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Old 03-13-2014, 09:13 AM
straw straw is offline
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Default Reactive to Scent?

So my current foster is odd. I see a lot of dogs on a daily basis with reactivity issues, and often other dogs are the trigger. This is also the case with foster boy. Usually these dogs become unglued at the sight or sometimes sound of other dogs. So does foster boy. But what I have no experience with is a dog that reacts to the SCENT of other dogs. And he reacts with a whole lot more intensity than if he just caught sight of one or heard one barking from behind a fence. I can keep him under threshold at the sight or sound of other dogs on our walk, calm him down, and start practicing look-at-thats and auto-watches, but not when he's upset over a scent.

Obviously, this is a lot trickier to deal with because, apart from avoiding areas with a lot of dog traffic, I have no way of predicting when we are coming up to some dog stank on our walk.

Has anybody ever seen this before?
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Old 03-13-2014, 09:23 AM
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Elrohwen Elrohwen is offline
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I don't know if it's the same thing you're talking about, but my dog will lose his head over the scent of another dog sometimes. His eyes glaze over, he runs back and forth with his nose to the ground, and becomes really high. He's not necessarily upset, more likely excited, but he's basically over threshold and it's hard to engage with him when he's like this. It doesn't happen with all dogs, and is more likely when it's very fresh and he didn't see the dog (sometimes I'll see a dog and he won't, but he'll get really excited once he smells the dog's trail, but if he knew the dog was ahead the whole time he seems to remain a bit more calm).

I have done a lot of work with using sniffing as a reward for being calm and not pulling. In your case, if the dog is upset, I'm not sure sniffing as a reward would be appropriate. How is he reacting to the scent?
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Old 03-13-2014, 09:32 AM
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Cohen had a poodle nemesis in our old neighbourhood. There was at least a couple occasions where I would see the poodle cross an intersection way off in the distance, Cohen wouldn't see it, but she'd still get agitated and barky once we arrived at the corner and the poodle was long gone. She was clearly reacting to the scent.

As for how to deal with it, the same way you would any other reactivity. It sounds like you have the right idea. Just try your best to understand thresholds, but it's tough when your dog is reacting to something you can't sense.
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Old 03-13-2014, 09:38 AM
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It's pretty much what you both described - I saw the dog in the distance and he didn't, and when we got there, boom, he was over threshold FAST.

Because he has nothing to react AT, he does what you both described - barking, running his leash, crying, full piloerection. He looks me in the eye often while he does it, like he wants me to deal with it somehow, but won't engage. Won't take food when he's that worked up obviously. Holding his collar, speaking quietly, and using t-touch or gentle petting is what's working best to get him back under threshold.

I think I know how to work through this, but he will be switching foster homes soon and I'm not sure how they will deal with it, even with instruction.

I was mostly curious about finding out if I had an absolute weirdo living with me or if it's more common than I thought. I guess it's the latter.
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Old 03-14-2014, 11:32 AM
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Happened again on our morning walk, but this time he SAW the dog up ahead. I didn't even need to stop walking, he stayed nice and relaxed so I just rewarded on the go for looking back at me. The dog turned the corner, so then we paused and practiced some hand targeting and sits before turning the same corner (because I was parked down that street).

We turned the corner, and the other dog was already out of sight, but Captain smelled its pawprints in the snow and when over threshold. I caught him much quicker this time because I knew what I was looking at, but now I know the behavior happens whether he's 'caught by surprise' (seen the dog) or not. Weirdo.
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