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Wonderful Rescue Dog is Strange Dog REACTIVE-

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  • Wonderful Rescue Dog is Strange Dog REACTIVE-

    I've had this gal 9 mo., appx.1.5-2.5 yrs. old., rescued from shelter who said she had No Issues. She'd been nursing puppies recently when I got her. Guessing GSD/Husky mix, no dna done yet. Was spade and all shots, heartworm tested
    before I brought her home. Previous owner contacted, did not want her back, she had a collar and phone # on it.

    When I first got her I suspected she'd been raised in a shed or closet. She knew nothing, was friendly, scatter brained,
    no focus, no manners, no skills or training. When she rode on the seat of the truck her head was like a bobble head
    turning from one side to the other taking in all the sights. Even at traffic lights, she stared at every little detail like she'd
    never been out in the world.

    The shelter she came from seems to be a well run one as far as care of the animals. The noise level of howling,
    barking dogs would make me a little crazy if I had to be there for 5 days like she was.

    I got her to be a companion and farm dog after I lost my old gsd last year.

    She has settled in beautifully and has learned much about her new environs. She now has good house manners and
    after careful introductions she has learned to be friends and gentle with my 2 old cats and my son's older visiting Husky
    dogs. she has learned the boundaries of dealing with horses in pastures and quickly became obedient to not chasing
    and getting near their legs, etc. She is absolutely my perfect companion and farm dog.

    So what's the problem? She's highly reactive to strange dogs when out leash walking in town and on trails with my adult son. Sometimes she's reactive while riding in the front cab of truck if she sees any size dog, or any color dog walking
    with it's owner. She takes 2 steps forward in diminishing this behavior and then 5 steps back.

    I've been her primary trainer and she's done well with me in basic obedience here at home. When I take her in town, I have to be very careful because I have an old injured leg that some days immobilizes me, so mostly it's my son who takes her off the farm
    and into the world of suburbia. He is not a trainer, has never trained even his own dogs and is more a playmate for
    my dog. they adore each other but there is no leadership from him. But I also sense this reactionary behavior of my dog
    is escalating. I'm never around to see it but i HEAR THE STORIES.

    Any suggestions? Someone recently told my son the dog needs a shock collar because she doesn't pay attention when
    she goes into 'reactive mode' but I don't want to make things worse and I've read that timing and proper corrections
    are needed to be effective with these collars.

    I've thought about insisting my son learn basic obedience to keep the dog more engaged rather than always in 'fun mode'
    when she's out with him. I know part of this problem is training my son to help train the dog, but this may be difficult.

    Help!
    "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin

  • #2
    Without a confident, focussed person holding the end of a leash, training the dog only is not effective. Many dogs only show this kind of behavior with certain persons because of their lack of leadership and composure.
    No chance to get your son more involved in working with your dog?

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Salo, in the horse world we'd say this is 'Green on Green' and you know how that works out.

      Yes, you are right, that is what needs to be done. Because son only visits once or twice per week, he wants to make his

      visits purely fun, out of control mode, hiking, swimming and enjoyable trips for him and the dog. He says his visits here

      are like going to Disney World for the dog. And to a degree it's true. But, this is a young, impressionable dog who NEEDS

      guidance about the big world, which is all new to her.

      Maybe I just need to put my foot down and insist he take more suggestions from his old mother.
      "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin

      Comment


      • #4
        Maybe impressions are overwhelming for the dog and this leads to 'valve' reaction? So maybe a first step for your son and the dog is to quit going to town for a while and fix their relationship in less demanding situations? Why not going for a run together?

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Yes, I have wondered if she's being 'overstimulated'. Some training articles I've read talk about the adrenaline rush becoming a positive re-inforcer of this behavior.

          Can you explain 'valve reaction'? or I can look it up.
          "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin

          Comment


          • #6
            I would put your foot down with your son. He can have just as much fun if not more actually training her. What about doing an agility class - not as boring as obedience but still working on a training relationship with the dog. You're going to have to be the one to live with any negative behaviors that he creates. If he doesn't want to work on training then all of his fun with the dog should be kept at home.

            I would not ever use a shock collar to correct this type of behavior. It is most likely a fear response, if you add pain and negative reinforcement to fear it will make it much worse very fast. The actual way to fix this is positive reinforment while building the dog's confidence. Anytime you say no or do anything to try and discourage the reaction will actually make the reaction worse.

