7 Things That Helped My Dog-aggressive Dog.

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by tigerlily46514, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. sunblaze New Member

    That have helped me - link

  2. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

  3. tylerthegiant Well-Known Member

    One of the big things you mentioned that I did with Apollo, my DA dog is learn to keep myself calm! Boy, did that make a big difference, I had no idea about that I was holding my breath when I saw another dog, but Apollo sure did!

    BAT training worked really well with Apollo at first, meaning because he was fear reactive I not only rewarded him with a treat for seeing another dog and offering ANY other behavior than tension (attention to me, the fake sniff, turning his head, yawning, ANYTHING - clicked and treated) I also moved away from the trigger. This was a reward on top of a reward, because the true thing Apollo wanted in that situation was space. I was conditioning the way to get space is to do something other than get tense. Miraculously I found I could shrink the threshold this way, until we could get closer and then start with counter conditioning and rewarding more specific behaviors. Giving him the reward he really cared about way more than food was very powerful.

    Also I find when a dog does not have a reliable alternative behavior (such as "watch me" in the presence of a trigger) or incompatible behaviors (laying down in the presence of a trigger-which can feel vulnerable to some dogs who already feel vulnerable) in a certain situation rewarding other behaviors, meaning ANY behavior other than the one you don't want, is really a great starting point.

    Apollo is now dog selective, and he will never just love all dogs he meets, not gonna happen. But THIS did happen:

    Apollo on a playdate today with Azra, my sister's staffie-see pic attachments, they are bad pics but they mean a lot to me because of the work we did to get here!
    brodys_mom and jackienmutts like this.
  4. tylerthegiant Well-Known Member

    I just wanted to comment on this too, because this is how I feel, and I think anyone feels when they've been working on the really difficult behavior problems, like any kind of aggression, or reactivity.

    Lucus is a reactive dog, but not the way or for quite the same reasons as Apollo, he would get over excited. Sounds relatively harmless, but Lucas is a HUGE boy, and when he got over excited it is indescribable how difficult and unsafe he became, and EVERYTHING made him overexcited. When I first started walking him he'd see a trigger (everything) and have what I'd call Lucas fits. He'd omit a high pitched bark-whine, pull with all his well muscled, 130 lb might, rear up like a stallion, circle all around me, knock me down, tie me up with the leash. To avoid either getting knocked over or having him gain any ground with pulling (because I knew if he gained ground it would be variable reinforcement, the most powerful kind) I'd actually plant myself sitting on the ground and lean away from whichever direction he was pulling, and hold the leash over my head like a lasso while he circled me. If he got over threshold that was all that I could do. And his threshold was like 60 feet. I would literally have people slowing down their cars (one of Lucas's many triggers) and point and laugh at me. Sometimes people even approached me and would talk to me while he was doing this, and I'd be like, seriously? I'm not having a picnic here, I'm struggling with this dog! :rolleyes: The first day he saw a cat at 6 feet, and looked at me and kept on walking I was so shocked and happy I could have cried!

    To have Apollo play with Azra, it brings tears to my eyes. To go the vets, and have him sit right next to another dog is a gift beyond words. Because we both wroked our tails off to get there.

    When I groom JJ (who has handling aggression) and I no longer get bit and she's relaxed and seems to enjoy the attention, to be able to grab her collar if I need to, to be able to come near her with a bone and not get the stare of death it's so freaking amazing! To know that a dog like JJ without that training and understanding could be put down, and she's a valued member of my family, words just don't do it justice.

    To all of you working with your DA dogs (because I know I'm going off topic here) I sincerely commend you and your dogs. (y)
    brodys_mom and jackienmutts like this.
  5. jackienmutts Honored Member

    I can't even imagine (altho I certainly can picture) what you were going thru, having to "sit your ground" in order to keep from getting hurt/injured/dragged down the street. People who have never been thru anything with a D/A dog just have no idea. I've had people say the dog shouldn't be allowed out of the yard, the dog should be put down, the dog shouldn't come out of the house, blah blah blah. Those are among the same people who point and laugh, like they're watching some kind of sitcom. Sad. Kudos to you and all your pups, you're ALL lucky to have found each other! I think we're lucky to have found them, as they make us better people and trainers, and well, yeah, they're lucky we found them too, cuz .... we won't talk about what may have happened otherwise.....

