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When talking with a friend of mine about Comet (2 1/2 year old Black Lab mix, fixed) and his apparent anxiety/aggression toward people and cars (but not other dogs) when on the leash, someone suggested trying dog calming products like sprays or collars. I've done a bit of reading, but it seems the only real tests on these products have been done by the companies that produce them, so I'm skeptical.
Has anyone had any experience with these and do they work with dogs who will growl/bark/lunge at people and/or cars?
A bit of background: This behavior started when he was about a year and a half old. We have been attempting to curb this behavior with positive reinforcement, but the results have been mixed. Basically whenever we come within a certain proximity of people at which he starts showing he's uncomfortable, but doesn't react, we give him training treats. If he does react and bark, growl or lunge, he doesn't get one (We don't punish him; he just doesn't get rewarded). Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes he's good, we give him a treat, then he turns around and lunges. Sometimes he'll lunge, then turn and look for a treat. Sometimes he just sees someone down the street and automatically looks for a treat before we've even approached. Overall, it's trending in the right direction (I think?) but I am wondering if we need some extra help, at least for a while until he's got this thing down.
Thoughts? Concerns? Criticism?
All are welcome.
Thanks!
 

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My boy does similar things, when he spots people.

He's random about how close he can get, sometimes it's very close, other times it's yards so it's really hard for me to know how close I can get to people with him.

I've learned to use very high value treats, the higher the value the better, when we are going on walks. At the moment his favorite it Wellness venison jerky, real meat like beef and chicken is also a huge hit. The venison treats are 4 cal and I break them into really small pieces since my boy is only 11 lbs and needs to lose weight.

He gets fed the treats when he spots someone but does not react and he gets fed them as long as the person is in sight. If it's someone I know he normally reacts to I feed him more treats then if it's someone he's usually good with.

When he reacts to someone I use the "Let's go" cue and lead him away. He gets treats for obeying the cue. I'll lead him away 10 to 20 ft and try turning around to see if he reacts when he sees the person, if he doesn't he gets treats, if he does then I'll just lead him completely away.

What I had to stop doing was giving him treats while he was barking. It did NOT reinforce the fear of people, quite the opposite, but what it did do was inadvertently teach him that it was spotting people and barking that got him the treat. I realized what I had taught him when I saw him glance at a person, bark, then look back at me, little eyes lit up, tail wagging, waiting for his treat. So for Zody at least, no treats for barking.

It's slowly working, but we do have set backs. We do have days when he seems to react to everyone, but we also have some great successes. A couple months ago he stood near someone he normally hates without reacting. She actually asked me if he was sick because EVERY time he sees her he pitches a fit. He's also recently started doing better with the woman who really freaked him out one time, she kept reaching for him even though I told her to stop and he finally snapped at her hand. She no longer does that and slowly, with lots of work, he's usually good when he sees her.

The only time I use DAP is during thunderstorms, and whether it helps or not I really cannot say. I spray his hiding spots with it in the hopes that it helps him feel a bit calmer, he still hides but I think he comes out of hiding a bit faster. Then again that could just be wishful thinking on my part. I use Adaptil and the reviews on it are mixed, some say it works great, others that it doesn't work at all, and some like me say not sure. I figure it's not hurting him, and may be helping him, so I keep using it.
 
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