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Radar - The early days

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Posts: 2065
Joined: Mon Dec 03, 2012 3:42 pm
Tell us about yourself: Accidental DS rescuer. Human companion to Radar and Leela. Owner of the site, looking to make this the top site for information and discussion on Dutch Shepherds.
Location: Cutler Bay, FL, USA

Radar - The early days

Post by centrop67 » Wed May 02, 2018 2:28 pm

Upon request, I am re-posting one of my earlier posts from about 6 months after I got Radar...

I am coming up on 6 months of DS (mix?) ownership on Monday, so I thought I might share some lessons learned...

I will start with phrases that I never thought would come out of my mouth. "Don't eat the sock" is an old familiar one I learned with my Lab Tequila over a decade ago, but I still need it today with Radar.

Some new ones:
Don't eat the stick.
Don't eat the leaf.
Don't eat the palm tree.
Don't eat the paper towel.
Don't eat the dryer sheet.
Don't eat the toilet paper roll.
Don't eat the Kindle.
Don't eat the tablet computer.
Don't eat that! Drop it. DROP It, DROP IT!

Radar knows what "drop it" means, but is at about 5% of the time actually dropping it. I know I am not supposed to repeat the command, so we are working every day on fixing both me and Radar.

I am pretty sure that Radar thinks that "Don't eat the" is a cue to begin playing.

Radar was listed as a shepherd mix at the Miami-Dade shelter, and that's what I wanted after having Snickers - a GSD mix - who was the most obedient, loving, and care-free dog I have ever owned.

I had never even heard of a Dutch Shepherd before Radar. They should come with warning labels. :shock:

Something like this:
Warning: this dog is insanely gorgeous and will melt your heart with just a look or a turning of an ear, but there is mischief in his heart. If you are not ready to give your heart and soul to this dog's well-being be prepared for the worst.

Radar's very first act the night I brought him home from the shelter was to forcibly push me down to the couch and lick my face incessantly. I couldn't believe this dog was so grateful already. ;)

Little did I know that this was just a little preview of what I have heard others on the forum call "crazy hour."

Radar's crazy hour has been timed at over 3 and half hours some nights. It begins right after the evening walk and/or dinner (I feed him twice a day.). It starts with a whine. Then, the whine has hints of a growl. Then it is a growl, culminating with a rapid fire higher pitched growl and some nipping on the knee - yes, MY knee. Sometimes he starts with digging, turning over, and chewing the throw rug in the living room.

I am not proud of the things I attempted to prevent this behavior in the beginning: yelling, forcible downs, the spray bottle, a hissing spray canister, an e-collar. All of which increased the intensity of his behavior.

Things are a little better now. Crazy hour still starts up, but I have better and more effective ways to control it. It starts with understanding that this is attention-seeking behavior from a small child in a grown-ups body (with sharp teeth). Here's what works for Radar:

1) A rigorous game of tug right after he eats and at least one more sometime after.
2) Free-shaping relax*
3) Ignoring him or leaving the room.
4) Telling him he'll have to go in his kennel.

*Free-shaping relax is simply rewarding him for any sign of relaxation. I start by asking him to down, and then, I watch him. If he puts his head down, click-treat. If he readjusts, click-treat. If he sighs, click-treat. If he remains still for a minute or so, click-treat. If he gets up, moves to a different spot, then lays down, click-treat. The tug games are the most effective, but this routine has been better on my already damaged shoulders.

So, most of the advice I have seen is to give these dogs plenty of exercise and a job. The exercise has been a constant from day one - walks and runs twice a day. And, I am into 3 weeks now of long hikes on Saturday. The job is the hard part. I really thought that Radar's speed and agility would make him a good candidate for flyball, but he is not so good around other dogs and can get bored with playing ball quite quickly. I am thinking about agility now and getting ready to build some backyard obstacles to get started.

About Radar's reactivity. It's been a long road in trying counter conditioning with lots of positive moments and lots of regression. Working with the trainer for several weeks had great positive progression, and I have tools to continue the training. However, it's not easy to continue this training in controlled environments.

So, Radar gets his walks/runs in remote environments with smaller chances for encountering the things he reacts to - anything that moves, and some things that don't. I am hopeful that over time, continued training, and maturity this will improve.

I would like to thank everyone in this forum community for the great advice. There's no way I could survive this first six months without it. So now, I warn Radar every day that he is STUCK with me, whether he likes it or not.

BTW: I'd be interested to know how many of you have said, "Don't eat the sock?"
The pack -> Radar (DS), Leela (Mal?), and Karen (Human) - Cutler Bay, FL USA
RIP: Tequila and Snickers
If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went. - Will Rogers

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Posts: 1219
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2017 1:38 pm
Tell us about yourself: Loving every crazy day with my DS.
Location: Southern California

Re: Radar - The early days

Post by Joxgirl » Sat May 12, 2018 8:13 pm

This is a great post and I hope others take the time to read it.
Rogue (Dutch Shepherd) 1 year old
Joachimstaler @ IG

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