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Old 12-21-2012, 02:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
DTS
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Default Frustrated, not sure where to go from here

Since my last post we have sought out a second trainer.
I bought the book cautious canine and have been working with jasmine on her fear.
My problems are:
I have found her triggers. She is okay walking past, up close, and next to people and dogs. She is fine in stores, on walks, in our apartment complex, etc.
her problem is when people look at her in the eyes or try and pet her. She will bark and try and back away.
I'm going to implement treats every time we see someone in her comfort zone as the book stated but I'm not sure where to go from here.
My trainer: we are doing a session once a month and email help when I need it due to us being broke college students but once February comes we can do more when we receive our financial aid. However, she's started getting spotty on emails and when I've tried to set times to meet she's being very vague and I feel like she doesn't see us as a huge problem and we aren't a priority. Which I get, we aren't contibuting a ton of money but I just wish she would tell us she doesn't want to help instead of not replying back or giving us a date but won't return us with a time.
My old trainer basically told us since we took all her classes there wasn't much she could do for us because jasmine seems fine around others.
I feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. No jasmine doesn't try and bark, lunge, or try and attack everything she sees but I still want to work on people and petting or just speaking to her and I need a professional with a controlled environment to do so.
Part of me just says forget it, just don't ever take her anywhere but I don't want her to revert back to the way she was.
I know this is going to be a life long thing, and she's come a long way but it seems no one wants to help us and I don't want to do this on my own.
Suggestions? Should I just cut my losses, try and find someone else? Should I prompt her again for a time even though I don't want to be a pest?
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Old 12-21-2012, 02:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I understand that this is distressing for you, but if she's okay as long as people don't stare at her or try to pet her this seems pretty manageable to me. Why do people have to pet her? Can't you instruct them to ignore her?
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Old 12-21-2012, 02:36 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have and do. I guess my biggest worry is if some kid just randomly ran up to her and latched on, but I watch people like hawks but for me it's the unknown. She's never offered to bite, lunge, etc but I don't want her MO to change one day. I want to try and nip this in the bud so if someone somehow gets by me on the off chance.
Honestly, I don't know. Sometimes I feel like I'm being too parinoid but I want to be as careful as possible.
I just tell people she's hand shy and body block.
But everyone I see someone get to close I immediately think of how to react and I think that triggers her too.
I just want to be safe
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Old 12-21-2012, 02:40 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I have found her triggers. She is okay walking past, up close, and next to people and dogs. She is fine in stores, on walks, in our apartment complex, etc.
her problem is when people look at her in the eyes or try and pet her. She will bark and try and back away.

Those people are displaying rude, unpleasant behavior in the dog's mind. You might like reading, On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas or here is her website: Turid Rugaas - Calming Signals Community

Giving treats when walking past people and dogs has worked really well for our dog, it does take some time, but stick with it.

We had similar issues with our trainers with a similar problem with our dog. They did not seem to want to work with us, one offered to do a "boot camp" with our dog, but with me not present, so I declined and our first trainer told us to take a vacation from him! Sounds like your trainer wants a vacation from you. What we did was after reading the book and working with our 2nd trainer to focus on the "down" command. Down is very calming and has worked very well for us and this was one area our trainer was very knowledgeable and helpful.
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Old 12-21-2012, 05:52 PM   #5 (permalink)
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DTS, this is exactly the problem I've had with Liesl. Great dog in every way except very suspicious of a stranger approaching her in a friendly manner, looking her in the eye, and bending down to pet her. Since we got her at 4 months she would look them in the eye briefly, tail tucked, not be aggressive at all, but immediately run away (to the end of my leash then around behind my legs).

I respectfully disagree with those who say the solution is to tell everyone that your dog is shy and not to pet it. You certainly have to do this to protect your dog from scary stimulus that worsens the problem. However, kind dog-savvy strangers are your best friend in this circumstance, and most will gladly help you by approaching her correctly, or ignoring her if need be, and dropping a few treats for her as you converse pleasantly with the stranger.

You need to take your dog out every day, twice a day, to be around people. Walk her through light crowds that she is comfortable with, only for a small amount of time so she doesn't get exhausted from the stressful stimulus, and bring treats to encourage her immediately every single time she voluntarily looks at a stranger. She will quickly realize that looking at them is the method to bust open the treat dispenser, and will begin to seek out at least a short contact with strangers, even if only a glance.

From there you build--longer contacts, thicker crowds, longer walks, slower walks, etc.

