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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-17-2018, 10:39 AM Thread Starter
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Dog & (some) people reactive

Good day,
I have a 8 month old dobie. He was highly socialized as a young pup and did a couple week training course at 3 months old with 7 other dogs and their handlers. He was attacked by a small dog at 4-1/2 months old and became dog reactive. I have been working with him to have him ok when seeing a dog. He will now sit n “leave it” until the dog walks by then he jumps n growls like a maniac for a few seconds. He will walk past a dog within 8’ as long as the dog ignores him. If it shows interest he tries jumping, moaning, growling til we pass. He unfortunately was attacked by a dog again at 7 months old (snapped its rope in its yard n charged us across the street) since then I’ve had to work with him more to get him back to where he was understandably. He has not attacked back in either situation he makes a ton of noise n tries getting away but since the second attack he is showing a fear from some humans. He has never had a bad (negative) experience with people. I’ve been told it’s natural for dobies to be nervous n fear reactive, that it’s a stage for his age. Have any of you dealt with fear reactions? Had your dog over come his fear n greet dogs normally. If I walk with another dog slowly close the distance n “pack him up with the dog” he is totally fine after a few barks, jumps, nips towards the dog n can play off leash with the dog after approx a half hr walk. What are some suggestions to help my dog relax n not be so excited or stressed when meeting or seeing a dog?
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-17-2018, 11:07 AM
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Hi Lindsay,

Here's my experience:

Dobermans aren't typically dog dogs, they are people dogs. My male does not like meeting new dogs (unless they're dobermans and female then he's fine). Around the same age he acted the same as your boy and he's never been attacked. I hike a lot so I always take treats with me and have him eating constantly as we walk by other dogs, telling him "good boy". The longer the hikes the less and less he started to care about other dogs. As he's now going to be 3 soon, he's calmed down a lot about that but he's never going to be a dog to allow strange dogs to get in his face. I respect that about him as I don't like people in my face either. Like your dog, he likes to walk near a new dog for a while and make sure it's safe and then he will also play with them. I do not expect my intact male to get along with other intact males. He can get along with neuter males though but be careful as neutered males can tend to attack intact males.

I haven't had the issues with people as much. If you can find someone who's willing to come up to him, give them a treat and see if he'll take it. With our IPO dogs we do a lot of socializing like that. We bring the puppy out while others have treats so that the puppy believes that strangers equal treats.

Good luck.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-20-2018, 04:48 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the advice. I have been trying to have people give treats to him and he’s ok sometimes. Others he will get close sniff n growl bark n jump away even if they have a treat for him. The only trigger I have noticed is people coming with a hand raised or on their hip scares him but not all people he reacts to approach this way. He is fine with them walking past us, just tries jumping on some as we pass them (in a friendly look at me kind of way). I was treating him as well when I had him in a sit n leave it command. Perhaps I should start this again. I don’t expect him to allow the dog in his face either but I would sure love to be able to see someone n chat with them without him going nuts bc they have a dog. Bonus I have noticed he isn’t freaking as much to some dogs (others more so) haha win some lose some I guess. He used to bark n freak out at stumps, garbage cans on the street and my vacuum. He now ignores all of these so maybe there’s hope he will continue to learn control. Dogs he knows (a couple I’ve walked with a few times) he greets extremely excited nips barks (different tone than strange dogs) then walks fine with them but has to be in the lead n always on guard. Someone suggested having some one else other than me walk him and see if he is as reactive, they suggested that he may be “protecting” me. I’m his main care provider,trainer and his attachment to me is huge. He is not nuetered yet as it has been recommended to wait until he is at least 18 months of age to do so.
Off topic question: did you find your dog stopped gaining weight for a while? Over the last 6 weeks he has fluctuated between 59 n 62.5 lbs. he has grown in height. To me I think he should be heavier. Looks a tad skinny. He eats approx 4 cups a day. I’ll give him a couple more cups if he’s looking for it in the evening. Some days though he will only eat a couple cups.

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-22-2018, 10:17 AM
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First off, are you working with a trainer? If not, I strongly recommend you get a good trainer. A good place to start looking for a qualified trainer is here: Certified Dog Trainer and Behavior Consultant Directory - CCPDT

With fear, I would be starting with simple classical conditioning. Basically, you want to start changing his emotional response to the things he finds scary - dogs and people. Get as much distance as you can. Don't ask people to feed him - you're putting him into conflict, because he may want the food, but it's scary to take the food. Instead, YOU feed him from a distance where he feels comfortable. For now, you are simply feeding him high value foods whenever he sees things that he finds scary. You're essentially a pez dispenser - he sees a dog? Food. Dog is gone? Food stops. He sees a person? Food starts. Person is gone? Food stops. If you are consistent, over time his emotional response will start to change. Continue to be at as much distance as you can, so he isn't under pressure. Don't ask him to interact with dogs or people.

