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For anyone following Grimm's story, I have been having onleash dog reactivity from him. He has been on a prong for nearly his entire life, and I've recently undergone a 'sea change' of trying a halti (don't laugh!
)and positive clicker training methods to desensitize him to other dogs while onlead. I notice significant improvements
but we are just beginning, only 4 days into this method so far-- but good results.


Taking into consideration that onlead doggy aggression may not in fact be true aggression, and, if it is true aggression, can have many causes..

What methods have you used to rehabilitate on-leash dog aggression?

What worked? What made things worse?

Did any special book, training tool, collar, or 'set ups' using other dogs really help, or make things worse?

Has any dog with dog aggression ever been able to consistently just stroll onlead by another onlead dog on a walk without firing up? Basicly, how successful have you been able to be with whatever methods you have used?
 

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I used obedience and lots of it. No special collars, books, behaviorists or special training methods. Just good old fashioned obedience. By the time I did her CD at 2 years a dog could have stood over her during the long down and she wouldn't have moved. She also had her SchH3 and CGC. Treue was truly dog aggressive and not just on lead. I never corrected her for aggression towards another dog. She was corrected for ignoring my command and rewarded lavishly for listening. I started out using the down since it is a very solid position. It is also very hard to rage at another dog and hold a solid down. When out for walks I avoided situations that might cause problems or I would stop, have her down, or sit with attention until the other dog past. I tried not to put her into a position that was beyond her current level of experience. She got into two fights in her life time and both were minor because she stopped when I yelled "down". The first time the other dog really didn't want to fight. The second time it made it possible for me to remove the second bitch without getting in the middle of two sets of snarling teeth.
 

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WOW, Lisa.. nopw that is a story from the trenches!! You really did much work with her, it sounds like. How great that obedience became a second-nature habit for her, due to your dilligence!

Grimm is not truly dog aggressive.. he's friendly offlead with other dogs, a playful goof. The tension and stress of NOt going up to meet the other dog drives him bananas, plus the many many months of using prong corrections.. stupidly.. to try and correct for this, only solidified the problem and exacerbated it. I want to do what you did, Lisa-- or try to-- once this problem is under control enough for me to be *safe* taking Grimm to classes regularly.

Thanks for sharing what worked for you!
 

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Patti, how solid is Grimm's "Leave it"? I mean, will he walk past a piece of juicy meat lying on the floor, even if he has to step over it?

My kid used to react to dogs when he was on a leash, but once he learned a rock solid Leave It (and I mean SOLID, as in Leave It means "Look away, better yet, look at Mom; don't continue to sniff, gaze or otherwise alert"), I was able to use that for dogs as well. Given that Grimm's issue is "I want to play" vs "I want to attack that dog" (or "I'm scared of that dog"), maybe this might help?

I know it sounds really too simple... But you've tried so many other tools and techniques, and heck, if you already have this tool in your toolbox, but maybe you just need to sharpen it up a bit (or a lot)...well, it's a pretty easy one to work on, especially in your house, back yard and on the street right in your neighborhood.
 

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Patti,

I don't think what you're seeing from Grimm is aggression, just reactivity. I think it's important to distinguish between the two. Grimm is clearly a lover and not a fighter.


I had an idea for you. Rafi also gets very excited when he sees other dogs. He jumps up and barks and generally carries on. He has tons of exposure to other dogs and in every case he has proved that he is not aggressive, just a bit reactive and excited.

I have now given him a job when out on walks. He carries a toy with him. Sometimes it's a tennis ball and sometimes it's his kong on a rope. If it's the kong on the rope I will often hold the rope end while he holds the kong. It is his job to keep track of his toy. He has this job whether he's on or off leash. Today he carried a tennis ball. When he was off leash (on a trail far away from any streets) a bunny ran in front of us on the trail. He was so busy keeping track of his ball that he didn't even see it! He also gets only momentarily distracted by other dogs because I redirect him to his toy. He will take out his excited reaction on his toy instead of jumping around, etc. I think it's something worth trying with Grimm. It's working very well for Rafi.
 

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What methods have you used to rehabilitate on-leash dog aggression?
Mostly clicker training and some drive training. Fortunately, by the time I realized Ris was leash-reactive, I had stopped walking her on a prong collar. I'll admit, though, that there were occasions when she was reactive that I used collar pops.

What worked? What made things worse?
I'll start with what didn't work. Collar pops definately didn't work. Neither did yelling at her. Yeah, not my proudest moments. . . Fortunately, I didn't use those methods often.

The first thing I tried that failed was having her in a 'sit' while the other dog walked past. She would sit and wait. . .until the dog got close and then she'd bark/lunge at it. Even when I took her far off the beaten path (which wasn't always possible). Part of the problem was that other people wouldn't keep their dogs away from her. . .but also that I made no attempt to tell them to keep their dogs back. I also tried sits with attention on me instead of letting her focus on the other dog. However, I tried this when she still didn't acknowledge my existance outside the house so it failed.

