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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-04-2012, 09:22 PM Thread Starter
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Correcting fear?

In the past couple months, our girl Sasha has developed what appears to be a fear of people. She has always been dog reactive so that's nothing new but now we're trying to deal with this new people issue. And no, keeping her away from all people isn't an option. We don't have a yard, live in a townhome complex, and at the very least often see people when we have her out to use the bathroom. My question though is how I should correct her barking at people? It appears to be partly fear based as she's not moving forward, her hackles are up, and it's worse when they surprise her, plus her bark is just different, more anxious if that makes sense.

Is this a behavior that deserves a prong correction or is there a better way to handle it? We've tried the LAT game and it's worked pretty well with the dog reactiveness but only if we can control the situation (distance, etc.) and sometimes that's not an option. I've talked to a couple of trainers and have gotten very different opinions. Everything from using the ecollar, hard corrections on the prong, all the way to distracting her with a treat until she calms down (this doesn't really distract her and I feel like I'm just rewarding her for barking). We've also been told to NEVER correct a fear response as that will only make it worse. We don't need her to be a social butterfly but she can't keep scaring the crap out of our neighbors or we're going to get kicked out of our rental...

Brooke

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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-04-2012, 09:41 PM
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It's tough.

Every dog is different, and I have been dealing with my boy and his reactiviy since he was a baby and he is getting better as he ages and builds his confience. What helps best for him, is when the person he is reacting to takes his favorite ball and plays with him. It takes him about 15-30 seconds to warm up to someone when he has the toy, and up to a minute or so without. But that isn't always possible in every situation. I don't expect random people and/or my neighbors to willingly come up and play with him.

I know how you feel about neighbors and your dog reacting though. Jackson does that too. Does she know the leave it command? I usually tell Jackson to 'leave it' when I see him tense up. On a few occasions he has gone ballistic barking and hackling and I do correct him if he gets too out of hand. Me talking with the person really doesn't help either, or make him feel more at ease. It works best when I completley ignore the person and simply carry on. What is hard for us is when he 'locks on' to the person it's hard to break that concentration. I have an e-collar for him now and it has helped a lot. It helps keep him in check with me and breaks his focus on the person/dog he has in his sight. I don't usually have him around other dogs, since he is reactive towards them. A few weeks ago we got the 'ok' from some friends to have their dog and Jackson meet. I had his e-collar on just to remind him to listen to ME and it honestly did wonders. Within 5 minutes he and the other dog were peacefully co-existing, completley ignoring eachother off leash. It was a wonderful night!

I would agree not to simply correct the fearful behavior, but to get your dog to focus on you. Which, can be hard. Some days are better than others is what I have found out! Sometimes he's very focused on me, and other times when he has a lot of pent up energy (for instance in the morning), it's just an all out disaster!

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-04-2012, 10:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sashadog View Post
My question though is how I should correct her barking at people? It appears to be partly fear based as she's not moving forward, her hackles are up, and it's worse when they surprise her, plus her bark is just different, more anxious if that makes sense.

Is this a behavior that deserves a prong correction or is there a better way to handle it? We've tried the LAT game and it's worked pretty well with the dog reactiveness but only if we can control the situation (distance, etc.) and sometimes that's not an option. I've talked to a couple of trainers and have gotten very different opinions. Everything from using the ecollar, hard corrections on the prong, all the way to distracting her with a treat until she calms down (this doesn't really distract her and I feel like I'm just rewarding her for barking). We've also been told to NEVER correct a fear response as that will only make it worse. We don't need her to be a social butterfly but she can't keep scaring the crap out of our neighbors or we're going to get kicked out of our rental...
We went through 2 different trainers that was positive only, no corrections... and there really wasn't any improvement. Where we are now, yes the focus is on being positive, Woolf having fun etc, but if he does the wrong thing - barking, lunging, growling - he is corrected. It isn't an over the top correction - quick, solid tug, told no, backed into a sit position. A prong isn't used, it only escalated the situation, same with an e-collar. Woolf has shown huge amounts of improvement since we started with the behaviorist we are with now.

