Decreasing reactivity?

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Decreasing reactivity?

This is a discussion on Decreasing reactivity? within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; How do you train a dog not to snap or give a warning bite if someone accidentally steps on its paw or tail? No injuries ...

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Old 08-18-2018, 04:01 PM
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How do you train a dog not to snap or give a warning bite if someone accidentally steps on its paw or tail? No injuries or blood drawn so definitely not intended to harm anyone and seems to be more of a surprise reaction.
Normally a calm outgoing friendly dog. Relaxed and likes going with owner to dog friendly parks and public events. Happily approaches new dogs and people tail wagging begging for treats/Pat's, will lean on people's legs and enjoy scratches and rubs and doesn't start conflicts with other dogs, will walk away from an unfriendly dog. No stress signs no yawning, lip licking or other stressed body language. Just relaxes at owner's feet after a while and tends to stretch out. Being big, it's easy for people passing by to not pay attention and trip or catch a paw.
The state law says dog isn't considered dangerous if it's provoked, teased or tortured but doesn't define those terms. Seems safer to train the behavior than risk future incidents.
Also has started trying to chase joggers and people who run by. Finally stopped going after bicycles and skateboards but this seems to have replaced it.
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Old 08-18-2018, 08:25 PM
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In a nutshell...
Management and counter conditioning for both issues.

If the snapping is happening in home, the owners/people in the home need to be more careful.


If in public, then the owners need to reconsider the locations they take the dog (probably no busy locations atm), how they place the dog (on walks owners should move out of the way of others, if sitting somewhere the dog should be positioned completely out of the way of people passing by, etc.), and in general more watchful/proactive (ready to quickly move the dog out of the way, prepared to ask others to leave the dog alone, ready to block people etc.) when out.

For the reactivity to joggers, the owners will need to manage exposure while training. That would mean choosing locations that do not have a lot of joggers or people moving around if not wishing to actively train the dog. When wanting to work on training the exposure to joggers atm needs to be a at greater distance (dog should be aware but not reacting during counter conditioning) and if it were my dog/a student initial exposure would be training setups (a friend as the jogger with clear instructions and an area I had decent control of the environment and how far I could have my dog, etc.)

For both issues, ime it would be best for a good trainer, behavior consultant, or behaviorist to be hired to help the owners through the counter conditioning process and to also help with different management behaviors/strategies.
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Old 08-18-2018, 08:44 PM
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This may be stupid, but this is my last resort. Can anyone walk me through how to start a new thread/ask a question? I can’t figure out how for the life of me. Anyway, so I’m not completely useless here, I would suggest getting calming pills/treats (all natural) for your pup. Make sure you warn anyone around him to be extra careful and that he may bite.
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Old 08-18-2018, 09:56 PM
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Thanks for the replies. I think you have to be on here reading for a little while before you can post a new thread if I remember correctly. I could be wrong. There's a plus sign at the top of the toolbar thingy that you press to start a new thread, at least if you post from your smartphone like I do.
The dog, like many of the dogs in my area lives in a large city apartment building with no backyard and only has public city dog park and field unfenced and social dog events and busy city streets for exercise.
There's no controlling the environment at all. There's tons of other dogs, bicycles, skateboards, cars, trucks, construction, kids, joggers, everything you can imagine constantly coming at you or just around the corner. Unless the dog is only walked in the middle of the night.
It's fine if owner and people it knows steps on it or run or people it knows in the dog park run and play with its dog buddies. It's random strangers racing close by on narrow sidewalks.
It gave a warning snap to one very large man who stepped on its paw. First and only time it did that to a person. Has only barked before at people who yelled or acted threatening.
There's literally no options to take it out to the bathroom or exercise except out in public somewhere.
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Old 08-18-2018, 10:58 PM
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I've lived in a large city with a reactive dog. There are options but it requires creativity and some skill. A nice resource specifically for this situation is Civilizing the City Dog by Pam Dennison (as is her REWARD Zone workshops if this person is close enough).

I would:
-teach the dog to walk on both the left and right side as well as to quickly switch on cue. That will allow the owner to place himself between the dog and people passing by. I personally use walls and other barriers when needed (dog between me and the wall)to cause people to pass on my side vs. right next to my dogs. If with me, I have my husband walk beside me (our dogs are in the middle) to block people on both sides, especially in more open locations.
-teach turns and sits as in this video. Will be useful for emergency situations such as an oncoming tigger in a tight space
https://youtu.be/TWU7wl_wp2A
-Use open bar/closed bar both stationary and on the move. Helpful for counter conditioning to trigger is the real world as well as management in tight spaces.
-hand targets - can be used in walking around distractions, to maneuver the dog in tight spaces, etc.
-settle (on mat or off) and done so tucked out of the way in public. I regularly have my guys (including reactive or non friendly with strangers) out with me downtown. If sitting somewhere like a restaurant outside I put my dog either between my chair and the wall or under the table or my chair at my feet. Completely out of the way where no on can trip over, step on, or touch my dogs.

