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Old 06-19-2012, 02:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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RDOA - Reactive Dog Owners Anonymous

This is a thread dedicated to sharing articles, videos, personal experiences, and advice on reactive dogs. Reactivity can be frustrating and difficult to manage and every once in awhile, it's really nice to rant and talk to people that share the same problems!

So...


My (foster) dog's name is Stella and she is reactive towards humans and dogs. Some days I want to quit, but her sweet little face keeps me going.

This is the face that melts:


Somethings that I've found really helpful are:

Turid Rugaas' On Talking Terms with Dogs
Brenda Aloff's Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide
Patricia McConnell's The Other End of the Leash
Emma Parson's Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog
Articles like this one: Do you Recognize These 6 Signs of a Stressed-Out Dog?
And of course the support of my amazing foster coordinator and trainer, and the other DT members that work through reactivity :0)

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Old 06-19-2012, 03:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Yay! Our own club!

Shanoa is my reactive dog. She's 3 1/2. Her reactivity is likely a combination of poor genetics and no early socialization (when we got her at 17 weeks old she was totally unsocialized). She can be both people and dog reactive. She has generalized anxiety.

We currently work with Dr. Duxbury at the University of Minnesota's behavioral clinic. Shanoa is on 75 mg of sertraline per day, and 3 mg of clonidine per day (split into two doses). She's doing pretty well, but we still have challenges.

We use the Control Unleashed methods for working with her reactivity ("Control Unleashed," by Leslie McDevitt: Amazon.com: Control Unleashed: Creating a Focused and Confident Dog (9781892694171): Leslie McDevitt: Books)

My friend Crystal has a great blog about her reactive dog, Maisy: Reactive Champion. She's an inspiration to me.

Owning and working with a reactive dog is frustrating and exhausting. It takes an emotional toll. It's hard giving up the dreams you had for your dog, when you realize that your dog isn't "normal" and may never be. It's exhilarating when you see progress. When you see your dog truly enjoy things without anxiety, it's the best feeling in the world.

Shanoa says, "Glad to be part of the club!"

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Old 06-19-2012, 03:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Is Stella on any medication? SSRIs can be really helpful, and are something even a "regular" vet could prescribe.
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Old 06-19-2012, 03:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Is Stella on any medication? SSRIs can be really helpful, and are something even a "regular" vet could prescribe.
Nope, just prescribed to counter-conditioning and desensitization

What are SSRIs? Are they expensive? My only concern is that there are 30+ dogs in rescue that need financial assistance in some way or another.
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Old 06-19-2012, 03:26 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Nope, just prescribed to counter-conditioning and desensitization

What are SSRIs? Are they expensive? My only concern is that there are 30+ dogs in rescue that need financial assistance in some way or another.
SSRIs are "Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors" (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). Essentially, drugs like Prozac (generic: fluoxetine), Zoloft (generic: sertraline), Paxil (generic: paroxetine), etc. They are drugs often used for depression and anxiety in humans, and are prescribed "off label" for use in dogs. Many of them can be extremely helpful in dogs with anxiety issues. For us, I found that we had kind of reached a place where Shanoa could no longer progress in her training, because of the biology of her brain. Once we added in an SSRI, she was able to continue to progress, and much more quickly. We had to decrease the level of anxiety enough that her brain was able to process and learn new behavior to replace the old behaviors.

