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I have 2 dogs, Jaia (male, 20 months) and B'asia (female, 15 months)

- Jaia was taken to the dog park since a very young age and is well socialized.

- B'asia comes along (unsocialized at 5 months) and one day, I take them both to the dog park. B'asia is somewhat fearful on leash, barking and lunging. I let them both loose and while Jaia is fine and plays nicely with other dogs (as he always has), B'asia picks on one dog and is very ill-mannered, barking, chasing and herding him. So I leash her up and we leave.

- I sign them up for Obedience Class, which is held at the dog park. All dogs are on-leash. This is the only option for classes in my small town.

- I take them both on the first night of class and B'asia is fearful on leash again. Jaia responds with some protective aggression, barking, lunging, puffing out his hair and sounding scary. All dogs are on leash and new to the experience. I have hopes that everyone will settle down. The class time is stressful, but we get through it, staying at one end of the field.

- I talk with some trainers during the week and they suggest I bring the dogs separately. Great idea! Basia's first time alone goes very well! Lots of progress with the trainer that offers to help us.

- However, the following night, when we take Jaia by himself, he goes back into the aggression even worse! Even without B'asia there, he barks and lunges at the other dogs. We work with him (focus and desensitization) the entire class time. We see improvement. But as we leave a lady let her mastiff off leash and the dog approaches Jaia and he goes ballistic. We have to fight to get out of the park. What had been a positive session ended on a horrible note.

- I decide to pull the dogs out of class so as to not subject them to the stress of it all. But have I made the right decision? Should I keep taking them individually and work through these on-leash issues?

I have never dealt with any aggression or reactive dogs at all and I feel at a loss. Anyone have any advice for me?


Thank you!
 

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I wouldn't pull out of class. Often times the first time or two is stressful on both dog and owner.

I do not see the situation improveing without getting them used to being around other dogs.

Not that I know. Like you I have not had to deal with this yet.
 

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Stress is good for dogs, thay have to learn how to manage it in the same way we have to do to be healthy, complete persons.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you for your responses.

Originally Posted By: LicanAntaiStress is good for dogs, thay have to learn how to manage it in the same way we have to do to be healthy, complete persons.
You know what's weird? I've said that exact same thing to other people! It's funny how it's hard to see the forest for the trees sometimes...

I think I'll be taking them back to class.
 

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What about changing the collar, and seeing if there is something better for Jaia. Some dogs do better if they aren't getting a reaction from their collar, the handler, or what is going on in their head. A harness or head collar may be better for your dog in this situation.
 

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It sounds like a good class. Trainers are willing to help you and spend one-on-one time and you see improvement. As others have said, I'd continue on too. The only way to overcome that kind of reactivity is to continue working through it.
 

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When I went to classes with my dog (the first I owned as an adult) my friend brought her dog to start as well. While we were signing in, her dog chewed through his lead and walked up to her in the sign in area ... she left in tears as she felt there was no way she was going to manage this dog. Anyway, she did return the next week and that dog ended up being the top dog of that class - she has a cup to prove it.

If I was you, I would take the dogs separately or get someone else to take the other dog and alternate with you - so both dogs get the benefit of training each week. There are many benefits to group training that go beyond just training - these are socialisation components and also help from experienced people who can aid in any problems, when and if any arise.

All the best.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Originally Posted By: onyx'girlWhat about changing the collar, and seeing if there is something better for Jaia.
My husband suggested this, too. Right now, we're using a "gentle leader", which I think he finds constricting. I think I'll check out an "Easy Walk harness" for him.

Thanks!
 

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Sticking with the training would be your best bet, I think. You mentioned that this class is the only option in your small town. If you didn't go to the class, would you travel to another one, or just not train? In almost every instance that I can think of, a class is better than no class.
You did the right think in leaving the second dog at home for the second class. Even if you had someone else to work with your second dog, it is always a good idea to train separately. The dogs need to learn how to operate out in the world without the other dog to rely on. Even daily practice needs to be done away from the other dog.
So, stick with the class and hang in there. The results are worth it!
Sheilah
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Originally Posted By: sit,stayYou mentioned that this class is the only option in your small town. If you didn't go to the class, would you travel to another one, or just not train?
I would train. The dogs are already obedience trained. I have trained them. But I wanted to take them to a formal class for a "fun" thing for the family to do together. DH is going, too. I thought it would be great for the 4 of us to go, one night a week, and get some socialization with other people and dogs. I didn't anticipate problems.


I always have taken the dogs places to socialize them, but a concentrated class with DH sounded like fun. I had taken my other two dogs a few years ago to this class and really enjoyed it. No problems.

And yes, I continue to do training and errands with the individual dogs.

I hope you're all right. LOL Every single response I've gotten here and elsewhere agrees. And since I'm in new territory, I will take the advice.
 

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Yep keep going!!!!

You know these are drivy dogs from this breeder (not a bad comment- don't construe as such) and they need continued very consistent socialization and training.

I have watched all my GSD's go through this stage and with continued perseverance they come through okay. I work very hard at call off's. As soon as I see them start to look like they are going up on toes I call their name and get their attention off whatever is out there.

Havoc is going through this stage as well right now. There is a Great Pyrenees that lives down the street, he always barks at us and lunges at the fence. Havoc walks by him twice on our morning walks. As soon as I see him start to look I call him and work his attention. If I don't, Havoc will lunge and bark back as a defensive display. I never want that as I am responsible for any defensive displays. Eventually I expect he will simply walk by as Kayos and Max do.

Something to consider too, let them look at the other dogs from a comfortable distance (no reaction distance). If you continually try to take focus off the other dogs and on to you, they have a harder time learning that those other dogs are okay. I am working on "it's okay to look and see but check back in with me".

Also try physically blocking.... quickly step in front of them and turn them away as you tell them "silly dog - that' no!" in a calm but no nonsense tone of voice.

I would simply give the dogs extra space at class and reward any attention to you and calm behavior. Do not reward any behavior that you think may be stress related, ignore it. Make sure you are very calm yourself. If you are tensing they will react, but I think you already know all of this.

I think each dog is different in regards the gentle leader. Some feel constricted, some are calmed by it. I would try different things til you find what works. A note about the easy walk type front clip harnesses - Max had one on when he pullerd Joe off his feet and dislocated his shoulder. They are not fool proof and a dog that is accustomed to wearing one can figure out how to defeat it.
Your dogs are not very far apart in age and they will play off each other too.

Hope that helps.....
 

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I would keep working with them and also ask the instructor to announce that nobody should be letting their dogs offleash. That is just asking for trouble. I would not take them to dog parks either.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks everyone.

Thanks, Kathy! We're going to try an easy walk harness for Jaia. I think the gentle leader is very constrictive on his face. I will be careful, though, not to get knocked off my feet!

As regards the dog park, that's the only place in this town that offers classes. We're kind of stuck with that or nothing. But I hear you, chruby, and agree.
 
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