Discussion in 'Tibetan Mastiff' started by broccolini, May 18, 2014.

  1. broccolini

    broccolini Well-Known Member

    The behaviorist is coming out on Thursday for a two hour session.

    In the mean time, I've been trying something new based on my observations of Athena and the input of other TM owners.

    As I said before, the first thing we tried was counter-conditioning but because we have nothing to reward her with it wasn't very effective.

    Then we tried a prong collar but it made her more aggressive. It's possible that eventually that would work. I was concerned that it would only continue to get worse so we went back to the martingale.

    Leash corrections and forward movement was the next thing we went with. This was the most effective but she was still very concerned about the other dogs.

    Lately, I've been just having her sit and allowing her to watch the other dogs. I'm not trying to make her stop focusing on them or making her move away. She has been a lot better with this method.

    This morning, we went out and ran into four dogs. The first one was across the street, Athena just sat and watched him until he went out of sight.

    She second was on a wooded trail that was only about five feet wide. That dog was barky and lunging. Athena sat nicely after one leash correction. She was still very focused on the dog but she didn't act out.

    There was a woman jogging around the track with a beagle. We sat on the bleachers and watched them run by. Athena jumped toward him but only after D'Argo started barking. And she didn't go crazy.

    On the way home, I saw a dog sitting in its yard with a leash on but nobody holding it. I took Athena across the street hoping the dog wouldn't notice us. It saw us and ran out. I had Athena sit again and she acted very reasonably. The other dog was young and playful and kind of wound up. When I tried to make Athena leave before the other dog was gone, she flailed around at the end of the leash. I stopped and she just sat and watched until the owners came out and took the dog back to their yard.

    I don't know if this is the final solution but I certainly think it's better than having her continue to practice being aggressive. I'll pass this info on to the behaviorist and see what she has to say about it.
  2. mountainfila

    mountainfila Well-Known Member

    Glad to hear you are doing better with her, i think your attitude has changed some with the advice here and have taken a more proactive approach and the more you command her to do things the more she will look to you for advice on what she should do. Tm's are similar to filas in that they are one owner dog, they pick the leader they want to listen to, sure they will listen somewhat to the other people living in your house but their heart belongs to only one.

    You said the thunder shirt was for her drooling in the car, was she getting car sickness or was she showing signs of anxiety? If it was a bit of anxiety, her aggression may be a form of anxiety, it could be she is nervous when out of her surroundings.

    When the dog came out did you try and stop the dog from coming to close and young and playful and wound up is to much excited energy to come into her space and before leaving the other dog should have been gone further away just to show her that dogs come and go and its all ok.

    When she sits and just looks is fine but if shes looking and is tense you need to talk to her and see if she will look at you a few times, if she will not look at you if your talking to her, i reach down and touch (i use my pointing finger and just give them a little poke in the shoulder) or put your hand on her shoulder or back or poke her in the bum with your toe, she will turn and look at you it will break the focus and bring her intensity down and then maybe say come and walk a few feet and have her sit again and repeat, its all about repetition even more so with a stubborn dog but i think your doing great, just keep the same mind set that your in control when you are holding that leash.
  3. broccolini

    broccolini Well-Known Member

    I think the change in my attitude has been more along the lines of *not* trying to command her to do things. I think what she needs to do is to be able to observe the other dogs so she can decide for herself if they are a threat.

    I'm just asking for a sit and as long as I let her keep an eye on the dogs, she was content. I hope that's okay. Before, I was trying more to get her to focus on me or move where I wanted her to move or to restrain her. When I let her watch, she just sits with the leash loose.

    When the dog came out I didn't do anything. I'm trying to see how she reacts on her own. I tried to walk away when the oner came and got the dog. That's when she got flaily. I had her sit again and she watched until they were out of sight, then she came along just fine. I'm pretty sure that dog is one she would have enjoyed playing with. Her body language was much more along the playful lines than the aggressive lines. And I think that because that dog was off leash, it wasn't heading straight at her. She's always been better with off-leash dogs.

    She doesn't seem overly tense when she's watching the other dogs. I will try talking to her or touching her and see if she looks at me. She did listen well when I put her back in a sit.

