Help ! My Dog Goes Crazy In Public.

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by FranticFrank, May 16, 2012.

  1. FranticFrank New Member

    I've hit upon a real problem and would be grateful for any help.
    Three months ago I bought a 20 month old Border Terrier, Suzy.
    Each time I take Suzy into town she is absolutely hyper. Her tail and ears are up and she is "in the zone".
    Things get worse when she spots another dog. Her energy goes up another level and she starts to make high pitched screams - not barks, and wants to get to them.
    Over the past two weeks she has socialised with all manner of dogs in my own home and garden, from dogs her size to German Shepherds. She briefly shows anxiety but very soon calms down and socialises well with them.
    But once in town, she is deaf to her name and all forms of training.
    I have so far tried the following to change things:-
    • Arrived in town and stayed in the car for a little while so she calms down.
    • Done the same but outside, prior to walking where the public is.
    • Changed the direction we are walking when she starts to increase her energy, so as to calm her down.
    • Tugged on her lead and said a firm "no".
    • As above and shaken a plastic bottle with some stones for noise aversion, but this still fails to get her out of the zone.
    With the job I have she will need to be with me sometimes when I'm in a town.
    I'm unsure what else to do so would be grateful for any advice.
    Tâmara Vaz likes this.

  2. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    WELCOME!! And congrats on the new pup!! Feel free to post photos, too!
    It sounds like you have an energetic young pup!!!

    Have big hope, i bet you can help make this situation better!!

    Of the five bulleted responses you have tried/are trying,
    i LOVE the first three ideas!!:)

    I do not think the last two will help, and may excaberate the problem you are trying to work on.

    As you have probably ALREADY noticed, yanking and scolding will NOT help, NOT stop Suzy's excitement or anxiety, at all, and it never will, either.
    and continuing to do that could possibly lead to a bad attitude/association in Suzy's mind about seeing other dogs,
    which is last thing you want.

    Same for the attempts to startle Suzy with shaking can thing. Not going to help, and won't help Suzy make positive associations with seeing dogs, and won't help Suzy learn how to be calm. at all. This does not show Suzy what you DO want her to do instead.

    Do turn off "Dog Whisperer" tv show, (maybe you do not watch that, but some of your words reminds me of Milan) so just in case you were watching that tv show, do turn it off.:)
    and do begin following "It's Me or The Dog" tv show instead.

    First off,
    how much exercise is Suzy getting? Just asking, cuz anytime anyone is dealing with a behavior problem, IF the dog is all hepped up and boiling over with unspent pent-up energy,
    it just makes solving the problem more difficult.
    Is Suzy getting two good long walks each day? And a chance to run full speed each day?
    As well as some daily vigorous play sessions every day?

    And some tricks training, or agility training, or some other type of training so Suzy gets a chance to use her mind, as well as become more adept at following your cues? AND so you become more adept at learning how to communicate with Suzy to get her to do what you like, and so you learn how to motivate Suzy, too.

    Providing Suzy with plenty of mental and physical exercise won't prevent or "cure" what you describe, but, NOT providing it will make it way way harder to solve.

    (to be continued)
  3. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Back to your list of the 3 good ideas you are trying.

    When you stay in car longer prior to exiting car, DOES Suzy calm down?
    Are you pretty well versed at reading dog body language, to decipher when dog is calm or not?

    for example, even if dog is sitting still, but is breathing fast, ears up, stiff,
    either moving eyes quickly or staring hard, lip-licks, hairs falling out, this is not a calm dog, although dog IS sitting still.

    Here's some ideas i have, but, i'm just some dog owner, so you can try these ideas, or not,
    and each dog is unique individual. So stay tuned for more ideas from others, too!!

    You can also try doggie body language, to tell Suzy to calm down.
    It's great cue to teach Suzy to "Look at me"
    Cuz Suzy has to look at you to SEE the calming signals. This is HER language, she WILL know what you said.
    You train "look at me" when dog is calm, like any other cue.