The generics are very inexpensive. Shanoa's sertraline costs me about $7 a month.
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Old 06-19-2012, 03:27 PM   #6 (permalink)
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What are SSRIs? Are they expensive? My only concern is that there are 30+ dogs in rescue that need financial assistance in some way or another.
SSRI= Selective Seratonin Reuptake Inhibiter

They are drugs like Zoloft, Effexxor, and the like, used in humans to treat clinical depression and OCD. I'm not sure how much they cost, though. I've never gotten them for a dog.
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Old 06-19-2012, 03:34 PM   #7 (permalink)
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SSRIs are "Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors" (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). Essentially, drugs like Prozac (generic: fluoxetine), Zoloft (generic: sertraline), Paxil (generic: paroxetine), etc. They are drugs often used for depression and anxiety in humans, and are prescribed "off label" for use in dogs. Many of them can be extremely helpful in dogs with anxiety issues. For us, I found that we had kind of reached a place where Shanoa could no longer progress in her training, because of the biology of her brain. Once we added in an SSRI, she was able to continue to progress, and much more quickly. We had to decrease the level of anxiety enough that her brain was able to process and learn new behavior to replace the old behaviors.

The generics are very inexpensive. Shanoa's sertraline costs me about $7 a month.
Wow, I was expecting something much more expensive. I'll talk to my foster coordinator about possibly setting up an appointment with a vet behaviorist.

Is Shanoa skittish at all? Is it obvious to strangers that she is slightly anxious?
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Old 06-19-2012, 03:54 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I currently board a reactive BC to just about anything that moves, sprinklers, most dogs, any noises(lawn mower, vaccuum, washer/dryer) etc. And she gets so over the top she has redirected on the owners a few times. She also builds patterns. So it only took 3 times for the neighbor dogs to fence fight and now it will never be ok for her there. At my house she hasn't built up the patterns and I can call her off the fence if a neighbor dog is outside. She gets along well with my dogs. I've known her since she was about a year. At 2, they finally put her on clomipramine. She takes 50 mg in the am and 25 mg in the pm. It has made a huge difference for the owners.
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Old 06-19-2012, 04:00 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I currently board a reactive BC to just about anything that moves, sprinklers, most dogs, any noises(lawn mower, vaccuum, washer/dryer) etc. And she gets so over the top she has redirected on the owners a few times. She also builds patterns. So it only took 3 times for the neighbor dogs to fence fight and now it will never be ok for her there. At my house she hasn't built up the patterns and I can call her off the fence if a neighbor dog is outside. She gets along well with my dogs. I've known her since she was about a year. At 2, they finally put her on clomipramine. She takes 50 mg in the am and 25 mg in the pm. It has made a huge difference for the owners.
Does her family do anything else to manage her reactivity? She sounds challenging to put it lightly
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Old 06-19-2012, 04:13 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Wow, I was expecting something much more expensive. I'll talk to my foster coordinator about possibly setting up an appointment with a vet behaviorist.

Is Shanoa skittish at all? Is it obvious to strangers that she is slightly anxious?
The behaviorist appointment itself can be very expensive. I paid about $450 for the initial consult (though it did last about four hours). Follow up visits are under $100, and I have unlimited phone and email support. Some regular vets are comfortable prescribing behavioral medication, so that might be a first place to start.

Most people don't believe me when I tell them Shanoa is reactive. But we're three years into training, she's very well managed and well trained. I also tend to avoid any situation that might set her up to fail.
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Old 06-19-2012, 04:15 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Does her family do anything else to manage her reactivity? She sounds challenging to put it lightly
I'll be brutally honest, I don't know if I could live with her. They are wonderful people. The wife also teaches autistic children and has the patience of a saint!! The dog can ONLY go out front on a long leash. Any time she is in the back she starts reacting. The neighbors also have dogs who have pushed through/broken the fence 2-3 times and another one who just lets their dog bark all day. It's a lose lose. Every Sat am when the neighbor mows their lawn the dog goes into hysterics reacting. They've been working with the same friend who specializes in aggression and they've come so far!! The additional problem is the patterns this dog creates. I've never seen anything like it. The first 2 times she came to visit, she went through my kennels, down the back way into my yard. The next time I tried to go the shorter route. NOPE. She starts panicking and trying to bolt the other direction. oh and she has pica. And she's smart as a whip and likes to train.

She was attacked by a family member's dog on 3 occasions by the time she was 7 months old. And the owners didn't do breed research. She's their first BC from a BYB. She then started getting reactive to any dog she saw.

