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Just in general looking for support and any further advice that anyone might have. I've read the really long fear aggression thread from 2008 on Jane's Onyx and have noted a couple of books to purchase (Click to Calm and Control Unleashed). Sorry ahead of time for the length of this post :(

The story of Madix: I asked my breeder for a pup that could do SAR work (HRD or trailing most likely) and agility and said that I had no interest to have a dog geared towards bitework. I needed a dog good with other dogs and able to be around groups of people and high stimulation (SAR) without being phased - she said she would have a pup for me. I got him at 10 weeks old (a friend who got a pup from the same litter brought him from CT to me in MI) and took him to a SAR seminar at Brenda Aloff's in Midland. He was a complete and utter monster there. Extremely reactive - she said he was truly dominant and defensive about it. It freaked out both of the SAR groups I was in so I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me.

We went to the same behaviorist just about every other week from that point until he was about 10 months old (he's 20 months now). He has been in stores, in agility classes - in two different locations from approx 5 months until just over a year old; in basic obedience and intermediate obedience and passed the CGC at 10 months, to dock jumping and agility events just to get used to the atmosphere etc. We started Schutzhund late this summer as well.

He used to react to EVERYTHING that moved, screaming, thrashing, jumping, lunging - totally out of control. Kept working with him until it got to the point where a dog could brush him and he would ignore. People in my classes did not even know he was reactive. When he was 10 weeks he would growl, hackle and bark at people if they stared and tried to pet him.

We've regressed. I'm not sure why but now we're back to not being ok with people and hardly hanging on to not reacting when other dogs are acting drivey. However, now instead of growling and barking - he is hackling and nipping.

We tried meeting a friendly stranger at Schutzhund on Sunday and he ended up nipping someone's shirt (he always goes for the clothes and tugs). Ok, we flooded him - bad idea, live and learn - don't do that again. During protection he regressed back MONTHS - he was unsure of himself, kept running to me - totally conflicted :(:( I was doing this for a confidence builder because he has a mommy complex (and because we both enjoy it) but I obviously totally confused him so we ended on an easy good note and left it at that.

Monday night at CGC class I knew we were supposed to work on meeting a friendly stranger. There are 2 instructors and a helper. The instructor we were familiar with was gone. I made a point of bringing Madix up to the other two, treating him for being right beside, having them take his leash, have him lay down and sit and front and he was fine. I discussed with both of them that he was reactive - the helper said she had a reactive dog too and was familiar with Schutzhund and understood. I announced to the class that he was reactive and asked that they not follow the "polite sniffing is ok" rule and to not allow their dogs to jump on us or to attempt to pat him without warning (in the crowd heeling). Everyone was perfect through the whole class. We did the meeting a friendly stranger, meeting stranger with dog, all the walking and turning, walking through a crowd, the separation - I left him with the one instructor and he was wonderful she said - he focused on her and listened and didn't have any troubles the whole time. Waited calmly for me to come back and get him etc.


Then we did the recall. The helper would stand about 5 feet to the side of the owner and in a really shrill voice call to the dogs across the room and pat her legs and jump around and generally act ridiculous to "see if their dogs would come to her instead". Madix reacted to this. He hackled and barked and was in general worked up. I removed him from the seating area and brought him to a corner where I asked for eye contact and focus - it was spotty but he was trying. Then it was my turn - I said that absolutely not for the shrill and the competition and specifically told the helper that he was reactive towards her and her voice and was having a hard time settling down. She said ok. The instructor asked if she could walk him to the other side of the room and then I'd call him - I said sure, he went right with her - he was still bouncing around and not calmly heeling in place but was offering his attention to her and trying. The helper then came from behind him and brushed his side with her leg - kind of fencing him between her and the instructor. He reacted. He snapped at her, actually managed to nip (this was a DEFINITE nip, not a full mouth bite - he was clearly trying to tug her) her pants' leg and barked. She freaked and took off yelling. The instructor stood still - no correcting or reaction of any kind. He started doing his cry/bark and looked to me and tried to come to me. We all waited for him to settle himself (we're talking maybe 30 seconds for all of this) and then I told her to take him to the opposite side, he could not do that and be rewarded by coming back to mommy. She asked him to pay attention and he did, sat nicely for her - crossed the room for the recall, landed in front and laid down when I told him. Was calm and settled the entire rest of the class.


