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i touched on this in another thread i made but haha. ok so my 1 1/2 y/o rescue pup, wolfgang, has some anxiety issues. and fear aggression issues.

the most alarming behavior she has displayed is a lot of barking (it didn't sound 'mean' or even really warning but it was incessant) and some lunging at my 4 y/o brother the first two days she knew him. the circumstances around that kinda made sense (we'd gone out of state to a new place, it had been a long day, i was the only familiar thing around), but it was sure scary bc if she had bit the 4 y/o (i'm not 100% sure she was going to, but with the barking and lunging i Did Not want to take the chance) hahaha. she could really have hurt him. so she got crated much of the first few days at that new place until finally we went outside, i played tug with her, and then when she proved not to mind my brother being around and was willing to let him take the other end of the tug toy. they were fine after that /wipes sweat

ummm the rest doesn't feel as urgent, but she's been known to snap at people who reach down to pet her suddenly/before she's ready. when we brought her to the vet, she bit the vet's hand (made contact with teeth, no blood, maybe no marks- the vet didn't elaborate), which probably had more to do with the vet in general being a Very Scary Place than her usual 'this stranger is trying to touch me, oh no'. the vet said she was severely under-socialized, and recommended we take her to some classes (?)

i've been careful about letting strangers pet her on walks. if she's willing to walk up to them (no barking or growling, walking towards them curiously, the person in question also wants her to come/doesn't mind her coming over), i warn them to let her sniff for a while before petting, or not to pet at all. i do not let give kids permission to pet her as a matter of precaution. telling people (especially kids) 'don't pet her' is ofc a good thing, but a fallible measure of prevention. some kids ignore me and step closer with their hands out (wolfgang puts her tail between her legs, growls or barks, and moves behind me), i forget to tell adults when we let our dogs meet each other, what if she gets out one day and people try to touch her, etc.

(to go along with simply telling people not to pet her, i've gotten a harness that says 'caution' on it, which she now wears on walks, and i'm training her not to mind wearing a muzzle [it's going slowly])

so basically i'm worried somebody someday is going to get past the precautions i'm taking and get bit and obv i do not want this to happen. this is where training/classes come in

idk where to start honestly. our 12 y/o dog never had any training or behavior modification- never needed it. i don't know what kinds of things are out there to help deal with this stuff, and i don't know what's best in wolfgang's situation.

if she should go to classes, what kind of classes? i hear about 'puppy' classes but what are they and are they also for adult dogs??? what others are there

if we should get a trainer... well, when i think of 'trainer' i don't really think behavior. is a behaviorist just a trainer. are all trainers behaviorists too. does training include behavior modification or desensitization or socialization or whatever she needs

if it's a behaviorist we need then. ??? i still don't know anything

additionally she's showing some fear/possibly further fear aggression towards dogs recently, while she used to be a social little thing, wanting to say hi to every dog. now sometimes she snaps at a dog's snout when they're saying hi, or sometimes she barks and growls and maybe lunges if ??? idk maybe she's scared. or possessive. or something idk. there were three big dogs and she was not acting very friendly haha

and food aggression which we are handling by 1, not giving treats w other dogs in the vicinity and 2, making sure she can eat w/o other dogs coming near her bowl idk if we should get a whatever for that or if managing it is enough

help
 

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You have a firecracker on your hands that has already bit someone - the vet. You need to stop making excuses and downplaying your issues. What you have right now is a severe liability on your hands - she bites a stranger or a child, you're going to be in for some pain. Your vet says severely under-socialized, the vet is correct, it's time to change that. And you have to be willing to dedicate time and effort into her. From what you're posting, she's gotten worse since you adopted her. Let's figure out why... Mind me asking your age range first of all? Adult? Teen?

What your dog has basically done is created this comfort zone - where she controls her environment - and you're allowing her to do so. She's living in fear, negativity, angry, anti-social, there's a long list - put yourself in her paws, you wouldn't enjoy living like that - would you? It's not a way to live - and a dog doesn't want to live that way. You can't live in fear of the world around you - so it's time to introduce her to it.

Here's a truth for you - your dog clearly doesn't trust you - so why should she follow your lead?

Dog live by the senses - touch, smell, sight, emotion, energies good and bad etc - and the leash is the number one sensor for your dog - she's attached to you.

So question one, when you have your dog on leash - are you nervous, scared, do you react? When a person approaches, are you nervous, scared, do you react? If she lunges at someone or a dog when on leash - how do you react?
 

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if she should go to classes, what kind of classes? i hear about 'puppy' classes but what are they and are they also for adult dogs??? what others are there
Class offerings depend a lot on the individual trainer but in general...

Puppy classes tend to be just for puppies. It's not unusual for there to be an age range or limit.

There are however plenty of classes out there for adult dogs.
We offer a huge variety where I teach and take classes... life skills, cgc/community canine, agility, parkour, different focus classes, tricks, rally free/freestyle, competition obedience, etc.

Many classes aren't going to cover what you'll likely need to do with your dog, but can still be very helpful. Basic obedience/life skills for example provides exposure in a controlled manner and the skills learned help people to manage their dogs. It's not at all unusual for me to have fearful dogs in classes. I tend to like students eith fearful dogs to take privates alongside class at least initially and I make individual adjustments for them depending on the exercise.

