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Discussion Starter #1
My dog is slowly improving with the reactivity - very slowly.
She has gotten to the point that now she won't bark and lunge at a passing motorcyclist, unless it's very loud and very close.

But my neighbors continue to be a problem. One set of neighbors is temporarily controlled due to fear of the police I suppose, but another
one is being annoying now.

It's my upstairs neighbor who lives over me. This afternoon I made sure I let him know I would be giving my dog cookies when I bring her outside (because it keeps her from barking), and that I would take her around to the passenger side of the car where she could not see him (in order to get her into the car to take her out for a walk). Everything was nice and fine.

Then this evening, when I brought her back from another walk, we pulled into our parking space (it's right in front of the stairwell), and there's a drug customer in the stairwell, and a cat, and then the upstairs neighbor comes down, walks right by our car while yelling at someone in the driveway.

Of course she barked. We ended up yelling at her, pulling on her head harness leash, then I got out of the car. He was sitting in a car with a friend out in the road - while they were looking at me like I was the bad guy.

I did not put her thundercap on because it's just so hot right now - it's 102 degrees even after dark. I waited until they were gone to even let her out of hot car.

I guess this neighbor has the same lack of consideration all the rest of them do.

I guess I'm just going to have to back the car out and drive around the block any time I see any kind of commotion going on at all in my stairwell - even if there is anybody coming in and out at all.
What would you recommend?

Thanks....
 

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Discussion Starter #2
So what I already do, to get her in and out of the stairwell, is:

1. go outside and unlock my car.
2. Come back in, get her rigged up in both her hard pulling harness, her head harness, and her thundercap.
3. Have my s/o then go back outside and do a perimeter check of the stairwell.
4. Then he comes back in, gives us the ok, and then we all go outside together. I will usually grab her collar anyway just to be safe.

Often my neighbors right across from me, will have lots of friends suddenly appear right after step 1, and we discover it during step 3.

Now it's the guy over me who is doing it.

So I guess what I need to do, is never take her out if he or any of his friends are anywhere around, because I must now assume he or they will do something stupid. I guess I will now have to do the passive aggressive thing and sit in the stairwell until people leave the area.

Maybe we need to leave the front door unlocked until she is in the car, so that if we are halfway to the car, and somebody suddenly appears, I can freely take her right back in the apartment. Then if we are past the halfway point to the car, I would have to just keep going and get her in.

Lordy, I wish I lived in a house in the country, with a big fenced yard. I especially did not appreciate this neighbor's friend sleeping in the stairwell 3 feet from my front door, then saying something about about how my dog looks vicious because she was wearing a muzzle. My solution to that was for him to get out of my stairwell and not sleep there again. That happened a week ago.

I don't know what else to do - I can't ask any of them to change their behavior on her behalf, even though they behave stupidly, so I have to take even more extreme precautions.

So if I even see anybody coming in and out, I will either take her right back in if I can, or if approaching in my car, just drive around the block until they are gone. Even though she does behave herself if I do all these things:


  • give her cookies
  • hold her collar
  • put on the thundercap when it's not quite so hot
It still does not prevent people from yelling right outside the car, then being all upset that omg she's a mean dog. Idiots....

Anyway, the guy with the loose dog eventually got over letting him out just to be an arse. I'm avoiding everyone except the supervising security guard. *That* guy is on her side, and I'm being open with him about my attempts to train her. He thinks she's pretty, and hopes for her training success.


Training advice is appreciated....
 

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Wow she sounds like a lot of work. What is it she does if she was left to her own devices - ie. just walked calmly on a lead and muzzle with people around? Does she lunge? has she bitten? I ask this because it does sound a little excessive to me with 2 harnesses, a muzzle, a collar and a thundercap - and that maybe your behaviour and nervousness is setting her off more?

You cant tell the world to stop living because you have a reactive dog. And im not saying this in a condescending or negative way but you have to be realistic. People can be loud if they want, they can sleep in stairwells if they so chose - these situations are out of your control. My dog is slightly reactive to hyper children - I cant expect children not to run or play when he is near them, I tend to just distract him as much as I can until they pass and I will walk with plenty of distance between them - and it works.

This might sound silly but have you done basic obedience classes? Have you spoken to a dog trainer? I definitely think you need to have a trainer come out and assess this situation and help you work on it. This is a crazy amount of work just to get your dog into the car - which I presume is a daily occurrence to get her out for her walk?

I do sympathise completely btw, I am on your side too.
 
