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Originally Posted By: MaedchenSo hang in there and keep up what you're doing - you're on the right track.
AGREED!!

It may not be a 'quick fix' but, from what I've read and experienced, it's a more solid fix. You're not just supressing behavior but changing it. Instead of saying "No, don't lunge after that dog" (the equivalent of a prong correction) you're giving him something TO do instead. "Instead of lunging after that dog, look at me."


BTW, Ris and I are signing up for a "Relaxing your Reactive Rover" class. If I get any good information that I think will help you and Grimmi out, I will be sure to share.
 

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Discussion Starter #42
Thanks for the encouragement, Mädchen! Yes, this takes thinking-- and that's not a bad thing. Not having any control at all in some situations to get a dog's attention when he's in a highly driven state, can be anywhere from annoying/problematic to downright dangerous. The negative with this tool became very clear today.

The positive is currently outweighing any negatives with this tool however, because frustration barking/lunging on-lead with other dogs, as you said, really is helped HUGELY by the halti and the positive clicker training. Removing the prong helped remove the anticipation of tension, I think. He is desensitizing, learning a different expectation, a different response... this will take time. So far, it's just day 4.. we're really at the beginning. After almost a year on the prong, I have weeks if not months to go to undo any negative effect the prong may have had in doggy frustration on-lead situations.

I do have to think, and think fast. Here's an example of what a rutine might look like:
Another dog is far in the distance. Wait until Grimm sees it, too. Immediately ask for Watch. If no response, halti tug gently, slowly, but firmly, to get that Watch. Click & treat. Repeat. Repeat again. Ask for a Come. Click&treat. Back up, ask for another Come. Click& chest-scritch. Heel in a zippy left circle.. the second eye contact happens, low-toned, soothing praaaaaise, click, treat. Ask for a down. Click &treat. Ask for a sit. With eye contact, click&chest scratch with low, soothing praaaaiiise. Keep chest scratchin, until look of utter dreamy bliss comes over dog's face. Continue until dog is in cuddle-coma. Continue walk.

Jamie, you find the best classes for Miss Ris! I am so very proud of you two. I love hearing any training updates from the dynamic duo!!
And believe me, all secrets spilled regarding how to calm a reactive dog.. are much, much appreciated!
 

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Unfortunately, the class is a 2-hour drive away. . .on a weeknight! The things I do for that dog.


You might try getting Grimm's attention BEFORE he sees the other dog too (if you can, I am aware that's not always possible). That way you sort of bypass the whole reaction entirely. Though he may still see the dog after you've gotten his focus, it might be easier to get it back.

Another tip I've learned from our trainer is to take some time to encourage them to watch that which causes them to overreact. I just started this over the weekend with Ris. I allowed her to watch people and dogs without me saying anything. If she was good and watched them without reacting (in this case, growling) she got a treat. Sometimes people can cause more problems by NOT letting their dog see that what they're reacting to is no big deal. By putting it on a command, you can let the dog know when it's okay to look at 'distractions.'
 

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Discussion Starter #44
Like in FeistyFido, "Where's the dog?" command, right? I think we will get to a state where we can practice watching and not reacting and getting treats for that. I think in a few weeks time, we will be ready for it. Right now, i think i need to re-program his usual response first. It's become so automatic. I blame myself for the prong exacerbating this for soooooo many, many, many months.
I have to un-do his instant reaction, replace it with a new sequence of behaviors. Then, in a few weeks, we will sit in a grassy area by The Zone of Many Fifis. (a place where everyone walks their lapdogs here) No comments from me, just some practice doing what Risa is doing-- chilling and learning to not react at all!


A 2 hour drive?? I have no doubt at all that Ris-Ris knows how wonderfully devoted to her you are!
 

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Yes, like in "Fiesty Fido." And it sounds like you've got a perfect place to practice, the Zone of Many Fifis.
We have to settle with Petsmart since it's the only place where you can find lots of dogs and people on the weekends. Right now, we're staying in the car for our sessions. Mainly because too many stupid people try and pet Ris when we're out and we don't need the added stress.

And don't feel too badly about what you've done before with Grimm. You did what you felt was best with the knowledge you had. No one can fault you for that.
I did a lot of the same with Ris when I first got her. Not happy I did it. . .but I've moved on.