I am blessed with my younger Vizsla, Havoc (although honestly I'd pick a different personality next time shh). But he has this amazing ability to play with any dog, big or small and is so good at reading dogs and copying their play. This is what they did at their first meeting



The first year we met, we used Havoc as her reintroduction to dogs. My trainer friend helped us get through introductions since I didn't quite trust my skills yet with reactive dogs. Then we slowly added my other 2 dogs. Flirt will choose to flee vs fight. and Gabby usually turns the other shoulder. Since then she's met about 2-3 other dogs she can hang out with. I think that gave her some hope to continue on with training and then medication, etc. The wife actually know volunteer assists at the training facility for regular classes. Her BC now can work and take treats during some of the minor things like vaccuming, etc.

Thankfully she's fine with people (unless you grab her during an episode) and children over say 14. But the reacting at so many things has to be hard on her owners. We spent 5-6 visits getting her used to me and the boarding facility before they fully left her even for an over night and she has adjusted really well.

all that being said, she will always be a work in progress
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Old 06-19-2012, 04:21 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I love Havoc. He honestly makes me want a Viszla, but then I doubt my ability to keep up with one!

Have the BC owners tried doing counter-conditioning with her with the lawn mowers, etc.? Or does she just fall under the "not normal and never will be" category?
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Old 06-19-2012, 04:26 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I love Havoc. He honestly makes me want a Viszla, but then I doubt my ability to keep up with one!

Have the BC owners tried doing counter-conditioning with her with the lawn mowers, etc.? Or does she just fall under the "not normal and never will be" category?
Sorry yes, they've done all that. They continue to do that with CU, some BAT, some desensitizing, etc. Some of the things get her so over threshold that they can't work on it. She can now do tricks and take treats while the lawnmower next door is going but she's 'frantic' but not 'reactive.' If they stop for 2 seconds while it is on, she reacts. But she probably never will be normal

at my house, again it's different. My kennel has an indoor and outdoor. If the outdoor space is open she will start reacting. If I go in and ask her to do a few tricks and shut the dog door, she won't even bark in the inside part. She can still hear it. As a "dog geek" I find that interesting and odd. But it's random at my house too. It isn't the same day or time. oh garbage day is awful for them also. At this point it's so bad, they crate her all day and come home several times to check on her. They tried Xanax but it made her pica worse

and yes Vs are pretty active They drive the local Dobe handler who also shows Vs, crazy.
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Old 06-19-2012, 04:41 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Sorry yes, they've done all that. They continue to do that with CU, some BAT, some desensitizing, etc. Some of the things get her so over threshold that they can't work on it. She can now do tricks and take treats while the lawnmower next door is going but she's 'frantic' but not 'reactive.' If they stop for 2 seconds while it is on, she reacts. But she probably never will be normal

at my house, again it's different. My kennel has an indoor and outdoor. If the outdoor space is open she will start reacting. If I go in and ask her to do a few tricks and shut the dog door, she won't even bark in the inside part. She can still hear it. As a "dog geek" I find that interesting and odd. But it's random at my house too. It isn't the same day or time. oh garbage day is awful for them also. At this point it's so bad, they crate her all day and come home several times to check on her. They tried Xanax but it made her pica worse

and yes Vs are pretty active They drive the local Dobe handler who also shows Vs, crazy.
The owners may want to ask about trying clonidine in addition to the clomipramine if they can be safely combined. We're a couple of days into clonidine with Shanoa and I'm seeing some really good improvement.
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Old 06-19-2012, 04:41 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Great thread idea. Logan was my reactive dog. Severely dog aggressive, and he had some pretty bad fear issues around rolled up newspapers and brooms. It was to the point where he peed himself out of fear when I killed a wasp with a rolled up magazine. I'm sure going through two homes before he turned 2 (I was his third place), and lack of socialization (second home kept him in a wire cage in their garage most of the time), didn't help.

