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Old 07-22-2014, 03:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default How to get over MY own anxiety..

So the BF and I are both back from deployments and in a new house with just us and our new routine. I have taken Titan out of SAR for personal reasons to include some of what this thread is about.. with that part being said we now have more time to do things with Mr. Titan outside the home. Titan is amazing outside the house. We frequent restaurants (on leash), a small dog beach (off leash), and some shopping locations (on leash) and he is just perfect. We also do a lot around my property off leash.. yard work out front, playing out front, training out front, etc. all off leash there.

There has only ever been one time he has acted out of the ordinary... and here are the threads that talk about that..

Was this Aggression, and/or is it fixable? (moved from Gen Info)

(Update) Our one on one with a trainer! (moved from general info)

Basically.. to sum that up if you don't want to read (it is a lot, lol). During SAR Training he was off leash as we'd just finished a scenario, as we turned a corner to an open field there was a man walking toward us a distance away, went to grab his collar to leash and he escaped my hands, went after this guy barking the entire way, nipped him in the hip and once the guy stopped moving, I'd gotten there already, and he stopped and sat next to me. Hasn't happen before that or since then. I took him out of SAR to work on it and essentially haven't gone back. I took him to a trainer and she said, beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was not aggression and believes it was solely because he startled me, the guy would stop moving, and he was protecting. She said the fact that he didn't bite through skin nor continue after I had gotten over there was her reasoning. She and I worked for a few sessions and we basically just did fun stuff because she said I didn't have anything to work on with him. Just that I needed to be in control more with him because I was getting lax.. which was true.

I have, since then, had this hidden anxiety about taking him anywhere.. Also, since then, I have done a lot more work on things, trying to get him back to be solid on a few things. After months, he is fantastic. Like I said before we really do go a lot of places with him and I have been working with him more in public. I have virtually no worries about him on leash at all.. but how do I gain my confidence back in him on off leash times. We have gone to the off leash dog beach since then, and again.. did perfect. We go to the dog park and again, perfect, comes when called, leave things when told, etc. From an observer's perspective he is very well behaved and has no issues... but for me I have this like anxiety that the one incident will repeat itself, because he'd been great up to that point too.

How do I get back to the place where we can hike on trails off leash and I can relax andd not be on edge the entire time anticipating someone coming around the corner??

Any advice, maybe from some who have had to build back their own confidence in their dog??
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Old 07-22-2014, 03:52 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I've done the opposite of what most people here say to do with their dogs - I've always given my dogs too much freedom, and consequently they've occasionally made the wrong choice. But I've never let that affect my confidence in either them or myself. If they made a mistake, it was a learning opportunity. If Titan was my dog, I would want 100% reliability with his recall, and if I had that, then I wouldn't worry about anything else as far as he's concerned. But I would pay extra attention (more than my usual excessive anal monitoring, is that even possible, lol?) to the environment when he's off leash, to make absolutely certain that he was recalled before anything could ever happen, so that particular event never repeated itself. I guess I'm not much help...sorry
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Old 07-22-2014, 04:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I agree with Blanketback on the 100% solid recall.

The thing you also need to realize is that anxiety travels up and down the leash too. You've got to get into the proper frame of mind, confident and not expecting something bad to happen.
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Old 07-22-2014, 04:11 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I agree Freddy.. I REALLY try to not get anxious when we are out, though sometimes I can't help it.

And Blanketback, maybe that's my problem.. he has solid recall with the distractions we have been able to recreate, but I haven't been able to do it when he's in full drive mode. 99.9% of the time, if I have his toy in my hand.. he's mine regardless. Doesn't give a hoot what anyone or anything is doing around him. Though I am much more aware now of our surroundings now.
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Old 07-22-2014, 06:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I used be constantly on guard with Skadi, after she growled at a waitress at a crowded outdoor restaurant soon after we got her, but she has been so good ever since that I just trust her again. I had to get up my nerve to start taking her out again, and do some training, but she has earned my trust again. Grim isn't there yet- with him, I am constantly on guard, although he has been much better lately.
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Old 07-22-2014, 06:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Can you not set Titan up in a similar situation with the help of a friend?

If someone was willing to assist, I bet you could simulate the situation which set Titan off ....even with a bit of surprise/alarm on your behalf if your assistant was good at their role in the exercise.

