Help in dealing with on-leash aggression

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by nikki8t, Nov 20, 2007.

  1. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Thanks, Jackie. (I'm Carol, btw, I guess I should create a signature!) It's great to hear from people like yourself who have "been there, done that" with their dogs and survived to tell the tale. It sure wasn't my vision when I adopted Brody, and he wasn't really assessed this way. They did mention some barrier frustration, but I wasn't warned that this was a possible scenario. It was more like, "when he is in his kennel he growls when we put our hands near the chain link gate", not "he will freak out at every dog he sees or hears behind a fence or on leash he is on leash". Laura VanArendonk Baugh has some great insights in "Fired Up, Frantic and Freaked Out", and we are beginning training sessions for self-calming. It is an uphill battle for sure, because he has so many triggers, not just on leash, but in the house. With summer coming, I will be desensitizing him to all the outdoor activities of the kids and dogs in our neighborhood. We live in a fairly high-density area, so we are close to our neighbors and far from open spaces.

  2. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Carol, both of mine are rescues - and for the first few months I had Makena, she was beautiful on leash. I had another 11 yr old dog then, Sherman, who she just loved at first sight, and became very close to, very quickly. I think he was her rock. He died very suddenly (hemangiosarcoma) and her reactivity started around that time. I had noticed subtle signs from her when out walking with him (becoming concerned about dogs), but it seemed she'd almost look to see what he was doing (nothing) and it was almost like, well, if it's ok with him, then it's ok with her. It seemed when she lost him, her world fell apart.

    I've read Fired up, Frantic, and Freaked out, and it's an excellent book! She does have excellent insights, I hope some that help you. I also live in a populated area, but have open spaces fairly close - and would do lots of walking at 6am before many other dogs were out. Couldn't do much late at night, cuz I couldn't see the cats - that's a whole different issue! :eek::ROFLMAO: Hang tough!! And always know ... your support group is out here!!! :LOL:(y)
    brodys_mom likes this.
  3. brody_smom Experienced Member

    How sad for Makena. Gotta love those older dogs. We lost our 12 year old gsd/chow chow a year ago. We rescued her when she was 7. We really have to resist comparing Brody to her because she was just an awesome dog all around. She was reactive to dogs behind fences, though, right up to the end.

    Brody loves cats. We have 2, and he just wants to play with them all day. They rarely comply, nasty beasts that they are. When he sees cats outside, he whines and looks so longingly at them. There is one house that has too many to count, usually one at least in each window sill and a couple on the porch, under and on cars. He never barks at them, but he does pull. It's a completely different reaction from the dog/fence combo.

    A funny thing I noticed this morning on our walk, when we pass another dog on leash who reacts first, Brody is much calmer, and tends not to really react much at all. These are usually the smaller dogs. He tenses a bit, maybe a bit of a tap dance, but no barking or lunging. I can distract him and move him away much easier. It's hard for me to really gauge his reaction to larger dogs, or ones he knows because he is usually quite calm around them, but I think it's the owners that spook him, because he will go behind me as we approach, sometimes putting his paws up on my back, like he's trying to hide. There is one older lab who we see sometimes who always makes these funny growly/talky sounds. It's really cute, but Brody doesn't like him, and pulls and growls after him as he passes.
  4. marsala Active Member

    Gosh I am so happy to find this thread! So many great tips and advise, links etc. Now the problem is, how to do this with TWO dogs at the same time?? I know exactly how it is to burst into tears for being so terrified, scared and embarrassed after a walk when my dogs just go crazy with others when on leash. And the worse part is, the others may or mostly aren't on leash and come greeting my puppies...and there I am, trying to hold back two lunging, growling, snapping dogs (very strong ones by the way) and the other dog just keeps standing there stupidly or keeps coming back! Me growling to my dogs, trying to get the third dog away, his/her owner growling to him/her ....gosh, it is a circus! My husband says not to leash my girl for she just goes to see and turns away but keep him leashed. And yeah, it will work until the situation if he gets all aggressive, she will lunge on the poor third dog with all her mighty Staffy craziness and this is something I can't seem to control. So the problem on leash is her, off leash him.... so now I am terrified of taking them for a walk on my own....
    brodys_mom likes this.
  5. Mutt Experienced Member

    I'd take them on seperate walks so you can work with them induvidually and they don't reinforce each other.
    It is easier for you as you have one hand free and only have to focus on one dog (which is challenging enough;))
  6. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Excellent advice from Mutt. Walk each dog separately. Is it a pain? Yes. But you can work on each dog's issues without worrying about your other dog. It also gives you time to spend alone with each dog, think of it as individual bonding time. There's no way to control two large dogs having melt-downs, especially when ideally you want to get their attention before they ever get to that state, and with loads of work, patience, and treats, condition them to believe that seeing other dogs is a wonderful thing! :confused::rolleyes::)

    Having a dog-aggressive dog (my girl) who would redirect onto my boy if she couldn't get to her "target", I had to walk them separately, daily, for about 4 years. We worked daily on her issues (my boy loves everyone) - but thankfully, I can finally walk them together, and we have a great time.