I might:
-teach the dog to go between handler legs and sit/stand. I use this in tight spaces often when standing/talking to someone, to keep my dogs out of the way and keep strangers' hands off. If not appropriate, then def a very close sit in front, left side, and right side so that I can choose how best to keep my dog out of the way of others and protect my dog from unwanted attention.
-teach door manners (sit stay when owner opens door, steps out, makes sure coast is clear. Releases dog to follow through the door. Dog gives immediate attention and sits again while owner closes door.)

Regarding the snapping specifically...
Honestly, if the snapping has happened only that once... And there isn't an issue with people the dog knows then I would personally be focusing mostly on management (training suggestions from above to have multiple strategies to use in public, placing the dog out of the way, being prepared to step in front to block, being prepared to quickly move the dog, etc.) to prevent any further incidents than counter conditioning.

For the reactivity...
In the first post you said it started with reactivity to bikers and skateboarders but has switched to joggers. Above you say it's only at strangers racing by but then go on to say he's only barked at people yelling or acting threatening. Just a little confusing. It sounds to me that the dog is reacting or has a history of reacting to multiple triggers.

Honestly IDK that I would do much differently than I intially suggested. For the time being I would limit walks to less busy times and locations. I would provide as much exercise and enrichment as I could in locations I could best control the environment (inside apartment, small group classes and/or ring rental at a training facility, parks at off times, etc.) I would either hire a trainer and/or set up training sessions with the help of friends to start and then taking the training out to the real world. I do think hiring a qualified pro particularly for the reactivity would be ideal.
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Last edited by kmes; 08-19-2018 at 09:15 AM.
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Old 08-19-2018, 12:12 AM
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To clarify the dog used to be reactive to more things a couple of years ago, not reactive much at all for the past year except joggers and strangers who yell or act threatening in some way. Reacts only by barking and maybe some growling, never any bite history except the one incident when stepped on.
Owner doesn't see a problem with barking to protect from yelling or threatening behaviors or noise in apartment building so has never corrected or trained not to bark in those situations.
Training has stopped reactivity to other things like bicycles or skateboards. Joggers and running people seems to be new.
If a stranger yells at or threatens owner or there's some kind of fight or skirmish in public the dog is allowed to bark. Owner's had a threatening neighbor and some interesting people frequent the neighborhood at night so the dogs allowed to bark and act protective at the park at night or on late night walks if encountering someone who may be intoxicated or creepy in some way.
I don't think the dog gets stepped on very often but it's never snapped at or bitten anyone before, only barked. Managing the space in public is a good suggestion.
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Old 08-19-2018, 08:04 AM
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What's really funny/strange/interesting is I posted this exact same post/information on a well known horse website, but on the dog section as there are many professional dog trainers that post and read there.

On that website, I got several replies, ALL of which blamed the man for freaking out and said any normal well trained dog could and would be likely to snap at a large angry man who stepped on him and caused him pain. Not one poster blamed the dog ; ALL blamed the man for overreacting and said the dog was completely fine in that situation and there was nothing else to be done.

One well respected long known dog trainer and owner even posted that it sounded like the man was very unstable and looking for a lawsuit and deliberately stepped on the dog to get some money and cause unnecessary trouble, seeing as he went ballistic and freaked out unnecessarily. Several other posters agreed he extremely overreacted to the situation and the dog was just being defensive about having it's paw hurt. They clearly said a dog defending itself from injury from a large man was not at all aggressive, but defensive and there's a huge difference.m by ft ft ft ft get it at by it but good that get to get to get 58ttt see
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Old 08-19-2018, 08:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadowmom View Post
To clarify the dog used to be reactive to more things a couple of years ago, not reactive much at all for the past year except joggers and strangers who yell or act threatening in some way. Reacts only by barking and maybe some growling, never any bite history except the one incident when stepped on.
Owner doesn't see a problem with barking to protect from yelling or threatening behaviors or noise in apartment building so has never corrected or trained not to bark in those situations.
Training has stopped reactivity to other things like bicycles or skateboards. Joggers and running people seems to be new.
If a stranger yells at or threatens owner or there's some kind of fight or skirmish in public the dog is allowed to bark. Owner's had a threatening neighbor and some interesting people frequent the neighborhood at night so the dogs allowed to bark and act protective at the park at night or on late night walks if encountering someone who may be intoxicated or creepy in some way.
I don't think the dog gets stepped on very often but it's never snapped at or bitten anyone before, only barked. Managing the space in public is a good suggestion.
How did they train for reactivity to bikers and skateboarders? They can apply the same training to joggers.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadowmom View Post
What's really funny/strange/interesting is I posted this exact same post/information on a well known horse website, but on the dog section as there are many professional dog trainers that post and read there.