            My dog became leash reactive after a dog attacked her when we were on a walk. Telling her no or even trying to avoid people with dogs made it worse. I did a lot of reading online and trained her a "look" command to look at my eyes for a treat and a few fun commands like circle (spinning in a circle) When there were dogs nearby I moved out of the path (father away at first) and then worked on these commands with her while feeding her a ton of treats. Her nervousness got better and now she'll just sit and stay a few feet off a path while any dog passes her without reacting.

            Comment


            • #7
              Marla, as English is not my mother tongue, I am not sure, if this is a correct term. But it is something I've experienced with many dogs. I retrained a puppy mill dog recently and we startet inside the yard, then 5 minutes on the street and so on. In the beginning I walked the dog when almost no other people were around. When she was overstimulated her anxiety showed up. After a walk she needed a nap to process her experiences. If overstimulation is the reason for your dogs behavior I hope you'll find a way to explain this to your son. As he likes the dog I am sure he will understand that doggy will need time to learn step by step to cope with 'city-dog-situations'.

              Or is it megalomania or just nasty behavior because she feels strong next to your son? Maybe a social walk group is an option.
              Last edited by Salo; Jun. 12, 2019, 02:43 PM.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by stargzng386 View Post
                I would put your foot down with your son. He can have just as much fun if not more actually training her. What about doing an agility class - not as boring as obedience but still working on a training relationship with the dog. You're going to have to be the one to live with any negative behaviors that he creates. If he doesn't want to work on training then all of his fun with the dog should be kept at home.

                I would not ever use a shock collar to correct this type of behavior. It is most likely a fear response, if you add pain and negative reinforcement to fear it will make it much worse very fast. The actual way to fix this is positive reinforment while building the dog's confidence. Anytime you say no or do anything to try and discourage the reaction will actually make the reaction worse.

                My dog became leash reactive after a dog attacked her when we were on a walk. Telling her no or even trying to avoid people with dogs made it worse. I did a lot of reading online and trained her a "look" command to look at my eyes for a treat and a few fun commands like circle (spinning in a circle) When there were dogs nearby I moved out of the path (father away at first) and then worked on these commands with her while feeding her a ton of treats. Her nervousness got better and now she'll just sit and stay a few feet off a path while any dog passes her without reacting.
                Thank You. She did make some improvement a few days ago when my son reported that he made her sit near a bench about 20 ft. away from a mean looking pitbull type dog who was nonchalant about her initial barking behavior. The owner and he chatted for awhile because this woman said her dog behaved similarly when she first rescued her dog. All was fine
                until the pittie went to leave and my dog went beserk again. So there may be some hope there, with work.

                Yes, I've read about the 'look' at me technique. my thoughts are that several interventions are needed here and with
                repeated consistency. She's such a great dog otherwise and has learned and overcome so much that was lacking in her
                upbringing. And she's been a good student and willing most of the time. Not as obedient as my last shepherd, but she
                eventually gets it when I'm teaching her something.
                Fortunately she's very people friendly and good with strangers and small children. thanks again.
                Edited to add: She's no where close to being ready for any type class with other dogs.
                If she were, I'd take her to a basic puppy obedience or something similar but that would be a major fail at this stage.
                "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Salo View Post
                  Marla, as English is not my mother tongue, I am not sure, if this is a correct term. But it is something I've experienced with many dogs. I retrained a puppy mill dog recently and we startet inside the yard, then 5 minutes on the street and so on. In the beginning I walked the dog when almost no other people were around. When she was overstimulated her anxiety showed up. After a walk she needed a nap to process her experiences. If overstimulation is the reason for your dogs behavior I hope you'll find a way to explain this to your son. As he likes the dog I am sure he will understand that doggy will need time to learn step by step to cope with 'city-dog-situations'.

                  Or is it megalomania or just nasty behavior because she feels strong next to your son? Maybe a social walk group is an option.
                  "City Dog" situations- that's what I called it also. I said she's a great farm dog, but we need to work on the city dog behavior.

                  She has always exhibited 'anxiety' to me when riding in the truck off the farm. Her breathing speeds up and she is hyper
                  alert, once even barking at the flag men working on the road pavement. I also question if her eyesight is inferior as
                  she at times does not even recognize me at a distance. I'm hoping with more exposure and a routine here on the
                  farm she will mature a bit more and learn to self-calm herself as she gains confidence.
                  Thanks so much for your input, it's very helpful.
                  "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by stargzng386 View Post
                    I would put your foot down with your son. He can have just as much fun if not more actually training her. What about doing an agility class - not as boring as obedience but still working on a training relationship with the dog. You're going to have to be the one to live with any negative behaviors that he creates. If he doesn't want to work on training then all of his fun with the dog should be kept at home.

