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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So despite me doing all of the training, my dog is better with my dad than with me. There's a few reasons why and I'll give a few examples.

- Resource gaurding

So ever since he was young we always had difficulty trading things with him when he would pick stuff up he shouldn't have. We tried so many things and nothing would seem to work as a trade other than another foreign object he shouldn't be having in his mouth.

Being a first time dog owner, I would also freak out when I didnt have anything to trade on me and he'd pick up stuff. The worst was when he swallowed a sock and I was in full panic There have also been a few other incidents.

So educated guess, my reactions to him taking stuff he wasn't allowed to made his resource gaurding worse. Back then when im simply walking by he would run to his item, if i came close (not trying to take it) he would growl.

Since then I've done a better job at controlling my own emotions and being aware of his body language, I've also worked on a leave it that has a reasonable success rate. He seldom aggressively resource gaurds around me now for these reasons, but there are still the rare occasions it comes out unexpectedly. Most recent example I was trying to put on my seatbelt but he was near it and had a ball in his mouth. He Lashed out.

Comparatively, my dad doesn't have a panic mode, at all, and acts playful all the time towards my dog. This leads to encouraging some behaviors that are bad.

Case in point, my dad's solution to getting a foreign object away from our dog is to take it out of his mouth. Our dog goes to my dad willingly with the object in his mouth, and my dad pries it out of him.

This bleeds into fetch as well. He never actually gives my dad the fetch object and he always has to snatch it out of his mouth when my dog doesn't expect it.

Despite this, he's never shown aggressive resource gaurding towards my dad like he has with me. Trying to get away and moving his face away? Yes, but nothing like growling or air biting like with me.



Second example. His reactivity.

This one is harder to wrap my head around and upon hearing the backstory I hope you understand why.

So our dog has always been scared of dogs, and ever since I've been doing counterconditioning/desensitization.

a few months owning him and he started to display your typical reactivity when walking or staying outside the neighborhood. Growling, lunging at dogs.

My dad's solution to this was taking him to the dog park and introducing him to dogs. For the first few weeks our dog was scared. All the telltale signs of "shutting down" where he would try to move away but because he wouldn't be left alone, would eventually just stand there with his body hunched over and his tail tucked, and those were the friendly dogs.. my dad would just stay by him and try to soothe him and give encouraging talk.

He had a few encounters with aggressive dogs that chased him and he would just keep running until the owner got their dog away from ours. Nothing my dad could do during these situations..


After taking him there for a while though, he started showing some interest with the friendly dogs that came towards him. Still nervous body language like hunched over body and tail tucked, but would sniff back and would sometimes follow the dog slowly when they lost interest.

Eventually this developed into my dog showing a vested interest. He would get dogs to chase him and when they would stop he would go back for more. Body language like "play bow" would show.

So now whenever my dad encounters a dog, it's almost always running around being chased and then going back to sniff the dog when they lose interest. When it's on leash, he'll run around and go in circles then go in a play bow

Meanwhile, I still work on cc/ds to this day, excluding our neighborhood his threshhold is decent. However, it's reactivity with me if a dog on leash or off leash approaches us. Unlike my dad..

A couple explanations is I always have him on leash. Whether it's on a regular leash or long line. But there have been instances where I've dropped the leash so he can run around, he encounters a dog, and he's reactive to them. Again, if the situations where turned..

The other more obvious one is, I lose my cool. It doesn't happen often, but it never happens with my dad.

So, I'm doing everything as advised by my personal trainer and my r+ dog trainers in general. While my dad does what your NOT supposed to do.

Despite this, he's still better behaved with my dad, and all it comes down to is apparently temperament on my part...

So the point of this post, do you guys think there's anything else that may be contributing to the duality in behaviour when he's with different owners (me and my dad)

And, since he's better with my dad despite no training my dad does and the conventional training I apply , should I just let my dad have full control of the dog and remove myself from the equation? Since it doesn't seem to matter anyway.

I'm partly asking out of spite but it's partly genuine as well. It might just be better for my dogs wellbeing to let my dad have full control since he's clearly happier with him.
 

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From my experience, I would say your dog responds better for your dad than you because he feels safer around your dad. Dogs are very sensitive to our emotions and given that in a lot of his early experiences you have let your emotions take control, he picked up on this instability and therefore has no trust in you. To him, you are unpredictable and not the steadfast leader (please note I've said leader not alpha, there is an important difference) he needs you to be. Your dad, however, is calm and soothing, so he feels safer and more likely to respond in a positive manner as a result. I'm not trying to insult you or anything, just state from an objective point of view what I think has happened.

