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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have an English Springer Spaniel who is moderately anxious/happy greeter leash reactive. In talking with others, I'm hearing it's common with spaniels. Out of pure curiosity, are some breeds just more reactive then others.

Also, for those who have taken a reactive dog class, what's a reasonable price? My behaviorist s is double what I'd pay for a training class.

TIA!
 

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Yes, it is most definitely more common for certain breeds to be more reactive. This can be both what the breed was bred to do (like guarding, herding, etc.), and sometimes inbreeding. I think I have heard some issues about spaniels being reactive, and I believe it's due to inbreeding. Dogs like bully breed mixes, Cattle Dogs, German Shepherds and Doxies are some others more prone to being dog reactive (or reactive in general) than others.

I volunteered as an assistant trainer in a reactive dog class, and they DO have a high pricetag, but it's worth it. I would expect to pay no less than $300-400 for a 6-8 week class. You have to have a lot of experience and really know what you're doing to lead a class like this. It's also a big liability and requires a heck of a lot more risk than any other sort of class.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I guess it makes sense. I'm just disappointed...It's unlikely I can afford the price tag.

I don't think inbreeding is the case here...mom from Sweden, dad from Germany, no commonalities 4 generations back. I do wonder if one line or other was reactive. Or maybe what makes the good traits 're: working and hunting can go to far. Oh well *shrug* Doesn't solve the problem.
 

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If he's not fearful or aggressive in his reactivity, you may be able to get away with just careful training and impulse control.

I have a reactive dog. He came from a hoarding situation so I personally wouldn't doubt he's inbred. :) He's sweet as sugar to the people he knows well, which I am grateful for - it could be much worse! His reaction stems from fear and frustration, and thankfully he's not otherwise an aggressive dog.

I think that there are some breeds that are more prone to being soft and it's really easy for genetic reactivity to pop up on those lines. Shelties are an example, as are other herding breeds. I could see spaniels as having that issue too. Essentially, even a well bred version of one of these dogs would err toward being sensitive, and in some situations that sensitivity turns into anxiety/fear and reactivity.

That said, I think reactivity that stems from frustration instead of fear is more a question of impulse control and is a different ball game. IME, it's annoying but easier to work with. I've personally been reading the new BAT book and been testing some of the stuff out with my dog and the things he is overstimulated/frustrated reactive toward (cats, chickens, cattle). We've had some success, so it is worth a look.
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I haven't tried BAT? What's the difference?
We're working on 'chilling' :) and impulse control, as well as desensitization. He works good with the Gentle Leader. We're doing engagement, mat work, 'let's walk'...that stuff. He's anxious, but also over excited.
 

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That kind of sounds like my boy, in regards to my cattle in particular. A little nervous, but not fearful, and not quite sure how to behave. Not nearly as bad as his behavior around strangers, which is totally insanely fearful and much harder to change ;)

BAT is a training program in which the dog is essentially in control over how he interacts with his triggers. The person is there to ensure that the dog doesn't get too close and go over threshold, but otherwise it's all about allowing the dog to collect information safely. A lot of it is geared toward dogs that are fearful, but we're having success with some of Chisum's triggers that he's not totally afraid of (including the cattle where he is just wary/overexcited) by doing a variation of her "mark and move" technique. Basically we work at a distance where he is below threshold and I wait for him to notice the trigger and then either employ calming signals or disengage - at which point I mark (click or say "yes!"), we trot away a few yards, and I treat. Eventually you're supposed to build up to eliminating the treats, as well as decreasing the distance.

There's a lot more to BAT than just this, but her new version of it is different than the old one my trainer was working with us, so I'm only really doing this aspect right now and not so much the other stuff with his big triggers (people!). This particular exercise is, basically, just rewarding the good choices your dog makes while being mindful of the distance to the trigger so your dog can be allowed the freedom to make those good choices to reward.

Anyway...here's a couple of links if you're interested:
Mark and Move: Training in Smaller Spaces | Grisha Stewart
BAT 2.0 Overview | Grisha Stewart

It's certainly not the only way to deal with reactivity but I do like it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks! That sounds like something to look into. I'm not sure I want to totally change how we're doing things, otoh, we can't afford the reactive dog class and yesterday he had two reactions to things he normally wouldn't react to. So frustrating.
 

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I have a dog who has reactive tendencies (terrier x cattle dog shelter mutt). She is doing awesome lately. I love using BAT for her. When I first adopted her, she was very fearful. Now she's very brave, though has her scaredy cat or reactive moments.

I always tell her "Good life choices!!!"
 
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