The girl came up to me afterwards and said that: just so I knew, he actually did break the skin and that she understands that the "other" stuff I was doing was the reason he was like this and not necessarily this class and that I didn't have to worry, she wasn't going to report it or anything. :(:( I was so upset. I stayed calm though and thanked her and apologized, stayed upbeat while I loaded him up and took him home and then completely broke down when I got here.


I know these things happen but I feel like I keep inadvertently setting him up for failure - I keep thinking I have my bases covered and then this happens. Now that he's not just growling/barking but nipping and it is not as predictible for me as it used to be - I've yanked him from all of the things I got him FOR (rally, flyball, agility, dock jumping). I'm staying in Schutzhund b/c I love being around other people who love the breed and understand and are willing to work with me but I don't know what to do. I feel like I've been ok'ing him using his mouth more (in protection) so he thinks that's an acceptable way to say "get away from me, you make me nervous" but I've also heard that you have to stick out the protection phases until they really "get it" or it can cause more issues. I'm also emailing with my behaviorist to set up some consecutive appointments so I can work on this more (she was very supportive of me joining a Schutzhund group and was the one to say to make sure I stayed til the end). :(:( I am seriously just so crushed. I was REALLY looking forward to trialing in all the things we've been training for since day one but now I feel like neither of us are ready and I don't want to confuse the poor dog. It also stresses me out way more when I go out and about with him...I'm just feeling really down and like a really terrible owner. If anyone has a positive story to share or advice or anything - would be much appreciated.
 

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Falon, don't get down, you are such a great natural trainer, and look how far you've come with Madix! This is just a stage that Madix is going thru as he matures.
This time of year, he is probably not getting his physical outlet, and his mental state needs that. I would just take a break with the obedience CGC class like you are planning til the weather breaks. Maybe see if you can get him back into agility just for the exercise.
And he does need to know that protection(SchH) is black and white. That will come with maturity and more training, IMO.

If you want to borrow my CU and click to calm books, you can! I'll bring them Sunday.
 

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Sorry you're having problems.

Are you doing all 3 phases of Schutzhund? Trainers usually try to keep a reactive dog under threshold so I'm wondering if you're doing the protection phase?
 

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How can you even think that you're a horrible owner?!?! I think most peole in the situation would have stopped after the second paragraph and either kept the dog locked in a back yard somewhere or would give him up. That was quite an inspiring read. Its amazing how much effort and devotion you put in with Madix. You can also tell how strong of a bond you two developed through all this. I'm not an expert in dog training so won't be giving any advice, but I think with all the effort you have put in, things have to turn for the better eventually. Just wanted to say, Congrats on being a wonderful owner!!
 

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How can you even think that you're a horrible owner?!?! I think most peole in the situation would have stopped after the second paragraph and either kept the dog locked in a back yard somewhere or would give him up. That was quite an inspiring read. Its amazing how much effort and devotion you put in with Madix. You can also tell how strong of a bond you two developed through all this. I'm not an expert in dog training so won't be giving any advice, but I think with all the effort you have put in, things have to turn for the better eventually. Just wanted to say, Congrats on being a wonderful owner!!

my thoughts exactly :)
 

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Too be honest this sounds like a rehoming situation. Sometimes certain people are not good matches with certain dogs. If I bought a dog as a pup and it grew up to have no drive or be too calm I would have no problem finding a home it will be happier in. Can't fit a square peg in a round hole.


Talk to your breeder and Sch TD and see if they think she would be a better fit in a different home.
 

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Falon,

I know Madix and Stark are around the same age (Stark will be 22 months on the 10th) and he can be reactive as well. He was doing so well for so long and just this past month has started to become reactive again. I am not sure what triggered it.

Just today he got very dominant with a spayed female Lab that he met for the first time - this coming from the dog who is social with any and all dogs he meets. He did settle but it surprised me because he has never really done that before - especially with females (the female did jump up on him but still he never had cared before).

Like you, he is enrolled in EVERYTHING imaginable (agility, schH, obedience, rally, etc.) to ensure that he is out and about.

Stark has issues with people mostly (usually when it's one-on-one) and like you, I thought I managed it pretty well but sometimes it slips passed me and he reacts before I have the chance to get away from the situation.

I am actually going to get the "click to calm" book again and re-read it because I have been stressing over his behaviour too.

Please don't be hard on yourself - I know I am as well and it's hard but we are doing our best and really - what more can we do? Keep on trying, keep on working with him. I think maturity has a lot to do with it (along with genetics in Stark's case - mother) and I think these things can be managable.

If you ever need to vent (truely vent) please don't hesitate to contact me via PM or look me up on FB. I know we don't "know" eachother and you have a support system of friends and club members but sometimes it's nice to have a stranger's perspective.
 