I hope Ris knows how devoted I am to her.
I made her a promise when I took her home that she'd be with me no matter what. I know I didn't realize how much work she'd be at the time, but I've made it my goal to work with her to 'fix her.' And since there's nothing local to help us with our problem, I will look outside our town. Our trainer recommended we sign up for this class too. Plus driving 2 hours isn't that bad for only 3 classes. We can manage.
 

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Okay, where's that popcorn muching icon? That's how I feel.

Just wanted you to know that I've been following this thread with great interest. Patti, your experience with Grimm sounds very much like mine with Gracie. I've followed the same path, switching over to the halti. Leash corrections do not work with Gracie and I can't do them right anyways. I switched to the halti as I saw that leash corrections weren't working, I was getting frustrated and she was shutting down. As soon as I put the halti on I saw an improvement. I saw her relax more and as a result, we have gotten closer. She is still reactive to cars, other dogs and to strangers, but much less so, and I can totally relate to everything you've described. Only you've incorporated what I haven't so far, and that is the clicker to mark the desired behaviour and reward the behaviour you want. I'm so impressed with the postive results you've gotten so far. I think that's the piece I've been missing so I'm going to follow your lead and try it with Gracie. Keep posting on your progress, you are helping me out more than you realize. And thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #47
Thanks for the kind words, GraciesMom.
To be honest, I'm scrambling to think of a new, thrilling dance rutine each time we see a dog. I have to, cos I can't use any delicious treats right now beyond just kibble, as Grimm is having digestive issues currently. Soooooo.. I have to think fast-- how to be interesting for Grimm! Dancing-heeling in left circles really seems to tickle his funnybone.

Today a dog surprised us, up close, and Grimm was a B-E-A-S-T. Unresponsive to the halti tugging, a big, blustery, distracted, lunging rhino on a string. Reminds me the problem is not close to being solved, reminds me of how much work we have yet to do.

We saw about 3 dogs after that first one, and he was super with each-- because we were (sort of) far away. But, I have noticed I not only can get his interest and get him working a lil closer than was possible before we began, but I also can left-circle him till about halfway to the other dog, and he keeps focusing, getting clicked and treated. He knows the other dog is there, but, he gets caught up in the dancing, heeling, clicking, treating.

He loses interest in the other dogs sooner now. It used to be, he would strain to see, hear, smell them even as they were tiny dots in the distance walking away from us. Now, after we've gotten focus, done some left-circles, fig. 8s, (movement jazzes things up), some fun come-fores, and he's been clicked and treated for stuff he enjoys.... he gets his loooong chest-scritchings, then does look with interest at the other dog as it is getting farther away... but the intensity and stress is gone much earlier.

Because by the second time I got the Halti out to put on Grimm, he knew already how it was supposed to go on-- it reminded me how fast he learns new things. So, my hope is that "See other dog-- be eager to do zippy heeling/dancing with mom, do focus, get click/treated" becomes a learned habit to begin to replace the tense, frustrated, "Let's paaaarrrrttty!!" response he usually has.

I vary our dance rutines. Today, in the midst of his fave-- zippy dancing/heeling-- I threw in a shocking Down, and even a totally unexpected Stay. Sometimes I heel s-l-o-w-w-w-w-w.. fascinates him. Novel and entertaining.. he'd better watch me, or he'll miss the show. "Now playing, at The Zone of Many Fifis..."
 

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Sounds like you're making brilliant progress. It's so nice to see.

You'll get there. Don't worry. It does take time. I'm FINALLY starting to see good results with Ris myself. Probably because I'm finally doing things right.


I can now walk her at a heel around other dogs in class without having to worry too much about her lashing out at them. I still have to be really vigilent and keep her focus on me, but it's getting easier. Yesterday, at our agility class, while doing right-side heeling (we haven't done a lot of this lately so she was doing a bit of drifting) one of the other dogs got a bit too close. Instead of throwing a fit and doing a 'not pretty' bark/lunge at him, she just did a soft air nip in front of his nose and kept on working with me. I was so pleased.

We're not there yet. And I know she's always going to be a reactive dog. But I hope someday I can finally get her under control and we can both relax a little.

Keep up the great work, Patti!
 

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Patti,

I am glad that you are seeing steady improvement with Grimm.

