reactive dog?

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by dogsarebetter, May 8, 2008.

  1. dogsarebetter

    dogsarebetter EVIL SHELTIES!!!!

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    What really is a reactive dog? I have heard this term thrown around lately in my dog magizines.
     
  2. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    I consider Meg dog-reactive. She doesn't approach strange dogs if she can help it, and hasn't ever fought, but becomes very nervous and growly when other dogs approach her in certain ways, and has instigated fights by her behavior (growls at the other dogs because she's worried, other dog attacks her because of her behavior). She doesn't ever fight, even when being attacked, but she 'reacts' negatively when other dogs are behaving in certain ways.

    I have no idea if that is the actual definition, but have had enough trainers refer to her as dog-reactive that I use the term for her.
     
  3. skittledoo

    skittledoo Crazy naked dog lady

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    There's actually a really good thread on here about the differences between reactivity and aggression.

    I'll see if I can find the link for you.

    My dog is dog reactive. I'm still learning a lot about reactivity and how to deal with it. If I remember correctly reactivity is responding to a certain stimuli. In my dog's case it's another dog. If he sees another dog from a distance he'll start to whine. As said dog draws nearer he'll sometimes lunge forward on the leash and bark.

    Hold on... I'm going to try and find the link to the thread I'm talking about... other people explain this stuff so much better than I ever could.
     
  4. skittledoo

    skittledoo Crazy naked dog lady

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  5. dogsarebetter

    dogsarebetter EVIL SHELTIES!!!!

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    Thanks.
    oh yeah, Ruckus is defiantly a reactive dog
     
  6. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    My boy Petie is reactive, as a young dog he was fear aggressive and non confident. He is a dog that is so intense and he can get over stimulated in a heartbeat. He is also one of the smartest dogs that I have ever known and he learns at an alarming rate. He is also brillant, it doesn't matter what I have trained him to do, he does it and he excells at it.
    My point to all this is, they require a whole bunch of work and understanding but just below the surface often lays an incrediable dog..............
     
  7. skittledoo

    skittledoo Crazy naked dog lady

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    The bold definitely bears repeating. Bamm is super intelligent. He's a lot of work and sometimes it gets frustrating at times. I have to say though... the work we have been doing and the small progress we have seen in the reactivity training have been so rewarding to both myself and Bamm. We have a long road ahead of us but I'm looking forward to seeing the kind of dog he becomes through it all.
     
  8. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    Do you trial with him? Can you outline how you worked with him? I'm still struggling to find the right approach with Nyx. Is Petie no longer fearful or is the fear just not showing or does he just have better ways of expressing himself when he's in fear?
     
  9. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Absolutely we trial............He has won many conformation classes in JRTCA/JRTCC. Therefore being comfortable enough to approach Judges and have them do a hands on inspection including spanning. He is very showy and up in the ring.
    He is also a muliple JRTCA/CC Racing Champion.
    He is a JRTCA/CC Trailing and Locating National Champion (off leash Tracking).
    He has muliple Titles in Agility up to Masters.
    I recently entered him in his first Rally O fun match, scores of 187 (he was a bit distracted) and 195 in the second class.

    Wow, where to start on what I did with him lol.
    As a pup he was fear aggressive of strange dogs and strange people along with being non confident (not surprising since those often go hand in hand).
    With people I never forced him to approach strangers and I always approached that person and would shake their hand, that cued him that I accepted them which always had him relax, the hackles would go down and he would stop growling at them, at that point I gave him a reward.
    For gaining control over his over-stimulation, that happened when I started training him for agility and it branched out to other areas of his life.
    When we started in agility 7 yrs ago, he would scream when he saw the agility equipment, if on leash he would leap up and grab my shirt, forget about any kind of stay lol. I had to quit agility classes because the 'trainer' had us doing to much to fast and I had no control of Petie. I got my own agility equipment and I had to start gaining focus on me and control AWAY from the agility equipment but within sight of it. We could be at 300 ft of the agility ring and he wouldn't scream and he could somewhat listen to me, so we worked at that distance on regular obedience, watch me's and fun games. Then we moved a bit closer etc. it took me 3 months before he was able to lay quietly in the agility ring, completely relaxed and able to focus on me. It was then that I started to actually do agility training again with him.
    He was never corrected and I always used a clicker and/or positive reinforcements with him.
    To be honest, I didn't do much in the way of training him to deal with his dog aggression/reactivity until about 3 yrs ago, before that I just managed him.
    Then I finally got smart and trained him, lots of focus work with a clicker.
    I applied everything that I had done with the over stimulation to his reactivity with other dogs. Started at the distance that he could control his reactivity, lots of 'watch me' and rewards for looking at another dog and then focusing back on me etc. He progressed quickly and within a couple of weeks at trials, he could walk through the 'gate' area of a trial and not even look at other dogs. Strange dogs could brush past him and he was fine. He could lay flat on the ground with other dogs walking past and not respond.
    At the last trial we were at, we met two strange dogs at a doorway, a surprise nose to nose encounter. In the past that would have made him react but all he did was look at them and not respond I of course gave him a jackpot of rewards.
    Now having said all that, he can regress where strange dogs are concerned, but that is only if another dog has scared him by running up behind him or leaping into his face on literally jumping on him. But he does recover quickly and the effects of those bad encounters certainly don't last as long as they use to.
    -He is no longer fearful of people.
    -He is confident and bold.
    -He can still be reactive to strange dogs but is greatly improved.
    Btw, teaching him a solid 'off/leave it', also was a great benefit.
    Hope this makes sense, if it doens't, just let me know. Or if you need more detail, let me know.