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Falon, I know how you feel.

Dakota has never been reactive around people, dogs, are different. Some dogs, not all. I socialized her like crazy.

I too had plans for her. Title her in everything I could. In obedience class during a dumbell retrieve she pinned a poodle. My dreams crashed that day and it has been over a year. Took her to a behaviourist and was making progress and enrolled in regular obedience class again. Although there were no issues I could not relax and was always on gurad while working with her. I was learning to manage her and to read her. It's not easy.

I know it is very difficult not to be hard on yourself. I know I drove myself crazy with "where did I go wrong". I still do, but I'm hoping maturity will set in and I will see a change.

It sounds as if you were making wonderful progress. I think all you can do is move forward to work and manage the dogs we have. I know it is a step backwards but from reading what you have done this far, you will recover from this and we will be reading about your progress. All the best.
 

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Too be honest this sounds like a rehoming situation. Sometimes certain people are not good matches with certain dogs. If I bought a dog as a pup and it grew up to have no drive or be too calm I would have no problem finding a home it will be happier in. Can't fit a square peg in a round hole.


Talk to your breeder and Sch TD and see if they think she would be a better fit in a different home.
I guess you'd need to see these two in person to know that Madix and Falon are a perfect fit! He is an awesome dog with tons of drive, and very biddable to her. Their bond is incredible, she can lift her pinky finger and he sees it/ looks to her for direction. These past couple of weeks that he is acting out IMO is a maturity issue...a stage he is going thru.

She is an owner who goes above and beyond what the more than average working dog owner does.

I hope you were kidding when you suggested re-homing.
 

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You're not a bad owner whatsoever! Don't give up - things will smooth out. We have an unruly almost-three-year-old and every day it gets a little better.
 

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Stick with it, it's just a backslide due to his age.

Hunther began showing signs of reactivity at about 6 months. I listened to bad advice until he was two years old, when it became apparent that he was a dog fight waiting to happen. I finally took him to a behaviorist, which was the best thing that ever happened to the both of us.

We stood at the end of a 100 foot tape measure on the ground, and the behaviorist and her non-reactive dog stood at the other end. We then walked toward the other team. At 75 feet, he went eyes open/ears forward/leaning forward. At 65 feet, he actually began to stalk the other dog. At 55 feet, he began to hackle over his right shoulder blade, then down to the base of his tail. At 50 feet, he lost the ability to hear me (I said his name twice, directly into his ear; his ear didn't even twitch from my breath). At 48 feet, he exploded in a lunging, barking, "thank God I had both hands on the leash" fit, and I pulled him away.

Well, we started desensitizing him* at 75 yards from the group of reactive dogs. They were literally at one end of the field while we were at the other. Look at them, look at me, click and treat for about five minutes, then back in the truck. Next session 74 yards, five minutes, etc. Eventually he was working for 45 minutes 25-30 feet away from a group of 4-8 dogs, with no problem. He went on to get his BH, all the way to a Schutzhund III. He's competed at the regional level, where he practiced "reporting in" to the judge with the other team at 4-6 feet for two sets of ten repetitions, with no problem.

So keep your head up. If I can do it you can, too.

*We were really desensitizing me. When Hunther got his conformation rating, another person handled him in the ring. He went nose to butt with a group of nine other strange dogs, and couldn't have cared less. I was hiding behind my truck and watched the whole thing.

(Incidentally, the non-reactive dog that my behaviorist used was a pit bull. Sweetest dog you ever saw.)
 

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Stick with it, it's just a backslide due to his age.

Hunther began showing signs of reactivity at about 6 months. I listened to bad advice until he was two years old, when it became apparent that he was a dog fight waiting to happen. I finally took him to a behaviorist, which was the best thing that ever happened to the both of us.

We stood at the end of a 100 foot tape measure on the ground, and the behaviorist and her non-reactive dog stood at the other end. We then walked toward the other team. At 75 feet, he went eyes open/ears forward/leaning forward. At 65 feet, he actually began to stalk the other dog. At 55 feet, he began to hackle over his right shoulder blade, then down to the base of his tail. At 50 feet, he lost the ability to hear me (I said his name twice, directly into his ear; his ear didn't even twitch from my breath). At 48 feet, he exploded in a lunging, barking, "thank God I had both hands on the leash" fit, and I pulled him away.