The second thing I tried was running past other dogs. We'd see another dog and I'd start jogging and encouraging her to come with me. I never really kept up with this one. I did get some strange looks from people when I tried it though.

Two things have worked so far. The first involved me kicking up my training and getting Ris to watch me around other dogs. It was basically a waiting game. You can watch the other dog, you can spazz out, but by looking at me you can get a treat. I did start by asking her for attention but now I get it almost automatically. This works pretty well when we're stationary. Unless another dog gets too close. Then I ask for her attention and remove her (or us) from the situation before it can escalate. I have also worked with her sitting with my right leg out in front of her chest and asking for attention in that position. Sort of my 'I will take care of this' pose. It has been working quite well so far in class though none of the other dogs have rushed us in this setup. One did get close, but I managed Ris by stuffing treats in her mouth and praising the daylights out of her for being calm.


For situations outside of class, using a form of drive training has worked best. If I'm 100% focused on her and she's in a heel, she is capable of not reacting to other dogs right in front of her or riding up on her butt. She has done this in class. But out in the world, it's been a bit less effective. So, when she sees another dog and gets riled while we're out and about, I ask if she wants to play tuggie. Immediately she flips focus from the dog onto me and we engage in a rousing game of tug. I have had a lot of success with this so far since it allows her to release some of that pent up energy seeing another dog creates.

Did any special book, training tool, collar, or 'set ups' using other dogs really help, or make things worse?
I'm my own worst enemy when I don't know what I'm doing. I'd say every dog book I've ever read has been beneficial to what I've done to help Risa. Our trainer has been helpful too as well as online sources. I think the Easy-Walk harness has been a good addition to my training tools but I know it isn't what has helped Risa be more calm. It has helped me since I know I have control over her mass and am not so worried about her hurting herself when lunging on a collar. Honestly, I think the thing that helped the most for me was ME getting a positive attitude and staying happy no matter what Risa was doing. Also having a plan of attack. Knowing what to do in the situation really helps!

Has any dog with dog aggression ever been able to consistently just stroll onlead by another onlead dog on a walk without firing up? Basicly, how successful have you been able to be with whatever methods you have used?
Our trainer's dog is reactive too, moreso than Risa. Her dog isn't reactive out of fear either. Yet she can compete with her dog in the showring, in dogsports, use her as a demo dog in obedience classes. . . But she has to be constantly vigilent with her. To make sure she's not focusing on other dogs or giving them the stare down. So yes, there is hope. You may never be able to 'cure' the problem entirely, but you can certainly get to a point where you can manage it.

And so ends one of my longest posts ever.
LOL
 

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MaggieRoseLee, i love her articles.. have read this before-- but she is SO on-point about this, I will read it again.

BowWowMeow, Bingo! Grimm's been evaluated by a few trainers-- not true aggression, he just wanna get the party started and can't.
Ruth, you and Rafi really make a great team. How did you think this idea up? I can see Grimm dropping his toy though.. our walks neccessarily are looong.. about 45 mins (i live in a highrise in a dense city-- wish to move to a rural area in 1 - 2 years)

3K9Mom-- Good point, thank you!
Grimm does have a 'Leave it.' It does need to be sharpened! I could build his Leave It at home in the livingroom using a regular collar-- flat buckle or even prong-- and just move to doing this outdoors when he has the halti on. (still don't like that thing.. but sooo grateful it, and the positive approach is making some difference here) This is a good idea. Thank you!
 

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Yaaaayyy Jamie, GREAT post LOL!!
Really, you bring up a good point (I think 3K9Mom has said this in the past, too).. taking my emotions out of it helps alot.

You're lucky Ris will play tuggy on walks! I also am impressed with the obedience aspect.. that seems to be a recurring theme.

I can hardly wait until Grimm is actually safe enough for me to bring to a class situation where we can go regularly! Thank you for the tips!
 

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Originally Posted By: Brightelf
BowWowMeow, Bingo! Grimm's been evaluated by a few trainers-- not true aggression, he just wanna get the party started and can't.
Ruth, you and Rafi really make a great team. How did you think this idea up? I can see Grimm dropping his toy though.. our walks neccessarily are looong.. about 45 mins (i live in a highrise in a dense city-- wish to move to a rural area in 1 - 2 years)
Today's walk was about an hour. He carried the ball the entire time. Basu also used to do this. He would carry teeny stuffies that squeaked, a teeny cuz or a tennis ball. He would carry it for 1 to 1.5 hours, no problem. I teach them the command to get their ball by working up their excitement--"Get it, Find it, Where is it?" I do that in the house first until they know what I'm talking about and like the game. Then I start with bringing a toy on shorter walks (or just playing with it for part of the way) and keeping them excited about it. Then it progresses to the point where they actively look for a toy to carry with them on the walk. Imagine an 80 lb. gsd carrying a tiny ducky--that was Basu! Now when we see another dog (and I live in the city so they are everywhere) I just say, "Where's your toy?" and Rafi picks it right up.

I think it's worth a try for you and Grimm! We also like carrying toys together.
 
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