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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Stella has been doing great on her reactivity to other dogs. She's made a good deal of progress, and though we still have a lot of work to do I'm really proud of her.

But in the past two weeks? I don't know wtf is wrong with her. Stella has always been the most love-everyone dog you'd ever want to meet. She's happily gone up to people of all ages, races, and people in wheelchairs too with no fear and just friendliness. She never minded people walking toward us, away from us or running or biking by. But the past two weeks she's reacted badly to about 5 people. Some of it might've been getting startled be a guy running past and someone opening the door to their house, but she just started being reactive to some woman in a store who had pet her and was talking nice, and someone else that saw her and waved after Stella wagged and walked towards her. And she flipped out at a jogger that she totally saw coming.

I don't know what to do sometimes. It seems everything I do is pointless. Sometimes I look at her and don't know how she was the same puppy that I (and other trainers) thought would make a perfect therapy dog. Now I'm just hoping for her to be a freaking nice dog. I just want to cry. :(
 

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How old is Stella?

Have you been to the vet to get her checked out, specifically her thyroid?

Is she spayed?

Anything been happening that could have her a bit on edge? Things like bad weather, fireworks, construction, change in living environment?

I know how frustrating it can be to have a dog react negatively to people. Zody does so and sometimes it's so random. I'll be out and he'll react to someone he was fine with being near all week. I knew what I was getting into when I got him, I hate that you thought you had gotten a nice, non-reactive, dog and she has blindsided you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
She'll be 2 in 2 weeks and she was spayed when she was 2 months old.

The next door neighbor was actually having his roof redone today and I think we heard some fire crackers going off when we started our walk tonight. So maybe that is part of it...

It does feel like I've been blindsided. I mean I know it's totally different because she's an animal but it feels like marrying someone you think is the love and your life and then finding out a year or two later they have raging Bipolar Disorder. I feel kind of lied to. She's definitely the same dog and still does love about 97% of everyone she comes in contact with but...*sigh* I feel like such a pathetic excuse of a dog trainer and even a bad dog owner. I just get so mad at her and really sad because I had her and thought she was going to be that dog I could take everywhere...because I'm typically really lonely and don't get out much. But I can't do that now so I either have to just stay home with her or leave her with my mom and she gets antsy and under exercised. I mean I can still take her to the regular park or walks and stuff but no dog park, and no big dog events like pet expos or fundraisers for animal shelters like I love to go to. She isn't THAT bad, but just...I'm scared of her getting worse.
 

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I just want to say I'm sorry you're feeling sad, and that Stella has had a rough couple of weeks, I'm sure that isn't fun for her or you. :(

Heidi isn't reactive, but she can be very controlling of other dogs. Some dogs she runs happily with, and then others she's snapping, herding, and stalking. I know it's her Border Collie nature, but I feel bad when people look at me like I brought this mean thing out and about, especially since I have goofball Levi, who is a dream dog. Heidi and Levi were raised identically, socialized, puppy classes etc, so I expected her to turn out pretty similar to him. I know it's not quite the same, but I did feel pretty surprised by her outbursts, and continue to be surprised when out of no where, she's snapping at a dog she was just playing with 5 minutes earlier.
 

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She'll be 2 in 2 weeks and she was spayed when she was 2 months old.

The next door neighbor was actually having his roof redone today and I think we heard some fire crackers going off when we started our walk tonight. So maybe that is part of it...

It does feel like I've been blindsided. I mean I know it's totally different because she's an animal but it feels like marrying someone you think is the love and your life and then finding out a year or two later they have raging Bipolar Disorder. I feel kind of lied to. She's definitely the same dog and still does love about 97% of everyone she comes in contact with but...*sigh* I feel like such a pathetic excuse of a dog trainer and even a bad dog owner. I just get so mad at her and really sad because I had her and thought she was going to be that dog I could take everywhere...because I'm typically really lonely and don't get out much. But I can't do that now so I either have to just stay home with her or leave her with my mom and she gets antsy and under exercised. I mean I can still take her to the regular park or walks and stuff but no dog park, and no big dog events like pet expos or fundraisers for animal shelters like I love to go to. She isn't THAT bad, but just...I'm scared of her getting worse.
It could be age kicking in and her adult personality coming out, that doesn't mean you cannot work with her to help her do better though.

I was kind of hoping that she wasn't spayed because she might have been coming into heat and acting cranky because of it, some female dogs do, but that's out.

Since the change in behavior happened suddenly it really might be worth talking to your vet about.

You're not a failure as a trainer or dog owner! You just got dealt a dog that needs more help then a laid back one. I do know how frustrating it can be though, Zody keeps me on my toes and I've looked at him and wished I had a dog that I didn't have to be hyper vigilant with, I've looked at other people's friendly dogs and thought why can't he be like that. It got better when I realized that he needs my help, and I can help him, I learned to not take his reaction personally and to ignore the ignorant comments and the dirty looks. He's my boy and we're working through his problems.

Have you checked out Care for Reactive Dogs and the FB group Reactive Dogs? Both have really helped me work with Zody and he's doing a lot better then he was.
 
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Aww, read your post and just want to hug you over the computer! Honestly, sometimes there is just so much you can do....sometimes, it has to do with more genetic issues than people realize, with differences even within the litter. It makes for a more challenging situation for you, but it's not hopeless and your preseverance will pay off.

