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Jedda's 7 months old now, and I thought I had gotten her well socialized - I take her everywhere dogs are allowed, she's met tons of people of all shapes, sizes and ages, and she goes to doggy day care a couple times a week, has had a really good variety of exposures. We're on our 5th obedience class. We go on various hikes/walks twice a day, and she's been on several road trips with all kinds of new experiences continuously since I brought her home. But, is it (hopefully) normal to have a bit of a regression around this age?

I'm already doing some serious work on meet-n-greets with other dogs, since she's had some fear/reactive behavior, sometimes. Lately, though, she's morphing into this nervous wreck on a walk we go on some mornings. We've been going there since she was 9 weeks old, and nothing negative has ever happened, but she'll get hyper-alert and completely ignore me, and forget all semblance of obedience. Honestly, the only thing around us are trees, birds, and bunnies. And she doesn't look like she's having fun checking out the wildlife, she looks terrified. What on earth is going on? When we get out into more of an open area (the arroyo) and I throw her ball, she's normal again.

I took her back tonight to the adjacent park area for just a relaxed hang out armed with treats. There were a lot more people there than at 6 am, but believe me, nothing out of the ordinary for what we've been around. She was nearly as crazed as when we walk. I know socialization is only beneficial when the dog is enjoying it, but I am afraid to just give in to this nervousness and allow her to be fearful when there's nothing to fear. I am at a total loss, anybody have any suggestions? Thanks!
 

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There has to be some reason for her behavior. It could be all the serious work on meets and greets you were doing. That could explain her anxiety when she hears or senses others in the vicinity. Also she could be stressed out from all the classes. When you get her in an open area and throw a ball, she is normal. That is what I would build on. I would give Jedda a vacation - no classes, no meets & greets, but plenty of ball time in the open area.
 

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I started socializing my pup the 3rd day I had him and it has definitely paid off. He is 7 months now and totally cool with people and noises. It did take a little bit longer for him to be okay around other dogs. This is normal though. If she is constantly barking at other dogs you might want to get a prong collar and start correcting this behavior by giving a yank on the lead and when she stops barking you praise her.

As far as her not doing what you want her to do. Don't rush this. I suggest you forget all about commands right now and focus on engagement. If you can't get your pup to focus solely on you than then that pup is not going to associate good things with you. I use a tug with my 7mo male and all we do is engagement training. Remember that you have plenty of time to work on commands later.
 

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There is so much written on these threads about socialization and I still agree with the likes of Michael Ellis, etc. that this is the most misunderstood concept in all of dog training. Her behavior may very well be the result of her interactions with every person and animal she has come across. That is not the purpose of socialization. The purpose is to expose her to new people, dogs and environments WITHOUT having her interact with all of them. The goal should be to work with her yourself and teach her to focus on YOU in those new environments. She may very well have already had a negative experience and you missed it. I would take a few steps back and try a do over...take her to new places for 1 on 1 time, not to interact with every dog or person you come across.
 

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I started socializing my pup the 3rd day I had him and it has definitely paid off. He is 7 months now and totally cool with people and noises. It did take a little bit longer for him to be okay around other dogs. This is normal though. If she is constantly barking at other dogs you might want to get a prong collar and start correcting this behavior by giving a yank on the lead and when she stops barking you praise her.

As far as her not doing what you want her to do. Don't rush this. I suggest you forget all about commands right now and focus on engagement. If you can't get your pup to focus solely on you than then that pup is not going to associate good things with you. I use a tug with my 7mo male and all we do is engagement training. Remember that you have plenty of time to work on commands later.

I would not give her a leash correction for barking at other dogs when she hasn't been trained not to do so.
 

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If she is constantly barking at other dogs you might want to get a prong collar and start correcting this behavior by giving a yank on the lead and when she stops barking you praise her.

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I have an aggressive dog, and this would never fly! IMO this is misuse of a prong collar for a fearful / reactive dog. In fact I do the exact opposite #1 I dont let him focus in on things if he starts to focus I do some sort of OB to redirect #2 If he starts barking (as I missed the cue for the focus) I let him bark for a few barks and then calmly get his attention (no yelling / no correction) and when he stops for the slightest second he is rewarded and we walk the opposite direction while doing a series of downs, sits, heel, and what ever other command I can think of to keep him occupied. Using a prong to punish a dog that is fearful or reactive is going to do 2 things #1 they may start to hide the reaction which could end up in no warning for a bite #2 make the behavior worse. This is my personal experience I am not a professional trainer but I have been working non-stop with an aggressive dog and multiple trainers.
 

