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I have an 8 month old intact male who has been having issues with barking at other dogs when on lead ever since he hit puberty.

I posted awhile back and got some great suggestions and I tried them all! When he started this I immediately enrolled him in another group obedience class, this class was GREAT and was held in a public park with another class going on next to us, a flyball team practicing near us and other people out walking their dogs. I would show up early to the class, go a ways back from the other dogs and do some obedience work then gradually I would move closer when he didn't bark, we got to the point of sitting 5 feet away and he'd totally ignore them. During the class he'd mostly ignore the other dogs but there was a very high strung dobie and pit who would sometimes get him riled up but I would correct and move away.

I also went to the GSD club and did some obedience there with about 20ish other GSD's at the same time, initially when we first got there he wanted to bark but I'd correct, turn and walk away... He calmed down in about 5 minutes and was then one of the calmest dogs there.

He is amazing with dogs off leash, doesn't have an aggressive bone in his body and he's NEVER had a bad experience with a strange dog. I know for a fact that he can be barking at another dog acting very aggressive that if he gets to the dog all he does is initiate play. The main issue seems to be if we're on a walk and a dog is coming at us head on, if I don't intervene he will fixate on the dog and as soon as the dog gets within 3 feet or so he will start going off.

I have tried to get his attention before he sees the dog, put him in a sit and praise and treat but even with hotdogs or cheese and soon as he's aware there's a dog it is VERY hard to keep his attention.

The main thing thus far that has worked for me is when I notice a dog coming I will bring him to my side and correct him with his prong if he's starting to amp up or go into that state, this seems to bring him back down and when the dog goes by without him reacting he gets mega praise!

Now I have let him play a lot with other dogs and he has a fair amount of DDR in him and I've 'heard' they are very pack oriented(not sure how true that is) but he LOVES other dogs and off leash there are zero issues... Could this be because he's intact, he did not start until around 6 months old and I have tried every suggestion I got but he's still doing it. I'm just so frustrated because now he is a bigger dog and he's scaring people plus it is embarrassing.

I will keep working on the suggestions I have recieved already and will start taking him back to the GSD club class... Mostly I just needed to vent and wondering if there's anything else I can do. If you read all this, thank you. :)
 

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how are you correcting the dog when it starts the behavior? and is it only when an off lead dog comes up when the dog is on lead? I am very hesitant to be anywhere where other dogs can freely approach us, I simply don't trust most dogs and while mine will ignore them now, if they come charging up, there is going to be a problem.
 

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how are you correcting the dog when it starts the behavior? and is it only when an off lead dog comes up when the dog is on lead? I am very hesitant to be anywhere where other dogs can freely approach us, I simply don't trust most dogs and while mine will ignore them now, if they come charging up, there is going to be a problem.
Sorry I didn't specify... It's when he's on lead and other dogs are on lead, we have pretty strict leash laws here(though not everyone follows them) but so far we've never encountered an off leash dog. And as far as the correction goes it's just a light tug on his prong and the leave it command though I always start out with leave it and if he starts to react then I correct him with the prong. I think the big issue I had before was I was correcting too late, wasn't doing it until after he'd already gotten in that state.
 

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Nobody? :(

On our walk last night a jogger and his dog came out of nowhere plus it was dark, they were across the street from us but I told him to leave it and he didn't react at all except for looking at them. It was great but I don't understand why sometimes he reacts and sometimes he doesn't, possibly I should try and pay attention to whether the dog he's reacting to is male or female?
 

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Mostly I've just used patience, if I see another dog coming I'll take Delgado off the sidewalk and get him to sit right beside me with our back to the other dog and look at me. I talk, stroke, and treat him as the other dog goes walking by and he'll ignore them as long as they're not within 5' or so.

If he does react he gets a quick prong correction and we don't move no matter what. Once he settles he gets attention and treats again, when the dog is out of sight I'll continue for a few more sessions then break the session with a "let's go" and we'll continue the walk.

We've been working on it almost 7 months now and sometimes I get frustrated that he's not "getting" it but then I think back and realize how much better he actually is. We can walk past the nearby dog park now where we used to go and he won't react to the other dogs at all. Huge accomplishment from where we used to be.

