My dog loathes the rottie next door...


Honored Member
Yeah, it is tough, isn't it? Mine is the same way, on a leash he is way less reliable, he used to be nutz. Sometimes he still is, but now, less often and less nutz.

Another thing that helped my Buddy, was his dog class, He took "Basic Manners" He already knew everything on their list, BUT, i wanted an opportunity to practice keeping him calm around other dogs. EDIT: i probably should throw in here, THE FIRST CLASS WAS A NIGHTMARE!!! Okay, so was the second...and the third...:msngiggle: okay, the fourth wasn't what most folks would call "really good" either...but i ws beginning to spot some improvements by then, Buddy had realized, "i come here, i see other dogs, i leave all in one piece anyway."
He did get SOOoo much better, no, not great, but WAY better. Everyone said so, too.

At first, everyone in class kinda looked at us with mild disdain, like what a loser pair, lunging dog + loser dumb owner who had a dog like that--can't you control your dog or what?
But it was cool, over time, they grew very fond of Buddy, and realized lil ol Buddy is doing the best he can. They sorta were rooting for him to get better, and they celebrated with me at his progress. He did come a long way in there with all those other dogs around, maybe he never experienced being calm by other dogs before. Even if only for moments at a time, at first.

I'd sit with Buddy, off to the side, and fed him treats, sometimes "speed-feeding" treats, if he was calm, and to keep him calm... trying to teach him: "other dogs = treats for me IF i don't lose my mind.." And oh, i brought him in there reeally hungry, too, and had his favorite super delish treats.

I learned a lot, too, ways to distract him. Can't remember now if i learned this next remark i told myself often, was it here on this web or from the school, but you don't wanna let him "spend much time in that state of mind." That was one of the many advice i kept tellling myself to distract him early on, before he escalates.

I learned to stay calm when my dog is lunging--HOnestly, i felt a wave of compassion for my dog when he lunged, like i do with sick people, i let that reaction grow in me more each lunge, it helped me speak calmly to him, as i would to somene who is suffering....

and i learned to get him to return his att'n to me, and to be sure when Buddy does put his att'n back on to me, it is a calm and understanding human he is looking at....and reward that att''n on me. No, i'm not perfect at this, but, i'm way way better. I got a LOT of practice, ha ha!!

If 2 or 3 blocks is his limit, well, that is his current limit. With time, you can probably reduce the 2 or 3 blocks to 1 or 2 blocks, and so on...takes a lotta time, it does. But it is worth it. So worth it. Be sure you read the info i was given here, this website helped me with Buddy more than anything else did, these folks, i don't know where me and Buddy would be without their help.

The fence work is good, esp since you have bad back, is good chance. you can actually sit next to your dog, and get him calm, and reward that, i did that too. It's super crucial to nip it in the bud, at first signs of Bender starting to react, distract him THEN, right then, reward, i mean REEALLY reward that turn of his head to you.
I used to do this out in our front yard at dog-walk hour. I'd sit out there, right next to Buddy on leash, some distance back in yard, and when dogs went by, i'd speed-feed treats, one per second, while dogs went by. This might work for you with your bad back. We did this a lot. Ha, most of the dog walkers thought we were nutz at first, but they figured it out, and sometimes they'd go by twice for more practice for Buddy.
Over time, we moved a lil closer to the street, and so on. If Buddy was being reeeally good, he got to go meet dogs going by if it was ok and all.

If you can only distract him for a moment at first, well, that is a start. it gets easier, the more you practice doing it, and easier for the dog, too, the more he gets the hang of, "Oh, mom wants me to look at her instead of going completly outa my mind? Okay, just 1 peek at mom then."

Practice having him "look at me" inside your house. Let Bender know when he does BIG TREATS! HUGE PRAISE! best moment of his day!!
Then out in the yard. And progress to very mild stressors, reward ANY teeny lil glance at you, any sign he is calm. and then take him away. ha ha!

Buddy now looks at me even before i say it sometimes. To Buddy--"Scary dog = I gotta look at my mom. I bet she wants to shake paw, too..."
It snaps them outa their focus on the other dog.