Over time, as his body language and comfort level change, you can work closer. Ideally you are working with a good trainer who can help you with this. There are a couple of protocols that help.

Again, this is for fear based reactivity, based on what you describe of his history.

Neutering has nothing to do with it, and I wouldn't make a decision either way with this issue.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-25-2018, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
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There is no trainers in my home town but I have had a couple sessions with one in a neighbouring town and keep in contact with them. I did a 2 week course with him at 3 months when a trainer came to our town. N maintain contact with them as well. I wasn’t having people treat him until the one trainer recommended it. I was treating him n had him in a heal sit treating him when talking to people on the street. I was keeping him under threshold n gradually reducing the distance backing away if he started to get stressed with other dogs besides a few people I walk with that have dogs. I have been doing obedience training with him under threshold and he’s doing great ignoring dogs if they are 30’ or more away if the dog is ignoring him. Walking past he remains calm until we are about 8’ away, I have started moving away from on coming dogs keeping him the 8’ away instead of having him sit n “leave it”. I was being a pez dispenser as you put it in these situations n honestly not sure why I stopped. I shall go back to it. I did join up with someone and their dog a few days ago that were new n his reaction was crazy when they approached but the other dog was off leash n the other person grabbed her dog n put her right in his face even though I said different however as soon as we started walking he was perfect no reactions at all. With in 5 min of the walk he was wanting to play. 10 min into the walk we let them off the leash n they played beautifully. He got a bit too excited n playful after a bit so I brought him to a heal n gave him the calm command which he knows and is used when he gets too hyper with his humans that play with him. Once he maintained some control (I can tell from his body language) I gave his release word n he played wonderfully again. I do see improvements so that makes me hopeful. I do wish we had a trainer in town that could work with us regularity though. Even once a week would be great but it isn’t possible for me to go to the next town once a week. I’ve been trying to get them to come here for classes and they’re willing but not enough people signed up for it to be feasible for them unfortunately

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-25-2018, 03:05 PM
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If you don't have access to an in-person trainer to work with, then this class would probably be helpful. https://fenzidogsportsacademy.com/in...p/courses/7467 It's online, so you can work on it whenever you want. Registration is open now, and class starts on October 1st.


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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-25-2018, 03:41 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you very much ☺️
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-05-2018, 08:00 PM
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I have had similar experiences with my now 17 month old. Yes I am a "pez dispenser". I am never without a treat bag or treats in my pocket. We have made great progress over the last couple of months. We did not get over threshold once but I work very hard at it. I have changed where I park when we go walk, I have limited the places where I take him, and I change path even going into high weeds if I spot a potential danger. It works. I recently got off a trail where another leash reactive dog was approaching. I only took him a few steps into the weeds all the time feeding him and he was fine. Off leash he is fine with most dogs and I learned to read his body language. If I see a stress sign I whip out a ball and he comes running. I found a lot of helpful information in click to calm and the dog agression system. Both books are worth reading.

Meadowcat, I love your posts and advice. Thank you.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-06-2018, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Mireille View Post
I have had similar experiences with my now 17 month old. Yes I am a "pez dispenser". I am never without a treat bag or treats in my pocket. We have made great progress over the last couple of months. We did not get over threshold once but I work very hard at it. I have changed where I park when we go walk, I have limited the places where I take him, and I change path even going into high weeds if I spot a potential danger. It works. I recently got off a trail where another leash reactive dog was approaching. I only took him a few steps into the weeds all the time feeding him and he was fine. Off leash he is fine with most dogs and I learned to read his body language. If I see a stress sign I whip out a ball and he comes running. I found a lot of helpful information in click to calm and the dog agression system. Both books are worth reading.

Meadowcat, I love your posts and advice. Thank you.
That's so wonderful! Great to hear that you are making such good progress! Keep up the fantastic work!
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-09-2018, 12:27 PM Thread Starter
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I’m happy to report that my pooch joined up with another dobie this weekend. We have met them once before a couple weeks ago. He got fairly excited the last time n a little over whelming in his play. This time he greeted better and relaxed faster. He was much more calm in his play n I was able to take him off leash sooner. They had a couple moments where they nipped n got a little mad at each other but the second we called them they stopped. My pup walked closer to me part of the time. It my belief they were working out a pecking order and the older dobie was teaching him manners. I hope to join up with them again. Walking past strange dogs is getting easier as long as the dog does not show Intrest in mine. Still crazy getting close except once I was able to stop and talk to another person with a dog 3’ away from mine. Their dog showed no interest n I told mine to sit n leave it n fed him treats as I talked to them. It was awesome n felt so good to not have the crazy scary dog ☺️ I hope for more times like that.

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