Aggressive dog off lead

(14 Posts)
Helpimsoanxious Fri 07-Dec-18 14:50:32

This will be long.
I have severe anxiety disorder (this is relevant to dog) and suffer panic at the thought of taking the dog out because she dislikes other dogs.

I think my anxiety plays a huge part because she socialises fairly well when different people walk her, although she is still ‘grouchy’ just not as bad.

She has never ‘attacked’ and will opt to avoid if possible.

I have spent years training positively and she just isn’t getting better.
In fact, her behaviour has worsened over time to the point that she now reacts to every single dog she meets irrespective of age, temperament and size and instead of just growls she has air snapped and nipped on occasion therefore she no longer has off lead privilege.

In desperation I have opted to try correction/balanced training.
I am fine with her not being social but I am not okay with her aggressing at placid dogs for just existing near her.

She hates being on lead and walks to heel sulking with her head and tail down.
For the past 3 walks every time her tail has gone up (a sure sign she intends to go for the dog) I have administered a leash correction.
Which without fail gets horrified looks and comments.
Which then sets my anxiety off even worse.

I don’t want to correct her.
I am just desperate for her to walk past or quickly meet dogs without going for them and don’t know how to do it because food and toys are just not working and she is getting worse.

Today, on approaching yet another dog I couldn’t face more tuts, looks and comments and repeatedly turned round while the other owner got their dog then had a full blown panic attack, I had to sit on a bench unable to stand because my legs were shaking so bad crying with the dog up on all fours looking concerned licking at me sad

I let her off lead for the journey home and we didn’t see any dogs luckily, seeing her so happy racing and bouncing about breaks my heart.

I don’t know what to do.

I feel like I am failing this dog as I am trying to keep her leashed to protect other dogs and she is miserable but loose she is so happy but she is making other dogs miserable by growling and snapping at them for nothing.

I am terrified of another dog attacking her in response or her biting them.
I am terrified of other dog owners attacking me for her behaviour and my behaviour correcting her.

And that terror is making me ill, the thought of walking her gives me heart palpitations, body trembling, tight chest, trouble breathing...

Has anyone here tried balanced training?
Will it work in the end?

I am tempted to just muzzle her and let her loose.

OP’s posts: |
BiteyShark Fri 07-Dec-18 15:01:27

Are you getting help from a behaviourist as it sounds like you are trying to do this yourself without any outside help?

Helpimsoanxious Fri 07-Dec-18 15:07:42

No, by myself, I have contacted some behaviourists but I can’t afford what I have been quoted.
Their advice without a consultation is to keep her away from other dogs but this doesn’t work too well in practise because some other owners are unbelievable and actively encourage their dogs toward us even when they can see me trying to get away and some let their dogs run at us and they won’t recall.

OP’s posts: |
Helpimsoanxious Fri 07-Dec-18 15:08:30

It also means she has to stay on lead, which makes her really sad.

OP’s posts: |
BiteyShark Fri 07-Dec-18 15:12:18

Do you have pet insurance because I think some cover the cost of a behaviourist.

mollycoddlethem Fri 07-Dec-18 15:17:37

Just muzzle her.
For peace of mind we used to do this with a dog that 95% of the time would be fine but 5% of the time he’d go for a scrap.
So much peace of mind knowing that your dog won’t injure another or get blamed. Especially as mine was a bull breed.

anniehm Fri 07-Dec-18 15:28:07

I've just had a behaviour consultation for £30 - an hour worth every penny. Yes we were offered further sessions but I'm hoping I will be able to now work on our issues (different to yours) at home. Is there somewhere you can walk that is less popular? I take mine often over fields as he's not keen on other dogs (ignores them usually but some pester him and he will growl) or at quiet times, saw no dogs at all today.


Nesssie Fri 07-Dec-18 15:29:11

You can get long lines, with are about 30ft and you attach to her harness (never collar) and let trail on the ground or hold the other end. She can still run around sniffing, but you have control to pull her closer if you see another dog.

If treats and toy distractions aren't working, then you are above her tolerance threshold ie too close. You need to go somewhere where there are a few dogs walking past, and sit with her, and a huge pile of tiny high value treats (sausage, chicken, cheese)

As soon as she sees the other dog, feed her treats - keep feeding her until the dog is out of sight. If she isn't distracted by the treats, you are too close and need to move somewhere a bit further away.
Continue to do this everytime you see a dog. Eventually she will see the dog and automatically look to you for a treat. You could add a cue word 'whats this'.

Once this has been established, you can use this to distract when other dogs are around, to give you a chance to turn around, or cross the road.

In the mean time, if a dog approaches you and you have no option - hold the lead close and run past, high pitch 'come on lets go good girl lets go'.

Aversion techniques like lead corrections sound like they should work but all it will do long term is teach her that a dog=lead correction, and thus make her more afraid of them.

Unfortunately stupid dog owners will always let their dogs run up, but if you muzzle her then it may put some of them off.

There is a fantastic facebook group called 'Dog training and advice' who are all qualified behaviourists giving free advice and tutorials. I highly recommend you message the page.

Whoseranium Fri 07-Dec-18 15:34:37

Presumably by "leash correction" you mean a sharp jerk on the lead? The risk with using such methods, especially with dog who is already worried by the presence of their triggers (in this case other dogs) is that it adds to the problem as the dogs associates the discomfort with their triggers so it just confirms to them that they're right to be worried by them. It can appear to "work" in some cases however there's a real risk that it can eventually lead to much more explosive reactions as the dog isn't actually getting any less worried by their triggers and eventually things will become too much for them to be put off reacting by the discomfort of the lead jerk.

