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Fear agression - please tell me your success stories?

(13 Posts)
Bubble2bubble Sat 29-Nov-14 09:51:08

It could be much worse. We have narrowed ddogs fear down to unneutered males,girl dogs and neutered males males are absolutely fine. Loves people, if a bit shy of strangers- fine. On the occasions he has managed to make contact with other dogs who frighten him it has been all noise and no damage IYSWIM but obviously I need to help him.
So, armed with BAT training videos and starting muzzle training today, slowly,slowly.....He's already very happy on the longline......tell me this will work, please?

SnakeyMcBadass Sat 29-Nov-14 10:02:28

It takes time. I'm two years into handling a reactive dog. We've gone from 90 percent of the time reacting to being able to cope 90 percent of the time. I have shifted my expectations from wanting him to happily socialise to being able to trust me to handle unexpected meetings and get him away before he has to react. This works well, and he now looks at me if a dog approaches. I send him in a different direction. It only fails if the other dog is bigger and gives chase. I have developed a thick skin and choose his walks carefully.

Bubble2bubble Sat 29-Nov-14 10:20:57

That's good snakey, positive at least, thank you smile and pretty much what I am aiming for. If I could get him to take the step of looking to me instead of frenzied focus on the approaching dog I would be very happy.

SnakeyMcBadass Sat 29-Nov-14 10:26:54

I used BAT and treats. So, every time he saw the other dog, praise and treat, then turn and walk away. He can now pass another dog on the other side of the road without freaking out. He still looks nervous, but he knows there will be a treat. He's much better off lead, unless the other dog harasses him. Then all hell breaks loose. But that's becoming less and less common. Like your dog, he doesn't do damage.

muttynutty Sat 29-Nov-14 16:03:15

Loads of success stories as well. However success does not always mean a reactive dog that suddenly loves playing and interacting it all other dogs.

Generally I would measure success in that the dog not longer gets into an emotional state so no longer needs to be reactive. The dog will know which situations it can handle. The owner also needs to learn which situations never to put their dog into.

I can give you many stories but one is a reactive dog that would attack any dog it saw at any distance. He now competes quite happily at large agility shows and sheep dog trials where there are 100s of dogs. He does however still like to have his own personal space and I ensure that he gets this.

You need to take all the stress away from the dog, so BAT is good as is "Look at the dog". Never ever force meetings with other dogs and always turn away from dogs before your dog reacts. Over time the stress levels will drop and your dog will relax.

You will have to get quite a thick skin and be prepared to make decisions for your dog to prevent him from reacting. A cheery "can you call your dog" to owners who are letting their dog approach is often needed even when they say "he just wants to play", turning away and walking in another direction is essential to prevent some encounters.

Always be prepared to alter your walk and pick the quietest time and place to start with.

BAT is great but in real life is quite hard to implement as other dogs will always behave differently - If you can get friends to help with stooge dogs that makes it easier. Although your dog will very quickly pick up a training BAT walk to real life smile so expect to increase your distance when you are seeing new dogs.

I would also be a little careful with meetings dogs you think he is happy with eg bitches and neutered males, it would be better not to let this escalate by pushing these meetings too far. Never ever go past the 3 sec meet mark even if he seems happy. 1,2,3 and walk away - always.

Bubble2bubble Sat 29-Nov-14 17:37:07

Thanks Mutty that's all good.
Luckily I walk in the same place every day and pretty much know all the dogs who walk there, so most people know to give us space and I know all the obscure routes avoiding trouble.. some days we don't even meet any dogs and if I see one I don't know coming I just get out of the way.

Good point about meeting the dogs He should be ok with though, I will watch that one...I can see how a bad encounter could escalate

I already have two dogs with little or no interest in socialising ( will always choose scenting rabbits over meeting other dogs ) so that is absolutely fine with me.
Just trying to reduce the frenzy of fear would be good enough sad

SnakeyMcBadass Sat 29-Nov-14 19:45:37

Nutty makes an excellent point about a reactive dog and expectations. I wanted my dog 'fixed' so he would play and we could both socialise. That is never going to happen. He has one dog that he is totally relaxed around, and a couple who know he's unsociable so leave him well alone. I can stop and chat with these people without him becoming stressed. My boy is more reactive to dogs bigger than him and bouncy pups. He tolerates older, smaller dogs much better. He never wants to greet, though, so we avoid. He bloody loathes husky types and labs, which make up 70 percent of the dog population around here. Sigh.