Hopefully, someone smarter than me will spot you and give you some pointers and stuff. HANG IN THERE, AND KEEP US POSTED!!


Well-Known Member
tigerlily46514;19916 said:
--HOnestly, i felt a wave of compassion for my dog when he lunged, like i do with sick people, i let that reaction grow in me more each lunge, it helped me speak calmly to him, as i would to somene who is suffering....
I love this!! I hope I can reach this type of reaction. I still get tense and am learning to make sure to breath. I've never tightened the lead in the lunging situations, but I know my body language and tone of voice need working on! Thanks for all your help tigerlily, it really is encouraging!! I also found a dog trainer who seems really good. She has experience with dog aggressive/reactive dogs. She said that most of her training is based off of Control Unleashed and the Relaxation Protocol by Dr. Karn. I don't know anything about the Relaxation Protocol so I'll be doing some research on that. She also holds a reactive dog class so hopefully enough dogs will sign up for it and ~cross fingers~ Bender won't be too bad for it

Another positive note-my husband is learning to walk Bender with a loose lead on his flat collar!!! Sometimes he gets a little frustrated and has to give the leash to me, and he walks ahead to cool down (Bender is kinda naughty about loose lead with dh), but overall, I think he is starting to see the advantage of it and no prong collar (my husband's family is all pretty traditional about training dogs, so this is a huge accomplishment!! I just wish I never would have given in to the prong collar.... even though Bender likes it much more than the gentle leader, his overall anxiety has decreased so much on walks without it!! With the prong collar, he walks with his tail in "alert" position the entire time and was so on edge. With the flat collar, he is actually starting to calm down a bit).

Thanks again tigerlily for taking the time to help me understand this better

Also, I love your training within the fence idea, but we picked out a house specifically with Bender in mind (what a person will do for a dog hehe). Only the backyard is fenced (he doesn't have a good view of dogs walking in front of the house) and the only dogs in the neighborhood aren't near Bender's line of view from the backyard. I think this will be a great help so he isn't practicing his naughtiness when we are away from home. I'm definitely going to try your ideas in the front yard when the neighbors go for their nightly walks though!! (Hopefully we don't scare too many of them away!!)


Honored Member
So glad you are feeling hopeful!! YOu CAN do this, help Bender find better way to be. It IS hard to stay calm, it is! in that moment. In click to calm, she trained her dog to be calm WHEN she pulled the leash, as a cue.
LUnging aggressive dogs are scary. Think of your dog as doing this cuz he is suffering or very afraid, that helped me use calm voice to him. It IS pitiful, poor ol dog out of his mind.

Good luck in the front yard, remember, it'll be easier for Bender is you practice the "Look at me" inside the house, or in the safe back yard, so it is something he already understands really well, before he is asked to do it when his head feels like exploding.

AT first, you might not be able to get that head turn, so when you see a dog coming, just start speed-feeding treats, one after the other, keep the treats teeny-tiny, so he doesn't get fat. You will have lotsa training time invested into this very worthy project.
My dog doesn't seem to care/notice if treat is 1/4 of a fingernail size or a whole chunk. during heavy training days, i actually hafta cut his kibble size down, so i use super healthy treats. Liver, boiled up chicken-liver...mmmhmm. I only use that for really extreme tests, as, i heard dogs shouldn't get too too much liver. Or hotdogs, cut up into fragments.

Keep him super busy speed feeding treats, so he does not have time to escalate. Praise him, and make him think, "Hmmm. this dog going by isn't so bad afterall..i get treats! I"m safe after all, up here with mom next to me." It'll be a while til you get there, but that IS where you are going. Even a moment of nonreaction or calmness is a start, let Bender know you saw it and liked it. if you can get him to look at you, or his brand new toy that he hasn't ever seen before that moment, GREAT!!

Play gently with him in between dogs, or massage him, or brush his fur, or whatever he likes.

It helps if: your dog is exhausted, worn out, long, long walk + trick session..or, better yet, a doggie play date to wear him out and get his confidence about other dogs up to maximum level!! oh, and hungry, to be even extra interested in the treats.