Delgado's barking stems from two things: excitement at seeing the other dog and wanting to play which then quickly turns to frustration as the dog gets closer and neither owner is allowing them to play together. Now he knows he's not allowed to play and the frustration part is SO much better but the excitement part is still there.
 

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Sounds like you are doing all the right things. I have a 22 month old female that has been a work in progress as to her reactivity. It all started out as excitement and wanting to play. Not too awful when she was younger but pretty scary as she got older. Not to mention hard on my back and shoulders! The prong worked wonders for us, as did a class that was geared towards reactive dogs. But I was tired of playing ninja whenever we saw another dog. And I want to be able to let her off leash at some point. Right now she is only off leash in my yard. In a park she is on a long line. Anyhow, I started using an e collar following Lou Castle's protocol. It has been a game changer for us. I haven't had the prong on her in a month. We have encountered several dogs and I have been able to call her off, and have her sit. Just today this little white yappy off leash dog came running at us....I turned me and Stella around, but this crazy little dog just kept coming at us snarling and barking! (Definitely had a death wish) I was very proud of Stella. She stayed with me, sat down and watched the other dog go by! This would have been impossible not too long ago. And I didn't pull out my neck or back...lol

I know not everyone is pro e collar, but for me, I just ran out of time and options. And the dog reactivity help was not my goal...I was trying to teach recall. Her reactive behavior improvement is just a by product of the recall training. Just an option for the future if things don't improve for you....but sounds like you are doing the right stuff. It definitely is a work in progress
 

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I'm not a trainer which is why I'm reluctant to chime in on these threads....but I went through something very similiar with Ilda at about the same age.

Unpredictable too, one dog she was fine with, next one not.

I'll share with you what my trainer who evaluated her told me, she's young and looking for a challenge. She didn't lunge at other dogs, just hackles up and barking.

So we did basically what you are doing now, OB clubs, learn how to properly correct and reward, exposure, reward positive behaviour, redirect focus onto handler, and you know what...this helped but I also really think it was just a matter of time and maturity.

Just the other day training at the park we bumped into a young lady with a GSD about 6 months old doing a similiar thing (except she would lunge forward**) and Ilda who in the past would have really reacted to that sat by my side looking very confident and calmly at the boisterous youngster.

Sounds to my like you're doing everything you can, the rest of it is just time and patience.

(**I gave her my trainer's card as she was not involved in any formal training at all and it was her first GSD. I told her they can be a lot of work, but they are worth, poor thing was so distraught)




Nobody? :(

On our walk last night a jogger and his dog came out of nowhere plus it was dark, they were across the street from us but I told him to leave it and he didn't react at all except for looking at them. It was great but I don't understand why sometimes he reacts and sometimes he doesn't, possibly I should try and pay attention to whether the dog he's reacting to is male or female?
 

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I don't agree much with your response to his reaction and some other's advice...

Correcting a dog that is reacting is, IMO, the worst possible thing you could do. First of all, you're telling the dog that there is a REASON to think that you can't control the situation- pain/fear/tense body movements. He's reacting because you aren't in control of the situation, or he's been lead to believe you will not be. He's building up a negative association with dogs now because he's getting corrected when his focus is on them.

Second of all, you're telling him what not to do, but you're not giving him anything better to do with them.

Have you heard of look at that training? Do you clicker train at all? Look at that training is a great method for reactive dogs that I have used on ALL of my dogs and many dogs that I've trained, some privately, for reactivity.

You need to keep him under his threshold. Putting him in the position to react is going to self-reinforce, so you need to make sure it's not happening, and/or that you're not encouraging or correcting it. When you go out for walks, don't walk down the sidewalk if another dog is coming. Cross the street. When he looks at another dog from a distance and he's under his threshold, click/treat. If you're at a distance and he's not reacting, but will not focus or take treats, wait him out. When his attention is on you, you can reward. Otherwise, spend time at a distance clicking and treating when he looks at other dogs and DOESN'T react. You're rewarding calm body language towards other dogs and building up a POSITIVE, NON THREATENING association towards them. You can begin decreasing your distance to the other dogs when he is doing well at the distance you're at over a period of time. (ie; he's great at 20 yards from dogs for a week, so move up to 15 yards next and see how he reacts)

If you get put into the position of having to walk by a dog, don't correct, don't stop, just keep moving like the dog isn't there and yours isn't being a fool.