Some trainers offer classes and workshops for fearful or reactive dogs and that would be more specific to your immediate needs. Look for reactive rover, fearful fido, growl classes, or other similar class titles.

if we should get a trainer... well, when i think of 'trainer' i don't really think behavior. is a behaviorist just a trainer. are all trainers behaviorists too. does training include behavior modification or desensitization or socialization or whatever she needs

if it's a behaviorist we need then. ??? i still don't know anything
This thread might help you sort out the differences between trainers, behavior consultants, behaviorists, and veterinary behaviorists as well as hopefully find a qualified pro to help you.
http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/finding-trainer-behavior-consultant-behaviorist-113946/

All tend to specialize a bit. Depending on your area, you may be able to find a really good trainer or you might need to go with a behavior professional.

additionally she's showing some fear/possibly further fear aggression towards dogs recently, while she used to be a social little thing, wanting to say hi to every dog. now sometimes she snaps at a dog's snout when they're saying hi, or sometimes she barks and growls and maybe lunges if ??? idk maybe she's scared. or possessive. or something idk. there were three big dogs and she was not acting very friendly haha

and food aggression which we are handling by 1, not giving treats w other dogs in the vicinity and 2, making sure she can eat w/o other dogs coming near her bowl idk if we should get a whatever for that or if managing it is enough

help
It's possible part of what you are seeing is her maturing. It's not unusual for dogs to be less tolerant of unfamiliar dogs or rude dogs as adults. It could also be just plain discomfort. Or a combo or even something different. Hard to say without assessing your dog in person.

Food aggression between dogs is often easier to just manage than to actually train. I've done a decent amount of training to address this between my personal dogs, but just manage with other dogs.
 

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@jagger: i'm not trying to make excuses, i'm trying to understand so i know how to help wolfgang/modify her behavior. i'm not saying 'oh she's just doing ___ bc she's ____ right now' and letting it go, i'm- as i said several times- managing her so that she cannot hurt anyone and trying to understand so that i can stop her fear aggression if possible. i am a young person who is new to the world of Real Dogs(tm) and i do not have money or transportation to be able to do perhaps things i should with her. that does not mean i am not trying.

she's a little over a year and a half old. a few others have said perhaps she has entered a fearful stage in her life (i made a thread about her not wanting to walk so much anymore).

i'm calm on walks. i give her specific times to sniff the grass, and the rest of the time, we walk without stopping. sometimes she stops to bark at people. i say 'chill' (i acknowledge that this means nothing to her, as i've never trained her to understand it) and keep moving. if someone else is walking towards us, i take her over to the other side of the road, without nervousness or annoyance. not everyone wants to walk by a dog who barks and sniffs obsessively at their ankles. we keep going. if she gets scared of something (tail between her legs, cowering), i see if a little encouragement will help her overcome her fear and walk around whatever it is, and if it does not, i pick her up and carry her far enough away (back the way we came or further down the road) that she calms down again.

@kmes: thank you for the information+link! i now have a place to start;;; i will look into it ;w;/
 

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@jagger: i'm not trying to make excuses, i'm trying to understand so i know how to help wolfgang/modify her behavior. i'm not saying 'oh she's just doing ___ bc she's ____ right now' and letting it go, i'm- as i said several times- managing her so that she cannot hurt anyone and trying to understand so that i can stop her fear aggression if possible. i am a young person who is new to the world of Real Dogs(tm) and i do not have money or transportation to be able to do perhaps things i should with her. that does not mean i am not trying.

she's a little over a year and a half old. a few others have said perhaps she has entered a fearful stage in her life (i made a thread about her not wanting to walk so much anymore).

i'm calm on walks. i give her specific times to sniff the grass, and the rest of the time, we walk without stopping. sometimes she stops to bark at people. i say 'chill' (i acknowledge that this means nothing to her, as i've never trained her to understand it) and keep moving. if someone else is walking towards us, i take her over to the other side of the road, without nervousness or annoyance. not everyone wants to walk by a dog who barks and sniffs obsessively at their ankles. we keep going. if she gets scared of something (tail between her legs, cowering), i see if a little encouragement will help her overcome her fear and walk around whatever it is, and if it does not, i pick her up and carry her far enough away (back the way we came or further down the road) that she calms down again.

@kmes: thank you for the information+link! i now have a place to start;;; i will look into it ;w;/
I'll tell you - removing her from situations or avoiding the situations is only reinforcing it. How do you face your fears?

You're reinforcing her fears - she's getting worse. Do the math.
 

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I would really recommend muzzle-training Wolfgang before you go any further. My fear would be that the dog redirects onto the toddler, or triggers stack up (say a stranger is leaning over the dog and then your toddler trips/falls near the dog) and the toddler takes the brunt.

For strangers approaching and petting her, and strange dogs greeting her... This is something that a trainer can help you with. Ideally, your trainer will train your dog through setups where the "strangers" are in on the training. This will help prepare your dog for "real-world" scenarios in a controlled environment with insured professionals.
 

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@kelly528: now that we're back home, we're not living with the toddler (he lives out of state with my father). once she warmed up to him, she was perfectly fine with whatever he did- he even stuck his hand right in her mouth while she was chewing on a rawhide (i swear, children, love to dart across the room and do stupid things the moment you look away), and she just kinda looked at him like 'what'. she's not fearful in the house. she trusts everyone who lives here and is happy as can be around us. the tripping outside with a stranger around might be a concern. in any case, i am in the process of training her to wear a muzzle! considering her aversion to things going on her face, we've made quite a bit of progress. not enough to say we're done yet;;;

addition: since my last post i've been going through the links in the post that kmes provided that were not down. i've been looking for certified trainers in my area. conveniently, there are... none within 50 miles, in any database, save for a woman who works as a vet! this is super orz we've got a petsmart and 2 petcos near us but idk if they would be able to help... and idk if their training classes?? methods??? etc. idk if they're like. trustable/worth it. i've never gone and looked haha aaahhh yes. the benefit of living in a little speck on the map.
 