    Lynn
     
  10. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    So...what did you do when he would leap up and grab your shirt? How did you respond? And how would you manage that type of behavior with a 50ish pound dog that doesn't stick to grabbing shirts. I don't want to use corrections, but when she aims for my face, I need to stop her pretty quickly - for safety - which ends up being a mild collar pop. It works in the moment, but I do agree that it has potential for long term counter-productive effects.

    What would you do if another dog got too close before the dog was able to handle it? My biggest problem with her dog reactivity is that I am in an uncontrolled environment. I work with her as much as possible within her safe distances, but in order for me to get her out for a walk, I risk running into other dogs and having a set back. I do use my own dogs when I can - I have a friend who will come over and take the corgis out while I take Nyx out. When the corgis are quiet she's fine, when they get to playing, she over stimulates. The nice thing being that I can control the distrator dogs. But all too often someone else is out with a dog or three and she loses it. The only thing I can do is drag her away and hope we didn't lose too much ground.

    She also is toddler reactive, and that is even more troublesome, because I can't very well procure a toddler to use for training. ;)
     
  11. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    Aw, come on, a good owner will do whatever's necessary for her dog! If you get busy now you could have your own toddler in only about three years!:p
     
  12. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    Um...hmmm...There's an important piece of the process missing...LOL

    I was thinking more along the lines of taking the dog to a day care center...or at the playground - uh, ma'am, can I borrow your toddler so I can teach my malinois not to attack small children?

    :p
     
  13. cinnamon

    cinnamon New Member

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    I have a sheltie that doesn't like kids at all---they're too uncontrolled, too fast and too noisy :)

    Last summer I took her to the playground and sat very far away and just kept feeding her treats. Then she would glance over and look back and I have her more treats.

    We'll do this again this summer and I'll walk by the school when it's lunch time (with a very big, comfortable distance and I'll treat bigtime as we walk by all the kids running around)
     
  14. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    What I had to learn was what his pre-triggers were and then I had to engage his brain and body to focus on me. Teaching him to do an Auto down or Auto sit also helped a great deal. I worked at getting him over stimulated to a degree (a small degree in the beginning lol), then getting him to focus and offer the Auto's (does that make sense??). I had it easy in one sense because just the sight of the agility equipment would make him go apesh*t, so moving one or two feet in the direction of the ring would start to get him over stimulated and I was able to work with him at that point. If I had moved too close the ring, forget it, he couldn't cope.
    I think the key is being able to find a stimulus that you can control, if your corgis are that then use them to teach her to control herself. It is that ol Catch 22, if you avoid the stimulus the problem doesn't go away, but if you try to work beyond her threshold the problem not only doesn't go away but it can get worse. Have you tried any of the control games such as hold a very yummy treat in your hand and she offers to back away from your hand and sit before she gets rewarded? (if you don't know this game, let me know and I'll explain it in detail). The control games, are done in a very calm relaxed placed.


    When she is leaping on you and biting, what has lead up to that point?
    In all honesty, I would avoid walking her until I had her under control (if possible).
     
  15. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    Yea, the problem being that the parks around here are either too small and overcrowded or they are so isolated that there are no issues. I'm hoping that if I get her comfortable around a variety of other things with fast, unpredictable movement she'll be better with kids. I don't need warm and fuzzy, but I do need safe.

    She's also litter reactive (as in trash on the ground blowing around), blowing leaf reactive, bird reactive, squirrel reactive...anything that moves. So I don't think it's really target specific but rather movement in general.
     
  16. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Have you tried a Flirt pole with her? Sometimes by encouraging her natual instincts and learning when to turn them on allows us to train the dog when to turn them off.
     
  17. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    I haven't done backing away. I have had her sit and lie down before getting rewarded. I'd love more info on the games. I use the corgis and also a couple of toys as controllable stimuli.

    When she is leaping and biting me, it's sometimes bad manners - I want my toy now!! There's been significant improvement in that area. Sometimes it's because I want her to wait a bit longer (three seconds instead of one) before getting rewarded and she doesn't agree with that idea - that is also improving (she can almost do 15 seconds now woohoo!!). The one I worry about is when it's out of redirected overstimulation...she sees a dog/bird/child/whatever and goes into her lunging and barking phase and then spins around and jumps and bites at me. I can't ignore it because she'll continue. I can't ask for a sit at that level of overstimulation because she's not receptive to input. I end up using a collar pop simply as a means of preventing her from reaching me, and then take her away until she calms down.

    I wish I could avoid walking her.
     
  18. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    I haven't. I had never heard of a flirt pole until a couple weeks ago. I will look into the idea. That is pretty much what I'm trying to do with her toys - is build an off switch (not something malinois are known for).
     
  19. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    I'll get an outline of the focus/self control games for you.

    As for a flirt pole, I would have a bunch of steak on me, I would let her go for the flirt pole/lure and I wouldn't say a word to her, not to encourage her or call her off. The second she looked at me, I would throw her a piece of steak.
    I wouldn't care how long it took of her ragging and pulling on the lure......let her go at it her hearts content but be prepared to reward her big time when she looks at you. You can progress to adding a cue for the 'off', and you can build to having her chase the flirt pole/lure.

    Has she been trained to 'out' or 'give' immediately on a toy or tug? Or is it a struggle to get her to let go?
     
  20. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    She's got a pretty decent out finally. Occasionally she gets a bit forgetful, but it's not a struggle even then. She was taught an out through a lot of trading games and a lot of everything freezes until you out - which initially took a while - and as soon as you out we can resume playing.
     

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