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Please help - Rescue dog scared/ aggressive with other dogs

(8 Posts)
Grockle Sun 24-Feb-13 10:31:45

Thanks so much.

Gym, that's really helpful. I will order the book. I get so fed up with other owners allowing their dog to run everywhere without ever considering their environment. If other dogs didn't run at GrockleDog, she'd not panic so much! We'll work on the look at me thing too - it's good to know there is some hope!

Off to fine the dog thread too.


gymmummy64 Sun 24-Feb-13 10:18:16

oh and i forgot to say, the bit of advice I found most useful in Click to Calm was to use my automatic lead-tightening reaction when we saw another dog as part of the process. ie, instead of tightening the lead as a negative stress-related association when we met another dog, using it as a positive.

With us this became 'come closer to me Gymdog and I will ply you with lovely sausage and we'll go into a lovely sausagey bubble together' rather than 'oh god Gymdog it's another dog, come over here quick and lets be scared and anxious together'

It really did work - for both of us!

gymmummy64 Sun 24-Feb-13 10:05:39

Firstly check out the bastard dog thread elsewhere on the Doghouse, it won't solve your problems, but it will certainly show you you are not alone! It will also show you how much a reactive dog can end up upsetting the owner and (I believe in my case) making the owner very much part of the problem.

At the end of last year I was in such a state about my reactive dog I was skulking round the edges of fields at dusk, close to panic attacks every time I saw another dog. Several things have helped since then :

- Going away to the country at xmas and walking in places with more space and fewer dogs made me realise I could break the problem down in stages and started the process of making me less anxious.
- Meeting much better behaved dogs at xmas - I still maintain that dogs in rural Dorset are much better at recall than the ones we seem to meet in W London. Other owners consistently and successfully recalling their dogs and NOT allowing them to approach us was really healing for both me and Gymdog.
- Reading Click to Calm as recommended by Redwing - I certainly haven't followed all of it, but used it for understanding and context and excellent advice
- Getting Gymdog to look at me every single time he sees another dog, whenever or wherever, and rewarding him with copious amounts of sausage. When I realised he had started to proactively look to me rather than me telling him to, we had our first major breakthrough. This meant I could start to distract using silly voices and more sausage
- Using BAT techniques (more by luck than judgement to be honest) of walking away as a reward and most importantly, to get Gymdog to see the connection. This is hard as it's not always possible to escape another dog effectively and cleanly
- Learning my dog's triggers. I'm much much better now at anticipating which dogs Gymdog will have an issue with. Nowadays it's certainly not all of them and I can usually tell from his body language which ones it will be
- working very very hard on recall. I never ever want Gymdog to bowl up uninvited to other dogs as I know how stressful and intimidating this can be. We had big recall issues anyway and Gymdog has only just started to be offlead regularly. My number one recall priority off lead has been other dogs and thanks to the dog-look at me-sausage connection that I established onlead, this now works very well. If I see even a moments hesitation from Gymdog then I know it's time to escalate my recall as this is the dog we'll have issues with

It's still all a work in progress, but we're in a very different place from last year and it has definitely strengthened my understanding of Gymdog and the bond between us

Scuttlebutter Sat 23-Feb-13 22:42:09

We are doing BAT with our reactive, elderly long term foster dog. It's not an instant win, but it is working nicely. We worked with a trainer which I would recommend - ours is a member of APDT or you could work with a behaviourist - APBC. Our trainer is excellent, uses positive methods and went through BAt with us out in the park so we could do real time practising - we found that very helpful. I see the trainer regularly as one of our other dogs is going to classes, so it's been helpful too if I've had any follow up queries. There is also a Grisha Stewart book and DVD - both available from Amazon, and I understand Grisha will be doing seminars in the UK later this year too.

RedwingWinter Sat 23-Feb-13 21:46:35

Here's some advice from Dr Wan on how to stop excessive barking. If you can catch her just before she barks and give her a treat as a reward, then slowly build up the time so she knows not to bark, that's the best way. Other people have had success with teaching a 'bark' command first, followed by a 'quiet' command, so that's another way to go.

With the reactivity, you could look into BAT ( It relies on keeping the dog 'under threshold' while you are training (i.e. not getting close enough to another dog for it to react); and then when the dog shows appropriate behaviours, rewarding it by increasing the distance from the other dog - watch the video because it explains it much better than I just have!

Another good book is 'click to calm' about how to deal with a reactive dog. A lot of people have a habit of tightening the lead when approaching something they know the dog will react to, and that can become a cue to the dog in itself. 'Click to calm' suggests (amongst other things) training the dog specifically to not respond to that cue. But if she's like the perfect dog with the trainer, that could be why - try making a point of keeping the lead loose and see if it helps. Good luck.

Grockle Sat 23-Feb-13 21:19:31

Thank assumpta... Sympathy is helpful too. I sometimes think it must just me all my fault! it's so hard to know how to solve problems like this. The other difficulty is that the dog is so erratic... sometimes she's fine, much of the time she's not. Sometimes, she responds well to me being firm, other times she doesn't care!

It's lovely when they settle with you though, isn't it? I know our dog wasn't with a family & is not loved or missed but I am glad we have been able to give her a home. She's now curled up on my bed with me, snoring happily. And to think she nearly died before she came to us.

assumpta Sat 23-Feb-13 21:09:24

grockle - I am afraid I can't help, but I can sympathise as my rescue does exactly the same to other dogs. One trainer told me I am sending bad signals down the lead.

I have tried walking the other way, crossing the road, treating, not treating, making an issue of being firm as we approach another dog, not making an issue and ignoring everything as we approach another dog, saying leave it, saying nothing, getting him used to walking a safe distance near other dogs, fine till next time, etc etc etc., so any advice you get I will also try.

I was watching my lovely rescue this evening thinking that we love him so much, I wish that if he was actually lost by another family that they could know that he is being looked after and loved so much.

Grockle Fri 22-Feb-13 22:22:38

We've got a lovely border collie-cross. We've had her for about 6 months & she's come on leaps & bounds. She's fab at home, very obedient, affectionate & funny. We've had some 1:1 sessions with a local trainer, who was great but I'm still struggling with a couple of things:

1) barking at home when she hears other dogs bark... and we have lots of yappy dogs nearby. GrockleDog goes bonkers, hurtling round the house, barking over & over. We've tried thanking her, showing an interest, a calm freeze & time out with her but she just carries on. What else can we do?

2) She's scared of other dogs when she's on the lead. She tends to go on the attack, lunging at passing dogs, curling her lip, snarling & barking etc. Obviously, the other dog may then snarl back & it escalates. I don't want to have such an anti-social dog. When we've worked with our lovely trainer, GrockleDog settles quickly & walks like a 'normal' dog, sniffing passing mutts or just ignoring them. She's like the perfect dog but she isn't like that when we walk her! How can I support her & help her feel safe enough not to attack every dog she sees?

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