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Thread: aggressive towards strangers on walks? Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
01-22-2014 02:17 AM
boomer11
Quote:
Originally Posted by lawhyno View Post
Few things…
First, it could be a fear phase that some dogs go through. But assuming it's not, let's figure this out...

What type of dog do you want? Sounds like your dog is showing defense. Owners like myself like it when the dog shows defensive drive towards a stranger. I personally like my dogs to be protective of their territory/pack. Maybe you just want a house dog?… that's a different story.
i'm sure a lot of people including myself stopped reading right there.

no matter who it comes from, internet advice should be taken with a grain of salt. especially when it comes to aggression as you really need to be there with the dog to get a proper read on things.
01-22-2014 02:06 AM
marklar lawhyno... you should be a lot more cautious about throwing out the "e-collar" suggestion. I've seen piles of people who were desperate to solve a minor issue and resorted to the e-colar. These people created MAJOR issues because they didn't know how to properly use the collar. What's your background with training? What is your experience with using the e-collar? And what are your specific plans on how this person should utilize it as a training tool? Please clarify.

OP- There are some very insightful suggestions here. But (as previously stated) without seeing the dog no one can give a solid suggestion on why the dog is reacting the way it is reacting. IMHO your biggest task is to get the dog to pay attention to YOU. Once you have the dog's attention figure out how to communicate how you wish it to react to a given situation. Maybe it should be calm. Maybe it should be alert. Maybe it should be alert enough to bark and threaten the person approaching. Regardless, please try talking to your trainer for help. If they can't help you to communicate with your dog maybe another trainer can. But ultimately realize that our dogs react because of cues they get from their handler. If something isn't changing in the behavior of the dog, think about changing how you communicate with the dog.

M
01-21-2014 12:54 PM
Kaimeju
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJEtzel View Post
It's likely that if she's had bad experiences that her threshold is much lower with these dogs... try increasing your distance and working on it when she is comfortable seeing them at a further distance... maybe at an open park with walkers or trails that are open. Sounds like she is more comfortable working near contained dogs because she doesn't have as much of an issue with them, but loose/leashed dogs cause her more anxiety so you just need to start with a little more distance.
I think you're probably right about that. Her behavior is stellar except for the staring- she doesn't break heel position or break a sit if I've asked her to sit. I've been trying to get to my tracking class early so that she can practice around the dogs there since they seem better-behaved. Unfortunately open areas are not a good option because people treat them like dog parks and let their unleashed dogs bolt towards you, even though there are leash law signs everywhere. (Yay country living). Maybe I should stop trying to "fix" her behavior around loose dogs and just get better at making smooth, obedient emergency U-turns.

Also to the OP, protective does not mean acting aggressively towards strangers on walks. That's more likely a sign of insecurity than bravery. A dog with a solid temperament and training knows the difference between a real threat and someone who is just minding their own business.

If you hired a body guard and they threatened to beat up people you passed on the street, would that be a good body guard? No.
01-21-2014 11:51 AM
Msmaria To the OP, like I said earlier (was on my phone and its so hard to type..lol) My dog started barking at certain strangers. The first time I thought it was just my fault because we were on the trail and this guy creeped me out. He was videoing people on his phone and had it aimed towards the kids playing on the swing. I asked my daughter, hey what is that guy doing. Dexter stared at him and when he reached us Dexter lunged towards him. I was shocked since he never did that before. After that I started to notice if he would stop and stare at people, and then he started to bark at some. This started when he was around 10 months.

I followed the advice on the forum, theres so much great advice here, and got him out more. We are still working on things. We are going to alot of new places. We would just sit and watch people. lots of treats when he was sitting and doing well or not focusing on other people and really improved the "watch me "command. When he was anxious (read up on anxiety signals) we would work on our training and ignore others. I stopped giving people treats to pet him and just followed his cues if he was ready to meet someone. We are doing more fun classes such as nosework and doing training with two other trainers. One for agility and one for obedience, to help his confidence. We are using a lot of positive reward training, treats and praise .We only do corrective in his obedience class and even then its not often. Sometimes doing corrective when hes around people and feeling anxious makes things worse. Focus on the positives and reward him for that when you are out and about.

I want you to know it is possible and like others have said it may be a phase they go through at this age. Dont give up and dont keep him away from people. What I have learned this month is that your dog doesnt need to interact with people to socialize, he can do as well by being in their vicinity and just watching them. If you feel more comfortable get him used to a basket muzzle.

I have seen such an improvement in my dogs behavior. Yesterday we were at the lake and he greeted everyone friendly and didnt bark at anyone. Even the lady with the huge sun hat.

EDIT: Corrective for barking may make it worse, corrective when on walks and hes not paying attention to your commands, like others have said is ok.Try to correct before he gets focused on the strangers. Keep his focus on you, if hes nervous.
01-21-2014 11:47 AM
heisenberg2 Regarding the corrections when on walks, if Zeus would pause and just stare, I'd give the command to leave it, or watch me, and when he doesn't respond I'd correct him.

On walks, when trying to practice healing, or sitting and what not, he responds really well to treats. But when it comes to strangers, its like I don't even exist.

[B]lawhyno[B] I do want a protective dog, but not so much that he gets out of control, barking and snapping at people on walks with me having no control.
But I get what you mean about the leash..I've had that problem with him for a long time. But what you said makes sense.

I thought I'd try out what ozzymama said, getting Zeus to sit when people walk by, and start from a distance.

