Releasing my latest forum book, I apologize for the length of this post! I was trying to provide enough info to help.
I have ~18mos female GSD that I adopted when she was 7-9mos old. She wanted to chase anything that moved, from leaves to semi trucks, and acted like she wanted to kill every dog within eye contact or earshot. Very fun dog otherwise. She is the most "adventurous" GSD I have yet had. She is my sidekick/shadow. She constantly reminds me of so many reasons why I fell in love with this breed.
I did a shut down when I got her, did NILIF type structure, etc. I use marker training as well.
For the car chasing: I fitted her with a prong, took her out, corrected her once and she has not tried to chase cars since. It was a harsh correction, but it worked. I figured a harsh correction was better than her getting hit by a car
I have read multiple articles and an entire whirlwind of info about dog reactivity, which seemed to say to not correct the dog...that the dog will associate the correction with whatever stimulus they are reacting to and develop real aggression. For this reason, I was admittedly sheepish about correcting her harshly for showing reactive behavior. Does it work?
Most of the info for dog reactivity suggest counter conditioning and confidence building exercises. There is a dog reactivity "support group" on another forum that I read on and off. They are super "possie" about dog training - no corrections, no prong, no e collars, etc. I was oddly intrigued and decided to read through some of it just to learn about it, but...none of those dogs are much better. They are all still reactive. For the ones who get the LAT/BAT stuff down well, all it takes is one instance of them going over threshold to set both dog and handler a LOT. So I kinda junked that idea...the whole walk on eggshells around your dog thing. But it is touted all over the internet and in books by behaviorists and popular trainers - should I disregard it or can I take anything useful from it?
What do you all think about corrections for reactivity "causing" aggression? The idea that in the dogs mind, correcting the dog when it is reacting to something has the dog associate the correction/averse stimulus with the thing they react to, making it worse. From some sources I have read, correcting a dog for reactive behavior with make the outward display stop, but a silent "attack" more likely. Is this true? I don't want to do this to my dog through my own mistakes.
I did use advice from this forum, started walking her in a prong (she is a big girl...too big at 85#, I am 110 lol) and using emergency u turns and counter conditioning for some of her reactivity. I also hired a trainer who uses e collars, and this has helped. Just last week I was ale to walk her past another dog and shake hands with that handler (our trainer). That was the closet she has gotten to a strange dog since I have owned her.
Should I have gone to the e collar sooner? Is it better than a prong for this, or is it a dog-by-dog basis? E collars are a new world to me, and I try to find as much info as I can about using them correctly. Again, she is a nice dog and I don't want to ruin her.
The way we are using the e collar is to nick her (low level) if she looks at another dog. She is also nicked if she even starts to become worked up. We have worked on keeping her focused on me, and using a place command. Once on place, she is commanded to sit facing me and away from the other dog. She does OK if a large dog that is not looking at her walks by. Small dog? Forget about it. They offend her at a new level.
She is doing much better if we work to increase distance from the other dog during loose lead walking - especially if we turn and walk away. She will even "offer" the behavior of breaking her attention from the other dog and looking at me.
We use the low level nicks to try to condition her to relax on place.
Is this a good direction for us? Any suggestions? Is keeping her in one place as a dog passes too much for her right now? Should I increase distance?
Is this the right approach? It seems to be helping but one thing at her last session did bother me...while the trainer was heeling his dog around mine as we were working on place drills on multiple platforms, instead of making any noise she suddenly and quietly lunged at his dog when it got "too close" for her. It was my fault because we were positioned not facing entirely away, she could still see the other dog out of the corner of her eye. I corrected her and put her back on place, he moved his dog away as a reward to her (based on the concept that her discomfort with other dogs is why she acts out, so having the other dog leave is rewarding). We then backed off the distance and set her up to succeed, reward, then did some easier exercises because she was probably stressed out.
She does very well with her obedience when we go to a field by my house. I keep her on a long line, it has a clear line of sight for any other dogs approaching. She does not really react to them there. We practice heeling, sit, down, long stays, recall, etc.
TL;DR I am starting to like ecollars, but I feel like a buffoon and have a million questions. I have asked my trainer many of these but I want some opinions that are not on my payroll lol