounds like a silly problem with my high prey-drive GSD, but it concerns me: when told to drop something she's picked up on a walk -- usually a stone, she adores them, God knows why, and grabs them in favour of sticks or balls and -- she does what I can only describe as talking back to me: she barks energetically in complaint at the command, and usually tries to grab another one. I have started to make her lie down when she does this, and I hold her muzzle and say 'no', but so far this hasn't changed her behaviour. We live in a very stony area, so this behaviour gets repeated many times a day. She started this at around 9 months and she's now 15 months and I am concerned, as it is beginning to carry over into other areas, such as 'drop it' on the fetch (not a refusal to obey, just the vigorous barking about it), although she's been marvelously willing and obedient and trainable in virtually all other situations. I don't want this to escalate into full-blown disobedience, naturally.
Any suggestions on how to stop this/ what am I doing wrong? I live in the country and don't know of any professionals who could help me.
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PostSubject: Re: barking back   Fri Sep 03, 2010 6:27 pm

Sounds to me like she's taught you to play a game. Grin

Maybe you could distract with something that makes noise while you're walking, get her attention on you instead of the stones. I have a 10 month old Rottie that likes them also. Whenever he picks one up, hoping that I'll chase him, or tell him to drop it, I turn and walk away from him. Sometimes I stomp my feet. He drops it and comes running to my side and sits. And yes, I've done this 2 or 3 thousand times now!
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PostSubject: Re: barking back   Sat Sep 04, 2010 3:41 am

Hmm, a game, eh? I certainly hadn't thought of that aspect... What do you think about the barking, part of the game, too, or resource guarding? There seems no malice in it, more like a vocal complaint. Her tail always is carried extra high when she has the stone, a real element of triumph and 'trophy' about the whole procedure, but a game? That puts it in a new light. Thanks so much for this, I'll give it a go at once. She's slowly dismantling our drystone walls, too, btw. <sigh>
Thanks again for your help!
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PostSubject: Re: barking back   Sat Sep 04, 2010 6:48 pm

Well its definitely something you don't want to really punish...mainly because its a form of play. If you don't notice any growling, lips pulled forward, or raised hackles I definitely wouldn't say this is a form of resource gaurding. Just an invitation to play Razz

There are many things you can do to help out though, what Ann suggested is a great idea. Also if you want to make it physically impossible to pick up rock then simply put a muzzle on her.... but of course you'll always get long term results from training.

Teach your pup the leave it command so that you don't have to go so far as to say drop it. The drop it command would only have to be used when shes already has a rock in her mouth and you didn't notice before.

To teach leave it, I'd set up a training exercise. For example, place a few stones along the concrete and walk by them, everytime she so much as looks at one say "Leave it" and possibly "Look at me", then give her a treat (high value treat, such as pieces of hot dog or cheese, etc). If you do this long enough, pretty soon every time she walks near a rock she'll look up at you instead of being tempted. This could also work with a favorite toy, if you don't want to use treats.

After the behavior is 100% reliable you start to proof the behavior and phase away the treats and just leave the verbal reward, once you get to that step this article might help you out: http://k9domain.org/conditioning.aspx

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PostSubject: Re: barking back   Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:03 am

I play mental games with Baloo and have done it with all of my dogs over the years. Make her think about what you want, and reward her when she gets it right. Do you use clicker training?
I've never met a GSD that didn't like to use their voice, at least occasionally, so I wouldn't be concerned about the barking thing. Heck, you should hear Rotties growl during play!
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PostSubject: Re: barking back   Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:07 am

Oh...about the stone walls...yikes! Does she have bones to chew on? I get bones free from the butcher at our grocery. Big, raw cowbones. You might keep one put up and when she starts on the stone wall, give one to her to show that you would rather her chew on that.
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PostSubject: barking back   Sun Sep 05, 2010 1:06 pm