Thanks for all your replies everyone, really helped.
01-21-2014 11:31 AM
DJEtzel
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaimeju View Post
That is what we do, but it only works with dogs behind fences because she knows they won't come after her. We have had some bad experiences with loose dogs charging/chasing us so when we see one on our side of the street she will NOT turn away. The problem seems to be with dogs walking towards is head on. Dogs on leash walking parallel or across the street are fine.


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It's likely that if she's had bad experiences that her threshold is much lower with these dogs... try increasing your distance and working on it when she is comfortable seeing them at a further distance... maybe at an open park with walkers or trails that are open. Sounds like she is more comfortable working near contained dogs because she doesn't have as much of an issue with them, but loose/leashed dogs cause her more anxiety so you just need to start with a little more distance.
01-21-2014 11:23 AM
Gretchen
Quote:
Originally Posted by lawhyno View Post
Few things…
First, it could be a fear phase that some dogs go through. But assuming it's not, let's figure this out...

What type of dog do you want? Sounds like your dog is showing defense. Owners like myself like it when the dog shows defensive drive towards a stranger. I personally like my dogs to be protective of their territory/pack. Maybe you just want a house dog?… that's a different story. Look into e-collars in that case. Also, it's obvious the dog is stressed around strangers. If you want to decrease this behavior without corrections or punishment, try treating the dog from a 100 yards. Get closer and closer with the dog and find that line when being too close causes stress. Use rewards to show the dog that being around people doesn't need to be stressful and get closer and closer to them. It can take some time but it's more effective than corrections in my opinion.

Assuming you want a protector… I'd look into use classical or operant conditioning training to teach your dog an "on and off" switch when it comes to defense and aggression towards strangers. I'll try explaining this…

When you see a stranger coming around and you know your dog is going to snap into defense, give him a command ("watch him"), allow him to get worked up, and praise him while he growls and barks. He will eventually associate that command (watch him) with getting defensive and feel comfortable. Then, use motivation (favorite toy or food) to get the dog to stop doing the behavior. Engage him and distract him by letting him bite a toy. Biting is a tool to relieve stress in the dog. Once toy distracts the dog from this behavior, through repetition you can start to add in a command like "enough".

Here's the problem with correcting your dog in these situations… By correcting the dog you can potentially do two things: kill its defensive drive OR really piss of this dog.
The leash problem sounds like a dominance issue. The dog obviously hates the leash. A dog that runs away from its owner doesn't enjoy and/or respect its owner. I think you need to engage this dog, play fun games, bond and build trust instead of correcting behavior you don't like. Let the dog be a dog sometimes and don't correct them every chance you get (not saying you do but I gotta say this in case you don't… I've seen some stuff). Use classical or operant conditioning to give the dog a good experience through training and bonding. You want your dog to run towards you… obviously.

You could be getting into a sticky situation if not handled right. I'm not sure the trainer you have is good… i also don't know if he's bad. But I would never give "corrections" as my first line of advice when training a dog. But that's only me… everyone has their own ways.
You ever consider an e-collar?

Good luck.
This worked very well for us. It does take time. I would look for opportunities to walk my dog around people, we have a busy tourist area in our town and would walk with a pocket full of treats. We did this for dogs too. Now that my dog is 3.5 years, she still warns me about people, and at my office she is very protective, but I want her to be (it is a tow/impound yard) many people coming there have criminal records or issues with drugs.

I found that the correction with the prong which worked very well for obedience training backfired during the adolescent stage on our walks, my dog associating the stranger or strange dog with a correction left her with negative associations of the strangers. The treating from a distance, then closer and closer and after passing the stranger (if she had no response or focused on me) was a great improvement. My dog is especially nice around other dogs now.
01-21-2014 11:16 AM
ozzymama
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaimeju View Post
That is what we do, but it only works with dogs behind fences because she knows they won't come after her. We have had some bad experiences with loose dogs charging/chasing us so when we see one on our side of the street she will NOT turn away. The problem seems to be with dogs walking towards is head on. Dogs on leash walking parallel or across the street are fine.


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Loose dogs are a different ball game - get out of the situation. Walk away as fast as possible, if there is an owner, tell them to get their dog. Get the focus of your dog on you. You react, you yell if need be, step in front if need be, but avoidance.
The dog yard is across our driveway, often there are dogs walking by on the street, Oz will go either to the yard, or to the door, never to the dog. The Saint, she's still under collar control in that situation. My hand goes to her collar, I'm guiding her, not wrestling or fighting with her, but I am not confident she will go to the door or yard every time under an immediate distraction. Oz, there could be a pack of dogs at the foot of the driveway, he's going to the house and standing there, he's not interested. I'm their friend, not other dogs, not other people. They should want to be with me and they should realize, I will handle the situation, they do what I say, no free thinking.
01-21-2014 11:07 AM
Chip18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaimeju View Post
That is what we do, but it only works with dogs behind fences because she knows they won't come after her. We have had some bad experiences with loose dogs charging/chasing us so when we see one on our side of the street she will NOT turn away. The problem seems to be with dogs walking towards is head on. Dogs on leash walking parallel or across the street are fine.


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Not really seeing the problem here if there charging/chasing she should be watching them!
01-21-2014 11:02 AM
Kaimeju
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJEtzel View Post
I have always done look at that training in these cases, and have gotten numerous dogs over reactivity/fixating this way. Dogs become the cue to look to you in the long run, so it completely changes the association for the dog.
That is what we do, but it only works with dogs behind fences because she knows they won't come after her. We have had some bad experiences with loose dogs charging/chasing us so when we see one on our side of the street she will NOT turn away. The problem seems to be with dogs walking towards is head on. Dogs on leash walking parallel or across the street are fine.


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