"curing" reactivity

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by Criosphynx, Feb 27, 2010.

  1. Criosphynx

    Criosphynx New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Messages:
    2,242
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I have som' thoughts in my head I'd like to bat around if I may. :)


    When I joined this forum, god, almost two years ago, I noticed alot of people had dogs with reactivity issues, DA issues etc etc.

    now this isn't meant as a jab or an attack...but I notice that many of the same people still talk about their dogs having outbursts, problems, and needing a decent amount of management to exist.

    Iam currently a year into working with my reactive dog. He is my first one, and honestly hes been alot of fun to train. He went from being reactive to everything that wasn't nailed down (and everything that was) people, sounds, objects, dogs, cats, cars, YOU NAME IT he'd have a fit. I couldn't take him anywhere. He was a mess and very embarrassing honestly.

    Yesterday, a year into training... I took him to an outdoor mall. He walked by hundreds of people on a loose leash. He saw dogs, lots of cars, trucks (his arch enemy is diesel trucks) and was very attentive and responsive. He tried to approach children on a few occasions, he wanted to go into the stores with loud music....He had one very small outburst when a man jogged by SCREAMING into his cell phone. But he redirected easily. Basically he had a good time.

    anyway...I guess, I was given the impression by reading here...that this was an insurmountable obstactle...that he'd never resemble normal and he'd always be a thorn in my side. That he would always need lots of management, i wouldn't be able to take him places, have him meet strangers etc....but I have to tell ya, Iam not seeing it. IMO one more year of training and he should be pretty unflappable. A woman even commented on how calm he was:yikes:

    I guess Iam asking who has for the most part "fixed" their dogs reactivity, how long did it take etc...and those that are just managing it, is there a reason you are chosing management?

    Before anyone says It I know he will always be predisposed to reacting. And I don't ever expect him to be 100%.
     
  2. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2007
    Messages:
    8,233
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    4 dogs
    Location:
    here
    Huge kudos to you Crio. :)

    As for me, I do have one reactive dog and am currently not even managing it. ;) I really don't take her out in public now that I live on 16 acres, which doesn't do her any favors in the reactivity issues. The main reason I've opted for that is because she is over the top reactive and she tends to scare people (mind you, I don't think she'd be aggressive at all, but others don't know that). Also, she's a little too good at getting loose ~ pulling leash from my hand, breaking the leash, slipping the collar...And with how high her prey drive is, that does scare me.

    I am hoping to get some play dates with friends nearby who have calm dogs and work on the DR, which is one the biggest of her reactive issues. Her other big one is small child reactivity, which will be a little more difficult but maybe after getting the DR under control, the issue with children will be able to get generalized.
     
  3. OutlineACDs

    OutlineACDs Crazy Dog!

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2006
    Messages:
    1,341
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Texas
    It depends on the dog, the reactivity level, the cause of the reactivity, the amount of time you train etc.

    My reactive dog is a million times better than she was, but I would still say she's severely reactive. She isn't wired right. I don't think any amount of time/training etc would have her completely "cured".

    Take an unsocialized, reactive dog and put it in a good stable home that trains relatively regularly, and I believe that if the dog has a solid temperament he can overcome his reactivity. The time it take is dependent on a lot of things, but some dog progress fast and have little in the way of setbacks. My dog progresses well then has a large setback, and while we don't start back at square one, we still took 5 steps back.
     
  4. Jynx

    Jynx New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2005
    Messages:
    1,071
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    9 + fish
    Location:
    CT
    good job! and I also think it has ALOT to do with how much you train, HOW you train and the individual dog itself. So kudo's to you for doing a good job with your dog!
     
  5. OutlineACDs

    OutlineACDs Crazy Dog!

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2006
    Messages:
    1,341
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Texas
    It's not that they are incurable, its that the people who have dealt with it understand how helpless and hopeless you can feel.

    It's a huge undertaking and so if anyone is looking into adopting a reactive dog people here are quick to caution. It's definitely a labor of love and it take so much hard work. Even managing a reactive dog is a huge responsibility.

    If my dog gets loose and bites one dog or one person she risks losing her life and I risk losing my dog and possibly getting sued etc.

    Everyone's definition of reactive is different as well. People might call my dog aggressive, but IMO she is reactive. She's nervous and scared and acting out accordingly.
     
  6. Criosphynx

    Criosphynx New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Messages:
    2,242
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    thank you both for your imput :) I hope others give theres as well. :)


    I honestly would have opted for management I think if I could have him on my own property and not have him having a fit every thirty seconds. We have ALOT of pedestrians that walk by and he was very ill and needed to go to the vet every two weeks for months upon months, so I felt I needed to "fix" it.
     
