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Old 03-11-2010, 06:13 PM
goldenluvr goldenluvr is offline
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Angry NEED HELP-Aggressive behavior

My dog is the sweetest thing with other people. However, whenever she sees another dog, she turns demonic. Now, I did rescue her from a shelter, but she was in a foster home with another dog that she got along with perfectly. Everyday I walk her and we usually encounter another dog. Her hackles rise and she begins growling and uttering these high pitched literally demonic shrieks. That description doesn't even start to do these....sounds....justice. Anyway, she throws herself towards the dog and it keeps every ounce of my strength to keep her restained so she doesn't rip out the throat of the other dog. As soon as the dog passes, she's fine. This happens EVERY SINGLE TIME she sees another dog on the walk, no matter what its size. And now it's come to the point that it is embarrassing and really frustrating. I was wondering if anyone had any tips on how to break her of this habit; i.e. show her that these dogs pose no threat. The two strange things is that a) she's fine with strange people and b) she lived with another dog before. ANY ideas would be welcome! I need to do something. Should I be punishing her every time she freaks out?
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Old 03-11-2010, 06:36 PM
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ihartgonzo ihartgonzo is offline
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First of all, DO NOT punish her... it WILL make her feelings/reactions toward other dogs much worse. It's all about association and conditioning.

It sounds like she is dog reactive (as in... she has a poor reaction to strange dogs), and the leash probably has a lot to do with it. This is a very common issue, so don't feel like it's the end of the world! Dogs feel much more stressed and vulnerable when they're trapped on a leash, and the posture that a leash creates only adds to the tension. How far away do you have to be from other dogs for her to be able to focus on you, take treats, and perform commands? That is how far you need to STAY away from other dogs until you're making progress. If you see a dog approaching, turn around, walk away, and find a point at which you can practice with her focused on you. Use tons of tiny, high value treats and click/treat her every time she looks at another dog from afar and doesn't react. The point at which she is tensing up is her threshold, which is the point that a dog is either in fight or flight mode, and the point that training really has no affect on her.

I highly recommend buying the book, "Click to Calm" by Emma Parsons, and enrolling in positive reinforcement ONLY classes (at your local Obedience club, kennel club, or held by a local behaviorist) after you've read that and started practicing. Obedience classes will allow you to get feedback from a trainer hands-on, and lots of practice/socialization around stable, trustworthy dogs. Good luck!
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Old 03-11-2010, 08:21 PM
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Lolas Dad Lolas Dad is offline
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What you need to do is divert her attention before she sees the dog coming. If you have to cross the street. Make sure she is totally focused on you and when she is focused on you then reward her for being focused on you after the other dog has passed and she has remained focused on you. If she diverted her attention to the other dog then do not reward her. She will soon associate seeing other dogs with getting a treat if she does not react to them.

You should go to a park where their are other dogs on leash and work with her. Try seeing how far you have to be from a dog in front of you before she reacts. This will give you a baseline to work with. In time you want to see if you can shorten the distance to where she does not react. Ultimately you want her to be able to walk with another dog and it's owner having each dog on the sides farthest from each other. It takes time but the more training you put into it the faster the progress will be. Don't make a day of it, keep it short but consistent like every day. Do not do it once a week and expect results.Also when you see another dog stay calm and do not get tense thinking ahead of time that she is going to react because dogs can pick up on that.
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Old 03-11-2010, 10:45 PM
Maura Maura is offline
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As Ihart wrote, don't punish, walk away. The walking away is reward. You know your dog's comfort zone. As soon as she alerts on the other dog, get her to look at you, give treat immediately, turn and walk away. Give another treat as you continue walking away. When she sees another dog, she gets a treat and gets to move away from them. In this manner, you should be able to change the comfort zone. As she becomes conditioned to respond by looking to you, you can turn away, walk a few steps, and work on some obedience routine.
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Old 03-12-2010, 09:10 AM
corky corky is offline
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I'm reading "How to Right a Dog Gone Wrong" by Pamela Dennison. It gives some good ideas for working with reactive and aggressive dogs.
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