Hannah and the importance of teaching focus! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-03-2009, 12:58 PM Thread Starter
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Hannah and the importance of teaching focus!

I took Hannah to the dog park. Hannah is fear aggressive to other dogs and shy with strangers. We have been working on this solid for more than six months, not including the obedience and training that I did for the year before that. (Why can't people socialize their dogs properly when they are little!!!!) She's come SOOOOOO far. I literally choked up when the day came that Hannah was behaving herself in a pack of dogs while all of us owners chatted. She is still fairly reactive Anyway, it was my second time taking Hannah by myself. Usually I go with my trainer and her dog so we have a little pack. Hannah is a little more cautious with just the two of us, but she's been really good.

Anyway, I took some treats with me and she was wearing a string muzzle. It was loose enough that she was comfortable in it and could open her mouth and take a treat. I just wanted her to check herself a little and not be able to really engage with another dog. She stays pretty close to me anyway and to be honest it probably just gave me more peace of mind than it actually did anything. After we had been hiking around for an hour or so (with her being really great) a young hound (coon?) came running up to us and I'm sure he could smell the treats in my pocket from miles away. He attached himself to my hip and was practically jumping on Hannah trying to get to the treats. Before he even got to us, I got Hannah's attention and started doing heeling patterns, sits, etc and keeping her focus on me. I completely ignored the other dog and SO DID SHE!!! He was literally jumping on me and trying to get the treats out of my pocket. If I had focused on him or acknowledged him, I know Hannah would have lost it. As it was she was amazing. The owner came and got his dog while apologizing profusely. I felt kind of bad because I pretty much ignored him to as I made a fuss over Hannah as I released her and gave her treats and pets and we went running down the path. I felt rude, but as a training issue, it was much better to just keep my dog focused on me. I was so impressed with my girl! All that work comes in handy when you least expect it sometimes. This has been such a long road. I know Hannah will always be a female German Shepherd with an edge, but man I love that dog!
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-03-2009, 01:04 PM
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Re: Hannah and the importance of teaching focus!

Yay good for you guys

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-03-2009, 02:19 PM
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Re: Hannah and the importance of teaching focus!

Nice story and nicely done. Come help me with Max. I am working on his dog aggressiveness that he probably picked up as a street runner. Starting off poorly but he is smart and I am stubborn so we will get it done.

Clover - GSD 9 yr old Rescue
R.I.P. Spats, Sophie, Emmie, Pooh Bear, Rogue, Max and Patton

Remember, if someone has a problem with you.........it is in fact their problem.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-03-2009, 02:27 PM
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Re: Hannah and the importance of teaching focus!

Good Job!! What are you doing to work through this, if you don't mind me asking? I have a fear aggressive dog as well and looking for any tips that might help me with her.
Keep up the good work.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-03-2009, 03:45 PM Thread Starter
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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.
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