Thank you both for these suggestions, I think you are on the right track here, with this being a game, initiated because she's a bright dog, and, like her litter-mate brother -- according to their breeder -- she just cannot take a walk without something in her mouth, so she started her 'protests' at being made to walk empty-mouthed. Then it became a game, with the element of 'chase me' and mild defiance (hence tail carriage). I will start working on 'leave it' at once, using the stone line-up format. Today I just ignored it as best I could, and it was perhaps a tiny amount better, or maybe I'm just a hopeful type.
Re the barking, no, never growling, no hackles, but incisors showing, sometimes. She is the most vocal of the GDSs I've had, by a long shot. Very talkative, in a Scooby-Doo type way, not in a constant barking way, if you get my drift. Smile She doesn't necessarily need more exercise -- we're on a farm, after all -- but more to think about, perhaps. More games, as Ann suggested.
Oh, and yes, she has plenty of bones, etc., things other than stone walls. I've heard that German GDSs have a thing for stones, as evidenced by their worn and broken teeth and I always thought it was the owners, but maybe it's the dogs themselves? Go figure.
Again, thank you both and I'll post my success or failure in a few weeks.
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PostSubject: hi-drive GSD w/stone-fetish: OCD behavior; needs Mgmt + alternatives   Mon Sep 06, 2010 2:00 pm

kruber wrote:
...my high prey-drive GSD [shows behavior which] concerns me:
when told to drop something she's picked up on a walk -- usually a stone, she adores them, [she] grabs them in [preference to] sticks or balls ---
and she [ "talks back"] -- she barks energetically in complaint at the command, and usually tries to grab another one.


I have started to make her lie down when she does this, and I hold her muzzle and say 'no', but so far this hasn't changed her behaviour.
We live in a very stony area, so this behaviour gets repeated many times [every] day. [it began ] 9-MO... she's now 15-MO and I am concerned...
its beginning to [generalize] into other areas, such as 'drop-it' on the fetch ( ...just the vigorous barking...), altho she's... marvelously willing and obedient and trainable in virtually all other situations. I don't want this to escalate into full-blown disobedience...


hey, kru! :--)
unfortunately, i am even-more concerned - as this is a known OCD-behavior in some lines of GSDs, and it is highly-heritable. her dam or sire,
or her grandsire or grand-dam, probably did this, too; IF none of the 4 exhibited it, i would be astonished - but dollars to donuts, some of her siblings,
half-siblings or first-cousins DO.

first thing is to break the chain of behavior: she does this every day, many times. that cannot be allowed to happen; a box-muzzle if she is
off-leash will prevent the behavior, but it needs to be * habituated * not just plonked on her face, as she will hate it. see this video of
introducing a box-muzzle with pos-R to see how to make this a happy-thing...
http://tinyurl.com/ycpqfh6 if U do this RIGHT, U can hold the muzzle up in the middle of an open-field, and she will RUN to come shove her face into it,
because it has a tremendous history of reinforcement. until she's habituated to the muzzle + can wear it without fussing, she will have to be leashed.

in addition to leashing her, i would make it impossible to get a rock in her mouth - by giving her a tug-toy to carry.
*incompatible behaviors* are a DoGsend. Very Happy a 12 to 14-inch long rope-tug should keep Ur hands safely out of tooth-range of an excited dog,
grabbing at the toy, and preclude grabbing stones.

i'd also ask the VET to check her teeth - cracked, chipped teeth can abscess, or develop cavities which can create terrible sinus or other infections;
dental bacteria is bad for health in general, and WORN teeth can have dentin [tooth pulp] exposed. many dogs who love rocks to fetch also
SWALLOW them, and may CHEW bricks, stone-hearths, etc -
i would ask my vet to palpate her belly for any unexplainable objects, AND i would be sure to crate her in an airline crate or in a STONE-free
dog-proof area - no brick-walls, no fireplace hearth or chimney, no stone "teething surfaces" and NO rocks to swallow.

CALMATIVEs can help a lot! cheers see this link http://tinyurl.com/yc9gdx8 for what to use, How, When, etc.

personally, i would use DAP pump-spray AND rescue-Remedy liquid [5 - 6 drops by mouth as a dose, AM + PM on an empty stomach,
PLUS before walks or other exciting events], and i would habituate her to pump-spray botanical-lavender at night to get her to sleep peacefully,
**then ** i would take the lavender-spray on the road perhaps 5-days later [after 5 to 7-days of nightly lavender before bed: spritz the ROOF
of her crate, or a cotton ball which is placed on a saucer in an inaccessible area 15 to 20-mins before bed to diffuse].

ORAL behavior is often a signal for stress - and OCD behavior is highly sensitive to stress: excitement, changes in routine, disappointment, etc.
good luck, this is a built-in behavior which she has practiced for 6-months; it will take concerted effort, management, + emotional support.
all my best,
--- terry



Last edited by leashedForLife on Mon Sep 06, 2010 2:24 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : bad line-breaks)
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PostSubject: DECONSTRUCTING the drystone walls?! Uh-oh... O-o!!   Mon Sep 06, 2010 2:21 pm

kruber wrote:
She's slowly dismantling our drystone walls, too, btw. <sigh> !


