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Reactive dog...

(16 Posts)
Mrsmorton Mon 16-Jan-17 12:17:53

Before Christmas I took on a "naughty" one year old Weimaraner. Since then I've been relentlessly training her, she's crate trained and chilled AF in there, her recall is fab, her separation anxiety is 100 times better and I'm really pleased as she's turning into a lovely dog.

She's very clever but super affectionate and catches on fast.

The only thing I'm struggling with is stopping her reacting to other dogs. I've tried to get into a dog class but I live in the middle of nowhere and there's nothing suitable within an hour.

She pulls and pulls when she sees one in front. She walks backwards when a dog is behind us and I can't take her (for example) to the pub if there's another dog in there.

She had an odd first six months of life, living with her mum and sister, not sure if it's relevant.

How can I get her to chill out around other dogs?

SharpLily Mon 16-Jan-17 12:21:10

Marking place smile

Hoppinggreen Mon 16-Jan-17 12:44:13

If you find out please let me know!!
I have tried all the usual methods for this but there is NOTHING more high value to my dog than another dog.
Any training just goes out of the window when he spots one. Classes didn't help as he just saw it as a room full of DOGS!!!!

Mrsmorton Mon 16-Jan-17 14:28:01

I'm laughing. You're supposed to help me!!!

I'll keep reading and googling and let you know if I find anything!

Caniche Mon 16-Jan-17 14:31:04

I am a long time lurker in the dog house. I am not an expert but I do know a bit from experience about reactivity to other dogs.

OP you have described the situation I was in 18 months ago. I rescued a pup at 5 months. He hadn't been socialised at all. Result was that he barked and lunged uncontrollably at the sight of any dog, even at a long distance.

I had him assessed by a brilliant canine behaviourist who said that it was frustration because he wanted to greet all other dogs and the lead was preventing this. She basically advised the following. Let him glimpse dog at distance, click, high value treat and walk away. Ignore any barking. Aim is for your dog to associate seeing other dog with yummy treat and to not expect to make contact with other dog. Ideally you want them to associate barking/lunging/ pulling with walking away.

Try to establish how close they can get without barking/ lunging/ pulling, this is their threshold. Try to work within this so that they don't practice the bad behaviour. Eventually (weeks-months) of doing the above you will be able to get closer with little/no reaction. If they misbehave you walk away, if they don't they get to meet and greet, which for my dog was the ultimate reward.

It took months of consistent training but he is now brilliant. In fact we have just passed a working guide dog at close quarters and not a peep from him.

This can be a tricky problem to solve so I would really recommend professional one-to-one help to get started on the right track.

Other things I tried were zylkene, Bach flower remedies and an adaptil collar, but training was key.

Hope there is something helpful in this. Good luck!

Deadnettle Mon 16-Jan-17 14:36:26

Mrsmorton do you know why your dog is reacting? Is she scared or over excited?

Hoppinggreen you need to make meeting/playing with another dog the reward for good behaviour. Start with something really really easy, like a sit or eye contact or even just a flick of his ear showing that he's listening to you. Then praise him and tell him to go play. Evenually hopefully your dog will know that if you ask him to do something 9 times out of 10 he gets to go play once he's done it.

Mrsmorton Mon 16-Jan-17 14:39:09

It seems like over excitement? She scrabbles to get to them. I don't think she's scared but I'm not certain id be able to tell the difference? blush

caniche thank you. That approach to training is working well with other aspects so sounds like the way to go.

Deadnettle Mon 16-Jan-17 14:49:58

The method Caniche describes will work. It will work if she is over excited and it will work if she is scared.

Hoppinggreen Mon 16-Jan-17 16:03:41

Yesdeadnettle but how do I get him back or stop him running after any other random dogs ( and occasionally people) while he's off lead?
We are working on it with a trainer but not really getting anywhere

LumelaMme Mon 16-Jan-17 16:50:36

If she's scared she'll either cower, or get aggressive and bark like a loon. My dog tends to do the latter. We're working on it, and he's much better - it's been a case of building up his confidence.

VilootShesCute Mon 16-Jan-17 17:01:06

You have to be more exciting than the dogs! Favourite amazing treats, caviar of need be, biggest praise ever when even looking your way if another dog is about, and loads of socialising with lots of friendly dogs so she eventually gets bored of dogs and it's not a novelty. Our wolfie was like this but calmed down a bit after he was 18 months. It was infuriating though. Imagine having a 37 inch at the shoulder giant hurtling towards a miniature yorkie on the beach and you running the opposite way screaming your dog's name in a manic high pitched tone. Embarrassing and terrifying at the same time blush

sparechange Mon 16-Jan-17 17:03:53

Ideally, you want to get a stooge dog and do the method caniche has described

The key things are to start off with the stooge dog at a massive distance (other end of the park/field) at the sort of distance that they wouldn't usually get excited.
As soon as your dog gets a glimpse of the dog, and before they have time to react, you reward, and also possibly introduce a command (Maybe something like 'calm' or 'settle' in a gentle voice?).
If the dog reacts, then stooge dog needs to go a bit further away, or the other side of a fence.

Then you just keep going, with stooge dog getting closer and closer. You can do an hour of it, with stooge dog getting closer on each run, or just walking the same distance away and not getting a reaction.
Don't rush it though. As PP said, it could take months but you'll get there.

You just need to show the non-reactive behaviour is more valuable (treat) than the reactive behaviour

Caniche Mon 16-Jan-17 17:13:10

Using a stooge dog worked for us up until the point that my very clever dog realised that it was a stooge (recognised the owner/realised he had come across stooge dog before?), completely ignored it, and concentrated on looking out for another dog to bark at. He has been very challenging!

sparechange Mon 16-Jan-17 17:16:03

Oh wow, caniche
You must be very patient to stick with it!

The only reason I suggested using a stooge is so you can do the training at the time and place you want, rather than just hanging around in the park waiting for a random dog walker.

You also want a stooge dog who is non-reactive, on a lead with someone who knows what they are doing. It would be a pain if you tried to apply the technique with a random, off lead dog in the park who then bounds over and tries to play...

Caniche Mon 16-Jan-17 17:38:23

Sparechange. Have been surrounded by dogs, pets and working, all my life, but this one almost finished me off. He really was a nightmare. Not being interested in food didn't help. It took me 18 months of training him every single day, reading up on the subject, taking expert advice, but most importantly not losing faith. He is an absolute delight now and I can't imagine being without him.

Deadnettle Mon 16-Jan-17 18:43:52

but how do I get him back or stop him running after any other random dogs ( and occasionally people) while he's off lead?

Hoppinggreen you have to start small, so you see a dog yours can meet while on a lead walk and you ask your dog to do something and reward him with 'go play!' and go meet that dog.

As for off lead, do you have somewhere quiet but safe you can go and a friend with a dog with a good recall? Will your dog follow another dog returning to its owner? If he will you send your dog back to play once he has returned to you (or even just near you if thats as close as he gets). The idea is that he will learn that a recall = play time with other dogs.

You could also use a long line attached to a harness and then reel your dog in before letting him go play again. The problem with long lines is that they can easily get wrapped around peoples legs and pull them over.

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