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Thread: Fear Aggression/6 Month Male....Help needed! Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
01-02-2014 07:18 PM
d4lilbitz My male shepherd was like this.... He was a rescue so I'm not entirely sure of his background or breeding. If we we out, he would growl and bark at everything. Especially cats and squirrels. I do not use the flex leashes as it decreases my control. I agree with the below. If a dog knows leash manners, then they are benefical, but the more freedom a dog that doesn't have manners, then it allows them more room to build up speed...and you can get hurt. I want to be able to correct a negative behavior before he shows it. I use a 6 ft double harness on them. One leash and then both are hooked up together. Some commands I use when out in public are "Settle" meaning stay calm. I say this when I see someone or thing approaching. It lets him know that whatever it is will not harm him. Once the object has passed...praise, praise, praise : ) Let him know what a good boy that was. Another command I use is "Sidewalk". This works for me when they are on a path and I give them their head. When I want them back in line, I say "sidewalk". This lets them know its all business. Compared to the usual commands, these propably are silly, but they work for me. It took several months, but now he is my biking buddy. Anthing can go right by us and he is not phased.

Everyone's training is different and you must do what works best for you and your dog. Sometimes, the key is to catch the behavior before it happens and always let him know when he's expressed a good behavior that you want him to continue.

Good luck.
01-02-2014 07:08 PM
VTGirlT Keep your dog on a six foot leash because people are unpredictable and it gives you more time to respond to unwanted approaches (since your dog is closer to you, meaning farther from the person) Also you can tell a person not to make eye contact, not to walk closer, not to pet.. And the person may or may not listen.. You have to be one step ahead at all times, and if you think you won't be able to, than you need to muzzle your dog- but make sure your dog gets accustomed to muzzles, so they don't mean bad things. Have your dog wear the muzzle on walks, give treats with muzzle, etc.

Please buy the book, "The Cautious Canine- How to Help Dogs Conquer Their Fears" by Patricia B. McConnell. It is the best resource i have bought for my fear aggressive dog to strangers.

You want to do the combination of what your trainer and breeder said.
You DO want to keep your dog under threshold, which means your dog should not be barking, growling, curling lip, tail tucked and other body language signs your dog gives when he is nervous, if he is doing this, it means your dog is over threshold and you are going too fast too soon. Your dog can look alert, which is as it sounds, focused on the person but you can still get their attention by saying their name. You will need lots of treats and a "happy- calm voice!" Use a calm but a happy tone which is what my private trainer suggested, but Patricia says its helpful to sing happy birthday toon.

Management is the biggest key to keeping your dog and strangers safe from a bite. You do not want your dog to bite anyone for everyones sake.

What you DO want, is to change the emotional state of your dog when it see's strangers, from fear to "Oh its a stranger bring on the treats and party!" Rather than what some people do, they will say "QUIET" or get their dog to stop the action, when he starts to bark or growl at strangers. When you do that, you are simply telling him not to do that action, you are not changing the fact that he is scared of new people, distrustful of them and because of which reacts with aggression. If you change the monsters (strangers) to treat boxes, tennis balls, chest rubs and "parties" (they become good things, no longer monsters!) you are changing your dogs emotional state and the action will go away, because there is no longer any fear. If you just change the action, the emotional state is there, and that is where a unpredictable biter can happen and the dog still lives in fear, which isn't fair. This is called as classical counter conditioning and works very well. If you read the book i suggested you will have further detail of things, also i would suggest finding a private trainer into classical counter conditioning for fear aggression.

This can become a loooong process, and its still always going to need management. Zelda and I are in baby steps, but there is improvement and that is all i am asking for.

Also exercise is very important, you will probably notice your dog is more reactive to strangers with less exercise.
01-02-2014 07:06 PM
David Taggart First of all - there is no such a thing exists as "fear agression". It should be written "fear/agression" , that is where confusion begins. The difference between fear and agression is amount of adrenaline in your dog's blood. This amount increses with age. Due to the fact that young creatures are vulnerable they are scared of anything large in size, human babies under 2 years are scared of stranges as well. This character is an indication that your dog could be agressive in the future. But, I can tell you - to deal with agression is far easier than with a fearful dog. By avoiding situations you would simply keep him at the same stage. By meeting people often you would teach him bad habits, people shouldn't touch young puppy before he knows basic commands well, he must sit before anyone crouches in front of him and stretches his hand and better to train that in good classes. In order to experience fear he must isolate that object prior to experience from surrounding environment. Take him to really busy parks, where are many noises ( not too loud) and many people walk with dogs, so, to make it difficult for him to concentrate his attention. Try not to stop at other dogs longer than half a minute, keep on walking, say "Sorry!" to people who want to pet your dog, just walk. The next time take his toy with you, and again, keep on walking playing on the way. Then stop for a short while somewhere to play, and start walking only he pays attention to something else than his ball. It is very important to train him to keep his attention on yourself first during your walks.Try different pace, try to run, stop, run again and play. In the later days stop at dogs and people for longer. Thus he will understand that place as a safe place. Go to some other place, like a shopping centre, use stairs, go in and out different exits. When you start noticing that the only thing he wants is his toy, only then you can do in public places what you do in your classes of socialization.
01-02-2014 05:29 PM
Blanketback I love flexi leads, but the key to enjoying them is to have a dog that knows leash manners. If your dog is lunging, don't even condsider using one, lol. I also use a tug to redirect my dog's attention and it works wonders.
01-02-2014 05:24 PM
JakodaCD OA I was going to suggest teaching him a good LEAVE IT command..Leave it for my dogs mean, stop whatever your doing, don't think about doing whatever it is,