YIKES! - sequester her away from the walls, she may swallow the small-stone SHIMS, or chew the wall + grind
her teeth-enamel clear off. if she spends more than a few minutes outside UNsupervised, i would use an overhead trolley
to give her a long run
, but PREVENT any access to the walls themselves.
http://tinyurl.com/23cg2vc
be sure the trolley includes STOPS at both ends, to prevent the dog winding the drop-line [the vertical 'leash'] around the post,
the tree, any objects, and getting stuck or caught. it can be strung from the door-frame to a clothes-post, a 6-ft high post
sunk 2-ft into a concrete footer, between 2 trees [PAD the 'collars' on the trees heavily, running the cable thru sections of thick
garden-hose helps, and ==> move the collars periodically, to prevent permanent damage to the tree -
the living-cambium under the bark is only a sixteenth of an inch thick, and pressure can kill it; the lifeline from roots to crown
are linear, and U can kill every limb above the collar on the compressed-side which is supplied water + food thru that crushed
cambium].

keeping her in the house would be preferable to roaming at large - dogs do not self-exercise, they lie-about and wait
for a human to appear for interaction
. upping her aerobic exercise could make a marked improvement in her behavior,
by limiting her boredom + getting her ya-yas out. Smile more open-ended training will help, too - engage her BRAIN,
get her trick-training, interacting with novel objects, agility obstacles, clicker-training, etc.

good luck - this is sounding worse pale
--- terry

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PostSubject: Re: barking back   Tue Sep 07, 2010 6:31 pm

LFL, always filled with good advice!

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PostSubject: Re: barking back   Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:30 am

Hello all,
I thought that I'd report back that she's been reacting to 'leave it' very positively on walks, and I adopted the suggestion of using a noise as a reinforcement of the command. Not so positive a report while in the garden, there seems to be more possessiveness about the stones there. But no chewing or anything like what LFL was suggesting, and stones are never chosen in a non-play situation -- she'll lie down with a ball or stick, never a stone. But the stone thing is a red-herring, the point is the barking, the vocal 'complaint' at being made to comply with the command to 'drop it', I'm concerned that it's a slippery slope towards not obeying the command.
But let me stress this for anyone who did not read my initial post: she is a calm, low-reactive, non-hyper, non-separation anxiety dog, who gets a reasonable amount of exercise and lives inside. Like almost any dog I've known, she exhibits the standard guarding/dominance behaviour of her breed (and many other breeds!) by trying to be first out the door/gate but has no trouble with that being controlled with a simple 'sit'. She is friendly to humans and other dogs, I would describe her as a temperament-solid dog who does everything asked of her happily except for this one thing. But all of what I've said has to be prefaced with "so far", as she has not yet reached full maturity. All I'm trying to do is figure out how to extinguish the barking back in complaint behaviour before it escalates, IF it escalates. Were she older I would be more sure of my ground, more sure that this is all it's ever going to be, but at (now) 16 months one never knows for sure.
(Oh, and BTW, it certainly doesn't help that we humans have to pick up the wretched stones ourselves to keep the land cleared: seems likely that's how this got started and why it's been hard to stop.)
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PostSubject: Re: barking back   Sat Sep 11, 2010 7:20 pm

kruber wrote:
...she's been reacting to 'leave it' very positively on walks, and I adopted the suggestion of using
a noise as a reinforcement of the command.

i don't want to make another mistake Embarassed having met other stone-chewing + stone-fetching
+ stone-swallowing GSDs, i thought she was among their number. sorry...
when U say that U use a noise to reinforce a cue - what do U mean, please?
=reinforce= usually means to reward, in order to strengthen the repetition of that [desired] behavior.

are U using a clicker to mark the desired dropping or ignoring of a stone?
thanks for any info,
- terry
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PostSubject: Re: barking back   Sun Sep 12, 2010 2:58 am

Hi,
no not a clicker, a noise that comes from a favourite squeeky-toy: she stops at once and looks at me and I show her the toy and intermittently let her have it thrown for her.
But, like I said, it's the barking, not the stones that's at issue here, we only started talking about stones because they are potentially so harmful, this barking could have happened with any 'chosen' thing, I'm sure if I told her that sticks, for example, were off-limits she would exhibit the same barking behaviour.
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PostSubject: Re: barking back   Sun Sep 12, 2010 3:08 am

kruber wrote:

(Oh, and BTW, it certainly doesn't help that we humans have to pick up the wretched stones ourselves to keep the land cleared: seems likely that's how this got started and why it's been hard to stop.)

