Please help my anxious dog(7 Posts)
She is a little, young dog 10 months old. She's doing brilliantly at most things but her problem is she is agressive when she is on her lead and meets other dogs. Off the lead she is totally fine.
I have tried everything I can think of so please does anyone have any advice.
When we meet a dog that she knows she is fine with them. Any other dog she barks as soon as she sees them. If I pick her up she is shaking and looks nervous.
Usually I don't pick her up, I give her a clear "no" until she stops barking. If she walks past a dog without barking she gets a lot of praise.
Off the lead she has good recall and will play with other dogs but she is nervous and often comes back to me.
She also has separation anxiety if outside. For example if we are out as a family and one of us goes into a shop she will whine until they come back to her. I could never leave her tied up outside school for even a minute. If she's left at home on her own she's absolutely fine, she's quiet and calm. The separation anxiety I can cope with but the barking at other dogs is a real problem.
I would be very grateful for any advice.
She is most likely barking because she is frightened of the other dog. On lead greetings can be really worrying for dogs as there's nowhere to run if things go wrong. It's a form of fear aggression rather than being aggressive for aggressives sake.
What I found worked was teaching my dog that being on lead around other dogs was great. As soon as she spots the dog call her name and treat when she looks back at you. When she looks at the other dog and looks back treat and praise. The aim is to teach her that dogs mean fuss and treats and create a positive association. I would not tell her off for barking as she is probably frightened and it's not really fair to tell a dog off for fear. It will also reinforce that dogs are something to be worried about as she will get wrong.
Personally I don't allow my dogs to socialise with other dogs on lead and it's often forced and unnatural for them to greet in this way. Likewise I would only allow mine to play off lead with dogs I know are friendly and are not going to set training back. Some overly friendly dogs can scare nervous dogs as they are too pushy and this could be why your dog is coming back to you as it's too much for her. Some dogs like some people are not the most social and that's okay as long as your happy to manage her the way she is!
Any good trainer should be able to show you how best to react
Great advice, thank you. My gut reaction was that by telling her off for barking was wrong as she's already frightened and just trying to protect herself and possibly me but I didn't know how to reward her if there's no good behaviour to reward.
I'm happy with your advice as I'm better at praising good behaviour. So if I treat and praise her when we first see the dog, what do I do if she barks still when she walks past the dog? As we are walking towards the dog do I reassure her with words or do you think that just makes her think there is something to worry about?
You begin by learning what distance your dog is happy to see the dog but not react. It's usually all about space, some dogs go mad at a dog that's a spec in the distance and some can get closer.
Find that distance, you want her to be happy and relaxed but able to see the dog. Wait until she spots it and ask for a watch command or just even call her name and then give lots and lots of praise when she looks back at you. This will teach her that if she's worried and she watches you that she will be praised and that kicking off gets no reaction.
It will take a while but the theory is as she gets more confident you can move closer and closer without a reaction.
(This is where people allowing their dogs to approach yours undoes all of your hard work )
If she is barking then you are too close and there isn't much you can do other than retreat further away and wait for her to calm down. I ignore mine completely as once they are in the zone not much changes that.
Some dogs can eventually stop through negative reinforcement. I'm sure people will tell you they smacked the dog or whatever and they stopped but these dogs are probably shut down (as in not reacting) but are still as frightened as the ones barking.
I tend to use a happy voice and say something along the lines of 'walk on' and treat while the dog is looking at me but if there's any sign of discomfort I would change direction or move further out until the dog was relaxed again. Sometimes I ask my dog to sit and watch me it just depends on the situation.
The aim of the game is to make your dog as comfortable as possible in the presence of other dogs.
Dogs who are barking are full of adrenaline which makes them feel better and this is how it becomes a learned behaviour.
If you have Facebook look up the reactive dogs page, they have loads of advice that may help
Hi, i have exactly this issue with ddog 3, who's an 11 month old rescue.
Are you taking her to training classes? I started basic training with ddog in Jan, on the advice of a dog trainer, primarily to help her socialise and relax around other dogs. It really is helping so might be worth a try for you too?
Blackfell advice is good. I would add perhaps getting a DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) spray and a bandanna. Spray the bandanna and put it around her neck when you are likely to get into a 'situation'. She will associate the feel good hormone with meeting other dogs and it will help desensitise her.
I agree with not shouting at her. In fact you need to go neutral and just carry on walking so she is not triggered by you in any way.
Just to add to the very good advice you've already had - please don't pick her up. That's reinforcing her sense that other dogs are something to be scared of.
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