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Discussion Starter #1
Me again.. sick of me yet?


Today we had a trainer come to evaluate Grimm onlead with another dog(her dog) at a distance. Grimm is fine offlead with other dogs, friendly --providing background here-- but onlead, he barks and lunges.
The trainer says she honestly sees zero anxiety or aggression here-- Grimm's body language is rather one of "Yo!! Let's party! I'm the star! Let's see what we're about-- YEEEHAWW!" Ignoring me, distracted by the thrill of a wild doggy interaction, he throws a big hullabaloo.
I do admit there is almost sometimes a sense of tension-mixed-with-fun in these outbursts in Grimm, tension to get a party started.


In the past, when Grimm yanked his lead from my weak hands and raced off to another dog (twice), he each time only playbows, barks, and comes back on command. (we practice recalls lots-- but this always stuns me when he will return)

This is the second trainer who has evaluated Grimm as not actually being aggressive, but raising a ruckus in anticipation of a thrilling bark-and-playbow fest. When the first trainer corrected Grimm firmly for barking at another dog, then downed him, Grimm downed, then just rolled comfortably onto one side/hip, and let out a dramatic SIIIGGGHH.... but kept some anticipation in his gaze on the other dog.

When I am able (I almost *always* forget
) to boom a thundering verbal "PFUUUIII" in a deep tone, Grimm always stops his outburst, looks mortally embarrassed, and we can walk by 3 other dogs on the same walk and he just makes a deeply wrinkly forhead of hopeful interest at the other dogs.

Is there any special advice for a dog that barks at other dogs and is NOT doing it out of fear? I am doing NILIF and strong leadership at home. I LOVE the 'Feisty Fido' book a wonderful friend gave me!! Those excersises sound realistic and do-able. Most books are for fear-aggressive dogs. Am I too soft on Grimm with this one issue? Too wimpy on walks only, or with this issue only? He is nicely responsive to my voice. Normally, I can only remember to leash correct (weak, ineffective-- even with prong).. I always forget to PFUUUIII. Do I need an anti-wimpy protocol while on walks, like a Cesar Milan strut? Increase working on distractions? Will a class (with a trainer serving as my hands for the first few classes) get Grimm over his anticipation of a doggy party that never happens, if he never gets to initiate a playfest while onlead?
 

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I would focus more on teaching him what you WANT and less on what you don't want. I'm not saying ditch the prong and corrections b/c I know you need a prong to control him and that he's an unruly adolescent right now, but I would definitely be always carrying some **** irresistible treats on walks. I have a 1.5 year old dog, very large mutt, and he is very confident and social, always wants to charge up to new people and dogs. His walking and commands have come along nicely (we just got him in November, he had no training before that). Right now we are preparing for the CGC. One of the tests is that he has to walk at heel towards another dog and handler, head-on, then stop and sit next to the other handler and dog while handlers shake hands. He's not allowed to pull, sniff at the other dog, bark, etc. We figured FOR SURE he will fail this every time, but yesterday he did it twice! Perfect! Our trick is jerky strips. We don't even give him little pieces of treats, we literally hold the strip in his mouth so he's chewing as we walk. If he stops, sits, and waits while ignoring the other dog and handler, we push the rest of the jerky strip out of our hand and he gets it. Basically, we just go through the exercise baiting him the entire way through. If he stops focusing and lunges towards the dog, we say "uh oh!", treat goes away, we turn back and start over. Acting calm and paying attention = jerky. Not paying attention and pulling towards other dog = verbal correction and having to leave. The choice is the dog's, but the dog needs a reason to pay attention to you rather than lunge at the other dog. I don't think physical corrections really work unless they mean something to the dog, and for a large, strong, adolescent GSD, it's going to take one **** of a correction to override that desire to get in the other dog's business. Instead, provide a yummy, rewarding alternative. Work up to it. Start at quite a distance and move closer and closer. I think the dog needs to be setup for success. If he clearly cannot contain himself being right with another dog, then start at 30 feet first. It's not that you are a poor leader, it just sounds like at this point, he sees no reason to pay attention to you b/c he's just getting corrections.

I think a class is a good idea. It has really helped our dog b/c he spends time working on attention with dogs he already knows. We let them play together off lead before class. That helps keep the excitement down because they are worn out and have already met each other. It's a nice transition, rather than always meeting a totally new dog in a new environment.
 

