For all new members, please check out the thread New to the Forum? What to do and forum guidelines.
  • AnjyilAnjyil
    Posts: 498
    So I have been roaming around the forum for a few days, and this wonderful term keeps popping up, but there is never any real depth or explanation. Proofing. Proofing your commands for various situations until the dog learns to generalize commands to any situation. On the surface, it seems easy, but when you get down to it--it's really hard! I think lots of new owners, like myself, are overwhelmed with the idea of proofing. And I think a few are like me in feeling daunted by the task when in a situation with few resources. So I wanted to open up a discussion about what you can do to improve proofing of your commands.

    The biggest problems I am facing myself include the how of incremental proofing, as well as the alternatives and out-of-the-box solutions.

    Our puppy gets excited around some people, and gets anxious around others. He's a barker. We have found the triggers (for the most part) but we really can't duplicate them. Getting a cart to push around in front of him is crazy. Putting on hats and coats around him is pointless, as he has no problem discerning that the costumed person is his family. Asking neighbors and friends to help is just so taboo in Japan, at least it is in this neighborhood, where the majority of inhabitants are over 60.

    What I am doing now is just proofing when the opportunity arises. It seems to be the only way for me. If I am the one walking him, and he starts to show his freeze/alert tenseness, I test him by giving him an easy command. If he obeys the command, I treat him and then treat him when he looks at the object of his interest. If he doesn't, I move him further away and try again.

    Sounds are another story. Still trying to work on how to do that one. Anyone else have some ideas to throw in the hat, or maybe what you are doing yourself so us newbies can get better ideas?
  • spacedogsspacedogs
    Posts: 315
    So something that goes hand in hand with proofing is redirection. For new owners this often starts and ends at bite redirection but there's so much more to it than that. Any unwanted behavior is retrained not just through proofing your commands but also through redirecting the dog to a different behavior in that circumstance.

    Two examples

    If Laika is barking at something and I want her to stop but I know she won't respond to a shush because shushing is no fun I'll instead ask her to do a trick and offer a reward. Can't bark at someone on the trail behind the fence and give me high 5's at the same time (any trick works so long as its incompatible with barking).

    If we're on a walk and Rhyz becomes super alert because birds (this is his biggest trigger to becoming unmanageable) I bring out the big guns and say, "Rhyz is it time?" - he has been conditioned for lack of a better term to get really excited by that phrase, and he associates it with his favorite foods and treats and every meal, so when we say that he gives us his full attention and becomes REALLY eager to please. We taught him that by being excited ourselves whenever we said it, and he naturally picked up our energy and became super excited for it, too. It helps that he's extremely food motivated but some things are bigger than treats (like birds) and require a bigger redirection.

    If you know you're likely to encounter a trigger make sure you're carrying a super high value reward. Really up the ante when you're trying to proof and redirect.
  • AnjyilAnjyil
    Posts: 498
    That is great idea and something I never thought of. We haven't quite yet figured out Coal's value system, outside of he is more likely to listen to me rather than my husband. Cheese is the highest value he has as far as food, but only recently did that start to stand out during meal times.

    right now, everything is a trigger for him on his walks lol (according to my husband)
  • JuniJuni
    Posts: 1241
    I think it is also worth practising in an easier environment until it is very clear to the dog what is expected from him/her.
    For example, Juni became very afraid of people after a man scared her. A trainer told me to practise that she should go up to strangers (which she would anyways to "suss them out") and just do a nose touch to the person's hand and then come back to me for a treat.
    We practised with my partner first-Juni thought it was hilarious to run up to her daddy and such an easy way to get treats.
    Then we did it with people she quite liked and later when she knew the drill perfectly we let her do it with strangers.
    Same with door bell training. I stand in the apartment with the door open, reaching for the door bell and ring it and when she is quiet she gets a treat. Only when she knows how to behave here I make it more difficult.
  • AnjyilAnjyil
    Posts: 498
    @Juni those are somethings we are trying to address--unfortunately, our situation does not allow us to "avoid" what we need to condition him against (most of the time). We have to take him to potty, we don't have a yard to do it (this is Japan, after all) so he is going to have to deal with things as they happen.

    We had one time that seemed effective. There is a dog on our walks that barks at everything and everyone who passes. We can, of course, avoid that street as it is a small side street. Instead, we took it as a training opportunity. Now he will walk past the dog at a normal speed. Before, he wouldn't go near the dog or he would try and run past after the half-way point.

    I feel lots of people are like me---we don't have the option to protect them from the stimuli until they are desensitized, so we have to work with it instead.

    I like the touch idea. we are in the process of teaching him that one. It may be very useful.
  • JuniJuni
    Posts: 1241
    I totally understand that,I also live in a city, some things just happen out of your control. But a lot of things are also just part of being a puppy and exploring the world and will go away as they mature and learn it is normal. Like with weird hats (?) (although Juni still barks at those sometimes). Ignoring things can be the best thing sometimes or just keep a distance. Or placing you in between the puppy and the scary object.

    Also be aware that stress can affect your puppy a lot too. Every thing that raise the adrenalin level- like exciting play, learning new things in puppy class or seeing or hearing something scary can take up to 48 hours to "recover" from and they can react stronger to things during that time too.

    Juni is a bit afraid of the dark and can sometimes bark at just about anybody she sees... embarrassing but what can I do? I apologize and walk away.
  • AnjyilAnjyil
    Posts: 498
    That is very true, @Juni . I don't live in a city, though. I live in a residential area that happens to be mostly elderly people and some rice fields. That being said, they are from just after the war-era elderly, so they have very specific ideas of how a community and people can and should behave. I get a pass on most things because I am a "foreigner" (technically not since I got my citizenship a couple of years ago)

    I have had issues of him barking at people randomly. I usually give him a treat and squat by him, stroke his chest and calm him, then allow myself to interact with the people. He tends to calm down and get interested in them instead. But you are right, sometimes all you can do is wait it out.
    Post edited by Anjyil at 2017-02-20 02:08:25
  • AnjyilAnjyil
    Posts: 498
    I wanted to update and share---I found a great book for training that really goes in-depth with ideas about how to actually proof. this is great--everything from how to break it down, to how to proof it and expand. I love this! This is exactly what I had been looking for to help cement Coal's training.

    https://www.amazon.com/Train-Your-Dog-Like-Pro/dp/0470616164
  • AnjyilAnjyil
    Posts: 498
    I wanted to update and share---I found a great book for training that really goes in-depth with ideas about how to actually proof. this is great--everything from how to break it down, to how to proof it and expand. I love this! This is exactly what I had been looking for to help cement Coal's training.

    https://www.amazon.com/Train-Your-Dog-Like-Pro/dp/0470616164

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

In this Discussion

Who's Online (2)