Is my dog a bully?

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by jennyw, Aug 3, 2010.

  1. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Cross or turn around, for now. Every reaction she has is rewarding that kind of behavior. So do your best to always keep other dogs in Jess's comfort zone. This means often avoiding other dogs--sound like just avoiding the problem, but it's not. This will keep her from having more negative experiences. If she can relax just across the street, then stop across the street, have her look at you, and yaaaaawwwwn. If she's bonkers(lunging, barking, growling, etc) even across the street, then you need to get her in her comfort zone. As you work on shrinking her comfort zone, you may not have to cross the street(but that's in the future!).

    As for the GSDs--I would recommend going about it like this:

    First of all, find her comfort zone. Start out as far away from the GSDs as you can. If she's comfortable here, great. If you think she will be okay a little bit closer, okay. Move a LITTLE closer. Is she TOTALLY relaxed, or is she a little tense? Are her eyes and mouth soft, or hard/tight? If she is tense, move back a little. Have the GSDs pace parallel to her, but in an arc. You can also have their handler toss treats on the ground for them so they seem to be sniffing the grass--a huge calming signal to Jess.

    For the first little while, have her look at you and yawn at her. Do this a few times to help both of you calm down. Run through some of her tricks to get her focused on you. (Be sure to have a few really high value treats--bits of chicken, hotdog, cheese, rolled dog food--this will make it easier to get her attention if she's really focused on the other dog.) When you're convinced she's completely relaxed, either you or the GSDs move a tiny bit closer. (Don't move in more than a foot at a time at first--with some dogs, you can only move in inch increments. With others, you might be able to move a few feet at a time. Just depends on your dog, but start out moving in small increments so you can avoid an aggressive outburst.) Repeat yawns, tricks, etc, with GSDs pacing again.

    Understand that in the first day, you will probably not be able to get her to relax even within 4 feet of another dog. This is a lengthy process, but using this method will help shrink her comfort zone, so that she gradually becomes more and more comfortable with dogs closer to her. Try your best to keep her below threshold by not moving too quickly--if she's the least bit uncomfortable or tense, then you don't need to move in yet. Keep her from showing aggression by staying where she's comfortable. This will serve two purposes:
    1) Think of it as a balance, with "GOOD BEHAVIOR" on one side and "AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR" on the other. Each aggressive outburst is another grain of sand on the AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR side. The more she has, the more she will think she NEEDS to react aggressively. So if you keep her below threshold, you're keeping the AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR side from filling up.
    2) You're letting her know that you will keep her safe, and not force her into any situation she's not comfortable with. This will build her trust in you so she knows that YOU keep her safe, and she does not need to defend herself from anything because YOU are there!

    If you do go a little too far and get too close to the GSDs, and Jess does react aggressively, DO NOT HAVE THE GSDs MOVE AWAY. This teaches her that AGGRESSION makes the BAD GUYS GO AWAY. No. YOU and JESS move away, and have the GSD handler put her dogs in a down(another major calming signal to Jess). Move back to where Jess is comfortable.

    So obviously, this will take a little planning beforehand. If you choose to use this method, might want to explain what you're doing with the GSD owner so you're both on the same page and know what to do. This is something you'll need to work on often. If the first day you get her to be calm 10 feet away, this does not mean you start at 10 feet next time. Start further away, and work your way back to that point. She should be able to get there a little quicker.

    Just finished reading a book called "Bringing Light to Shadow" by Pamela Dennison. Her dog was severely people aggressive, and she had a tough time staying calm passing people, even when Shadow had improved enough to calmly pass people. So, even though she probably looked silly, she would sing "Happy Birthday" to help her relax instead of just focusing on the person her dog might do after. If this helps you, try it! Anything to help you relax so you're not accidentally giving Jess the wrong message. I know it's tough! I've been there, as have the other people who responded to your post. Just do what you can to figure out how to relax.

