German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I live in NYC and in an area where every time we go outside on a walk, we ALWAYS run into reactive dogs, particularly small ones.
These owners do not correct or even care that their dog barks and lunges at my dog because they can't do any damage right?

My dog is generally very friendly, but it's gotten worse.
He went from tail wagging and happy demeanor when seeing other dogs on walks (even if they are reactive) to being cautious and suspicious now.
My dog is not allowed to bark at any other dogs and he hasn't since he was a little puppy, with a few exceptions during adolescence.
However, he still maintains his friendly and playful nature with other dogs at the park.

Today I took him out to pee in the morning and a short walk and ran into 4 reactive dogs, in the span of literally less than 5 mins!
All of them were barking at him while we were just walking and sniffing.
He looked at all of them and I just kept walking, but then he actually barked once back at the 3rd dog, who was barking his head off and pulling to get to us across the street.
I gave him a leash pop and kept walking. I know one bark is no big deal but I can tell it's only going to get worse.

How do you guys train your dog to not care about other dogs on walks?
Should I redirect his focus onto me and give him a correction when he doesn't?
And do I just go the opposite way when I see another dog?

This has been really stressing me out lately because I can tell it's getting worse. I don't want him to think I'm putting pressuring on him when other dogs are barking nor do I want his relationships with other friendly dogs to be destroyed.
Help is appreciated, thank you in advance!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,424 Posts
Honestly, you are lucky! I have to walk long distances to find so many reactive dogs LOL! But I do search them out, and practice walking by them frequently.

What you need to do is calm down! These reactive dogs will actually help you get to where you want to be with your dog!

Initially, just keep walking at a good pace. Over time, ask for some simple obedience in their presence. Build on that. Pretty soon, your dog learns that the noise from the other dog is completely unimportant...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,911 Posts
I stay focused on my dogs and assess, reward, and correct as necessary to achieve the behaviors I wish to see which is primarily not reacting back.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Eh, it might be good for training but I would argue it's horrible to live around.
My neighbors on both sides of my house have dogs that bark nonstop, but I counter conditioned it and he doesn't react to it at all.
I'm pretty sure it's that the dogs on the street are lunging while barking that makes him stop to look.

Ok, thank you for the tips guys, appreciate it!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,424 Posts
I'm pretty sure it's that the dogs on the street are lunging while barking that makes him stop to look.
Nope. It's your reaction that causes it. You can't expect your dog to ignore it until you do...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
341 Posts
I treat meeting dogs who react to us the same as I treat my dog being reactive. I don't care about the other dog reacting, I care about how my dog reacts to them. My goal is a rock-solid dog around other dogs

The main tools I use are distance, distraction, and focus. I try to stay far enough away for the other dog so that my dog will be nearing his threshold. (the point where he is going to react) Depending on the dog, it might mean a U-turn 50 feet away, sometimes we duck down a driveway, sometimes we cross to the other side of the street, sometimes we walk right by.

As we near the other dog, I shorten up on the leash. I am not sure where I heard it, but, "more leash means more dog" is true for ole. I have a handful of high value treats in my non-leash hand ready to go.

As we approach the dog, I try to walk with a purpose (Ole's focus seems to improve if I am moving briskly) with my head up and eyes forward. Through, the corner of my eye, I try to judge how Ole is dealing with the distraction. This was actually, the hardest part for me. I think this is one of the key things which separate the good trainers from the bad ones. The good ones can appear almost nonchalant towards their dog while being 100% aware of what it is doing. A bit like a good athlete being 100% confident of the physical movements of dribbling and shooting a ball... so they can focus on what the other players are doing.

Ideally, we walk right by.
If he seems to be escalating I use a food lure to get him by.
If that is not enough, I toss a handful of treats into the grass near the sidewalk and say 'find it.'
If that doesn't work, I take a step off the sidewalk so I am facing the other dog and Ole is facing me and away from the other dog. I can see the dog but Ole can't. Then I reward or play 'find it' as necessary.
If all else fails we walk away briskly to increase the distance and regroup.

I treat every dog we successfully pass as a reason for celebration :) Ole time, Ole has been learning to trust me that everything is going to be ok. So he can just walk by without reacting.

There is also an interesting human social component to this. As other people see me working to teach my dog to behave... they start doing the same with their dog.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,424 Posts
I'm going by what you said about it. Its stressing you out.

Dogs read body language. You might keep walking, but it bothers you.

Once you get over it your dog will with practice. Like I said, I actually walk quite some distance to encounter reactive dogs, but I target those places and remember them.