I would also encourage you to stop ALL on-leash greetings ASAP if you currently let him engage in them. It can muddy the waters between what is acceptable and what is not, and reactivity can often turn into leash aggression, which could put him in a position to attack another dog or person. I was recently training an older couple with their young spaniel mix who would go ape sh** when she saw other dogs on leash, but was fine with them off leash. She redirected twice and bit my leg while she was busy having a fit about being on the leash. It does happen.

Good luck, it takes a lot of time to cure a reactive dog, but it is nowhere near impossible. I spent almost a year working on it with Frag DAILY, and now he can walk into any petstore, go to a dog event with thousands of dogs, trial in an agility ring, etc. without so much as noticing another dog. The time you put into it is very rewarding.

Eta; As for why he may sometimes be reacting and may not other times, have you noticed an age/energy level correlation? There are a few reactive dogs in a CGC class I am teaching currently who will react almost every time they go near the two young, spastic (but friendly) pit bulls in the class, just because of the energy level- they are feeding off of each other, and prolonged eye contact just makes it worse. Both of these dogs can walk within a foot of an adult, calm, bernese mountain dog mix with no lunging or anxiety/reaction and great handler focus because the adult mix does not feed into their energy.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you guys! It makes me feel better that I don't own some sort of monster dog. :shocked:

"Delgado's barking stems from two things: excitement at seeing the other dog and wanting to play which then quickly turns to frustration as the dog gets closer and neither owner is allowing them to play together. Now he knows he's not allowed to play and the frustration part is SO much better but the excitement part is still there."

You know, I never thought of it like this but this could be exactly it because he is NOT aggressive. 7 months you say? :eek::cry:
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
When this first started happening I did positive ONLY, had him on a sense sation harness no prong, did the group classes along with LOTS of exposure and it did absolutely nothing. The only way I was able to get him to stop was light corrections with the prong along with leave it.

BUT I do need to work more on focus, that has been very troublesome for us especially since food doesn't seem to motivate him much around dogs or distractions.

I do not allow sniff and greet meetings anymore but it did happen frequently when he was small and cute I'll freely admit. Nobody wants to stop and let their dog meet him with the way he acts now, lol. I do notice that many of the dogs he reacts to also react to him or are staring at him first.

He is not aggressive though, we've had a couple incidents with idiots using flexi's, their dogs came out of nowhere and surprised us and all Ollie did was try to initiate play.

I do agree though and will work more with him on look and the clicker, he's used to clicker and marker training. It's just been difficult because the dog seems to be a bigger reward for him then food or toys but I will go back to square one and start over with this doing just at home again and working my way back up. I'm still on the hunt for an awesome reward that he likes.
 

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Items in blue, yes and no and the following has nothing to do with training theory but rather 'stuff' happens....


The OP mentioned an incident where she didn't have time to employ a threshold distance.

Sometimes people have their dogs on flexi's catch you off guard, you cannot always control the environment around you.

Also distances on threshholds varied and it was hard to tell and anticipate what was triggering the different distances. Ilda did this and the young GSD we bumped into was inconsistent with distances and Ilda.

Not saying being mindful of threshholds is wrong but you make it sound like it's something easily quantifiable and controllable and it's not.... :shrug:


I don't agree much with your response to his reaction and some other's advice...

Correcting a dog that is reacting is, IMO, the worst possible thing you could do. First of all, you're telling the dog that there is a REASON to think that you can't control the situation- pain/fear/tense body movements. He's reacting because you aren't in control of the situation, or he's been lead to believe you will not be. He's building up a negative association with dogs now because he's getting corrected when his focus is on them.

Second of all, you're telling him what not to do, but you're not giving him anything better to do with them.

