Any tips for how to train a reactive dog?

(7 Posts)
NotQuiteJustYet Sun 03-Apr-16 23:14:10

DH and I have recently adopted another furbaby - ddog2, she's roughly 18 months old and a terrier cross, currently not spayed but being done next month. We already have ddog1, a 10 year old terrier bitch and they've bonded wonderfully very quickly, much to our delight.

We rehomed ddog2 from someone DH knows, though they're not all that close, who was going to list her online for free rehoming otherwise and I dread to think what would have happened to her. It would appear that everything we were told about her hasn't quite been true, e.g fully house trained, gets on great with all dogs, and they haven't even bothered to ask how she is since we took her back in Feb.

So far we've been completely unable to get her medical history or chip information from them so we've had to source this ourselves but the medical history is taking some time - luckily she was registered with another branch of the same chain of vets.

She is the sweetest dog but she is VERY nervous in some circumstances - she is absolutely petrified of the vet, being so young and with no access to her history yet, this makes me think something has happened to her in the past. She jumps at every loud noise, and is generally just a very nervous little thing.

She reacts to every single dog she sees when she's outside by barking, growling and sometimes pulling. She also reacts every time she sees or hears a dog on TV, including Family Guy as I've just found out! She goes crazy every time she hears the piano music on the Ceasar dog food advert because she knows the westie will be on, even if she's not in the same room.

Any tips on how I can make her walks more pleasant for her? It doesn't seem fair to keep having to walk her late at night but walking her during the daytime is deeply unpleasant - we live in an area with two national parks so it's rare that you don't come across at least a handful of other dogs when you're out, most of which are off their leads.

Thank you and sorry for the essay, I just wanted to give some background.

Springermum1350 Mon 04-Apr-16 07:16:20

There have been some really old posts on here over the last few weeks about reactive dogs. If u scroll down a few pages u will see them.

georgedawes Mon 04-Apr-16 07:28:44

Do you think she's scared ? Or frustrated and wants to say hello?

Has she been in season recently as that might be making her more tense. Sounds like she's been through an awful lot!

I would try and find a good 1-2-1 trainer who uses positive methods who can see her and try to help.

JohnCusacksWife Mon 04-Apr-16 08:27:18

Have a look on YouTube for videos by Glasgow Dog Trainer. He has a lot of videos explaining ways to do this using positive force free methods like classical conditioning. He's a great trainer.

georgedawes Mon 04-Apr-16 08:33:21

Also when I adopted my dog we got an adaptil diffuser which did seem to help calm her down a bit.

NotQuiteJustYet Mon 04-Apr-16 10:31:43

GeorgeDawes - She's not long come out of her first season which may well have upset her, I would imagine all those raging hormones etc. would do, which is why we weren't able to get her spayed any sooner than May. Thankfully that gives us time to work on her vet phobia too.

JohnCusack - Thank you, I'll check those out and see if it's something DH and I cab crack, if not we'll seek assistance from a 1-2-1 trainer.

georgedawes Mon 04-Apr-16 11:21:46

Our dog had a season just after we got her and she was very unsettled with it, this continued afterwards, improved a lot and then became very bad 2 months later when she had a phantom pregnancy. In fact, I had no idea she was having one until she had a right bark at one of the cats. After she was spayed it helped a lot.

It sounds like she's been through a lot, I'd try to calm things as much as you possibly can and then go from there. Our girl was incredibly noise sensitive, still is with certain noises but loads better. I try and work on one at a time, e.g. the hairdryer. Every time I turned the hairdryer on she got a tasty treat. Takes a while but has worked really well. When she's OK with the noise, I gradually fade out the treats and she now ignores most of what she was previously scared of. Hedge trimmers and drills are a work in progress!

She was occasionally reactive on the lead to other dogs, but this was out of frustration not fear. She did and does to an extent, want to say hello to every dog she sees. I obviously don't allow this and we are making progress. She used to start barking when we left the house and I solved this by taking her straight home, unclicking her lead, counting to 20 and starting again. Very annoying but she soon learnt if she carried on it meant no walk!

Clicker training helped us both to build a bond and show her what I expected of her. And as I said earlier the diffuser did seem to help. But the main thing I think was time and really trying to dampen down all the stresses she was feeling. Good luck!

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