Dealing with a dog aggressive on leash..

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yummybagel
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Dealing with a dog aggressive on leash..

Post by yummybagel » Mon Mar 07, 2011 6:55 pm

Yesterday, I took Bagel out on a walk to a nearby school that had an open fenced field that is open to the public.
I got frustrated at something that happened while we were walking, (not related to Bagel) and when we got to the school, another dog was running around in the field, on the other side of the fence. Bagel saw it, and he started barking, and lunging. So I pulled him back, tried to stand between him and prevent him from seeing the dog, and did the look at me, and other commands to distract him. But while I was pulling him back, I accidentally stepped on his paw, at which point he stopped the lunging for several seconds (This happened two or three times before..I get nervous when he starts lunging at other dogs so sometimes when I try to pull him away I accidentally step on him and trip on him.. :cry: ). Then when he started to lunge again, I pulled him back, and with my anxiety and frustration building, I think I pulled him a little bit too hard. He was trying not to move, and I tried to pull him back with too much force, so he kind of fell on his butt/back and was dragged until I realized that he was being dragged...After I realized that he was being dragged, I stopped and tried to sound cheerful best I can, stood between him, and did the commands...Would that (the stepping on his paw and dragging him) have made the whole situation worse/aversive? How can I handle it better and not be so anxious??

wvvdiup1
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Re: Dealing with a dog aggressive on leash..

Post by wvvdiup1 » Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:09 pm

I've been in the same situation as you have been and I have found that this works: The next time you take him anywhere and he lunges, turn around or go another direction or anywhere to get him away from the situation. It works for me and I have a large dog who can pull! :roll:
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jacksdad
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Re: Dealing with a dog aggressive on leash..

Post by jacksdad » Tue Mar 08, 2011 12:12 am

First you are going to need to address your own anxiety issues. do you know what your anxious about? is it not knowing what to do when bagel reacts? or are you not yet confident in implementing what you know needs to be done? or are you worried about what other people are thinking when they see bagel reacting? you don't actually have to answer publicly, but you do need to address this. until you can focus on your dog you are going to continue to risk stepping on him.

when he goes into reactive mode, you have to be able to keep your calm so you can keep track of your dog, what he is doing and where he is. Know where the other dog is and what he is doing. Where you are in relation to all this and what your doing. It's a juggling act that takes practice.

Soooooo. first things first....take two breaths and relax. think about what is your own anxiety trigger. if you want to talk about it, discuss options, we are here. but you do need to get this point sorted out.

as for Bagel, hopefully you have him wearing a harness, because if you have to pull him way (it happens, sometimes that is your only option) you absolutely want to be sure your NOT pulling on his neck/throat.

as for the "pull/drag" way...you need to be a gentle as possible. you can't just turn and march off with your dog behind you doing who knows what. you absolutely need to KNOW what is going on with your dog. so think about ways you lead your dog away safely for both of you. When this happens to me, I have pretty good balance, my feet are pretty sensitive to what I am stepping on so I can fairly safely walk backwards and so I do for a few steps. then a I assess what is behind me, then where the other dog is. Then I might walk sideways a few steps. then check what's in the direction I wasn't looking, where the other dog is what it's doing. when I am walking backwards or sideways, I am watching my dog. soon as we get the distance it takes for him to turn away from the other dog I turn and walk with him in front or besides me with me walking forward normally.

and that is what you need to figure out. something along those lines that you can do safely for your self and your dog so your not literally dragging your dog in a panic.

dgtrainer101
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Re: Dealing with a dog aggressive on leash..

Post by dgtrainer101 » Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:17 pm

So, if I may add, when the leash gets tightened, either by you pulling back, or by the dog lunging, it creates tension and the dog can sense that. This can escalate the problem. And we all do it, it is a natural instict, and even I catch myself doing this sometimes. I have learned to hold the leash and my pant leg, preventing me from pulling back on my dog. This does not mean that I give him all of the leash length, it justs makes sure I don't pull, making the leash tight.
Keep emergency treats or toys on you, depending on what motivates your dog more. A good fur covered squeaky toy, like those long fox stuffed animals that has like 8 squeakers in them are excellent. If he's food motivated, bring a big hunk of meat along with.
Try to catch your dog before he reacts. Signs that he is uncomfortable and he may start reacting (which can be very fast, like a split second) are, a hard stare, his jaw shuts closed, his lips come forward instead of the smiling position, his body becomes stiff and still. Don't panick or pull back on the leash, but try to get his attention, squeak that toy or shove that big hunk of meat in front of his nose, and pleasantly say "Let's go." When you get to a safe distance, ask pooch to do something and reward him by then playing with him or giving him a treat. This should work once he is reacting, but the idea is to catch him before he reacts. You don't want your dog to practice bad behavior if at all possible. The more practice he has at it, the better it becomes.
Do you know how to do positive association and desensitizing? If you know how to do it properly, then I would suggest doing this at a safe distance. I know a lot of other people disagree with this, but if you find the right dog trainer, you might want to have your dog in group classes. The dog trainer will know how to evaluate whether this is too much for your dog or not. If your dog is slightly upset, but not terrible, the trainer can use things like barriers and distance to help your dog cope. The idea is, which works, the dog reacts, the dog goes behind the barrier. Once the dog calms down, the dog comes out from behind the barrier, the dog reacts, the dog goes behind the barrier. Once the dog stays calm at that distance, then you can work with your dog on simple sits and focus commands. I believe even Victoria has used something similar in her shows. When there was dogs that did not get along or were reacting, she removed the one that was reacting out of sight, and kept doing it until the dog could remain calm.
This way, the dog is being worked and treated in the presence of what it is uncomfortable with. This helps the dog associate good things with what it is afraid of, hopefully changing the dog's mind.
My rescue dogs that I have are dog reactive. The one is reactive until he has been around that dog several times, then he is ok with them. Because I bring him to dog classes, he then associates all those dogs with positive things, and then when a new class begins, he is even less reactive in the beginning than he was in the first. I have seen this help out many dogs, not just mine. But, it is also based on the individual dog too, this is not for everydog, but worth a try.

yummybagel
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Re: Dealing with a dog aggressive on leash..