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It is your right not to use this method but it has worked for me and many more. They learn real quick with a prong collar. I love my pup like a child but I won't hesitate to use the prong the way it was intended. I was just trying to provide you with alternative method.
 

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I have an aggressive dog, and this would never fly! IMO this is misuse of a prong collar for a fearful / reactive dog. In fact I do the exact opposite #1 I dont let him focus in on things if he starts to focus I do some sort of OB to redirect #2 If he starts barking (as I missed the cue for the focus) I let him bark for a few barks and then calmly get his attention (no yelling / no correction) and when he stops for the slightest second he is rewarded and we walk the opposite direction while doing a series of downs, sits, heel, and what ever other command I can think of to keep him occupied. Using a prong to punish a dog that is fearful or reactive is going to do 2 things #1 they may start to hide the reaction which could end up in no warning for a bite #2 make the behavior worse. This is my personal experience I am not a professional trainer but I have been working non-stop with an aggressive dog and multiple trainers.
Prongs are used for correction not punishment.
 

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It is your right not to use this method but it has worked for me and many more. They learn real quick with a prong collar. I love my pup like a child but I won't hesitate to use the prong the way it was intended. I was just trying to provide you with alternative method.
Oh no, I have and use a prong as well along with an E-collar. I am not opposed to using them as they are a GREAT tool, it is just not used in a manner to correct for fearful or aggressive behavior. It is used to reinforce the command that was given (down, sit, heel, etc). Sorry if I mis-typed or it didnt come out the correct way.
 

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It is your right not to use this method but it has worked for me and many more. They learn real quick with a prong collar. I love my pup like a child but I won't hesitate to use the prong the way it was intended. I was just trying to provide you with alternative method.

Prong collars are great tools when used properly. This does not fit within that category. "They learn real quick with a prong collar." Using force almost always works. The problem is creates a dog that is afraid of his handler and/or eventually becomes handler aggressive. This is old school, Koehler type thinking. Sorry, but you should never correct your dog for doing something that he hasn't been trained not to do. That's a terrific recipe for losing his trust.
 

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That is merely an opinion. I will head the advise of my trainers at my Schutzhund club and continue to use them.
 

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using a prong on a reactive/fearful dog doesnt fix anything, it just masks the problem. you have to take all advice on here with a grain of salt. just because someone used a prong on their 7 month pup they think it works the same for all dogs. wrong!
 

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all this talk makes my head spin. Prong collar worked WONDERS on my fear aggressive dog. But it had nothing to do with the prong itself, more the fact that he was actually getting corrected, being put into a structured system. He now knew what was allowed and what wasn't

Ive seen dogs shut down with too harsh of corrections. Dont listen to ANYONE online when you have a problem dog, especially with aggression issues, unless they are telling you to find a good trainer in your area and work with them. We cant fix your dog unseen. And obviously you cant fix your dog alone. A trainer can.

BTW I did positive only training with my fear aggressive pup for MONTHS and it only got worse. It wasn't until I started training with someone who did PP work, PD work, national schutzhund level work, and used a choke chain on the pup that I saw results. Im not saying EVERY dog is the same, because they arent. But when people say "NEVER correct a barking dog" or like statements I want to bang my head against a wall, because my boy NEEDED corrections and authority to show him I was in charge and he did not have to take it upon himself to defend the "pack". He was calmer and happier for it, not every dog is a born leader and some are submissive and just want structured control.

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using a prong on a reactive/fearful dog doesnt fix anything, it just masks the problem. you have to take all advice on here with a grain of salt. just because someone used a prong on their 7 month pup they think it works the same for all dogs. wrong!
You're doing the exact same thing by saying it NEVER works. Never is just as bad of a word in training as always is

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That is merely an opinion. I will head the advise of my trainers at my Schutzhund club and continue to use them.
Ok - well everything on this forum is opinions, that's the point no?
My opinion is a trainer who can't correct a barking dog w/o using a prong collar is worthless. Your Schutzhund club can disagree. With enough force you can get a dog to do anything. Doesn't make you a good trainer.
 