It took almost a year, working with a behaviorist, to get him to the point where he would reliably trust me to deal with approaching dogs. Before that, he'd be up on his back legs, snarling, which from a 110 pound Dobe didn't endear us to the neighborhood. He was the product of a BYB who liked oversized Dobermans.

Any little progress was definitely something to celebrate. I almost feel lost because Griff is so well-balanced- after Logan, I almost didn't know what to do with a 'normal' dog. Despite all his issues, I fully credit Logan with teaching me more about dogs and dog training than any of my others, including the service dogs. He was really one of a kind, and I miss him.
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Old 06-19-2012, 04:58 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Leash reactive Mr. Niz.



It's kind of weird, because when he's on leash and sees another dog, he gets this internal conflict. He wants to play so very badly, but he's also reactive in an aggressive/twitchy way--when we first got him from the shelter, I didn't even know he had the *want to play * side, I just saw lunging, snapping, snarling. The other dog's behavior and gender has a lot to do with it as well--a male dog that is giving stink eye or any dog displaying aggressive behavior (both things that he has done/does/things I try to stop; he can dish it, but can't take it...) will really set off Niz's spidey senses. During our CGC test, the stranger dog was a very polite, deaf aussie who didn't even look at Niz. Niz was perfectly fine and sat happily by my side while I shook the handler's hand. Sometimes, he's brilliant like that. Sometimes, another dog will get in his face and Niz will give his back off bark. We have our good days and our bad, but I don't let him greet another dog while on leash; it's just a risk I'm not willing to take, and nothing pisses me off more than a person who can't get their dog away from mine when I've asked several times. I'm probably known as the girl who picks her doberman up and walks away from uncontrollable dogs. I guess I'm lucky Niz is light.

Indoor, off leash agility is the one place he's not reactive, anxious, nervous, or has any feelings about dogs around him. He doesn't even CARE if he gets loads of stink eye. The other dogs just don't exist to him. Outdoors, he can get distracted by fast BCs and will watch them running a course sometimes, but indoors, he's bulletproof. I don't even tie him up when we leave to walk the course because another dog can be wandering by, or at the end of their tie-backs, and Niz will hold his down stay for me.

I feel like adopting a 53 lb (he was a sack of bones when we picked him up), leash reactive, unsocialized dog who couldn't read other dogs' body language for crap, didn't know how to give off body language that he wasn't comfortable for crap, dog that didn't want to work for us at all and bullied the treats out of our minced fingers really helped me ramp up my dog ownership responsibilities quickly (with the help of a private trainer). It probably wasn't safe that I walked him at first, but I'm glad I didn't listen to the people who told me to return Niz to the shelter so that someone knowledgeable could pick him up.
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Old 06-19-2012, 09:54 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Oh man, I'm SO glad for this thread!



My rescue, Ira is quite reactive and I have been frustrated to the point of tears before! He's MY first dog as well so it made it that much worse.
When we went to see him there was no indication whatsoever that he would be reactive, we were at a park with the foster mom and two of her other foster dogs as well as Ira and we saw dogs passing by and people and everything but once he was home, it was crazy. He was 9 months when we got him and I should have KNOWN he was going to be reactive since she said his background was being inside a house 24/7 since he was bought from a BYB specializing in 'euro' Dobes. His previous owner didn't even own a leash and bought him just to exercise his older Dobe for him.

He's not an aggressive dog but but does he look it! SO many people think he's going to hurt them. especially when they come to the house. It's weird though because he can totally tell who's a dog person. He's fantastic around people that are confidant with dogs but if you're even a tad nervous then he looks/sounds like a Schutzhund dog.

We've had both private and reactive dog class with him and have made some progress (you can tell he's holding back most of the time on walks but he's still really anxious)

There still have been times when we have had major freak outs, especially when people come to the house. All I can do when someone is at the door and terrified (mostly when they show up unexpectedly and he's in the front hall) is drag him off and put him up in my room upstairs and I think it's really just doing harm than good.

