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Hi, I'm having a problem with my reactive dog. My s/o and I have been taking her out of our condominium complex in our car, because she's a handful. I sit in the back seat with her and keep her from barking by holding her head. Then we walk her out on the street, which is usually a calm environment for her.

Well. I am gradually deciding that I can't be in the car with him any more because his reaction time just is not there. I would not want her in the car with him either. But If I walk her out the gate, that exposes her to lots of triggers, and I would rather protect her from triggers.

I did manage to teach her to sit and accept a treat while people walk by, out on the sidewalk, and not bark. But in the complex it's harder, because it's not a safe neighborhood, and she is very aware.

I'm not sure what to do. I don't have a car, it is his car.
 

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Couple of questions:

- how old is the dog and how old was she when you got her?
- has she been around other dogs much?
- have you been to see a trainer?

On the surface of it, it sounds like she is probably anxious and hyper alert. Training and socializing around other dogs/people will help.

My first knee-jerk reaction would be to think that trying to "protect" her from the triggers is going to continue to either reinforce this behaviour or possibly make it worse. If it were my dog I would spend time exposing her to the triggers in a controlled manner in order to desensitize her to them. That, however, requires that you be in a calm frame of mind about the triggers too. The more nervous you are, the more nervous the dog is going to be. It's pretty much that simple.

My second impulse would be to suggest to get her into group training with other dogs. That will get her used to being around other dogs and other people while she (and you) learn skills that will pay back down the line.
 

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Someone on this site gave me great advice for reactive dogs. Look up counter conditioning online. It really really helped me with my boy.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hi dogslife,


We thinks she was 2 years old. The shelter said 4, but we thought she acted like she was still puppy-like. So we don't know her history, but we know she's had puppies. We think she was probably kept in a yard by herself and used for breeding. When she came in our house, she didn't know what anything was. She jumped up to see what the kitchen sink was, and she barked at the laundry room. If anything is out of order, she barks at it. That doesn't happen too often.


We can't afford a trainer, but these are good suggestions, thank you.
 

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Counterconditioning Reactive Dogs

Someone on this site gave me great advice for reactive dogs. Look up counter conditioning online. It really really helped me with my boy.
@Sydneybear, are you talking here about my posts that I wrote to you on the forum about counter conditioning reactive dogs?

I remember we both shared posts about helping your dog Max--- and you said how much it helped him! But--- I remember you were very diligent about practicing and truly working with your dog, which is so incredibly helpful for longterm success!!!

Here is just one of my posts aboutthis topic:

Try counterconditioning Max to dogs at a distance he can handle

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sydneybear
Then a random dog fight happened pretty close to us as we were leaving the park one time and it scared him soooo much. He has totally regressed, he sees dogs now and he barks and barks and doesn’t stop. When he is like this there is no distracting him, I carry really yummy smelly treats in my pockets and he could care less if he sees a dog around.
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My reply:

I am guessing that like you believe, Max was indeed traumatized by the scary close up dog fight he witnessed! Seems very possible. Dogs get PTSD, just like humans. We certainly don't get over our trauma exposure very quickly right? Dog fights are scary to me, too!

The good news? Since you were already working with him on his reactivity to other dogs, I am betting you can get Max back on track with a little work and lots of patience and understanding. (Which it sounds like you have)

I like to hear that you carry yummy training treats with you when you are out with Sir Max!!! Good job!

If it were me and my dog, I would do lots and lots and lots of counterconditioning (CC) with my dog-- while seeing dogs at a DISTANCE!!!! We have done lots of this and it really, really helps with dog reactivity... and all fears.

And as you know, and have recently seen with Max, dogs don't (or cannot) eat when they are fearful or afraid or highly nervous. So If you are doing CC and your dog won't accept your treats, remember, you are too close! Give your dog distance from the other dog, even if it means hiding behind a car or bush or crossing the street so that you can work at a below threshold point.

I gauge the dog's comfortable distance by if my dogs can a) take a treat and b) do a trick or command for me while seeing another dog c)not reacting or barking

So maybe instead of walking where you may randomly run into another dog that may end up getting too close for Max to handle, perhaps set him up for success with your CC.

You could, for example, sit in the parking lot of a pet store, way away from the front door, and wait for dogs to go in and out of the store... and practice CC. Or sit outside a dog park (if enclosed) at a distance and practice. Or get in your car and park somewhere that people walk their dogs, and practice CC from inside your car. (I have done countless hours of this CC car training game of "Where's the doggie?" with much success!!!)

We have a local dog restaurant here that is fenced and lets dogs play off leash. I take my Gracie dog there and practice CC. BUT---we only do it outside the place! I sit relaxed on a rock there with her and together we watch the dogs playing and barking and running...and the whole time I talk to her about the dogs and I give her amazing treats. But we do not go inside at all. She would not be cool with that--too overwhelming for her. But great for CC!

Anyway, maybe you can be creative and find places to go with Max pup and show him with food and love and lots of CC that seeing dogs is wonderful!
 

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Progress with reactive dogs!

Someone on this site gave me great advice for reactive dogs.

Look up counter conditioning online. It really really helped me with my boy.

Here is an excerpt from our thread on this forum about helping dogs who are reactive to other dogs....
My posts are under the screen name AthenaLove and I have written tons on this forum about counter conditioning dogs to all sorts of things!

The entire "reactive dog" thread:
https://www.dogforum.com/dog-training-behavior/fear-dogs-364263/
Fear of Dogs, and started by @Sydneybear


Sydneybear and I are both using counter conditioning here to help our dogs. Here is a success report that may help others to become inspired to go do some counter conditioning with their reactive dogs!


Huge deal!

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Quote: Originally Posted by Sydneybear

The fact I could actually have a conversation with a person who had a dog with them and not have to talk over Max’s barking was awesome lol

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My reply:

I totally know what you mean! I remember always thinking this (and still do at times!!) when I would get to be close enough to another dog and owner with my Gracie dog where I could actually chat with the owner!! And hear them! Such a big deal for us with reactive dogs!!

Many times now I ask someone we see randomly on a walk if we can practice for a few minutes with both their dog and mine. I tell them my dog is afraid of other dogs getting too close, so can we practice at a bit of a distance. I tell them explicitly that I do NOT want to introduce the dogs up close or let them sniff.

I ask if I can share my treats with their dog. If they say yes (and many people do) then I position my dog at a distance where she is not reacting and I then dole out the treats for both dogs. I toss the treats to the other dog, not hand them directly if we need that distance between us. We start further out, then I ask her if she wants to go closer to the other dog. She will definitely let me know when we are too close--if so, we just back up until she relaxes.
You'd be surprised at how many people are willing to help if you ask.

Did you get to practice any more counterconditioning this weekend?
 
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