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Hey guys, I could use some extra brain power on this one...

I have posted several times regarding my behavioral and health problems with my little girl (will be a year old, next week). After we moved to the city she has started to show increasingly more reactive behavior when on a leash as well as extremely anxious behavior. After $1000's in medical diagnostics we did find that she is totally deaf in one ear and there is a hypothesis that something may be going on in the other one, as well, but it does appear to be able to register sound, so who knows.
Anyhow, We believe that this could have a huge effect on her behavioral changes. It is very loud in our new house and since she has no ability to locate where sound is coming from, it is understandable that this would frighten her. We have started her on Clomipramine in a hope that It may lower her threshold for panic, but that will take time to build up in her system and show any effect.

In the meantime, I have been working with her about 2-3 hours a day (split up) by going for walks around the neighborhood, down town, petsmart/petco, etc and using click for look followed by a treat or game with a toy for really high value reward ( for about 2 months, so far). Some days I swear we have made excellent progress, other days I just come home and cry. I have also been trying to work in our yard. Unfortunately our yard butts right up to a very busy sidewalk and she has nearly gone over the fence a couple times at passers-by.

So here is my issue:
1. She has to be on leash to go outside because as much as a doubt she would actually bite someone, I cant take the chance of her flying over the fence and doing that, or running out into the busy traffic.
2. I feel it is reasonable for her to want to guard her house and bark, my other dog does it too, but he stops when I tell him to and runs back to me.
3. I feel like the barking and fence chasing that would occur, if she werent on a leash is self rewarding behavior. And in order for it to stop we need total extinction and I dont see how we can do that.
4. This is the only place I can take her to potty, but it is clearly well over her threshold for handling a passer-by
5. It takes all my strength to hold onto her leash and she is hurting me as she jumps and lunges at the end of the leash barking her brains out.
6. Since she is over her threshold, there is no getting her attention. I also question if she can even hear me when she is in the midst of a barking frenzy.

She is not aggressive and is fine with strangers when we aren't at home (strange dogs is another story) I guess my problem is, how do I deal with this? I cant exactly do a click for look after she has gone over the top. I have been removing her from the situation which really consists of using all my might to try and drag her back into the house, but this really doesn't seem like it is doing anything to help the situation. I have been trying to work on getting her really revved up with the flirt poll and then asking for a heel and sit, which works great with the flirt poll but isn't going to happen when she is going ballistic. My thought behind that was just to try and get her to switch from a crazy mindset to one where she is more focused on me and her job. I have absolutely no issue with her staring at the people, and might even be OK with the barking (for now) If I could just get her to stop lunging.

Does anyone else have any ideas how to approach this? I have had some people say that she is a Doberman and its her instinct to guard her home. That is fine, I just want an off switch or some illusion of control. I dont want to have to ice my shoulder every time she needs to go out to pee :screama:

I am also weary of giving corrections as I dont want to escalate the issue. I am positive this is coming from a place of fear since after the person is out of her sight she will spin and whine and pant as if she is having an anxiety attack. At this point, I will try and redirect that energy to something more "fun" like a game or some tricks, etc, and she will calm down. It just takes a bit longer for her to recover then a confident dog would.

I am also curious if anyone has used one of those vibrating collars with a deaf dog? I am a bit unclear as to whether they are meant as a punishment or strictly an attention getting device. Given her deafness I think 1/2 of our problem is she inst completely hearing me?

Thanks for your help. I am sure I am just not thinking this all through, completely. When its other peoples dogs it so easy to be clever in finding solutions but I turn into a bumbling idiot with my own dog. lol
 

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I don't buy the "she is a Doberman" thing. I'm dealing with these issues myself with Stella, except Stella actually will bite and has before. Since we got her, she has drastically improved, but she was allowed to behave like this for 5+ years and we have a ways to go.

From my experience, I would continue with click for look and really paying attention to her body language while she is outside and making a point to know someone is coming before she does. Since she is deaf in that one ear, you have an advantage over her in regards to people walking by. How big is your yard? If you see someone coming, can you move her to the far side of the yard before she notices and work within her threshold from there? Or could you take her inside and work on click for look through the window? Stella used to go from perfectly calm to psycho in a nanosecond. Thankfully, she has settled down quite a bit and her threshold is much more accommodating to my slow reaction times.