Thanks for keeping this thread updated. Rafi continues to have weird reactions to other dogs. I do have a gentle leader and will try it with him. I also have started a bit of clicker training and will do more. Today we got chased by a chihuahua and a lab. Quite a team. The woman had absolutely zippo in the way of control of those dogs and I had to physically step in front of the lab who was chasing Rafi and coming at me full speed. Then Rafi met another dog and was a total bully with that dog and I had run out of treats. Ugh. Anyway, I feel your pain.
 

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Discussion Starter #50
Jamie, I wanna be where YOUSE guys are!! Heeling around other dogs in an actual class.... see? You're my role models.
How long did it take to get Risa to that point?

Ruth, I appreciate the encouragement. So sorry you got charged by doofuses! Actually, the weird thing with the clicker training is, by magic-- it seems to pick up speed. Once your dog starts with any click and treat work, it kinda snowballs-- picks up speed-- the dog relaxes and does better, works smoother and faster for you. Totally unexpected result. I had no idea. I think part of the reason improvements in working with the dog start to pick up is that we are taken out of the picture, and the click says 'that's it!' or 'well done" and takes our petting, cooing, panicking, jerking, etc etc all out of the picture. Our emotions don't slow things down anymore. I don't think clicker training is the only way to go for all situations, but it is helping. In the moment another dog comes, quickly, it's "Speedy-speedy-speedy, what's Mama gonna do? Better watch, better focus, gonna dance, gonna zig or zag-- treats a-comin'!" I can see the mindset changing, the stress is less.... but, we have a long way to go. It's been less than a week yet. I wanna be where Jamie and Risa are!
 

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I don't know how long it took. When she overreacted before, I would get frustrated with her and tell her to down and put her in a timeout. That was when I was before I was in my "who cares!" mood. Since I've adopted that new mood, things have been MUCH better. Though she still doesn't like other dogs in her space, she is more willing to ignore them and pay attention to me instead. Of course, class is one thing. Real life is another. Ris, having been enrolled in classes of many kinds since November 2006, knows the classroom and that it is a place of work. We're still working on realworld type stuff.

Though, I still must give her credit. Of the two dogs in the class, one she has met face-to-face before. The other she has only seen twice. So she is getting better and seems to know now that I will handle things. Probably because I DO handle things now instead of just going "CRAP! What'm I gonna do!?" I just finished reading <u>Scaredy Dog</u> yesterday and found out that my playing tug with Ris when she sees something distracting/scary is a way of showing her I will handle things. I had no idea.
 

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I can get great behavior out of Rafi in a class situation. He's in an agility class with two little dogs and one is a pistol and often trying to get him to chase. Rafi will heal, off leash, without a problem!

Sometimes when I'm out walking I've got Chama which complicates things but mostly it's harder because it's winter and I don't want to take my gloves off!
Plus I don't anticipate situations like being chased by a lab and chihuahua.
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Brightelf, have you given up on your training? I think I saw that you are sending your dog away for training now.

I see a lot of references to training material, "Scaredy Dog" being one. Has anybody seen the book "Help for Your Fearful Dog"?

It's time for me to step up training my Malinois and she is afraid of other dogs, she gets snappy and will try to rush past them when we are at agility practice.

I'm going to get a gentle leader head halter tonight, and I started with clicker training. Also, on the show Barking Mad, I saw them working with a Doberman on a head halter, but they were using two leashes, one on the regular collar and one on the head halter. It's really got me interested and then I read this entire thread this morning. I really appreciate all the information here. I start tonight!
 

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Discussion Starter #55
Carole, I am continuing the training, but due to a concussion when Grimm dragged me flat on my back down the sidewalk, am certain that with my disabilities, a trainer is a good thing.

I think that is super that you are begining this! I will myself keep up with this.. it will be at least 3 weeks before Grimm is able to go to the trainer anyway, so I will be using this method for now.

Grimm is not actually fear-aggressive. He's never had any limits regarding this behavior, and he's been successful in ignoring me to try to "get a party started" each and every time with other dogs. Anyway, I wish you the best with your dogs!
 

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Gosh! I think I missed the concussion! That's one strong dog. Balto wants to rush over to everybody he sees. He's 9 months old and very strong so he is also getting more attention on his training.

I think I'll start with Scaredy Dog and Click to Calm. I feel so bad doing the leash corrections when she lunges. She just looks at me like, "What? That dog was going to SNIF me!" Sounds like it's the wrong thing to do, anyway.
 
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