Operation harness.....

Discussion in 'Clicker Training' started by JulieT, Jul 19, 2015.

  1. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    I want Charlie to love his harness. At best, he tolerates it - about as well as he would tolerate a harness made of barbed wire. :rolleyes:

    I have just about always had this problem with Charlie and harnesses. I suspect because when I got him, I knew nothing and just put a harness on him and went to puppy school. I didn't know enough to get him used to the harness gradually and carefully. So I think he started off hating it, and those early learning experiences when they are young are so powerful.

    Over the last 2 years I have tried and tried - he has had everything good associated with harnesses, tons of chicken, walks, meal times....and this has gradually improved things so I can get a harness on him. But he looks pretty miserable in it, to be honest. And it sort of "closes him down", his behaviour is muted and he doesn't display his normal enthusiasm for life. I think it is a mistake to interpret this as a "calming" effect and a good thing. I think it's a bad thing and also may make any training I do while he is wearing the harness less effective (in that he will be different without it).

    So, I want Charlie to love his harness and I'm going to have one more go....

    I have a new harness that he has never worn before. And I'm starting at step one.

    Approach the harness [vid]:

    [​IMG]one by julieandcharlie julieandcharlie, on Flickr

    Approach the harness when someone is holding it [vid]:

    [​IMG]two by julieandcharlie julieandcharlie, on Flickr

    I'm going back a step now, as I can see the expression on his face in the second vid - he is not happy. So back to step one until he is loving touching that harness.

    Don't care how long this takes. Determined to crack it. :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:
     
  2. Oberon

    Oberon Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Good for you. If you can crack it it will be well worth it. I think that starting from scratch is the way to go.

    Another option might be to start with the components of a harness and build up to a full harness.
     
  3. Pilatelover

    Pilatelover Registered Users

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    Yes, good for you. . My trainer always says that sometimes starting from scratch is the best thing. He says train as though it has never been trained before. I think its such sound advice.
     
  4. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    That's a good idea. It would also make it different from what I have tried before. I have tried clicker training this in these steps before (and it didn't make a big difference although means he doesn't actually run away from the harness, that's about it - my only plan was to do it slower, really).

    Might try that. I have a perfect fit that is in 3 bits....
     
  5. MaccieD

    MaccieD Guest

    Training the harness in bits sounds a good idea and a totally new approach for Charlie. :D
     
  6. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    Very interested to see how you get on as you're aware I have the same issue with Willow. We took them to the pub this evening, where a BBQ was happening and there would be lots of temptations, so I put their harnesses on for the first time in ages. They didn't object at all, but their body language is so different to when they're on a collar. When I put their collars on, they go into play mode with each other, biting each other's ears and scruffs until we're ready to go. With the harnesses, they simply stand still with their heads down. I'm contemplating getting new harnesses and starting from scratch - the idea of approaching in parts is a good one. I'm also going to get a harness that doesn't have to go over the head to be put on, to see if that makes a difference. In the meantime, I'll be following your progress with interest.
     
  7. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    I don't believe it is the "over the head" thing with Charlie. I believe it is how it feels round his body. I had several interesting sessions today with him - it was easy to get him to stick his head through the harness - so that's no a problem, at all - but touching his body with the harness is what generates the reaction. It is most definitely the sensation of the harness around him that is the issue.

    It was interesting today, clicking for not moving away for the harness approaching his body. So all I was doing was bringing the harness close to his side - it took 8 sessions to be able to touch his side with the harness (without him reacting). It took only 2 for him to stick his head happily through the harness.

    He is not happy though. Normally, clicker training is characterised by a happily waving tail and high energy jumping around "wadda ya want? wadda ya want?" - not where the harness is concerned though. It's very low key. A still dog, without a wag in his tail....:(

    So going back several steps tomorrow......
     
  8. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    I'm with you, I don't think it's about it going over the head, either. But my thinking was, starting again clicker training with a completely different type of harness that doesn't need that movement to be made might be more successful, so I'm not starting with the move she knows ends up with "the nasty thing".

    It does make me wonder a bit about those thunder jackets you can buy to pacify dogs when they're scared by storms, fireworks etc. Are they actually just shutting the dog down?
     
  9. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    I suspect so, yes. Both Debsie (with Culli) and I think this - Charlie and Culli (at opposite ends of the personality spectrum) react the same with something around their bodies.

    I am always deeply suspicious whenever anyone says of any bit of kit "it had a calming effect on them". I just think "yeah, right.....".

    Anyway....I'm not that hopeful with Charlie and the harness. I think the best I will do here is train him to co-operate with something he hates. I think he is still going to hate it, though....

    I'll take stock on Tuesday, maybe a rethink, I'm not sure I'm going to get to where I want to be with this....
     
  10. Mylestogo

    Mylestogo Registered Users

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    Your videos are always so helpful Julie. It makes me realize how much more patience I need when trying to get Myles over something. Your harness issue would be my equivalent of Myles and the car. He gets in happily, but does not like for it to move. He also has a bit of a harness issue, but his is more of a dislike for something going over his head. Once it's on, he is fine. He does the same thing if I put his collar on.