On that website, I got several replies, ALL of which blamed the man for freaking out and said any normal well trained dog could and would be likely to snap at a large angry man who stepped on him and caused him pain. Not one poster blamed the dog ; ALL blamed the man for overreacting and said the dog was completely fine in that situation and there was nothing else to be done.

One well respected long known dog trainer and owner even posted that it sounded like the man was very unstable and looking for a lawsuit and deliberately stepped on the dog to get some money and cause unnecessary trouble, seeing as he went ballistic and freaked out unnecessarily. Several other posters agreed he extremely overreacted to the situation and the dog was just being defensive about having it's paw hurt. They clearly said a dog defending itself from injury from a large man was not at all aggressive, but defensive and there's a huge difference.m by ft ft ft ft get it at by it but good that get to get to get 58ttt see
Fwiw, I'm not blaming the dog or anyone else.
You wanted training advice so I focused there.


I tend to agree that if this is the only time it has happened then training may not be needed (thus why I said I would be focusing on primarily management to prevent it from happening again in my prior post).

This info about the man is new...
You didn't mention him at all in your first post and in your second only that he was large and this was the only person the dog has snapped at.


I would need the details about what happened to give my opinion as to whether or not the man over reacted and who is to blame. Where the dog was. What the man was doing and how he was behaving before. Severity of the snap (contact with skin? No contact? Etc.) What the man said and did afterwards. What the owners said and did afterwards.

Last edited by kmes; 08-19-2018 at 08:46 AM.
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Old 08-19-2018, 11:33 AM
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This was the only incident of dog snapping/biting making any contact with human. No injury, no blood drawn, light teeth contact through clothes. The dog had been lying down at owner's feet and tends to stretch out despite owner telling it to watch it's paws and tail. It will sit up at the moment of being told that phrase and then lie down and stretch out again and being large, take up too much space for a crowded situation.
The man that stepped on its paw was large, at least 300 pounds and had a strange frantic off energy that the owner picked up on right away well before the incident and pulled the dog away into a corner when this man walked past to avoid any contact. Dog then went into relaxed stretch out mode as the place is familiar to it, and unfortunately man joined a table with the owner of the place behind the owner of the dog's view. While agitatedly pacing he stepped on dog's paw who snapped at him. The guy immediately went ballistic, screaming at dog and owner who apologized several times to no avail. Guy took several menacing steps at owner while screaming, cursing, waving his arms threateningly and calling all kinds of names and yelling about attack dog. Dog retreated to owner's side but then started barking at the guy who was behaving so aggressively. Owner quieted down by holding mouth firmly and saying leave it, Quiet no barking. Dog sat with owner. Guy continued on his out of control rampage and it took about six other men, including the owner of the place, various staff and one well known customer who threatened to harm him outside to get him away from owner and dog, who left the immediate area to de-escalate him as soon as they safely could. Dog quietly left with owner and went back to staying quiet at feet, walked calmly outside, friend came up and petted who hadn't seen any of the drama, etc, no issues.
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Old 08-19-2018, 11:45 AM
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Trained for skateboards by literally feeding bacon treats on a friend's skateboard so dog had to associate it with good things. Bicycles wasn't positive trainings, the dog almost killed one biker by knocking it into a busy road in front of an oncoming speeding truck and almost dragged itself and owner in road with it also in front of said truck. This was first incident and first time going after bike. Owner was so surprised and scared by seriousness of incident the dog got immediate harsh correction,
come to Jesus moment. Didn't try it again for a full year.
Next time was at a bike on a dark road while owner was unloading grocery bags from car, so was probably protective. Also got firm correction as almost knocked the guy down. Dog will see twenty bicycles go by with no interest and then want to go after one, hard to predict. A firm leave it every time one approaches usually works.
Haven't found a positive way for this particular issue, dog could care less about the dozens of bikes parked everywhere all the time. It's like runners and the chase drive, of the bikers and runners stop to meet the dog, they'd be friendly humans never to be chased or bothered. The second they're running or used to be on a bike, they lost their humanity and became prey or a threat.
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