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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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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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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.

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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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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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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.

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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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
I doubt it is all temperament. It probably is a lot of things coming together. Dad is Mr. Fun where pretty much nothing bad happens and has his own schedule, expectations, and experiences built in. So, when you think of it like that, not so surprising; right?

That's the thing though, bad things did happen with my dad, and he was the one to introduce our pup to dogs in the first place.

When our dog was displaying reactivity for the first few months, my dad brought him to the dog park nearly everyday for weeks to "socialize" him.

Except our dog showed all the signs of "shutting down". When he couldnt move away because other owners wouldnt call their dogs, he would just stand there with his Tail tucked, body hunched and close to my dad, not moving, when he couldn't escape friendly dogs sniffing or wanting to play with him, and those were the "good interactions". Not even getting into the many bad interactions he had with aggressive dogs chasing him where he had to run away. Almost the equivalent of "flooding" basically.

It took weeks before our dog started showing the faintest of interest with the friendly dogs where he would sniff back. By some miracle it developed into him displaying friendly language to the point he would go back to the dogs that stopped chasing him if they were doing it in a playful manner. Now, he sometimes runs up to dogs, seemingly gauding then to chase him, or he just sniffs them constantly. Rudely perhaps, but not aggression.

My point is that my dad gets away with ignoring our dogs body language. I've never forced interactions and move away at the sign of uncomfortability, and in general do a better job at respecting our dogs body language.

And this was also the first 6 months of us having him? So the bond wasn't nearly as strong when this stuff happened since we didn't do as much vigorous play back then due to his young age.

I guess that's the "surprising" part.

I should also note our dog is still reactive with my dad, just noticeably less so. He's reactive in our neighborhood, and outside of it he has been reactive with my dad on leash. It's been a while since he's taken him outside of our neighborhood for a walk and not using the car though.

Maybe to bump your training up, try a multi-pronged approach. I'm immensely fond of Kikopup's "Check It Out" game/video. There is also the game by a trainer who's name escapes me atm, who has a game similar to Kikopup's. However, the timing and handler involvement is different. It boils down to making little changes to the environment and rewarding the dog for showing initiative to investigate. You as the handler DO NOT encourage the dog to check the oddity out. You reward them for ALREADY showing their OWN initiative in exploring. For example, I laid the vacuum down on it's side and then "cheated" by placing treats on and around it--removing my presence from the equation as much as possible while still observing. When my girl explored it on her own, she discovered "good things." Small and random as it is, it helps build optimism, independence, and confidence.
Ah yeah, I've heard of a similar method and it had a name that escapes me atm. One thing though, from a distance my dog sometimes has a tendency to stare at a dog or person, especially if they are the lone person in a vacant area. So if I were to start moving in the direction of what they're staring at, they would keep moving toward it, keeping up the gaze. If I move away they are still staring, not wanting to move and I have to redirect him somehow.

I've never actually tested what happens if we just kept going towards the source of his gaze. But since I know he's reactive and his body language is rigid I've never taken it further. The thing is he has the same rigid body language when he sees the kids he likes in the neighborhood and when he sees a stranger. I only find out if its friendly or not if I go close enough and I'll either see a high tail raise or a friendly tail wag.

So according to this method.. should I just follow him when he's like that since he's showing "interest"?

Also, placing the treats near something he's uncomfortable with.. at what point does that cross into "bribery" territory? Seems like the line is a bit blurred.

Which brings me to another point. What is the timing of your cc/dc sessions generally? Are the treats for looking but being calm? Not looking? Looking but then looking at you? Are you focusing in place or moving? Timing can radically change things.
So, I use my marker word when he looks at a dog or person, and then he looks back at me, and I reward.

This is the method that I've incorporated as instructed by my trainer.

Only the past month or two I've also been trying to see him make the right choice, looking back at me or elsewhere, ignoring the dog when he sees them, and I reward.

I do a combination of both moving and in place.