  2. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Lots of great info here - and I wanted to add one more thing, as far as your trainer being rough with your dog. Please learn to be your dog's biggest advocate. It was something I learned - too late. My GSD Makena was beginning to show signs of fear aggression, and I didn't know nearly as much then as I know now. I/we were in a circumstance surrounded by other dogs, and Makena began to have a meltdown. A trainer I didn't know well (long story and we weren't in a training class) grabbed her and jerked her big time, repeatedly, "correcting" her for her "bad behavior". The trainer was a big burly guy, so his corrections made a huge impact on her. Yes, she did shut up that particular occasion, but from that point on, her fear aggression was 10X worse that it had ever been. If you've read Emma Parsons' "Click to Calm", it's very similar to the situation with her dog Ben, causing her to seek help, and go on to become the trainer/expert she is in aggression now. Ben had issues, but being manhandled roughly pushed him over the edge, as it did my Makena. Please don't let it happen to your Jess. Be her biggest advocate. When that little voice inside of you is telling you something is wrong - speak up. Don't worry about anyone's feelings. Say NO, you can't treat my dog that way, not now, not ever. I wish I had done so at the time. I was thrown in a weird situation, things happened very quickly, and this trainer who was supposed to know so much more than I, was handling it. And oh what a mess he made. Many weeks later, I then sought help from a gal who "specialized" in aggressive dogs - she was worse than he was. After maybe 20 min with her, and a bit more manhandling, I said that's it - and we left. I literally cried in the car, and apologized to my girl for putting her thru what I did. I said I didn't know how I was going to help her, but I'd figure it out. It was after that horrid experience that I found the book "Click to Calm" and several more mentioned here and in the other thread, and we began our journey.

    Please - no more manhandling. Let Jess know that you'll protect her, always - from scary dogs, from scary people, from all things scary. You'll always be in front of her, stand up for her, have her back.

    Only go as fast as she can go. It's a very slow process, take lots of baby steps. Some days will be good, some not so good. Do read the "rottie" thread, lots and lots of info in that thread too - same subject matter.

    Come here any time. We've been in your shoes, and know how hard it is. I totally understand. But know this - once Jess finally starts to relax a little, once she trusts that you're looking out for that scary stuff and will help protect her from it, once you totally start working as a team instead of just you trying to hang on to her for dear life - oh, what fun it is, and what a bond you'll have with each other! Trust me - it's wonderful!

    Feel free to ask questions any time, we've been there. And if you need to vent after a bad day, do that too. Some days are just bad - but some are really really good. I wish you many good ones.
  3. jennyw Well-Known Member

    Thank you very much everybody, I was so pround of my girlie, she walked round the car park alongside the male then the female Sheperd and barely acknowledged them! The dogs were great, they were so calm and their owner assured me that even if Jess did start anything they would not react at all. Jess looked the female in the face at the end and then barked but the sheperd didn't do a thing. I never would have expected her to cope so well. It probably reinforced the trainers idea that I make up stories about her being aggressive but who cares, the main thing is she managed to do it. We are going to try walking down the street next week, and knowing she can cope with them makes me feel much more confident.
    The more I think about the trainer's methods the more I think I won't wait for Jess to get her bronze award. It's not really worth it if I'm putting her through anything that's not completely for her benefit. It has helped her being in a room with unfamiliar dogs and having to focus on me but being yanked around is no good for her at all. Maybe I'm being paranoid but I wonder if the trainer does it more to Jessie because she can. There are only a few other dogs in our class, two literally shake with fear so she could never do it to them as it would look too cruel, the other is a huge German Sheperd who I suspect she is too frightened to yank around so it seems my Jess gets the brunt of it.
    I will make a point now of avoiding other dogs for the forseeable future and work on calming techniques. I have three books on request from the library and another being sent from a friend in the US. I think my list to Santa will include several more books too!
  4. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Glad to hear everything went well!! Keep your chin up, and know that in time Jessie can recover. :)
    Lol, my wish list is soooo long it could probably become it's own book. It's shrinking, slowly....but I keep finding new books I want too, lol, so it grows and shrinks randomly.
    If anything, use the class to make "dog friends" who are willing to help you with Jessie's aggression. :D
  5. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    i'm also working on desensitizing Buddy to dogs barking on tv or the computer. I'm embarrassed to admit, as long as Buddy has gone nutzo over dogs on computer or tv, i've never even thought of helping him learn a new way. Til he reacted some dog bark on Kikopup video, THEN, it dawned on me, i should be helping Buddy with THAT, too!!!