  7. Criosphynx

    Criosphynx New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Messages:
    2,242
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I actually did have this happen to me, so I hired a behaviorist who basically said I was doing the right things and it just needed more time. She gave me a hint or two but nothing monumental. It was great encouragement, because, your right it did feel hopeless for a while.
     
  8. OutlineACDs

    OutlineACDs Crazy Dog!

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2006
    Messages:
    1,341
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Texas
    I can't tell you how many times I have cried over this one dog. She's so completely awesome and so completely frustrating at times.
     
  9. Criosphynx

    Criosphynx New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Messages:
    2,242
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    :rofl1: Oh man how I know that feeling!

    so how is she now, I know you compete, is she functional enough to compete? :)
     
  10. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2007
    Messages:
    8,233
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    4 dogs
    Location:
    here
    *nods*
     
  11. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Messages:
    6,403
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    Two dogs, three cats
    Location:
    Central Texas
    IMO, reactivity is a behavior problem that can have a lot of causes and a lot of "cures," and there is no one answer that will fix the problem. Take, for example, potty training: management and rewarding good behavior are pretty much all you need (simplified, of course) to potty train almost any dog; so potty training, to me, is a "simple" problem to fix. Reactivity is very much the opposite.

    Plus, when people come to me with a problem (especially over the internet), I almost always find it best to give them the worst case scenario. With reactivity, that would be that your dog is "wired wrong," and will always have to be closely managed and handled carefully. Luckily, you didn't experience this, but there was no real way of knowing from the beginning (at least not over the internet).

    As for me, Luna was reactive to other dogs for about the first two years I had her. I saw several different trainers about it and tried their suggestions, but basically I just managed it and did what I could. After I discovered the book "Click to Calm" and started implimenting the training plans there, Luna went from reacting at about 80% of dogs, to reacting to about 10% in six months. Then we started agility, and six months after that she would react to about 5% of dogs. It's been about 3 years since we started agility, and she now rarely reacts to any dogs. She still doesn't particularly enjoy being around other dogs, but there are actually 2 dogs in the world that she'll play with (when she's in the mood and the stars are aligned just right), which makes me VERY happy.

    I do also believe that reactivity is never "cured."
     
  12. Criosphynx

    Criosphynx New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Messages:
    2,242
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    To me tho, I see a dog that has reactions in the 5-10% of times range *fixed* or "normal" for the most part, I guess thats what Iam getting at.


    Luckily i got him VERY young (tho that could have contributed) and was able to recognize it and not correct him for it.

    btw, thats awesome about Luna...I bet your very proud of her!
     
  13. elegy

    elegy overdogged

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2006
    Messages:
    7,720
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Home Page:
    luce was very dog-reactive when i got her (also dog-aggressive, which she still is). i can't tell you how long it took to "fix" because we took such a meandering path with so many starts in wrong directions before i learned how to desensitize her properly. she's not very reactive at this point. she will fire up if a dog starts something with her, but i don't consider that reactive, just a confident terrierbrained dog who doesn't tolerate being challenged.

    steve is pretty reactive to a whole laundry list of things. i'm of the opinion that it's largely genetic. it's definitely improved (the look at that game is a godsend) but i suspect it'll be an issue for him forever.

    they are such different dogs- luce's reactivity came out of poor impulse control and the inability to tolerate frustration more than anything. steve's reactivity is fear-based. but the same approach has been successful with both of them.
     
  14. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    8,854
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Environmental Science
    Location:
    Vermont
    As others said - I suppose it depends on your definition of reactive and your definition of cured.

    I don't think I will ever consider Meg to be non-reactive. Is she 1000x better than she used to be? Sure. Dogs are really the only thing she is reactive to now. If I have her in an environment that she sees as "safe" normally, she will tolerate an enormous amount. Walk through a huge crowd of strange, revved up dogs at an indoor agility trial? Not a blink. Walk in the general vicinity of a dog in a store like Petsmart? Not a chance. Agility people are dog savvy and don't let their dogs bother you; she has learned this and isn't "on guard" at all times in those venues. Average Joe at Petsmart "just wants to let his lab say hi!".

    Could I work on her issues in places like Petsmart? Sure. However, I think the risk of her going backwards due to an idiot letting their dog come up to her is huge, and not one I will take. Plus I couldn't care less if my dog never goes into a pet store. I have far more training goals than I will ever have time to train them, so I prioritize. I have a bold, confident, happy to work dog in the environments I need her to be.
     