There is still time for you to form a better bond with him, but it's up to you if you want to put in the hours to change first your own approach and then your relationship with the dog, You'll have to go back to square one, and it will take time and effort, but it's possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
From my experience, I would say your dog responds better for your dad than you because he feels safer around your dad. Dogs are very sensitive to our emotions and given that in a lot of his early experiences you have let your emotions take control, he picked up on this instability and therefore has no trust in you. To him, you are unpredictable and not the steadfast leader (please note I've said leader not alpha, there is an important difference) he needs you to be. Your dad, however, is calm and soothing, so he feels safer and more likely to respond in a positive manner as a result. I'm not trying to insult you or anything, just state from an objective point of view what I think has happened.

There is still time for you to form a better bond with him, but it's up to you if you want to put in the hours to change first your own approach and then your relationship with the dog, You'll have to go back to square one, and it will take time and effort, but it's possible.
I'm not insulted. I'm aware he has the better temperament.

It's just hard to believe its the only reason and it completely outweighs the hours of training I put in to reactivity training where as he's put none in comparison and done things specifically advised against by trainers.
 

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Just my thoughts - consider how much time you spend playing with your dog?
Your dad, in your dog's eyes, is the 'fun' guy, while he still has rules, it sounds as if he spends the majority of his time playing with the dog, doing things the dog enjoys doing. While, yes, dogs do need training, and learning should be fun for them - we should be as forgiving of their mistakes as they are of ours - but play is inherently a big part of a dog's nature.

9 Ways to Improve your Relationship with your Dog · The Wildest

May I recommend this book? Bonding with Your Dog: A Trainer's Secrets for Building a Better Relationship eBook Kobo Edition | www.chapters.indigo.ca
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Just my thoughts - consider how much time you spend playing with your dog?
Your dad, in your dog's eyes, is the 'fun' guy, while he still has rules, it sounds as if he spends the majority of his time playing with the dog, doing things the dog enjoys doing. While, yes, dogs do need training, and learning should be fun for them - we should be as forgiving of their mistakes as they are of ours - but play is inherently a big part of a dog's nature.

9 Ways to Improve your Relationship with your Dog · The Wildest

May I recommend this book? Bonding with Your Dog: A Trainer's Secrets for Building a Better Relationship eBook Kobo Edition | www.chapters.indigo.ca
Your probably right.

As for how much time i play with him. Depends. Lately when I take him out it's a mix decompression walks were I just let him do anything from digging, sniffing to picking up rocks.

Or it's a play session of 15 to 20 minutes after a training session.

With my dad it's always playtime when he takes him out. Always off leash on a field. Our dog barks endlessly in the car and if my dad leaves during any time other than leaving for work, he gets restless. Safe to say he has seperation anxiety with my dad.

We both take him out for around an hour and we alternate taking him out. Each of us get 3 or 4 days with him a week.



The reason I train everyday is because they don't train him or do anything at all on the mental stimulation side of things. I've done the majority of the training since the beginning other than when we attended training sessions together
 

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Perhaps consider what might happen if you skipped the 'training sessions' on occasion and just focused on 'play' and simply 'capturing' (mark and reward) -reinforcing behaviors you like for a day? We all need a day off from 'work' on occasion, to refresh and regroup, process what we have learned and simply relax, our dogs can benefit from a 'day off' a 'brain break' too.
Learning happens all the time not just during formal 'training' sessions, every time we notice and reward (say 'Thank you') our dog for offering behaviors we like, we are essentially - teaching them and reinforcing them for choosing those behaviors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Perhaps consider what might happen if you skipped the 'training sessions' on occasion and just focused on 'play' and simply 'capturing' (mark and reward) -reinforcing behaviors you like for a day? We all need a day off from 'work' on occasion, to refresh and regroup, process what we have learned and simply relax, our dogs can benefit from a 'day off' a 'brain break' too.
Learning happens all the time not just during formal 'training' sessions, every time we notice and reward (say 'Thank you') our dog for offering behaviors we like, we are essentially - teaching them and reinforcing them for choosing those behaviors.
I'll try going out for just pure play sessions. To be honest I thought the decompression walks on the long line were sufficient in that regard. He loves digging stuff up.

Do you think I should have days off where I don't do any formal training at all? Usually even if I go out with no intention of training, I end up doing it while in the house. I usually do formal training 6 days of the week.

And as it is its hard for me to get reactivity training with people or dogs in just because my dad also takes him out, and I usually have to pick days where he's been relatively calm. So I end up actually only getting 1 or 2 sessions of doing a pure ds/cc session. Even though I do take the opportunity to do a quick one if for example, there's someone outside when I bring him out to potty.
 

