Jump to content
BC Boards
Sign in to follow this  
haiku

Shaping out Unwanted Behaviors

Recommended Posts

Hello again! I had a quick question on how to discourage a few behaviors I have noticed my girl is developing. Counter Surfing and Trash Digging.

 

A little background. Since the day I got her I have had a strict policy about the kitchen being off limits. I included proofing this in play time as well as while we leisurely sit around the apartment. She knows she is not allowed off the carpet onto the tile that is the kitchen. I have 'accidentally' thrown her toys over this threshold to proof this idea once in a while when playing and each time she has stopped dead in her tracks instead of going to get the toy. I praise her, fetch the toy myself and reward her with more play. So she knows well and good she is not allowed in there, however she has recently discovered that while I am at work she has free pickings. I have long since moved the trash can to a closet during the day to avoid unwanted digging, but just recently I had come home to dishes drug out of the dishwasher! I am usually quit good about cleaning, scrubbing food bits off so the wash cycle has an easier time cleaning the dishes. How this would interest a dog, I do not understand.

 

My point to this is I am not wanting to wait for the day she decides the counters might hold tastier items and go climbing or jumping up there next. Online I have read about various noise triggering devices, or using motion detected canned air all the way to home remedies like baking sheets and soda cans that get knocked off if bumped by the unsuspecting dog. My worry is, with regards to the baking sheets and pop cans, that she is already a slightly skidish dog, and is noise sensative. If I use either of those options any time she saw or hear the noise one of them makes she would head for the hills. Are there any other alternatives to training her not to do these things while I'm not home? I do not have the option of blocking off the kitchen, as the entry is to large and leaving her cooped in a bedroom I rather dislike the thought of as well.... Help?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's pretty hard to extinguish unwanted self-rewarding behaviors when you're not around to correct them. (BTW, what you're describing isn't shaping. I'm not even sure you can shape away behaviors. It's a technique that employs rewarding approximations of the desired behavior until you get what you want.)

 

Honestly, I think the best thing to do until the idea that these behaviors are off limits even when you're away is to confine her where she can't practice them, either in another room or a crate. An alternative to a gate might be an exercise pen that's opened to its full length as a barrier.

 

And can the dishwasher be latched so she can't get into it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ya I figured that wasn't the correct way to phrase it, but I just was to tired to think of something else. Yes I could confine her to my bedroom, but this would defeat the purpose of having moved out of an apartment into a house, I want her to have more space. As far as the excercise pen expanded across that area, yes I suppose I could, but at the moment I do not have one, nor the money readily available to go get one. I have a crate for her as well, but again leaving her in this all day I frown on, once in a while yes, but every day? Is that was some people do, crate their dogs for 9 hours a day? For me it would be 4 hours and 4 hours as I can come home for lunch and we go play a little fetch or get a short walk, but still.

 

The dishwasher latches when it is in wash mode, but I am not sure if I can manually latch it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Check Craig's List for exercise pens. How wide is the opening to the kitchen?

 

Check with local animal shelters. One of the Humane Societies in my counties takes all their donations of kennels, crates, exercise pens etc and lets the public come in and purchase them for a donation. The HS gets more funds and the purchaser gets an inexpensive crate. Perhaps something of the sort is available in your area?

 

Be patient with the search for the appropriate barrier. Hope you find something that works.

 

Ruth and SuperGibbs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The bedroom wouldn't be forever, but it's far preferable to letting her develop unwanted behaviors while you're away from home. It would be the same concept as crating a puppy until it's house trained. It's not forever but it serves the purpose while you need it to. The alternative is to allow her to do what she wants when you're gone with no way to deal with it.

 

Btw, I'm not sure I'd want to try anything really noisy on the counter. It could backfire and you could have a dog who's frightened of things. I've seen that with accidental crashes, where the dog is now spooked by anything that sounds at all similar. I've heard of people setting mousetraps upside down so that when they're triggered they don't snap onto the dog's toes. My one attempt at trying this proved very frustrating as the traps would go off as soon as I tried to set them down.

 

Any dishwasher I've ever had (or used in other people's homes) can be latched closed even when it's not running. Of course, I haven't used every model out there, but I thought that was pretty standard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How can a dishwasher not latch closed? Our only opens if you push a latch.

At any rate, I agree that such behaviors are so self-rewarding that prevention is the best cure I know. Can you just gate off the kitchen (use a 4 foot x-pen perhaps, as they can jump 3 foot barriers without trying) and leave her whatever other freedoms she has?

~ Gloria

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So there is no way to eliminate these behaviors? I really would rather not have to have a giant gate around or through my kitchen for the next 15 years.

