Socializing a Reactive Dog? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-11-2015, 09:41 PM Thread Starter
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Socializing a Reactive Dog?

I've been having some issues with Koda's reactivity. I posted another thread a while ago about how he was attacked for a sixth time just a few days after he finally stopped being reactive. He was all right for a few days after that, but a little bit nervous. I then restarted his desensitizing training then, feeding him treats whenever we passed another dog. This is exactly what I did before, and it worked. But now he's been regressing for the past couple weeks, and I don't know why. Two days ago he even lunged and barked at some barky dogs behind a fence, something he hasn't done for months.

I started letting him greet some friendly dogs in the neighbourhood, to show him that not all dogs are scary, and he plays with his buddies at my dad's work a couple times a week. There, he doesn't show any nervousness.

However, I was wondering if I'm doing the right thing by letting him meet other dogs again. Should a reactive dog be socialized with friendly dogs, or should I wait until we go through the whole training plan again before allowing this?

I'm so frustrated right now, I honestly don't know what other methods I should try. I considered using Lou Castle's method for crittering/dog aggression, but am unsure if that works for fearful dogs?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-11-2015, 11:18 PM
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Poor Koda!If you can catch him before he reacts and distract him it would help.Be really animated so he's focused on you.People might think you're a little weird,but oh well I think it's good for him to have positive interactions with friendly dogs.I think the e collar would be detrimental for a fear reactive dog IMO.
I know it's frustrating,Samson is reactive to strangers and it seems like one step forward two steps back some days.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-11-2015, 11:40 PM
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I don't ever let my dog meet other dogs unless it is a controlled environment with another "dog" person who knows her history and can read their own dog extremely well. Essentially the only socialization she gets is with known stable dogs in cases where they can play off leash safely. This has helped with the random encounters with strange dogs, ironically.

I don't think it's fair to expect them to greet dogs on the street on leash. It's like suddenly asking a person with social anxiety to make small talk with random people in line at Starbucks. Probably really nerve-wracking for them even if they seem to handle it okay.

I also think for reactive dogs, it is good socialization for them to observe other dogs without interacting. So, if you can go places where the dogs are all well socialized, like a training club, and just hang out and feed treats and do your own thing, this is really great desensitization.


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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-12-2015, 05:18 AM
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He doesn't need to meet strange dogs. Ideally you want him to ignore them. That is the goal...ignore, ignore, ignore

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-12-2015, 08:16 AM
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I wouldn't let him meet dogs. If he's been attacked 6 times, he may be sending off some vibes and body language that is contributing to those attacks. I'm not saying it's OK for someone else's dog to attack another, but that I personally would not allow a dog that's had so many bad experiences and is not carrying himself with confidence meet other dogs, not for a very long while. He has nothing to gain by that.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-12-2015, 03:15 PM Thread Starter
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Is it okay to let him meet dogs he knows, though? There are three dogs in my neighborhood that he knows, and they are all very stable and well mannered dogs. He is generally very good with them. Also, may I add that I don't think it is his vibes that caused the attacks, as the last one happened after months of desensitizing, and he was at the time much, much more confident, almost perfect I'd say. So, can he still play with his buddies, or should I keep him away from dogs completely until he's been through training again?
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-12-2015, 03:19 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaimeju View Post
I also think for reactive dogs, it is good socialization for them to observe other dogs without interacting. So, if you can go places where the dogs are all well socialized, like a training club, and just hang out and feed treats and do your own thing, this is really great desensitization.
That sounds like a really good idea! I will definitely try this.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-12-2015, 06:36 PM
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Speak wi th a local trainer that has socialization time! Not only can (s)he help by being a part of the situation but generally they'll have usual repeats so they will know which dogs can help or make the situation worse.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-13-2015, 08:00 AM
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I had a reactive dog. Training classes and clubs were NOT the place to go with him. One class he was even put behind a barrier. Most dogs are in classes or at training clubs to work through issues. Yes some and by some I mean maybe two are just continuing training and are fine.

Don't go where there is a group of dogs, go somewhere where there is one dog at a time and YOU can walk away and determine threshold limits. I used to go and stand 20 ft away from the door at Petsmart everyday. I did this for months. As I seen a dog coming I got my dog to focus on me. At first it was one dog then go home, then two and three, etc. after a couple weeks I went to Petsmart and added the park. We just sat on a bench watching. Focus is key. Teach your dog a solid leave it and watch.

I used very high value food(raw venison). I also used different tools. We used a prong, redirection, reward, and even the word no or eh eh. We went the other way, I threw food for him to hunt while dogs were walking by. We did this from June until the end of August. At that point he was able to start going to a club. Shortly after that in September he passed his CGC and became a certified therapy dog.

It takes time, dedication and patience. You have to know when to call it day and not push the dog. If it's one dog a day for two weeks, that is success not failure.

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Last edited by llombardo; 05-13-2015 at 08:04 AM.
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