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If you can work him around other dogs and show him that he has to pay attention to you no matter what else is going on, I think you'll have a wonderfully attentive dog.
Basically, he needs to learn that just because he sees another dog doesn't mean he's going to get a chance to play. He needs to direct his attention back to you and wait for you to give him permission to have fun (if you so choose).

I don't think you need to get physical with him. Just work on getting his attention back on you. Ris reacts out of fear but what I do with her could easily work for Grimm (no guarantees though). Basically, I use a word that will break her concentration and get her refocused on me. When we're on walks, I use a tuggie (so she can release her prey drive). If she gets distracted and 'turns on' I ask her if she'd like to play tuggie. That's usually enough to break her focus and get her to turn back to me. I reward her with a vigorous game of tug.

In class, I will usually tell her 'hey,' poke her with my finger, or lure her with a treat to get her refocused. Once she's got her attention back on me, she is lavishly rewarded.

It's a slow progress. But we are seeing results!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Maybe I can find a class where a trainer will be willing to work Grimm for me, and be my hands, for the first 3 classes or so, until the idea clicks that he can actually be there and not charge into a meet-n-greet. I like the treat-lure idea. It isn't so much a bribe as a way to refocus. The scary part is, there are times when I can't correct him enough to get any focus at all when the sudden-dog-on-walk is close enough. Then i am helpless to give a correction Grimm can even notice-- even with the prong. Maybe it's finally time to stop using plain ole kibble, and begin using.... lowfat hotdogs of a good quality, and cut em into TINY pieces. Greasy pockets are a small price to pay.
 

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Originally Posted By: BrightelfThe trainer says she honestly sees zero anxiety or aggression here-- Grimm's body language is rather one of "Yo!! Let's party! I'm the star! Let's see what we're about-- YEEEHAWW!" Ignoring me, distracted by the thrill of a wild doggy interaction, he throws a big hullabaloo.
Patti, that is EXACTLY how Keefer acts, lol! After having a previous dog who was highly leash reactive, (which was definitely fear based), I can tell that his reactivity is coming from a completely different place. Fear reactive dogs put on an aggressive display to scare away whatever triggers them because they are restrained by the leash and can't escape. Our boys are throwing a tantrum because they wanna go play!!!
They're frustrated because they don't get to interact with the other dog.

I love the exercises in Feisty Fido, and also in Control Unleashed, even though the primary reason for leash reactivity is usually fear - I think they still work very well for dogs who just want to have fun and are highly distracted by other dogs without being all stressed out.
 

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Patti, I use hot dog pieces a lot until I caught my DH eating them, lol. I cut a hot dog into a gazillion little pieces and put them in the microwave for 2 minutes at a time, 6 minutes total, maybe a little longer. Every two minutes I press on them with paper towels. After three times, they are less mushy and greasy, more like jerky. Another thing Kenya really loves is bits of hard boiled egg. Coke will do anything for CHEESE!! Neither of my dogs will do anything for kibble. Coke will ignore you period, Kenya will do what I ask because I ask it, but ignore or spit out the kibble.
 

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Originally Posted By: BrightelfMaybe it's finally time to stop using plain ole kibble, and begin using.... lowfat hotdogs of a good quality, and cut em into TINY pieces. Greasy pockets are a small price to pay.
Absolutely - if he'll work for kibble around the house and in low distraction circumstances, then by all means use kibble. But for out and about under high distractions, you need to pull out the big guns. A class is good because you can set up controlled situations, starting at a distance that Grimm may notice another dog but is still able to think and focus on you, and work from there, gradually decreasing the distance as he learns to control himself.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Liesje, darn!! You mean DHs eat the hotdog pieces?? And I'm a newlywed... I didn't plan on this! What am I gonna do?
Besides, here in Germany, it's gonna be some weird form of bratwurst or something. I'll hunt for something without spices and very lowfat.

Cassidymom, Keefer, too? What worked best for him? Or, is the problem still at critical mass?

Pleeeeeeease let someone say they have, with work, 'solved' this problem enough to go for a normal walk past another dog?
 