    You can (when Suzy IS looking at you) offer Suzy slow blinks,
    a yawn
    or a deep sigh exhaling out through your nostrils.
    Suzy will most likely look AWAY from you when she sees those, which is fine.:) She saw it, and she no longer has to keep her gaze on you.

    All 3 of those things mean "calm down".
    Worth a try.

    When Suzy is calm, CLICK/TREAT. Keep treats small, like size of a raisen, to avoid fat or full dog. Praise Suzy calmly, "yeah, that is what i want you to do, good girl."

    It might take a while til Suzy calms down, it might take quite a while. this can take some practice, for Suzy to develop the ability and self control to stay calm.

    Move out of car.
    If Suzy re-excites, repeat this.

    Do turn away when Suzy barks. (calmly, no anger, no punishment, no yanking)
    I taught cue "Let's Go" to use when my dog barks. I taught the cue when my dog was calm, i taught the cue when no dogs were around, which made it easier to use when dogs WERE around. It takes a while for dog to develop skills to do this cue when he IS excited, don't give up.
    And FranticFrank, do yawn to calm your own self down, too! (that actually helps) don't let yourself become too frustrated, your dog is doing best she can for now.

    Quickie 5 minutes video, to watch over........and over..........and over.
    Dogster likes this.
  4. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Also, don't use an extenda-leash for Suzy at this time, maybe in parks or places where no dogs will be,
    but, when Suzy will be around dogs downtown, use an ordinary cloth, 6-foot leash.

    that alone might help reduce Suzy's lunging by 90%. (IF Suzy is lunging, that is).
    Dogster, Tâmara Vaz and jackienmutts like this.
  5. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    And not sure if Suzy escalates to growls, you didn't say she did,
    but, if Suzy ever does growl,
    don't "correct" or scold a growl.

    Do read #5 reply on link below, (look in lower right hand corners of posts for reply number)
    on why we should never "correct" a growl:

    ^that thread is about dog-aggressive dogs, which Suzy is probably NOT, as Suzy CAN play with other dogs successfully,:D but #5 reply about growling---------- is something that may help you IF Suzy ever does escalate to growling.

    You may also want to read the #4 reply, too, about "general desensitization to other dogs", and try that downtown, beginning at whatever distance Suzy needs to be calm, and reward her being calm to see dogs downtown. If Suzy is 200 feet away to be calm, so be it, she starts at 200 feet away.

    Even though Suzy is probably not a DA dog (dog-aggressive dog) at all,
    those exercises in #4 rely of that thread, *might* help Suzy develop the ability to be calm to see dogs downtown....?

    ALSO, worth knowing, once Suzy has reacted/gotten herself all hepped up to see a dog downtown, Suzy is now chockful of adrenaline.......that can take about 30 minutes to fade back down out of her bloodstream.
    this is good to be aware of,
    say at 10 am, you are working with Suzy downtown, but, Suzy reacts/goes all crazy barking and so on, okay?
    and then at 10:15am a second dog comes by to work on, well, Suzy is STILL chockful of adrenaline from her 10am barkfest, see? So your efforts might not be as successful, and YOU might feel "This is not working!" and so on, but, it's just Suzy is STILL all "adrenalinized", so it won't take much at all to set her off in first 30 minutes after any reaction, see what i mean there?
    Dogster, Tâmara Vaz and jackienmutts like this.
  6. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    You might also want to seek out a professional trainer, who is POSITIVE ONLY,
    who has experience with dogs barking about other dogs, to help you further socialize Suzy with other dogs.

    NOt all trainers know about this or have experience with this. The trainer might be world's best agility trainer, etc, but, not have a clue about how to help Suzy,
    not have much real, actual experience in this matter. SO DO ASK if they have had both experience and success with such issues.

