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Thank you for your advice. I was able to get a Thundershirt for her yesterday. It fits very snug, and I'm so glad you say that's the way it should fit because I was worried it might be too small for her. We went out for a short walk around dinnertime. The Thundershirt did help quite a bit. She was still scared, but was able to focus back on me. She pulled when she got scared and as soon as she knew we were on the home stretch, but it was not nearly as bad as without the Thundershirt. I ordered some calming tablets online, and they should be here very soon.

I am reading Scaredy Dog and Click to Calm right now. I find it tough to counter condition her, though, because I don't know exactly what her fear is. For example, when we went out for our walk yesterday, she became scared of people walking into a school. But she isn't scared of people at Petsmart or the dog park. She runs right up to them. She was also afraid of a dog barking the the distance (it wasn't on the street we were walking on) yesterday, but she is not scared when dogs bark at Petsmart or the dog park. I will check out B.A.T for sure, though.

Thank you for the videos. We do something similar to the Kikopup video on our walks. When Marley pulls on the leash and the leash is tense, I stop walking and encourage her to come back to me. When she takes a couple steps back to me and the leash is loose again, I click and reward. She does great with this in the house. She also did great with it in her training classes (I have taken her to a dog behavioral therapy class to try and get some help, but she wasn't fearful of the other dogs or people in the class at all, so they couldn't really help what they couldn't see.). Kikopup mentions a couple things that I am hesitant about: 1) picking her up when she is afraid. Will that reinforce her fears? 2) to go home when she is scared. I know that Kikopup was referring to a training session, but would that apply to a walk as well? If so, Marley's walk would consist of a few steps, as she becomes afraid right in front of our house. So those two points at the end of video are my concerns. Am I doing those wrong? The second video, I find hard to implement, as I do not know what exactly is causing her fear(s).

Thank you again for your advice. I truly appreciate it.
Well firstly, I think it's great that Marley does have moments of reacting without fear, and you should definitely take advantage of those moments. I think you should start reading her behavior as often as you possibly can (maybe even write her behaviors down in a journal), and reward every single calm behavior that you like. Find out through observation (whenever you can/are home with her) what makes her react in fear, and what calms her down. Also pay attention to what behaviors from you that she likes, before and after she reacts.
The fact that she gives you so many moments of seeming "OK" is great. She's just still confused in some circumstances of how she's supposed to feel about certain stimuli. Her brain is probably going back and forth between wanting to greet, and her fear. I feel this way a lot in my anxiety.

She needs to be rewarded every time she is calm, and every time she reacts positively to something that would normally be feared. If say, tomorrow on her walk, she were to hear a barking dog, and the second she perks her ears up, she gets a click and a treat. If she then chooses to continue walking, click again and treat again calmly. If she responds with fear, turn around and walk a distance that puts you out of ear shot of the barking. Try again, and see if you can get any farther toward the sound without a reaction. Repetitions and patience are very important, as I'm sure you're learning.

My Reilly never ceases to surprise me by the random things he's afraid of, and the random things he's OK with. He will cower in fear at some people still, though not nearly as many, but will jump into the lap of someone that doesn't even like dogs. He adores people that don't pay any attention to him, to obviously that's usually the reason. Sometimes he's completely OK with loud sounds (even fireworks and thunder), sometimes he's not (clapping, loud pinging noises).
Sometimes he can go for a walk and not be afraid of much at all, and sometimes he will pull on the leash to get away from things, won't walk right next to me and will instead lean away from me, and other things.

I just try and always, always set him up for success, and majorly reward and focus on the good moments and days. It has helped me cope with his fear so much, and I have such a better relationship with him now that I only focus on the good. :)

I think B.A.T. is definitely worth a shot for you, do a search on Youtube and you'll find lots of home videos from owners like you/us, working on reactivity on walks.

The way to implement that second video is to use your environment to your advantage to practice counter-conditioning, while managing her
environment as well. By managing I mean, if she begins to approach her threshold (sub threshold), you manage whatever thing, sound, sight, etc. in her environment at that time that is causing her fear. You can use your own neighborhood to practice B.A.T. with her, lengthening the distance of your walk every time.