I think that you have to get her threshold to a more manageable level before you can work on redirecting her. This might require lots of click for look and consistency before she settles into a more workable mindset. That's been my experience anyways.

If you ever need someone to walk by over and over again to work on her behavior, I am more than happy to help. Unfortunately, I can empathize with your situation and the joys of owning a highly reactive dog. I can also bring Stella if we want to torture ourselves :p

I just thought of this one...I would definitely start working on relaxation in the yard. I do this a lot with Stells at City Park or Spring Canyon. We sit in the grass, usually after playing, and I click her for any sort of relaxing behavior like a deep breath, shifting her body weight over to one thigh, putting her head down on her paws, putting her head down to sniff the grass, soft facial expression, etc. If she rolls in the grass I make a huge deal and praise her a lot. I also praise her a lot for a full body shake. Also, if she is on leash, just stand there and wait for her to acknowledge you and click her for that. Stella has a habit of thinking I'm just a rock holding her back from whatever she wants, so anytime she acknowledges my presence in a new environment, she gets clicked. This has helped a lot! Also, Ash told me to never leave a park or place without doing the while relaxing thing. City Park used to be really stressful for her, but it takes her a lot less time to relax there now. Try this in your yard or at any of the parks. I like going to Rolland Moore or Spring Canyon because they have big grassy fields and I don't run into as many people or dogs.
 

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Are you working with a certified veterinary behaviorist? If not, I think that's first priority at this point, with the physical issues compounding her anxiety and reactivity. I really don't believe most vets are equipped to work with this level of problem.

Second thing is, I really don't think you can allow her to have a reaction and then expect an "off switch." With a normal dog, yes. With a highly reactive dog, no. I found what Leslie McDevitt said on the CU list to be really insightful, "In my opinion you don't get to pick and choose what is appropriate reactivity when you have a clinically reactive dog. All his responses need to happen in the context of not reacting to something. He needs to take a relaxation cue from you instead. I would want my dog to read my cues and not react or read my cues and react. A clinically reactive dog needs to learn to look at you first, before making a decision to react (or not), because this type of dog cannot differentiate between a perceived threat and an actual threat." Reactive dogs just aren't capable of making decisions like that, if that makes sense.

What methods are you using with her now? CU? BAT? Are you working with a trainer that has a lot of experience with reactive dogs? I'm not sure I would put a vibrating collar on her, as for some dogs that vibration can be an aversive.
 

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If you ever need someone to walk by over and over again to work on her behavior, I am more than happy to help. Unfortunately, I can empathize with your situation and the joys of owning a highly reactive dog. I can also bring Stella if we want to torture ourselves
LOL, thanks, I might have to take you up on that. Same goes for you, if you need help working with Stella. Ash has been really helpful. We just finished a class with her and once we get the the meds worked out than I plan to take another one :)

Unfortunately our yard is small and stupid. the house actually sits in the middle of the yard between an alley and another street so she can see the "street" on 3 sides and the back of the house doesnt really have much access. there isnt ANYWHERE in the yard that is below threshold for her. The only place in the house that she can see out would be at the doors and that isnt below threshold either. I honestly cant figure out how to protect her from the situation and even get her outside to potty. If we go to a public park, then she will be occasionally grumbley, but I can redirect her and get her to deal with the situation pretty well.

I guess my biggest question in regards to where I am working her, where should I do it. I mean usually people say start at home, but with her, she is worse at home. Trainer her has been so backwards from any other dog I have had, she is a weirdo!

Are you working with a certified veterinary behaviorist? If not, I think that's first priority at this point, with the physical issues compounding her anxiety and reactivity. I really don't believe most vets are equipped to work with this level of problem.

