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Dog behaviour / reactive dog people over here please !(9 Posts)
So , i adopted a 2 year old Maltese nearly 3 years ago . From the start he was very wary of us and other people and would bark or shy away from them . Visitors to the house would mean a massive barking fest and he would sometimes growl at us if touched when he wasn't in the mood .On walks he would start dancing on his hind legs and getting all animated if we saw another dog . If allowed to greet a dog he was ok at first but 6 months later he snapped at one or two so i stopped allowing it and started doing some reading up .
I joined RDUK facebook group . I learnt that he was doing it out of fear and not to put him in the scary situation ( trigger stacking) I started walking him in quieter places and embarked on de- sensitising him , (treats when he saw what scared him in order to change his feeling towards it basically)
Then he started freezing whenever we saw a person or another dog so walks were really frustrating as i was stood still more than i was moving .
So i worked with a RDUK recommended behaviourist .
We were to walk only once a day with a max of 5 triggers so short walks and at the last session he observed us on a walk and said i had the technique correct . we were doing 'look at the trigger' (LATT) and to carry on as it can take a long time .
That was last September and he is no different .
in fact it seems that the more his world has shrunken the more wary he is getting !
So , it goes against everything i have learned and been told but could it be that ( and i hate to say it ) modern techniques are not the answer for him and i should do the opposite ? expose him to more dogs and people ? face his fears as it were .
I am longing to go for a normal dog walk with him instead of getting up and out at 6am every day to avoid everyone and not stress him out . i have tried really hard with this for nearly 3 years now and i don't want to give up .
Has anyone ever had success with ( as i now know its called ) 'flooding' ??
I’ve accidentally flooded a reactive dog... as in you can’t control all situations and he would shut down if it was overwhelming enough rather than react more.
But it would then set him back loads for weeks afterwards.
What was the next step in the behaviour plan?
Yes , that's why i have never done it and told all who suggested it ( and thought what i was doing was madness) that it was a bad idea. People around here think im nuts standing around clicking and treating every day while my dog stands and stares at them !!
From the behaviourists help i have successfully got him going into the kitchen when someone knocks on the door which is great . I have also got him peeing in our yard . Before he would only pee on a walk so we had to expose him to triggers every time .
But the walking ..well i'm not sure if there was any next step other than keep on keeping on . I could have had another visit from the behaviourist but i was waiting for some progress on what were doing and now of course were in lockdown .
“People around here think im nuts standing around clicking and treating every day while my dog stands and stares at them !!”
Lol... sorry, that made me laugh
Could be worse, I spent a good 6 months once running off in the opposite direction from things, rofl.
Can you email them? Ask what they had planned, whether it’s then look at me they were going to move on to or getting closer without going over threshold...
oh yes the u turn thing . I try to walk in the opposite direction but he puts the brakes on leaving us stood right in the firing line of oncoming triggers .
Hiding behind parked cars is an especially good skill i've honed and social distancing is the norm , we have been crossing the road away from people for years now ! At least people no longer make a bee line to try and stroke him .
I think i will email the behaviourist .
Flooding will not work. I do understand how frustrating it is and the sound of massive dog exposure and it will all be sorted is tempting. However that is not what happens ever. If it were that simple there would be no reactive dogs.
The approach you are taking is the correct approach but I would be trying to avoid all triggers for a while.I would also look at ways you can walk without meeting dogs - so walks can be a pleasure and not a major training exercise. It sound like you are doing a fab job with this but would be better not to be at 6am? Are there any secure fields near you, do the trainers have private land you can use - even if just for a few days a week to have a relaxed normal fun walk will help.
Some (many) dogs will never get to the stage where you can walk happily amongst other dogs - this is hard to hear but also acknowledging it can mean you can look at other ways to enjoy your dog. This does not mean you "have done it wrong" it means your dog finds this situation hard.
Do not ever let other people sway you off your course of being the best owner your dog can have. Reactive dog owners are amazing dog owners who make huge daily sacrifices for their dogs - they will do almost anything to make life easier for their dog.
Have you considered a dog activity of some kind. I had a very reactive dog but he was great at agility (with restrictions) so we had a fantastic time doing this, we both relaxed, were with doggy people who were aware and knew how to behave around us. It was a pleasure also saw a lot of other dogs with "issues" and were able to off load and get advice.
Rehoning social distance - my guy has been extreme social distancing for years we are pros
Yeah, I’ve been socially distancing for years - lol
A brisk u turn wasn’t successful with my last one, but if a trigger was far enough away, literal running would work, as in it had to be full pelt belting off till they were out of sight...
Which is fine, you know, tiring, but fine, lol... but when the only direction you can run off in is the way you came it doesn’t half look odd...
it does look odd but over time you do care less and less about that don't you lol
I spent ages figuring out a route that is the least peopley and different times . Have tried driving to other places ( dh , i dont drive) to find somewhere undisturbed but he also hates the car ( the dog).
6 :30am in winter and we see 1 or two and that is the best . it is very peopley around here and as soon as the weather gets milder about 20 million new dogs and owners appear on our beat . so , we are having to go earlier and earlier to get a nice walk . Sundays are good when everyone is in bed and i have also been able to take him in the fenced off community centre garden for an off lead run .
I'm doing my best but i'm locked down with a guitarist and an adult depressed son and everytime i escape for a walk in the afternoon someone asks me where my dog is as though i'm mean leaving him at home !