    I love your pics! I have a few with my girl and her old "boyfriend" (not Alfie). She befriended a Choc Lab, Bear, in the neighborhood (how that happened, I have no idea!!) and they used to have frequent playdates (he's since moved). He was her only other friend, but they played and played so beautifully together, and it used to do my heart good to watch them. She LOVES to play, and Alfie isn't much of a player. Makena and Alf do have their games, but mostly don't involve running and chasing - but she and Bear would run til they dropped.

    I had something interesting happen Fri night. I took them for a walk at the beach Fri night after work. The beach is very much Makena's "happy place". As we were working thru so many issues, I found her to relax more at the beach than anyplace else (and still true today after all these years -- and for any newcomes, yes, she's a rescue). As we were walking along, she kept switching from side to side, she and Alfie's leashes were getting tangled, it was driving me nuts - and of course, I told her so (cuz I talk to my dogs constantly). Usually, she walks beautifully, but holy cow, this constant switching sides, walking behind me to switch, back and forth, wth?? It was nuts! Then it hit me!!!!! She was .. on her own .. switching sides when we were coming towards another dog, passing a dog, etc - and she was putting me between her and the 'oncoming' dog. Something we worked on, trained, etc - but there's so much room at the beach, no need to even care about that. But she cares!!!! I wanted to bend down, hug her, and tell her I was sorry for telling her she was driving me nuts! And it meant the world to know that she knows and trusts that I'll always have her back and keep her safe, no need for her to worry anymore. She had a blast, there were loads of dogs, some running around off-leash (not supposed to be) which used to make her very alert but not aroused anymore - but Fri night she was relaxed and didn't seem to care.

    I guess my point is -- to anyone with an aggressive, fearful, or any kind of dog with issues: keep up all the work, cuz things we may not think are making that much of an impact may be making a HUGE impact, and may mean more than we'll ever know to our fearful dogs. :love:
    tylerthegiant and brodys_mom like this.
  6. brody_smom Experienced Member

    These stories are truly inspiring! You all bring tears to my eyes.

    Tigerlily, what an angel you are! Who rescues a dog like that and goes through what you have been through? I know, the rewards make it all worthwhile, but to have the vision that it was even possible is a rare and wonderful thing! God bless you!

    Tylerthegiant, my dog is only 54 lbs and I struggle to hold him back when he wants to get somewhere. I can't imagine controlling a big boy like yours. Are you a body builder as well as a miracle worker?

    Jackienmutts, I hope to see those kinds of signs of progress with my fearful, leash-aggressive/frustrated adolescent someday soon. There are so many reasons to keep trying, and only a few reasons to give up. It IS work, no doubt about it.

    Have any of you ever had your dog turn on you because he/she couldn't get at the trigger? Brody has only actually bitten me once, but he has attempted a few times. The scary thing for me is how quickly he gets over threshold. I need to get better at reading his body language, but those videos of David the Dog Trainer have given me some ideas about a few tools I need to keep in my back pocket.
  7. tylerthegiant Well-Known Member

    Oh sure. Apollo did that several times. They call that frustration aggression, and it happens between dogs stuck in yards behind fences too, like Apollo used to do with Mia. Neighbors barking dogs on the other side of our fence would be fence fighting, Apollo couldn't get at them, he'd attack poor little Mia. Ah, he used to be a a terrible bully to her! That was when I decided to do something about it, it was one thing for him to be a brat on a walk, and have to sit in the car for the vets with him until a room was ready and rush him past the dogs in the lobby, but I just couldn't have sweet little Mia get hurt, or turn DA herself. And with frustration aggression, it's not that a dog bites you accidentally, although I'm sure that could happen, may be, but it's a conscience decision! It's like they're thinking "I'm so frustrated right now I can't even stand it! I gotta get this out or I might explode! I think I'll bite you!"

