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Old 03-02-2014, 12:35 PM
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Torch Torch is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
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Default leash training for reactivity/DA

I am really curious about other members' techniques and experiences with this.

Rhys is nine months old and becoming increasingly more reactive/DA. I'm not sure I'd call it DA simply because he's never out of my control or able to get at another dog.

We live in the city and unfortunately are surrounded by dogs that are confined to back yards or unsupervised. As a consequence, many of these dogs want to fence fight and put on a hell of a show, which only makes Rhys more reactive. When we are in controlled environments with well contained dogs (like dog shows, for example), he is excited but controllable, and the reactivity is almost non-existent.

All his life I've used positive methods and have rarely even had to verbally correct him. He occasionally wears a choke chain, but I use it more like a fur saver than a training collar. He has also wore thin show chains and slip leads, and I obviously have more control over him with these. I walk him on either a flat collar or a harness. Using the harness and the flat collar repetitively I've taught him that it's acceptable to pull in the harness, but to walk with a loose leash using the flat collar.

As a young puppy I could redirect his attention from troublemaking dogs with a "look" command and either a food or praise reward. Now his threshold is simply too low and he will not accept either or follow my command unless we are a good distance past the threat. Often I pick him up by the harness or make a quick slip lead out of his regular leash to muscle him away from the other dog. Really all I'm doing is avoidance behaviors, simply because I am unsure of the best training methods for this issue.

I haven't corrected him because I understand that his behavior is quite normal. I also don't believe that correcting a young dog too harshly is appropriate for their well being.

What do you all recommend? How should I proceed? I'm considering a harsher training tool to correct him once he's in the zone, then immediately praise and treat once he starts looking at me and ignoring the other dog. I know it's unrealistic to expect him to perfectly ignore a raging butthole dog if he is truly DA, but I would like to be able to correct and redirect his attention to me. Avoiding the threats would be fine and dandy, but avoiding them altogether is proving impossible given the high dog volume here.

True thanks if you read all this; I really want to do the right thing here and see the best results for both of us.

ETA: Rhys is a Amstaff, so DA is not unusual or uncommon in some of the hotter lines.
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