Second thing is, I really don't think you can allow her to have a reaction and then expect an "off switch." With a normal dog, yes. With a highly reactive dog, no. I found what Leslie McDevitt said on the CU list to be really insightful, "In my opinion you don't get to pick and choose what is appropriate reactivity when you have a clinically reactive dog. All his responses need to happen in the context of not reacting to something. He needs to take a relaxation cue from you instead. I would want my dog to read my cues and not react or read my cues and react. A clinically reactive dog needs to learn to look at you first, before making a decision to react (or not), because this type of dog cannot differentiate between a perceived threat and an actual threat." Reactive dogs just aren't capable of making decisions like that, if that makes sense.

What methods are you using with her now? CU? BAT? Are you working with a trainer that has a lot of experience with reactive dogs? I'm not sure I would put a vibrating collar on her, as for some dogs that vibration can be an aversive.
We are working with an army of vets, first their is our primary veterinarian, then there is a gaggle of specialists at the Veterinary Teaching hospital. I do not know if they consulted with a behaviorist, however I do feel confident that they had a well represented brain trust between Neuro, cardio, ortho, and internal medicine. I have gone down this road with my last dog (brain tumor) and I am no stranger to working with a veterinary behaviorist and the techniques they suggest. I also have no problem with looking for more help as we weed out failed treatment/diagnostic plans.

I have read the CU book 3 times and have been trying to follow it as closely as I can with modifications to our situation. And I like the quote you offered, it makes sense, I just dont know how to get there when our whole home is a red zone. Heck, if she just hears something outside (which is pretty frequent) she will lose it. I just endured a 30 min barking/screaming fit because I opened a window to let air in and she heard a leaf rustle.
I understand the point of click for look is to eventually condition this response of look at scary thing look back at mom, I think our larger hurdle is the addition of a noise phobia in conjunction.

I am glad to hear you have the same apprehension regarding the vibrating collar as I do. It seemed like an interesting concept but it still concerns me.

I am curious, what is BAT? also, can anyone think of any good books regarding reactivity aside from CU and Fight? I have a very large library of dog training books, but none seem to have new ideas to try. In regards to your question I have several friends who are CPDT and work with aggressive dogs and have worked with a local trainer whom I very much liked (and so does my dog). The issue is they either tell me, click for looks and redirection, or one who said to give her a well timed correction, which I do not think is fair or helpful.

I wish the universe would stop sending me dogs to teach me patients! :D I get it, I get it! lol
 

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My Lexi (rip) was over the top reactive. She taught me patients more than anything in this world. I was the same as you thought we made some progress then the next day it was as if we never worked on anything. I only had her for 5 short months before she passed. I dont know if we would have ever been able to fix all or any of her issues.

Kyrah's reactive issues were much more minor and we have for the most part fixed them besides people entering my doorway at home.

Kyrah acts differently at home than she does when out. The only thing I can come up with is can you get her a block from home and work with her there playing the look at that game? Then slowly bring her closer and closer to the house. Maybe wrap her in something like a thunder shirt and see if that makes her feel more secure. You could teach her the fun game of "touch the palm of my hand." Then hopefully you can use that to get her to focus on you in a situation when you need it.

A correction she would probably not even feel at that level of reaction and I believe she probably doesnt even hear you when you are trying to get her attention. I was taught the correction has to be timed perfect and the level needs to be perfect. So this could be very tricky and something I never attempted with Lexi(rip). I would just remove her from the situation. With Kyrah I just worked with her under her threashold and then slowly moved forward.
 

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Seriously, I'm more than happy to help, just PM me. I can do tomorrow or usually Tuesdays or Thursdays depending on my workload.

I have "Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog" and I think it's a great book. You can borrow it if you'd like. I also have a book on body language I've found helpful. Truthfully, Ash has been my biggest resource and every time I have the opportunity to work with her I'm thrilled.

Like Herb2Relax suggested, I do a lot of hand bumps with Stella. They tell me whether or not she is listening and in a welcoming state of mind. She lunges at strangers' faces, if given the opportunity, and hand bumps have mostly solved this issue. Much to everyone's relief.
 