    Even though it only happened with me several times, just about any times a dog bites you (and for what it's worth JJ and Apollo both have bit/nipped me and both have excellent bite inhibition, no bruising, no breaking of the skin, they clearly did not want to hurt me) it's still hard not to take it personally, and be like "Really? You bite the hand that feeds you? Why would you do this to me?"
    brodys_mom likes this.
  8. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Yes, we have a dog on the other side of our fence that brings out that behavior in Brody. The one bite I got was because of the fence thing, although Brody was on leash. I was trying to back him away when he lashed out and bit me. He was whining as well as lunging and barking, so I guess, by Tigerlily's definitions, he isn't dog aggressive (yay!?) but we had to get past the dog to get home, so I basically walked him on his back legs, me holding his collar and the handle on his harness so he couldn't pull anymore or bite me again. That was last Wednesday. The bite was on the front of my thigh. He didn't break the skin, but he did leave marks where his upper and lower canines would have punctured had he wanted to. There is a pretty nasty bruise as well.

    I guess the hardest thing for me is getting over the fear of something going horribly wrong on a walk, whether it be a dog or another person. This is the vicious cycle of the under-socialized dog never getting adequate socialization because the owner is unprepared to deal with it's current behavior. When Brody nipped a stranger on the backside a couple of weeks ago, it got me thinking of how many times that almost happened, and what I need to do to make sure it never happens again. He tends to lunge and make scary noises at people who appear suddenly around corners, so I am now very wary of corners with poor visibility, and we have many in our area. Kind of makes you want to take drastic measures like only walking really late at night or early in the morning. Not that that is any guarantee either!
  9. southerngirl Honored Member

    That's amazing Jackie!! I can imagine how proud you've must have been of her, I have the same feeling every time Missy walks past a dog without going nuts. I hope one day Missy will do that.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  10. tylerthegiant Well-Known Member

    Was Brody trying to heard the stranger? Biting them on the backside, considering Brody's mix, I have to wonder if he may have been herding......don't know the circumstances.

    If he has trouble with corners I'd definitely work on Look At That. Are you familiar with it? It's especially nice for things that appear suddenly.

    When a dog has any HA it brings a whole other level of danger into the equation for sure. I know I'm going off topic, but all aggression is related because the protocols for dealing with it are based on similar behaviorism methods at the core. JJ will react to people she doesn't know well when they pet her around her face and head. It's very slow going for me to correct this because I need a VERY controlled training environment for it and I need people she doesn't know who will follow my instructions exactly, and most challenging, not get scared. It's not so easy to find people like that. :( So I don't take her out as much because it's such a risk. A muzzle helps a lot though, because it solves the problem of people wanting to just come up and touch her and gets her out of the house. But I have this hang up about it that I need to get over, like people are judging me for taking my "aggressive" big black dog out in public.
  11. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I can relate to your muzzle hang-up. I have considered one myself, but haven't done it for that reason.

    The herding thing... it is possible. He has issues with people moving past him much more than them moving towards him. That's when I relax, too, I guess. Like, oh, they passed us safely, no reaction, so my guard goes down for a split second and he has moved out of a sit/stay and is following them. That's what I meant about the many times it almost happened. Usually, I see a person approaching, calmly guide Brody off the sidewalk and have him sit/stay while I feed him treats for looking at the person calmly. Once they have passed behind me, I praise him verbally, maybe pat him and we move on. Sometimes he will stand and begin walking after the person, but I am about to move in the other direction, so nothing happens. On the morning in question, we were walking up a narrow path with high solid fences on both sides. The end of the path makes a sharp right turn at a school ground with a gate through chain link fencing. We were just approaching the sharp turn, when this tall darkly dressed man wearing dark sunglasses appeared right there at the end. Brody moved toward him as he passed in front of us to enter the school ground. I moved to the right, but Brody followed the man. He didn't bark or growl or even lunge really, he just walked after him, but at the last second nipped him on the butt! I was mortified, the man was angry and yelled at me. I felt so horrible that I had allowed this to happen, but I really didn't see any of it coming. Now I hold his leash much shorter when we come to any even remotely blind corners, and take them really wide so I can see what's coming before we make the turn.

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