I hate flexi's You can burn your hands if the dog decides to take off, get a LONG line, and YES I would be giving him a correction for lunging at cars, lunging at people.

With 'leave it', for example, say your walking down the street, you see someone coming, you "know" your dog is probably going to react, work on using LEAVE IT, BEFORE the dog reacts.

Things I have done in the above scenerio..step off to the side, put the dog in a sit/down, whatever, again a 'leave it', wait till they pass.

If he's charging at strangers, he has no business being off a leash/long line whatevr your using. Know your surroundings, know what' triggers a reaction, and stop the reaction BEFORE it happens.
01-02-2014 04:27 PM
richjack39 Thanks for all the replies so far. They are all very helpful. Things do seem to be getting a little bit better. He is certainly less reactive to cars and perhaps a little less to people and dogs. The only slight trouble we had is that he charged at a poor lady walking in the field when off leash. I wouldn't say it was overly aggressive but enough to scare a stranger. If i keep him on a flexi leash (perhaps the best way forward at the moment) and he charges at strangers what action should i take? I must admit I'm a little confused as some people say don't tell him off whilst others say do.
I have been giving him his tug toy when passing by people as its almost like his dummy to him and does seem to work although with the incident we had a family member's dog had stolen it from him!
The breeder did advise teaching him the 'leave command' - is that a good idea or isn't it just disguising the problem as he shouldn't have to leave a human alone on command!?
Thanks again for any previous replies, any help i appreciated as we very much want our puppy to enjoy his life as much as possible without restrictions!
12-29-2013 05:56 PM
Amurphy26 I've been in your situation and can categorically say muzzling and letting the dog loose only makes things a lot worse! I was advised by a trainer to do this but it resulted in my already fearful dog feeling more vulnerable and it increased the intensity of her fear reaction. I agree in that it's a little bit if advice from both. Keep mixing your dog with stable dogs it knows and work at a distance with unfamiliar dogs when out on walks. Try and avoid close contact or head on with new dogs and use good treats or a favourite toy as a distraction.
Good luck.

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12-28-2013 07:56 PM
Blitzkrieg1 If he is crazy for the ball or tug use this. When the stranger or dogs gets close enough for him to notice and he starts posturing get his attention pull out the ball and play with him. Take him to public places parks, play with him a lot. Ask for focus, mark then play. Dont have people pet him or any other silliness. Also, correct any negative reaction to other dogs/people and reward focus on you.
12-28-2013 07:41 PM
boomer11 i think most shepherds go through this phase. mine went through it around 5 months. whether you can get rid of the leash reactivity or just be able to manage it ultimately comes down to his genetics.

i'd take a little bit of both the breeder and trainers advice. you need to put your dogs in situations so he will learn but you need to keep him at a distance where you still have his attention and can still give him commands. once he is lunging and barking then he is over threshold and your commands go on deaf ears. it takes patience and hopefully your dog isnt too nervy and it gets fixed because even a simple walk around the neighborhood with a reactive dog is a chore.
12-28-2013 07:25 PM
we got him from a breeder's who has been dealing with these type of dogs all her life and we met his entire family from great grandparents to his mother and father, they all seem friendly dogs who barked at first but were pleased to meet us - his mother was a little bit more shy and frightened of us at first but this was her first litter. we were assured of great temperament and good dogs.
Why is the breeder breeding dogs with fear aggression reactivity? And why did you choose to go with a puppy from dogs that are that way? It is genetic and very hard to train out.
The most you can do is keep him under threshold(like the behavoirist suggested/stay outside the fringe of activity~don't totally isolate your pup) and build up the level of confidence, which happens in training. Seeing as you are using a behaviorist, I would stay with the methods they suggest, consistency is important. Hopefully this trainer is very knowledgeable and will help. 6 months is usually the age it starts showing because the puppy is gaining more independence. My own dog, Onyx was the same way at the same age. She got better with maturity and my management, but is a dog that I can't trust out and about. I need to manage her carefully and set her up for success.
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