Another thing i learned, was, do not 'correct' a growl, nope, don't wanna do that. Cuz then you are left with a dog who will skip that all important warning growl and go straight for a bite. His attitude won't change-- he just won't growl out loud anymore. NOt good. You and the other dog both do wanna know if Bender is at the point that he needs to growl.

IF Bender does escalate, don't feel discouraged, calmly remove him so he is not "spending time in that state of mind." BUT DO TRY AGAIN...AND WILL see some lil hints of progress--maybe so small no one BUT you can spot it-- and your heart will swell up!! Ignore failures---he would if he could.

Another thing, if you have a lunger, is maybe invest in a "Hug-A-Dog" harness, is easier on his neck, for one thing. Thryoids are right behind that adam's apple..never designed to bear 150 PSI of pressure there...any brand is fine, i guess, but that was only brand Buddy could tolerate. With other brands, he'd stop a lot, and shake as if he was all wet...well, hey, we are going for distraction!! ha ha!

I felt safer with Buddy in a harness, cuz he cannot pull his head out of it, like he could on a flat collar.

If you get any dog owners willing to walk by your fence, well, then, you could use that as a training time for Bender. Keep 'em short, and always always follow with some play times.

You might even wanna try thsi in the back yard, while dogs go by the front yard, so Bender kinda gets the idea a lil bit before advancing to front yard..?

And be braced, it might be many times, til you can spot the teeny lil signs, that Bender is starting to realize he is safe, he does not have to holler at the other dogs, so be prepared for quite a few tries til you can see that shift in him starting to come along. But you will see a change come along, but not right away, but don't get frustrated, don't give up on him. Think of the beginning times as just simply practicing and getting the hang of it, for both of you. Don't feel bad if you can't see improvement right off.

I feel kinda bad, i am fairly new here, hope you are reading the other advice around. This is just what i learned from others, hope i am not leaving out some steps or anything.
KEEP US POSTED!! GOOD LUCK!! I feel kinda proud of you for tackling this kinda difficult issue in your dog. Keep trying and trying, even if no one else thinks Bender can get better, even if no one but you can see the first inklings of change, stay with it!!! it takes time!!


Honored Member
There's lotsa threads on loose lead walking, too. For Buddy, those extenda-leashes seemed to hamper his abililty to walk without pulling. Hard to explain. (But honestly, it was harder training my man to not allow any pulling, than it was for Buddy to figure it out.) :msngiggle:

Took some time, long time, then bam, he kinda got it almost all at once. The dog, i mean, i am still working on the man.:msngiggle:
When Buddy ever stopped pulling, I almost had heart attack. He still messes up for oncoming dogs sometimes, is not 100% perfect. Plus, i been walking him off leash so much, i noticed he had got sloppy about ON leash again!!

Another gal here says nothing worked for her one dog, except a "Gentle Leader" thing. Guess every dog is different!!!


Well-Known Member
tigerlily46514;19953 said:
I feel kinda bad, i am fairly new here, hope you are reading the other advice around. This is just what i learned from others, hope i am not leaving out some steps or anything.
:dogbiggrin: Don't worry!! I am a reader!! I've researched/read forums on this issue so much but now finally have the time to really commit to it now that I'm out of grad school and dh is willing to help out! I really like this forum and all of the advice I have found on it and love all of the book suggestions! Once my first paycheck arrives, Bender is going to the trainer and I'm going to the bookstore.

I don't know how to quote multiple things, but you are so right about the growling issue! My husband's family learned the hard way with this. At one point, every single pet of theirs had injuries from one of their dogs that bit without warning. I''m soo glad I learned from their mistake with this when I first got Bender or we'd really be in a predicament.