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I have to be honest, it doesn't sound like your neighbours are trying to get your dog to bark. It just sounds like they are living their day to day life, and you happen to have a reactive dog.

I can tell you that this:
Of course she barked. We ended up yelling at her, pulling on her head harness leash, then I got out of the car.
is not a good way to handle a reactive episode. She is either nervous, afraid, or excited and yanking on her will only make the problem worse. I was reading you're using cookies, so keep up with that!

The website people usually recommend for reactive dogs is the Care for Reactive Dogs Website.

I'm also going to tag @PoppyKenna and @Rain who both have reactive dogs and I'm sure can offer more advice. :)
 

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I waited until they were gone to even let her out of hot car.
Please do not take this as a criticism, it is not, it is information. I am in Texas and a closed hot car can actually kill a dog in a very short period of time.
I will leave it to others to give you good advice on reactivity, I just wanted to point out the heat issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi,
@Tuxi: Yes she has lunged, but has not had any chance at all to bite anyone.
I don't intend to ever let her have that chance. The current rig is what I've figured out works, over time.

I can't tell the world to stop living, that's why I have to figure out a new procedure for getting her in and out. However I won't put up with people sleeping 3 feet from my front door, especially when that person was probably a drug customer. I mentioned to that guy that my neighbor was home, his car was parked, and he said that the neighbor already had a "friend" up there, and that he had to wait his turn basically. Ok, so if both of them are friends of my neighbor, then why does he have to wait outside until the first "friend" is finished?

Yep, drug customer.

Nope, not gonna put up with sleeping in the stairwell. BTW, she behaved perfectly that time.

We can't afford a trainer.
@Shandula: I agree, it's not a good way to handle it.
@Lucille: yes I know. The windows were rolled up for just a minute before we got her out. She was not alone in the car - my s/o was waiting in the front seat while I stared at them until they left.

Just to give a bit of info on both these neighbors: they are both in cahoots with the drug dealer mastermind, who is an expert on using minions to harass me.
I am working with the police on the situation, but the investigation has now reached the stage where I have to lay low, stay safe, and pretend to not notice anything.

So I have to do what I can to just maintain for the time being, unless something happens that requires a call to 311 or 911, not the police that have been assigned to work with me.

One thing I did with the other neighbor, was to sit in the stairwell and observe them until they left the area. Doing this resulted in realizing that they are in fact dealing out of their apartment. And they knew I realized it. They are now currently holed up in their apartment and not getting many customers.

My s/o is very nervous about my sitting out in the stairwell, and rightly so, but maybe it's time I started observing the upstairs neighbor for a while. He and his "friends" are not up to the level of the main guys in terms of potential violence.

Ok, we have done some very basic obedience - she sits when I tell her, and walks very well on the leash, but does not mind me very well when she barks.

I'm just not going to go into the stairwell at all any more if anybody is around.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
PS: Tuxi: thank you for the sympathy :). Yes, we do take her out in the car several times a day. That way we can get out of the complex and into a calmer situation while walking her. But she's like a sitting duck when we are all in the car in our parking space.
 

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Take a look at the reactivity thread in the training and behavior sticky subforum for some ideas.

For the immediate issue of loading/unloading and moving quickly between car and apartment, I would likely consider a long lasting treat (could be peanut butter in a tube, a small hand full of high value treats you let her nibble and lick at slowly letting her take one at a time, etc.) to quickly get from point a to point b. If very tug driven, tugging the whole way also works well. Not a cure for reactivity but prevents rehersing unwanted behavior and allows you to move quickly and efficently.
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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you, kmes, I will do that. It also occurs to me that maybe I should just go park the car across the street, when I go out to unlock it. Then she would not be a sitting duck while in the car, with regards to the neighbors right around me.

It is a huge pain, but I want to keep the dog.

before I started putting her in the car, the situation with getting her in and out seemed to be better - it just wasn't better with regards to the rest of the complex.

Peanut butter in a tube sounds good, I will look for that.

I'm going to try moving the car, depending on how many people are
loitering across the street.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
It seems to be working out - there is no stairwell close by, and I have more time to get her going with cookies if somebody does come along. She does start growling if she looks at the stairwell off to the right, even when nobody is around, but I hope she gets over it eventually. It's farther away, and I have more time to prevent barking. That stairwell has far fewer people loitering around it.

I am going to have to get her dog shoes for walking across the street, but that's ok. The asphalt is too hot for her.

She is making improvements - today she did not bark at any moped drivers, nor any people walking by at a distance, and not talking. And a couple days ago, a man stopped his car to say how pretty she is, and she did not bark at him for that either.
 