    I'm sure you will crack the harness thing. Maybe the second you have it on him, let him chase a remote controlled car? :rolleyes: (obviously not during recovery, but just sayin ;) )
     
  11. Fwhitt246

    Fwhitt246 Registered Users

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    This is really interesting. Maisie absolutely hates her harness to the point that I don't even bother with it now, and I just do a huge amount of stop starting on the lead so she doesn't pull too much on her collar. She used to be fine and then around the time of her eye surgery she started running and hiding in her crate if I got either her collar or harness out. I originally was able to coax her with sausage and could get both on her but she would always walk weird to start with until she was distracted. She is much more tolerant of having her collar put on but it is clear she doesn't like it, although once it's on she is fine. I did loads of desensitisation with her and both things but she just can't stand the harness. I had a session with a behaviourist the day before Murphy died and I put the harness on Maisie (forcibly unfortunately just so the behaviourist could see what she did when it was on) and she completely froze in fear and would not move an inch, even with sausages. She wouldn't even take some sausage out of my hand. The behaviourist thought that it was possible Maisie was in pain and that the harness may press on something sore, and I have tried loads of different style harnesses and we have the same reaction. I took her to the vets for them to investigate this possibility that she is in pain and she checked her over but Maisie showed no obvious signs of being in pain anywhere. (They did say her adrenaline is high so may hide her pain anyway). They suggested she might just have a really strong association of the harness and pain from an injury when she was small and just can't overcome it. For now I think I am just going to work on her loose lead walking with the collar and carry on with collar disensitisation. It's funny because Murphy was never bothered by anything ever he just took everything in his stride whereas Maisie is such a sensitive soul!
    Anyway il be interested to see how you get on Julie :)
     
  12. Fwhitt246

    Fwhitt246 Registered Users

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    Sorry for my ridiculously long post!
     
  13. SwampDonkey

    SwampDonkey Registered Users

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    Hi
    I was wondering if a body wrap might help? they do calm some dogs. My little girly dog hates harnesses and head collars and will not move whilst wearing one and like your dog. i did train like youre going to do and it did work. She as never really happy in her harness but got to tolerate it. I did wonder if it was the feeling on her body she didn't like as she doesn't like to be restricted. I just used to put it on and then do things like feed her and give her a massage, she loved that. The deep back and shoulder massage seems to make her less sensitive to the harness too. Everytimes something good happened she had it on.
    In temple gradins last book which she covers behaviour of most domestic animals she talks about wrap thundershirts and restraint. Its worth reading as it does help to understand the shutting down part, and what she thinks is happening. She uses some system of this on herself.
    It must be incredibly hard for you and Charlie at the moment. Its so hard to help a dog which is recovering from surgery. Do you do any physio or hydrotherapy? its a really good way to help and a physio might be able to pinpoint any problems that may say why charlie finds a harness hard to wear. Some dogs when the compensate they are injured and it can through the rest of the body out and cause ache and pains you dont expect. one of my dogs shoulders became very sore from doing extra work when his hips started to deteriorate.
    Fingers crossed for you and Charlie.
    S
     
  14. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    I don't believe it is anything physical about the harness - I do not think it hurts him. It's entirely a negative association with something being around his body.

    I just do not buy this "body wraps have a calming effect" thing. I've seen too many people think that a dog is showing improvement in behaviour when really, the dog is fearful/shut down/intimidated yet people just don't seem able to see it.
     
  15. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    The opposing idea in my head is that pressure does have a calming effect on humans. That's why some service dogs are trained to lie on top of their handlers in certain situations. I appreciate dogs and humans are two different things, obviously, but I wonder if there's any research that has been done to see if there is any synergy in this area.

    My limited experience is absolutely that the harness (which isn't even tight) causes Willow to close down rather than calm down. However, she does enjoy being wrapped up in a heavy towel and squeezed if I need to I dry her.
     
  16. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    Well.....I can think of a reason why primates with our touching and hugging habits, and the type of physical contact we go in for, finding huggy things comforting....I can't for dogs. How many videos/pics of dogs being hugged by a smiling human do we see where the dog looks happy? Not all that many - much more common that the human looks happy and the dog looks like he just wants it to end. So I suppose my starting position is that I assume a dog wouldn't like a huggy type thing really......
     
  17. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator Forum Supporter

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    I'm working hard on training my toddler that dogs don't like to be cuddled. It clearly makes Riley uncomfortable and I'd say he's reasonably tactile. He doesn't like to be enveloped though. He just kind of looks around going "is it over yet?" Obi just wriggles until he gets away and I would say he loves a good tummy rub and contact too just not to be wrapped up. Both of them are happy in harnesses though luckily hopefully Charlie will too one day x
     
  18. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    Yep, yep, yep. The "stop the 77" video shows just that.
    On the other hand (there are a lot of hands in this discussion!), dogs do seem to often enjoy draping over one another when sleeping. That could be more for the benefit of the one on top than the one underneath, though.
     
  19. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    I seem to have ended almost arguing against myself here. I have to clarify that I am very cynical about the thunder shirts et al, having seen Willow's reaction to her harness, but I'm trying to keep an open mind and see if there's something I'm missing :)

    If there is an instinctive abhorrence to being constricted, then I don't think there's anything that can be done to make wearing a harness a pleasurable thing. I just hope that's not the case, because I really would like to have them back in harnesses!
     
  20. Boogie

    Boogie Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    You are right. Some Guide Dogs are perfect for the job in every way, except that they never take to the harness, despite (as you can imagine) enormous care being taken over its introduction. They often become buddy dogs after being withdrawn as guide dogs as Buddies don't wear harnesses. Here is an example http://www.guidedogs.org.uk/services/buddy-dogs/case-study-rainbow-and-drake#.VazGwvlViko

    Gypsy gets introduced to her harness this week, so all my fingers and toes are crossed.

    (PS I heard from her boarders yesterday :) http://gdpgypsy.blogspot.co.uk/ )
     

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