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Leerburg.com October 17, 2011
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Question from a Leerburg Customer on Rewarding a Dog who isn't Interested in Ball, Tugs, & Treats Video

Question from a Leerburg Customer on Rewarding
a Dog who isn't Interested in Balls, Tugs, & Treats

Question from Mike: My Mal has never been a real ball or tug crazy dog. Over the past couple years I've bought lots of different balls and tugs to try and gain his interest. My Mal, at times, when we are training will go crazy for an Orbee ball or tug and other times he would rather go off on his own after I give him the release command and/or try to reward him. This is my first Mal and it seems that they are quite quirky compared to a breed like German Shepherds. I've tried to make an event out of the reward like Michael Ellis preaches but still have had no luck getting past this. I mix my rewards up between a ball and a tug and a food reward. I'm wondering if you have ever come across a dog like this and how you might have to deal with it. To me, it's as if the Mal is either not clicking with me or the reward is not enough. As far as his training, he does Agility very well and other things also, but his obedience could be crisper. I have read many times that some dogs just don't have the drive for toys, tugs and such. Does what I am describing fit any of these categories?

October 17, 2011 | 8 Minutes, 41 Seconds


Advanced Concepts in Motivation

Advanced Concepts in Motivation
Turning Your Reward Into an Event
with Michael Ellis
3 Hours, 17 Minutes

$65.00

The editing on this DVD is finished. The video is 3 hours and 17 minutes long. It has been sent off to be pressed into DVD discs, which takes approximately 2 weeks.

Streaming video for this DVD is now available! All those who have order the DVD will receive access to the Video on Demand. The DVD will be shipped in approximately 2 weeks.

Click here to read more about this video.


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This Week's Featured
Question & Answers

Question: My 11 month old dog gets what we call the "zoomies." He tucks his butt and runs around like he's nuts. Why does he do this and what should I do about it?

Hello,

I have used 3 of your videos, and they have been of tremendous help to me with my puppy (he is now 11 months old). But there is something I haven't seen addressed, or perhaps I'm not using the right terminology. We got Finley at 6 months of age from a shelter, and he has bouts of what I found on the internet to be called the zoomies. He will all of a sudden just change his demeanor... it used to start with a stare at me with a different look in his eye and you'd know it's coming, and then he'd tuck his butt and run around like he's nuts. He'd jump on and off things. He used to jump at me too, but I told him "no" and to "leave it," and that seems to help keep me out of it. But he will do this to varying degrees until he has exhausted the urge. As he has aged, it usually starts with him huffing or making a little bark and then he goes nuts. I do think it may be more common after a period where he has been sedentary, but not always. The episodes have lessened, but for the first time he did it with new company... he did it around the man. Finley has a tendency to be nervous around some people, especially guys, which we work on by going to town, puppy class, etc, so I'm not sure if this episode was out of nerves, aggression, or what. He didn't bite anyone, nor does he ever with these episodes, but he can sound rather vicious with his growls and huffs. He ran around the guy, jumped on the bed, around the guy, on the bed, etc. What does that mean?

According to the internet, it sounds like lots of people have experienced such zoomie episodes, but I'm wondering what causes it. Is it that he doesn't see me as pack leader? He seems to submit in other ways. Is it a hormonal thing he will outgrow? Should I be concerned? Should I allow him to get it out or make him stop? I have made him stop if he seemed to be getting too crazy where he might wreck something or hurt himself. He is a pit bull, so I am especially concerned about being the leader and curbing any possible aggression.

Thanks so much for your time.
Paula

Answer:

I'm not sure whether you should allow this or not. this is a common activity (usually with younger, high energy dogs) that is a dogs way of blowing off steam or initiating play or interaction.

I don't let my dogs do this WITH ME, unless I initiate it because I train my dogs for structured activities like obedience and agility competition. If you let the dog dictate when and where this happens, they may begin to offer this as a way to get some attention or to divert you from the task at hand. I don't care if my dogs practice this while playing with each other.

If your dog does this and you laugh or act amused, or if you chase the dog around trying to get them to stop it you are reinforcing the dog's behavior. If my puppy does this when I'm out with her I simply turn my back and ignore her. I don't acknowledge this at all. If she's on a leash (which she is 99% of the time) I simply don't allow it and I redirect her to some other behavior that I want to encourage.

I can't tell you how many times I've seen dogs do this at an agility competition.... and I'm fairly certain these dogs have gotten reinforcement for this behavior at home and in other locations in the past. I just don't see a good reason to allow it, because like you said, the dogs get really crazy while they are doing it. I don't like to let my dogs get in that state of mind.

Since you seem to recognize the signs before it happens, I'd try to interrupt it and ask the dog for something positive that you want him to do.

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes

Thanks:

Thanks Cindy. That makes sense to me. In fact, I have never encouraged it in the past but rather kept still and ignored him so he wouldn't jump on me (though I have snickered at him at times). But recently he did it when we were at the neighbors and she was encouraging him by saying, "zoom zoom!" He has had more episodes after that and they have been a bit more wild than usual. Thus, I think encouragement is definitely the wrong thing, as you said. I will take your advice and redirect his attention when he starts thinking about doing it again. And, of course, the more he is able to expend his energy during the day, the less likely he is to have such episodes anyway.

I really appreciate you taking the time to respond. I know you must get tons of questions, so thanks for taking the time to answer mine.

Paula

For more questions on this topic, see our Q&A on Puppies and Q&A on Behavioral Problems.

 

We get a number of Q&As every week, if you would like to read this weeks's Q&As, click here and check out the 'Recent Questions' section!

Have a question for Ed & Cindy? Try the Leerburg Search Engine. This search engine was written specifically for Leerburg by our in house IT manager. Our search engine is specific to Leerburg and only searches leerburg.com and the Leerburg web forum. If you can't find the answer to your question by using our search engine, you can email Cindy here at Leerburg at cindyr@leerburg.com. If you have your spam filter on, make sure you set it to receive our replies!!!


Leerburg Q&As

Customer Comment
On the Kids & Dog Bites Article

Thank you so much for the information on this site! My GSD has been growling at my 9 month old daughter for 6 months. I realize now I am lucky to still have both of them alive! My husband and I have always treated Daisy as if she is our daughter. We have made some huge and stupid mistakes in not training her and she is very nervous around the baby, seeming to think a 16 lb child can somehow hurt her! I saw a story on the news tonight about a German shepherd killing a 2 year old and it scared me like you wouldn't believe! I found this site in my state of panic. I will make sure my dog is 110% trained and that my daughter is 110% trained in how to behave around dogs. I love them both so much and it is my job as their mother/owner to keep them both safe! Thank you, again, you have saved 2 lives tonight... probably 3 because I don't know if I could go on living if my beloved family dog killed that baby girl of mine!


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