There is a fabulous FB group for owners of reactive dogs, Reactive Dogs UK. It's incredibly supportive, there's loads of excellent information in their 'Files' section and they can also point you towards an appropriate (i.e. force free and experienced with reactivity) behaviourist who covers your area which would be a great idea if you're struggling with this on your own. The group advocates the use of the CARE for Reactive Dogs protocol which is absolutely brilliant. Beverley Courtney's Growly Dog books are also very good.

I'd also recommend having a look on the Dog Walking Fields website to see if there are any near you. A secure field that you can hire for your private use is brilliant when you've got a fearful or reactive dog as you can give them a good off lead run with absolutely no pressure on either of you.

Muzzle training is a great idea, being happy to wear one is a useful skill for any dog to have. The Reactive Dog group has a good file on muzzle training.

Getting a decent profession in to help you really is the best option if you can manage. There are some truly dreadful trainers about and plenty more who don't really know what they're doing so I'd ask for recommendations in either the Reactive Dogs group I linked to previously or in the Dog Training Advice and Support FB group.

tabulahrasa Fri 07-Dec-18 15:34:37

If she’s not seeking out other dogs and her recall is fine...

Tbh, I’d try shouting over that she’s infectious - see how much quicker they can get their dogs then...

Failingat40 Fri 07-Dec-18 15:39:00

She's very likely to be highly strung and is picking up on your anxiety. When you see another dog you are emitting instant anxieties which are being picked up on by your dog. She feels threatened.

You need to reward her for seeing and passing other dogs, not correcting her which I assume you mean chocking her collar? A good training programme to follow is HMDT which is a positive reward based method. What you are doing at the moment is reinforcing her fear.

For the safety of other dogs she should absolutely be muzzled. This is probably why you are being judged by others who are tutting etc, yet another reactive/aggressive dog allowed to go unmuzzled in public.

Can you stick to very rural walks? Do you have anyone you can walk with to help you ?

Helpimsoanxious Fri 07-Dec-18 15:51:51

I agree she is high strung.

When I said the treats and toys don’t work, I didn’t mean she is over threshold and ignoring them although it would have came across this way.

If hungry enough, she will pass very happily IF I have treats in my pocket.
But if she is not that hungry or full, forget it, she will react.
I have been giving her treats/a ball/tuggy on sighting dogs for years.

People are tutting at the correction because all they see is a nervous, miserable dog (tucked tail, down ears, down head and body) being leash jerked for a raised tail.
They don’t realise that that innocent looking raised tail is followed up with lunging, snarling and snapping...

Off lead she is super happy and confident, until she sees another dog.
She will try to avoid them unless they get close then she will go for them.

OP’s posts: |
Failingat40 Fri 07-Dec-18 16:27:21

It sounds like really hard work and I'm not surprised your anxiety is increasing.

My sausage fingers typed HMDT but meant IMDT.

Do you know her full history?
Has she ever had a bad experience with another dog?

Based on your last post I'd only walk her before feeding her to give you more control and have her more focused on you.

Vallahalagonebutnotforgotten Fri 07-Dec-18 17:28:34

Woooo lets just stop regroup and think about this from the dogs point of view.

Your dog reacts to other dogs-this means in 99.9% of cases that your dog is terrified of other dogs approaching. I mean really terrified, as frightened as she can be - phobic even.

Your dog needs to be walked in areas where they do not meet dogs or even not walked at all for a while. It takes at least 72 hours for cortisol to return to normal after a fear situation. If the dog has several fearful situations they become trigger stacked and will react much quicker and on less fearful situations

Stress levels need to drop before you do anything else.

For the time being just practice in the garden or indoors doing a "lets go" loose lead and turn quickly in the opposite direction reward the dog the second you turn and for a few steps in the new direction.

When this behaviour is learnt you can then very very carefully go out for a walk. Go to an area where the dogs are on lead and the second you see a dog (hopefully a long way away) turn lets go and treat. Do this every time you see a dog - yes every time!

Your dog needs to trust that you are not going to put them in the fearful situation of getting close to a dog.

Are there any secure dog walking paddocks in your area? dog walking fields

If so this would let your dog have some off lead running in a safe environment.

DO NOT let your dog off lead if they will meet other dogs even if muzzled. Muzzled dogs can still cause injury and your own dog will be freaked out beyond belief.

You may have to change your expectations - your dog may never be able to walk closely by another dog and jerking and correcting will pretty much guarantee that this will not be an option. However a correct behaviour plan will make your dog happier and you more relaxed which will encourage progress.

As you have mentioned you have anxiety disorder if we were to jerk you or slap you and tell you to stop it - if you felt anxious you know it would not work - your stress levels would go through the roof and you would avoid contact with that person. Same for your dog

A qualified behaviourist may seem expensive but you will get a written report and a behavioural plan that will set your dog up to succeed. You may only need a few sessions to get you on the right path to help your terrified dog.

If you need a recommendation in your area feel free to pm.

Reactive dogs are hard to live with and I have huge respect and admiration for my clients who change their dogs lives around. Remember to concentrate on the good things about your dog she will have some amazing qualities alongside her "issues" smile

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