Re: Hannah and the importance of teaching focus!
As far as us working through her fear aggression, the first thing I did was get a private trainer with a great non-reactive male GSD. She has been a complete god send!
Trainer came and did a behavior evaluation on Hannah. Her opinion is that if Hannah has an out in a situation, she will take it. She has pretty good bite inhibition.
The next step was taking walks with trainer's dog to get the two of them buddy buddy. That took several weeks and lots of barking and growling.
I took her to the library and sat outside. I made her lay down and we just watched people come and go. We have stood outside the grocery store and watched people. I made a point of smiling at people and saying hello so that she would get good vibes from all these people going about their business and not focusing on her.
After trainer's dog and Hannah were doing alright together, trainer took Hannah for the weekend. It was good for her to be in a different environment without me. She got beat up by their cat, she met strangers and played with the kids all with trainer's dog leading the way and showing her that this was all normal.
I had been taking her to the dog park and she went crazy when she saw the other dogs. I pretty much put her in a down and if she wouldn't go down, I stepped on her leash and made her. I hated having to do it that way, but honestly, it made her able to calm down and watch what was going on. The other dogs weren't focusing on her, they were just excited to go and run around and play. When she was able to just chill a little we went down into the off leash part of the park and if a dog came up to her, I just kept her butt turned to them and kept on walking. I'd sing-song "let's go" and just keep going. After a couple of weeks of that, we let her drag the leash and she really took cues from trainer's dog. She would still rush up to other dogs sometimes and bark, but I got a can that makes noise and when she gears up to run up to another dog, I shake it and disengage her. She comes back and I make a big fuss and give her treats.
Pretty much a sweet, non-reactive opposite sex dog and a string muzzle has made all the difference. We had a pretty strong bond before I started really focusing on the socialization, which really helps because if dogs are really getting rowdy she will come and walk on my other side and look at them in disgust.
You just have to learn by trial and error with your particular dog. If I had known what I was signing up for, I'm not sure I would have taken it on, but since I did, I wouldn't change it for the world.
I'm betting that Hannah is very similar to Max. She was a stray for a long time. The girl who finally rescued her had seen her in the neighborhood for months and no one could get close to her. She finally coralled her in her back yard, but couldn't keep her. I saw a picture of her and was like "I need her!"
I want to start doing some classes and more specialized training. We still have a lot to work on, but she just gets better and better and I'm starting to figure it out a little bit more.