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Hi Friends,
Our wonderful 1.5YO German Shepherd mix dog continues to have issues with leash aggression to other dog's, and as she has grown she's becoming more and more difficult to handle (i'm petite, she's not!). :) We adopted her at 3months of age and immediately started in training courses, so she does great with sit, stay, off, the basic commands. She loves interacting with other dog's off leash, but as soon as she's on leash and sees a dog she does not know, she turns into "cujo", barking, pulling and even lunging.

We have had trainers tell us to just walk the other way, when you see another dog coming--tried that and it's not a great solution for us. We've tried treats, distractions, etc. Inevitably, if out for a walk someone is going to have to walk past us.

We are becoming more and more anxious (I know NOT helpful to her), and are not even taking her for walks any longer. I won't allow my babysitter and young son to go out with her, for fear that she will take off and hurt someone. We do take her to dog parks and doggie daycare which she loves and is wonderful interacting with dogs--but again this is all off leash.

We are using a prong collar and it's working OK, but it seems like a quick and short term "fix" when she's turning into a "pscho". She may never be a dog we can take to parks, the Farmer's Market, etc. BUT, we need to get her to a point where it's safe for her to be walked.

Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated. Also, any suggestions for Behavioral Specialists in the San Francisco Bay Area would be great.

Thank you all for your time and suggestions!

Ella
 

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I've seen ecollar work completely cure a dog of leash aggression. It's important to use a competent and experienced trainer. My friends dog once was going after a cat and she fell and he dragged her around like a rag doll. He is a completely different dog now that he has been properly trained with an ecollar.
 

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Hi CeCe,
I've heard a lot of people say that an ecollar shouldn't be used for dog reactive dogs with leash "aggression" (I don't agree with that word), but I'm having problems with my male 1 1/2 year old GSD. He's on a prong collar and it only is effective if he receives a really really hard correction, which I really don't like doing, I'm petite and I basically have to use my whole body force. I'm thinking about putting an ecollar on him- a DogTra collar. Can you give any advice and that helped you- I'd appreciate it!
 

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E-collar only seems a good solution. There's no garantee you will get used to it, one day you may decide to forget it at home.
Instead, try to look deeper into your problem. It must be something in it for your dog, something very attractive in the whole issue of attacking strangers, dogs or people. And, I guess, that is - her wish to impress. You, actually, do not say much about yourself, what do you do when your dog misbehaves like that, what sorts of commands you give her? She knows, that being leashed has one advantage - she can exibit herself more agressive than she really is. She knows that the other dog is leashed as well. They bark at each other, clashing their teeth, spitting saliva and upsetting you. But, try to let them off the leash at that moment and you will see that in majority of cases your dog won't know what to do, two dogs will start sniffing each other, trying to find out who is who without any fight. GSDs are nervous and young dogs are impatient, that's why provocative, normally, if one of dogs growls the fight would be unevitable. But your female doesn't, probably, want it, yet, she wants to impress her opponent. My Unna was like that. She liked to frighten people as well. My other dogs liked doing it too. Unna was running back to me happy with a smile on her face if she managed to make somebody's hair to wire. Once your dog started doing it, she will get only more taste of it with time unless you work on it pressing on three things: on heeling, patience and recall. She must walk next to you doesn't matter what, during earthquake or flooding. Let her bark if she wants to, but ask her to lie down if she pulls the lead. Put her on a long leash and tell her that there would be dogs she would be allowed to come to, and there would be dogs she would not be allowed to come to. Ask her to lie down in any possible case, in a dirty pond if necessary, it's worth the results of your training. By putting her on the level lover than the other dog you would achieve convert reaction, the position of lying down is read by dogs as a submissive one, similarly to ours "start smiling, vertually pulling your facial muscles, and you'll see how a good mood dawns upon you", she would calm down. Secondly, I recommend you to relax about any possible bites and put a soft muzzle on her for a period of training: New Royal Nappa Padded Leather Dog Muzzle M63 | eBay
You can train her, as anything else, through the number of repetitions, meeting strangers in different situations. You would need no leed, nor the muzzle one day.
 

