Squirrel obession

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Icspots
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Squirrel obession

Post by Icspots »

Another new topic for me. How do you cope with a dog who has a squirrel problem. Walks now can be quite challenging as Jack frequently wants to just stay still watching the stupid critters when we are out in the park. If I can keep him moving it helps but sometimes that doesn't work. I have tried a few different things but nothing is reliable or constant. I think he may have hunted in the past but I don't know if there is a ignore or release word that would get his attention. The geese and other birds don't have nearly the same fascination that the critters do. The trainer at PetSmart suggested using a treat to get him to focus away but I haven't found anything that will take his mind off a squirrel. I can hardly wait to go camping with him this summer. By nightfall we'll both be exhausted......

adele
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Re: Squirrel obession

Post by adele »

I remember when Lola was a little she used to stare at squirrels and drool. :lol: I'd have to drag her away. I even used her fascination to put drops into her eye when she needed some medication. :lol: :lol: She'd be completely mesmerized. I tried waiting her out once, but after 5 minutes or so I couldn't stand it any longer and dragged her away. I have/had the same problem with cats... Lola loves to study cats. So what I did was first - I got her to sit while she stared - that was because she used to drag me after them which was more irritating than her watching them.. I didn't eliminate the fascination I just had her under control. But I'd always get bored watching squirrels and cats and just naturally said, "that's enough" and I'd drag her away (she's always on harness). Now she's much older we've come to an agreement. She sits nicely and I let her watch them for a minute or two, then she happily walks away with me when I say "that's enough".
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Lisa
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Re: Squirrel obession

Post by Lisa »

Well - here's the two approaches I've used so far. Both are effective, one is just faster than the other.

With Buster, he would try to chase the squirrels while on walks, and nearly pulled me off my feet. He has an excellent heel anywhere but this one path we take that has tons of squirrels. I finally gave in and put a prong collar on him. He still fixates on the squirrels, but doesn't try to chase them or pull me anymore. He can walk nicely at my side (as long as he's wearing the prong) and not be completely stupid.

Charm fixates on critters and birds, and freezes. Nothing will get her attention, short of me picking her up and turning her around. So, I'm using it as a reward for listening to me. We started in the controlled environment of a Petco with birds and critters in cages. Charm started out at a distance where she could see the critters, but still was far enough back that she could pay some attention to me. I called her name, and if she looked at me, she got a click/treat and then told to go look at the critters. We slowly moved closer and closer to the critters. After about an hour (the first time we trained this), Charm was looking at me first then looking at the critters when given permission. Then, she was able to start working. I started shaping new behaviors with the clicker, right in front of the critter cages. We'd do a few reps, then I'd release her to go look for a few seconds, then call her name, and work some more. The critter became boring when I kept telling her to go look at them, and she became much more interested in working with me. I pulled this trick from the book Control Unleashed, and I'm slowly working my way through a lot of the exercises with Charm.
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Charm-future agility champ
Britty- RIP March 27, 2014
Buster-CGC, OA, OF, NAJ, APK, APJ, APG, APR, PD

rtropeano
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Re: Squirrel obession

Post by rtropeano »

I'm using a similar method that Lisa is using with Charm - just slightly different. I'm teaching an autowatch (but we haven't got there yet)

Start out teaching watch. Say the word "watch" and when they look click/treat. Do this in a controlled environment. If you need to you can even start out by luring the watch with a treat, i.e. say watch, lure them with the treat to look at your then give the treat out. Once they can do this in an controlled environment - then take it outdoors - maybe your backyard. Let them get busy and when they notice something, give your watch cue, when they turn click/treat. Eventually you'll try to work up to seeing critters at a distance and then closer.

What's supposed to happen if you do this enough is they will see the critter and AUTOMATICALLY look at you. As I said, we haven't got to the auto part yet, but we're working on it.

This method is described in full detail in Patricia McConnell's book "feisty fidos". It's available online.

I have "Control Unleashed" Leslie McDevitt as well - awesome book.

Key with either of these strategies is to make sure you're working under the dog's threshold - i.e. before the dog loses her mind and is busy barking her head off. Once that happens, learning does not take place and you just need to get out of there. Also, use HIGH level treats, beef heart, liver, chicken, roast beef.
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Icspots
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Re: Squirrel obession

Post by Icspots »

Very good tips. Thank you. Unfortunately now we are taking a trip to the vets in the morning because someone who shall have their name changed to In Debt instead of Jack hurt their foot chasing a squirrel in the backyard tonight. We are becoming our vets favourite clients these past few weeks.

adele
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Re: Squirrel obession

Post by adele »

:lol: :lol: :lol: Did you see my post "It's a miracle!" For the first time in her 7 years Lola made it through an entire year without an emergency vet visit. I always worried that my vet thought we were abusing her, poking holes in her, feeding her poison, making her walk on beds of hot coals...
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Cindy
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Re: Squirrel obession

Post by Cindy »

Just last weekend Layla launched herself from the deck to the deck bench, to the ground in pursuit of a bird. When she hit the ground she let out a cry, chased the bird, and came back on 3 legs! All I could think was that she'd torn her ACL but she was fine the next day - WHEW! But this is the reason we have pet insurance on all 3 dogs!
Kayla RIP 10/2/15, Pippa, and Layla
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