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Patti, just a thought, but can you get a piece of meat, cut into liitle strips or cubes, brown in a nice hot pan it a touch of Olive oil the put in a low oven 250 deg. to finish drying.
 

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Since the strength in your hands seems to be one of the problems, have you considered using the "police leash"?
 

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Originally Posted By: BrightelfCassidymom, Keefer, too? What worked best for him? Or, is the problem still at critical mass?

Pleeeeeeease let someone say they have, with work, 'solved' this problem enough to go for a normal walk past another dog?
I haven't done a lot of work on it, so we're not solved yet, but I did make a ton of progress in just a couple of weeks last Fall. In his case I think the problem was initially created because I just don't do a lot of leash walks. We prefer to take them out to off leash parks for play and exercise, and he's great there - BUT, he's a social butterfly, and I think all that off leash time, without being balanced by on leash 'pay attention to me' time created an expectation that he could always go up and greet other dogs if he wants too, which he usually does. He's a big ol' lovey boy who loves to give other dogs muzzle licks at the park. Not a shy bone in his body, bold and confident, he's definitely not reacting out of fear when he barks at other dogs on leash, like Cassidy did.

I raised Dena exactly the same way, and she NEVER barks at other dogs, so I didn't see this coming. But then she's always been calmer and more laid back (unless you have a tennis ball!) than Keefer, who is the energizer bunny. He's got tons of energy and enthusiasm, and while his self control and obedience is very good in some situations, he clearly needs more work on it in other situations, such as on leash around other dogs.

I started taking him out a couple times a week for leash walks after work, but it was 3 weeks before the time change, and I had to stop because it was too dark when I got home. The point of the walks were to work on him around other dogs, and if he can't see them it's not doing much good. I found a couple of houses near me where there's often a dog in the front yard behind a chain link fence, perfect to set up a situation to work on. Once it stops raining so much and is light enough to get out for a good walk after work I'll start up again.

But I'll tell you about a couple of successes. One night I was walking along with him close to the corner where we were to make a left turn towards home. Coming towards us on the opposite side of the street was a man on a bicycle with two dogs. There was no way to avoid passing them, so I was walking fast, hoping to get to the corner and turn before Keef spotted them and started barking. There is a small grocery store on the corner, so I planned to cut through the parking lot. I was able to get to where we could turn without him going off by distracting him, and then I heard the guy yell something. I turned around, and what I hadn't noticed earlier was that at least one of the dogs was off leash. It had run across the street, and come up behind us. We were in the middle of the parking lot, and it was standing there staring at Keef, he was standing there staring at the dog, and I'm thinking what the
am I going to do if this dog charges us. I yelled at the dog to go away, it turned and ran back to it's owner, and Keefer NEVER EVEN BARKED. I was amazed!

The last walk we took I was especially pleased. There's a house around the corner from me, and I knew there was a dog there, but hadn't seen it in awhile. As we walked towards the house, suddenly the dog runs out of nowhere at the fence, and we're right there, inches away on the sidewalk. I took a suggestion from Feisty Fido about dogs running with their owners being a reward, so that's what we did. Woohoo, let's GO!!!! And we ran all the way past the edge of the yard, and then I stopped at a safe distance, had him sit, and started clicking and treating him every time he looked at me. I didn't give him any commands, just waited for him to offer it. That went well, he knew the dog was there, but wasn't reacting to it at all, so I walked him a couple feet closer, put him in a sit, and marked and rewarded attention. Again, it went well, so I walked him even closer, so that we were maybe 4 or 5 feet away from the dog. Keefer stood there, leaning slightly forward as if he wanted to sniff the dog, and at first the dog was still too. But then it barked, and jumped against the fence. I had no idea what Keef would do, but *I* planned to do a rapid about face (also courtesy of FF) if necessary. He stood there, still leaning towards the dog, but not pulling hard, just with his weight shifted forward. No hackling, no barking, no lunging. And then wonder of all wonders, he turned around and looked at me! Huge praise, treat jackpot! And then later in that walk he saw 3 other dogs walking across the street and calmly watched them for a moment, and then turned to me for his treat. So we went from him barking at dogs across the street to not only NOT barking at dogs across the street, but also no reacting to a dog just a few feet away in maybe 8 walks, which was way faster than I expected.