    I really think that not being able to watch the other dogs is stressful for her. And the walking straight toward her is something she sees as a challenge.

    The drooling was more of a nausea thing. She's gotten better as she gets older. She doesn't seem nervous to me. She doesn't react to anything except other dogs. We can have bikes, skateboards, squirrels, joggers, loud cars, etc go by and she doesn't care anything about that.

    I wonder if being able to watch the dogs is it's own reward and we can use that somehow to gradually work her closer to them.
  4. broccolini

    broccolini Well-Known Member

    Oh, and what if I poke her and it makes her act out? Should I stop poking her or poke her more until she stops reacting to it?

    And thanks. :)

    Oh, and I guess I lied, I do talk to her. She gets lots of verbal praise while she's sitting nicely but I haven't tried to give her any verbal commands.
    Last edited: May 18, 2014
  5. ruthcatrin

    ruthcatrin Well-Known Member

    Apollo got drooly-nauseous when riding in the car for the longest time too.

    Definitely interesting!
  6. mountainfila

    mountainfila Well-Known Member

    Im not saying jab her lol just touch with your finger, like if you were to poke someone in the shoulder to say hey, she will look at you , you said she is just watching on a loose leash and seems to be relaxed so it should not make her act out, it will just make her look at you and when she does, reinforce good girl. What do you mean by not giving her any verbal commands? So you dont give a command ever to her or just on your walks and why not lol, so if you dont take the lead and show her what you want how is she to learn whats expected of her?
  7. broccolini

    broccolini Well-Known Member

    I mean I'm not trying to tell her to do anything while she's watching the other dog, not that I never give her verbal commands. Sorry.

    I've just been having her sit. I'll try telling her to 'down' and see how she does with that.

    Here is the response from the behaviorist, I asked if there was any downside to doing what I'm doing:

    No---this is a good plan if Athena stays calm and doesn't stiffen, growl, or worse. In fact, it is one of the strategies that I was planning to work on with you. For some dogs there is an ideal distance. They are interested in the other dog, but contact is too arousing (fear or conflict). I wanted to see how she would respond to this, but it sounds like you are already doing the pilot testing. Let me know how it goes.
  8. DennasMom

    DennasMom Well-Known Member


    This is actually what Denna and I practice all the time... when we see people with or without dogs coming toward us on the sidewalk, I pick a place where we can move a few feet off the path and sit. We watch them go by, then go on our merry way. Sometimes they stop for a greeting - which Denna is always VERY happy to comply with. My problem with her was getting her not to run up to greet people with kisses... they loved it, and rewarded her for it when she was a cute little puppy... but not so much anymore. :\

    Doing a 'down' is a whole 'nother ball game. 'Down' is a much more submissive posture, so it might not be something she's willing to do yet (or ever).

    I've also used the same 'poke on the shoulder' method to 'snap' Denna out of a glance, if she's getting too focused on something. I normally say "hey" or "leave it" or "enough" at the same time.

    Does she take treats at all?
    I would offer one after the other dog is gone and you move on - even if she doesn't always take it.

    Maybe as she gets used to this watching, and that being a good thing... maybe the required amount of time to observe will shorten over time. If you have a cue for "good observation, let's get going now" - with a treat/reward of some sort attached, that might help her look forward more to moving again, versus sitting and observing longer.

    Sounds like great progress! Smart Athena!
  9. Catia

    Catia Well-Known Member

    Sounds like you are onto something good, even if it is not the complete fix, it's getting somewhere.

    Tessa really gets 'upset' when people come up behind us, from day 1. I always put her in a sit when she did this, as a part of her training, to avoid her lunging. She 'postures so much, so 10-15 feet...posturing, so a sit...go another 10 feet...posturing so a sit...
    Honest to god, some days a measely 10 minute trip could take us 40 minutes...Frustrated the hell outta me, but it WORKS for me--as long as she can watch the other dog/person of interest. If she cannot watch, she will break the sit. The sit seems to relax her. I do praise her, & sometimes she will relax enough to slightly lean her head on my leg while she watches the passer-by. Mostly she's stoic & doesn't break her stare.
    Sometimes I do stand mostly in front of her, blocking with my body, & giving enough for her to continue to watch, & putting me in a better control position if she does try to lunge.
    I do this because I still do not trust the posturing. She's done this from day 1, so it's always going to be there.
    While she's a soft & noodley girl with me, the posturing always looks like it means business. She is a quiet girl, I don't get warning barks, or growls, I just get the posturing & she goes silent--even her breathing is quieter when she does this. I do not believe I have ever seen hair raise on Tessa ever.
    Can you see raised hair on a TM?

