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Old 12-27-2013, 03:00 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Am I making things worse or do I persevere?

I desperately need some reassurance and advice, sorry this is such a long story).
I have a 15mth old GSD bitch (not yet spayed) who has been dog reactive since she was about 4 mths old. She had a number of bad experiences with a neighbours dog and on her first walk as a pup she was knocked over by two boisterous labs. The result is that she is seriously dog reactive and cannot cope with eye contact or another dog walking towards her.
So here comes my main problem, I live in an incredibly rural area and do not have access to trainers or other dogs on a regular basis to help her overcome her fears and reactions. My husband and I travel a lot; camping and family visits) and have always taken our dogs with us (we also have a 10yr old Huntaway) which means every couple of months our GSD comes into contact with other dogs. I've always used these times to gradually get her used to seeing other dogs, where possible keeping her under threshold (using BAT and clicker work) and also meeting up with other dog owners so she can walk with them and she usually eventually plays with them like a typical young dog.
However, I feel like she's getting worse and over this holiday period I've had no option but to muzzle. If she sees a dog in the distance, she will put her head down and charge at it at full speed. When she reaches it she'll knock it over, bark at it and then come sprinting back to me; up until recently I could stop her charging by using the word she associates with her ball which she is obsessed with but now the need to get to the dog is too much. She now doesn't get off the lead if there are other dogs around.
She has no understanding of how to meet, greet and even play with other dogs in a respectful manner. She's great with my other dog and is fairly submissive to him, we've also dog sat for friends and once she has got to know the dog she is always fine and playful. She loves sharing get toys with dogs she knows.
She's on a good dog food and is great with people and children. She's really obedient and we spend roughly 30 mins a day on mental exercise and about 2 hours on physical.
Do I persevere or am I making her worse with what I'm doing? Please help!


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Old 12-27-2013, 12:11 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Amurphy26 can you do us a favor and go up to the narrow black strip along the top of the forum, click on User CP and put your GENERAL location in? That way you may get specific help from someone in your area.

Good that you have a no 'off' leash policy cause that needs to stay in place for now.

Have you used either a Gentle Leader Head or Harness? Think that would also help 'manage' this better and I'm not really into a muzzle.



Off hand what she's doing sounds more like it's rude and inappropriate rather then 'aggressive' but all she needs is the other dog to start fighting as a reaction when she's a bit older and there WILL be an actual fight involving blood, vet visits and stitches. So this needs to be stopped and great you are working on it.
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Old 12-27-2013, 03:22 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hi, She's walked on a Gencon (like a halti) which makes her easier to control when she's reacting. I'm just not sure if the constant exposure over short periods is helping. She definitely has no idea how to play politely! Some people are saying to just let her off the lead muzzled and let her learn to interact but I feel that is allowing her to misbehave and isn't fair on other dogs. She charges the dogs, barks at them and the dogs either run away or in the case of a few spaniels, end up playing with her. Either way, she wins by exhibiting bad behaviour.

I'll get my location put on but unfortunately our nearest dog trainer is a ferry trip then another 100 miles away.

X


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Old 12-27-2013, 03:45 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Having had a dog reactive (I like that term by the way...I'd always used "dog aggressive") dog myself, I really feel for you. I was never able to fully rehabilitate Rebel. He had a couple of very bad experiences with the neighbor dog, who used to come through our sheep fencing into the dog's yard and mark everywhere...Rebel really didn't like him and once escaped accidentally and bit him. After that, he really had trouble with strange dogs.

What I did wrong was that I didn't continue to socialize him with other dogs. I thought that since we had two other dogs of varying sizes, that he would be okay. But I should have taken him everywhere I could, into every situation that I could, and introduced him to every dog possible. It was better when we weren't at our place. I once took him with us when we went hunting (he stayed at the camping area with whoever wasn't out) and introduced him to one brother's yellow labs (2) and the other brother's German Short Hairs (3 or 4) on neutral territory. That went better. I did it with all dogs on lead, treating Rebel when he wasn't fearful/aggressive and correcting him when he was. Ultimately that trip was fine, but I could never fully trust him with strange dogs. And it was sad. I think that part of his problem was me honestly. I was afraid so he was too. I was afraid of what my 100 pound baby would do to those smaller dogs especially.
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Old 12-27-2013, 04:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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It is really hard because her bad days are really bad but then she'll have a good day and I start to think there's hope. On Monday she was continually trying to pin my friends submissive Kelpie, she was snarling and being a complete bully. 5 mins later a springer spaniel came charging at her, she reacted by barking and lunging. It ignored her in a typical crazy spaniel way and they ended up having a great time chasing each other along the beach! I just can't work her out. She seems a typical bully. Will take advantage of the weak dogs but is actually terrified when they don't respond how she expects.