Do any dog training schools in your area have a day training program? A lot of owners swear by it. It's kinda like a dog daycare (but usually only up to 6 dogs at a time) and there will be training, tricks learning, etc in a classroom environment. The important piece is that dogs play and learn in a supervised and structured environment with other dogs present in the room. I have been dropping my boy off for a few hours each week since he was a puppy...it's helped him though adolescent fear periods, learning to share with other dogs, etc. (we are a one dog household, so this was invaluable to me, as I couldn't have provided him this atmosphere myself).
 

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Tracie,

Have you considered adding another dog, one adopted as an adult so you already know what kind of personality you're getting, one that can go anywhere? I myself think that I'm fortunate to have more than one dog because they do interact with each other in different ways than they interact with me.

I do think that if the changes you are talking about have all come about in only two weeks, maybe a vet visit might be good. She might have something going on that makes her grumpy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
@Turtle11 I can't afford day training. I can barely afford the $200 I paid for 3 sessions of remedial socialization/reactivity training that I signed up for. I live in a really expensive part of the country and I'm pretty sure day training would cost something like $80-$150 a day. Not only that but I feel really bad about myself even talking to trainers because I am a certified dog trainer...I see people who graduated from the same class as me last year with their own businesses now or jobs as trainers and I can't even train Stella properly. :( This is a huge part of the problem. Despite my efforts to separate it I see Stella failing and my struggling as immense personal failure and I'm extremely humiliated in front of other trainers I ask for help.
@Lucille I cannot afford another dog either, nor deal with the responsibility of another right now. Stella and I do live with my mom and her little dog Tyrion however, and if there are ever any really big events I want to bring a dog to I can bring Tyrion. It's just that he can't walk for very long and I have to carry him most of the time. He doesn't walk well on a leash either and only taught him 5 commands (sit, down, his name/come, touch, spin) and my mom's extent of training him is "paw" with his right leg only. I have definitely thought the next dog I get is going to be a really personable, laid back adult. I really did bite off more than I could chew with Stella, and I didn't even realize that's what I was doing at the time. I just thought I would have be more more active to exercise her (which I have done), but it turned out to be a lot more. Hopefully it was more of a fluke the past two weeks. She met a stranger today and was her happy, waggy self.
 

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At about 2 I started to notice more of Pax's fears and sensitivities start to come out which can result in him be reactive in different ways than when he was a puppy...and things that he was reactive to as a puppy no longer phase him.

Seems like they are just becoming more aware and sensitive to their surrounding and environment as they start to mature. At that age it is like going from teenage years to adulthood...and I know when that happened to me the world got a whole lot scarier!
 

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Fwiw good trainers do work with or train with others be it classes, workshops, seminars, etc....even seek advice of others regarding personal dogs...

I've been teaching 4 years now and regularly attend group classes, take privates, etc. I know other trainers (including some big names who train with each other, have each other look at vids, etc.) You can learn alot via books and other sources but there is nothing like another set of eyes, especially experienced/skilled. So, so important as a trainer as we otherwise often train alone. Just like anyone else, we develop bad habits and don't always see what we're doing wrong! Just don't get better or learn if we also aren't learning from others!

So really, don't stress about possibly needing help!;)

Iirc you're NJ or somewhere over there correct? Pam Dennison is in NJ. Check out REWARD Zone. Quite affordable as far as multiday workshops go. I've gone 3 times (also had a couple privates with her and attended a couple other workshops with other trainers she hosted) . She's great! so funny but She is direct and will let you know when you screw up handling/training wise. That's not always fun but it's important feedback and helps to really nail these skills with reactive and aggressive dogs. Just a resource for you to consider, plus REWARD Zone gives a nice # of CEU's!
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I feel really bad about myself even talking to trainers because I am a certified dog trainer.
For many of my working years I was a school nurse. You have NO idea what sorts of challenges that can entail- kids shoving beans in their ear right next to their eardrum, snakes brought to school in backpacks (yes, it was decided that was part of my job description:), all manner of diseases and injuries. We nurses were always calling each other to see whether one of our buddies had run across whatever we were dealing with that day that was new to us. And all of us were licensed Registered Nurses. It never occurred to me to feel bad about doing that. I can tell you that no where no how was the subject of snakes in backpacks taught in nursing school.
My point is that every profession has professionals calling on each other for help and ideas.
 

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Damn, you and Pax have me worried about Delilah now- she's going to be approaching that age soon!

I agree that you should consult with another trainer- that's what I did with Delilah. I feel like I'm in the same boat as you. Despite my experience working with dogs professionally, I feel like I'm in way over my head with her, and can't do dog sports or offleash hiking which was why I wanted a dog in the first place. Sometimes it makes me really sad and I'm trying to focus on loving her for who she is, and not who I wanted her to be. But I'm glad I did a private consult with a trainer, it's really helpful having an outsider's perspective and guidance!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks everyone. I really appreciate all the input. The other day it might've just been a bad night. Typically I do have pretty good control over her and she IS still a sweet dog. We're going to another training/socialization session on Tuesday and I think it'll help. Tonight also helped lift my spirits. We went to the park and there were several other dogs we passed of various breeds and sizes, and even one of them was reactive and kind of nasty but Stella didn't bark once. :) And she only growled a teeny bit at a woman who was lying on her stomach on the grass with sunglasses on. But I was able to pull her away easily. She also had a great time playing with some kids and doing tricks for them. She did get a bit overexcited a few times but it wasn't that bad.

Also yesterday this popped up on my newsfeed on facebook and it was just...just what I needed to hear you know? It made me tear up a lot. It's about disappointment with the dog you have.

On Expectations And Disappointments: Love The One You’re With – Dr. Jen's Dog Blog
 
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