The ideal would be to get her focus, but that isn't possible with people rounding corners to surprise you. Situations like that, the safest action to take would be to get her out of the area.

Take a look at BAT and see how it would work with the surprise corners you are dealing with.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-05-2012, 04:20 AM
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Hi Sashadog

Our dog was fear aggressive of people and dogs, but he's ok now 90% of the time - but he has seizures and following one he is very fearful - so we have to be very careful

Personally, when Sasha is going to be seeing people close up or suddenly - I would get a muzzle for her - a good one that allows her to open her mouth and pant and were you can give her treats. Make sure you desensitize her to it by giving her treats in it until she lets you put it on with no problems.

The muzzle will help for a few reasons - First and foremost it means she can't bite - secondly people tend to willingly avoid dogs who wear muzzles - and thirdly you'll relax and feel more confident -which will go straight down the leash to Sasha.

With Jake, first and foremost we remain alert but keep his leash loose - whether that be at six foot or one foot - depending how close people are. As long as he isn't going crazy or lunging we give him a treat everytime he sees people, we stroke him tell him it's ok and how good he is. If he ever does lunge we do correct him with a very short sharp correction on his head collar and say no.

Fearful dogs just want to avoid contact if possible - and that's where the muzzle really comes in useful - there aren't many people stupid enough to approach a dog wearing a muzzle, and generally they give them a wide berth.

If you're forced into a position where people are going to be very close up - make sure you put yourself between Sasha and the person and turn around if possible so that Sahsa's back is to the person. Get her to sit, reassure her and treat her - keep her lead short but loose.

Whenever you get the opportunity, explain to other people in the complex that Sasha is frightened of people she doesn't know. They may well be willing to help you out. If they are willing to toss her a treat and then back up away from her - that's really useful - as Sasha won't feel threatened and will hopefully learn to associate people with nice things and in time if they back up away from her - Sasha may want to go to them - in her own time.

Make sure people don't make eye contact with Sasha, as that may well cause her to react - be firm if necessary and tell people to ignore her and not look at her. Cover her eyes yourself if you can't rely on other people. Never force her into situations she's not comfortable with though just because she has a muzzle on - keep your distance if at all possible.

Hope that's of some help.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-05-2012, 11:06 AM
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a correction = attention

meaning, you correct your dog enough to get his attention, no more. when you have your dogs attention, then you let them know what they should be doing instead of going off half cocked. (usually leave it)

a correction = attention

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-05-2012, 04:04 PM
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Please don't take the trainer's advice to use the prong collar in this situation. As much as I love them, they have a time and a place, and I don't think this is it. Your dog will likely put 2 and 2 together in the wrong way. Your version is 'stop barking', but her version is 'whatever is getting me going is now also getting me a pinching'. It's not really a correction in this case, unless you've asked for something she's not giving you, like "sit". But that would be very difficult unless you've turned around in another direction to distract her first.

I've had success on just a flat collar, but you have to see the other dog/person approaching before she does. Then you have to warn her that any contact at all is unacceptable - eye, vocal, etc. nothing! - and you have to totally ignore the dog/person when passing. I'm sure other people thought I was a lunatic (very snobby anyway, lol) but this method did work very well for me.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-05-2012, 11:01 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all so much for taking the time to give me your opinions. I really appreciate all the input so much and will definitely be giving it a try. I'm leaning towards continuing to use the prong collar because without it, she loses it twice as much and it's impossible to snap her out of her frenzy. And I will take a look at BAT and see if we can get started. We went on a hike today and she did much better which is ironic since when we pulled into our parking lot she promptly lost it at our neighbor who was getting into her car Again thank you all so much for your input, hopefully we can get her confidence up sooner than later.

Luckily she does a lot better with me because I'm over being nervous and embarrassed about her behavior! Been there done that and I'm sick of it so I'm ready to get to work. My boyfriend is still a work in progress as he still would rather just hightail it out of the situation and gets nervous when there's a dog 100 feet away.

