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Knowing that Duke was coming here, I bought a new book: STOP: how to control predatory chasing in dogs by David Ryan. 

It's a thinnish book with large print so I should be able to go through the concepts pretty fast: going through the actual training however may be a tad fiddlier :-D 

Step 1) Eliminate the target.  Don't take the dog to places where he can chase the target you are trying to stop him going after. 

Hmm.  Well, I can't really remove the cats from the house, and anyway, I don't want Duke to live in complete isolation from cats. I want to change how he views them: from prey objects to family members. 

OK, so I can't eliminate the target.  However, Duke is a running dog.  The likelihood is that he doesn't get the big enjoyment reward from seeing/stalking a cat, but from the next step: running after it.    I CAN stop him from running after the cats and in fact, that's exactly what I am doing.  If I can stop him lunging at them as well, that has to help. 

Sort of tick?   Best I can do, anyway. 

Step 2)  Look at the emotional balance of the dog.   Is he chasing to relieve some other stress, tension or fear in his life?  How can he be  given emotional boosts in ways other than by chasing?

Hmm.  Well, he was starving, flearidden and kennelled without bedding, or affection now he's getting three large meals a day, two walks, lots of cuddles, dog company and a choice of carpet, rug or beds.  His skin is improving too. That's got to be an improvement in endorphin terms.  

Possibly, it lacks the thrill factor?  I may need to look at how I can safely give him running/offlead chasing time with the other dogs.   That said, he's not the kind of dog that spends his life looking for things to chase, walking on lead he's more interested in sniffs and other dogs than potential prey: less so than Az, probably.  Maybe this problem won't be that hard to solve...


Step 3 )  Nothing In Life Is Free & Reward Good Behaviour. 
Get the dog to sit before meals and ask politely for treats.  Teach him not to grab but take food when given permission.  Aha!  Am already working on those! 

Duke really, really doesn't know any commands at all and has no idea how to sit on command or come when called, or indeed that such behaviour might be required of him.  He considers all food he can grab to be his food.  Mollydog did that too, so I'm sure Duke will get there.

I'm doing the thing where you lift the food bowl over his head to make him sit, and that is sort of working though he has such insanely long legs that sitting isn't exactly instinctive - he tends to end up walking backwards  or standing on his hind legs -  and such a madly long neck that luring him to lie down is hard too.  But he *can* sit and I will continue working on this.  Would do anyway, who wants a dog that doesn't know the basics?

At some point he's going to cotton on that if he does stuff, I will give him yummy things. I don't think he understands that yet.  When he does, that will make this much easier. 

Am also working on block/ignore bad behaviour,  reward good behaviour.  A giant dog that can jump on the table and wants to sit on your lap and eat all your food off your plate is a lot of hassle and I can't be having with that.  I could starve to death myself!  It was bad enough with Bungles. 

Tick a work in progress. 

Step 4) Doors.  Dog not to barge through before he is told. 
Ahead of book on this, as cat may be on the other side of doors so dog is being made to wait. He's sort of getting it too. 

Tick in progress again. 
Step 5) Toys
Put the toys in a box and only let them have a couple at a time. Urg. Do I have to? This sounds like tidying :-(  

laziness untick :-( 

Step 6) Retrieving.  Teach your dog to retrieve!  Oh dear.  I suck at doing this, neither of mine can retrieve for toffee :-(   Still, I will try. 

Choose a toy that is roughly the same size & shape as the target, but that looks/smells different.  Get two identical ones and pretend the one you've got is amazingly better, then do swaps.  

(It does say only use a furry toy if you have to, but given what sighthounds are like I'm pretty sure I will have to: they really don't seem to care for balls and things).  There's lots of stuff about getting the dog to leave the toy too, but I think I'll walk before I try to run and start with  getting him to pick the damn thing up, which is something Mollydog has never managed! 

 I don't have two identical cat-sized toys, but I have just ordered a matching pair of large black and grey honking goose toys.  Black and grey cos none of our cats are black and grey, and honking because cats don't honk.  These will be kept as special toys for retrieving games only.

I'll try getting him to fetch balls once he can go offlead safely too - I don't want to rush that too fast as with those legs he could vanish very quickly if I let him off in the wrong place, and I definitely can't let him run in the garden yet.  

Hopeful that  tick may occur with the aid of honking geese

The rest of the steps are supposed to be done only when you've done the first ones, as these may fix the problem anyway.  Fingers crossed: I may not need to go on to pages 53-76...  

Or you could just look at the photos.




( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
29th Aug, 2010 18:11 (UTC)
For pity's sake, he's a sighthound.

Good luck.
29th Aug, 2010 19:18 (UTC)
He's a lurcher with a decent streak of collie from the look of him : a lurcher is supposed to be able to run through a herd of sheep to catch a rabbit. They work in conjunction with ferrets, which are like small mad cats on acid. He *should* be able to discriminate between small furry things and get his jollies from rabbits but not cats, for example.

A lot of them do retrieve well and you even get some doing agility and flyball, so it's worth a try. I think there's a brain in there somewhere, possibly even a good one: it's just a bit rusty at the mo.

I have two cat-safe sighthounds already and you don't get them without work: if this one doesn't make it reliably to that status then he'll still be much easier to find a really good owner for, if he has the training basics.
30th Aug, 2010 10:47 (UTC)
Someone recommended that book to me just last week, and I have it on order, so it's really interesting to hear some feedback on it.

If he's had no training at all in his entire life, poor lad, Duke is certainly going to test the effectiveness of the training methods...
30th Aug, 2010 14:22 (UTC)
I'm going to see if they can fit us in at the local training class - though he is picking things up pretty fast. I think he is going to be a really sensational big dog and I want him to have a great home, so I'm going to do my level best to make him as adoptable as I possibly can!

I think that David Ryan book will be really good for your springer. I am slightly less sure it will work so smoothly with to a sighthound, because I think he's used to quite drivy active dogs, and sighthounds are odd in that they can go from nap to chase mode with only about one change of gear. But it's worth a try...
(Deleted comment)
31st Aug, 2010 10:38 (UTC)
30th Aug, 2010 17:06 (UTC)
oooooh - going to his seminars this weekend, will let you know if any more secrets!

Are you using clicker training with him? Tend to find its good at getting the brain engaged...
31st Aug, 2010 08:39 (UTC)
I intend to, but haven't started yet as I am finding that I seem to need rather a lot of equipment to manage him (normal lead, giant superstrong flexi, muzzle, bag of treats...) and don't seem to have a spare hand for clicking. But I am using 'good' as a marker (though now I think about it, maybe I should use another less common word). and probably should start thinking about clicker now...

He's doing the *best* sit for his dinner now after only a couple of days and his lead walking is getting better (thankfully: if he kept up the dragging me around the house approach, I was fearing he would fling me down the stairs!). There was a little accident after breakfast when I didn't whizz him outside fast enough, but he's getting to be clean in the house too.

Let me know if David Ryan says anything of particular application to ginormous sighthounds living in proximity with cats!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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