 

I understand that the baking sheets and pop cans could scare here, thats why I have not attempted them as I figured she would become reactive to any noise similar to that in the future. Does anyone have any knowledge of products like the 'sssscat' which sprays a puff of air when triggered through motion detector? Or the snappy trainer, which produces a pop type noise to scare off the dog?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you tried to put a scat mat on the perimeter of the kitchen to reinforce that she's simply not allowed in the space at all? Or would that frighten her too much? I think they sell ones that you can piece together to make a long strip around the edge of the kitchen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An x-pen would probably not cost any more than those gadgets and you would probably find many other long term uses for it.

 

We have an x-pen between our kitchen and dining room because I needed it to keep my puppy's boundary smaller than the entire house. When I don't want it there, I move it away. I still use it even though he doesn't need to be supervised so much anymore. It has been extremely handy on many occasions.

 

You could also run the x-pen along the counters in your kitchen to block the dishwasher and anything else you are concerned about. I did that, also, when we first had the puppy, because he was fascinated with licking the tile that ran along the bottom of the counters. Once he grew big enough that it wasn't in his line of sight, he stopped bothering with it and I stopped blocking it.

 

No, you probably wouldn't need to do that for 15 years. I have found that once my dogs get the message that something is off limits, they eventually lose interest in it. Especially if it is something like clean dishes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How can a dishwasher not latch closed? Our only opens if you push a latch.

 

 

Ours doesn't have a latch. You just pull it open and push it closed. It does "snap" shut when you close it, but a really determined Border Collie could probably find a way to open it. None of mine have ever been interested enough to bother, but I guess it would be possible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So I looked into one of the products mentioned earlier more. The sssscat thing. Turns out this may be a good idea as long as the shock isn't horrible.

 

That's one I found in action guarding the trash. By the third day the dog didn't even touch the trash. Has any one had experience with this? Know someone who does? There was also on their website a line of product that attaches to the dogs collar and a smaller wireless transmitter is placed where you don't want you dog like a couch of chair and if the dog gets to close it delivers a small shock. I mainly wish to know if this would have any adverse effects such as this thread discussed earlier with the baking sheet crashing down may scare her of that sound. Does anyone see any possibility of something similar happening here with the mat or collar transmitter?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I mainly wish to know if this would have any adverse effects such as this thread discussed earlier with the baking sheet crashing down may scare her of that sound. Does anyone see any possibility of something similar happening here with the mat or collar transmitter?

 

That is a risk one always takes when using a device that causes some aversive to the dog (such as electric shock). There are dogs that have the temperament to tolerate it and there are those who will suffer some fallout - and that fallout could take many forms (avoidance of the room, avoidance of something "odd" that the dog associates with the aversive, etc.). You could end up with a bigger problem that is more difficult to fix - that is a risk you would take.

 

Is there a possibility that using a device like this could cause a problematic behavior in response? Yes - there is a possibility that will happen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well as shown in this video the mat captured the behavior of sniffing at the trash can with clear intent to go further had it not shocked him. So to me I see that as ideal because it captured the intent to trash dig but stopped him while that was in his head. Because of that consequence he associated the zap with that thought this steered clear after a few attempts.

 

I do see your point that if not set up properly of if the dog grazed it in passing through the doorway how he may be frightened of that area afterwards.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My young boy is now 19 months old, I got him at 4 months old. He was leggy at that time and my older dogs were so good that I forgot how tempting grilled hot dogs are just sitting on the counter. Well, he got highly rewarded for counter surfing with those yummy hot dogs. That started several months of him trying to check out the counter constantly. But we were vigilant, saying "ah, ah leave it" when we heard him in the kitchens and he was crated during the day and at night so he couldn't reward himself again. It took a few months but he no longer even looks at the counter. I still don't entirely trust him loose when we are at work all day so he is created at that time but he is fine at nigh and we are working toward daytime being out of his crate.

 

I guess my point is that if you can prevent the behaviour for a length of time she may just forget her interest. Also, crating to prevent behaviors that can be deviating is not even a question in my opinion. My boy will survive being in his crate, he might not survive getting in the trash.

 

As far as the mousetrap idea goes, I had a friend who did this but she set them up upright and placed a layer of newspaper over them do they would still pop but not pinch.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sensitive dogs are often negatively affected by things like this, often in ways that are unexpected. Border collies in general are a sensitive breed.

 

In my experience, things like this that substitute for training have been disappointing. Unless you plan to leave the devices around all the time and possibly forever, the dog will learn that it's the device that's causing the discomfort and know that when it's not there it won't cause them pain.

