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Nervous aggression(3 Posts)
We've rescued a Romanian 2 year old male who is quite nervous, but is really starting to come out his shell and is really loving towards our family. He came from a shelter last September and then had a broken hip repaired, and was with a foster home for 6 months before he came to live with us. He's not off the lead yet, and we are working on his recall on a long training line. He's doing really well and responding to us calling his name and comes back to us on the line 99.9% of the time. When he is on the normal lead, he will ignore most dogs, but occasionally will lunge and bark at dogs that are close (not easy at the moment!) or ones that come running up to him. He seems to do it to try and get them away rather than wanting to hurt them. Our very reactive terrier passed away last September, and I'm feeling worried that we are going to end up with another reactive dog. Our other dog who is nearly 8 and we had from a puppy just ignores other dogs on walks and plays with her ball all the time - she's not interested in playing with our new dog and pretty much ignores him too! Any tips welcome - what I can't understand is why it is so random and he's just not interested in most dogs at all!!
Can you get a telephone consultation with a behaviourist? I agree that reactive dogs are a worry to live with: even if you know that your dog won't actually bite, the jogger/cyclist/ other dog owner doesn't.
This is something that you'll want to sort out sooner rather than later, as the more often it happens, the more entrenched it is likely to become.
DMT - Distract, Mark, Treat.
My trainer had me train the word "Nice!" - not linked to anything, but randomly when the dog is lying down, or sitting, or sniffing in the garden or whatever, say "Niiice!" And go give them a treat. The idea being that before they see and react to the dog on the walk, you have spotted it and say to your dog "Nice!" and Mark the behaviour you want (looking at you expecting a treat) with a click if you use a clicker, and Reward with a treat.
I have modified it a bit for mine - if I see a dog she hasn't spotted I will say her name, get her to sit or stand and treat - so she's getting the treat for the sit or stand or whatever. It also seems to work well if she has started to react - calling her over (she's always on the lead, part of her fear aggression is feeling trapped, so she's better on a loose lead and I don't pull the lead unless I have no choice for safety), get her to do a thing, and treat. I'm trying it that way because I don't want her to learn that reacting = treat
So far so good, we have good days and bad days, but lockdown means we see less other dogs and people anyway.