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Thread: Positive reinforcement - A success story

  1. #1
    Drool Catcher BrianW's Avatar
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    Default Positive reinforcement - A success story

    I wanted to tell you about the successes and failures that we have been having with behavioral problems between two of our rescue dogs.

    A little over a year ago, we adopted a seven year old female (Brandi), which had been through at least four different owners prior to us, the first two being puppy mills. Her last owners were a couple that was going through a very bad divorce, and the wife took out all of her angers for the husband on Brandi. She was a very sick dog when we got her, actually only being in the rescue for about a week before she came to us. Through all of what she went through in her life, Brandi is a mellow, good girl that really never had any issues with anything/anyone until just recently.

    About three months ago, we received a call from our vet asking if we would be interested in adopting another dog. At the time we already had four others, but it was an English bulldog and she really needed someone’s help. I really do not what to even think what would have happened to her, if we would not have adopted her. Daisey came to us as a very sick little bully. She had been beaten (bruises on her head and body), was attacked by the breeders other dogs (had about fifteen bite marks), and had really bad bladder stones (she had surgery to remove four stones about one inch in diameter, four days after we picked her up).

    The first few weeks were good, Brandi and Daisey would lay on the couch next to each other, or Daisey would rest her head on Brandi’s body. Then, all of a sudden one it was like Brandi decided that she did not like Daisey and she went after her. I was just shocked, because Brandi was a typically mellow, quiet and slower old girl… now she was fast and showed a lot of rage.

    At first it was only one attack, and then we would go a day or so with nothing. We wanted to nip it before it got worse, so we talked to our vet and others about what was going on, and they all suggested that we had to be the pack leader and suggest some of Cesar Millian’s techniques. The attacks seemed to intensify, from one every other day to multiples every day. This whole situation was frustrating, because we were following everything that was being told to us, but the situation just got worse daily.

    During this time, my wife had a conversation with a fellow bulldog rescuer/foster parent and she said that they were going through issues similar to ours with two female rescues also. Their issues had gotten so bad that her husband had been to the emergency room several times for stitches from breaking the dogs up. The rescuer/foster turned to a dog psychologist/behaviorist for help and suggested that we do also.

    So about a month ago we contact Jen, from Wild Canine, about the issues that we were having with our girls. Jen is one of 58 CBCC-KA’s (certified behavior consultant canine) in the entire nation. She came out for a two hour appointment the next day, and discussed with us positive reinforcement techniques, rather than the sometime physical ones we were using that were recommended to us by others. We were taught about negative stares and how you have about 3 seconds to react once a stare is started and how to positively break the stare. I also thought it was interesting to learn that after the conflict, it takes 36 hours for a dog’s adrenaline to go down and them to forget the attack.

    After the first week of practicing positive reinforcement, the number of attacks/fights /stares decreased immensely, to an attack only once a day (where it at times was 6 or more a day). A week or two later these attacks/stares were back to what it originally was before we practiced the Cesar Millian type techniques, every other day or so. I am happy to say that it has been over a week without any issues or stares, all thanks to positive reinforcement.
    Last edited by BrianW; 05-13-2013 at 10:59 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Positive reinforcement - A success story

    Awesome! Yes..I know about "The Stares". We had a Female Dobie..14 years old and thee Queen once when we brought in a female Rottie straight from the streets. The Rottie was so stressed, her last impulse was to be the boss..but this old Dobie was having none of her. We learned the stares and actually...it is possible to "see" and even "feel" them coming. It made all the difference in the world. They both coexisted together very well and I'm sure they are Buddies at the Bridge.

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    Default Re: Positive reinforcement - A success story

    What a wonderful story! You will be of help to many around here who r struggling with this. thanks for sharing!!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Positive reinforcement - A success story

    What a great story and information to share.... there are many positive techniques out there, it is finding the one that works for you and your pack.
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    Default Re: Positive reinforcement - A success story

    Great story thanks for sharing.

  6. #6
    Drool Catcher BrianW's Avatar
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    Default Re: Positive reinforcement - A success story

    Thank you all for your nice comments.

    Something I did not include in my previous post that you might also find interesting is that Brandi is very hard of hearing, maybe even deaf. Originally I thought that we would have big issues with this, because how do you redirect a dog if they cannot hear a voice or a noise? Well, Jen taught us a neat tap technique, in which we take Brandi’s attention off of Daisey by lightly tapping her on her hinder, then positive reinforcing her breaking her stare/conflict with a treat. I was kind of amazed at how quickly Brandi picked up on this technique in less than a week, but I think that it helped that she is very food motivated (we never realized how much she was food motivated). I think this is a very good example of classic conditioning, in which I believe Ivan Pavlov would be very proud of .

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    How awesome! I've been wondering how Mr ADHD would be if we took in another.

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    Default Re: Positive reinforcement - A success story

    Thanx or the info Brian..... and having met both those girls all I can say is they certainly are worth the positive retraining.
    You all need to come over and meet lil Amy! LOL She should be done with shots in 3 weeks I think.

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    Default Re: Positive reinforcement - A success story

    It's nice to hear a success story, and so glad things worked out for you.
    Have a Great Bully Day.
    Member of The Bulldog Club of America, The Bulldog Club of Texas and French Bulldog Club of America.
    Bully hugs from - BeBe, Hazel, Lucy Lu, JLO, Hillary, Henri & Katie


  10. #10
    Drool Catcher BrianW's Avatar
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    Default Re: Positive reinforcement - A success story

    Well, tomorrow will be 3 weeks and we have not had any issue at all. They have been spending almost all the time we are home out together and even sharing the couch as they did before any issue ever started.

    If you ever go through the issues like we have, I would recommend the first thing that you do is contact a positive reinforcement behaviorist. It was well worth the money we spent to correct the issues.

    I kissed a Bulldog and I loved it.....there is nothing better in this world than a Senior Bulldog.

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    Default Re: Positive reinforcement - A success story

    Awesome, such a nice report on the progress. Good for you and your dogs

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Positive reinforcement - A success story

    Wonderful success story - so grateful these girls found you and you them. Watching for and correctly identifying trigger behaviors is not easy for most folks. It takes a special kind of calm awareness to nail it. Practice, I suppose? Anyway, thank goodness for such a wonderful outcome for these two!

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