Watch command--I've been terrible, terrible at training this. I know I'm a bad person for not having worked on this more, but it is finally coming along! After reading all your posts, i realized that just clicking and feeding when dogs were near wasn't enough. Somehow I hadn't understood the importance of having him look on his own.. i'd better read click to calm again. Anyway, inside he now has a 10 sec watch and I'll be starting outside in the backyard today. Of course, I won't expect a 10 sec watch when we are near dogs, I'll be happy with a 1/4s glance =)

I also found the Relaxation Protocol the trainer recommended. is all very easy for Bender so I'm going to try having him go through some of the stays near a dog that Bender, amazingly does not mind at all. It is a 3 legged pooch that barks and goes crazy at the fence when dogs go by, but if a person stays around long enough (while Bender isn't being crazy of course) it actually backs up in it's yard to be as close to the house as it can get (seems a little dog reactive itself, poor pooch).

The Calming Ovals mentioned somewhere along the way in this forum also really seem to help Bender!! I've been practicing them a few times a day inside and outside, sometimes i switch it up and do figure eights and go around trees, etc. all at a really slow pace and his anxiety levels have really decreased. Yay!!


Honored Member
I know what you mean, i love this website, too!! And i know what you mean about all the research one can find available on reactive dogs, there IS a lot we can learn about this. We never ever had a reactive dog before, so we were starting from scratch. Actually, the more i read, the more fascinated i become with my own lil "gangsta" dog!! THANKS for posting that link, i haven't ever seen that one before.

I feel so relieved you are reading the other stuff!! That is a good word for it, commitment. But, one thing, it only takes moments a day. Dogs don't like lengthy training sessions anyway.

LIke you, i have read bunches of stuff, there's different angles, situations, stuff. Even if it is stuff i've sorta tripped across before, i like to hear other people's insight into reactive dogs, and it is always good to find some encouragement so we can continue to encourage our lil gangsta-dogs, or find a remark here or there to repeat to yourself...(or to your dog!):msngiggle:

That is great Bender DOES have a lil friend!! My Buddy's 1st real pal, was a greyhound who isn't right either, but, they make perfect match. The greyhound is kinda hyper-goof type, and ignores all aggression in dogs, his human reports to me, plus--Buddy can not catch him!! :dognowink: Not at first, anyway. But he can now, Jive got Buddy all 'built up' now.

The more Buddy plays with that greyhound, that sure seems to help Buddy get some social skills and confidence, and some positive dog-interaction. Buddy always seems a lil more calm towards all other dogs on days he gets to see Jive. Both of those dogs have come along from playing together. From there, Buddy learned how to play with some other dogs, too. But the greyhound is his favorite.

Your inlaws sound a bit like mine. There is a difference between loving dogs and understanding dogs. Mine have obese dogs, so obese they cannot walk, and they feed them piles and piles of junk, ice cream, etc. They actually hold the ice cream bowl under dogs face cuz they can't walk to the ice cream, cuz they are THAT fat. (dachsunds, with very large stomachs dragging on floor, their feet can no longer touch floor..this is abuse.) They act confused why can't the dog walk? and they have to keep changing vets, cuz they get annoyed when the vet wants the dogs to lose weight. "But they love ice cream!" :msnrolleyes:One just bought a baby stroller for her dog...makes me sad cuz if there is any dog who needs to walk, it is that dog.
They also think i am witch cuz i wont' let them do that to Buddy. Otherwise than that, they like me, they just think i am so cruel to not overfeed my dog junk.

Do you use clicker? I had resisted using one, didn't wanna 'get chained' to something i might lose, but wow, sure makes a difference. Sure does.

One thing i am not certain i understood, was about having Bender look at you on his own. I give Buddy a cue "look at me". Buddy NOW occasionally does that in a pavlovian reflex, but only from being told to soooo often, when he is worried about some dog.

Buddy looked at me on cue. I always gave him the cue, "look at me" (or whatever cue you use). It woulda never crossed Buddy's mind in a million years to look at me when a another dog is near, otherwise!! But now, he often does before i even give the cue, the way dogs often pre-emptively do a trick for us? kinda thing? but so long as i can get him to focus on me on cue, that is the goal--to break up his focus on this other dog--he has harder time escalating into full blown cujo action if he is not allowed to focus nonstop = less time he spends in that frame of mind. A step towards becoming a more calm dog.