It's very hard to get a really clear picture of what a dog is doing through an owner's post, but now you have sent my thoughts in another direction. We have 60+ trees in our yard, and often have to pick up sticks and tree limbs after storms. The dogs love to carry sticks to the back of the yard to help out.
You have a "working dog" breed also. They really need some job to do. All of mine have something they are in charge of. Baloo brings the food bowls to me when it's time to feed them. Libby guards the kitty (she's handicapped), but Grizz-Bang will do that also. Grizz-Bang normally is in charge of watching the sky for hawks when the kitty is outside with them.
I had one a few years ago that loved to carry things, so I bought a backback for him and he carried our water on our walks. Maybe it would be helpful to incorporate something like that with yours.
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PostSubject: Re: barking back   Sun Sep 12, 2010 4:08 am

You may be on the right track here again, Ann, she is from a particularly working-dog GDS line, and is going to be the first in 5 generations not to get any schutshund qualification (because nothing like that available in our area, she's the fastest learner I've ever had) She does need a job, and carrying sticks is her usual job on a walk, it's just that she will drop the stick (and let's be precise, here: piece of tree is more like it) to get the stone, and it's the ones that are slightly buried that she favours.
She also spent 6 months of her puppy-hood with me in an area which is, quite literally, carpeted with smooth river stones, which she saw me pick up and move repeatedly.
You said that you had a dog who loved to carry things: do you mean in his mouth?
But the defiant barking? The high tail carriage when she has got her chosen trophy? I'm reasonably happy with your game theory, but if she tries to defy me on this do you believe could it escalate to other areas?
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PostSubject: Re: barking back   Sun Sep 12, 2010 6:14 am

Yes, carry in his mouth, but that urge was relieved by carrying important things in the backback.

I'm trying to get a mental picture of the "defiant barking". Like she's arguing with you in dog language? lol I can picture it....dog barking...with a caption "I'm a working dog, dammit!"
Ignoring the barking and getting her attention to something else more productive would be the goal, I'd think.

Geez...I'm starting to really like your girl. You'll have me convinced that my next dog should be a GSD if you keep this up.
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PostSubject: Re: barking back   Sun Sep 12, 2010 7:46 am

Exactly like she's arguing with me! Like "I'm a working dog!" "but YOU get to do it!" "it's not fair, I'm just trying to help!" Yes, if I had to characterize it with one phrase it would be "that's not a fair command!". Pretty silly, but you can see how there might be worries about it escalating into something seriously undesirable.
I've had quite a number of GSDs, both US and German and she's pretty amazing, I have to say. I regret we don't have any sheep, that would be great work for her. I'm looking forward to her first olive harvest, all our dogs have had to go through this, the "oh, look, the humans are picking these things up and treating them like they are important so they must be good to eat" and so they try and try to choke one down, but raw olives are inedible by even birds, so it's a pretty amusing learning curve. Maybe she'll figure out that she doesn't have to do everything that I do.
I'll try to think of a good displacement activity that will suit her willingness/need to work.
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PostSubject: Re: barking back   Sun Sep 12, 2010 9:23 am

i would still suggest calmatives...

QUOTE,
CALMATIVEs can help a lot! cheers see this link http://tinyurl.com/yc9gdx8 for what to use, How, When, etc.
personally, i would use DAP pump-spray AND rescue-Remedy liquid [5 - 6 drops by mouth as a dose, AM + PM
on an empty stomach, PLUS before walks or other exciting events], and i would habituate her to pump-spray
botanical-lavender at night to get her to sleep peacefully, **then ** i would take the lavender-spray on the road
perhaps 5-days later [after 5 to 7-days of nightly lavender before bed: spritz the ROOF of her crate, or a cotton ball
which is placed on a saucer in an inaccessible area 15 to 20-mins before bed to diffuse].
UNquote

ALTERNATE -
teach her a manic level of devotion to a particular tug-toy, then carry that as a signal to tug + get her attn off rocks,
is a valid default -
the special toy is used to teach Tug-Of-Peace where at first, going deadweight and hanging Ur whole arm
off her jaw is her 'cue' to drop; don't *look* at her or speak to her, just hang - when she drops it, praise warmly
WHILE immediately offering the toy to re-engage.

