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Wanting to know any good book info WORTH the time & money ? Or the advice & help that others found worked for them ?

Our 18 month old male has a reactive behavior with dogs. Acts fearful, but when the dogs gets closer to him, will make a bad sound & lunge. Have been working with him & hoping to solve his issues, but would love to read, listen, & learn from others.

Thinking I have a bad GS & don't want this to go on.....want him friendly with other dogs & not 100% sure how to have him be this way ????

The more out of control the dog is coming at him, the worse it is.

Please offer your advice...............

Thanks much !!!
 

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Okay, bear with me because this will be long, LOL!

First off, NO out of control dogs should be allowed anywhere near your guy. You have to make sure all encounters are with calm, friendly dogs with good social skills, because a crazy dog (like you said) will only make things worse.

Is there a particular situation or distance where he is set off? Like, is it only when dogs are approaching and passing by on the sidewalk, or is it just seeing a dog across the street or park that gets him riled up?

You're pretty much going to need to start from the beginning, and avoid any direct nose-to-nose encounters with any dogs for now. You want to find the set point between him being okay and starting to be fearful/aggressive, and step back just a bit from there. Have someone you know walk their dog within sight of him, but just far away enough that he doesn't mind. Give him lots of praise and treats for being good.

After doing this a few times, decrease the distance by a few feet and repeat the treats/praise if he's good. Continue doing this until he is comfortable being close around other dogs who are just passing by (still no meeting dogs just yet). Anytime he starts to react, take a step back and start over a bit farther away, because you moved too fast.

It will take time, but it can be done. Your guy doesn't sound too bad. Once he's comfortable having calm dogs walking past you, then you can try to start calm, positive interactions with the other dog. It would be best if you use the same person and dog this whole time, so he becomes accustomed to that dog while you were desensitizing him.

Sometimes it helps to keep yourself between your dog and the other one, because it helps remind your dog that you are in charge of the situation and that you'll protect him. Walk the dogs side by side, not allowing any direct sniffing, or head-to-head meetings. This helps them realize that this is a friend, and not a foe. You, your dog, your friend, and their dog, become a pack in the dog's mind when you all walk together.

If that goes well, then you can allow your dog to sniff the other dog's behind first (it lets him be dominant and get to know the dog in a less threatening way than face-to-face). Then let the other dog sniff. Keep LOOSE leashes all the time, and be sure YOU are calm, too. Watch for any aggressive/negative posturing, such as squaring off, staring, hackling, etc. If anything like that starts, calmly walk away with your dog to let him cool down, then start the group walk again.

I can't stress enough that you must use a calm, submissive dog that has good social skills for these meetings. Often, a reactive dog seeing that the other dog is just calmly looking at him like, "Dude, what's your deal?" will actually calm down, realizing he's acting like an idiot. You definitely want to stay away from a dog that will react back if your dog acts up. Keep these positive, just-sniffing meetings short and sweet. Repeat them several times, until he is totally relaxed (or even eager) when seeing his new "friend." After that, you can carefully let them off leash together and see how they play. Keep a squirt bottle or hose nearby just in case.

Dogs are naturally social, so once he realizes that this dog is a friend and gets to really play like a dog, he'll see that he's been missing out, and will probably have no problems meeting other friendly, calm dogs. You want to steer clear of hyper, reactive dogs, no matter how good your dog becomes, because you don't want to undo all that work.

Hope this helps, good luck! I know many others on this board have a lot of experience, so I know someone else will chime in.
 

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Jessica is right on with her approach on fearful reaction.
i will also add you need to be so aware of your own actions/reactions when you have a situation that your dog is going to react to. are you tensing up on the leash? are you giving off your own apprehesiveness forseeing a situation coming? your dog will pick up on this a sense your uneasiness, and react in a defensive manner. staying calm and showing leadership can work very well. if your dog knows you are the one in charge, it can make all the difference.
debbie
 

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HAve you been able to locate a trainer in your area to work with this. I've found the problem usually ends up being a combination of dog owner AND dog, so just working on the dog's issues won't be a quick fix. As mentioned earlier, our tensness, tone of voice, where we are standing in relation to the oncoming dog, our leadership role in the dog in ALL aspects.....

I recommend the DVD, Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas, (click here) has a ton of dog behavior things we can see and act on that have nothing to do with 'obedience' but everything with being able to read and act appropriately (and timely).



The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell (click here) great read about the daily EASY things (not obedience work) that we can do for our dogs:



And there's some great free articles by Susan Clothier on http://www.flyingdogpress.com/articles.html

Good luck, with an 18 month old dog you are getting on this early enough to really see a difference. But remember, it's not just about reading stuff to 'fix' the dog. It's like so many other things with these dogs, we have to behave differently and learn new ways to behave and interact to guide our dogs safely thru a world that can sometimes be overwhelming for them.
 

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Thank you all so very much..........

First off, it used to be bad, just see a dog from a far & off he went !

Now, we just completed classes at Petsmart & we could walk beside our class mates & lay down in class & be calm.