Have you heard of look at that training? Do you clicker train at all? Look at that training is a great method for reactive dogs that I have used on ALL of my dogs and many dogs that I've trained, some privately, for reactivity.

You need to keep him under his threshold. Putting him in the position to react is going to self-reinforce, so you need to make sure it's not happening, and/or that you're not encouraging or correcting it. When you go out for walks, don't walk down the sidewalk if another dog is coming. Cross the street. When he looks at another dog from a distance and he's under his threshold, click/treat. If you're at a distance and he's not reacting, but will not focus or take treats, wait him out. When his attention is on you, you can reward. Otherwise, spend time at a distance clicking and treating when he looks at other dogs and DOESN'T react. You're rewarding calm body language towards other dogs and building up a POSITIVE, NON THREATENING association towards them. You can begin decreasing your distance to the other dogs when he is doing well at the distance you're at over a period of time. (ie; he's great at 20 yards from dogs for a week, so move up to 15 yards next and see how he reacts)

If you get put into the position of having to walk by a dog, don't correct, don't stop, just keep moving like the dog isn't there and yours isn't being a fool.

I would also encourage you to stop ALL on-leash greetings ASAP if you currently let him engage in them. It can muddy the waters between what is acceptable and what is not, and reactivity can often turn into leash aggression, which could put him in a position to attack another dog or person. I was recently training an older couple with their young spaniel mix who would go ape sh** when she saw other dogs on leash, but was fine with them off leash. She redirected twice and bit my leg while she was busy having a fit about being on the leash. It does happen.

Good luck, it takes a lot of time to cure a reactive dog, but it is nowhere near impossible. I spent almost a year working on it with Frag DAILY, and now he can walk into any petstore, go to a dog event with thousands of dogs, trial in an agility ring, etc. without so much as noticing another dog. The time you put into it is very rewarding.

Eta; As for why he may sometimes be reacting and may not other times, have you noticed an age/energy level correlation? There are a few reactive dogs in a CGC class I am teaching currently who will react almost every time they go near the two young, spastic (but friendly) pit bulls in the class, just because of the energy level- they are feeding off of each other, and prolonged eye contact just makes it worse. Both of these dogs can walk within a foot of an adult, calm, bernese mountain dog mix with no lunging or anxiety/reaction and great handler focus because the adult mix does not feed into their energy.
 

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When Ilda was younger we just redirected but as she got older we introduced correction, but the correction was followed with something that I could then reward. So it would be correct/command such as sit/focus/GOOD/reward/release. The good/reward/release prevents negative associations from building.

My trainer taught me (when Ilda was old enough) that you don't dwell on the correction what you are doing is putting the dog into a place where you can start rewarding a postive state of mind faster and more frequently. If the dog is over threshhold already we walked away from what was triggering because at that point corrections won't work.

A lot of it is just learning to get your timing down and just get a 'feel' for when your dog is getting too far into a state of mind where they are tuning you out and then it's best to just move away from what ever is triggering your dog.

I think the hardest part is understanding that you're gonna mess up from time to time with this and it's o.k. I used to think every mistake I made was going to ruin my dog and it didn't. :)




When this first started happening I did positive ONLY, had him on a sense sation harness no prong, did the group classes along with LOTS of exposure and it did absolutely nothing. The only way I was able to get him to stop was light corrections with the prong along with leave it.

BUT I do need to work more on focus, that has been very troublesome for us especially since food doesn't seem to motivate him much around dogs or distractions.

I do not allow sniff and greet meetings anymore but it did happen frequently when he was small and cute I'll freely admit. Nobody wants to stop and let their dog meet him with the way he acts now, lol. I do notice that many of the dogs he reacts to also react to him or are staring at him first.

He is not aggressive though, we've had a couple incidents with idiots using flexi's, their dogs came out of nowhere and surprised us and all Ollie did was try to initiate play.

I do agree though and will work more with him on look and the clicker, he's used to clicker and marker training. It's just been difficult because the dog seems to be a bigger reward for him then food or toys but I will go back to square one and start over with this doing just at home again and working my way back up. I'm still on the hunt for an awesome reward that he likes.
 