IOW -
her compliant 'drop' is Ur cue to re-engage her as her reward.

her special toy is never left around for solo-play or chewing,
is not permitted to be trophied [she wins + carries it around, displaying it],
is kept somewhere she cannot get it out;
it is only + always for interactive play.

if she so much as glances at a rock, pull out the tug-toy + wave it to get her off the rock instantly, and on the tug;
since she drops 'sticks' or tree-hunks, i would not ask her to carry the tug, but finding a less valuable object that
she might carry + drop that U could then pick-up so that it is not lost, is another possibility:
a solid rubber ball too large to swallow or choke on, a rope-tug, a rubber bone, etc.

finding an incompatible behavior to substitute for the unwanted behavior is to be preferred - what will fill her mouth
+ keep her happily occupied?
--- terry





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PostSubject: Re: barking back   Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:16 pm

If maybe you think that this behavior arose (as well as the barking) because she wants to DO something, then I'd definitely see how she reacts to carrying things in a backpack as Ann suggested....or maybe put a harness on her and have her pull a little wagon.

Of course the best way to avoid being barked at is avoid having her pick the rock up in the first place...but it wouldn't be practical to have your eyes glued on her for the whole duration of the walk.

Have you tried a "Leave it" "Quiet" command?


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PostSubject: Re: barking back   Tue Sep 14, 2010 5:40 pm

The 'leave it' command works fine, and there's much less barking - almost non-existent - about leaving it alone than with having to 'drop it', although, yes, watching her constantly makes for a less enjoyable walk, but I'm used to that. I haven't tried the back-pack yet, I don't live in an area where those sorts of things are readily available. She's always had the big stick to carry.
But this still dodges what for me is the issue of my post, the barking. Yes, I have controlled it by not giving her something to bark about, but that's not the same as teaching her that barking at me in frustration isn't acceptable. Lots of theories as to why she's picking things up and how to stop her picking things up, not so much on the barking. So far, all I've managed with the barking is the 'quiet' command - something that's new to her - coupled with a 'sit' and 'wait' , then the release, and yes, it's got better.
I'll keep you all posted as to progress (or lack thereof).
Thanks, all.
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PostSubject: monitoring dog-emotions: FEEDBACK from the dog   Wed Sep 15, 2010 12:20 pm

kruber wrote:
...this still dodges what for me is the issue of my post, the barking. Yes, I have controlled it
by not giving her something to bark about, but that's not the same as teaching her that barking
at me in frustration isn't acceptable.

hey, k! :--)

i think saying 'barking at me is not acceptable' misses a big part: she was / is frustrated -
if she feels an emotion, surely expressing the emotion [which is not deliberate, BTW -
it's an emotional reaction, not armed-insurrection] is preferred?
she is not advocating anarchy or being snide, she's just a momentarily-frustrated dog. :wink:
if we avoid the frustration, she has no need to bark - which is Good! Very Happy i don't know about U,
but IMO knowing how my dog feels is crucial info, which i value highly - i WANT that.

kruber wrote:
So far, all I've managed with the barking is the 'quiet' command... new to her -
coupled with a 'sit' and 'wait' , then the release, and yes, it's got better.

i'd teach SPEAK to a fluent-level first, then teach a [literally] whispered "hush..." cue,
leaning slightly toward her, soft eyes-on-eyes, finger to mouth.

the entire over-acting thing is just to teach it - U can reduce the exaggeration pretty-quickly, just avoid
raising Ur voice to tell the dog 'hush'. the louder U get, the louder they tend to get, LOL - it's catching.
all my best,
- terry


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PostSubject: Re: barking back   Thu Apr 28, 2011 3:10 pm

Great advice from all.

I was always told to "remove the obsession" and replace it something you feel is good (like a toy).

A friend of mine has a dog that loved to chew on sticks. He was afraid that the dog would get one stuck and need surgery. Our solution was to first teach the dog the "leave it" command. Then we taught the dog to look for a toy to replace the sticks.

The key to our sucess with this was to catch the dog "reaching" for the stick and at the instant it was give the "get your toy" command before the dog gets the stick in its mouth. (in your case, the rock) Then when it went for the toy, we rewarded it by offering a treat and/or we played with him using that toy.

The timing is CRITCAL ... but if you can stop the unwanted behavior before it happens, and be consistant, after some time it will become extinct and instead of the dog picking up a rock, it will go for the toy.

All the best,

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PostSubject: Re: barking back   

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barking back

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