If Marley starts to become fearful as soon as she is taken outside for her walk though, maybe think about anything building up to leaving the front door that may be causing this. Is she showing any stress signals as you're preparing to leave? Maybe try making walk time more random, so she can't build up fear while you're getting ready. Is she fearful of her leash being put on or anything like that? Sorry if you've already mentioned this. Is she only starting to show the fear when you start walking?

If you absolutely cannot get her under threshold in that first-step-of-the-walk fear moment, with treats to get her to focus on you, distraction with other fun cues or games, etc., then start counter-conditioning her step by step. It may be a long process, but you'll eventually be able to go for the whole walk. Definitely follow the giving in to leash pressure video. That method should work great for her as well.

You could also start getting her more used to following you and focusing on you using a long lead in the backyard if you have one. You'd need to put a harness on her, and then practice walking in different directions, changing your direction every few seconds so she has to pay attention to where you are going. Using happy voices/sounds, get her used to following you, and looking at you for attention. Have you taught her the "look" or "watch me" command? It would help her greatly.

Also, here's a few videos on the "let's go" and LAT or look-at-that game, that are also helpful methods for fearful or reactive dogs on walks:


 

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Discussion Starter #23 (Edited)
Thank you so much, Megs87, for taking the time to help Marley and me. I feel so grateful, and a thank-you just isn’t enough. I’m very sorry that your Reilly is going through the same thing that Marley is. He is very lucky to have such a loving and caring mum to help him get through it, and it is absolutely wonderful that he has gotten over some of his fears. I really commend you on all of the work you’ve done in helping him.

I really do need to start rewarding Marley’s calm behavior more often. I reward her a lot when we are out on walks in our neighborhood, but I don’t do it nearly as much when we are out at the park, or at home, etc.

And I have never thought about her being confused about how to feel about her fears, but that makes a lot of sense now that you have mentioned it. And writing everything down in a journal is an amazing idea. That starts this morning!

Thank you as well for your example of how to implement a strategy on our walks as well. I really needed that. I feel like I have a plan now of how to help her when she becomes scared on our walks. Before, I didn’t know if I should just go home or let her “work through it.” All I knew was that I felt like I was torturing her.

Marley shows no fear or excitement to the leash itself. When I put her harness and leash on, she doesn’t seem to care at all. Then when we go out to the backyard, she gets really excited because 1) she loves playing out there and 2) the backyard leads to the garage, and she knows that when she goes to the garage she gets to go for a car ride (usually to her favorite places). But when I call her over and lead her out of the backyard and onto the sidewalk, she realizes we are going for a walk instead, and then I can see her body language totally change. Her tail completely drops and her ears pin back. Sometimes she shakes. It is then that her fears set in and anything seems to be able to frighten her. I bring a lot of treats with me on our walks, and every time she is walking on a loose leash, I click and reward. And every time she looks at me, I click/reward as well. (To get her attention, I make a “smooch” sound.) Sometimes that works to get her attention when she is afraid and she will take a treat. Other times, it does nothing. I will pick up a long lead today to practice getting her to follow me, as I change directions. That will be good exercise for her as well.

The LAT and “Let’s Go” videos are wonderful. Thank you for sharing them with me. We needed to learn some new commands, so those are going to be the next two. I am also going to order the B.A.T. book as well, as after watching some Youtube videos, I agree with you that it may really help her.

I really can’t thank you enough, Megs87. No one has helped me as much as you have, not even trainers at classes that I have paid for. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and suggest solutions to help Marley. You really are a lifesaver, and I don't mean that lightly.
 

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You are very, very welcome! That means a lot to me, especially right now. You are doing absolutely wonderful with Marley, and again, she is so lucky to have you. And you're lucky to have her too. :) These "special" dogs bring more to our lives than we know, and there's a reason they ended up in our laps.

Keep up the good work! (Especially the "kissy" sound) :):

 

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Megs87,

Thank you very much for your kind words. I really needed to hear them. I agree with you: there is a reason Reilly and Marley ended up in our laps, and I wouldn't have it any other way :) Reilly is so lucky to have you and so is this forum.

And you've officially gotten me addicted to kikopup's videos (a very good addiction to have, I would say:)).

A truly heartfelt thanks,
JJ
 
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