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Do you think I should have days off where I don't do any formal training at all? Usually even if I go out with no intention of training, I end up doing it while in the house. I usually do formal training 6 days of the week.
I think it is an option worth exploring, they can suffer from 'information overload' and need some time to process it all, nor different than people.

I have a reactive pup, and I do find that giving him a 'day off' (or even two in a row) really helps him to 'reset' (destress - for his body to relax and a chance for the stress hormones to dissipate), calm himself emotionally, so that when I do return to (very short) 'focused' sessions, whether on walks or at home, he is in a 'better place' mentally, not so quick to react, and much more able to 'take in' and process what I am trying to teach him.
 

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I'm aware he has the better temperament.

It's just hard to believe its the only reason and it completely outweighs the hours of training I put in to reactivity training where as he's put none in comparison and done things specifically advised against by trainers.
Confidence can go a long way toward overcoming training shortfalls. Dogs are amazingly sensitive to our emotions, so if we are calm, they learn to be calm. Likewise, if we are excitable, nervous or timid, they often either take up the job of 'defending' us or become very nervous themselves (or sometimes both).

It should also be said that the advice given by trainers, even if it's excellent advice for general circumstances or the behaviours that the trainer observes during sessions, may not be the best thing to do in the moment. You'll usually get the best result if you're able to adapt to working with the dog in front of you. For a reactive dog, this could mean running away, sitting and watching at a safe distance, or distracting them with something fun. They will tell you what they need if you learn to listen. There's a huge learning curve with this, both with being able to interpret the dog's signals and in having the right techniques in your toolbox to respond, and I wouldn't expect you to have it down pat as a first time dog owner.

I wouldn't give up on working with your dog entirely. While your father's approach may work because of his personality, it will benefit your dog to learn enough confidence to be independent of him too.

It may also help to incorporate the training into your play sessions. I've found a game of fetch is the perfect opportunity to reinforce basic commands: the reward is that you throw the ball. Two balls also helps - you can practice 'Drop It' on the return and throw the other as soon as they do for an immediate reward. Eventually, the ball drop becomes automatic.
 

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Also, a piece of it may be more to do with the environment and "chaining." I have an acquaintance for example who is dealing with reactivity after a bad encounter. Know what happened after they changed their walking gear [for unrelated reasons]? The reactivity noticeably improved. The dog had chained the negative experience with wearing that particular harness, hence they were already feeling stressed/on alert when walking out the door. Something to consider.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Also, a piece of it may be more to do with the environment and "chaining." I have an acquaintance for example who is dealing with reactivity after a bad encounter. Know what happened after they changed their walking gear [for unrelated reasons]? The reactivity noticeably improved. The dog had chained the negative experience with wearing that particular harness, hence they were already feeling stressed/on alert when walking out the door. Something to consider.
Interesting

We have multiple harnesses for some reason, 4 or 5 at least. But I do use the same leash. Also, my dad uses the same equipment as me

Also one more thing. I wonder if it's because whenever I take him out, it's always on leash? I don't use the car, so I end up walking to wherever I want to bring him. This leads to more encounters with dogs on and frustatingly, off leash. So even during the few times I have him off leash and he encounters a dog, he still reacts aggressively because he's associated that feeling of being unable to escape with me. (Though I still have his leash on when he's off leash in case I need to grab him not sure how that could impact things though since there's no tension)

As opposed to my dad, who uses the car then sets him off leash. So the majority of the dog encounters he has with my dad are off leash where he can at least run away (though not the case when he brought him to the dog park when he was younger as described in my first post)

And interestingly enough, I had him off leash the other day and we had just finished a session of fetch. A dog came near. Both stared at each other for a bit, and this is usually the point he reacts, but he ran up to the dog instead and started acting very rude. Was constantly sniffing the dogs behind and had a fast and high tail wag (which ik is not a good thing) but at least he wasn't growling or lunging. I had to call him away from the dog because the poor guy was overwhelmed not liking the interaction at all, he only listened after the dog started moving away though..

Anyways, could also be because it was a smaller dog and he's less reactive with those, and he's been reactive off leash in the past so it's not something I'm willing to test again.

Maybe I'm grasping. But it's heavily discouraging that ALL it comes down to is temperament despite all the work I put in with ds/cc and none my dad has put in. So I really want there to at least be a few other explanations..
 

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This was a long posts and each of your subjects would normally warrant a detailed response; I'll try and touch on each. You will meet folks are diehard proponents of one side or another .. often the truth lies some where in between. For example...