My dog can now walk by a lunging, snarling dog without a care.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,033 Posts
I used to keep count and by my statistics, 3 out of 4 dogs would lunge/bark at us. Now that my own dog is more relaxed, it might average 2 out of 5 now. But still...reactive untrained dogs going by on their leashes are pretty much the state of life around here.

How I handle it:

- Training (my dog understands an informal Heel command, which is "Stay Close". it tells him that he is not to try to pull me to the other dog or lunge at the other dog, and it gives his doggy-brain something to focus on instead of the other dog. )

- Making distance as needed (for a crazy killer dog, I usually cross street. for a panting pulling excited dog, we might step off the sidewalk - or the other owner will. )

- Trying to act/feel calm yourself - my dog picks up all my emotions. They know your happy days and your down days and of course, they know when something is freaking you out and they get freaked out too.

( I agree small dogs are the worst. They are saying "Stay away!! Stay back!!" It's a sign of fear and nervousness at the sight of a much larger dog. Their owners don't bother to train them, so it becomes a habit for them...I see some owners pick them up with the leashes and their paws dangle in the air, I don't know why they can't bother to train their dogs instead of strangling them! I think the big dog passing + the strangling feeling just makes the poor little dogs get even worse. I have NEVER seen the owner of a small dog ask it to Sit and give it a treat when another dog passes. I see many owners of big dogs who are training in that way. )
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
849 Posts
Honestly? Sent my dog to a board and train. He was out of control with other dogs on and off leash. He had been attacked and charged multiple times. At the board and train, they used an e-collar on him. It was the most effective tool. Even at the board and train, my dog went to attack their personal dogs.

I haven’t had to use the e-collar on my dog for reactivity since he’s been home. He’s just not reacting to dogs even if they are reactive.

I was out walking my dog the other day and a small off leash dog came at us from behind a car. My dog didn’t display any aggression AND went to go sniff him like a normal dog. I’m so happy!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
849 Posts
Oh, and interesting tidbit. Because I have the e-collar as backup, I no longer tense up on the leash (which is probably helping). I know I have the e-collar for emergencies so I just carry on with my walk no matter how the other dog is reacting. It’s made a world of difference.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
E-collars are absolutely not needed for anything and I could spam you with studies showing how bad they are. I have a huge bucovina shepherd and a working line GSD and I walk both with police style harnesses, not even collars. Never used prongs, e-collars, anything. They are both well behaved and don't react to other dogs unless they literally attack them (in that case they are free to), which pretty much never happens cause not many dogs have the balls to attack an 86 cm to withers, 70-80 kg dog. And if I could train my bucovina shepherd to walk calmly on a loose leash and ignore everything without beating him, shocking him or putting nails in his neck, you can train any dog to do so. To understand: bucovinas are similar in temperament (and size) to caucasian shepherds. Ultra protective, high natural aggressiveness, dominance, really high same sex aggression. All around much more hardcore and difficult in every way compared to GSDs. And my GSD is also pretty high prey and defence drive.

P.S. trained a number of other breeds and dogs using the same methods as well, gave mine as an example cause they are higher difficulty breeds than labs, goldens and viszlas.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
404 Posts
E-collars are absolutely not needed for anything and I could spam you with studies showing how bad they are. I have a huge bucovina shepherd and a working line GSD and I walk both with police style harnesses, not even collars. Never used prongs, e-collars, anything. They are both well behaved and don't react to other dogs unless they literally attack them (in that case they are free to), which pretty much never happens cause not many dogs have the balls to attack an 86 cm to withers, 70-80 kg dog. And if I could train my bucovina shepherd to walk calmly on a loose leash and ignore everything without beating him, shocking him or putting nails in his neck, you can train any dog to do so. To understand: bucovinas are similar in temperament (and size) to caucasian shepherds. Ultra protective, high natural aggressiveness, dominance, really high same sex aggression. All around much more hardcore and difficult in every way compared to GSDs. And my GSD is also pretty high prey and defence drive.

