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Old 03-02-2014, 12:35 PM
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Torch Torch is offline
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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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Old 03-02-2014, 02:33 PM
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I've found that correcting a dog for being "in the zone" leads to A) redirection or B) increased frustration. That being said, I'd look up Control Unleashed. I honestly haven't read the whole thing but I apply many of the ideas to my dog(s) in daily life.

Look at That is important. Being able to offer attention/self redirection when a trigger is noticed. And the most important thing is to keep the dog under threshold as much as you can, because increased cortisol levels (what happens when a dog reacts) stay in the body for days and then it's an even smaller trigger until those leave the body.
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Old 03-02-2014, 02:54 PM
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When we started working on Talon's reactivity we had to combat these two little dachshunds that would run and bark along the fence and set Talon off easily. What we did is first work on just hearing them in the distance and rewarding for eye contact on me. Than when he didn't even care about the barking in the distance we started working at moving towards them, if we lost his attention we'd tell him "oops, this way" and go back a bit further until I could get his attention again. We'd do it over and over until we could make it past them on the opposite side of the road without a reaction.

How does he do just seeing a calm dog that's not barking etc?

Look At That was also really helpful to get the "Ok, I see it now where's my treat?" reaction rather than "OMFG A DOG! I'll stare at it until it comes over" reaction. Though, Talon wasn't too bad in the get go, so it didn't take too long to get him to this point.
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Old 03-02-2014, 03:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpringerLover View Post
I've found that correcting a dog for being "in the zone" leads to A) redirection or B) increased frustration. That being said, I'd look up Control Unleashed. I honestly haven't read the whole thing but I apply many of the ideas to my dog(s) in daily life.

Look at That is important. Being able to offer attention/self redirection when a trigger is noticed. And the most important thing is to keep the dog under threshold as much as you can, because increased cortisol levels (what happens when a dog reacts) stay in the body for days and then it's an even smaller trigger until those leave the body.
The redirection and increased frustration are exactly why I haven't brought in a prong collar. It's been suggested to me by some dog people but I'm just not sure that's the answer. Then again, he's never been corrected strongly so I don't know how he will react.

He used to do so well with his 'look' command but now he's too worked up to do it in the heat of the moment. I guess it's back to square one with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Babyblue5290 View Post
When we started working on Talon's reactivity we had to combat these two little dachshunds that would run and bark along the fence and set Talon off easily. What we did is first work on just hearing them in the distance and rewarding for eye contact on me. Than when he didn't even care about the barking in the distance we started working at moving towards them, if we lost his attention we'd tell him "oops, this way" and go back a bit further until I could get his attention again. We'd do it over and over until we could make it past them on the opposite side of the road without a reaction.

How does he do just seeing a calm dog that's not barking etc?

Look At That was also really helpful to get the "Ok, I see it now where's my treat?" reaction rather than "OMFG A DOG! I'll stare at it until it comes over" reaction. Though, Talon wasn't too bad in the get go, so it didn't take too long to get him to this point.
What you did with Talon seems like a good idea. At this point, Rhys gets excited even around a calm dog, and the only dogs that seem able to ignore him are those at dog shows that are obviously well trained. No one around here seems to have their dog under control and he just feeds off of it.

A month ago we went to a barn hunt and he was phenomenally well behaved. Then again, he was around dogs that were very used to close quarters and ignoring others. It just sucks because the general public's dogs are NOT like that at all.
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