Proofing the dog on his recall in an anxious moment will most likely help you understand if you have the problem solved or more work needs to be done.

Maybe a 30 foot lead might be a good idea while you are testing Titan's reactions in this exercise so he can bolt a bit if he so desires...and of course a bit of free rein to test the solidness of his recall.

The unexpected has caught me before as well and it does raise my pulse rate momentarily....have to imagine my pooch feels the same as well as the difference in me.

It sounds like you have a wonderful dog in Titan, probably better than most...I'm confident he will win your trust a 100% again.

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Old 07-22-2014, 11:10 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wyoung2153 View Post

How do I get back to the place where we can hike on trails off leash and I can relax andd not be on edge the entire time anticipating someone coming around the corner??
What you need is 1 solid command that you can rely on in any distraction. I would advise on the "DOWN" command. If you go with a recall command it would take a lot more work (in high distraction) as compared to the down command.

The reason being, when you command down the dog stops what he is doing and goes down (in this case he is running way from you). In a recall command, the dog has to stop what he is doing, look for you (he is running away at distraction so is not clear where you are at) then make a decision if he wants to return to you (or not). You would have to work on each part of the recall individually (in high distraction).

I would train the down command and proof it in the highest possible distraction. Will be easier to accomplish and will get the job done.
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Old 07-23-2014, 10:15 AM   #8 (permalink)
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In a recall command, the dog has to stop what he is doing, look for you (he is running away at distraction so is not clear where you are at) then make a decision if he wants to return to you (or not).
I agree that the "Down" command is very valuable, but what's to say that if the dog is allowed to blow off the recall, then the dog won't blow off that command too? The recall isn't negotiable! I'm surprised you even said that, actually. Lol, shocked...I'll bet your dogs don't get to "decide" if they'll recall or not

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And Blanketback, maybe that's my problem.. he has solid recall with the distractions we have been able to recreate, but I haven't been able to do it when he's in full drive mode. 99.9% of the time, if I have his toy in my hand.. he's mine regardless. Doesn't give a hoot what anyone or anything is doing around him. Though I am much more aware now of our surroundings now.
That last sentence: yup! I like walking my dogs off leash too, but I don't let them get too far ahead of me, and if there's a curve in the path then I'll call them right back to stay with me, just in case of what you're worrying about, lol.

It's interesting how we can condition our dogs to respond to certain situations. My last GSD wasn't the greatest with other dogs, so whenever we were outside and another dog was walking past our house, he'd get the "Down" command. Over time, every time he saw another dog, he'd get into that position on his own - it was wonderful, lol.

I've been taking my current dog for off leash walks ever since he was 8 weeks old. I would call him back to me at a certain distance every time, just because I didn't want him roaming too far and getting out of my sight. He's conditioned himself to automatically race ahead to that general distance, and then he'll race right back to me to check in. This is wonderful too!
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Old 07-23-2014, 11:39 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I am workign on the emergency down during a recall right now. He's a bit slow at it... and if I do it too much he starts anticipating the command. I am certain I am doing something wrong. Haven't quite figured out how to train the emergency down in any high drive situation. It's hard to mimic him in the zone because he only get "in the zone" every so often.. the closest I get is having him chase the frisbee or kickball.. that is like crack Titan.

Anywho.. for me I think it's just because I haven't been able to test any of his training in those situations. When we do off leash, it's really only when we hike or are at a picnic or beach.

It's funny because if we show up to a group of people or a group of dogs.. he is just perfect.. it's like he knows they were there and we are coming to their territory. But it's mroe if we're by ourselves and someone approaches that I get that anxiety and he is more alert.. now maybe that's normal, lol. I just notice a big difference in his resopnses to people and dogs depending on if we go there or they come here. You know?
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Old 07-23-2014, 11:50 AM   #10 (permalink)
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It's what they're reading from us too. If you're anxious, then of course Titan will be alert to what's making you anxious. Lots of people think I'm a bit of a snob, because I'll ignore them instead of being the typical friendly type. But this is what I'm teaching my dog - yeah, there a guy with a kayak 15' away from us, big deal, I've got your water toy, wheeee! Then after a few tosses, I'll say, "Hi, nice day to enjoy the water, huh?" and by then my dog is over his initial interest in that person - who did get a glance from him initially, but he followed my lead in not paying attention.
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