My other dog is super friendly to the point of foolishness. So I have one at either end of the spectrum. Our walks can be...interesting <necks gin>

Bubble2bubble Sat 29-Nov-14 21:29:22

Oh yes, I've got one of those as well. The dog that wants to go *hello I LOVE YOU* to every stranger he meets and is so disappointed when I don't allow it.

moosemama Sun 30-Nov-14 12:46:52

I would recommend looking for an APBC registered behaviourist that has the facilities to work with you and your dog using teaching and stooge dogs. That's the best way to be able to organised controlled introductions, as well as learning how to handle different situations. As Mutty said, it's harder to do on your own, as you can't control all the parameters to ensure your dog is never put over threshold.

My younger dog has always been anxious around other dogs (bad start, then poorly as a pup so missed a chunk of socialisation, then unfortunately encountered some out of control dogs and had bad experiences on his first couple of walks when he finally didn't have to be carried anymore). He has recently started barking at dogs he doesn't know, after a couple of difficult incidents where owners allowed their dogs to charge at him from the opposite side of the park and completely ignored them as they repeatedly jumped on and chased him while he tried to escape with his tail between his legs. angry

He has his initial assessment this week, with an APBC behaviourist that uses both teaching and stooge dogs to help dogs that have social/interaction issues. I'm fairly experienced with dogs and have even owned a people and dog fear aggressive large breed in the past, but I still feel the need to get professional help, not least of all because it can really help to have someone else observe what's going on from the outside, as it's not always easy to be objective when it's your own dog.

I agree with others re being realistic about your expectations too. I am hoping my boy will learn to relax a little and not be so hypervigilant, starting to stress the minute a dog appears as a speck on the horizon. (Oddly he's better with dogs that are on-lead close by, as each time he's had a bad experience it's involved dogs that literally entered the field and charged from one side of the other to get to him, so he's convinced every dog he sees at a distance is a potential threat.) I'm also hoping we can improve his current training (which is to look at me when he sees another dog) to the point where he will be able to ignore other dogs, even at a distance and just focus on what I'm doing and/or possibly come up with some other strategies for handling difficult situations when out walking. It would be fantastic if we could get to the point where he is happier to actually meet and greet other dogs without being terrified, but with his background I have to be realistic that this may never happen.

moosemama Sun 30-Nov-14 12:49:42

Meant to say, I also have another dog that's super friendly and just wants to love every dog he meets. Fortunately he's trained well enough to listen to me when I tell him he can't, but it doesn't help that he's excited and interested in the other off-lead dogs at the same time as my younger lad is fixated on them through fear, as they tend to wind each other up. Walking individually isn't easy to organise either, as one has isolation distress and the other separation anxiety, so I can't leave either one home alone. hmm

Bubble2bubble Mon 01-Dec-14 11:02:24

I know you're right moose I would dearly love another pair of eyes but sadly I live a very long way from anywhere in Ireland the land that APBC forgot

That's interesting what you say about being frightened of dogs at a distance. My boy will also do this- when he sees a dog, or even a person who may or may not have a dog - miles away he will start his lip licking and twitching sad I don't know his history as he has come to me aged about two but he was picked up as a stray having been allowed to run free for most of his life, so the chances are he may well have been attacked in his past.

All I want for him is to enjoy a nice run without having so much fear. We don't live somewhere he even needs to be on lead very much or meet very many dogs most of the time so lucky in that respect.

moosemama Mon 01-Dec-14 11:17:48

I don't know where you're based in Ireland, but wonder if it might be worth giving this lady a call.

She's highly qualified and also a founder member of the Irish APDT and even if you're not in her area, she might be able to point you in the direction of a suitable trainer/behaviourist in your area.

Bubble2bubble Mon 01-Dec-14 11:33:05

I seem to be a bit out of her area, but thanks Moose, it might actually be a possibility smile smile
* runs off excitedly to tell ddog*

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