 

IMO, there's no substitute for training, time and patience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agree with Olivia: the point now is to prevent the behavior until it goes out of the dog's mind and she's no longer thinking about it - which could take a year or more, no way to tell. And I agree with Gentlelake that using gadgets sometimes just trains the dog to recognize and avoid the gadget, but not necessarily the behavior you are trying to negate. It may work! Or it may not.

Prevention is the best cure, in my book. I can never trust my dogs to stay out of the litter box, so prevention is a life-long measure for them. I can't train them well enough to override the "reward" and satisfaction that getting into the cat poo presents. In the case of counter surfing and trash diving, prevention must be in place when you are not home, because a really bored and creative border collie is very likely to find a way around anything less. At least until enough prevention, training and time have put the thought from mind. You don't want to risk a gadget or gizmo failing when you're not home, and then you end up at the vet because your dog's gut is jammed full of plastic bags. I've seen that happen.

~ Gloria

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would use an x-pen or a baby gate. I got my x-pen for about $35 on Amazon and it was so worth it. I have a baby gate into my kitchen because my dogs are not allowed in my kitchen either. Now that is has been up for a few months I would feel comfortable taking it down and I do not think the dogs would go in there. The few times I have left it open accidentally they have not even bothered trying to go in. The good thing about the x pen is that you know without a doubt she won't be going in the kitchen while you are away.

 

With some dogs I wouldn't care to use something like the scat mat but with my Border Collies I wouldn't even try. There are way too many ways for them to develop weird associations. But, only you know your dog.

 

I would also suggest making sure she has fun things to do throughout the day. It sounds like she's just bored and looking for something to do. Leave a couple frozen kongs out or hide some treats throughout the house for her to find. Give her something to entertain herself with and she may just lose interest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would agree with just preventing access to the area for a long long time (only while you're not present) and continuing to work on the wanted behavior (avoidance of the area) while you are there. An x-pen would be your best bet I would think. I picked up one at a garage sale for $3 - at the time I had no idea what a steal that was! It has come in useful so many different times!

Here I have my gatekeeper keeping watch, don't even have to close it all the way! Haha!

 

gatekeeper_zpsvazqoozq.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So I have been evaluating my sitation that past few days, and doing a little work on some things. I am inclined to believe preventing access is the best method for now, I have gone back to crating her for the past week and have noticed when I get ready to leave she promptly walks over to her crate and lays down in it. I am hoping to interprit this voluntary and calm reaction to be that she does not mind her crate and is content to be there while I am gone. Do ya'll think this is the case? Even if I ask her 'go to your crate' she will calmly walk or jog to her crate and settle down promptly. This takes care of prevention while I am not there, for while I am in the house she is polite and does not follow me into the kitchen. However since she has taken to keeping me in her sights I have placed her pillow in a new location that can be seen from the kitchen and have insisted on her being there everytime I enter the kitchen. Is this teaching her that only while I am in the kitchen she isn't allowed, but when I am not she has free roam, or would her brain even work like that?

 

About these x-pens I assume they range in sizes, but from the picture Betsy posted that looks flimsy, could they not knock it over or flat out jump it? I do have a dog gate, more like a puppy or baby gate that stands wedge between the door jam, but she has learned she can easily jump that. I understand some work must be done to help her understand she needs to stay one the side I put her on of whatever gate or pen I use, just wondering how to go about doing that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If not set up right, it could be knocked over for sure. I usually would put one end of it inserted in between the fridge and wall (very thin opening) and the other end situated similarly between something else and a wall, like a bookcase or something. It is taller than a baby gate, and I suppose it could be jumped, but my dog respects it and has never tried.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ex pens are available in different heights. You could also buy some livestock panels that are a little higher and also wider. It could be a little awkward (but so can opening up an ex pen) but it would be easy enough to attach and detach a couple of panels and slide them out of the way when you don't need one. They're also more rigid, which might be an advantage if the dog would try to jump up on it. Not lovely, but I bet you could paint them to make them more attractive if you wanted to.

 

You could attach fasteners to the doorway so you can secure it of you don't have furniture or appliances you can put it behind. 3M makes a variety of things that aren't meant to be permanent that you could probably work with, maybe a combination of hooks and carabiners, or use some kind of child safety latches that aren't meant to be up forever. With some ingenuity I'm sure you can figure something out that would give the dog more room than the crate, but will still keep her out of the kitchen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another possibility is plastic trellis. It's stiff white plastic with a diamond opening pattern and comes in big sheets at Home Depot. Cut to size with any small saw or even a utility knife. Not too expensive, and lightweight. You can attach it to the wall with large eye-hooks and clips or small carabiners so that you can take it down easily. I've used this when I did not want to haul an X-pen around and it works great and doesn't look too bad either. I have found that you cannot extinguish a self-rewarding behavior if you are not there to stop it so prevention when you are not home is the only way to go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...