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Thread: Testing a limit with my reactive dog Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
01-09-2013 04:28 PM
RowdyDogs Wow, that is an extremely reactive dog! I admire you for working with her. I'm impressed with the progress it sounds like you're making, and would definitely be interested in hearing further updates.

I think we all need to perfect our timing and technique with our dogs. Something that has helped me a lot when I haven't been able to work with a trainer is having someone videotape me working with my dog. Even a short 1-2 minute cell phone video can help you look at both your dog's body language and your handling of the situation with an objective eye, since it's impossible not to miss things when you're caught up in the moment.

Do you have any idea why she is this way? Is it her natural temperament, upbringing, etc.? I wind up dealing with reactive dogs a lot so I'm always interested to hear about them, especially an unusual case like your dog.
01-08-2013 12:28 PM
KentuckyGSDLover
Quote:
Originally Posted by RowdyDogs View Post
\ Is she reactive off-leash or just on it, do you know? I totally understand if the answer is, "I don't know, I don't want to let my reactive dog off-leash you nut!" But there are some dogs who are just reactive or more reactive on leash.
Bingo. I'm afraid to find out.

Quote:
Something that did jump out at me in your post is your mention of her lunging at everything and you needing to hold her with a "death grip." That isn't a good thing! She's rehearsing the lunging behavior and reinforcing it when she does it. Where does she encounter unfamiliar things? Are you taking her for routine walks?
She reacts IMMEDIATELY. And yes, she gets taken out quite often and played with daily. She's extremely hyper and needs to blow the energy! I had to teach her how to play, but she's caught on quite well and now no one is safe from the flying Kong! She even barks at planes flying over. No joke. I live in a very rural area and she is exposed to few people. However, she also lunges at shadows when I take her out at night, jumps if I throw a stick in the brush out of the yard (when she hears it hit the leaves), etc. I've noticed a few changes lately, though and her self-confidence seems to be growing a bit with security. When the neighboring farmers feed the cows, she does more of a controlled bark, then can be easily distracted when I say, "Oh hush and go potty." She looks at me, as if the whole thing amused her. I also noticed when I had a friend over often to study with me that after a few weeks, she quit barking so ferociously and so often, instead doing a few short barks and stopping.

Quote:
Obviously sometimes it may not be possible to avoid taking her out (like necessary veterinary appointments), but if that wasn't an exaggeration, I'd back off and keep working on her in your yard for awhile, then maybe start adding unfamiliar things in the yard--have a friend stand right on the edge, set up some trash cans or something if she reacts to objects, etc. Keep her far enough away that you can keep her attention, and practice walking past and ignoring them, gradually getting closer. Eventually expand it to very short walks in quiet areas, then longer walks, then busier areas, etc.
No exaggeration, trust me. She has drug me across the yard getting excited about going after a rabbit, even with a Martingale collar on. I finally did get her to quit dragging me down the porch steps but I have to tell her "wait" every single time to do so. Hence my reluctance to test her out on other people. The few people willing to do it caused her to go into an absolute tizzy upon sight or sound of their voice. She barks at dogs that are barking a mile away across the field.

Quote:
Your goal with a reactive dog should be to never let them actually react--you build up their confidence and tolerance by pushing their comfort zone extremely slowly, and never letting them get over threshold (in other words, to the point where they're lunging/barking/whatever). Every time she goes over threshold, she's at best not learning anything and may even be learning that reacting is "good," because the unwanted stimulus goes away or at least doesn't hurt her.
She reacts before there is anything to react to. Seriously. She'll bark just in case something MIGHT be there. Darnedest thing I've ever seen. I know I need help with her to pinpoint timing and techniques but my job just got outsourced and I'm pushing it right now to keep a roof over our heads. Overall, this dog has made huge improvements, though, and she's becoming a quite enjoyable dog in my home. She was almost like a wild animal when I brought her home a year ago.

Quote:
Sorry if that is presumptuous and you already know that, like I said it just jumped out at me in your post. I'm glad you had such a good experience letting her off leash in your yard!
Oh, I appreciate the input!
12-25-2012 12:34 PM
RowdyDogs As long as you can read your dog and know when to call her back/remove her from the situation, testing the limits can be good. Is she reactive off-leash or just on it, do you know? I totally understand if the answer is, "I don't know, I don't want to let my reactive dog off-leash you nut!" But there are some dogs who are just reactive or more reactive on leash.

Something that did jump out at me in your post is your mention of her lunging at everything and you needing to hold her with a "death grip." That isn't a good thing! She's rehearsing the lunging behavior and reinforcing it when she does it. Where does she encounter unfamiliar things? Are you taking her for routine walks?

Obviously sometimes it may not be possible to avoid taking her out (like necessary veterinary appointments), but if that wasn't an exaggeration, I'd back off and keep working on her in your yard for awhile, then maybe start adding unfamiliar things in the yard--have a friend stand right on the edge, set up some trash cans or something if she reacts to objects, etc. Keep her far enough away that you can keep her attention, and practice walking past and ignoring them, gradually getting closer. Eventually expand it to very short walks in quiet areas, then longer walks, then busier areas, etc.

Your goal with a reactive dog should be to never let them actually react--you build up their confidence and tolerance by pushing their comfort zone extremely slowly, and never letting them get over threshold (in other words, to the point where they're lunging/barking/whatever). Every time she goes over threshold, she's at best not learning anything and may even be learning that reacting is "good," because the unwanted stimulus goes away or at least doesn't hurt her.

Sorry if that is presumptuous and you already know that, like I said it just jumped out at me in your post. I'm glad you had such a good experience letting her off leash in your yard!
12-20-2012 11:59 AM
KentuckyGSDLover
Testing a limit with my reactive dog

I've worked a year on training nightly, mostly focus commands to keep her wild nature focused on me. Rey still lunges on leashes at everything unfamiliar and I hold on with a death grip. So today I took a chance and did somethng new. I've noticed the few times she has slipped the collar in the past (not able to now with the Martingale) she doesn't go far, just wants to run. So this morning I got up late and knew she desperately needed to do her business. It is raining and nasty out and I'm worn out from standing in the weather waiting eons for this dog to poop. I checked to see if the neighboring farm had already fed the cattle and they had, so no tractor or people out in the field to freak her out. I simply let her out. She stood on the porch with me awhile, not quite sure what to do. I pointed to the steps and told her to go potty. She ran down the steps, then back up to me, unsure of herself. I repeated myself. She went down the steps again, peed, then ran back to me on the porch. I let Buddy out and told her to "go poo-poo." When Buddy went down the steps, she followed. Amazingly, she did a little fast run of the yard (she needs that), then went poop, and came right back when I called her. Maybe I need to learn to let go just a wee bit.

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