I have done these classes & also have worked some with a trainer on the side. Have taken him for dog walks & hoping the weather will warm up soon so, more dog walks can happen.

He seems to go off when they get about 1 to 2 feet in front of him. The more wirey............the worse.

Also, got out of the Jeep & went walking with a big group one day. He got out of the Jeep & IF waiting around (idle time) he will go into this mode, snarling & lundging. I found you have to get him moving.

He has never dog played with any other dogs, no place here for that & didn't know friends with dogs. Finding now with help of trainer.

I know he was fine with a dobbie in class till she started to get into play mode (went down on her front legs, butt up) & he freaked.

I thank yo much for the advice & info.............please keep it coming, books, etc.

Looking for great books to teach us how to be in control of everything & no worries from the dogs.
 

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Hi, you might try Feisty Fido by Patricia McConnell. I love her other books, so I imagine this would also be good. She is very practical and clear.
 

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Poor guy, it sounds like he just doesn't have any social skills. Definitely read some of those books listed to help you, but he's eventually going to just have to learn the proper social cues from another dog. Hopefully you can work with him enough so that he can be allowed to play with another dog (again, a submissive, calm and friendly one) so that he can learn.

Perhaps you can take him somewhere just to watch other dogs play? He can learn by observation, too. We have dogs that come to the daycare that don't know how to play. They weren't aggressive, so we let them come for trial days, but you could tell they didn't know what to do. They just stood in the corner, or followed staff members around for attention. Eventually, though, after watching the others play and have fun, they would relax and start to join in.
 

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Another thing to add...

I just finished a book that was written specifically for reactive performance dogs but the idea will work for any dog that is having reactive issues.

The author teaches a "look at that!" cue and encourages a reactive dog to look at the source of the fear or stressor or environmental stimulus that sets the dog off. She does it by pairing food. She points to it, tells the dog to look at it (dog will follow hand prompt), and rewards the dog for looking at the thing or other dog that triggers the reaction.

The common method has been as described above or teaching the dog a watch command to watch you and not the trigger. The downside of this is the dog is not given permission to face the object of his fear. That does not make the object of fear go away and the dog is still aware of it and stessed by it. What you want is the dog to face the fear, look at it and realize it is no big deal.

This method really is just a small difference in what Jessica describes above. For this to work your dog has to be calm. You use a non reactive, known friendly dog as the target dog. At his reaction distance + 5 or 10 feet to insure he is calm and will remain calm, you point at the dog and tell him in a calm upbeat voice "Look at That!" as soon as he follows your hand prompt you mark it and treat with many small treats given quickly. This is very similar to a simple check it out exercise that we do with puppies to get them used to odd things like fire hydrants, bikes, skateboards, shelves and boxes at Petsmart etc. But in this case we are not allowing the dog to approach it yet.

This gives the dog permission to look and gives them the freedom to understand that the trigger is really nothing. When you do this watch your energy. If you are too excited and squeally your dog may read lack of confidence. As said above your calmness is everything.

In the meantime avoid close encounters with unknown dogs. If you can pass 20 feet with no problem great- pass on by. But don't feel you need to stop and chat or allow your dog to visit with another dog. Wave at the person say high and keep on walking with your head high, your leash loose and a confident set to your stride. Your mannerism in doing this gives your dog security.

I try my best to not let my dogs play with unknown dogs. You want a known friendly dog to help your dog learn doggy language. As said before let him watch they do learn that way.

I think every GSD will be reactive if we let them. I know 2 of mine are not dog aggressive. But if I let them and I act squirrely or unconfident they will react. When I walk mine and we see other dogs and they get the "I think I want to hackle" look, I firmly tell them "that's NO!" and keep on going with my head up and shoulders back and I don't even slow down. My dogs deflate and move on. We have such a problem with loose dogs here and I have been bitten in the past that I was tensing, getting squirrely and squeaky and setting it up. If I stay calm I can divert just about anything.

As MRL says it is as much about you as it is the dog. And just FYI, she is the one that helped me overcome this several years ago. This board does work!
 

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Kathy, I just started that book on my lunch hour today, and already I love it! Can't wait until I get to the actual exercises and can start working on it. I can use it for kitty chasing around the house while it's still too dark or rainy after work for walks.

Guess I better add a link to the book we're talking about: Control Unleashed
 

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I have a reactive dog too. So I know the troubles all too well.


I too would recommend "Fiesty Fido" as well as "Scaredy Dog" and "Focus, Not Fear" both by Ali Brown (I have yet to read them myself but they came highly recommended).

I'm at work and I don't have the time to write a long response right now but I have a couple URLs I can share as well. I'll try to write up some more on my personal dealings with reactivity and some of the solutions I've tried later. I've recently started incorporating some drive training with good results.

http://www.4pawsu.com/onleashaggression.htm
http://www.ourpack.org/aggressreactivity.html
http://www.canineculture.net/leashReact.html
http://www.canineuniversity.com/articles/behavior/behave_12.html
http://www.diamondsintheruff.com/onleashreactive.html
 

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Alright, I'm back and have a little bit more time.