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@jagger: okay. say wolfgang was your dog. what would you do differently? what would be effective?

also, i don't face my fears. i have severe anxiety and avpd so haha. good luck to me. :D i'm doing my best to keep wolfgang from becoming like me but hey, not doing so well there.
 

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@riathir, I can't speak from a point of view of being an anxious person - I've never had anxiety or depression - so from that standpoint, I can't help. So maybe a behaviourist is your best bet.

However - and this is where I become unpopular among the purely positive trainers - the Achilles heel with purely positive based training is suppression compared to elimination. To make matters worse, there's too much information out there, too many trainers pushing their own way - and dog owners are drowning in it trying to do what they feel is best for the dog.

When I first met Jagger, he was a year old, he didn't know he was a dog, spent way too much time in the kennel. Basically a toy is what he was and when outside, he barked and reacted at the world. He was reactive because he was unsure of the world around him, everything was brand new and nobody was willing to show him that the world isn't that scary.

Now typically with purely positive based training, you're told to remove the dog from the situation, and work on it later using different methods such as LAT, BAT etc. But when a dog is removed from a trigger - how does one actually deal with the trigger after the fact? How is the dog supposed to know what he's being trained to do?

Jagger was on leash one night, it was windy. And he started barking like mad at a bag blowing in the wind that was stuck in a bush. Now that to me is ridiculous but to a dog that is unsure, it's something worrysome. I'm different, I took Jagger over to that scary thing, I held it in my hand and he came and smelled it and now knows it's not something to be scared of. The trigger of the bag was dealt with on the spot, that possible fear is eliminated, I don't have to work on it after the fact. When it came to dogs - he had to learn not to be a jerk and how to deal with jerks. He learned to check his attitude, had to learn to change his energies or he would face corrections with dogs.

Now I've been told that pushing a dog is harmful to the dog, that I'm flooding the dog. But I'm dealing with the fear on the spot - removing the fears as he goes, not removing the dog from the trigger. Jagger is extremely confident and fearless - so I would love for someone to explain to me how pushing the dog, introducing him to the things he's unsure of, hurt him in any way. It took 3 months to to change him from chicken to confident/fearless dog that's now running any of the local parks off leash. If I had taken the purely positive methods, I'd still be working on him 4 years later.

The last time Jagger was unsure was earlier in the summer - he's never experienced a newborn baby before. We went to friends, pup was laying on the floor - in comes baby and the baby smell. Jagger stood up, alert barked once - then looked at me for guidance. I told him to relax and lay down. When the baby settled in, I brought the dog over to meet her - he sniffed her, licked her hand and laid down beside her - done, another unsurety eliminated - nothing to supress, nothing to work on after the fact.

One thing at a time, one fear at a time, one unsurety at a time, one trigger at a time. It sounds like you have a dog that needs to be rebuilt from the ground up - choose the top down approach and it's going to take a long time.
 

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@jagger: we'll be hunting around for trainers/behaviorists i guess. if not certified ones, then reputable ones. we'll see.

the thing about inanimate objects is that it's easy to teach that she has nothing to fear from them. especially at night, wolfgang will bark at something she sees. i take her to look at it, she sniffs it, she calms down (especially when we first got her, she would bark at weird shadows in the yard. i'd take her over to them and she's never barked at them again). this works perfectly, but only for inanimate objects. she's not consistently afraid of loud noises (not even gunshots 50 feet away), cars, etc, just people getting close to her and some dogs.

the fear that she may bite (and also most people not wanting a barking dog to come near them) is why we just keep walking past them/otherwise avoid them. at the moment, i don't dare bring her near someone who hasn't already touched her (even if they're not friends) until she'll happily wear a muzzle on walks/etc. if people wouldn't automatically reach down to pet her she'd probably be fine walking over to them and sniffing their legs, but i'd have to tell them that/ask permission and that makes my anxiety spike (the only reason i have to be anxious during a walk, interacting with the people we pass) which probably spikes wolfgang's as well. sometimes i used to try anyway, with varied results (usually ended up not with snapping, but sometimes backing away and barking, back to square 1)

and even then, neighbors and people you pass on walks aren't ideal sources of socialization with a dog who is fear aggressive. the information i've gotten always says to socialize in a controlled environment, and i believe that's a good place to start (just not sure how to go about that in my neck of the woods).

i'd like to clarify that from what i've observed, she won't snap at anyone unless strangers reach for her suddenly and startle her- touch her while she's distracted or come up behind her, etc. my 4 y/o brother was an anomaly, and also i suspect part of it had to do with me having her on a leash when they met. when she sees someone reaching their hand out for her, her first response is to scoot away (behind me) and stay away. she's not going to run up to someone and bite them just because they scare her (she might try to bark them away, though). she broke her harness the other day (she was on her tie-out cable and got caught for a second. jumped down a low wall and POP there went the ring) and ran down to bark at our neighbors, but she was pretty much just running in circles (a favorite activity upon getting outside without a leash) checking them out. they left her alone (as i went to grab her) and while she did keep barking, she didn't do anything else/didn't seem very anxious after a minute.

i don't know exactly where the line is for her. if sniffing legs is fine, when does any stranger in question touching her become fine? i guess i've been scared to find out. if she bites someone (else, if you include the vet), haha. we'd better hope they're good-natured (another reason to emphasize an initial controlled environment)
 

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Lets take it a step further - good example is a puppy - lets look at a puppies life from birth to say one year old. We get lots of signups on here, one year old pup that is fearful, unsure, reactive, aggressive etc. Let's look at why that's possible...