The funny thing is that what I was doing with him was remarkably similar to the Look At That! game in Control Unleashed. Her theory is that a dog gets even more anxious when not allowed to check out the environment, and when we demand that they ignore everything around them and only focus on us, they never get the chance to look at the trigger and decide that it's no big deal. So she likes to allow them to look at other dogs, and then offer us attention willingly rather than avoid looking at other dogs entirely. Sub-threshold of course, so you'd start at a distance where the dog notices but doesn't react to the trigger, and gradually work closer and closer.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
MomToBeauandRiley, since I dunno what a police lead is, I am gonna go Google it... curiosity gets the better of me!
You always have good ideas.

CassidyMom, YEAH, Keef!! You and he have really become a super team! I love the Feisty Fido stuff. I think I need better food reward than just the dry kibble I have.. think I will cook some chicken as suggested, and as Wisc Tiger says, dry it in the oven, too.

Big problem now is, when he is reeeeally distracted, he is unreachable by me with just the prong and my weak hands. Better food will help that I think, plus more practicing in more mildly distracting situations. But as I live in a crowded city, (imagine a German version of Sesame Street) snarlin' cavortin' canines burst fluffily from around every corner, surprising us constantly.. so, we screw up more often than we 'score' at this training game.. sigh.


Note: Last night we did come round a corner to our building, and a terrier in all it's infuriated, spittin' glory, exploded in the automatic weaponsfire of terrier barking....... Grimm started to bark, but I suddenly somehow found my PFFUUUIIII, and he broke it off immediately, getting really lowwwwwww to the ground and looking up at me all bashful and aww shucks Mom.. then he EASILY responded to a down, a sit, and a heel... right past the spiky-furred lil 'couldda-been-a-contendah.'
 

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"The scary part is, there are times when I can't correct him enough to get any focus at all when the sudden-dog-on-walk is close enough. Then i am helpless to give a correction Grimm can even notice-- even with the prong"

That's why you need a Halti!

Did you ever had a chance to watch people with reactive dogs, how they can just walk by others- while still having 100% control- when they use this tool? I don't quite understand why the trainers haven't conditioned Grimm to a Halti yet
 

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MomToBeauandRiley-- the trainer who came to meet us yesterday tried a police lead on me. I'm not stable enough on my feet to use one, unfortunately. Grimm didn't do anything but go sniff the ground a lil, and I did a marvelous face-plant.

Maedchen, I am totally open to a Halti. I tend to think it will either help very much ("Oh, gosh, I can't lunge, Mom? bummer.. hey, wait-- i just walked right BY that other dog! what a concept..") or, it will frustrate the heck out of Grimm, even after he has become acclimated to it at home and will escalate the problem, or do nothing to help. I am eager to try-- whatever works. (he sometimes wears a nylon muzzle for 10 mins around the house or on walks to accustom him, as all trains here now require them for big dogs).

I don't have a trainer yet. I am trying to find a trainer here in Germany. It's harder than I expected. I need a trainer who will not use excessively harsh methods (the 2 dogsport clubs nearby still do) .. but, I need a trainer who is NOT a part of the purely pawsitive 'no corrections/negative consequences' movement that is now also in Germany as well as USA. With a strongheaded, strong-bodied, drivey workinglines Czech male, there needs to be clear corrections/consequences, even in a gentle, rewards-based, motivational, positive training program. Finding a middleground here is not as easy as in USA. Lastly, it makes no sense for me to sign on a trainer who has no access to other handlers and dogs in resolving this problem.... so... looks like I may be asking the lady who works for the tierheim if she can help. She runs a class for the aggressive dogs from the shelter. The big question, is IF she will be willing to herself handle Grimm for the first few classes until it is safe for me to handle Grimm myself alone. Fingers crossed that she is a balanced trainer, and willing and able with her time to help..
 

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By the way, i saw a program where a HundeNanny came, a trainer, and she cured a reactive dog using (astoundingl) a halti at one end, a collar, and a BUTT HARNESS! Yes, indeed-- a harness that only went round the dog's hindquarters! Never seen anything like it. The Halti did nothing for the particular dog (longstockcoat GSD) but the combination of the halti and 'butt harness' LOL worked! I don't have the coordination to use that method (already having fun using 1 hand for clicker on walks, 1 hand for leash, 1 hand for treats etc LOL)... but it was a wonderful change in the dog on TV.
 