We've also been trying to set up situations with other dogs that we know so they aren't so unpredictable in movement (unlike random dogs on the street) but I only really KNOW two others with dogs, one friend is crazy busy and always puts our plans off while the other is a good friend but her dog is also reactive so it makes it hard to work with him especially when they are both reactive (making him worse)

the weird thing was, he was AMAZING at woofstock, loved all the dogs/kids/people there, no barking, no jumping nothing. Just casually sniffing dogs' butts and having a good time. I guess since he was fostered with 11 other dogs, that might be the reason? He's good in large groups but not one on one so maybe I can use that to my advantage? We'll see.

Anyway, I hope to learn lots of great techniques and tricks and share the good and the bad with everyone here! Thanks for making this topic!
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Old 06-19-2012, 09:59 PM   #18 (permalink)
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the weird thing was, he was AMAZING at woofstock, loved all the dogs/kids/people there, no barking, no jumping nothing. Just casually sniffing dogs' butts and having a good time. I guess since he was fostered with 11 other dogs, that might be the reason? He's good in large groups but not one on one so maybe I can use that to my advantage? We'll see.
I had a similar experience. My boy did amazingly at woofstock in vallejo and settled down quickly in the heat of dogstock. At woofstock, there were tons of dogs and as an AKC sanctioned show, I used only my flat buckle collar (no prongs allowed), and he wasn't acting reactive when we got around a ton of dogs, but I feel like he was just overwhelmed because outside of the show, he was still excited/nervous (though I don't know if it was like dog park anxious or reactivity).

I can predict his behavior pretty well, and I know if he's stressed, but I still haven't figured out his reactivity 100%. I just know stress, and try to avoid it for him unless it's something like the park where I know it's because he wants to play.
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Old 06-19-2012, 10:01 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Carson and I would like to join if GSD's are allowed....

Actually, if not for this forum, I would not have found an amazing resource in my area:

Canine Behaviourist

He has helped us understand, learn, get Carson a vet that understands, and board when things get too overwhelming.

The gentle leader has made a huge difference for us, I know it's not a tool for dobermans unfortunately.
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Old 06-19-2012, 10:25 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Mr. Zeus qualifies! Yea!

I have written ad naseum about his issues and progress on other threads, so I will not take up too much space here. Basically: Zeus was attacked by another male Doberman with his previous owner, has no to poor dog socialization skills, is severely dog reactive, especially on leash, and is highly suspicious of strangers.

We have used counter-conditioning (doggie daycare and attending several classes where we just observed, and are now attending), Control Unleashed, BAT and basically moving-very-slowly.

Due to his issues, we will never be able to walk in our neighborhood again. There are too many dogs with invisible or no fencing at all. I will probably never be able to take him to many of the trails or hiking locations at a normal hour. The risk of running into a off-leash dog is just too high. But all is not doom and gloom. We are planning on taking the CGC test this year, will be taking some Rally classes and maybe, just maybe, give competing in Rally a shot. But it all depends on him.

In my mind, having a reactive dog means,
1) always putting the dog's needs and limitations befor your own dreams and aspirations
2) being honest about your dog's limitations and taking responsibility for them
3) being able to successfully read your dog, every-single-time
4) being the one your dog can depend on and defer to in tough situations
5) know when to push your dog and when to call it quits
6) learn how to be a good trainer and build on your dog's strengths and always setting him up to succeed

Me, reactive? Nooooo. Honestly, do I look like I could hurt a fly?
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Old 06-19-2012, 10:26 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K-Demure View Post
Oh man, I'm SO glad for this thread!