    I play various dog barks, growls and whines, which USED TO SET BUDDY OFF (apparently, not all reactive dogs react to a dog online, but MINE does.):msnrolleyes:

    I'm clicking and rewarding calm behavior while i play various dog noises found on you-tube.
    go to youtube, and type in dog growl, dog bark, etc. My dog goes ballistic, but, in only 1 day, he has learned to be calm while listening to dogs going crazy on youtube.

    I'm working on "Let's Go!"

    and this--->

    Working on barking at dogs behind fences:

    Kikopup has some great online "how to" videos!!!
  6. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Calming signals for dogs, which Tx turned me on to, and is REALLY helping my dog A LOT!!

    "Communicating with a dog in their own language" by Kikopup.

  7. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Lol, is Jean addicted to Kikopup's wonderful vids now, too? ;)
  8. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Lols, YES i am!!! Tx, YOU are the one who is always sending me Kikopup videos!! Her advice is so insync with your wonderful advice.

    Isnt' the calming signals one so interesting?

    I am currently trying to do what Kikopup recommends and trying to get Buddy to look at the barking dog (whether in the computer or down the street) and reward calmness for doing that, instead of focusing on me, and being calm focusing on me, clicking and rewarding when he does glance over there, and not react.
  9. jennyw Well-Known Member

    So another situation has cropped up that I need help with! Jess has been doing really well, passing dogs who are on the other side of the street and not barking, just looking quite excited and interested. She's working really hard to concentrate on me and stay by my side. I've been reading several of the authors recommended and following what they've said it really seems to make a difference if I get Jess excited about following me and keep her attention instead of getting cross with her and shouting "leave it!"
    A couple of times though we have been walking up the mountain with her on an extendable lead and a dog and owner will suddenly appear. Jess drops to the ground and absolutely refuses to budge, watching them intently. I try coaxing her and pulling the lead but I would end up dragging her along the floor if I carried on. She was wearing a harness so pulling wouldn't have hurt her neck but I just didn't know what to do.On one occasion the owner saw the trouble I was having and turned away with her dog but the other time all I could do was stand right by her as the owner passed us and he asked if Jess was safe. Thankfully she didn't lunge or bark but I knew I was feeling pretty tense by that point.
    Any advice gratefully received as always!
  10. jackienmutts Honored Member

    It sounds like she's just terrified when she sees these dogs and owners coming 'out of the blue' like that, since she's hitting the ground and refusing to move. Do you carry really high value treats with you, like chicken, hot dogs, something like that? I would suggest doing so, so that you'll always be prepared in any circumstance, especially now, when you're working thru lots of issues. Should this happen again, try to put yourself between your dog and "the scary strange dog" (in your dog's eyes, you'll act as protection) and then try to see if you can engage Jess in a "watch me" and give treats - feed feed feed feed feed - until the scary dog is past. It's very possible Jess won't be able to eat/take treats, because she might be too stressed - let that be a guide to you. If she won't take treats, she's way too stressed - but maybe next time she will, or maybe next time, she'll at least be able to think about it. Also, if she can take treats, watch your fingers, cuz if she's very stressed, but still able to eat (and there's a very fine line), she might be very grabby and practically bite your fingers off taking them from you, even if she's usually a very gentle dog. She won't mean it, it's all based on her stress level. The more you work with her, the more you'll be able to read her based on her body langauge, how she holds herself, and a huge indicator will be if she can take treats and if so, how she takes them. You'll find that eventually she'll be able to take treats gently out of your hand in front of "scary strange dogs" - you'll know she's finally relaxed and has come so very far.

    By putting your body in between your girl and that strange scary dog, you're telling Jess you'll protect her, not to worry, and then further taking her mind off it (only slightly at first), rewarding her for calm behavior, and eventually changing her inner feelings, by feeding her something really really scrumptious. But do feed feed feed feed feed feed feed - not just one little bite of something. Really make an impact. Think of you and a huge fear, and what a huge impact several wonderful bites of a brownie fudge sundae (or something equally as wonderful) would make, and how it might make you think twice next time - ok, if I hold it together, mom's gonna give me more bites of that, I can do it, I know I can.