The very best desensitization for such a dog is to go to a sparsely populated playground with a variety of ages of children. Your dog will not feel trapped since there is much open space. She will be interested in looking at all the activity from afar. She will enjoy you tossing a ball or playing tug with her so she relaxes. Inevitably, children will approach, one or in groups, wanting to pet your dog. You need to effusively praise the child and the dog--give the dog the sense that this is a GREAT event, the approach of this person, and treat the dog and if it will take it have the child treat the dog. Many times the dog will avoid this, but if you persist, the dog will get the idea, and begin to accept and enjoy these events.

If your dog likes to chase a ball, ask the child to throw it, and send the dog for it. The dog is not stupid--it will understand that the child is participating in the fun activity, and will begin to accept that children/strangers can be fun.

The problem of a shy dog is a huge block of ice, and you have to chip away at it daily. But it can be done! As your dog matures, and gains confidence, your progress accelerates, and you can find that you have a dog who greets people with a wagging tail and confidence!

Please don't crawl into a hole with your dog--life with friendly strangers and friends is too much fun for that! Work on this and you will never be sorry you did!
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Old 12-21-2012, 08:32 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for the responses. I will continue to do the light crowd thing. I have been bringing her into the apartment management office when I go and normally there's tons of people around the complex because its fairly large.
I like taking her to pet stores because I feel we get the
Most variety of distractions but I feel obligated to buy something and I can't always do that.. Even though she's worth it.
When we walk around the streets are fairly busy with bicycles, joggers, skateboarders, people walking with dogs, cow pastures, and buses.
I live in a collage town do its fairly busy.
I need to remember to make yummy treats for her.
I've made beef kidneys and hearts and I bought some raw freeze dried beef and salmon treats.
I'm also working with her and a clicker and she seems to pick up on that fairly easy.
Should I try an specific equipment? I had her on a prong and it seemed to make her more tense. Our trainer suggested an easy walk harness which she's been doing well on but it concerns me that I don't have control of her head.. Suggestions?
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Old 12-21-2012, 09:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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You could try the head halter if you're concerned about control of her head. I use a harness but my dog still has his flat collar on for the tags, though the harness does give me all the control but I could grab that or the collar. I can understand you are tense, and what you said, does make sense - your dog could be picking up on your anxiety. Try to think positively and walk confidently with her, she will pick up on your confidence.
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Old 12-21-2012, 09:52 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I personally do not believe that any training equipment will prevent a bite. If you are truly concerned about that, simply muzzle her whenever you have her in public. There's only so much she can do then.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassidy's Mom View Post
I understand that this is distressing for you, but if she's okay as long as people don't stare at her or try to pet her this seems pretty manageable to me. Why do people have to pet her? Can't you instruct them to ignore her?
Otherwise, I agree with this. Just so you know where I am coming from, I have a dog with a very bad bite history. I also take him out in public very often. I suspect my stakes are higher than yours.

I watch him like a freaking hawk. No one so much as smiles at him without me approving it. If I can't do that, I don't take him out. But we have a very active life--he comes a ton of places with me, we compete in dog-friendly 5k runs several times a year, he competes in herding trials, etc. I love working with him so that is worth it.

You know your dog is fearful, so you need to step up and just tell people to back the heck off if they're intruding into her comfort zone when you don't want that.

I would not introduce aversive training methods like prong collars etc. in this case. She is most likely reacting aggressively out of fear, and punishing her for that will just reinforce that fear. In a dog's mind, the situation may very well be "scary person, I bark--suddenly there is pain on my neck--OMG that person is hurting me!!!" Positive reinforcement is a lot more reliable in fear-based situations, because instead of teaching her "don't act out" you're teaching her "there's nothing to be afraid of here."
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Old 12-21-2012, 10:04 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Overall I thing the prong is fine, but I had to stop using it and mostly focus on the treats. The reason being, I would sometimes tense up on the leash and not aware I was doing so which gave my dog a negative association to whatever was near. I just use a regular, flat collar most of the time. That was a bit scary at first, I really had to watch my dog's body language.
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Old 12-21-2012, 10:21 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I do also keep a flat collar on her at all times just in case she some how slips out of the harness. Her tags and microchip info is on it. I do have a leather hand lead I could attach to it that we used for agility. I'm hoping in February we can get bak into agility. That really boosted her confidence.
I will definitely try harder to step up and tell people the deal.
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