                    I would not ever use a shock collar to correct this type of behavior. It is most likely a fear response, if you add pain and negative reinforcement to fear it will make it much worse very fast. The actual way to fix this is positive reinforment while building the dog's confidence. Anytime you say no or do anything to try and discourage the reaction will actually make the reaction worse.

                    My dog became leash reactive after a dog attacked her when we were on a walk. Telling her no or even trying to avoid people with dogs made it worse. I did a lot of reading online and trained her a "look" command to look at my eyes for a treat and a few fun commands like circle (spinning in a circle) When there were dogs nearby I moved out of the path (father away at first) and then worked on these commands with her while feeding her a ton of treats. Her nervousness got better and now she'll just sit and stay a few feet off a path while any dog passes her without reacting.
                    This.

                    NO to a shock collar! I know I sound like a broken record but Counter-Conditioning is the solution for this reactivity; Google it and find (and implement) a program using it. Within a few weeks you should see improvement, but it requires consistency and good timing in order to be effective. Please get your son on board, too - together you can help your dog choose a different response/brain state to her “triggers”
                    "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

                    "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'd go to the town when there is less traffic, less people on the streets. Walk the same roads until she is relaxed there. Then add a new road and so on. I know this can be a lot of work and take some time but the dog shows you in which training steps she is able to get it. Some dogs benefit from a relaxed doggy friend they can watch and imitate.
                      From a distance dogs can see you better when you move - raise your arms and wave or run away to motivate the dog to follow. Routine is a keyword. If she tends to get stressed it may help her to have a 'boring' routine she can trust in. I'd also think of a crate for the car. Stressed dogs benefit from a cave. They can't see (or control) everything and they don't move so much inside of the car.

                      Valve reaction or function - in German for dog training it means to let off steam if no other solution is possible - but not consciously. Does anyone know what I mean and can tell me the correct term? I think displacement activity is close to it.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Completely agree with those saying no shock collar - I think they're a terrible idea in the hands of someone without serious training skills and impeccable timing.

                        Can you insist your son take the dog to obedience classes? Maybe he won't learn from you (rotten child! hahaha) but classes with a good trainer would give him the fundamentals he's going to need to manage her. And I found it a ton of fun - hadn't wanted to do basic obedience because I can put that stuff on a dog, but couldn't get in to agility and really wanted to school chilling around other dogs and distractions. It was a blast. It was REALLY interesting watching the changes in people who had no background in clicker training / training generally as the class progressed, too.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by Dr. Doolittle View Post

                          This.

                          NO to a shock collar! I know I sound like a broken record but Counter-Conditioning is the solution for this reactivity; Google it and find (and implement) a program using it. Within a few weeks you should see improvement, but it requires consistency and good timing in order to be effective. Please get your son on board, too - together you can help your dog choose a different response/brain state to her “triggers”
                          Thank you, I will read everything I can on this. There are so many roads to Rome and I get something out of all the reading I've done. I do think this dog is 'salvageable' and can be trained to overcome her reactions. Most of what I've seen so far is very helpful. I just need to share all this with my son and get him to support this.
                          Part of his reluctance to continue w/ her training is that his elderly dogs no longer have the spark and playfulness that my
                          young/puppyish gal does and he loves her puppy like behavior but is just starting to realize she needs to learn to
                          be a more civilized dog if she's going to go out in public.
                          Thanks again.

                          "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Saskatoonian View Post
                            Completely agree with those saying no shock collar - I think they're a terrible idea in the hands of someone without serious training skills and impeccable timing.

                            Can you insist your son take the dog to obedience classes? Maybe he won't learn from you (rotten child! hahaha) but classes with a good trainer would give him the fundamentals he's going to need to manage her. And I found it a ton of fun - hadn't wanted to do basic obedience because I can put that stuff on a dog, but couldn't get in to agility and really wanted to school chilling around other dogs and distractions. It was a blast. It was REALLY interesting watching the changes in people who had no background in clicker training / training generally as the class progressed, too.
                            I think at this stage my dog would be thrown out of any organized class. Can we say 'feral' ??
                            "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              If this is your dog, and your son doesn't live with you, it seems a little unfair to expect him to train your dog for you, especially because the dog has a serious, specific behavioral issue. My thought is that you should either find a private trainer who will come to you and work with you and your dog until you can control your dog, or you should send your dog back to the rescue with the explanation that you just can't control it as it is right now, and you don't have the resources to work with the dog so that it can fit into your household.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Look up “trigger stacking “ - it should shed some light on the issue.
                                Also, I have recommended it here before, but the Care for reactive dogs website has some excellent suggestions.
                                http://careforreactivedogs.com/
                                "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Dogs are like horses in the sense that anyone interacting with them is training them, so no avoiding that son is training the dog, even if he doesn't realize it. That's ok - just have to work with it.