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Old 12-27-2013, 05:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
When she reaches it she'll knock it over, bark at it and then come sprinting back to me
Your young dog is exercising her predatory skills, that is exactly how a wolf would charge a rabbit, rolling him on the ground first. In order to tell her that other dogs and cats cannot be her game, you should provide her with alternative - a good ball, and make her ball mad. Every time she sees a dog - flash her ball for her and start walking away from that dog, she won't run to him, because her instinct would tell her not to leave you and her valuable prey. Your reaction to other dogs is very important, you should show her by using your body language that you, her leader, are not interested in that sort of prey. There is no such thing exists for dogs as a "respectful manner". By playing young socialized dogs polish their predatory skills, they learn methods to fight and about love affairs. The majority of them would start playing rough when older and finally would stop playing at all with other dogs. When your dog is 3 years old, she will prefer you only as a companion for her games.
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She loves sharing get toys with dogs she knows.
No, she doesnt. No dog does. That is only because it wasn't her own beloved toy. She will bite otherwise. She musn't run after toys thrown by somebody else than you - that is a dog ethics. It is always recommended to keep with the group she knows well over years and not to go to unknown dogs.
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Old 12-27-2013, 05:32 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Hi,
Thanks for the response and I'll take it into consideration. I do the ball thing all ready with some success. It's a brilliant way of getting her attention and I have a trigger word, relating to her ball to stop her in her tracks if she sees another dog. It works most of the time but it's success is dependant on how close the other dog is.
My question is really about should I still be mixing her with other dogs when I can or is it too much given that it can't be done every day or even every week.

One thing I disagree with though is she does love playing with toys with other dogs. She's grown up with two other dogs and as I said I've dog sat other dogs and watched her share toys with all of them and play with them. Maybe I'm just lucky but she is not possessive in any way. I've had dogs for many years and taught them all that I am in charge of the toys and I've never had a problem.
Thanks again.


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Old 12-27-2013, 05:32 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Amurphy26 View Post
It is really hard because her bad days are really bad but then she'll have a good day and I start to think there's hope. On Monday she was continually trying to pin my friends submissive Kelpie, she was snarling and being a complete bully. 5 mins later a springer spaniel came charging at her, she reacted by barking and lunging. It ignored her in a typical crazy spaniel way and they ended up having a great time chasing each other along the beach! I just can't work her out. She seems a typical bully. Will take advantage of the weak dogs but is actually terrified when they don't respond how she expects.


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I don't see "reactivity" in this...I see a rude, young dog wanting to play and not knowing how to NICELY ask to play. How do you play with her? Given that I'm by NO MEANS experienced in this and I don't allow Sabo to play with others...He has a few that he CAN play with appropriately and has learned to play bow to initiate play. I will play bow with him (or the human version...I will bend at the waist, arms out and "hrrrruuuuffff") then run and start the chasing game.

Am I right to do so? Who knows. Just my thoughts.
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Old 12-27-2013, 06:17 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I don't see "reactivity" in this...I see a rude, young dog wanting to play and not knowing how to NICELY ask to play. How do you play with her? Given that I'm by NO MEANS experienced in this and I don't allow Sabo to play with others...He has a few that he CAN play with appropriately and has learned to play bow to initiate play. I will play bow with him (or the human version...I will bend at the waist, arms out and "hrrrruuuuffff") then run and start the chasing game.

Am I right to do so? Who knows. Just my thoughts.
Maybe we're all crazy but I've played like that in the past with dogs but never with her. It's definitely something to consider.
Our neighbours Papillon charged at her aggressively from when she was 12 weeks old. Our other neighbours young cockapoo would spring out of no where and charge her to start play. I'm pretty sure that's where all this has come from. Unfortunately our rural location meant these formed the basis of her dog socialising. She would react by barking at lunging at every dog we dog sat but within 30 mins she accepted them and was really playful. Some other GSD owners have said she will grow out of some of it. I really hope so.


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Old 12-27-2013, 08:37 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Midnite greeted dogs the same way and sounded like he wanted to kill them. It wasn't aggression, it was no manners. Once we started training and we got him around a couple stable dogs, it changed and he now sniffs butts like he is suppose to
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