    If you do decide to get professional help to help Suzy reduce this reaction down, DO go observe the trainer IN ACTION with someone else's dog,
    before the trainer ever gets near your Suzy. Avoid any trainer who yanks, yells at, scolds, intimidates, alpha-rolls, scares, or hits the dog, etc,
    and RUN from any trainer who recommends shock collars, choke collars, etc.

    just a thought, cuz you do want to nip this in the bud, imo, but in a POSITIVE ONLY way.
    Dogster, Tâmara Vaz and jackienmutts like this.
  7. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Hi, and welcome to DTA. Sounds like you have your hands full with little Suzy. Tigerlily has given you some good advice above, and I'd also like to suggest you read this article: It's written by Victoria Stillwell, and it gives one of the best explanations for positive training that perhaps I've ever read. It explains the why's of using it - and it addresses one point you mentioned above. You said when Suzy is barking and reacting to dogs, she doesn't respond to training of any kind, it's like she doesn't hear her name. This article explains that yes, they do "go deaf" - physically. She's not ignoring you, her body physically is involved in something else, and she truly can't hear you. The article will help you understand what's happening to her, how you can help to change her state of mind (using methods different from Cesar's), and help her (and you) thru this whole ordeal. It's not a long, boring blah blah blah article, but in everyday language, explains what dogs are going thru when they're reacting, and how we can best help them. It will involve using very high value treats - chicken, hot dogs, beef, etc, and lots of hard work. But it's worth the journey. I've taken it.

    Rather than just taking her into busy areas, for now, start working with her in quiet areas on responding to you, as in the videos. Once you have a good solid bond (you said got her 3 months ago, and she's still ignoring you and reacting strongly, so clearly there's lots of work to be done), you can progress to more traffic-y areas. If you need help/are wondering exactly how to proceed or what to do, how you should start, etc, just ask, and we'll give you some ideas. The videos above are a really good start tho - altho, you really do need to lay groundwork in quiet areas over the next few weeks. Think: learning to walk before learning to run.

    I want to add one more thing. I said this in another thread someplace else, and I think we all forget sometimes, and I remind myself constantly. You said Suzy's 20 months old, and this is her behavior. She's been practicing this for a long time, practice makes perfect. This is a very emotional behavior, unlike something like "sit" or "down". She now has to learn a new behavior, she needs to learn to be calm. It won't happen overnight, it won't happen by telling her just don't do it anymore, she needs to learn it. Then practice it. That takes time. It took her 20 months to get this good. Keep that in mind. I'm working with a 4 yr old dog right now, who sounds much like your Suzy - and I have to remind myself of that every day when I take her out. Some days we take one step forward, and 2 steps back, others 2 steps forward and one step back, and yet others just 2 giant steps back. Then suddenly we'll have a fabulous day like yesterday and leap forward. Hope reigns supreme. :) So take a deep breath, weigh yourself down with a full bait bag and lots of patience, and know that the journey is worth it. You just need to patiently show Suzy a whole different way of looking and thinking about things.

    Ask any questions, vent if you need to - lots of us have been there, and we'll all help any way we can. Any specific info you can give will help us give specific suggestions, too. Good luck!
  8. FranticFrank New Member

    Well Tigerlily and Jackie
    I've used a couple of forums in the past for completely different subjects but have never received such a friendly and helpful replies.
    Thank you both!
    Boy, you've made me sit down and take stock of what is actually going on. I really like the Let's Go approach so am going to try that. Off out now to buy some blocks of cheese!
    Thanks again.
    ps. as for dog programmes, I never watch them, in fact I watch very little TV.
  9. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    //I really like the Let's Go approach so am going to try that. Off out now to buy some blocks of cheese!//

    AND YES, this site is the best of all dog forums, i'd write "imo" but, i feel it is a 'FACT'.:ROFLMAO:
    well, i loved Jackie's post very very very very very much. Do read Jackie's post very carefully, two or three times,
    and I wished i had written something half as good as that, that is some darn marvelous insight and advice, to be mulled over and over.

    I'm not sure, Frank, if you mean to start using "dog is there" situations to provoke the need to use "Let's Go", which is not best idea,
    your Suzy might need to begin learning how to be calm while seeing dogs from 200 or more feet away. But i do think calmly using "Let's Go" is a great way to handle it when Suzy does lose it.

