Poodle Forum banner

1 - 6 of 6 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I started this thread because I wonder if other people have so many issues with focus near other dogs like I do.

I have an intact male, 20 months old, and he's going through a highly social phase where playing with other dogs is much more valuable to him than working. He has gotten worse in group classes, especially when we have new dogs, he gets very distracted.

I've been doing a lot of focus exercises with him, even took him to a special class designed for focus, but he does not generalize that concept to other dogs or new dogs, he's only learned to ignore his classmates. Every new dog is a struggle, it's like I've hit the rocks with this issue, and his strong desire to socialize is much stronger than any reinforcement I have to offer, and I have REALLY good and stinky stuff like dehydrated meat and sharp cheese.

I've heard a couple of other poodle people who also have dog-obsessive dogs, so I wonder if this is a normal behavior for poodles? Do I have any hope of him growing out of this phase and working normally near other dogs, like he used to as a puppy? Should I consider neutering him before he's even 2 to help his focus?

I want to hear your stories!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
22,972 Posts
I gave an in depth answer on your other thread. The only other thing I noticed here that I didn't address there is whether this is a general poodle thing and my answer to that is no.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
526 Posts
My boy is also dog obsessed! He is now 28 months and also intact, he gets easily distracted as he isn't really a food motivated dog. We work on training often but if the dog is any closer than 10 meters he loses focus. He has great recall. Hugo unfortunately is a humper and I have to keep a very close eye on him with other dogs as it can lead to the other dog to attack him. We used to bring him to the dog park until he was a little over a year old, when we noticed him humping other dogs. I would use his favorite ball as a distraction and usually it did quite well but in the off chance that he did try to mount the other dog it was just a headache... I do not want my spoo humping a pitbull and getting attacked.

My only suggestion as i am working on it myself is if he's on leash i use a head halter and his favorite ball to regain his focus. Its hard work but as he has gotten older he is less obsessed.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
22,972 Posts
The training methodology to deal with this if you are determined not to neuter is counter conditioning. For example Dina if 10 meters is your critical distance you start right at that threshold and work on and reward ignoring the other dog. Then you go to 9.8 meters distance and do the same thing. I had a lab/BC mix dog I worked with where that really helped shorten her threshold distance significantly, but understand it is likely to take months. You also need a partner team to work with where the other dog is truly and completely reliably neutral.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Dina

·
Registered
Joined
·
526 Posts
The training methodology to deal with this if you are determined not to neuter is counter conditioning. For example Dina if 10 meters is your critical distance you start right at that threshold and work on and reward ignoring the other dog. Then you go to 9.8 meters distance and do the same thing. I had a lab/BC mix dog I worked with where that really helped shorten her threshold distance significantly, but understand it is likely to take months. You also need a partner team to work with where the other dog is truly and completely reliably neutral.
Yes, i totally agree and forgot to add that to by post. Whether its walking past or just doing a sit stay till the other dog has passed. If he keeps his focus on me and isn't a whining mess I will reward him and toss the ball for him to catch it :)

He is doing a lot better he has overcome small dogs and he will pass without any issues - just still working on the larger pups! :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
(I got a little overexcited with my reply because we just went through something very similar, so hopefully you find it helpful :) )

I have an intact 21 month old toy poodle who came to me at 10 weeks as a highly sociable puppy. He would literally glue himself to other ppl and dogs every chance he got acting all wiggly trying to play. Of course most people and dogs loved him, which reinforced his desire to leave me even more. I did lots of recall and focus work with food/toys/ball in various locations/situations, but nothing really gave me the results I wanted until I started implementing Susan Garrett's protocol from her book Ruff Love that my agility coach introduced me to. It's only been about 4 weeks, but he went from blowing me off during class and trials to now having his eyes glued on me almost every second that he is working because he loves interacting and being with me. In fact he just got on the podium at the UKI Southwest cup (a regionals agility competition) with a 3rd place win in one of the combined rounds this past weekend.

In short, Susan's protocol basically convinces the dog that the only source of reinforcement in his/her life is you, the owner/handler. Right now it sounds like your dog is being reinforced (whether you like it or not) by a multitude of things from his environment, especially playing with other dogs. Even if he is not being allowed to play with other dogs anymore, an accidental sniff or play bow/engagement even randomly is still feeding his history of reinforcement, and random reinforcement is the strongest when maintaining a behavior (in this case the behavior of leaving you to play with other dogs, which you don't want). I highly recommend her book because of how much it's helped me, and I think any future puppies I get I will be implementing at least some version of her protocol.

What you can also try in the meantime are short but intensely exciting sessions of playing with you, first at home and then adding more and more distractions (e.g. indoors, then different parts of your house, then by the door to the yard, then in different parts of your yard, then the sidewalk, then 100 feet away from a person/dog that he has no interest in on the sidewalk, etc.). He needs desire to be with you and interact with you that goes beyond his fondness for food, because clearly it sounds like other dogs are way more exciting than any food you can give him. If he is not super play/toy motivated, try breaking up treating him with games of him chasing you to get his prey drive and excitement up, and mix those up with exciting tricks like spins and hand touches where he has to jump up to touch your hand, then feed him, and then you quickly run away again between the spins/hand touches/treats so he has to chase you again. Basically if you are out of breath after 2 minutes of this type of training/interaction with him, then you're doing it right :D End the game (even after just 30 seconds) when he is excited and wanting more so he looks forward to playing with you again next time (kind of like how you have to drag him away from playing with other dogs when he still wants more). For example, when the game is over, my puppy immediately goes back into his crate to look forward to the next time he gets to do all this super fun stuff with me again, so the next time he comes out of a crate (at home/class/trials), he immediately focuses on me and is glued to me regardless of what ever is around him. He is not perfect yet (though recently I have been doing this with him at large agility shows with off leash dogs running about and amped up dogs barking everywhere, so it's asking a lot of him), but that will get better with practice. Gradually you can build this up to asking for other behaviors, like stays, or sits, etc still breaking up the behaviors with exciting tricks and chasing to keep it fun. Calm attention is good, but you can't teach that until you have a dog that wants to be with you in the first place. ;)
 
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
Top