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Training the Untrainable

654 Views 4 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  SnackRat

My dog Roxy recently broke her collar, and we had to get her a new one. She currently does not have a collar on, but we cannot get the new one on because she snaps at us when we try. We have looked all over the Internet for solutions, and all of the solutions involve giving her food; however, we cannot do that because she does not eat when she is upset.

This is not an isolated incident; she snaps whenever she is upset. She has never bitten anyone, but she has caused minor injuries, and because she is very big (she was rescued from a dogfighting place soon after she was born; thankfully she was not trained) we are afraid that she is capable of hurting someone.

For the time being I would appreciate it if I could have some advice on how to get her collar on, but after that it would be helpful to receive some advice on how to train her in general without using food.

Thank you very much in advance!
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I recommend contacting an experienced dog behaviorist in your area or a very qualified positive-based trainer and working with them. If he's getting stressed enough to refuse food and snap so frequently/cause injury, I think it's past what most can suggest just online without actually meeting the dog in person.
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Maybe once you get a new collar on her, you might make a habit of taking it off her and putting it back on at least a few times a day rather than leaving it on her all the time. Every time it goes back on, something good should happen, really good.

Also, as soon as she gets remotely close to her snapping behavior ( "upset"), throw her a curveball ( distraction) which might involve the two of you enjoying some form of engagement together.

I'd find a moment when the dog is relaxed and just lay the collar near the dog while she is relaxed and leave it there and see her reaction and proceed from there appropriately.
If you need to control her until then, try dropping a slip lead around her neck. Way less stressful than reaching around her neck (this will trigger a lot of dogs unused to having their collars/necks grabbed). Just don't pull too tight. You can even knot the lead so that it doesn't choke her.
Instead of trying to train without food because she can't eat when she is upset, you need to learn the skill of helping her feel less upset. I understand that probably feels out of reach, but that is exactly the role that professional trainers can help with.
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