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You have a teenager, lol!! Stick with the training. And let go of your fear. The dog will read when you're anxious, and it will heighten her anxiety.

I'm not petite, but I'm also not *that*much bigger than my dog, and being in my forties, definitely no stronger nor fit than my 2 1/2 yo male GSD!), but you don't need to be more physically powerful than your dog. It's a mental thing. Dogs react to very subtle body language.

Be confident, first and foremost, be consistent, be patient, and train, train, train. She won't be a teen forever, but while she is, just don't give her any reason to believe she is the one in charge ;)

And if you're not comfortable walking her right now, find another way for her to get her "YaYas" out. Burn energy with a flirt pole, mental stimulation, a treadmill... There are many options. Work her first, and *then* try the leash walking.

I would skip the ecollar for now. What you want is for her to learn that passing another dog on leash is No Big Deal, not a reason for punishment. Punitive correction will probably only heighten her excitement, create anxiety, and make every dog you pass an even greater enemy.

When you see another dog approaching, are you clenching the leash when you change direction? Keep it loose (loop the leash around your wrist, put your hand on your belt and keep it there... leave the pressure up to the dog), change direction, and increase your speed. Dog needs to be more focused on you than any other dog. You don't even need to go for a walk. Find an empty lot and walk randomly, changing direction, so that she is focused entirely on You. She will get her exercise, and be training at the same time.


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The reason I suggested the ecollar is because the op stated that they had tried other options. With my own dog, I use a combo of LAT and prong collar corrections if things get out of hand which rarely happens because of the LAT training. My girls are around 60 lbs so its pretty easy to handle them. My friend is petite like me and her dog is 90 lbs. He was just too big and he had too much force when he reacted to stimulus. she worked with a very experienced trainer who the local rescues recommended and he responded very well to e collar training. the dog actually no longer requires the collar because he was trained properly with it. I used to not believe in ecollars until I saw the results that she was able to achieve with him. Her dog can enjoy himself now and be out in public living a full life. I think it's a good option , especially if everything else has been tried.
 

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you should get your dog evaluated by a good trainer first. she could just be defending you because she feels shes the leader of the pack.

if it is true leash aggression i'd also recommend the use of an ecollar. if used correctly, it will most likely work wonders for your dogs leash aggression. when you pop your dog with a prong, she knows that the correction is coming from you. its a punishment. with an ecollar she will think that the shock comes from the environment. if she lunges at another dog there is suddenly this shocking sensation. it doesnt come from you or the other dog, or anything else; it just happens. she will learn that her actions causes this shocking reaction. she will eventaully learn that if she doesnt lunge, there is no shock. she will then eventually learn that not lunging and barking is fine. the other dog is not a threat and theres nothing to defend. with an ecollar she gets to choose her actions. she will learn over time what the correct perferred action is. if everytime i said a cuss word, my tongue would have a burning sensation like someone put a habanero pepper in my mouth, i myself would choose to stop cussing. no one is forcing me but i dont want my tongue to be spicy. the proper use of an ecollar isnt punishment; its letting the dog choose its own actions. find a good trainer that is knowledgeable in the correct use of an ecollar and you'll see results in less than a week. good luck!
 

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Skip the ecollar and the prong collar. All you're doing with the prong collar is teaching her that she sees a dog on leash, she's about to get popped. Unfortunately, the prong for this issue is a very temporary fix that only causes more issues down the road.
It takes a lot longer and it's a lot more work, but you need to make her associate other dogs as a good thing while she's on leash and train her while she's sub threshold.
Read the Control Unleashed books and talk to moderators like Jean who have dealt with reactivity before.
 

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Redirect the dog's attention and give it a treat- positive reinforcement. That's what we have been working on.


