Dog Reactivity - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-20-2012, 09:31 PM Thread Starter
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Dog Reactivity

So I was working with Cinder on her loose leash walking in my hallway with the door open in order to slowly introduce the distractions of the outside world. She was doing pretty good until she saw a little lapso apso across the street. She went absolutely ballistic. She charged to the end of her leash and started barking like crazy. Nothing I did would break her focus on the dog. Even when I shut the door she remained fixated on where the dog was and continued to whine/bark. I had to put her in her crate in order to calm her down.

When we are in our backyard, the minute she hears the neighbors dog through the fence she abandons whatever we're doing and starts pacing the wall. The only way to get her to stop is to drag her away by her collar and put her inside. It is getting to be a problem because the neighbors dogs are almost always outside and they react to every little noise by barking. We used to get a half hour to an hour of outdoor time before she'd go to the wall, but now it seems like we can only be out for 10-15 minutes before she's at the wall.

What can I do to correct these behaviors? I'm working on focus with her but we just started, and it's been slow going. She gets distracted very easily and I have yet to find something that is worth a whole lot to her. The best thing I've found so far is cheese. Any ideas on good training treats would be very much appreciated.

She is a foster dog, and I do not have a lot of money. : ( I cannot spend a lot of money on training items/a trainer. I'd look into getting a prong collar if it is not too expensive, although I am not sure how to properly fit one and I don't want to use it. Any advice would be very, very much appreciated, thank you!
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-21-2012, 12:08 AM
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Nothing I did would break her focus on the dog.
Herein lies the problem. The dog knows very clearly what she can get away with and will do just that. You need to get confidence in your ability to break her focus on any distraction. Then it will become easy. If she has a solid obedience command, anything from sit or down, use that command in situations like these where you totally lose her (down is better than sit as it is absolute). Teach her that if she blows your obedience command off there will be consequences. You need to be consistent, meaning if you give a command, her obeying in some situations and blowing you off in other is not acceptable. Use obedience to work her in distractions. If OB is not solid then control the environment till it becomes solid.

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Last edited by Packen; 03-21-2012 at 12:15 AM.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-21-2012, 12:12 AM
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Herein lies the problem. The dog knows very clearly what she can get away with and will do just that. You need to get confidence in your ability to break her focus on any distraction. Then it will become easy.
That sounds great-- except I'm sure the OP would appreciate suggestions on HOW to develop her ability to break her focus. If you read her entire post, she said she is working on it, but had yet to find something really stellar to help.

We're all ears.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-21-2012, 12:17 AM
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-21-2012, 12:17 AM
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Added a suggestion above.

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-21-2012, 12:35 AM
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I personally would have the dog leashed at all times until she responds 100% of the time in the backyard to your "focus" or come command. If she doesn't respond when you call her away from the fence, with a long line on, you can make her respond. You have to be 110% more exciting than what she is doing. I have a dog reactive dog and I make him down if another dog gets too close to him!

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-21-2012, 01:01 AM Thread Starter
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My biggest problem with her OB is her attention span. I swear she has the attention span of a much younger dog. When we are working on even basic obedience commands like sit, she will constantly be looking around and it's a struggle to keep her attention on me. x_x I think I'm going to try and make her some liver treats to see if that will get her attention enough to focus on me when we're working. I work inside without the T.V. on and no one else in the room, and she's still getting distracted. : ( It is hard because she doesn't seem to enjoy play like a lot of other dogs I've worked with do. She doesn't get excited when I speak in an excited voice and try and get her all hyper. She just wanders away or sits and looks at me for a moment then look around more. I really wish I knew what her life was like before I got her. ><

Of course, she's only been with us for a short while, and I don't expect her to be 100% perfect on all her commands right away, but I was at least expecting her to be a bit more focused on people. XD

I think I'm going to shorten the training sessions to five minutes at a time so that I can absolutely end it on my terms instead of her ending it. She can't seem to go longer than ten minutes without getting bored/distracted.