My rescue, Ira is quite reactive and I have been frustrated to the point of tears before! He's MY first dog as well so it made it that much worse.
When we went to see him there was no indication whatsoever that he would be reactive, we were at a park with the foster mom and two of her other foster dogs as well as Ira and we saw dogs passing by and people and everything but once he was home, it was crazy. He was 9 months when we got him and I should have KNOWN he was going to be reactive since she said his background was being inside a house 24/7 since he was bought from a BYB specializing in 'euro' Dobes. His previous owner didn't even own a leash and bought him just to exercise his older Dobe for him.

He's not an aggressive dog but but does he look it! SO many people think he's going to hurt them. especially when they come to the house. It's weird though because he can totally tell who's a dog person. He's fantastic around people that are confidant with dogs but if you're even a tad nervous then he looks/sounds like a Schutzhund dog.

We've had both private and reactive dog class with him and have made some progress (you can tell he's holding back most of the time on walks but he's still really anxious)

There still have been times when we have had major freak outs, especially when people come to the house. All I can do when someone is at the door and terrified (mostly when they show up unexpectedly and he's in the front hall) is drag him off and put him up in my room upstairs and I think it's really just doing harm than good.

We've also been trying to set up situations with other dogs that we know so they aren't so unpredictable in movement (unlike random dogs on the street) but I only really KNOW two others with dogs, one friend is crazy busy and always puts our plans off while the other is a good friend but her dog is also reactive so it makes it hard to work with him especially when they are both reactive (making him worse)

the weird thing was, he was AMAZING at woofstock, loved all the dogs/kids/people there, no barking, no jumping nothing. Just casually sniffing dogs' butts and having a good time. I guess since he was fostered with 11 other dogs, that might be the reason? He's good in large groups but not one on one so maybe I can use that to my advantage? We'll see.

Anyway, I hope to learn lots of great techniques and tricks and share the good and the bad with everyone here! Thanks for making this topic!
For the part I bolded:

Stella can be very overwhelmed on walks and when she is in this state, her reactivity is ten fold. To calm her down, restore focus, and make walks a happier experience for both of us, I will stop randomly or when she is breathing heavily and worked up (more frequently at the beginning of the walk). I stand there and wait for her to acknowledge that I'm at the other end of the leash - she gets so worked up that she is often just looking everywhere without any regard to why she is there or who she is with. Anyways, I wait for her to give me eye contact and will also praise her or give her a click + treat for any deep breaths. When she gives me eye contact, I click + treat or just say "good girl!" and continue the walk. Over the course of the walk, it takes less and less time for her to make eye contact and she relaxes a great deal. By the time we get home, she is in a much better state of mind and is much less reactive. If at any point of the walk, she starts heavy breathing and seems stressed, anxious, or reactive, we stop and relax. It works very well for us, so it might be worth giving it a try.



Quote:
Originally Posted by EmilyB View Post
Carson and I would like to join if GSD's are allowed....

Actually, if not for this forum, I would not have found an amazing resource in my area:

Canine Behaviourist

He has helped us understand, learn, get Carson a vet that understands, and board when things get too overwhelming.

The gentle leader has made a huge difference for us, I know it's not a tool for dobermans unfortunately.
If Danes are allowed, GSDs can be allowed

In regards to the gentle leader or head harnesses in general, I used to be anti-head halter, but then my trainer convinced me to give it a try for Stella's reactivity. After two weeks of shaping, I transitioned to using it for training and there was a clear difference in her behavior. I think like any tool, it has to be used correctly. If you let your dog hit the end of the leash or whip his/her body around, it could cause damage. However, as a responsible head halter user, I've never had an issue where I thought there could be a potential injury. I'm very careful with it as Great Danes are prone to wobblers, probably more so than Dobermans, and I want to avoid any neck injuries. I see people using them, even in my rescue, that make me want to scream. I would only promote the use of one if I knew the owner was responsible enough to use one properly (same with a prong though).