To redirect his focus to help him stay calm for even a moment at a time. If they can do it--stay calm, not react-- for one second, who knows, the next day =two seconds! And so it begins!
Once Buddy DOES escalate, i just remove him, to try again another time. Occasionally i can re-settle him. but That is really hard to do. I can reduce his level of reaction, but reducing it to calm again, really hard. Not impossible, but really really hard.

I'm so interested to hear how it goes with Bender!!!


Well-Known Member
tigerlily46514;19965 said:
Mine have obese dogs, so obese they cannot walk, and they feed them piles and piles of junk, ice cream, etc. They actually hold the ice cream bowl under dogs face cuz they can't walk to the ice cream, cuz they are THAT fat.
lol My husband has nicknamed his parent's oldest lab "the seal" but she can at least still waddle around :msnblushing:
Yep, Bender is clicker trained =) One of my psychology professors from undergrad introduced me to clicker training so I had to try it with him 3 years later. When Bender started having issues, the professor volunteered to help, suggested the prong collar and took him down an alley with lots of dogs and corrected like crazy. If only that day never would have happened!!

Anyhoo, Bender is getting much better!!! He now "whines" instead of growling/lunging when he is above threshold and is much more relaxed over all and generally easier to calm down. I finally bought Control Unleashed and love it!! It has so many activities and different ways of thinking about training. I've been working on a "mat" cue with Bender, but using shaping/capturing, I couldn't get him to understand that I wanted him to down on the mat rather than just stand/sit/ and once in a while down on it. CU gave the excellent, simple suggestion of using kibble for a reward when he is doing anything on the mat other than downing and a high value reward only for downing. Bender caught on so quickly!! Anyhoo, if you haven't read CU, I'd highly suggest it!! (she introduces the go to mat cue so that when in a reactive dog class the dogs can have a safe/calming zone. From my understanding, a mat is preferable to a kennel for some dogs so they learn self-control around their triggers)


Honored Member
Thanks for the tip, i've been given that tip before, i must read Control Unleashed!

Sorry you had such a lousy trainer experience, shiver!!!

SO STOKED FOR YOU And BENDER!!! WOOHOO!!! Sounds like you and Bender are coming along pretty quickly to already be having some progress!!!! wow!!


Well-Known Member
Thanks!! Wish I could take credit for all of his progress, but I can't. He stayed with the in-laws for 6 months. Their two labs & strange dogs that wandered onto their 5 acre, doggy heaven property seemed to have convinced him that dogs are okay (as long as they go away when he is tired of them)! He seems more like a manageable reactive dog now rather than an over the edge crazy man, whoo hoo! I wish I would have realized how much socialization he needed as a pup to avoid all of this, but it's on a turn for the better.


Honored Member
Well, you are right, socialization is hugely great for puppies. But i don't want you beating yourself up. the book i read, Click to Calm, she was a dog trainer and she did socialize her pup, and still, her dog turned out like ours. Maybe sometimes you just never know what makes some dogs this way.
Maybe, i'm just making this up, but you know, there is inherit shyness in some dogs, these dogs, almost come off as previously abused, some say it is an inborn thing, even if they get tons of socialization.

so Maybe there is inherit agressions...who knows? this is pure speculation, only just wondering. We'll probably never know, but it's like Maya Angelou says: I did the best i could with what i understood at the time!

You are doing great with Bender, so glad he is coming along!! It's never too late for a dog to learn a new way, Buddy's dog-friends have helped him so so much, too! What a joy to see him getting along with now-- MOST dogs. (except rotties and GSD, he still usually reacts to them, but, sometimes, every now and then, he will act okay about seeing one. He's better, he's coming along too!


Honored Member
Xanny! I am mostly posting this for you, in case this ever happens with you and your dog, you wont' get defeated feeling like i had last week.

Last week, Buddy started new class (Obility) and had all new classmates, plus, he hadnt' been to dog school for a month or so. So Buddy did his best version of "Cujo with rabies" for the other dogs and their humans, and made his usual devastating first impression...and of course, everyone looked at buddy and me like we both were slime of the earth...