    But maybe you meant you plan to begin teaching:) the cue "Let's Go" which IS great idea, imo,
    and yes, you can begin teaching both a "Look At Me"/ "Watch Me" cue, (might be better to call it Watch so Suzy isn't learning TWO "L" word cues in same week!!??:ROFLMAO:
    and a "Let's Go" cue (which means, "I am going to follow Dad in a different direction NOW")
    BUT, Jackie makes most excellent points about not flooding your Suzy with dogs right now in situations Suzy can't yet handle calmly yet is spot on good advice!!!

    cuz everytime Suzy barks at dogs, it feeds that loop in her head, so you don't want her to do that, so prevention of that is a good goal, as you work this whole thing out----------staying out of downtown dog situations for now where it is too close for Suzy to be calm.

    NO DOG PARKS RIGHT NOW EITHER, seems sensible, cuz, you do not want Suzy to suffer a setback by getting in fight or anything right now. Suzy might start up some stuff with wrong dog, and it could get ugly, which can be harmful to her progress to learn how to be calm around dogs.

    SO SORRY-----I had totally missed noticing Suzy is that new to you, the way Jackie picked up on that, and that does make a difference. It's not impossible that you are just now seeing the 'real' Suzy, (newly rehomed adult dogs tend to sort of lie low/not quite their 'real' selves in new home)
    and the bond between you two is still growing yet, AND Suzy's ability to trust, focus on, and follow your cues, is still developing yet.

    Jackie's words above, on solidifying and strengthening that bond, and helping develop Suzy's focus on you, through training, in low traffic areas, and learning to walk before learning to run, etc, is well worth reading 2 or 3 times, she worded it all so well.

    Frank, i also firmly believe, with all my heart,
    that tricks training is also so so good for you and for Suzy,
    cuz it will help YOU learn how to motivate Suzy, and it will help Suzy learn to follow your cues, etc. Too many benefits to list, but, do begin learning how to teach Suzy a trick each week. (or however long it takes Suzy to master a new trick)
    It doesn't matter what trick, any trick will do, it is the process itself that helps. If you are new to tricks or cue training,
    and want to know how to start, etc, FEEL FREE to ask, we are not born knowing how to train dogs!!! :ROFLMAO: LET US KNOW if you want a few pointers on how to get started, if you are new to this.

    Frank, i have a very good feeling about you and Suzy are going to make great progress, and i would bet a bag of bullychewsticks, that the two of you are both going to learn so much,
    and bond so well and make great progress. DO KEEP US POSTED, and there are no dumb questions!!! GOOD LUCK!!!!
    Tâmara Vaz and Dogster like this.
  10. Dogster Honored Member

    ^ agree!!!!(y) (Tigerlily's and Jackie's posts above)
    And WELCOME!!!!!:D
    Tâmara Vaz likes this.
  11. southerngirl Honored Member

    My dog Missy does the same thing and I've been working with her. I notice that if I go out in public more she began to calm down cause she's used to it. I also found that finding a quiet spot and having her sit lay down, watch me and other things helps, I will slowly get closer to the noisy area. Hope this helps some.
    tigerlily46514 and Dogster like this.
  12. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    //I notice that if I go out in public more she began to calm down cause she's used to it. //

    SOOOOO true, same for my dog, too. If he hasn't been anywhere exciting for a while, he gets a lil spazzy/overexcited! "This place is so cool!! wow, i can't believe i am here!":ROFLMAO: and his lil doggie brain blows a's way harder to manage him, at all.

    but, if i take him exciting places every day, or at least every other day, wow,
    he becomes way calmer...gets to be "old hat" sort of.
    southerngirl and Dogster like this.
  13. southerngirl Honored Member

    yes, that's exactly like that with Missy, I might as well not exists when we go somewhere exciting and she hasn't been in a while.
    tigerlily46514 and Dogster like this.

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