Puppy is born, nurses from the mother - typically has other littermates. Over the course of the first 8 weeks of a puppies life, he learns how to play, learns to scrap, learns to take corrections from mother and other litter mates etc. Puppy lives in a pack of dogs. If you look at a puppy as a scale of 1% to 100%, how much do you think that pup has learned in the first 8 weeks? I'll be nice and allow say 20%. The puppy isn't whole, the puppy for sure has not learned to be a dog. 8 weeks, typical, puppy is adopted and here's where we disconnect and puppy can go sour.

Lets take a new dog owner, owner gets on the internet researching puppy. Puppy hasn't been vaccinated yet, so owner is told to keep her puppy away from other dogs. Owner is also typically told to get a crate to lock puppy in - and get lots of treats and toys. Now remember, the puppy is still missing 80% of what it needs to learn in order to be 100% functioning dog. Puppy is craving the pack, puppy is missing the pack.

Puppy needs to be socialized early - now when people hear the word socialization, they think "learn to get along". Not so. Socialization is extremely important in those early weeks of life after mom - because it's other dogs that teach the puppy to be a dog, it's not all about social skills. When a wolf pup is old enough to leave the den, it has the social wolf pack to teach said wolf pups how to be a wolf, how to act in a pack, how to hunt etc. It's the pack that makes the pup whole. Every wolf is made whole.

So, getting back to the puppy, at what point does the puppy get the chance to be whole? At what point does the puppy gain that 80% that it's missing? Puppy is locked in a kennel, flooded with treats with a frustrated owner - can you say confused? The puppy is craving other dogs - and we wonder why so many young dogs have gotten fearful, agressive etc. Then the owner gets on the forum trying to figure out how to fix her dog.

I hear trainers claiming they can rehab this dog - but the very word "rehabilitate" means to make whole "again". Dog breaks a leg, they can be rehabilitated - made whole again. Alot of these dogs have never been "whole" to begin with, never been "habilitated" so there is nothing to "re". What's the answer?
 

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@riathir, I can't speak from a point of view of being an anxious person - I've never had anxiety or depression - so from that standpoint, I can't help. So maybe a behaviourist is your best bet.

However - and this is where I become unpopular among the purely positive trainers - the Achilles heel with purely positive based training is suppression compared to elimination. To make matters worse, there's too much information out there, too many trainers pushing their own way - and dog owners are drowning in it trying to do what they feel is best for the dog.
There's no such thing as purely positive training... really hate that term...
Even the very best reward based trainers will use other quadrants (most often negative punishment) from time to time.

Good reward based trainers seek to modify behavior problems. We strive to change the underlying emotion and train what we do want (often an alternative or incompatible behavior). We don't want to suppress behavior.

When I first met Jagger, he was a year old, he didn't know he was a dog, spent way too much time in the kennel. Basically a toy is what he was and when outside, he barked and reacted at the world. He was reactive because he was unsure of the world around him, everything was brand new and nobody was willing to show him that the world isn't that scary.

Now typically with purely positive based training, you're told to remove the dog from the situation, and work on it later using different methods such as LAT, BAT etc. But when a dog is removed from a trigger - how does one actually deal with the trigger after the fact? How is the dog supposed to know what he's being trained to do? [\quote]
Nope, not always. Trainers are different but the reward based ones I know that are good and/or specialize in fear, reactivity, or aggression do not always recommend removing the dog....
Depends on the dog and the situation.
There's a difference between a dog that is concerned about something and one who is terrified. The former you can typically address on the spot. The latter.... generally dogs that are actually very scared aren't capable of actually learning anything at that moment anyway. Kindest thing may be to move the dog away to safety or a more comfortable distance to see if you can do a bit of work there. In some cases, such as a dog that has bitten in the past, when dealing with a trigger irl, sometimes for safety and liability reasons the best thing to do is to just move the dog to a safe distance or remove them entirely.

In any case, good reward based trainers don't just let it go. Even if we did remove the dog, it's absolutely possible to address that particular situation in a more controlled training sessions after the fact.

Honestly I tend to still set up a scenario to work on it after the fact even when I did work my dogs in the actual real life situation they were uncomfortable. I personally like to break it down for them and prep them for the next time it happens. In real life that first time generally we play a training game of some sort to help make the scary thing less scary. I generally look for a bit of bravery and end on a good note. That often isn't enough to totally conquer a fear (similarly, even if only addressing in real life it normally takes multiple encounters if it was anything more than more mild concern), so I set up similar situations and work on the issue in formal sessions.


Lets take it a step further - good example is a puppy - lets look at a puppies life from birth to say one year old. We get lots of signups on here, one year old pup that is fearful, unsure, reactive, aggressive etc. Let's look at why that's possible...