"Dogs are like wolves so they must be fed a raw diet" ... science tells us that both today's wolves and today's dogs have a common ancestor a prehistoric wolf. Due to ages of hanging around early man, they evolved to process starches and grains . It shouldn't be the bulk of their diet but they do tolerate and in some ways benefit from them.

"Dogs are not like wolves because they do not display typical pack behaviors" ... and yet don't dogs display protective behaviors, and show emotional attachments to their inter-species families ? This behavior is exhibited by dogs in inter-species families as they very quickly recognize who they are dependent on. You won't change this behavior by attempting to force your will on them, you change it by making them understand who they depend on.

The other side of that coin is that what works on one dog may not work on others, especially dogs of different breeds. Breeds vary as much in behavioral tendencies as they do in appearance. Listen to all the advice you can gather, pick the one that seems right, try it and see how well it works... if disappointed in the results try something else.

When bringing a dog into the home, we immediately begin "sharing" responsibilities. The younger the dog the easier this is. With a young dog, everyone from the oldest to the youngest participates in the feeding. Hand feeding is done to teach the pup to be gentle. Bowl feeding involves requiring them to do a task before they are fed. Feeding also involves, early on, giving the dog a small amount, picking up the bowl when empty and then giving them more, teaching that there's more where that came from. Then pick up the bowl before they finish. Of course on must make adjustments for older dogs and large dogs.

The drop issue, grab an broken old leash or a rope and play with the dog. If he won't give it up, wait till he walks away from it, pick it up and take him for a walk associating the walk with the old leash / tug toy by clipping carrying it of clipping it to his collar.

Your dad is of larger physical stature ? How does your posture with respect to considence compare to that of your dad ? You dad was in charge of feeding at least early on ? Your dad is more insistent not giving up as easy when there's a clash of wills ? Who crates / uncrates the dog ?

I trained and took care of security dogs for 4 years at a day camp across from where I lived. I knew the dogs from working there early on but then was not responsible for feeding them, chaining them or placing them inn the kennels. If i went near them while feeding, being chaoned or kenneled they'd lunge at me.... running free they were fine. Every now and then the dogs would venture into our neighborhood, sending groups of teenagers running. Since I was usually around, I drive after them, open the car door and they'd jump right in ... they loved car rides. On the down side, they more often than not would refuse to get out of the car... grabbing the dominant males collar and pulling was responded to his mouth on my arm and a growl... when I let go, he let go. Knowing I'd be the loser in a battle of wills. I asked the proprietor to let me bring them their food and in the am and to kennel them after pm feeding. Over time, I didn't need to use food / rewards to get them to do what I wanted, they recognized the proprietor and myself as the people who provided for their needs and the quid pro quo that that entailed.

A dogs's recativity to other dogs will be greater if he fears you are not capable of protecting him. Walk with an erect stance, no slumping shoulders or looking at the ground. When visitinga dog park, always start in observation mode. Go with your Dad, let him keep the dog on the leash and watch YOU go into the park and talk to the owners, mix with the other dogs. Do this a few times and sk one of the regulars to meet you during not busy hours where it will be lass stressful, you go inside and meet one or the two owners up by the entrance, ... gradually move towards the fence where he can see you. Come out again and stand with your dog as they smell each other thru the fence.

Desensitize your dog on walks by never backing away from an approaching dog / owner .. maintain posture and keeping your dog on the left while turning right placing you between the dog and yours. turn to the right . From your description, your dd, though somewhat anxious please the dog, he maintsains an air of confidence ... you OTOH sometimes become emotional and that's creating anxiety in the dog.

When meeting other dogs at first, make the encounter short. If neither is acting aggressive, counto to 3 or 5 and move on. Next meet, linger a little longer. Another useful tactic would be to walk the dog with your dad... when meeting another dog say across the street, have yoiur dad hold your dog and you walk over and greet the owner and their dog. Your Dad's presence will calm him and seeing you walking over and interacting with the owner and their dog will make him less fearful of them and more confident in your ability to keep him safe.
 

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There's a couple of issues in that reply that we would caution against.

Then pick up the bowl before they finish
This is how resource guarding starts. The dog learns to fear his food will be taken away, so he starts guarding it. That's not even unreasonable, if someone tried to take my food I'd have words with them too.

Desensitize your dog on walks by never backing away from an approaching dog / owner
If you were nervous of, say, snakes and I didn't allow you to take a detour around one on a path and insisted you carry on towards it regardless, how do you think you would feel? You wouldn't be any more confident about snakes, and your trust relationship with me would be damaged. Turning and walking away is exactly what we suggest with reactive dogs; not only to avoid a confrontation but also to show the dog you are listening to him and acknowledging his concerns.
 
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