    In different circumstances, ask yourself quickly ... how can I be my dog's biggest advocate? Don't hesitate to "protect your dog from scary stuff" - weird as it may sound. She's going thru a very scared period right now, and you need to do all you can to bring her thru it, safe and sound. Both of you will enjoy life so much more once she calms down and can enjoy your walks. If people look at you funny (make stupid comments, or ?? - cuz they will), ignore them, wave them on, thank them for their concern, whatever the case. Jess will come to rely on you more and feel more secure with you, and less worried at what's around her or what's coming around the bend ahead.

    One suggestion - I re-read your question/post, and am not sure exactly what method you're using when working with her to redirect her attention from other dogs on to you. Are you using treats? Do try, if you're not already - you really do want to make an impact on her and change her inner feelings. If she's used to you using treats on the street already, it will become easier when you're in a circumstance like on your hike, because she'll be used to the routine - oh, look at mom, try to be calm, she'll help me out, and give me treats, it will all be ok. You want to be very very consistent with her, she needs to rely on the same things happening every time (as much as possible) she encounters something scary. One way or another, mom's gonna help me out, or get me outta there! Right now, even tho she's flattening herself out, just "protect her" from the scary dog, and try to redirect her attention onto you, and reward her heavily for that - feed feed feed feed feed.

    I hope this has helped. Keep up the good work, and ask questions any time.
  11. jennyw Well-Known Member

    Thank you, that's reassured me that I'm going about it the right way. I always have treats with me and try and make sure it's hot dog or chicken. We do try and practice as much as possible just getting her to focus on me, I try and do it a few times on each walk for no reason, not just when I see dogs. It's the usual story though, she's 100% focused when there are no distractions but she can't break away from looking at dogs when she sees them.
    Last night at training was hard work again, we've been moved from the small class for dogs with issues into the regular class and Jess found it very stressful. It was the first time she actually seemed scared and not just aggressive. Her bark was very high pitched and she was breathing really fast and her heart was racing. Every time I tried to distract her with a "watch me" or "touch my palm" I got told "stop feeding that dog" or "She doesn't need to watch you". They make me doubt myself so much. I think this new class is too much for her and the trainer's methods really don't suit me at all. They seem to want to scare Jess into being quiet instead of helping her understand not to be frightened.
    I know she will get better in time and she is making slow progress, I've read some Patricia Mc Connell, Jean Donaldson and Turid Rugaas books now and they really do put the way a dog thinks into perspective.
    Poor Jessie does try so hard to ignore other dogs sometimes. If we see a dog heading towards us I can sometimes get her to jump about with me and follow me for treats but as the other dog gets closer she just can't ignore them any longer. i try and make myslef as interesting as possible but at the moment it's not enough. But I can see her really trying to keep a lid on things.
    The dog training club is having a small dog show in a few days, I was thinking of taking Jess along and entering her for Best Rescue and Prettiest Bitch. Might this be too much for her, being in such close proximity to lots of strange dogs? I'm also worried that if she gets stressed some of the training staff will come over and start interfering with my methods as usual.
    I do want to take her, especially as the proceeds are going to the local shelter but I don't want to overwhelm her and make it a bad experience for her.
    I know you will all tell me what's best for my princess! :)
  12. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Be careful when you are trying to get her attention. Yes, you need to be interesting, but probably not in an exciting way for Jessie's sake. You need to be STABLE, but also interesting. Excited interesting could actually heighten her stress level--you want to keep her calm. (If this contradicts something I've said before, feel free to send an imaginary kick my way lol. Sorry!)

    I would say a definite no to the show. In my opinion it's far too soon for her. As for doubting yourself...don't! You are PAYING to be there. You know your dog better than they do-if you think its best for Jessie to stand on her head, so be it! Long as it's not such a huge distraction that class is totally in uproar, who cares! You are paying them.
    Do your best to control your own fear and emotions. Try to train yourself to not even look at people and dogs who come "out of the blue." Be aware of your surroundings, but pretend that "surprises" aren't even important enough to gain your attention. This will help Jessie in the longrun so she's not always on the lookout and not phased by surprises.