Puppy is born, nurses from the mother - typically has other littermates. Over the course of the first 8 weeks of a puppies life, he learns how to play, learns to scrap, learns to take corrections from mother and other litter mates etc. Puppy lives in a pack of dogs. If you look at a puppy as a scale of 1% to 100%, how much do you think that pup has learned in the first 8 weeks? I'll be nice and allow say 20%. The puppy isn't whole, the puppy for sure has not learned to be a dog. 8 weeks, typical, puppy is adopted and here's where we disconnect and puppy can go sour.

Lets take a new dog owner, owner gets on the internet researching puppy. Puppy hasn't been vaccinated yet, so owner is told to keep her puppy away from other dogs. Owner is also typically told to get a crate to lock puppy in - and get lots of treats and toys. Now remember, the puppy is still missing 80% of what it needs to learn in order to be 100% functioning dog. Puppy is craving the pack, puppy is missing the pack.
Fwiw most of the more knowledgeable people here recommend socialization over keeping a puppy inside... They will have differing opinions as to what is and is not safe but it's been a super rare occasion I have seem anyone suggest keeping a puppy inside until all vaccinations are complete.

Puppy needs to be socialized early - now when people hear the word socialization, they think "learn to get along". Not so. Socialization is extremely important in those early weeks of life after mom - because it's other dogs that teach the puppy to be a dog, it's not all about social skills. When a wolf pup is old enough to leave the den, it has the social wolf pack to teach said wolf pups how to be a wolf, how to act in a pack, how to hunt etc. It's the pack that makes the pup whole. Every wolf is made whole.

So, getting back to the puppy, at what point does the puppy get the chance to be whole? At what point does the puppy gain that 80% that it's missing? Puppy is locked in a kennel, flooded with treats with a frustrated owner - can you say confused? The puppy is craving other dogs - and we wonder why so many young dogs have gotten fearful, agressive etc. Then the owner gets on the forum trying to figure out how to fix her dog.
If implying reward based trainers don't stress socialization or even understand what it is (there's more to it than just dog to dog interactions btw) then... idk what to tell you...

It's a huge of my puppy classes. Something we cover and work on in depth both inside and outside of class (I literally give students a socialization scavenger hunt). Many reward based trainers offer puppy kindergarten, puppy socialization groups, etc. as well. Super, super common among reward based trainers.

It's also been discussed tons here on the forum in depth and pretty much all regulars understand the importance of socialization...

I hear trainers claiming they can rehab this dog - but the very word "rehabilitate" means to make whole "again". Dog breaks a leg, they can be rehabilitated - made whole again. Alot of these dogs have never been "whole" to begin with, never been "habilitated" so there is nothing to "re". What's the answer?
Personally not a fan of the term rehabilitate... I see it more often actually used with the balanced crowd than reward based fwiw, but could just be my circles and area. Rehabilitate implies ''completely fixed.'' I've said in in the past, but reactivity, aggression, etc. cases tend to result in at least some level of management and maintenance of training for the dog's entire life.
 

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@jagger: we'll be hunting around for trainers/behaviorists i guess. if not certified ones, then reputable ones. we'll see.

the thing about inanimate objects is that it's easy to teach that she has nothing to fear from them. especially at night, wolfgang will bark at something she sees. i take her to look at it, she sniffs it, she calms down (especially when we first got her, she would bark at weird shadows in the yard. i'd take her over to them and she's never barked at them again). this works perfectly, but only for inanimate objects. she's not consistently afraid of loud noises (not even gunshots 50 feet away), cars, etc, just people getting close to her and some dogs.

the fear that she may bite (and also most people not wanting a barking dog to come near them) is why we just keep walking past them/otherwise avoid them. at the moment, i don't dare bring her near someone who hasn't already touched her (even if they're not friends) until she'll happily wear a muzzle on walks/etc. if people wouldn't automatically reach down to pet her she'd probably be fine walking over to them and sniffing their legs, but i'd have to tell them that/ask permission and that makes my anxiety spike (the only reason i have to be anxious during a walk, interacting with the people we pass) which probably spikes wolfgang's as well. sometimes i used to try anyway, with varied results (usually ended up not with snapping, but sometimes backing away and barking, back to square 1)

and even then, neighbors and people you pass on walks aren't ideal sources of socialization with a dog who is fear aggressive. the information i've gotten always says to socialize in a controlled environment, and i believe that's a good place to start (just not sure how to go about that in my neck of the woods).

i'd like to clarify that from what i've observed, she won't snap at anyone unless strangers reach for her suddenly and startle her- touch her while she's distracted or come up behind her, etc. my 4 y/o brother was an anomaly, and also i suspect part of it had to do with me having her on a leash when they met. when she sees someone reaching their hand out for her, her first response is to scoot away (behind me) and stay away. she's not going to run up to someone and bite them just because they scare her (she might try to bark them away, though). she broke her harness the other day (she was on her tie-out cable and got caught for a second. jumped down a low wall and POP there went the ring) and ran down to bark at our neighbors, but she was pretty much just running in circles (a favorite activity upon getting outside without a leash) checking them out. they left her alone (as i went to grab her) and while she did keep barking, she didn't do anything else/didn't seem very anxious after a minute.

i don't know exactly where the line is for her. if sniffing legs is fine, when does any stranger in question touching her become fine? i guess i've been scared to find out. if she bites someone (else, if you include the vet), haha. we'd better hope they're good-natured (another reason to emphasize an initial controlled environment)
To me it sounds like you are off to a decent start! really!:)

It's really great you've have tackled management first. When it comes to behavior, the more the dog rehearses it the more likely they will in the future. A bite is def not a behavior you want repeated or as the ''go to'' response for your dog. Tbt it's difficult to even begin addressing behavior problems, never mind maintain progress, without good management first!

