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Hello,

We currently have a male (neutered) 1yr old mix (Mountain Cur, Boxer, Pit Bull are the main breeds from a DNA test) who was very shy but is coming out his shell. Because of his shyness, we have been going to our local dog park (30 acres). At first he was very hesitant to meet dogs and humans. After 6 months of going he now loves all dogs and is starting to warm up to humans.

However, there are certain dogs where he goes into a fixation state where he is constantly trying to lick other dogs faces, while play bowing and tail wagging. In this state he will not hear anything we say and we have to chase him down in order to get him separated. This typically happens to other dogs that try to ignore him an they pretend like he isn’t there. We have been working on training him with a E-Collar and it helps a little but he generally pushes past the steps (1- beep, 2-vibration, 3-shock) and stays on his fixation til we grab his collar and walk him away. The other strange thing is this behavior starts after we walk 1 mile.

I am at loss on how to handle this. He is a quick learner and is now food motivated and every time we go we work on his recall with rewards. This still results in his fixation and unwillingness to recall.

Please let me know what ideas we can try.

Thanks!!!
 

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First thing is to get rid of the e-collar. They never resolve an unwanted behaviour - they may stop it but they don't actually address the real problem. It's the same principle as taking the battery out of a smoke alarm - the noise stops; great - but the fire isn't put out.

There is really no need for him to meet lots of other dogs, it's no more a natural behaviour for a dog than it would be for you to try to engage with every single person you met in the supermarket. He may just lack personal awareness and social skills, he is of an age to; and he isn't picking up on the back-off signals from the other dogs. Nor should they have to ask him to back off, anyway you really don't want any of them to really put him in his place.

So on walks, if there are other dogs, just keep him on leash or long line (for safety, a long line should only ever be attached to a harness, not a collar) for now. Ideally you want yourself to be the centre of his universe - I can't remember which of the good trainers says it but one of them uses the phrase BMFI - be more f*** interesting. When another dog appears, you can play, bring out a fabulous toy, feed him lovely things - that will all encourage him to be more dog neutral and far more focussed and engaged with you. Once he realises you are the source of more fun than anything else, it will get a lot easier.

And please ditch the e-collar. You may find this article interesting.


 

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I actually read this hours ago but couldnt respond then because my answer would likely have got me banned.

Ecollars are banned in many civilised countries for a reason. They are not good training aids . If you want to continue using it I suggest you get a second one and each time you let your dog get into a bad situation shock yourself for being so negligent. You will soon learn to avoid getting your dog into situations he cannot deal with.

If you know he gets fixated on certain dogs then make sure you prevent the problem. Our dog hates a couple of dogs in our area so we are vigelent and use the 3 D method, distance duration and distraction. Where a few months ago we couldnt be in the same street as the dog we now cross the road and wait, Murphy is instructed to look at us and is rewarded for that the other dog passes by and again if there is no barking or bad behaviour he is rewarded again. This morning we stood not 6 foot from a lady with a black lab ( one of the dogs he couldnt stand and would go crazy at a few months ago,) and we had a 5 minute convesation with her without any reaction at all..
None of this was done with pain or shocking or punishment .

So start with a long lead as suggested this will enable you to avoid him going off and getting fixated or interating in any unwanted manner. Make sure you keep interaction short and civil and then move on at the first sign of any unwanted behaviour move away dont let it carry on while you uselessly shock him or try to tempt him ..remove him from the situation and prevent the problem until he learns to ignore those dogs and play nicely with the others.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I appreciate all of your opinions.

I will say this regarding the E-Collar, the intent behind it was to snap him out of his fixation by just using the vibration function. And yes we did try it out the shock function on our selves first and know what level we were comfortable with. Not to alarm you but I would say 50-60% of dogs at our dog park are wearing E-Collars and that is why we went down that path.

My post yesterday was a little out of frustration and I know he is still learning. He gets very excited when we get to the park but he listens to every command. It’s when he gets tired the fixation starts which I thought was backwards. We will work with him on a lead after the 1st sign of him ignoring us. The problem is it is a big park and he typically runs far away to get to a dog and that’s when the listening stops so it is not easy to catch up with him to curb the situation. So a lead is the only solution in my eyes.

Thanks again for any opinions and suggestions!
 

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The fact that other people use them doesn't make e-collars good. And, as you have found, they don't even work. You have gone from beep to vibrate to shock - where do you go next? Harder shock? And then, even harder? Please do read the article I attached and build a bond with your dog as suggested above, while using a long line to stop him being annoying to other dogs.
 

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Also, I should have said - what happens when he starts to associate an electric shock with approaching other dogs? There is every likelihood that will make him nervous or afraid of other dogs, and fear often ends up in aggressive behaviour when he tries to scare them off.

There are better ways, please set a good example to the other owners and stop using the collar.
 

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I was going to say , if everyone else sticks their head in the gas oven will you do that too? Be brave ,be a leader and throw the rotten thing away.
 

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I understand your concern regarding the e-collar. By no means am I out to punish my dog. I have read the article you showed and it does bring up some valid points. However, there are opposing articles as well. I was using the collar not as a punishment but as a correction. Did it work - no. Will I continue to use the collar - probably not.

I didn’t create a post to debate the use of an e-collar. I was generally looking for opinions and ideas for training.

We got him as a rescue and he has gone from being scared of humans and dogs and not food motivated to an over excited happy go lucky dog.

Thank you for your suggestion again on the long lead but I am also looking for additional suggestions.
 

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To be fair, on a forum where aversives are discouraged, you will get arguments against e-collars. But my posts are not intended to be critical of your past choices, only to show why this sort of tool doesnt work - not just for you, but for anyone else who may read this in future.

As to what you can do, there are plenty of things. Work on his focus on you, whether that's with toys, treats or whatever. Do it first in low distraction environments, and gradually build up to him being progressively closer to other dogs - that's where your long line will be invaluable as it will prevent him from practicing this unwanted behaviour. As he matures and looks to you as being waaayy more exciting than other dogs, he will become more biddable and you could have an awesome partnership.
 

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I've a 3 and half year old lab/blue heeler mix that had social issues when I rescued him 2 years back. I'm glad to hear your dog is coming along and you are looking for ways to make his life safer. These days, when I see Frank trying to get a play-rise out of another dog, I give the other dog a good look, too. -----Does that dog want to play?---- If the other dog is sending body language that signals "No" and Frank doesn't pick up on it, then I will tell Frank, "No," and then call him to me. If he doesn't return to me and a tasty reward, he gets a second chance.

Second chance goes something like, " Frank.... Frank.... think about it...…... Check in."
He gets time to think and that amount of time varies from situation to situation, but if he still refuses to check in then I step in. Often enough, his feeling/ sensing my moving towards him gets his attention, but if not, then when I get close enough I loop my leather leash in a "U" shape and drop it over his head and neck down to his chest, effectively creating a chest harness. The I gently move him away a short distance, let him think awhile and then drop one end of the leash and I say, "Lets go." He either comes along or returns to engaging the other dog in which case he is then going to get clipped into his leash. Then we move off, a bit farther this time and think and wait and try again. This usually does the trick, but if it doesn't then I will clip him back into the leash and we will walk away maybe 25-30 yards and try again. He's screwed me a couple times at that distance. Bad dog. Just kidding, he's a good dog, but somedays he's just not feeling it and on those days we leash up a final time and simply leave the park. Sorry, buddy. You're not being a good citizen today.

I do try to give my dog time to think and make necessary corrections calmly. Corrections aren't personal, it's just something that happens occasionally so that all dogs and owners are safe and happy.
 
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