                                  I can see that group classes would be too much at this point - duh! But the trainer I did class with also does privates. I did one just to meet her and get a sense of the program and get my pup started. I'm planning to do more to work on specific behaviors (I'm lucky that mine are more fun than yours). It was great to have help on the ground from someone with a lot of experience - like horses, again. Good luck - she sounds like a lovely dog but for this and worth working through it!

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Thanks everyone. Your comments are so helpful to guide me through what I need to do next.

                                    First let me say, this is a wonderful dog who has had some unfortunate episodes in her past that has caused her current
                                    behavior. She is not going anywhere, I would not ever consider sending her back. As I said she is becoming the perfect
                                    companion and farm dog. We've worked through many obstacles already and she has willingly learned what's acceptable
                                    and what's not. Around the farm she's a delightful dog to have around. Everyone who comes here loves her as she's
                                    affectionate and huggable and happy and smiley.

                                    The site on Counter Conditioning provides many helpful tips and I'll study more on implementing the techniques.
                                    It's quite similar to conditioning and de-sensitizing overly reactive horses and I've re-trained one of those also.
                                    I think it will take time and practice and re-inforcing some things she's already learning. Like, stop and think before
                                    re-acting. Stay calm and look to me. Trust and confidence in herself and her handler. I'd also like to bring some
                                    quiet and stable doggy friends around for her to interact with.
                                    I will also look into a local Positive Trainer who's familiar with this technique and if possible get her out to my farm
                                    and have her give some tips and instruction to my son. I think he'd accept this information better from an outsider.

                                    I really appreciate all the input. You folks are great!!!
                                    "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Marla 100 View Post
                                      Thanks everyone. Your comments are so helpful to guide me through what I need to do next.

                                      First let me say, this is a wonderful dog who has had some unfortunate episodes in her past that has caused her current
                                      behavior. She is not going anywhere, I would not ever consider sending her back. As I said she is becoming the perfect
                                      companion and farm dog. We've worked through many obstacles already and she has willingly learned what's acceptable
                                      and what's not. Around the farm she's a delightful dog to have around. Everyone who comes here loves her as she's
                                      affectionate and huggable and happy and smiley.

                                      The site on Counter Conditioning provides many helpful tips and I'll study more on implementing the techniques.
                                      It's quite similar to conditioning and de-sensitizing overly reactive horses and I've re-trained one of those also.
                                      I think it will take time and practice and re-inforcing some things she's already learning. Like, stop and think before
                                      re-acting. Stay calm and look to me. Trust and confidence in herself and her handler. I'd also like to bring some
                                      quiet and stable doggy friends around for her to interact with.
                                      I will also look into a local Positive Trainer who's familiar with this technique and if possible get her out to my farm
                                      and have her give some tips and instruction to my son. I think he'd accept this information better from an outsider.

                                      I really appreciate all the input. You folks are great!!!
                                      That's great, Marla - good for you!

                                      Best of luck, you are definitely on the right track, and please keep us posted. Almost all dogs are "salvageable" and improvable with the right training techniques, patience, and consistent follow through. Reward based training works.

                                      Many of my students thought their dogs were incorrigible before I gave them the "tools" to fix the behavior issues; once implemented consistently!, the dogs were transformed in a positive way.

                                      As always, I highly recommend wonderful Patricia McConnell. ALL of her stuff is pure gold <3
                                      "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

                                      "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by stargzng386 View Post
                                        I would put your foot down with your son. He can have just as much fun if not more actually training her. What about doing an agility class - not as boring as obedience but still working on a training relationship with the dog. You're going to have to be the one to live with any negative behaviors that he creates. If he doesn't want to work on training then all of his fun with the dog should be kept at home.
                                        A group agility class is really not an appropriate place for a dog reactive dog. Dogs are routinely off leash. A Control Unleashed style class would be an option.

                                        There's now a series of three Control Unleashed books, the latest one being on reactive dogs if I remember correctly

                                        Comment

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