Well, we started desensitizing him* at 75 yards from the group of reactive dogs. They were literally at one end of the field while we were at the other. Look at them, look at me, click and treat for about five minutes, then back in the truck. Next session 74 yards, five minutes, etc. Eventually he was working for 45 minutes 25-30 feet away from a group of 4-8 dogs, with no problem. He went on to get his BH, all the way to a Schutzhund III. He's competed at the regional level, where he practiced "reporting in" to the judge with the other team at 4-6 feet for two sets of ten repetitions, with no problem.

So keep your head up. If I can do it you can, too.

*We were really desensitizing me. When Hunther got his conformation rating, another person handled him in the ring. He went nose to butt with a group of nine other strange dogs, and couldn't have cared less. I was hiding behind my truck and watched the whole thing.

(Incidentally, the non-reactive dog that my behaviorist used was a pit bull. Sweetest dog you ever saw.)
Stories like this give me hope! :)

Thanks for sharing.
 

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Too be honest this sounds like a rehoming situation. Sometimes certain people are not good matches with certain dogs. If I bought a dog as a pup and it grew up to have no drive or be too calm I would have no problem finding a home it will be happier in. Can't fit a square peg in a round hole.


Talk to your breeder and Sch TD and see if they think she would be a better fit in a different home.
I'm confused how rehoming a dog is going to fix its reactivity?
 

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Too be honest this sounds like a rehoming situation. Sometimes certain people are not good matches with certain dogs. If I bought a dog as a pup and it grew up to have no drive or be too calm I would have no problem finding a home it will be happier in. Can't fit a square peg in a round hole.


Talk to your breeder and Sch TD and see if they think she would be a better fit in a different home.
I kind of find it funny that you suggest this since on your website (linked below your name) you say you can help owners with their aggressive dogs (People-Dog and Dog-Dog aggression).

Just by the posts Falon (by the way - cool name!) posts about her dogs and all that she does and the post of those who actually know her on the board, I can already tell you that she is more dedicated than most dog owners.

Sad that someone in your situation (dog trainer) would even suggest this without:

1. Meet the dog and assessing the situations on your own

2. Meeting the owner

3. Watching them work together

4. Watching them interact with one another

5. Watching the interactions of both while out and about in society
 

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Stories like this give me hope! :)

Thanks for sharing.
You're welcome!

I've got to add that I was a little hurt when Hunther went into the conformation ring with the show handler, and didn't even glance at the other dogs trotting around him. Thanks, Hunther (ya bonehead) for pointing out I was a big part of the problem. :rofl:

("Mr. Bonehead" is his unofficial nickname. I love him to pieces, as my grandmother would say.)
 

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I would also chalk this backslide to a maturity thing/phase..Some dogs can be really 'touchy'...Of course not having been there, but from what you wrote,,the 'helper'
came up behind him/brushed him with her leg..no excuse, but that could very well 'startle' a 'touchy' dog...they react without thinking..as in reflex..

There are always things any of our dogs do, that we can't fathom them ever doing, are embarrassed with, frustrated over, and wonder where WE went wrong..It doesn't mean we're bad trainers/bad owners or even that we have bad dogs..It's just another glitch in figuring out what's going on and how to work on it..
 

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Hang in here, Falon. Glad to hear that you are going to continue training in schutzhund. Aren't you training in the same group as Lies and Jane? I really like the sound of your group and I think you and Madix will be able to get through this.
 

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I kind of find it funny that you suggest this since on your website (linked below your name) you say you can help owners with their aggressive dogs (People-Dog and Dog-Dog aggression).

This has nothing to do with Falon's dedication as a dog owner or even having a reactive dog.

Falon has a lot of goals that most pet owners don't have. Most pet owners simply want a dog that they can take out on a walk without trying to eat their neighbor.

Falon wants a dog she can take to agility, to SAR, flyball, etc. She wants a super stable dog that she can anywhere.

Sometimes its ok to realize that you and your dog aren't compatible matches. It's not ok to drop the dog off at a rescue or shelter. I don't know if this dog is drivey or has redeeming characteristics that would make someone interested in buying her. I had a dog that I rehomed because it didn't match my needs. The dog had no prey drive and was a bit nervy with people. It is now living it's life out as a pet. No stress for him because he's not being forced to do something he doesn't enjoy.
 

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When a dog is put in a stressful/unusual situation the dog will always revert to the default behavior. It means that no matter how much training we put into the dog, titles etc but when the dog is stressed then his mind defaults to what genetics intended. that's why people are always in search for dogs with sound nerves.

I think if you remember that the reactivity of your dog is not gone but just managed with good training then you will go far with your dog and become a very good handler.
 
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