    Sometimes we have to wait longer that I would like to before we can move on--sometimes they must be completely out of sight, sometimes just 10 feet infront of us-but she immediately snaps right back into her happy self & is satisfied.

    Now it is such an ingrained thing with Tessa, she'll just stop, posture & sit--before I even know what is going on. I actually think it makes HER feel more secure, & the fact that I will have better control of her if a situation turned bad is just an added bonus.
    Besides, I can't move her when she is posturing anyway, I swear she feels 3x her weight when she does it!
  10. ruthcatrin

    ruthcatrin Well-Known Member

    I've seen Apollo really hackle up just the once, but I'd swear he fluffs up when he's peeved about something.
    Last edited: May 18, 2014
  11. broccolini

    broccolini Well-Known Member

    Athena totally fluffs up when she's mad. She looks like a completely different dog.

    We didn't see any strange dogs on our evening walk but we did run into one of her dog friends that she hasn't seen in a few months. I had my husband bring D'Argo up to the field and the three of them had a great time. D'Argo is still young enough that he stays with us and the other dogs so he got some off-leash time. Athena was on her 50ft drag line. :)

    I have two very tired, wet puppies right now.

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  12. broccolini

    broccolini Well-Known Member

    Yes, I remember you saying that. We've tried that before but I was always trying to get her to not focus on the other dog. Now, I think that was a mistake on my part. Most training advice says to have the dog focus on the handler. That was not acceptable to her. She really needs to watch the other dog.

    I starting to think of this the same way I think of her barking. It's just something she needs to do.

    Oh, and good point about the 'down' being a submissive thing. Maybe I'll just try to get her to glance in my general direction. :p
  13. Catia

    Catia Well-Known Member

    FWIW--trying to divert Tessa's attention to me-when she's focused on another person/dog didn't work. I stopped months ago.
    I practiced that 'focus stuff'--she knows it well. It worked at home, when I was doing the exercises for practice-but doesn't work outside on walks.

    For some reason, beyond me, it does seem to work somewhat at places like Petco...
    Maybe she expects other pooches at Petco, but walks are a different thing to her?
    Or maybe there is some inside/outside line that defines this?

    It does seem like the posturing & watching is something she 'needs' to do-since it's been there from day 1-no matter what I tried.
    That's an interesting way of thinking about it. I can say she is satisfied as long as she can do it, & stressed if she cannot.

    I'm wondering if I went back to the 'focus' work if it would be any different now-I haven't done it in months.
    Since she's older & some things 'click' in her mind differently, I might get a different result?
    Might give it a few tries again.
  14. ruthcatrin

    ruthcatrin Well-Known Member

    I still can't get over how big he is! I know Athena's not a big girl, but still!
  15. broccolini

    broccolini Well-Known Member

    I had to reschedule the behaviorist for Sunday. Her husband had some sort of medical emergency.

    Meanwhile, I've been working on making her pay more attention to me when we walk. I think I spent 4 hours walking dogs the other day. I don't take them out together because I don't want Athena to ruin D'Argo. :p
  16. broccolini

    broccolini Well-Known Member

    I weighed him at 25 weeks, he was 70lbs. The largest puppy in the litter was 76lbs at 24 weeks. One of the other males was 73lbs and one of the females was 60-something.

    I think he's actually closing the size gap. The biggest puppy was 21lbs when D'Argo was 15lbs. So it's the same 6lbs but as a percentage of weight, it's much closer. He's done a lot of growing in the past couple of weeks. He woke up one morning bigger than Athena. His legs are finally starting to look long. His mother is very tall. She's almost 30inches.

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