I was so discouraged, like all my work was wasted. So bummed and discouraged, i could not even play with Buddy that evening after class.....

But, on the bright side, Buddy is not trying to bite other dogs, and is not growling,(!) or snarling, etc,---- now--- he is just barking and lunging, which for Buddy is an improvement from his previous "How do you do?" that he usta do.

So i corrected his barking/jumping towards other dogs with firm NO! or AH AH!! And even though there was little marked improvement to brag on last week...THIS WEEK, Buddy was way way better, almsot normal!!! (thud sound as she hits floor..)

I was so proud i could not stand my own self!! We even got to stand in line with the other dogs. (THAT is a first!) Okay, after a while we did have to back up, Buddy gets so excited watching the other dogs run the course and ends up barking at whoever is next to him.
but he DID stand in line with other dogs for quite a while. WOOHOO!! I never thought i'd see THAT day!!

Also, just prior to class this time, i had the greyhound down the street come over and run Buddy around for 2 hours!! About 30 minutes before we left for class....

So Buddy was both tired and in "social" mood. Plus, he had now seen all these other dogs last week.

A few miracle moments= For most dog owners, these things would be an almost unnoticed every day occurance, but to me, was like winning lottery...
Buddy and i were coming out of a closed door into a narrow hallway, and other dogs were marching along the hall, (not good set up...) so besides the doorway thing and the close proximity and all, Buddy just got in line and walked along with the other dogs!!! (thud...jean falls over from shock.)

Throughout the evening, Buddy greeted a few of the other dogs properly, ON LEASH, no problems!! (heart attack of shock and awe..) Buddy usually is doing okay off leash with most dogs, but ON leash, we are still working on that one.

We were all in line for the course, and ONe of the other dogs suddenly turned suddenly and barked excitedly right in Buddy's space, and buddy just sat there and looked at him, like 'whatever'...normally, buddy is like "Oh yeah? It's on now!" but not that night!! WOOHOO!!

So maybe it was the greyhound wearing him out?????, maybe it was i am correcting the barking at the end of his leash????, maybe the moons were all aligned properly, but Buddy was way better. Not perfect, but almost normal. WOOHOO!!

So Xanny, if you ever see a lot of improvement, and then have set back, don't give up, keep trying!!


Experienced Member
Great job on the recall's.. oopsie about the geese and river. That would have scared me to death too. Goes to show we should not assume about our cues eh. Better than u thought!

Those TX dogs are rocking it too. YAY! Reading how far all these pups have come makes me get misty eyed. I'm a sap for a success story. What great work and kudo's to both of u.

Much excellent advice too.

Xanny try a REAL positive Karen Pryor trained clicker trainer. I have been super impressed
. I found one very near me. Hopefully u do have a good one now. The first sounds like a bad trainer with a clicker accidently in the hand which is just bad. Sorry about ur experience.

TL & TX have done soo much in a short time. You can do it too. My girl was super reactive fearful as a pup and claming exercises with clickers or without are great. Click to Calm by Emma Parsons and Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt are my two fav books. McDevitt has a youtube site too.

Jackienmutts posts here too sometimes or u could PM her she took her GSD to the dog park today for the first time!! the dog that used to go CUJO and drag her across the street. Lots of calming and treats and calm exposure at distance. Her reactions sound perfect tho we all have those OMG moments.


Honored Member
Good post Snooks! Yeah, looking back at how i did NOT call to Buddy as he chased a goose towards the rushing river's edge, stupidly thinking Buddy would stop on his own as he now knew where the river's edge was...what an idiot i was...

What was i thinking!?

Sure wish i could take THAT moment back. The damage is done. I can't believe i did not call to him....We're still working on getting Buddy UNafraid of water, cuz he is so not the same since he jumped into that river...cuz no one told him NOT to...poor ol Buddy. He was counting on me, and i let him down.

It's going slowly, Buddy is less afraid of water, i've even had him get some swimming lessons from his dog school, but i don't think he is ever gonna love the water the way some dogs do.

