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Those of you with aggressive dogs.

(58 Posts)
Greyhorses Wed 27-Jan-16 18:36:07

Are there ever moments where you wish you could just give up? How do you get through them?
It's so frustrating having to plan every walk, miss out on fun things and worry about whether people or dogs are going to approach. I think I have aged 12 years in 12 months!

At what point did you just accept that your dog is horrible and give up trying to change them? Nothing I seem to do ever makes her any better and I am tempted to just never let her show her face In public again sad

LocalEditorEssex Wed 27-Jan-16 18:44:11

My dog isn't horrible, she is lovely.


She is ridiculously over protective of me. This got worse after ex h left almost two years ago.
I completely understand your frustration.
I no longer allow the dc's to come on walks as she is even worse then.

Both of our lives would be so much less stressful if people did not allow their dog to approach her.
I have accepted that for her few remaining years this is how she will be.

A dog roaming with it's owner on the pavement not on a lead is my worst nightmare, it happens quite a lot.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Wed 27-Jan-16 18:50:12

My boy loves people so that isnt a problem. But he has always 'gone for' intact make labradors, retrievers or any intact dog medium sized+. Always fine with females.

It is wearing, you're right. Always being aware of who is in the distance and changing my route accordingly. It's such a shame. we had him neutered at 5, and now he's slowing down at 8, these have both helped. But I wish he wasnt like it.

Greyhorses Wed 27-Jan-16 18:54:47

I used to be one of those owners who would look at people with on lead dogs like this hmm and wonder why they hadn't trained them properly.

Now I am the one with the snarling barking beast and I hate the stares and disgusted looks we often get from people. I also hate having to shout at people to get their dogs or to stay away from her. I can't just pop to the local shop or go for a coffee on the beach, I wish I could just find a magic cure but 2 behaviouralists have both given up.

I will be the first to admit my dog is horrible. Most people's worst nightmare! I love her to bits but she really is awful blush

Greyhorses Wed 27-Jan-16 18:55:20

Oh and mine hates people and dogs- even worse!

ThroughThickAndThin01 Wed 27-Jan-16 18:59:55

What breed is she? Mines a lab.

LocalEditorEssex Wed 27-Jan-16 19:02:12

I hadn't thought that people might think she wasn't trained blush

She is, I promise.
She is so clever, she knows so many commands and behaves beautifully at home. She adores my dc. She even loves the cats.

Kleptronic Wed 27-Jan-16 19:06:48

I've a collie like this. It is wearing. He's a good lad but was free to good home and not socialised properly. If an unleashed dog runs up to him, he'll give it what for. Most dog owners are utterly clueless. The times I've had him short leashed behind me, me giving it face palm 'No!' to unruly dogs...people round here think I'm mad. However it's better me telling them than him!

Kleptronic Wed 27-Jan-16 19:07:53

My collie is trained to within an inch of his life. Classic and agility. He can do everything, except get on with randomers.

Greyhorses Wed 27-Jan-16 19:12:14

She's a german shepherd, I have had many GSD over the years who have all been fantastic but she is very different to my dogs past and present.

Honestly local, I would walk my two perfectly behaved boys around and wonder how people kept such difficult dogs. I think I even muttered to DP once that I wouldn't tolerate a dog like that ever.

Then big dog died and we got puppy...who has turned out to be the most reactive, difficult and fiesty dog I have ever met and I have eaten my words. She is so so intelligent but can't be within touching distance of a dog or person without loosing control and looking like a wild untrained monster with rabies confused highly embarrasing. I find myself walking past people apologising as I go whilst looking at my feet and dragging her along!

Strangely enough mine is also perfectly behaved at home and is great with family, cats, dogs and other long as the evil strangers don't pop around she is a 'normal' dog. Outside though she is far from well behaved!

Imnotaslimjim Wed 27-Jan-16 19:13:21

I had a rottie like this. Lovely dog, my DC's adored him and he was really tolerant. But he was aggressive on the lead. Would snarl at passing dogs, and lunge at random people. We walked him late at night to avoid contact with others

Sadly (and I'm not saying this will happen with any other dog, it was seemingly an isolated incident) he lunged at my DS's friend and bit her on the arm, breaking the skin. I couldn't bring myself to rehome him knowing we were passing on the risk of him biting again, so we had him put to sleep with the vets agreement. He was not quite 4yo

Greyhorses Wed 27-Jan-16 19:14:20

Kleptronic- I have had more trouble from random humans trying to touch her than dogs sadly, I would have thought people would know better!