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Just make sure you use a high-value treat like real chicken or jerky or cheese instead of a regular treat.


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I would ONLY use the e-collar if you had a truly experienced trainer helping you use it. Otherwise you may make a bad situation even worse. Adding more fear to the situation for your dog.

Have you used either the head collar or no pull harnesses? So you can at least have more control?



Then you can actually start more training WITH your dog before they over react and you lose control of the situation.

 

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and how do you suggest she train her dog to associate other strange dogs as a good thing? treats?
Positive reinforcement. Doesn't have to be treats, can be functional reward. Playing, distance or food can all serve as positive reinforcement when working on leash aggression or reactivity but there is nothing wrong with using food (purposely avoid the word treats because it sends the wrong message to the people). Food is a tool just like a collar.

Check out Behavior Adjustment Training (BAT) at www.functionalrewards.com.

My leash reactive dog walks with a toy in her mouth always and gets rewarded with play and training when she walks past triggers and behaves.

Agree with MRL. IF you want to use an ecollar, you need to do so with the guidance of an experienced trainer or you will make things much worse.
 

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I totally understand how your dog is. Mine is just like that, he was not aggressive, he only wants to go to the other dog to play... We did try positive reinforcement only method. These trainers told me to give treat, toys when far away from distance when they first see the dog. For us, that is impossible. dog sees before we do, once he sees it, his mindset elevated to a point no treat/toys can redirect his attention. we live in the city. i cannot predict when there's a cat,skunk or people when they going to come out. If you need recommendation on trainer please pm me.
 

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I totally understand how your dog is. Mine is just like that, he was not aggressive, he only wants to go to the other dog to play... We did try positive reinforcement only method. These trainers told me to give treat, toys when far away from distance when they first see the dog. For us, that is impossible. dog sees before we do, once he sees it, his mindset elevated to a point no treat/toys can redirect his attention. we live in the city. i cannot predict when there's a cat,skunk or people when they going to come out. If you need recommendation on trainer please pm me.
Been having a similar issue.

I've been working on a strong "Leave it" command so he won't focus on it. As soon as I spot another dog I tell him "leave it" and don't acknowledge the other dog. When we pass and he did a good job we reward by either a ball, treat, or praise. I keep Gunther on the whatever opposite side the dog is on so we're standing between him and the other dog as we walk by. I also use his "tag" leash part (we have a double handled leash) while near other dogs so he can't even get close to the other dog even if he tried. I'm only 5'2" so I get where you're coming from; Gunther is almost as tall as me when he stands up and is now 75 lbs.

It's been a slow process but it's coming along and practice in the local pet store and park has helped. I've been able to go back and forth between aisles where there were reactive dogs and he would just focus on me.
 

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Skip the ecollar and the prong collar. All you're doing with the prong collar is teaching her that she sees a dog on leash, she's about to get popped. Unfortunately, the prong for this issue is a very temporary fix that only causes more issues down the road.
It takes a lot longer and it's a lot more work, but you need to make her associate other dogs as a good thing while she's on leash and train her while she's sub threshold.
Read the Control Unleashed books and talk to moderators like Jean who have dealt with reactivity before.
This is simply not true for all dogs.
My dog was leash reactive only - not reactive off leash- and the prong helped fix her reactivity. She knows whats right ("look at that"+treat) and she knows whats wrong (barking/lunging/hackles). It's crystal clear for her. she gets corrected when she's being ridiculous, simple as that. She has not learned that 'dogs mean shes going to get popped" she has learned that "if i see dogs and act like an idiot I get popped" so she acts nicely now. I dont even need the prong anymore for this.

I agree with CU books in combination with corrections if the dog needs corrections. I stopped letting my girl get away with being like that on a leash and now she is great. You teach them an appropriate behavior, like looking at the dog then back at you, and you can correct for when they fail that behavior so the correction is about not performing a behavior asked of them, not about the dogs.
 
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