Thank you for the advice, I will continue to work hard on her obedience and continue searching for that high value item. She has insanely intense focus when she wants something, so if I can find something that I can give her that's valuable to her I think it will go a lot better as far as training goes.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-21-2012, 01:02 AM
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I wouldn't get a prong collar for a dog that's reactive. I used to have a choker on mine and it made the situation a 100 times worse. When your dog pulls the collars tightens and causes discomfort, which she will associate with the other dog, and it will just wind her up even more - which you really don't need.

As for in the garden (yard), keep your sessions out there short and sweet - you will be able to keep her attention for 10 minutes or so - but to keep her attention for an hour is asking a lot. So have a few shorter sessions instead. Keep her a long leash and if she starts pacing - get her excited by playing tug or show her a treat and run off inside, she'll more than likely follow, if she doesn't - reel her in. She'll focus on you more if it's fun

What I found worked with my dog was just reassurance. Could you just sit on your doorstep for instance, or behind a garden gate or on a bench in street where you can see dogs at a reasonable distance. Whenever Cinder's sees a dog, plenty of praise and a treat for remaining calm.

Watch her body language, if she starts to lose control, put your arm round her shoulder and chest, pet her and reassure her. You may think I'm crazy....that's Ok .... but I used to gently whisper to my dog "Shush, Shush, Shush, it's ok" over and over, as I petted him - it worked wonders.

You're going to need a load of patience I'm afraid.

Good Luck

Sue
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-21-2012, 02:23 AM Thread Starter
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Hi
I wouldn't get a prong collar for a dog that's reactive. I used to have a choker on mine and it made the situation a 100 times worse. When your dog pulls the collars tightens and causes discomfort, which she will associate with the other dog, and it will just wind her up even more - which you really don't need.

As for in the garden (yard), keep your sessions out there short and sweet - you will be able to keep her attention for 10 minutes or so - but to keep her attention for an hour is asking a lot. So have a few shorter sessions instead. Keep her a long leash and if she starts pacing - get her excited by playing tug or show her a treat and run off inside, she'll more than likely follow, if she doesn't - reel her in. She'll focus on you more if it's fun

What I found worked with my dog was just reassurance. Could you just sit on your doorstep for instance, or behind a garden gate or on a bench in street where you can see dogs at a reasonable distance. Whenever Cinder's sees a dog, plenty of praise and a treat for remaining calm.

Watch her body language, if she starts to lose control, put your arm round her shoulder and chest, pet her and reassure her. You may think I'm crazy....that's Ok .... but I used to gently whisper to my dog "Shush, Shush, Shush, it's ok" over and over, as I petted him - it worked wonders.

You're going to need a load of patience I'm afraid.

Good Luck

Sue
Yeah, I won't use a prong unless I can have a trainer advise me on it. Which probably won't happen. XD So instead, I will work with her on obedience.

I have tried everything you listed as a solution to her issue in the yard, and she really has 0 interest in me when she hears the dog. I will definitely get a long line and work with her on that from now on so I don't have to chase her down and catch her which is causing problems in and of itself.

I'm still not 100% sure what her deal with other dogs is. I can't tell if it's aggression or excitement, since I haven't see her actually interact with another dog yet. The barking/whining is her frustration, since when she is close to what she wants she is calm. At least, this is how she is with my cat. I have been introducing them which she is in her crate and when Lily is close to her she is fine. She is focused on Lily but doesn't show any signs of aggression, just very interested in her. As soon as Lily is out of sight, however, she starts to whine and bark. I'm hoping that she just really, really, really wants to meet the other dog like my St. Bernard did, since working with a DA dog is not something I want to do. XD My aunt will help me with determining which it is once Cinder's out of heat by introducing her to her two neutral and dog friendly labs. Once I know if it's just excitement or aggression I will be able to make a better game plan, but for now I'm just going to work on her focus and OB commands.
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-21-2012, 06:07 AM
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These are lovely videos teaching impulse control. They could help a lot if Cinder's just over enthusiastic.

If she's not too good with treats, perhaps you could cut the size of her meals down a little - may help.

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