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I recently bought an Easy-Walk harness for Reactive Risa. Not because she pulls on leash or anything. Mainly because I felt I could have better control over her when she was lunging. And I worried a bit about the toll the lunging could be taking on her neck. By using the Easy-Walk, I can control her mass better and don't have to worry about her injuring herself.

And DEFINATELY get some nummy nummy "I will do anything for those!" type of treats. Since playing with other dogs is SOOOO rewarding to Grimm, you need to find something simply to die for that he'll take instead. I know Ris will do almost anything for cheddar cheese or string cheese. You can also use meat baby food as a really high-level reward (just check the ingredients to make sure there's nothing bad for him in it, like onions).

You might want to try doing some bonding exercises with him as well so he starts to associate you with all things good. Keep him leashed to you at all times in the house. Occasionally try some leash limits (in a low distraction area first). Let him do whatever he wants but if he gets within a foot of you, give him treats. Keep giving him treats as long as he stays right on top of you. If his attention breaks, the treats stop. Don't call him over to you in this exercise or try and get him to come back. He needs to make the conscious decision to return to you. You might want to do this in the house first so he doesn't see something really fun and pull you over.

Also, I would highly recommend doing some doggy zen with him. These exercises teach him to wait for your permission to do something, no matter how enticing. The first one involves food. You take a treat and slowly move it towards his face. If he reaches for it, pull it away and try again. When you can get it really close to his nose without him trying for it, give him permission to take it. This way he learns that patience will get him what he wants. Rushing in to take it will not.

You can also use this with other dogs (though you might want to have someone else holding the lead for this exercise). Once he understands the concept of self-control, you can take him out around other dogs. If he sees another dog and gets all bouncy and exited, it doesn't work. Once he turns and redirects his attention to you, you give him a TON of treats and praise. Have a party! Or you can decide to let him go and play with the dog. But he will learn that he needs to look to you for permission. That just because he really wants to do something doesn't mean he gets to.
 

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Originally Posted By: BrightelfI need a trainer who is NOT a part of the purely pawsitive 'no corrections/negative consequences' movement that is now also in Germany as well as USA. With a strongheaded, strong-bodied, drivey workinglines Czech male, there needs to be clear corrections/consequences, even in a gentle, rewards-based, motivational, positive training program.
I'm pretty middle of the road myself, however, that doesn't mean reactive, aggressive, or simply boisterous dogs cannot be "fixed" with purely positive methods. I see it ALL the time. I'm not saying you should change your methods, just saying that there is a common misconception that certain methods only work with certain dogs or certain temperaments, which is not true.

If he were mine, I'd rather go with the "all positive" group if that's what's available than no trainer/classes at all. I think classes are super important mainly for socialization and learning to control the dog (and teaching the dog to control himself). Pretty much anyone can get their dog to run through even advanced level commands and such, but there's something about working with other people and other dogs at the same time in a variety of environments that is crucial, at least for the development of my dogs. I've also found that after a 1 hour class they are more tired from all the mental work than they are after running off leash with other dogs for 1 hour.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Liesje, just saw the pics of Coke and Kenja in the photos in your links.. how ADORABLE! Coke is another great-looking mix, like Jamie's characterful, smiley Miss Risa.
You are right-- even an all-positive class would be better than NO class, cos.. well.. cos it's a class. I will need the teacher/trainer to be my hands and hold Grimm for the first few classes though. I am hoping that can happen, so I have a chance to go! You are so right.. tired is gooood.

Jamie, does the Easy-Walk harness tighten if she lunges or pulls? I love the photo-- how many toys DOES Ris-Ris actually have???
LOL I think you are right.. the snacks have gotta override the thrill for Grimmi of makin' a "party invite hullabaloo."
 

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I LOVE positive classes.
I use adversives still. . .just not collar corrections with Ris.

The Easy-Walk is sort of like a martingale collar in front so that it constricts when the dog pulls. I do have a picture of that too:

As for toys, Ris has WAAAAAY more toys than she needs or uses on a regular basis. I should take a picture sometime. . .except then I would have to admit that she is super-spoiled!
 
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