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Old 06-19-2012, 10:36 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I'm not anti-head halter, either, when used correctly. No studies suggest they are dangerous, even in breeds prone to CVI. However, I do think one has to be careful with them, like any tool.
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Old 06-20-2012, 09:09 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Are mutts allowed, also? Ilka's not nearly as bad as what I know a lot of dogs are, and is better than she was, but she does have her moments.

Normally, she's good with most people (including kids), but at the park the other day, she snarled at some kids who wanted to pet her. I told them that she wasn't feeling friendly just then, asked them to back off and leave her alone, and we worked on heeling and attention for a bit, and then went home. Was that the right thing to do? I did keep her on-lead, when normally, we would have practiced off-lead.

When I first got her, there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to her reactivity. She would be fine with some people, and not others, and I never did figure out why, because I couldn't tell where the people she didn't like were acting any different from the people she was okay with. She's good with most people, now. She could walk by some dog barking and snarling at us on the end of a chain, only to go nuts when a dog was behind a fence. I'm still puzzled by her reactions sometimes.
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Old 06-20-2012, 09:13 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosemary View Post
Are mutts allowed, also? Ilka's not nearly as bad as what I know a lot of dogs are, and is better than she was, but she does have her moments.

Normally, she's good with most people (including kids), but at the park the other day, she snarled at some kids who wanted to pet her. I told them that she wasn't feeling friendly just then, asked them to back off and leave her alone, and we worked on heeling and attention for a bit, and then went home. Was that the right thing to do? I did keep her on-lead, when normally, we would have practiced off-lead.

When I first got her, there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to her reactivity. She would be fine with some people, and not others, and I never did figure out why, because I couldn't tell where the people she didn't like were acting any different from the people she was okay with. She's good with most people, now. She could walk by some dog barking and snarling at us on the end of a chain, only to go nuts when a dog was behind a fence. I'm still puzzled by her reactions sometimes.
Mutts are allowed, of course! (But where's the picture?)

What are you doing to work on her reactivity? Especially if you have trouble identifying her triggers, you really want to get her on a program to help her. I particularly like Control Unleashed for this, and the "Look at That" game. LAT is great, because you'll be able to play it will whatever ends up triggering her. The key is to work under her threshold - she needs to be far enough away that she doesn't react.
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Old 06-20-2012, 09:57 AM   #25 (permalink)
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This is a fantastic thread! Thank you RottenVonSpotten for starting it.

I am on the fence right now about Dakota. I'd say she definitely has reactive tendancies but I haven't figured out yet if this is just part of who she is, or if it has more to do with a lack of socialization and past bad experiences(she was attacked by my neighbour's dog a few months ago), or maybe both. I haven't involved a trainer yet because I'm not working at the moment and until I find a job, I can't afford it. So for the moment I'm reading and learning and trying to get a grasp on why she acts the way she does sometimes.

We recently moved to the city; before this we lived on a farm and nearly all of our walks were off leash, in the bush. I tried to socialize her as much as possible in town but I don't think it was enough.

She is always stressed to some degree when we're walking on leash, always. Her reactions are to other dogs 99% of the time. When we first moved she would throw a fit if she so much as saw another dog, even 2 blocks away, but that has improved significantly. Now she can get within 30ish feet before getting worked up, and if we keep moving and maintain that distance I can calm her out of it fairly quickly. She can greet dogs that are smaller than her, it's a stiff greeting though. Dogs that are the same size or bigger I keep a distance from because she tends to get more worked up around them and tunes me out once they're within a certain distance.

Off leash is a totally different story. She is much more comfortable and polite to other dogs, and can ignore them much easier. If I have a ball in my hand it's like a magic wand; she will do ANYTHING for that ball, and she gets so totally focused on it that other dogs cease to exist. I've started carrying one with me whenever we go to off leash areas because she responds to all commands perfectly when it's in my hand, and even if other dogs are around her stress level seems to be 90% lower, like that ball gives her something to focus all her energy on so she can ignore things that would stress her out normally.
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