Prong during desensitization - does this make sense to you guys? - Page 3 - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 11-27-2012, 11:44 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Actually, when our trainer started to focus too much on repressing, things were not going well anymore, and we've tried to explain it to him.
Yeah, that's the problem with repressing behavior - all you're doing is .... repressing it, you're not actually fixing it. If you can get to the root cause and work on that, then it's going to go away because there's no need for it anymore, as in the situation that Jean describes. If he's reacting out of fear, and you can change that emotional response to the presence of other dogs from fear to happy anticipation through counter-conditioning with "good stuff", then the reactivity will stop. It can be a long, slow process however.

Not all reactivity is based in fear, though. Keefer will sometimes react to other dogs when he's on leash, but off leash he's a social butterfly. He gets excited when he sees other dogs that he wants to meet, and then frustrated when he can't because of the leash. If he's up close and personal with another dog and he's on leash, he's fine, he's more llikely to react when they're at a distance. With him, I have no problem using a prong to get him to snap out of it if he's staring at another dog - staring is a huge trigger for many dogs, and either he'll start barking if allowed to stare too long, or the other dog will go off and then he reacts to that.

At first I was concerned that using an aversive would make his reactivity worse, but since it's not based in fear there has been no fallout whatsoever, and as it turns out, he's extremely resilient to corrections. With a fearful or insecure dog I would use other methods, but it's made a huge difference with Keef, he's about 1/10 as bad as he used to be, and walking him is now pleasant.

Halo can also be snarky on leash, but she's a confident little ! Definitely NO fear there at all, and off leash she really doesn't care about other dogs, especially if there's a ball, they're just obstacles to run around if they're in her way. She's much easier to distract to prevent a reaction than Keefer is, especially with neutral or friendly dogs. She's more likely to react to out of control dogs who give her the stink eye, or are barking or straining towards her - she seems to think it's fair game if they start it, lol! So for her too, I'll use a prong to basically tell her to knock it off if I need to, but most of the time I don't.
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Old 11-27-2012, 11:45 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Does he need to interact with other dogs? Like what is the end goal? I can understand he needs to behave around other dogs (group sit or down in obedience class, being able to heel on the sidewalk if another dog comes past, etc) but if he is showing nerve and confidence issues around other dogs then to me this says he is uncomfortable, so I would work on his confidence elsewhere instead of pressing this issue and making it worse. These "desensitization"/flooding methods have such a very fine line between success and disaster, IMO it's just not worth it. Build up his confidence and obedience in an environment where he feels secure and then slowly close the distance around other dogs (I'm talking like a football field's distance at first). If he shows insecure behavior then it's too close for him. Personally I've had much more success working the dog at the distance where he feels secure and confident rather than trying to convince him to feel confident when he doesn't.
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Old 11-27-2012, 12:13 PM   #23 (permalink)
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It's not really necessary for him to interact with other dogs, although he would be much happier if he could have a few friends to meet with. I wouldn't say that it's exactly fear, it's more like the kind of uncertainty/insecurity towards other dogs. He wants to approach them, but then it's not sure if they are friends or foes. If he can perceive the other dog's friendliness, then he would start to be friendly too, but if he can't feel it, he would start growling, barking, and get all tensed up and go in front of the other dog.

The good thing is that he is very confident, but we need the right dogs that are calm or playful, and mostly friendly and not intimidated by his barks for interaction sessions.
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Old 11-27-2012, 01:52 PM   #24 (permalink)
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It is not necessarily true that he would be much happier with doggy friends. Even my fear agressive dog did fine when slowly and properly introduced to a new family member (dog) and they were very close but outside of the immediate family "pack" dogs don't seem to have the same needs for a broad social circle as do humans.

What you are describing though does not sound confident. As stated dogs can be agressive out of fear or out of being just a bully. Most are simply fearful so that is the best bet and why an expert needs to actually see the dog to determine as the approach will be different.

My dog was the demo dog at a Trish King (a US expert on this) and we did an abandonment test to help determine and it became VERY clear the dog was reacting out of fear. I would not do anything like that without someone knowledgeable but it was revealing.
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Old 11-27-2012, 01:58 PM   #25 (permalink)
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My dog was the demo dog at a Trish King (a US expert on this) and we did an abandonment test to help determine and it became VERY clear the dog was reacting out of fear. I would not do anything like that without someone knowledgeable but it was revealing.
Yes, that's who we worked with on Cassidy's reactivity! The abandonment training was like magic for her.

I agree with Nancy regarding confidence and insecurity - insecure dogs are not exhibiting confidence. Confident dogs don't tend to be insecure.
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Old 11-27-2012, 02:27 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Is this dog the same dog as the other dog you are asking about?
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Old 11-27-2012, 03:48 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by jocoyn View Post
It is not necessarily true that he would be much happier with doggy friends. Even my fear agressive dog did fine when slowly and properly introduced to a new family member (dog) and they were very close but outside of the immediate family "pack" dogs don't seem to have the same needs for a broad social circle as do humans.

What you are describing though does not sound confident. As stated dogs can be agressive out of fear or out of being just a bully. Most are simply fearful so that is the best bet and why an expert needs to actually see the dog to determine as the approach will be different.

My dog was the demo dog at a Trish King (a US expert on this) and we did an abandonment test to help determine and it became VERY clear the dog was reacting out of fear. I would not do anything like that without someone knowledgeable but it was revealing.
I wouldn't say much happier, he certainly can live without socializing with other people or dogs, but it's a kind of an extra that would make him happy from time to time, like going with our dogs to the beach or doing some extra activity. We used to let him run free with another neighbor's dog back then when he was younger, and he was so happy with it... But we couldn't do that anymore (we moved away and now that he's dog reactive, letting him off leash is a big no).

When I said he is confident, it was more about his personality. His reactivity is clearly due to insecurity and unsureness.

By the way, I think that I've heard of the abandonment test somewhere but can't remember well... Can you tell me about it?
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Old 11-27-2012, 03:50 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Is this dog the same dog as the other dog you are asking about?
What do you mean?
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Old 11-27-2012, 04:20 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Is this a different dog or is it your dog you are describing?
Can you explain this behavior?

This is her material on abandonment training. I am sure there are nuances but you can google Trish KIng and probably find all you want.
Abandonment Training (Trish King)
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Old 11-27-2012, 04:38 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by jocoyn View Post
Is this a different dog or is it your dog you are describing?
Can you explain this behavior?

This is her material on abandonment training. I am sure there are nuances but you can google Trish KIng and probably find all you want.
Abandonment Training (Trish King)
No no, they are different dogs, the other one is not mine and I was the guest.

Thanks for the link!
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