    Keep up the good work, and don't let anyone discourage you.
  13. snowblind New Member

    I haven´t seen the situation you are in but when my dog is worried about other dogs and I get her to focus on me and somebody would tell me that my dog doesn´t need to watch me then, sorry, I wouldn´t even think longer about it- she does! Training class is the only place where my dog agressive (out of fear) doberman feels comfortable working side by side with any dog and that is just because of that- she knows that she always needs to focuse on me and no scary dog can come up to her. On the streets there are dogs that can come up to us so she is never that comfortable but I alwaysalwaysalways do my absolute best to protect her and handle the situation myself. This might not be the most popular site around here but HERE this article about socializing that I like. It is about puppies but I think a great deal of the same principles can be administered to an adult. I have made two dogs dog agressive when believing "trainers" that claim my dogs don´t have to focuse on me and should "play" with other dogs and one fear agressive dog social (and actually ok to run around with other dogs) by making her engage me and protecting her from other dogs.

    I believe dragging her to you will have no good effect. Probably not anything too damaging either though. What I would do is go to the dog and try to get anything rewardable out of her- cue eye contact, hand touch, sit or anything you might think he might do. Help her if needed to get something rewardable but anything to break the focus off the other dog and on to you. THIS is pretty much what I have done with my young dachshund- this has already incorporated some exercises but the same work with moving backwards, being interesting and rewarding for staying with you and focused is how I got her focusing on me and not the rest of the world (I got her when she was 6 months old with no training and heavily distracted outside). This is what I would do. Perhaps moving away from the path so the distance between you and the strange dog is big enough so your dog is still able to focus on you and with time work your way closer.

    It is always a hard question and even harder to tell what could work over the internet. I just wish the best for you and your dog. I have been in your shoes and know how hard it is. I have given up hope that my dober will be able to be completely aloof when seeing another dog on the streets but she can now run with other dogs that she has been introduced to properly (takes a few minutes) and stay under control on the streets. I believe that your dog can do better. You just have to find an approach that will work for you and your dog.
  14. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Jenny, I agree with tx cowgirl - right now is not the time to take your girl to dog shows or anyplace deliberately where will there will be that many dogs and commotion, it's just too much, too soon. You have way too big a job ahead of you right now. She's too scared of even passing a dog on the street, let alone being asked to be calm around many dogs in a crowded place where you can't concentrate on her and her issues. There will be lots of time in the future for events like this. Give her time. Make that your goal for next year. :dogsmile:

    As for your training class and that trainer, that makes me sad to hear. Your trainer, if he/she were respectable, would be also telling you to ALWAYS be your dogs biggest advocate. My trainers were the ones who 'beat' that into my head. Only last week, my girl and I held up our Nosework class cuz she had a little 'outburst' because a dog came around a corner, surprised her, was waaaay too close, and she lost it. The dogs work alone in class, and it shouldn't even have happened (but you know accidents always will), and she needed a few seconds to 'take a deep breath and regroup'. I apologized for holding up class, and she said no problem at all, take your time. Everyone in class understood, it's the attitude of the whole training facility - dogs are always first. Jess is YOUR dog. YOU know what she needs. YOU DO WHAT YOU KNOW SHE NEEDS. Don't let that trainer bully you into treating her any other way, and whatever you do, don't let them then use forceful tactics on her to "show you how it's done. I made that mistake, a few years ago I turned the leash over before I knew better - and the result caused sooooo much damage to my girl (I must add, not at the training facility we're at now). If you've read "Click to Calm" by Emma Parsons, my girl Makena turned into Ben. Let that little voice inside of you always tell you what's right.

    You said when you see another dog coming, you can sometimes get her to jump about to get her to focus on you. Remember you want her in a very calm relaxed state of mind, not an excited state. You don't want her jumping around - that's upping her level of excitement. When she sees that other dog, say "Jess, watch me" - if she doesn't immed, wave that chicken under her nose, get her attention, and start feeding her - and I mean feedfeesdfeedfeedfeedfeedfeedfeedfeedfeedfeedfeedfeedfeedfeedfeedfeedfeedfeedfeed until that other dog is passed. "OH YUM THAT WAS SOOOOOO GOOD!!! I didn't even realize that other dog passed by, I was having such a good time with my mom eating chicken!!!!" That's the feeling you want her to get inside every single time she sees a dog. Make it happen. When you walk into training class and she sees other dogs, and she's calm, ohhh, good girl, and feed feed feed feed as you walk to your place. I don't care what your trainer says. She's your girl. And like tx cowgirl says, if you're not distracting the rest of the class, what's it to them if you feed her, you're buying the food, and I'm quite sure you're not throwing it all over the room. They need to stick with their program and you'll do what you need to do to graduate (cuz obviously they're not helping with your issues - just my opinion).

