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Okin 03-13-2014 11:16 AM

Got input from a trainer on my dogs aggression
I was at Obedience class last night and was having my dog go to the bathroom outside, everything was fine then I walked over to throw the poop bag out and she started barking at another dog with hackles up. This ended up being the trainers dog. Later in class the trainer brought her dog in to class and my dog didn't even look at her just completely focused on me. She didn't react to any other dogs in the building. She has been at dog parks, in fenced in areas off leash with other dogs and never had a problem. She has even worked on recalls off leash in class surrounded by dogs and there has never been a problem.

I talked to the trainer after class and she said from what she observed she thinks it is the dogs herding/guarding instincts acting up. She doesn't act up in the building because she has learned that it is a place with a set of rules. Outside of the building she sees dogs and doesn't like something about the situation, like they are not in the right place or acting the right way she lets them know. I had never really thought of it like that before.

Her suggestion was that I work on my dog always concentrating on me when she is on the leash outside. Praise her when she makes eye contact with me. If I notice another dog coming along try to get her to focus on me instead of correcting her bad behavior towards the other dog. Eventually the dog will realize that I am her focus and not to worry about what the other dogs are doing.

Any opinions on this observation or suggestion? I really want to fix this behavior other than this issue she is the perfect dog!

DJEtzel 03-13-2014 11:48 AM

She's young, she's just being reactive (not aggressive) because something about the dog/the situation set her off.

Instead of asking her to never acknowledge the other dog and always look at you, in my classes we teach LAT (look at that) training with great success.

She sees a dog? She gets a mark/treat. Dogs eventually become a cue to look at you for further direction and a positive experience. DON'T correct a dog for barking at another dog or you are teaching "Wow, my owner gets really mad when I see other dogs and sometimes it hurts, I must be right in barking at them to get them to go away because they're bad."

My GSD was reactive from about 8mos to a year old. We worked with this training religiously, and now he is the demo dog for my classes and can easily walk through a huge crowd of dogs without glancing twice at them.

Blanketback 03-13-2014 11:57 AM

I think what I'd do is ask the trainer to have a few out-of-class sessions, working with her dog, to have her teach you exactly how to do what she's suggesting. Lots of people here do train this, so maybe it's a good idea for you. I don't do that, but telling you not to when your trainer is trying to help you wouldn't be in your best interest, lol. Good luck :)

Jax08 03-13-2014 12:02 PM

I have a dog reactive dog. In your case, I suspect weak nerves so I think I know a little of the back story (but I could have the wrong person!). Do what Danielle said.

Leave It

Learn these three things. Sometimes looking at the other dog will be to much for them so learn all of it, work below her threshhold and teach her the tools to deal with the sight of another dog. And you have to give them permission to LOOK at what is bothering them! I went the route of having Jax's focus on me instead of allowing her to look. It made it worse.

DJEtzel 03-13-2014 12:04 PM


Originally Posted by Jax08 (Post 5191770)

Learn these three things. Sometimes looking at the other dog will be to much for them so learn all of it, work below her threshhold and teach her the tools to deal with the sight of another dog.

Great point! If she starts to react - increase distance so that you are working "below her threshold" - where she can keep her head on her shoulders and wants to take treats/is not fixated entirely on the other dog.

Lilie 03-13-2014 12:17 PM

Sometimes, all it takes is the 'stink eye' from the other dog to set off your dog. When I'm in an environment with other dogs, I try to keep an eye on all the dogs around me as well. There seems to always be one, sitting quietly, giving the stink eye. When I see that, I'll step so I'm blocking that dog's view of my dog.

A good clue to which dog will be your problem, is watch what dog your dog keeps trying to focus on.

Okin 03-13-2014 01:35 PM

Thanks for the input. I will be reading up on LAT and BAT. We have tried leave it which works for things other than dogs and it sometimes works for dogs but when she gets worked up it is like there is nothing else in the world.

Do you think LAT would work when it seems very random what dogs she reacts to? She can walk directly next to five dogs and then reacts to one.

DJEtzel 03-13-2014 01:51 PM

Yes. It will build up much more of a precedent so that no matter WHAT dog she sees, she looks to you instead of fixating on the dogs.

wolfy dog 03-13-2014 04:09 PM

Maybe it was just simple as being startled by this dog. If she is OK in other dog's presences it may have been just a fluke. I would just keep an eye on this and yes, if she sees another dog: treats, treats and treats, especially with this particular one that scared her.

David Taggart 03-13-2014 04:39 PM

I fully agree with your trainer about your dog focusing on you, but I wouldn't bother about her barks. It was easy for her to isolate that dog from the environment, that's why she barked. My dog too, she wouldn't move her head being amongst a barking, whining and growling crowd, but would be all alert and reactive seeing a lonely occasional walker in the wild woods. Then, dogs bark like that at some other dog sometimes if bored or tired. Your dog will bark at some passing dog if you stand and chat with your friend you just met for too long, so to make you to leave and walk on. Maybe, you were busy with that bag for too long and she wanted to be back ( or go home).

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