But yeah, buddy's recall is now remarkabley great, super strong, even if he is chasing a bunny, or a deer, he freezes and then returns if i call to him. He is a lil harder to call back if he is going towards another dog, especially one he is 'friends with', but it can be done. IN that case--if he is walking towards a dog, and i call him-- he freezes, but does not return, but waits for me to catch up to him, while watching the other dog.

I walk him off leash most of the time, practicing recall every few minutes, and hook him onto the leash for any car, any other dog, for any corners where i can't see what is there, or any passing person at all (to avoid making them worry).

He is pretty darn good, if only i had been smart enuff to actually CALL him when he is headed towards a rushing river's edge...duh.


Honored Member
SO COOL ABOUT JACKIENMUTTS be able to take her GSD to the dog park!! Cna't wait til i can say that too!! (i did once, and Buddy got attacked by pit/boxer mix, --Buddy reverted to weird behaviour for days after---and haven't been back. yet.)


Well-Known Member
Tigerlily how exciting for you and buddy!!! Maybe someday we will get to all of the things you guys can do now =) I completely understand the room full of dogs, walking in hallways, all of those reactive situations. Bender is definetly not there yet, but it's so encouraging to hear it is possible!! We had a set back of our own this week, but it was only 1 dog, not an entire room full of strangers! I was taking Bender for a walk, it was starting to get dark, and a golden retriever was headed our way. Bender is so much more reactive at night, I didn't even try to see how close we could get before he was over threshold. I took the first street I saw, said our usual "let's go" for "let's get out of here!" Luckily Bender does wonderful with this! So we were happily walking along, when I realized the golden was following us and there was no where for us to go :( I had no treats or tennis balls... ~sigh~... bad trainer!! I ended up doing everything I could to keep his attention and prevent the stare down, but he still managed to get in a lunge/growl. But, like you said there will be setbacks(!), and I've learned my lesson on the night walks.

Snooks, thanks so much for all the resources!! I love Click to Calm and Control Unleashed. Sadly, there are no Karen Pryor trainers in Wyoming. The trainer I will be going to uses Control Unleashed for her classes and helps out with the only No kill dog rescue in our area. Hopefully, she will be a big help! I have to wait until October due to $$, and I'm getting antsy to work with her!


Honored Member
Tigerlilly, great work with Buddy!! He's really come a long, long way! Lots of great advice on here. And Xanny, keep up the good work with Bender. As far as the prong collar goes, leave it in the past. I had a horrid "training experience" with my GSD. She was becoming very reactive, one sight of another dog from a block away and I'd practically be on my face. I sought help from a trainer who "specialized" in aggressive dogs, assurred me she could help, ran a kennel, doggie day care, etc, so lots of dogs to help with in the socialization process; she came highly recommended. I drove to her facility, we met, she took my girl, had a bunch of dogs ready, plopped a prong collar on her, and began "correcting" her, my girl was yelping and yelping. I ended that, paid her, said we were done, left and cried on the way home. I was so sad, and talk about feeling I had let my girl down in the biggest way. She was FAR FAR worse after that, too. I really beat myself up over that one - but had to leave it in the past...because we had to move forward. I found a wonderful positive training facility a couple months later - and it's been great ever since. That was about 2 years ago. It's been a long, long road. By then, Makena was HORRID.

We worked many days, some days I couldn't deal with the stress of walking her, but we did as Tigerlily described - see a dog, feedfeedfeedfeedfeed til the scary dog was past. We did this for way over a year. It's been a long road. A dog park opened 4 blocks from us a few months ago, so since it opened, we've been working outside the fence, practicing calm behavior. A year ago, we'd have had to be a block away, she was still that reactive. We also went thru a Feisty Fido class. But last week, she went IN the dog park with 3 quiet dogs. I scoped it out big time before letting her in, felt it would be ok. She did great. Her skills are back. She's not ready for big time wild play, she'll get too aroused, and I know that. I want her to succeed - but she's meeting loads of dogs on-leash now, we meet lots just outside the dog park, something I couldn't even have imagined a year ago.

