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Dog Aggression/Shepherd Mix -Please Help! Very Urgent!
Hello! Let me start off by saying that I am NOT very knowledgeable of training techniques and I'm obviously failing my dog in some way because of how she is reacting. Any HELP would be greatly appreciated.
I adopted Lucille when she was one year old from a high kill shelter in Kansas. When I volunteered to run the dogs at the shelter, she never showed aggression. After I adopted her, she totally changed.
Lucille's aggression started presenting itself after I adopted her. She would lunge at bicycles, trucks, cars, semis, etc. She spins circles, snarls, barks, and lunges. I used to run her all of the time and this would never change. Unfortunately, her aggression issues have been worsening. We have worked with two separate trainers who were focused on her behavior. Both were fearful that she would not ever be able to be near other dogs.
Her aggression then progressed on to lunging towards runners. I can hardly control her when there are other dogs in the vicinity. This evening she nearly attacked a couple and their dog while they were out walking.
I work with her 5-7 times a day in about 10 minute increments when we go outside so that she can go to the bathroom. The trainers suggested trying to get her used to situations in which she was near distractions and utilize high value treats. They suggested that we go to a parking lot, such as wal-mart, walk to the edge of the parking lot, farthest away and give her high value treats for ignoring the commotion. If she did well in that area, they suggested we move a bit closer the next day. We have done this for quite some time and we have never gotten anywhere near the door. In fact, we never progressed towards the door at all. The trainer, here in Florida, wasn't even able to get within 6 feet of her at our sessions before she started this behavior.
She sits before meals. She walks on a 6' lead with a choke collar. Generally she stays right next to my right side.
She is 3 years old now and the place that we are being sent has a zero tolerance policy on aggressive behavior. Our move is set for mid-June. I realize that this isn't enough time to correct her issues, but why are they worsening? Why isn't the training working. I need help so that I can help HER. Thank you in advance.
Where are you located?
Eglin AFB, FL. We are being relocated to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington next month, though.
I can only suggest losing the choke chain, it isn't working. Have a trainer fit a prong collar on your girl. And get a basket muzzle.
The first step is management. You have to protect everyone else so that your dog remains safe. So 100% on lead, basket muzzle and prong collar to keep your dog from dragging you into what she is fearing or aggressing towards.
In my opinion, training is a big part of the picture, but management is first. Leadership is also a big component, and exercise. The treats and desensitizing your dog to what it fears or aggresses toward is important, but first the dog has to trust you. It has to accept and understand you.
Just because a dog is ok with us, does not mean they believe we will protect them. And it doesn't mean that they understand our communication. A good place to start is NILIF -- Nothing In Life Is Free -- lots of stuff on the net about it. When you enforce proper leadership, your dog should become more comfortable with you in all situations.
Management before you take your dog out again. Leadership is a process that you must learn with your dog. It will take some time to read through everything and implement with everyone in your household. While you are working on the improved leadership, continue to train the dog. Stay away from distractions for now. Try to build a bond through training. Lots of praise and treats should help, but clear negative markers are also important. Your dog needs to understand that there are consequences for correct and incorrect behavior.
Of course you will want to exercise your dog several times a day. And if possible in a fenced yard, where you can let your dog run and chase a ball, and work on basic training routines with and without leads. Exercise body and mind, a tired dog is a good dog.
Lastly, the careful socialization and desensitizing the dog, once you see a marked change in your dog due to the change in leadership style and you have marked improvement in training without distractions, then slowly, a little is a lot, start adding in a session with the distractions. Try to start far away at first, and try to stay below her threshold. Over time, weeks, maybe months, start getting closer to the problems, and learn your dog's body language, at minor stress adjust your pattern of walking to put a little more distance between you and what stresses her.
Eventually, she needs to learn to deal with stress, but that will be easier if she has a confident leader that she understands, and has a training bond with.
Management -- prong, muzzle, 100% on leash or in fenced yard with you
Leadership -- NILIF
Training -- build a bond with positive praise/treats, and clear negative corrections -- EH!
Exercise -- body and mind
Careful Socialization/Desensitizing -- take your time, she didn't get like this overnight, and she won't stop overnight.
Thank you, Selzer. I will work on implementing these suggestions. We had a large fenced yard until about a week ago but will have a fenced yard again at our next location. Someone had also suggested that I used a lead that wraps over her nose. I know that when I had her muzzled for vet appointments people assumed she was dangerous.
How should I handle this? She is not a mean dog. She is truly very sweet. I hate that people see her that way. Are there more benefits to the basket muzzle or is it simply safer? Also, is a 6' lead long enough during our trust building exercises?
What that person was talking about on your post in FB, was a head collar or gentle leader. It is a collar that wraps around the top of their nose under their chin and behind the ears. This is meant for dogs that need leash training. Ones that won't walk with YOU and pull. When they pull, it causes their head to be pulled back toward who's holding the leash. I do not believe this will be beneficial to you in any way. you say she's pretty good on lead already except for those distractions, and something tells me she would not care if something was on her face in those situations and she'd fight the pressure of the pull regardless.
I started to tell you a little on FB about more training. I think that's where you need to concentrate for now. (along with the great suggestions from Selzer) but you mentioned she is stubborn and won't do certain things for you without treats. That's ok for now. The idea is to just get her thinking and using her mind when you guys are training. Do sessions multiple times a day and under no distraction. Get her proficient in those commands. Things like sit, stay, down, wait, release, place, etc.. teach her things for manners but also fun. Teach her to focus on you. I teach "eyes" and make him hold his focus until I release.
I know you mentioned in our messages that she doesn't like toys. Does she like to play at all? Fetch? Tug? Flirt Pole? Ex: Titan is INSANE over a tennis ball and frisbee, so we use those in place of treats a lot of the time when training. I do a few commands then we play.. then commands, then play.. it tires him out physically and mentally at the same time. If it were me, because you don't have a fenced in yard, I would get a longer lead for her when you do training, maybe 15-20 feet. As long as you have control of the lead and you aren't training around people. This would be just to give her the feel of not being restricted. You can practice recalls and long stays this way while still holding the lead and walking away.
Whatever you decide on, be consistent and when you feel yourself getting frustrated, stop training, end on a good note, and come back later to try again. Right now I'd truly focus on her OB.
Also, from the little I know about muzzles.. the basket muzzle gives the dog full motion while not allowing her to bite. When I was fitting my mastiff for one when she was a puppy, she had a cloth one that completely restricted her mouth movement. She could only growl and not open her mouth at all.
not promoting either, or even the site for that matter because I have little experience with them, but this was a site that had both on the same page so can physically see the difference and how less restrictive the basket is for the dog.
Also, at this point, I know you don't want your dog to be viewed as aggressive, but understand that you are keeping everyone involved safe, including yoru dog, when you muzzle her in public. Ignorant people will label her as aggressive, and knowledgable people will appreciate you for taking the right precautions with her.
Find a good bitesport trainer in your area for either IPO, Mondioring or French Ring. Have them evaluate the dog and work with them. Stay away from the positive only trainers for issues like this. This isn't the kind of thing people on the forums can really help you with. You need someone that knows exactly what they are doing.
I got my dutch shepherd from Les Flores near Centralia WA just south of where you are relocating at McChord. He runs the Cascade Shutzhund Club and is a good bitesport trainer. If he can't help, I am sure he will know someone who can. You can google him or De Las Flores kennels. He is out of the country at the DS World Championships for another week, so don't expect anything back immediately.
Good luck and yes on the prong collar and listen to Baillif above.
Checking into a new(ish) IPO club out here for you. I'll let you know what I find.
once in a while,even the greatest trainers must use and ecollar.
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