Hangrybird Wed 27-Jan-16 19:17:37

Our Dog is aggressive to other dogs when on the lead. It makes walking him a nightmare most of the time and I have to pick times of day when I know we won't see many dogs. It's so sad but we have given up now. We try and take him to places with us as often as we can but spend most of the time on edge incase another dog comes along. It's so embarrassing because people look at you like you can't control your dog but in every other way he is perfectly obedient and a pleasure to be around.

Isthatwhatdemonsdo Wed 27-Jan-16 19:34:02

I have a Golden Retriever/Lab Cross who is dog and people aggresive on lead. He has all walks off lead where he is perfectly reasonable with other people and nearly all dogs. We've had a couple of times when he's gone for other dogs who've been on the lead. He was perfectly socialsed as a puppy, so I don't know what went wrong.
He's a pain when on the lead.

Cheerfulmarybrown Wed 27-Jan-16 19:34:03

Grey I understand exactly where you are coming from. I had my first reactive dogs many years ago and felt like an outcast. However she taught me so much and really did change my life.

In reality owners of reactive dogs put in more training hours than other dogs owners put together - they are constantly looking out for their dogs and making huge major personal sacrifices daily to make a better life for their dog.

In my experience reactive dogs are the most loving loyal dogs to their owners and give back just as much but they may seem like loons to onlookers.

Is there a reactive group near you that you could join? They are great just to speak to people in a similar situation and also give tips of good places to walk. You can also help use their dogs to counter condition yours.

I also understand your comment about when to accept them as they are and give up. I would not give up but I would work at keeping things calm and not constantly trying to improve the situation. That can see like you are not getting anywhere and can be demoralising. However by accepting things as they are you are then able to see that things may be improving.

Have you seen the Naughty but Nice DVD from Lauren Langman? - some good tips to help manage our reactive guys. I will pm you

Greyhorses Wed 27-Jan-16 19:50:16

Cheerful thanks for your advice smile I have not yet found a group but will look for one. I currently take her to agility classes weekly with my trainer running them where she spends most of her time trying to learn to behave but failing. We thought it would be good for her to learn to behave while others are around and work closer to the source of the problem but I spend most of my time at the other end of the field as the closer I get the worse she gets. She will run an agility course happily but can't cope waiting around while others are doing stuff.

My trainer said some of the problem is me, as I am tense and worried that someone is going to touch her or a dog will approach and can't relax and she picks up on this. I can't seem to get through this though. I wouldn't dare let her off a lead around others. I don't actually know what she would do of course but I wouldn't want to find out.

She walks with groups of dogs in a controlled setting and has been fine, she is actually sweet and submissive to her dog friends but is so scared of new ones she would rather go in guns blazing and scare them off. She is the same with people, she is so scared they will touch her she would rather warn them first. This means I can't let her off as people might try and stroke her and she might bite them.

I have spent so many hours treating her, trying to get her closer to people, reassuring her...nothing works once she is in that state I just literally have to drag her away.

She has been banished from most 'normal' dog training classes blush

LocalEditorEssex Wed 27-Jan-16 19:54:26


Gsd here too.

Cheerfulmarybrown Wed 27-Jan-16 20:05:04

I'm sure your trainer is lovely but it is a personal bugbare of mine when reactive dog owners are told it is their fault because they are tense or uptight.

As you have said you have had other dogs and this is your first reactive dog. It is not you. It is not how you behave, it is your dog. Your dog is making you tense not you making the dog tense. i expect your dog is too tense to notice how you are feeling to be honest.

It sounds like you are doing brilliantly if you can walk with groups of dogs in a controlled fashion. Is she muzzled trained?

Personally I would give both you and her a few months off. Just do what she is happy with, do not do training sessions just be in a calm place and avoid triggering situations. Then if you do introduce a very small trigger you may notice a big improvement in her but if not hey you have had a stress free few weeks

Greyhorses Wed 27-Jan-16 20:16:49

She is muzzle trained and walks beautifully if there are no triggers. However, I don't make her wear a muzzle because she was attacked by a dog and couldn't defend herself which terrified her (she literally weed herself and screamed she was so terrified) and secondly because she is always on a lead so if someone else's dog is out of control that sort of isn't my problem?