Ris is reactive as well, due to to fear. She doesn't like dogs entering her space while on-lead and so she barks/lunges at them to make them go away. I would LOVE to find a totally non-reactive dog to bring Risa near and let her do her thing. Bark, lunge, whatever and then reward her when she finally stops and makes eye contact with me. Unfortunately, I do not know of any dogs like this locally. So we've been forced to try other methods.

Your state of mind is really important. If you think "Oh great, another dog, here we go again" every time you see a dog. . .your dog will pick up on it. And if you get all flustered while your dog is reacting, they will pick up on that too. As tough as it is, I've been trying lately to either be really happy or 'whatever' about the situation. If Ris wants to go off, fine. I'm just going to keep walking as if she's not acting like a fool.


I try and get her out among dogs as much as possible. When the weather was still decent, I took her to Petsmart and stood outside the doorway in an area where she wouldn't be too close to other dogs. I had treats and a clicker. If she looked at me I click/treated. I didn't mind if she looked at the people, carts, cars, or dogs. But the only thing that would get her a reward was making eye contact with me. Occasionally I would ask for the eye contact instead of just waiting for it. But mostly, I left it up to her.

We are also in obedience classes and our trainer doesn't mind if we hang around in classes we aren't enrolled in. I also assist classes which gives Risa a chance to be around different dogs. Same thing in class as outside Petsmart. She only gets rewarded for looking at me instead of the distracting dog. The more distracting the dog (or the closer it is), the bigger the reward she gets. I also try to manage things appropriately to avoid giving Risa the opportunity to snap at the other dogs. Not always an easy task.

For example, last night we were assisting the Level 1 class and a puppy came up behind her. I saw him coming. . .so did she. She kept her focus on me but then he was literally right next to her behind. Knowing that if this continued, she'd give him a warning (snap/bark), I asked her to look at me and come with me as I stepped backwards and away from the puppy. She did eye the puppy once but otherwise remained with me and did not react.

I've also started doing a bit of drive-training with Risa since I know seeing other dogs gets her revved up. I know that just walking on by does not dissapate the energy she builds up in anticipation of that other dog coming by. So I've been bringing a tuggie along on walks. If she sees something that gets her prey drive going (another dog, rabbit, bird, etc.) I ask if she wants to play tuggie. I hold it high so she has to jump up onto me to get it once I give her the command to 'take it.' Once she has a good grip, I will let her tug with all four paws on the ground like normal. We play for a while and then I release the tug and let her 'win.' She proudly carries it as we continue walking though she eventually drops it. I pick it up and pocket it for later.

The idea behind this is to show your dog that you are a release of their energy and prey drive. So they learn that if they see something exciting, they should turn to you for a way to release it. I haven't done much reading on drive training but I know you can channel that drive into obedience behaviors instead of just tuggie. But tuggie's the way to start. I've only tried the tug method with Risa twice but I've seen really good results so far.

Here's a link with some more info on drive training: http://leecharleskelleysblog.blogspot.com/

Obedience classes are great too because they help build your dog's confidence.
Good luck!
 

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Quote: Your state of mind is really important. If you think "Oh great, another dog, here we go again" every time you see a dog. . .your dog will pick up on it. And if you get all flustered while your dog is reacting, they will pick up on that too. As tough as it is, I've been trying lately to either be really happy or 'whatever' about the situation. If Ris wants to go off, fine. I'm just going to keep walking as if she's not acting like a fool.
for Murphy-Elperroguapo posting as well as everyone else! Nice to see we ALL have similar issues and work thru them so there is hope!
 

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Thanks for the link Debbie. I had a totla brain dump on the name of the bookand the author yesterday. Control Unleashed is by Leslie McDevitt and she lives in PA I think.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks all !!!! WOW

Yes, know that feeling too WELL, oh know there's a dog coming, it's real wirey, etc !!!! I HAVE to calm down....I know, I know, I know ! Hard to do with a 90 + lb big boy & you don't want people freaking thinking you have a mean dog !!!

I have just finished classes & plan to do advanced & try for the CGC !!! Storm seem like a scary cat to me. Nervous acting. I want him to be calm. We are so working on it.

Ok............LOTS of GREAT books were mentioned here, may I ask you all to name the 3 top ones you would recommend the MOST ??? To learn how to handle your dog to be great well minded dogs, how to get through dog issues.....being reactive, scared, etc. . I know it's all about taking out, out, & out. Just wish we also had someone to walk with every week or so ! This would so help him.

Thanks again everyone, keep tips/advice coming !
 

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Risa has gotten the 'your dog is vicious' look from people. I hate it. And I do worry about it. If they only knew the whole story, they'd stop looking at us like that. I try my best to ignore whatever they're thinking and just continue on like nothing is wrong. Because what Ris is doing isn't wrong, really. Not by canine standards anyway.

SOOO many dogs are reactive though. I see them all the time. Few people DO anything about it though.


I know our trainer has recommended <u>Control Unleashed</u> as well. I just purchased it today so, again, I recommend a book I haven't read!
 
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