Generally I tell my students that we need to work on proximity before actual physical interaction with the trigger (in this case people). If they aren't comfortable with the person nearby they certainly aren't going to be comfortable with petting.

The foundation exercises specifically I most frequently assign to people with dogs afraid of people are open bar/closed bar and the treat retreat game. Initially, I like open bar/closed bar for people the dog isn't going to ever need to be friends with and I like treat retreat to begin introducing a dog to people he or she will need to be friendly with. Depending on the dog we might explore play instead of food in a open bar/closed bar type format. Treat retreat works best with food.

This thread has a description of open bar/closed bar as well as a lot of additional training exercise that you might find helpful.
http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/reactivity-leash-aggression-barrier-frustration-12538/

And this is a nice video showing the treat retreat game. What is really nice about this game is that the dog is never lured in towards the person. All rewards are tossed behind the dog, so the dog has complete control of how close they get, it's low pressure, and less worry of bites. I use different variations of this game to work up to and includes petting and other physical interaction. Just really transitions nicely ime. But the foundation has to be there.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGP5ZawSrN8
 

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And this is a nice video showing the treat retreat game. What is really nice about this game is that the dog is never lured in towards the person. All rewards are tossed behind the dog, so the dog has complete control of how close they get, it's low pressure, and less worry of bites. I use different variations of this game to work up to and includes petting and other physical interaction. Just really transitions nicely ime. But the foundation has to be there.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGP5ZawSrN8

Honest questions here, truly curious. That video is over 3 years old - is there a follow up to show the dog is now much better or cured of it's fear?

Dogs are very sensory - keep the same person but change the clothes, change the venue, change the chair, change the treats. What happens with the dog?
 

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Honest questions here, truly curious. That video is over 3 years old - is there a follow up to show the dog is now much better or cured of it's fear?

Dogs are very sensory - keep the same person but change the clothes, change the venue, change the chair, change the treats. What happens with the dog?
I don't know what has happened with that particular dog. The video is a how-to for that particular exercise. Intent is not to show the entire process of working with and training a fearful dog or even the end result. If you really want to know about that particular case, then ask below in the youtube comments and hopefully Rise will give you an update.

However, I can tell you about my personal experience.

I have worked 2 personal dogs through different variation/levels I have learned or made up. The video just shows the foundation.

One Of my dogs would react to any reaching towards him or even appearing as if they would try to pet (often direct eye contact bending and coming in towards him). He has made many people friends (loose, wiggly, body language, bouncing in front of them to greet, will work with them happily, seeks physical contact, etc). He can make friends with people quickly when I use a variation of this (essentially people ask for tricks in exchange for tossed rewards, hands free tricks first, then tricks like paw to foot or paw to hand which allows me to judge comfort level. If willing to physically touch the person then he tends to be ok with moving up to petting). Recently he has begun to seek petting very quickly, assuming the person played the game as an intro first and doesn't need to be a ton of reps either.... last person it was just maybe 5 tricks... He also remembers the person well even if it's a while between meets. He attends workshops/seminars including some very large ones (biggest was roughly about 400 people and iirc 100 or so dogs) no problem, is competing, is a regular in group classes, is regularly working off leash near and around people, is reliable in public, etc. Passes as a completely normal dog. Reactions at this point are very, very rare. Last time was a big guy... was in a very tight space, getting dark, and the guy didn't ask- just suddenly bent over and reached to grab. Frankly the guy freaked me out too.

The other personal dog isn't reactive or aggressive, just very sensitive to social pressure. Great when interactions are low pressure and off leash, but cringes/ducks/backs away/etc., appeasement and displacement behaviors galore if it's something he cannot escape or is asked to hold still for such as grooming, sit/stand for exam, etc. He's very young and still working through this process. At this point he's very comfortable with me, my husband, and our trainer (is comfier and chooses to participate in grooming procedures, allows us to touch for formal sit/stand for exam in classes, etc.) He is improving with others less familiar to him.

Dogs I have worked with show similar improvement though many don't take it to the level I have with the first dog I talked about. Just don't have to. As long as the dog is able to make friends with family and friends, and not loosing it on walks they are happy. I do this with the dogs at the shelter I am involved with a d have taught the staff and some other volunteers. Really helps the shy dogs. They come around faster and improves adoptability!
 

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i've been careful about letting strangers pet her on walks. if she's willing to walk up to them (no barking or growling, walking towards them curiously, the person in question also wants her to come/doesn't mind her coming over), i warn them to let her sniff for a while before petting, or not to pet at all. i do not let give kids permission to pet her as a matter of precaution. telling people (especially kids) 'don't pet her' is ofc a good thing, but a fallible measure of prevention. some kids ignore me and step closer with their hands out (wolfgang puts her tail between her legs, growls or barks, and moves behind me), i forget to tell adults when we let our dogs meet each other, what if she gets out one day and people try to touch her, etc.

