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Old 02-25-2014, 10:09 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Correcting Reactivity/ Aggression

My dog is excellent inside and in the backyard, (he is about 5 1/2 months). He waits for food and would say 9/10 times obeys basic commands and learns very very quickly. Everywhere else just throw everything out the window. He is so overstimulated at the sight of strangers and other animals that standing still, remaining calm will not stop him. He got in a nasty fight with a friends dog so much as to now I feel like I cannot take him anywhere because I have zero trust in his reactiveness. I feel like a massive failure at training which bums me out because I would do almost anything to train him. So I took him to a trainer and at the trainers when he saw another dog outside he lunged and snapped his collar clean off. Thankfully he couldn't get to the other dog. The trainer recommended boarding him for a week for a very expensive price. My problem is, is it something that with a remote collar/ pinch collar and problem knowledge I could fix myself or is boarding recommended for a very aggressive/reactive dog. I would really appreciate any help as I do not believe in re-homing or anything of that matter because I have accepted the challenge to raise the pup.
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Old 02-25-2014, 10:19 AM   #2 (permalink)
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How about a happy medium? Don't do it on your own, since you might accidentally make things worse. And don't spend a ton of money on the boarding - spend a fairly decent amount on a really good trainer who can help both of you. Good luck, and don't worry - this isn't the first pup to behave like this!
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Old 02-25-2014, 11:22 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Blanketback View Post
How about a happy medium? Don't do it on your own, since you might accidentally make things worse. And don't spend a ton of money on the boarding - spend a fairly decent amount on a really good trainer who can help both of you. Good luck, and don't worry - this isn't the first pup to behave like this!
Blanketback, the trainer made it seem that basic meetings were not an option (those he does offer them) that he was too far gone...I am skeptical of it being a sales pitch...
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Old 02-25-2014, 11:34 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I'd agree with you, lol! If that's all your vicinity offers in terms of trainers, I'd much rather spend my money on gas and hotels and travel to someone who really knows what they're doing. This is NOT "too far gone" lmao, this is actually pretty typical. I wish it wasn't so easy to call yourself a 'trainer' geez!
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Old 02-25-2014, 03:12 PM   #5 (permalink)
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There are some really great books out there on the topic, and I think I have read them all! I also have a reactive dog, and I understand your frustration.

Correcting a dog for this is not what I do. I think your instinct on this training is correct. He is just a puppy, after all. The world is a scary place, and with that fight he was in, so far he has learned exactly that. I don't think it is wise to add corrections/punishments to an already scary world.

These were the top three most helpful books on the topic. They helped me so much to see things from my dog's perspective. We also hired a private trainer to help us set up situations with non-reactive dogs so that we could reward him for not reacting, and help show him that other dogs and people are not threats to him.

Fight!: A Practical Guide to the Treatment of Dog-dog Aggression: Jean Donaldson: 9780970562968: Amazon.com: Books Fight!: A Practical Guide to the Treatment of Dog-dog Aggression: Jean Donaldson: 9780970562968: Amazon.com: Books

Feisty Fido: Help for the Leash-Reactive Dog: Patricia B. McConnell Ph.D., Karen B. London Ph.D.: 9781891767074: Amazon.com: Books Feisty Fido: Help for the Leash-Reactive Dog: Patricia B. McConnell Ph.D., Karen B. London Ph.D.: 9781891767074: Amazon.com: Books

Behavior Adjustment Training: BAT for Fear, Frustration, and Aggression in Dogs: Grisha Stewart: 9781617810503: Amazon.com: Books Behavior Adjustment Training: BAT for Fear, Frustration, and Aggression in Dogs: Grisha Stewart: 9781617810503: Amazon.com: Books
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Old 02-25-2014, 04:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Locate a good trainer, experienced with GSD and working dogs, and both of you go for training.

The books that Karma listed ...... all very good ones, grab them and read, take notes or use a hilighter.
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Old 02-25-2014, 04:32 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you all, If anyone else has some good insight I will take as much information as I can get! I knew raising a shepherd was a challenge but I never saw aggression as being the challenge, figured it was going to be an excessive energy issue. I am not even comfortable taking him out now! Definitely will be picking these books up...
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Old 02-25-2014, 04:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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OP, I think that reading and learning is a great thing! I also think that you need an experienced trainer to help guide you through the early stages of training to address reactivity. So much of your success is going to be built around your timing and that is something that is not easy to pick up from a book. I have seen some folks who were inadvertently rewarding the very behavior they didn't want because their timing was so off.

I have had really, really good results from Leslie McDivitt's "Control Unleashed" protocol. There is a book and I think there are videos. And there are trainers out there that base their work with reactive dogs on her "program" (for lack of a better word).

Save your money and pass on the board and train stuff. Find a good trainer that will work with both you and your puppy. The better you get at training, the better your puppy will get. And nothing will jump start your training ability like a good trainer teaching you what you need to know.
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Old 02-25-2014, 05:40 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Boarding - never ever. It is not only a waste of money, but very hurtful for your dog, he could go out of it really agressive and I will explain you why and how the board training works.
Kennels, daycare centres, boards originally were created for people who go on holidays and in need to leave their dogs in professional hands. They always were as a sort of "dog hotels" where dogs of different age groups are cared and allowed to play with each other. Nobody would argue, that young puppies are missing their sisters' and brothers' company and play, I really appreciate professional boards for puppies, these people provide basic training with puppies under 6 months as well. But that is all positive about it. From one year old the dog gets into sexual maturity and starts seeking a status in his pack, what is his human foster family. Young dog is in desperate need of a leader, especially a young male, and the sense of a pack unity becomes very prominent. Separation from the owner normally causes a terrible stress. The board uses this stress in their training, frightened and stressed dog is easier managed. They would use prong and hunger to "correct" your dog and feed and fondle him just before you get him back. But nobody would allow you to see HOW he is trained. The trouble, that it doesn't work, only your dog gets over the stress - he would be back to squire one, behaving as before. What will you do? You will call back the board. They will tell you, that your dog need more corrections (more money out of your pocket). If your dog has enough of spirit he would get truly agressive, and if you tried to repeat the trainer's methods - he might bite even you. If he's a weaker nerve - he would be scared of you and the prong, you can lose your dog's trust forever.
A good trainer never traines just a dog, forget Cesar Millan. A really good trainer never touches the dog of another person, as he traines not the dogs, but people who have them. You have problem with keeping your dog's attention on yoursef, that is purely practical matter and no written advice can help you. Make your research for a good personal trainer, preferably with a dog working as his assistant, dogs learn good manners from other dogs much faster.
We had a saying written on the board in our club "An obedient GSD is a tired GSD". Your dog reactivity could be easily explained, lack of physical exercise is a very common thing which leads to frustration and high reactivity in young dogs. That fact that he bit two dogs without much reason only proves it, he feels himself a Yuri Gagarin, but, alas, there's no space to run through, so, he gets angry and blames strangers and other dogs. If he walked back home barely dragging his legs after chasing the ball half a mile down the hill and back up for two hours - I doubt he would bark at all. You need to let this vapour out.
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Old 02-25-2014, 05:50 PM   #10 (permalink)
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P.S. The best thing to find out about his exercising - is to ask your vet. It should be a professional who can estimate the maximum by physically checking your dog.
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