Join Date: May 2005
Location: Denmark, Ohio
There is in your mind the dog that you want.
There is in your life the dog that you have.
Maybe you will not be able to get the dog you have into the picture of the dog you want.
I think you might be able to find some middle ground though.
Is she spayed? If not, you might want to go ahead and do that. It really does not help fear-reactivity, but I think you are at a low point now, and are not going to get much worse, and if she is not spayed, I can see hormones might make things trickier.
Next, you are working with the a trainer and have tried some training devices. How often do you work with your trainer? Does the trainer come to the house and teach you how to teach your dog? Do you go there, with her, and are there other dogs in the class? What type of training is your trainer doing, what kind of corrections? How long have you been working with this trainer? Has it gotten better or worse.
This is my take from what you have written, which isn't really enough information, but I am going to make a stab at it. I think you are a bit timid, and your dog is not getting any confidence from you, the dog feels she must protect herself. She has very unclear boundaries, and is responding / reacting out of fearful insecurity -- this can look like barking, lunging, hair up, growling aggression.
Correction collars are a tool. They can be good or bad depending on how you use them and for what reason. Not ever dog that aggresses inappropriately is going to benefit from a solid correction. And yet the dog does need to know that that is not ok. How to get from here to there?
Well, I think it will be helpful for you to google NILIF (Nothing In Life Is Free). What you should find is a management/leadership methodology that if you follow it, you should help your dog feel more secure with clear boundaries. If I do this, this happens, every time. But it is not just consistency. It is a method of leadership that will help the dog understand what she needs to do to get what she wants. I don't think it can hurt to look into it.
What you need to do is
1. Manage the dog so that no other dog gets mauled and your chickens are safe.
2. Provide clear leadership so the dog knows what to expect and things are clear.
3. Exercise so that the dog isn't high energy crazy.
4. Training which is not the same as management or leadership, but will help build your dog's confidence in you, and your confidence in your dog, it will build the bond.
Whatever way you choose to train will work if you are patient and consistent, but it can take longer with some dogs than others, and some dogs will do a lot better with other methods. If you have been trying one method for months and things are getting worse, try the opposite. If you are yelling NO! and giving a jerk on the prong collar and that isn't working, try working with the dog privately on some commands and when you see something that might make your dog agress, give him a command, and if he does it praise. Then move on and away. Don't reward the agression, but try to avoid those situations that trigger it -- keep a healthy distance.
When you build the bond through training, you should be able to gradually move closer to those things that she is less easy with. Then what you do on the other end of the leash is important. If you tighten it up in expectation of her reaction, chances are she's going to react. Instead keep your voice cheerful and confident. Move forward, but alter your course to ensure you are giving the other critter plenty of room. If she agresses, you may have gone too close too soon, she should not be able to get to the other dog, so you just keep going and matter of fact, say Eh! that just a dog! and keep on going.
Look up NILIF before you give up on the dog. She's young and she can teach you a lot. It is not our easy dogs that teach us the most, it is the challenging ones. But they can also be the ones we become the most attached to.
RIP Arwen, CD RN CGC
RIP Whitney, RN CGC
Jenna, RN CGC & Babs, CD RA CGC HIC (not AKC)
Heidi, RA CGC & Tori, RN CGC
SG3 Odessa, SchH1, Kkl1, AD
Ninja, RN CGC & Milla, RN CGC
Joy, Star Puppy, RN CGC
Dolly CGC & Bear