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
One could argue your dad did a badly run Constructional Aggression Treatment (CAT), authored by Kellie
Snider and Dr. Jesus Rosales-Ruiz. I'm skeptical of it, but I do think it has its values when facing unconventional dogs. But I do urge you to read the proper author(s) works.

Just because you can get away with something doesn't mean you ought. Personally, I'd try to focus his attention on me while moving forward. If we can, take a side route. But I've used spinning in a circle with a short leash and jogging before. So, for example, if we need to go towards something he is keying in on, we're gonna jog and play a jog-heel-jog game. If we are at a corner yard with another example, for experience, while we do it whenever the attention wanders, we're suddenly doing tight spins. But that is me.

He seems to key in visually. Is hearing part of it? But either way, how about practicing for success, getting him in "the groove" with something less stimulating?

He's not for everyone, but Zak George's video series "reality dog training" can make you feel better--that even pros can have challenges and make mistakes.

And the name I couldn't remember from earlier is Julie Andrews.
When we have nowhere to go and have no choice but to pass the dog/human, I do something similar but I already have the treat out, and he just stares at it and ignores whatever we pass by until he gets it. I dont think it would work otherwise. Do you think this is advisable? Running/jogging does seem to do the trick when getting his attention and we are trying to move away. I haven't tried it when we are passing a likely reactive source though.

Not sure I understand what you mean when you're asking if hearing is a part of it?

Great video btw. It reminded me to refine my technique a bit more since sometimes I'm not quick enough on the draw, or wait too long for him to look back at me.

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
For some dogs, just hearing the jingle of keys or dog tags is enough to make them hyper-alert. I was asking whether this applied to him, or if hearing but not seeing was enough to keep him under the threshold.

I would advise trying to combine them--hold out the treat while jogging/running past. If you can make it stinky like sardines or dried sprat, bonus points imo. I've also seen people do that, but dog starts huffing, they about turn, backtrack, then about turn and approach again.
Honestly, it depends. When we are outside, if we pass by a house with a dog barking but he doesn't see them, he'll be a bit spooked, maybe looking around for the source, but he won't react. If it's far away, he'll be alert, but nothing where his body language is rigid or anything.

He doesn't like the sound of dog tags though, and will react. The sound only really comes from our neighborhood dog next door but if he hears another dog tag he'll react.

We've been using the running away method lately.

Not sure if it's coincidence but he's been moving away with his tail tucked more often with some dogs (most of the time off leash and/or large) moving towards us.

I mean, at least it's not a reactive episode? I can't tell just yet, but possibly this behaviour of moving away is starting to replace staring then having an episode? Again, not sure. But I do feel like before he would have just stared and be on the verge of reacting in some of the instances weve had lately.

Some of these off leash dogs end up following us despite us creating a fair distance. One time a dog came out of nowhere rushing up to me just focused on my bag of treats, i let go off my dog was nervous initially (tail tucked) but then he just ended up sniffing the dog and around him while I waited for this dogs owner. Eventually the dog chased mine and it looked like how he's chased when my dad is with him and encounters another dog hm.

Again, not ideal, but a month something similar happened and this dog was only a few meters away as well unlike the other encounter. but he reacted and I had to grab ahold of his leash.

Ive been doing more c/ds training lately, and maybe things are improving, if by an infinitesimal amount.

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
I'm glad to hear you've managed to find a route toward fewer reactive episodes.

With regards to running away, have you tried turning it into a game? Teaching rapid direction changes / switch and run (without other dogs around) could improve confidence by helping to dissociate the behaviour from 'running away' and instead turn it into the 'chase-my-person game', which can then become a tool to teach approaching other dogs (by rapid switching directions back and forth while gradually getting closer to the scary thing).
No I haven't but I should. Your definitely right. I ahad some concerns to begin with regarding "teaching" him to be more scared of the dog by using the method, especially when we see a dog coming towards us with no escape than to turn back or pass through and he's not even at the stages of being reactive yet. But that would relieve said concerns.
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