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He was calmer and happier for it, not every dog is a born leader and some are submissive and just want structured control.

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You are just confirming what everyone else is saying. I use a prong on my aggressive dog but I do not use it to correct the action it is to provide structure, rules, and he is happier for it as well. The point people are trying to make (including myself) is that punishing a fearful dog for being afraid is going to mask it (IE: Create a bite without warning) or make it worse. There is a difference between setting rules and boundaries than ripping a dogs head off for being fearful and reactive. Thats all, so basically you are on the same page as the rest of us. :)
 

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I'd like to add in an update - things have improved greatly, thanks to all who posted. I postponed our upcoming OB class, and I tried to focus on the engagement aspect of socialization, rather than focusing on having Jedda interact with the big wide world. The Leerburg website and videos have been helpful for me, as well as articles by Pat Miller and Patricia McConnell, plus a lot of things I read on this site. Don't mock me ;) I bought a Flexi and use that rather than off leash so I can get her back to me when she sees someone approaching.

I stopped expecting her to be happy to meet passing dogs and just worked on getting her to sit or heel and focus on me (with turkey jerky, otherwise I'm not so interesting!). I ward off unleashed approaching dogs so she knows I've got her back (I let her down in this aspect when she was much younger). We went back to the scary place and reversed our walk - arroyo first, then the path where she got so nervous. Place not scary coming from the opposite direction, go figure!

I think we are definitely making progress, and she seems much more relaxed in a lot of situations. She's such a good girl! Luckily, she absolutely likes people, so I'm thankful I don't have to work on that, too. Thanks again!
 

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You are just confirming what everyone else is saying. I use a prong on my aggressive dog but I do not use it to correct the action it is to provide structure, rules, and he is happier for it as well. The point people are trying to make (including myself) is that punishing a fearful dog for being afraid is going to mask it (IE: Create a bite without warning) or make it worse. There is a difference between setting rules and boundaries than ripping a dogs head off for being fearful and reactive. Thats all, so basically you are on the same page as the rest of us. :)
Oh no we corrected barking and other signs of aggression

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I'd like to add in an update - things have improved greatly, thanks to all who posted. I postponed our upcoming OB class, and I tried to focus on the engagement aspect of socialization, rather than focusing on having Jedda interact with the big wide world. The Leerburg website and videos have been helpful for me, as well as articles by Pat Miller and Patricia McConnell, plus a lot of things I read on this site. Don't mock me ;) I bought a Flexi and use that rather than off leash so I can get her back to me when she sees someone approaching.

I stopped expecting her to be happy to meet passing dogs and just worked on getting her to sit or heel and focus on me (with turkey jerky, otherwise I'm not so interesting!). I ward off unleashed approaching dogs so she knows I've got her back (I let her down in this aspect when she was much younger). We went back to the scary place and reversed our walk - arroyo first, then the path where she got so nervous. Place not scary coming from the opposite direction, go figure!

I think we are definitely making progress, and she seems much more relaxed in a lot of situations. She's such a good girl! Luckily, she absolutely likes people, so I'm thankful I don't have to work on that, too. Thanks again!
Congratulations! Great ideas - especially when you reversed the walk - and fast progress - just a month.
 

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You're doing the exact same thing by saying it NEVER works. Never is just as bad of a word in training as always is
i stand by my statement. using a prong on a fearful reactive dog doesnt fix anything. you might think you fixed it but the dog isnt thinking for itself. it just doesnt want pain. two completely different things.

if you have a dog that freaks out when it thunder storms, are you gonna pop his prong collar to shut him up? the dog is still incredibly scared of the storms, it just learns to be quiet and fearful at the same time. you didnt teach the dog anything. if you have a dog that is dog aggressive, do you pop his prong to make him sit still? thats not teaching. thats masking. if a human has a phobia of spiders and starts crying when they see one, do you just smack them a couple of times until they stop? using a prong on a solid dog is very different than using one on a fearful dog.
 
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