(to go along with simply telling people not to pet her, i've gotten a harness that says 'caution' on it, which she now wears on walks, and i'm training her not to mind wearing a muzzle [it's going slowly])

so basically i'm worried somebody someday is going to get past the precautions i'm taking and get bit and obv i do not want this to happen. this is where training/classes come in
Until you can get a professional to evaluate the exact "mechanism" of greeting people that causes her to become uncomfortable/aggressive, I would not allow anyone out in public/outside of your household to pet her. Some fearful dogs will get closer than their comfort zone to the object/being they are afraid of because they are offered a bribe/reward like food or treat to come closer, or because they are curious and the item is being still/non-threatening; then when they realize that they are too close or the item becomes scary by moving/talking/reaching over or toward them, they may react more fearfully or aggressively because they are now too close and can't get away fast enough. These responses may be more likely to happen or magnified in severity if the dog feels like they can't move away from what they are afraid of due to a physical barrier (could even be a person standing there) or leash restricting them, but can happen off leash/at liberty as well. Fear aggressive dogs tend to be among the dogs most likely to bite, and your girl can't afford another bite, so first and foremost, you need to manage to prevent possible aggression, even if it means slower progress in training. Get used to telling people no when they ask to pet or move to do so without asking, or try to avoid times when large amounts of people will be out and about.

It may be useful to teach her to sit behind/beside you on command, as this will make her less readily accessible for people to touch without permission, and may make her feel more at ease since it puts you between her and the potential threat. Also, instead of using a word with no meaning when you encounter someone she is suspicious of, try using a command that the knows and enjoys doing, that will keep her attention on you, then reward accordingly as you pass the person. This will likely not work as well if you are too close and she is unable to focus on you at all, so you will need to find the distance at which she notices people, but isn't fixated on them.

A muzzle is a good precaution, and will add an additional layer of safety in case she ends up in a situation where she is uncomfortable, but muzzles aren't fail safe protection against a bite or injury. Depending on the muzzle (even some basket muzzles), dogs may still be able to pinch through it with their front teeth (which will break skin) and if not, a dog that lunges to bite can still hit someone with the muzzle with sufficient force to cause injury. You should look at the muzzle like someone working at great heights looks at their fall protection harness- you use it because it adds an additional layer of protection that may save you from serious injury if other safety measures fail or some freak event occurs, but you take other precautions in the hope never to need it.

this is where I become unpopular among the purely positive trainers - the Achilles heel with purely positive based training is suppression compared to elimination.
I'm not a force free trainer (I do try to use corrections minimally while training), but the fault in this theory is that when someone uses reward based methods to desensitize a dog who is fearful of something, they actually change the way the dog perceives that item, so there is no longer any fear response- it is eliminated in that sense. The problem with correcting a behavior to eliminate it is that these dogs usually need periodic "tune ups" to remind them that the behavior causes unpleasant consequences. You've mentioned yourself that despite having "eliminated" guarding behavior from your dog through correction, he still periodically "tests" you by guarding, requiring remedial correction. This is common particularly with behaviors regarding high value items (like bones) and scenarios where a dog is highly aroused or in an adrenalized state (fear situations, prey chasing, etc) because the brain isn't necessarily thinking logically during those times.

A decent human analogy for desensitization vs "flooding" would be: As a child, you always want to make yourself scarce when Aunt Marge comes because she's loud, obnoxious, and insists on kissing your face every time she arrives. It's unpleasant and makes you feel uncomfortable. Your parents insist that you greet her every time, and you do, grudgingly, but as time goes on and you mature, you eventually decide that you are fed up and ask her to stop mugging you upon arrival, or start avoiding her entirely. Or, in another vein, obnoxious Aunt Marge decides she wants to get on your good side, tones down her greetings a bit for a while, and always brings you some sort of cool gift, or takes you for a fun day out every time she comes- you come to tolerate/maybe enjoy her annoying greeting behavior, and look forward to her arrival, because it always means something good is going to happen.

I took Jagger over to that scary thing, I held it in my hand and he came and smelled it and now knows it's not something to be scared of. The trigger of the bag was dealt with on the spot,
The difference between a bag and a human is that if the wind catches the bag and flaps it hard in your dog's face, causing your dog to snap at it, no harm done. If you are introducing your dog to a person they are afraid of and the person does something which frightens them enough to snap at them, that is another story, and in some places, more than enough to have a dog declared dangerous and subject to restrictions. A dog that is hiding behind the owner to avoid people, growling, and has bitten someone is a different entity than a dog that spooks at a bag, and should be treated accordingly. If you have a severe fear of driving over bridges, you don't start trying to conquer it by driving over one like this where you will be testing your resolve to the max and have the potential to injure others if you make an incorrect judgement call in a moment of panic.

i've been looking for certified trainers in my area. conveniently, there are... none within 50 miles, in any database, save for a woman who works as a vet!
If the vet is also a behavioral specialist or trainer, that could be a good option for you, but may be more expensive than "just" a trainer. Could be worth a call. Petsmart and Petco trainers vary, those stores usually have their own training program for trainers to learn from, so unless the trainer has sought out more specialized education regarding fearful or aggressive dogs, they may not be able to help as much with that aspect. You could call around or go to a few stores and speak directly with the trainers to get an idea what their skill level is. You might also ask your vet if they have any trainer recommendations, but keep in mind it may be secondhand information from other clients they have, or the vet may subscribe to different training methods than you prefer- still worth asking. Also, many animal shelters either have a trainer they work with or have one or more trainers they refer people having problems with adopted dogs to. Check with the shelter you got her from, as well as others in your area.
 

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People always seem to blame the dog. The OP has clearly stated 2 things.
1. The OP has anxiety issues
2. The dog has gotten worse.