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Your neighbors' illegal activities aside, it doesn't necessarily sound like your dog is experiencing much stimulus that a dog in a typical busy apartment complex doesn't on a regular basis. Due to her issues though, I'm sure it is quite challenging and stressful for both of you.

It sounds like you may be in sort of a self perpetuating cycle of her behavior stressing you, and your stress increasing her behavior's intensity.

I think it would benefit you greatly to at least consult with a trainer and see what their assessment of her behavior is. Many shelters have low cost or free behavior consultants/trainers on staff or on a volunteer basis, and it would absolutely be worth calling around/emailing them to see if anyone can help you. Or contact local trainers and see if any of them is willing to help you out- many times they will offer assistance if it is a breed they are partial to, as dogs showing aggression in public don't help them as owners of said breeds. Or if you got her from a shelter/rescue, contact them and let them know the issues you are having and see if they have any advice or recommendations for someone to help. There are a lot of resources available if you take time to ask around. What area are you in (state or city)?
 

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I guess I will now have to do the passive aggressive thing and sit in the stairwell until people leave the area.

I don't think this is passive aggressive. In fact I think this is a perfectly reasonable response. I don't think it's fair to expect other humans - especially humans that don't have dogs and have no interest in them, take an active role in accommodating our pets. Not everyone knows much about dogs and if they don't even have one, there's even less reason to expect them to learn.

It's true that I've asked strangers to accommodate him, but I've always considered it asking a favor that they could say "no" to. And part of city life is just expecting crazy things to happen. Once a homeless man barked at Dorje and followed us for two blocks, barking at him. Dorje got scared but I just had to smile through it and show him I wasn't afraid, and he took my lead. But I also happen to live in a multi ethnic neighborhood where people have different ideas about how to interact with dogs,and I have to navigate that when I go out with him.

Now, there are certainly some other issues here - living in a building where crimes are taking place, and people are sleeping in your stairwell. That's a serious problem. And YOU don't feel safe there. I wouldn't either. And I'm sure your dog is picking up on your discomfort and fear.

My advice: address your living situation asap - for your own sake more than your dogs. You deserve to live in a place where you'll feel safe, and if it means a tiny cramped studio in a safe area for the same price as the apartment you're living in now, you should do it. And when you feel safe, your dog will feel safer too. Second, focus on management in the meantime. Don't take your dog out unless the area is empty.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
@busannie, thank you, I guess I will try the shelter where we got her. We got a nice discount coupon for a local trainer - only $150 for the initial consultation! Great!
@augusta: I don't expect them to, that's why I've been trying to figure out a new strategy. It might have bee nice though, if my neighbor had actually done what he promised. Since I know now that I can't count on anybody to do what they promise, I have to take even more extreme measures.

Parking across the street seems to be helping. Her new boots are on the way.

We are doing ok with just getting her in and out of the stairwell, it's in the car that is a problem now.

As for Just Move!, well..thanks! good advice! Want to donate to a gofundme campaign? We have a serious housing shortage here right now, and are struggling for personal reasons.

One particular neighbor really is trying to make this worse for us - I went out and nicely asked a guy standing in front of our stairwell if he could move, just by saying that she's reactive and we'd rather avoid that. So he moved, but when we came back out with her, yet another one of my neighbor's "associates" was standing in the same place, giving us an insolent look. So we successfully got her out to the driveway without barking, by avoiding him. When we came back, yet another one of these guys was standing in front of the stairwell, and when he saw that we parked across the street, he immediately left. I'm not so sure it's just my imagination.

So once they see that I came up with a solution that avoids them, they might stop.

She is doing better out on walks - today she calmly observed a big noisy UPS truck rumble down the road, and did not react. But in the car, she just stood looking out the front window (from the back seat), and just barked at regular intervals, even with nothing going on, nothing to see.

Sometimes I have to take her out even when here are people in the stairwell.
I had to do it last night, but I have to be much more careful now.

That said, I'm deciding the neighbor who yelled while standing near my car isn't going to complain. I don't want to give him the opportunity to do it again.
 

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As for Just Move!, well..thanks! good advice! Want to donate to a gofundme campaign? We have a serious housing shortage here right now, and are struggling for personal reasons.
There is an apartment rental glut in Houston right now, (and other places in the U.S.) so you could decide on a big change and move where you (and your dog) would be happy. I'd donate a few dollars to a gofundme for you, it's not much but if everyone donates you might be able to scrape together enough for a move and a happy new life.
 
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