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LOL, thanks, I might have to take you up on that. Same goes for you, if you need help working with Stella. Ash has been really helpful. We just finished a class with her and once we get the the meds worked out than I plan to take another one :)

Unfortunately our yard is small and stupid. the house actually sits in the middle of the yard between an alley and another street so she can see the "street" on 3 sides and the back of the house doesnt really have much access. there isnt ANYWHERE in the yard that is below threshold for her. The only place in the house that she can see out would be at the doors and that isnt below threshold either. I honestly cant figure out how to protect her from the situation and even get her outside to potty. If we go to a public park, then she will be occasionally grumbley, but I can redirect her and get her to deal with the situation pretty well.

I guess my biggest question in regards to where I am working her, where should I do it. I mean usually people say start at home, but with her, she is worse at home. Trainer her has been so backwards from any other dog I have had, she is a weirdo!



We are working with an army of vets, first their is our primary veterinarian, then there is a gaggle of specialists at the Veterinary Teaching hospital. I do not know if they consulted with a behaviorist, however I do feel confident that they had a well represented brain trust between Neuro, cardio, ortho, and internal medicine. I have gone down this road with my last dog (brain tumor) and I am no stranger to working with a veterinary behaviorist and the techniques they suggest. I also have no problem with looking for more help as we weed out failed treatment/diagnostic plans.

I have read the CU book 3 times and have been trying to follow it as closely as I can with modifications to our situation. And I like the quote you offered, it makes sense, I just dont know how to get there when our whole home is a red zone. Heck, if she just hears something outside (which is pretty frequent) she will lose it. I just endured a 30 min barking/screaming fit because I opened a window to let air in and she heard a leaf rustle.
I understand the point of click for look is to eventually condition this response of look at scary thing look back at mom, I think our larger hurdle is the addition of a noise phobia in conjunction.

I am glad to hear you have the same apprehension regarding the vibrating collar as I do. It seemed like an interesting concept but it still concerns me.

I am curious, what is BAT? also, can anyone think of any good books regarding reactivity aside from CU and Fight? I have a very large library of dog training books, but none seem to have new ideas to try. In regards to your question I have several friends who are CPDT and work with aggressive dogs and have worked with a local trainer whom I very much liked (and so does my dog). The issue is they either tell me, click for looks and redirection, or one who said to give her a well timed correction, which I do not think is fair or helpful.

I wish the universe would stop sending me dogs to teach me patients! :D I get it, I get it! lol
BAT: Behavioral Adjustment Therapy. Behavior Adjustment Training (BAT) | Official site for BAT: dog-friendly training for reactivity (aggression, fear, frustration) by Grisha Stewart, MA I know people have had good success with this method and I think it combines well with CU.

Sounds like you have an army of help - that's awesome! One other resource I would recommend is to get on the CU yahoo group if you aren't already. There are a whole bunch of really experienced CU trainers on it, including Leslie herself. It might be helpful for you to post an intro there, give some background, and ask if anyone has ideas for your particular situation. I've found this group to be incredibly supportive, as well as creative and helpful. Here's the group: CU_Dogs : CU_Dogs

Seriously, I'm more than happy to help, just PM me. I can do tomorrow or usually Tuesdays or Thursdays depending on my workload.

I have "Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog" and I think it's a great book. You can borrow it if you'd like. I also have a book on body language I've found helpful. Truthfully, Ash has been my biggest resource and every time I have the opportunity to work with her I'm thrilled.

Like Herb2Relax suggested, I do a lot of hand bumps with Stella. They tell me whether or not she is listening and in a welcoming state of mind. She lunges at strangers' faces, if given the opportunity, and hand bumps have mostly solved this issue. Much to everyone's relief.
I liked "Click to Calm" as well.

I think targeting is a wonderful tool. I use hand targeting with Shanoa quite a bit to redirect her attention, as well as a way for her to interact with other people.

One other thing you might try is that if she is having difficulty hearing, the clicker might not be loud enough. We have a Manners Minder, and Shanoa has the BEST results when using that. It has a loud beep and you can adjust the volume. The beep replaces the click. For Shanoa, using the Manners Minder is the ultimate reward. I can put plain old kibble in there and she goes bananas for it. It's weird. I've known a couple of dogs that have the same reaction. So maybe look into that?
 
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