  15. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

    Joined:
    May 14, 2007
    Messages:
    19,779
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    8 dogs and 6 horses.
    Location:
    Ontario
    Home Page:
    It also depends on if your dog has a set back. Take Dekka for example. I still call her reactive. Yet we compete happily in agility and can walk on a loose leash around other dogs. We can make new friends (Sierra and Dekka finally got to meet loose-both are a little reactive).

    But all it takes is ONE dog to lunge at her at a trial and she is back in defencive mode. I don't think you can CURE reactivity, just minimize and manage. (now if the dog has a low history of real reasons to be reactive then the minimizing may seem to be cured..)
     
  16. Criosphynx

    Criosphynx New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Messages:
    2,242
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0

    this is a good point...I get what you guys are saying. Thats why I kept putting "fix and cure" in quotes...I guess the question is how normal can a reactive dog become :)


    I apreciate everyones imput. I find this subject very interesting and like discussing it. :)


    I did have a setback, in which he lunged at a child that snuck up on us and the child actually ran up, and swatted at him to hit him (no idea why), had he not been restrained im 100% sure he would have nailed that kid. I went home very upset and thats when I called the behaviorist.
     
  17. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

    Joined:
    May 14, 2007
    Messages:
    19,779
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    8 dogs and 6 horses.
    Location:
    Ontario
    Home Page:
    Also take into account WHY the dog is reactive. Even humans who go through traumatic experiences are not always 'cured' with help. Dekka was nearly killed at 14 weeks. Needed to be hospitalized, surgery and it was months before we knew if her elbow joint would fuse making her permanently lame.

    I think that kind of reactivity is harder to work with than when the dog is only afraid something will happen but has never experienced it, or if it was bad, but not life threatening.

    Also breed will affect the outcome. JRTs as a breed are pretty reactive. Its known and even accepted by many breeders as just the way they are...
     
  18. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Messages:
    4,089
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    7
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Petie is a dog that was very fear aggressive towards people and strange dogs, he was also a very intense reactive dog. In my opinion, all three are separate and different that required a great deal of work and dedication.

    The fear aggression, non-confident towards people was the easiest and fastest to modify.
    The reactivity came in second, it took longer and was harder to modify, but we did.

    The fear aggression towards strange dogs at agility trials took the longest but I managed him instead of working towards solving the problem for years. And everytime he had a strange dog leap or jump on him, it sent him right back to being convinced that all dogs, especially large black dogs at agility trials were a major threat to him. Please keep in mind that he would never leave me to seek out another dog, only if the dog came into his safe zone would he react. During this time, I also started to modify his behaviour and had a huge success.
    I can't even remember from the last 2-3 yrs when he had a negative response to another dog. At the last agility trial we were at, while exiting the building, as the door opened he came nose to nose (5 inches or less away) from 2 large black dogs coming in. In the past he would have snarled, snapped and lunged at them to force them out of his comfort zone. These were dogs that he had never seen before and he just walked past them and minded his own business. Needless to say he got a lot of rewards and atta boy!!

    But I agree, depends on the dog, depends on the knowledge of the handler, training methods and dedication. But having said that, it is amazing how so many of these dogs can be turned around. I know how much happier and content they are for us helping them and anyone successful in doing so should be very proud of themselves, just not proud of their dog.

    Congrats.
     
  19. darkchild16

    darkchild16 We are Home.

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2004
    Messages:
    21,880
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    3
    Location:
    Tallahassee Florida
    Walkers reactivity is managed because one it really doesnt effect day to day life to the point I cant take him places or anything. The only place i do NOT take him is a petstore unless its a small one and while others are at work.

    He is reactive to overly friendly dogs and in. your. face. dogs. Other then that as long as they are ignoring him he will ignore them. He will even meet other dogs as long as it happens SLOWLY and under his control. Now a strange dog run up to him and you might have a dead dog. A golden or a poodle and its dead (he was attacked by a golden at as a tiny pup and was obsessivly humped by a doodle as a pup.) He also does not like kids besides certain kids that behave around dogs. Hes been scared by kids COUNTLESS times.

    That being said. I can take him to flea markets, outdoor art shows or craft shows, rodeos, the park. Just not to a inside pet place or a dog park
     
  20. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Messages:
    4,089
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    7
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    I don't agree with that on any level and breeding/producing aggressive jrts and calling it reactive is just a cop out imo.

    Please don't confuse high prey drive with reactivity or aggression.

    Yes, I know there are many breeders that claim that and those are the ones people stay away from. I have done a hell of a lot jrt trials up and down the eastern seaboard and there are many breeders out there that don't take that route or make those claims.
     

Share This Page