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I am 77 and with mobility problems. I promised my daughter and SIL (whom I don't live with) I'd be their dog walker and for 2 1/2 yrs. walked their 65-pound greyhound, a very sweet dog whose only problem is not liking other dogs. Lara about a year ago began to overreact to seeing other dogs in the distance by growling and lunging if she is with me. Twice when I tried to turn her to go in the other direction, she spun around, lunged towards me and it appeared was going to bite me although maybe it was a continued snarl directed to the other dogs. Once it caused me to lose my balance and hit my head on the pavement and drew blood and since then I've been very nervous walking her. They got a dogwalker but there are times she isn't available so I still need to walk her occasionally.


3 times we have taken her to a Fearful Fido class because a trainer said she had fear aggression. It has helped but only for a while.


She reacts a little bit to other dogs when others walk her but not nearly as much - the other dogs I mention are always in the distance, never near her and rarely even notice her. She does best with my SIL who grew up with dogs and I have never had one. I am thinking somehow she doesn't feel protected with me, maybe sensing my nervousness, but I don't know how to do anything about that. Any advice welcome!
 

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It sounds like the dog senses your nervousness and doesn't feel confident around and protected by you if she's afraid of other dogs. Dogs pick up on those things very easily. I don't know what to tell you, no matter how calm you act, if you're nervous the dog will pick up on it and probably react in fear at the sight of other dogs. Work on getting more comfortable around the dog, take walks w her and another person that she responds to better. Best of luck.
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Oh my, this could be a dangerous situation for you. My first thought was that you and Lara sound like you might be a prime candidate for clicker training! Here's a very good thread related to this method, and some links in there help describe how it works. Here's what a clicker looks like, and you might be able to pick one up at your local pet store, even.

Clicker training helps Lara focus on YOU. How it will help you is, hopefully at most, within a few days, the moment she sees another dog or something that upsets her, she'll automatically look to you for reassurance and a treat. When she does turn to you, you click, you treat Lara. Every time. You're rewarding her for her attention. Very quickly she will associate the sound with a reward.

So you start at home, at rest and comfortable, and you have your clicker and bag of treats handy. (Make the treats very small, like a shred or two of cheese, for example.) You'll start your training session, and perhaps she's looking away from you. (1) You call her name to get her attention. (2)Lara looks over, and (3)you click immediately and you praise her profusely and treat her. Wait a minute or two quietly, and perhaps she'll look away again. Call her name, and repeat the process. Do this throughout the first day. Perhaps walk her out into the yard with the leash, and as you move about, call her name, wait for her focus on you, click, praise and treat.

It could be, within the first day, she'll react well to your voice & clicker if you go out for your daily walk and continue your conditioning there, even if she sees no dogs or anything else to trigger a reaction. Stay consistent by keeping the clicker handy, and just praise profusely if you don't have treats handy. And even better, it will work for others who also walk Lara, and you can explain to them how it works if they do not know how to do it.

If this conditioning for whatever reason does not work with Lara (unlikely, but it happens), or she continues to react dangerously for you, I highly suggest your daughter and SIL look for another dog walker and/or a behaviorist or trainer. Having you fall and hurt yourself seriously is simply not worth the effort, promise or no.

I wish you luck, and hope you'll come back and let us know how you're doing with her!
 
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