Now I realize people don't seem to believe the fearful owner, fearful dog theory. But you look at a parent that has fears - he/she is say, afraid of spiders - chances are the kids are too. But are they truly afraid? Or are they unsure - not willing to take a chance of mom or dad being wrong.

OP, if you really want to find out if it's you that's creating the issue with the dog - or if it is the dog, try something. Find a nice calm golden lab that you can use, happy go lucky and friendly. If your dog gravitates toward calm and confident energy of a golden lab, then you have something to work with. Let them play for a while, let her relax. Then leash the 2 dogs together with 5 or 6 feet of leash, let the lab lead her and see how scared of the world she is. I figure you'll see a different dog.


The difference between a bag and a human is that if the wind catches the bag and flaps it hard in your dog's face, causing your dog to snap at it, no harm done. If you are introducing your dog to a person they are afraid of and the person does something which frightens them enough to snap at them, that is another story, and in some places, more than enough to have a dog declared dangerous and subject to restrictions. A dog that is hiding behind the owner to avoid people, growling, and has bitten someone is a different entity than a dog that spooks at a bag, and should be treated accordingly. If you have a severe fear of driving over bridges, you don't start trying to conquer it by driving over one like this where you will be testing your resolve to the max and have the potential to injure others if you make an incorrect judgement call in a moment of panic.
You're talking to me like i'm going to stick the thing that scares a dog down it's throat. If a kid is afraid of a spider - I'm not going to throw a spider at the kid, that'll definitely reinforce the fear. It'll be twofold, now the child is afraid of me and the spider. I'll pick the spider up, let it crawl over my arm, let it crawl over my face - I don't care, i'm not afraid of the spider. The unsurety of the child will generally turn into curiosity, I've seen it so many times - now the child wants to hold the spider. That's the difference, show them that it's not something to fear - but to respect.

Many dogs are more reactive on leash than off. Why is that? Cause they are attached directly to the owners energies? If the owner is afraid of how the dog is going to act - the dog is going to sense that. What could the end result be?
 

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People always seem to blame the dog. The OP has clearly stated 2 things.
1. The OP has anxiety issues
2. The dog has gotten worse.

Now I realize people don't seem to believe the fearful owner, fearful dog theory. But you look at a parent that has fears - he/she is say, afraid of spiders - chances are the kids are too. But are they truly afraid? Or are they unsure - not willing to take a chance of mom or dad being wrong.

OP, if you really want to find out if it's you that's creating the issue with the dog - or if it is the dog, try something. Find a nice calm golden lab that you can use, happy go lucky and friendly. If your dog gravitates toward calm and confident energy of a golden lab, then you have something to work with. Let them play for a while, let her relax. Then leash the 2 dogs together with 5 or 6 feet of leash, let the lab lead her and see how scared of the world she is. I figure you'll see a different dog.
Yeah... owner skill and behavior plays a part. I rarely see anyone here argue otherwise. However, often it isn't the actual cause ime, when it comes to fear and aggression. Plus there are plenty of other reasons a problem behavior can be increasing. Just normally isn't as clear cut as fearful/anxious owner causes a fearful/anxious dog.

Utilizing learning such as you describe with a social, confident dog has been used and is being explored more in training circles. It's not a bad idea... good actually in many cases and something I will use with my own dogs. I know it wasn't suggested, but I just want to caution that it likely isn't the best route to use to actually introduce a fearful dog with a bite history to people. Fwiw, much like luring a dog in with food, I have seen numerous times now that shy/fearful dogs often follow a doggy friend in toward people but then may still react once close. If that should be the case with this dog (and I personally wouldn't take that chance), that will mean a potential bite to the person.


You're talking to me like i'm going to stick the thing that scares a dog down it's throat. If a kid is afraid of a spider - I'm not going to throw a spider at the kid, that'll definitely reinforce the fear. It'll be twofold, now the child is afraid of me and the spider. I'll pick the spider up, let it crawl over my arm, let it crawl over my face - I don't care, i'm not afraid of the spider. The unsurety of the child will generally turn into curiosity, I've seen it so many times - now the child wants to hold the spider. That's the difference, show them that it's not something to fear - but to respect.

Many dogs are more reactive on leash than off. Why is that? Cause they are attached directly to the owners energies? If the owner is afraid of how the dog is going to act - the dog is going to sense that. What could the end result be?
I don't get that from busannie's post...

Anyway, what are you suggesting the op actually do to go about training this dog? What should he/she actually do to help the dog feel more comfortable around people? That's really what this thread is about at this point.
 

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@kmes, did I say anything about the dog being around people? Leash the dogs together and let the calm lead the weak - why would anyone be silly enough to let the dog be led into a possibly dangerous situation.

This is an exercise to find out why the dog is anxious, scared etc. If the dog is willing to follow a calm lab - and one sees a difference in the dog? What the OP needs to gauge is WHERE the problem lay. Is it the dog or is it the owner? Is there any sense in trying to train a dog when the owner is creating the issue? This is where I get lost - you're already talking about training the dog.

Anyway, what are you suggesting the op actually do to go about training this dog? What should he/she actually do to help the dog feel more comfortable around people? That's really what this thread is about at this point.
You're asking me how I would go about training this dog - wouldn't that be putting the onus on the dog - the dog is the blame. I'd like to know why the dog is like this - if you don't know where it's broken, how can you possibly set a path to fix the situation?

Sorry, but if the owner of a sour dog is the issue - that's where I start - but it has to take recognition on the owners behalf.
 
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