Brooke

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-06-2012, 12:16 AM
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BAT

BAT on BowWowFlix Highly recommend the Organic BAT set first

The first session we did using this method was dealing with Woolf's sometimes HA. We took him out of his comfort zone. New park to work in, an assistant he had not met before. 30 minutes of these exercises and instead of the hard alert, barking, growling etc, he was instead showing interest, curiosity and beginning to show body language of wanting to play.

Last session, a dog was introduced. To begin with he didn't explode as he usually does and after 30 minutes we made it to him avoiding, which was remarkable in itself.

While corrections are used with Woolf, during these sessions, corrections are not used.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-07-2012, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by sashadog View Post
Thank you all so much for taking the time to give me your opinions. I really appreciate all the input so much and will definitely be giving it a try. I'm leaning towards continuing to use the prong collar because without it, she loses it twice as much and it's impossible to snap her out of her frenzy. And I will take a look at BAT and see if we can get started. We went on a hike today and she did much better which is ironic since when we pulled into our parking lot she promptly lost it at our neighbor who was getting into her car Again thank you all so much for your input, hopefully we can get her confidence up sooner than later.

Luckily she does a lot better with me because I'm over being nervous and embarrassed about her behavior! Been there done that and I'm sick of it so I'm ready to get to work. My boyfriend is still a work in progress as he still would rather just hightail it out of the situation and gets nervous when there's a dog 100 feet away.

I really think you are making a major mistake by using the prong collar- if it was going to help it would have by now.

Sasha is already going through so much, she doesn't need extra pain inflicted on her. She already has the pain from the cancer, the stress of living with a dog she doesn't get on with, and is fearful of dogs and people.

Just keep your distance whenever possible - I started off 400 yards away from other dogs with Jake and using BAT (or similar) allowed him to close the distance at his own pace.

You cannot correct a dog who is already in a frenzy - they're not listening to you - and putting pressure on her neck will just work her up even more.

If you can't keep you're distance, muzzle her and keep her safe. Personally I use the Dogmatic headcollar, I can hold the loop under his chin and walk past people really close up if I have to - it's very rare that Jake reacts, or is even able to - he just wants to get out of the way. I don't think the dogmatics are available in the states, but the canny collar is, and if you hold her leash really short you could get her out of bad situations fairly easily.

The link that Twyla posted looks really good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Twyla View Post
BAT

BAT on BowWowFlix Highly recommend the Organic BAT set first

The first session we did using this method was dealing with Woolf's sometimes HA. We took him out of his comfort zone. New park to work in, an assistant he had not met before. 30 minutes of these exercises and instead of the hard alert, barking, growling etc, he was instead showing interest, curiosity and beginning to show body language of wanting to play.

Last session, a dog was introduced. To begin with he didn't explode as he usually does and after 30 minutes we made it to him avoiding, which was remarkable in itself.

While corrections are used with Woolf, during these sessions, corrections are not used.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-07-2012, 11:19 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twyla View Post
BAT

BAT on BowWowFlix Highly recommend the Organic BAT set first

The first session we did using this method was dealing with Woolf's sometimes HA. We took him out of his comfort zone. New park to work in, an assistant he had not met before. 30 minutes of these exercises and instead of the hard alert, barking, growling etc, he was instead showing interest, curiosity and beginning to show body language of wanting to play.

Last session, a dog was introduced. To begin with he didn't explode as he usually does and after 30 minutes we made it to him avoiding, which was remarkable in itself.

While corrections are used with Woolf, during these sessions, corrections are not used.
This is awesome! It's snowing today, but we'll get started tomorrow for sure. Loved reading through the links and watching the videos! So did you go through all the steps in your first session or did you slow down and do only one step at a time? I'm really excited to get started now I really would love nothing more than to help her work through this...

And Sue, we do have a gentle leader which sounds a lot like the head collar you described. We also do have a muzzle for her and if we have to go anywhere more populated just to make sure we don't have any incidents. Luckily we took our time with getting her used to it and now she loves it because it means lots and lot of cookies Maybe we'll give the gentle leader and her martingale a try for the BAT training. Like you said, something we're doing's not working so might as well switch it all up

Again, thank you both for your input! Hopefully between a new training method, new supplements, and weekly massage we'll make some big strides.

Brooke

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