    Also - make sure when you see another dog, you don't EVER tighten the leash or do that famous thing we humans do and suck in some air - cuz trust me, she'll feel it, and she'll hear it - and she'll react accordingly. See, there's another dog, I was right to be scared, cuz mom's scared too!!!

    I'm not sure if you're familiar with T-Touch (Tellington Touch) massage, but as part of the Feisty Fido class I completed with Makena, we learned T-touch massage and practiced this on our dogs a couple times a day - I did this for many months. When they're that scared, their muscles tend to be very tense, and stay that way. The massage relaxes their bodies - a lot. Makena turned into a noodle, and boy, does she LOVE it. I'd kneel down and call her over, she'd rush over and flop. You may want to research this, also - it may help to relax Jess's body all over. May sound off the wall to you, but stress tenses the muscles, and puts the body on high alert. As the body relaxes, so do the reflexes, the attitudes, everything. It all works hand in hand. My dogs still love their T-Touch - they just don't get it every day anymore - poor them. :dogwink:

    Keep up the good work, keep up your spirits, I know it's really tough some days. We're here for you, keep us posted. Good luck!
  15. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Great tips Jackie! Yes, T-touch is WONDERFUL, I absolutely love love love it. Use it on my dogs and my horses. Massage of any kind is a wonderful way to relax not only your dog, but you too. Try using T-touch before and after class, before/after a walk, anytime you know she will probably encounter dogs. This will help her be more relaxed before class, and relieve some stress after class. Maybe start getting to class early every day, and do some massage/T-touch before class(away from classmates--maybe just by the car, or anyhwere where she's mostly alone and "safe) so she's mellowed out instead of worried and stressed. Doing that before each class should help her learn that she can be relaxed in that place.

    Jackie, your training group sounds so wonderful. ^^ If only there were one of those for every person in the world with dogs with problems. :dogwub:

    T-Touch Books:
    Getting in TTouch with Your Dog: A Gentle Way to Better Health and Behavior
    The Tellington TTouch: A Revolutionary Natural Method to Train and Care for Your Favorite Animal

    There are MANY other books about TTouch written by Linda-Tellington Jones; not hard to find. They are all very good. :)
  16. jennyw Well-Known Member

    Yes I've read a little about T-touch in Your Dog magazine, it could work for Jess I think. I've noticed that in training if I rub her chest slowly she seems to relax a little. Plus we keep trying the yawn!
    I was really proud of her again tonight, as we walked out of my mum's house she got barked at by two large labrador retrievers. She had a little panic but I managed to stay calm and we turned away from them and she sat and looked at me before I even asked "watch me"! It really seemed as if she is realising that everything is fine and she gets her treats simply by ignoring other dogs! It's still early days but she seems to be trying so hard.
  17. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Oh, wonderful news and good work with the Labs!! That's great that she sat even before you asked her to!! You'll notice your progress, cuz that will happen more and more - and then don't be surprised or discouraged if you take step backwards once in a while, as that will happen too. Jess will be just like us, in that she'll have good days, and bad ones - hopefully a lot more good ones, but every once in a while, as we do, she'll just not be able to deal with "life out there" and even quiet dogs will set her off. Just keep your chin up and stay calm.

    As you progress and she's staying calm when she sees dogs, you can start adding "look a dog" treat treat treat treat - and make the sight of a dog mean a treat (or 2 or 3) is coming (as opposed to the sight of a dog means she needs to focus on you). She'll start glancing at the dog, glancing back at you, and back and forth - cuz oh goodie, hey, I look at the dog, and back at mom, and I get chicken - and maybe if I look back at the dog, then back at mom again, I'll get more chicken. It gets to be a game. You just stay quiet and calm, and make other dogs a nice happy (altho be sure to be quietly happy - remember you want to keep Jess calm, not excited) experience, and give her a happy feeling inside.