P.S. trained a number of other breeds and dogs using the same methods as well, gave mine as an example cause they are higher difficulty breeds than labs, goldens and viszlas.
Lol


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,735 Posts
E-collars are absolutely not needed for anything and I could spam you with studies showing how bad they are. I have a huge bucovina shepherd and a working line GSD and I walk both with police style harnesses, not even collars. Never used prongs, e-collars, anything. They are both well behaved and don't react to other dogs unless they literally attack them (in that case they are free to), which pretty much never happens cause not many dogs have the balls to attack an 86 cm to withers, 70-80 kg dog. And if I could train my bucovina shepherd to walk calmly on a loose leash and ignore everything without beating the him, shocking him or putting nails in his neck, you can train any dog to do so. To understand: bucovinas are similar in temperament (and size) to caucasian shepherds. Ultra protective, high natural aggressiveness, dominance, really high same sex aggression. All around much more hardcore and difficult in every way compared to GSDs. And my GSD is also pretty high prey and defence drive.

P.S. trained a number of other breeds and dogs using the same methods as well, gave mine as an example cause they are higher difficulty breeds than labs, goldens and viszlas.
calm down Blue.
We don't get into tool battles here. Good on you that your training methods work so well. You might do better posting some links to videos of your work than blasting someone for using a tool you disapprove of.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
341 Posts
We hit kind of hit speed bump this week in our reactivity progress. If we are less than 5 feet from a person or dog and the person stares(or reaches out their hand) or the dog acts aggressively, Ole still reacts.

We took a break from desensitization and focused on name recognition and voluntary eye contact. We have been sticking to relatively low distraction environments. In order to earn his rewards, he must either voluntarily look back at me and hold eye contact for one second or respond immediately to his name cue and me taking a quick step backward.

My thinking is that lately we have spent too much time at or just below threshold. Ole could use a week off to add value to eye contact and his name. Next week we will tackle high distractions again with clearer heads.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,735 Posts
It can feel like three steps forward and two steps back. The more you work together the more you dog will trust that you have control over the situation and can relax.
We tell people to ignore our dogs. No staring, no touching unless the dog initiates contact. (of course vets are the exception).
Also don't accidentally chain a bad behavior to a good behavior. I had done that and it took a trainer watching me to point it out. The chain was Bark at stranger > Take the heel position > Look at me > Get treat. No wonder my dog was still reacting!!!
So we changed it to Bark at stranger > short quick correction > move to heel and keep going. or Ignore stranger > move to heel > mark and reward with treat or heaps of praise! That simple change made a big difference.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
6,290 Posts
What car2ner said ^^^^ Timing is everything.Another skill to work on is speed-car2tuner's last paragraph should be carried out instantaneously and confidently.It becomes second nature in a short time:)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
341 Posts
Yes, I was getting concerned about that. It was starting to seem a bit like Ole's reactivity has been shifting from fear/unsettledness to demands for treats. His lunges had evolved into leaning into the leash in a self-rewarding way.... which I further rewarded with the look -> reward. I now use a prong collar to eliminate the satisfying 'leash lean.'

I am still getting my mind wrapped around how to use all four quadrants of Operant Conditioning effectively.

I haven't started with corrections yet. I just let Ole self-correct at the end of the lead. In Tyler Muto's leash pressure videos, he does some interesting work on using wrist flicks to actively apply pressure. We are going to start practicing those next week.

We are starting a series of basic obedience classes with a different trainer next week to meet more of the local dog community and get a fresh set of eyes for feedback. It might seem a little odd to start with basic obedience.... again. I figured another time reviewing the basic mechanics wouldn't hurt. Ole doesn't seem to care what we do as long as we do it together and I keep it fun and exciting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
323 Posts
Canto, I feel your pain. I would say that at least half the dogs I meet are reactive. And it's not me; I'm chill, Jupiter is on a loose leash, and I trust that Jupiter won't kill them.

But as far as advice, obviously we can't control those dogs and their out-of-control owners. Oops, well you know what I mean:) But we can control ourselves. Here's what I do (mostly reiterating Davewis):

Distance: Keep a proper distance so that Jupiter won't go in. He does get more agitated depending on how agitated the dog is. A few steps is usually all it takes.

Distraction: I always have food during walks. I "YES" and treat when Jupiter looks at me. I "WATCH" and treat when I want him to look at me. I don't want him looking at the yapping dog. I try to "WATCH" before the dog starts yapping. This requires ESP, which you get after being around lots of Chihuahuas.

Basically we try to control the situation so it's the right level of difficulty. Distance helps a lot here. Then we try to get the dog to focus on us instead of the offender. Then we reward, which helps both in an operant sense (the "good" behavior is being reinforced) and classically (the dog realizes a yapping dog ten feet away on a leash poses no danger, and in fact might be a good thing).

Finally, imagine a world where Chihuahua and terrier owners actually trained their dogs like the rest of us. Wouldn't that be nice?
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top