    If you need further help, lots of us have "been there, done that", so just ask, and we can help. There are several threads, tho - so happy reading, there are lots of good ideas from lots of talented people.
  7. marsala Active Member

    Good points Mutt and Jackienmutts and yes, it is the simplest solution and most doable specially if my husband is home and yes, we even did that the other day when he wished to go ball play with boy and our girl was still recovering from eye surgery so we girls then hit the road to opposite direction (although she was in great hurry to get back home and to them all the way). I know it is mostly problematic to me for I am worried of their separation anxiety for they are never been separated. I might just overreact with this to be honest and think that they just go nuts when left alone when other gets to go for a walk.... gosh, maybe I am the one who needs therapy hehheh. Anyway, it is valid point and fully understandable - as simple as it is one might think "why hasn't she thought this through before??". So next step, operation one-on-one walks...... :) And look into the threads to find more info on how to go with each one of them - for the problems are a bit different with her and with him.(y)
    brodys_mom likes this.
  8. Mutt Experienced Member

    I think that the dogs quickly will learn that walking alone with you is also fun (and as soon as you return its the other ones turn). Besides when they return from the walk they see each other again. You could also see it as a way to let them get used to being seperated every now ans then.

    You cold start with small walks or let your husband play with the other dog while at home or walk with the other dog in a different area.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  9. marsala Active Member

    Thank you Mutt, I see your point, making it fun and games to be with me might be the relief for them to have their walks separately.

    Today I had to walk them together..too exciting for me for I really stress these situations. All went well though almost all the way. This is quite not about the leash aggression btw, for they were lose this time.I just need to tell this to someone for I am still a bit shaken...

    When I let them lose on our nearby football ground (I tried to pick a time when there is no others - yeah, good luck with that) and we did some obedience training - just basic stuff to get them listen. Once I was on the other end of the huge field I saw a guy with 4 dogs entering the area from the opposite end - I got immediately anxiety, took my boy's leash ready but thought that it would be cruel just because on the far end there are other dogs, so we continued happily on our way, I kept them occupied with my voice and petting them (cursing myself for not taking the balls for them with me), playing with them and we kept on walking. I tried to keep our distance with the other lot as much as I could to avoid problems. But yeah, this guy did not. His dogs ran all the way from the far end of the field to us!!!

    I was completely of guard and they were quite big (one being labrador, one or two some sort of hunting dogs and one, maybe a mix?) and they just came in one big gang in one go full speed...you can imagine how scared I got but I decided to keep walking, kept my happy voice going, tried to pull all my confidence up and keep an eye on all the 6 dogs. I saw Archie starting to stress, his back hair was up but he still came next to me (did not call him btw), I could feel him pressing against my leg as we walked forward - Lucy does not get bothered by other dogs by the way, she is lucky that way, she just goes around and only gets aggressive if Archie starts growling - I kept walking, praying the owner would call the dogs away for we were getting really uncomfortable. Finally he called them from the other end of the field and 3 of the dogs left...I kept walking, hoping the last one would bugger off...and after some calls ,he did but it was enough for Archie and he took some steps after the dog growling - I called him off and come, he came nicely, sat in front of me and same did Lucy. I was so relieved that he behaved so well, he only lost it in the very end.... I was a nervous wreck and counting my stars...phew... this is something I really dislike, people not keeping their dogs close enough..I mean sure they can wander around but to run on the other end of the huge double football field??? I had to ask a lady to call her dog away when it ran to Archie (leashed) the other day for he is not good with too excited, happy, jumpy, in-your-face dogs anyway. I guess my monsters have a bad name already in our neighborhood :barefoot: I just want them to have relaxed time and other people realize that we do not leash them for they are aggressive but to prevent accidents and hope they would respect that. Oh well, we got lucky again....step by step . Thinking of asking help from dog whisperer with Archie though. What do you think?
    southerngirl and brodys_mom like this.
  10. Mutt Experienced Member

    Yikes I can imagine the tension and stress that must have given you. Good work though, the most important thing is to keep calm.
    Like I said I would walk them seperately (at least on leash and untill you find it less stressful/it goes better).
    Second I would train on attention (eye contact on cue), impuls control (always a good one) and that when the dog is on leash and an other dog with owner is walking behind you that you can walk without having to pull your dog with you (so no looking at the other dog).

    My boy is reactive (towards larger males), off leash he is great with other dogs, but due to some bad experiences on leash is a problem. So these are things I have worked on with him. Now when I see another dog I create distance between us. Also I don't allow barking and such behind the fence. Sadly its hard for us to 'practice' as we live quite remote and there aren't a lot of dogs we encounter (sometimes thats a good thing, sometimes its quite inconvenient...)

    To be perfectly honost I wouldn't even want my dogs and the dog whisperer in the same room...
    I do recommand getting help from a behavioral therapist :) I don't live in your country but some others do who might be anle to help you :)
    I'd go for some one positive, not a "quick fix" and no 'tools' (choke collar/prong collar).
    southerngirl and brodys_mom like this.
  11. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I just posted on your other thread, Marsala, so I won't repeat it here. I was wondering though about what you meant by dog whisperer. There is a very famous man known as "The Dog Whisperer", whose name is Cesar Milan. He has a television show and has written several books. He uses aversive techniques in dealing with problem behaviors. Most people on this forum, and positive reinforcement trainers in general, disagree with his methods. You might have meant something different, though.

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