    Do look into the T-Touch - it's really wonderful. Massage her shoulders and tops of her legs, hips, back, and face - it's where dogs hold lots of tension. The book will tell you how to use small circular motion, and where is most effective. It sounds like rubbing her chest is a calming place for her when you do it, so keep that up if you feel she needs it, when in class (or anywhere else). You want to keep her as relaxed as possible, as you're really trying to change her whole mental state right now.

    It sounds like you're doing a great job - keep up the good work!!

    And a side note to Tx cowgirl - yes, we are so fortunate to have a wonderful training facility! Excellent trainers/staff (all positive reinforcement/clicker trainers), so many activities going on all the time, seminars, classes, just anything you could want. Everyone should be be so lucky!! :dogtongue2:
  18. jennyw Well-Known Member

    Another question has occurred to me recently. We had Jess spayed on Sept 17th and are slowly building up her excercise routine again. I'm just wondering if the spaying will have any kind of calming effect on her or is that a little too much to hope for? We think she is nearly 3 years old so is that too old for the operation to affect her?
    It seems too early to tell at the moment, on some walks she seemed to ignore some dogs and then other times she went loopy again. I was so worried about her bursting her stitches, she was leaping around on the end of her lead. No damage done thankfully but it was a very long wait for the stitches to come out!
    I should clarify what I meant by getting her to jump around with me when she sees other dogs. That's only when she's off the lead and we've already been playing chase for treats and running around together so I try to keep her more interested in the game than the dogs. If we are just walking down the street then I try not to react to the other dogs at all and just casually cross the street asking her to watch me.
    The bad news is I met up with the only dog behaviourist in our area and wasn't really impressed with her methods. She just walked along yanking Jess's lead whenever she looked at another dog. The internet seems the only place I can find people using kind and positive methods. But thank goodness for this site!
  19. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Just wondering .. did I miss someplace, or maybe I don't remember .. ? .. what breed of dog is Jess? Do keep in mind that 3 is still young, so she's still maturing, and spaying may hopefully calm her a bit, especially if she was anywhere near coming into heat again. She'll need a bit of time for her body to balance out (chemically) but the spaying *may* help - or not. I wish that were a magic bullet but it's just not so.

    Sorry the behaviorist was of the old "yank and crank" school - that's so sad and frustrating. There's just no fast, easy fix when working with a reactive dog. I just started today to work with a friend's reactive Golden. I know it will be a journey, but I'm keeping a positive attitude, a full bait bag, a huge load of patience, a smile on my face, and a "one day at a time" attitude. I know some days will be good, some won't, some days we'll take two steps forward and one step back, others we'll seem to leap forward, some we'll take one step forward and two backwards, and others we'll just stand still. I know we'll move forward most of the time tho, if even at a crawl - and baby steps will get us there eventually, and that's all that counts. There's no timetable attached, only the goal that this little Golden girl will be able to walk calmly thru the neighborhood and enjoy her walks and the day, sans meltdowns. I believe it can happen.

    You believe that with Jess too, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
  20. jennyw Well-Known Member

    Thank you Jackie, I probably was hoping it would have an effect on her reaction to other dogs. But of course spaying is about her health more than anything, though it would have been a nice bonus to have her relax a little more!
    We're really unsure what mix of breeds have made up my little madam. Most people who see her say she is mainly terrier type, possibly Staffordshire Bull Terrier. You may know that here in the UK Staffies have a very bad (and undeserved) reputation for aggression. The vast majority of dogs in rescue centres here are Staffies and Staffie crosses. When I tell people about her fear aggression many people say straight away "Oh, that'll be the Staffie in her." The vet also suspects she has some collie or other herding breed in her somewhere. My husband is getting her DNA tested for me as a Christmas present because I'm desperate to know what she is!
    She is definitely making progress, she can manage to ignore quite a few dogs now, depending on how worked up the other dog is. You can almost see her trying to rein in her urges as I get her to focus on treats. It's like she knows what she needs to do and is trying so hard to keep calm but she still gets carried away sometimes.
    The worst trigger at the moment is cats, if she has seen a cat and got completely overexcited then sees a dog, it's all just too much for her bless her! I don't have a hope of cooling her off then! But I can't be dealing with cats as well at the moment, maybe once we deal with the dog issues we will move on to cats!

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