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Yes, 7 months. My goal is 0 reaction 100% of the time, I'm getting close but still not quite there. He can walk beside a dog fence fighting 2' away and not react and dogs he can walk right by as long as we're outside of that 5' bubble

For Delgado, any dog coming within his space is a potential playmate. There's no correlation to age, size, or energy. Delgado simply LOVES other dogs even more then he loves humans outside of his human pack. He perks up when he sees someone walking because he's looking to see if they have a dog with them. If they don't he just watches them pass and once they're out of sight they're no longer important.

Delgado knows what I expect, but it's just like someone waving a juicy steak in front of a starving dog, he just can't help himself. His brain clicks off and it's PLAYTIME! If he didn't understand what I want we would be still at square 1 where any dog within hearing distance would set him off. I can still get through to him even while he's in drive which is how I can stop it in it's tracks within threshold easily

If he treated dogs like he does people (mild interest) he'd be absolutely perfect in every way, absolute honesty: he's a true gem.

Oh and as for the correction, it's one pop for the barking. He knows what the correction is for, it has nothing to do with the other dog. If I have to give a correction, it's my fault for pushing his threshold at that moment but I can't allow the bark to go unchecked.
 

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Shade I think our situation is VERY similar, does he lose interest in rewards around dogs? That's been my biggest issue with positive reinforcement training, in public places whether there's a dog or not he is just not that interested in food and definitely not toys. Believe me I WISH he was more driven in that way. I know it's most likely my fault, he's played a lot with other dogs and has had a lot of positive associations as far as dogs are for fun!

Just out of sheer curiosity, what line/s are Delgado?
 

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Not saying being mindful of threshholds is wrong but you make it sound like it's something easily quantifiable and controllable and it's not.... :shrug:
90% of the time, it is. You don't have to walk by that fence, stay on that side of the street, etc. When it's not, I added this for that purpose. Yanking your dog around, yelling, correcting, and fumbling just up the energy level and don't actually fix anything.

"If you get put into the position of having to walk by a dog, don't correct, don't stop, just keep moving like the dog isn't there and yours isn't being a fool"
 

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eh I think 90% is pretty optomistic.....

I dunno what to say except I worked with trainers who are more from the Micheal Ellis style/school of training and it has worked well for all three of my dogs. The emphasis, especially in younger dogs/new to training dogs is find 10 positives for every correction and be fair (which is where I was being careful with young dogs who may not know what is expected of them yet)

I got our aussie ready for her CGC in 2 1/2 weeks and I'm am not dog whisperer or anything like that.

It really is about timing, consistency and motivation.... (in edit - no yelling or fumbling around either :shrug: )

90% of the time, it is. You don't have to walk by that fence, stay on that side of the street, etc. When it's not, I added this for that purpose. Yanking your dog around, yelling, correcting, and fumbling just up the energy level and don't actually fix anything.

"If you get put into the position of having to walk by a dog, don't correct, don't stop, just keep moving like the dog isn't there and yours isn't being a fool"
 

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Shade I think our situation is VERY similar, does he lose interest in rewards around dogs? That's been my biggest issue with positive reinforcement training, in public places whether there's a dog or not he is just not that interested in food and definitely not toys. Believe me I WISH he was more driven in that way. I know it's most likely my fault, he's played a lot with other dogs and has had a lot of positive associations as far as dogs are for fun!

Just out of sheer curiosity, what line/s are Delgado?
His toy and food drive are great, so I CAN distract him with those but it's just enough for a pause mostly. Squeaky toys are the best, I carry a small cheap squeaky bone in my pocket on walks for that purpose. Much easier and higher reward then food in that type of situation as the squeak perks his interest. It's still a back and forth (look at dog, look at toy, look at dog) but enough to get him back into a better state of mind

