Logan likes to kill traffic cones. I have worked with several American Bulldogs where this was a behaviour which the dog found incredibley reinforcing. Other than the damage to the property which isn’t mine, this is a behaviour which tends to seriously overarouse the boy. He stops being able to listen to you when he is killing the cones, his breathing rate increases, the amount of bloood travelling to his skin increases hugely, pupils dilate and it takes him a long time to return to normal. All in all, this is not a behaviour which is good for him and I can give him outlets for the same game in other more controlled, healthier ways.
In the first part of the video, he had just finished a heelwork session. He knew I had food on me and had been working well. I brought him out of the car but we started in much too close proximity to the cone. As you can see, he knows the food is there, will take it but not willingly, but he is looking for interaction with the cone rather than with me. Time to reassess.
In the second part (at the rugby pitch), I start far enough away from the cone where he is able to interact with me. I am also not using a clicker as I don;’ need the behaviour to be precise. My criterion for reinforcement is a general “enage with me”. As you can see, there are a couple of times where we get a little too close and lunges for the cone. Because we have just done a few dozen reps, he is more easily able to switch back to enaging with me rather than the cone. Over the next weeks and months, I will be able to get closer to the cone until he is able to enage with me when the cone is right next to him.
It strikes me when I watch this video that I would never have attempted the first version if I was working with a dog who lunged and barked at people or dogs. I would always have done the second protocol. Sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees.
Remain open and analytical when you are training, you’ll get the results.