She loves running around in open fields but I have to walk through some paths to get there and this is where she struggles with the close proximity to people when passing them. It would be nice to be able to go places a little bit more public like the beach etc but at the moment it's too much. I always walk into th verges and try and give her space but it's hard going.

She hates being too close to people or dogs so it means some things are a nightmare. I take her to work with me sometimes as otherwise she would be alone all day but this stresses her out as she hates people or dogs near her crate. If I leave her at home she gets upset though at being left so i can't win. She is definatley warning people to stay away from her when she does it.

Someone suggested asking people at work to throw treats at her, but wouldn't this be counter productive if she is barking and lunging at them? Should she be calm before she is given anything?

hennipenni Wed 27-Jan-16 20:40:56

Greyhorses, I have a certain people and certain dog reactive cuddly looking cocker spaniel, I was told to get people to throw treats to him when he was quiet. This back fired on us as he's very very smart and soon learnt that if he barked and then shut up he would get treats and then start to bark and shut up again so we don't do this anymore. The solution that we found worked for us is for me to gently pull down the length of his ears which relaxes us both- easy for me to do this as he's a show cocker with lovely long ears.

AnUtterIdiot Wed 27-Jan-16 20:42:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tabulahrasa Wed 27-Jan-16 23:34:28

"Someone suggested asking people at work to throw treats at her, but wouldn't this be counter productive if she is barking and lunging at them? Should she be calm before she is given anything?"

No, because your aim is to create a positive association, you're not at that point rewarding good behaviour...have you seen a behaviourist rather than a trainer?

Anyway, to answer your OP.

It took about 6 months to realise he'd not be going back to the happy friendly dog he was before the behaviour issue happened and about another year before I realised that I'd probably never be able to walk him without managing him quite heavily (up till then I was still hoping that at some point he'd be non reactive enough to let him be off lead for parts of walks and things like that).

And yes, it's hard work, really hard work and I have considered giving up on him altogether several times.

He tries to attack dogs on sight, as in, if they're within his field of vision, humans who don't approach him or look at him are usually ok, cars are ok about 50 percent of the time...when they're not ok, they get barked and lunged at too.

He is however fine with us and anyone who he knows very well, well unless he's trying to get to a dog and then he'll redirect on to me. (He is muzzled when out though)

It's looking very much like I may have to have him PTS soon anyway, his behaviour is caused by pain from some medical issues, one of which is much worse currently and we're pretty much out of treatment options to try, so I'm currently (under vet's advice) waiting a few weeks to see if it's a temporary flare up or whether that's going to have to be the end of the road - I'm not willing to keep him going if he's always going to be in too much pain to do things like go for on lead walks, it's not fair on him.

Greyhorses Thu 28-Jan-16 06:19:53

I have seen two seperste adpt registered behaviouralists and paid for two individual assessments. The first one gave us a simple plan which was hard to follow and didn't make much difference to her behaviour.

The second refused to train her incase she was bitten.

The third trainer is a Gsd handler who specialises in obedience and uses positive methods and I have seen the most change with her methods so far, although nothing is perfect!

I have considered having her Pts but I don't think I can bring myself to do it as she is so happy and loving except for this issue with strangers!

Thattimeofyearagain Thu 28-Jan-16 07:29:53

As the owner of a non reactive wimpy in tact male black lab I would just like to add that I don't judge at all. He is often snarled at , as are other black labs we know.
It's purely luck of the draw, he is one of a litter of 10, some are laid back like him, some are fear aggressive and one is very aggressive with other dogs.

tabulahrasa Thu 28-Jan-16 07:46:04

Mine was turned away by a behaviourist too...they must be the elite of problem dogs, lol.

Yeah, I accepted really early on that if I couldn't cope with him, the alternative was having him PTS, because rehoming an aggressive rottie with medical issues isn't an option, but inside my house, he's a lovely dog - and well he's still my dog, I still feel the same way about him even when he's a git.

But it's looking at the moment like his health is going to take that decision out of my hands anyway sad

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