Delgado's been through two group classes, never had a issue with barking even with other dogs going nuts around him. Honestly I think the dog park is part of Delgado's problem too, it was great socially (which IS great) but he never had a real drive to play with strange dogs. Pack was fun, but strange dogs were just dogs, nothing special. Once he learned strange dogs were fun to play with too, it became a issue and he likes them just as much as pack which is too much for non-play time. If I could do it all over again (hindsight is always 20/20 :() I never would have stepped foot into the dog park. The one I was going to was great, over 100 acres of walking trails and fields so it wasn't cramped and a small amount of dogs, most were friendly

Biggest help: consistency, NO onleash interactions at all anymore. Not because I'm worried he'll do something awful, but because I need to get him over this hurdle. He still gets plenty of dog time between family and friend's dogs so he's not lacking in friends, he doesn't need to play with strange dogs anymore.

Delgado is WG/DDR, I think he might have Czech as well

Oh, and trust me, I've done the "don't do anything and ignore while just keep walking past" thing...not helpful, it just continued a bad situation. The dog needs to know A) what it did wrong and B) what you want it doing instead. That means exactly what we already talked about, keeping calm, stopping and focusing on obedience while the other dog passes, etc. Whatever it takes to get their fixation off the other dog and onto you. The correction is simply for the offense (barking or fixation), they get mega praise and treats when they look at you. Simple rules and easily understood in the dog brain
 

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His toy and food drive are great, so I CAN distract him with those but it's just enough for a pause mostly. Squeaky toys are the best, I carry a small cheap squeaky bone in my pocket on walks for that purpose. Much easier and higher reward then food in that type of situation as the squeak perks his interest. It's still a back and forth (look at dog, look at toy, look at dog) but enough to get him back into a better state of mind

Delgado's been through two group classes, never had a issue with barking even with other dogs going nuts around him. Honestly I think the dog park is part of Delgado's problem too, it was great socially (which IS great) but he never had a real drive to play with strange dogs. Pack was fun, but strange dogs were just dogs, nothing special. Once he learned strange dogs were fun to play with too, it became a issue and he likes them just as much as pack which is too much for non-play time. If I could do it all over again (hindsight is always 20/20 :() I never would have stepped foot into the dog park. The one I was going to was great, over 100 acres of walking trails and fields so it wasn't cramped and a small amount of dogs, most were friendly

Biggest help: consistency, NO onleash interactions at all anymore. Not because I'm worried he'll do something awful, but because I need to get him over this hurdle. He still gets plenty of dog time between family and friend's dogs so he's not lacking in friends, he doesn't need to play with strange dogs anymore.

Delgado is WG/DDR, I think he might have Czech as well

Oh, and trust me, I've done the "don't do anything and ignore while just keep walking past" thing...not helpful, it just continued a bad situation. The dog needs to know A) what it did wrong and B) what you want it doing instead. That means exactly what we already talked about, keeping calm, stopping and focusing on obedience while the other dog passes, etc. Whatever it takes to get their fixation off the other dog and onto you. The correction is simply for the offense (barking or fixation), they get mega praise and treats when they look at you. Simple rules and easily understood in the dog brain
It's exactly like this for me and uh Ollie has WG and DRR in him too, wonder if there's any correlation. I know in the scheme of things it doesn't matter, it's just something to think about.

And yes I tried the walking by quickly thing too, NO go. Believe me I tried all the positive reinforcement first, I didn't just go get a prong and start 'yanking' him around(which I do not do). And that was my big mistake too I think, letting him play off leash with dogs when he was younger.

We are going to the GSD club class on Tues, they btw do not use treats... Almost every dog there has a prong on. I still bring treats though and praise and treat him as rewards. He still gets lots of praise when he doesn't react! I've just never had a dog do this before and wanted other people's opinions and thoughts so thank you all for taking the time and doing that even if we don't all agree. :)
 

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My biggest worry was making sure he wasn't associating the correction with the other dog.

I think the dog park is great for some dogs that are able to turn off the "play" mode and stuff it into their pocket until they're back at the park again and the leash gets clipped off. Delgado didn't have that particular off switch, though it's coming. Slowly but surely

It honestly does sound like you're doing right in both management and training. Keep up the good work and I think looking back you'll continue to see improvement
 
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