Do work on the "watch" command, it's so important. More so than you can even imagine. Another really important one is a hand touch. The reason they're so important is that if you see your dog even beginning to get aroused out "on the street" (on a walk, wherever) you can ask them for a "watch" or a hand touch, and it can break that focus on that other dog (or whatever it might be) and refocus them on you - and it can happen instantly. Both behaviors are very simple, yet really powerful.

Keep working, and don't give up. There will be good days, bad days, days when it seems there's been no progress, days when you feel like giving up, days when you wonder "why do I have this dog and everyone else has friendly dogs?" and days when you are so overjoyed it's ridiculous! But I'll tell you something. Thru all the work we've done, we have a bond now that is 10 times as strong as it was when this journey began. I believe it has to do with trust. My girl Makena trusts that I will keep her safe, good things happen when I'm around, good things happen when we're together, and I think we've learned to trust each other more than ever. It's one incredible ride. I answered my own question...why do I have this dog? Cuz I needed her, and she needed me. And I wouldn't trade her for the world.

Good luck, and don't ever give up. It's worth every minute. If you ever need help, ask, or feel like venting, do - or better yet, need to yell out cuz of the great day you had, do it!


Honored Member
Wow, Jackienmutts, what a great post! Almost made my eyes water, i think i am gonna save this in Microsoft word, to read next time i am deflated cuz Buddy is doing his "Cujo with Rabies" imitation.

Really really great post, thanks for these words that i will keep in my mind for 'rainy days' !!

Interesting idea about being OUTSIDE the dog park and practicing meeting dogs OUTSIDE the dog park who are coming or going....i had never thought about that, i might try that myself.


Honored Member
Glad to be of help Tigerlily. For a long time outside the park, we only worked on Makena being calm. It took us many weeks to work up to her being able to actually even approach the fence. We'd get a bit closer every few days, then I'd just click/treat for calm behavior again, then walk a bit, then c/t again when she'd get interested in the dogs and remain calm. Dogs would come up to the fence, she'd be calm, c/t. We'd walk by the fence and dogs would run up, she'd be calm, c/t. Dogs would bark and she wouldn't react, c/t. Loads and loads of c/t. Gradually we were at the fenceline, she really acted like she wanted to meet these dogs, but I'd search out quiet calm ones, never really charged up wild ones. I knew a wild one would set her off, and I always wanted her to succeed. It's funny tho, you can sure tell the clicker-trained dogs in the park, they'd hear the clicker and come running over right away.:msngiggle: It's always so cute. They know that click means treats can't be far behind, sometimes I'd have a whole line-up at the fence, just a bunch of little beggars all in a row. Sure got to know all the dogs in a hurry.

The dogs we practice meeting outside the park are ones I've watched inside the park, I've seen that their skills are good, know that they're calm, relaxed dogs, and trust them. They're already tired and happy, and are good ones to practice meeting with. I always ask the owners first, and of course lots of people know us know, cuz we're there so much, standing outside watching the other dogs play. I do have 2 other dogs, and I do bring them, fortunately they're both great with other dogs, so they do get to go inside. Makena is fine with dogs she knows, it's that 'unknown scary factor' that sets her off.

I surely can relate to the "Cujo factor", been there, done that, oh so many times. She's come so far I honestly can't remember the last time she was reactive on a walk, it's been that long - months. I had to quit walking her with my other GSD because when she couldn't get at the dog she wanted, she'd redirect her aggression onto him and start a brawl (and he's great with other dogs! - try stopping 2 GSDs going at it on a walk when you're holding both leashes!). It used to be a daily occurance, with every single dog we saw. Now it's only seemingly really rowdy dog, dogs who approach too quickly, things like that. Still issues to work on, but we've come so far. She may never be a dog park dog, and that's just fine, that was never a goal. I just wanted her to regain her doggie communication skills and be relaxed and calm 'in the dog world' and she is once again. For that I'm so grateful!


Experienced Member
I get misty eyed hearing about Makena in the park too. Patience and gentle touch does soooo so much. Excellent posts JNM!! Excellent work for ur girl too. :)