Post by yummybagel » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:53 am

Thank you for your advice!
First you are going to need to address your own anxiety issues. do you know what your anxious about? is it not knowing what to do when bagel reacts? or are you not yet confident in implementing what you know needs to be done? or are you worried about what other people are thinking when they see bagel reacting? you don't actually have to answer publicly, but you do need to address this. until you can focus on your dog you are going to continue to risk stepping on him.
As for my own anxiety issues, I think I'm afraid of alot of things when he starts to lunge. He is pretty strong, and once he starts to react, it's hard for me to keep my balance and be gentle with him at the same time. When I see his body stiffening, I kind of immediately try to walk the other way but when he doesn't budge, that's when I start to kind of panic..In my mind I'm thinking "oh my gosh cheese, cheese, take out the cheese fast before he reacts" but even before my hands reach my pocket/treat pouch/zip lock bag he's already lunging. So I have to deal with the 30lbs that's on the other end of the leash, and I also have to try to stand firm so as to not be pulled, and I have to try to take the treats out without letting go of the leash (by this point my fingers are fumbling because I'm panicing). On top of that with him barking like crazy (he's a beagle, so he has one heck of a loud voice) things get a little chaotic sometimes, especially when the other dog starts to react too. I guess I'm afraid of losing control of the situation. On the day that I mentioned earlier, I was holding his Chuckit too, so I had my hands full, and trying to juggle all of those things was hard for me. And often times I feel as if I'm doing everything wrong, concerning Bagel. When I feel all emotional and tired and frustrated, I'm thinking o my gosh I'm ruining my dog!! Whenever that happens I retreat and try to cool off, but I am very often paranoid about if I'm doing things right, if I'm dealing with him correctly, or if what I'm doing is right (I'm a first-time dog owner). And yes, what other people might think about me and Bagel worries me too, to be honest. Some people really give us the look when he starts to lunge..

Some other questions that pop up in my head..
I read somewhere in this forum that it is important for us to be the bodyguard. What is a good example of being a good bodyguard?
And also, does this method work when he sees a cat too? My goodness, when he sees a cat all hell breaks loose, and it's even harder for me to handle him once he starts lunging, baying, barking, pulling and all that..

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Mattie
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Re: Dealing with a dog aggressive on leash..

Post by Mattie » Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:34 am

Dogs being too strong for us is quite a common problem, I have seen Labs pull over an 18stone man so it isn't just women who have this problem.

What may help is 2 leads or a double ended lead, once clipped to a harness the other to the collar, you have 2 points of contact that you can use to help control him. The harness will keep his body closer to you and the collar his head and neck. Walk him on the harness and only use the collar when you need extra control.

Used with a double lead or double ended lead a head collar may help you keep control of him as well, walk on the harness and use the head collar when it is needed. Once you know you can control him you will gain confidence.

You are doing well, it is impossible to see everything before he does, all you can do is to stay allert and try and take action before he does, once he is reacting the only thing you can do is move him away to a distance he feels safe with and doesn't react, once he has reacted with the dog/cat this distance will be more than what is normal before he reacts, does that make sense?

Personnally, I wouldn't take a reactive dog to school until I have sorted out my dog's reactive problem, my attention has to be on my children and not my dog, when walking a reactive dog they need all your attention, both children and your dog needs your full attention.
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runlikethewind
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Re: Dealing with a dog aggressive on leash..

Post by runlikethewind » Wed Mar 09, 2011 5:16 am

Try ditching the chuckit which IMHO is a nightmare to carry if you have a reactive dog and teach him to enjoy a ball-on-a-rope (which can be a tug toy and a throw toy in one). Keep everything in a bum bag (fanny bag I think you call them LOL...), treats, toys etc etc, all easily available. Keep you clicker if you use one in your palm all the time (along with lead handle) and I tend to hold a treat in the other one at the ready. The trick is to watch your dog's reactions very carefully and get to learn the signs just as he is about to react and then practise the U-turn as dgtrainer describes. Don't forget to reward, reward, reward for turning away and not barking and also for those occasions where you didn't prompt any turning away and he did it all by himself! Dogs love when they have done something right. Such a good feeling! The games that dgtrainer describes above are also explained in an excellent booked called Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt. These can be done outside class or inside classes (but find a trainer who is not just into obedience stuff but also understands fearful dogs. Otherwise, it will set you back if you get advice not right for your dog.

jacksdad
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Re: Dealing with a dog aggressive on leash..

Post by jacksdad » Wed Mar 09, 2011 12:42 pm

dgtrainer101 wrote:So, if I may add, when the leash gets tightened, either by you pulling back, or by the dog lunging, it creates tension and the dog can sense that. This can escalate the problem.
you make a good point and the rest of your comments pass on some good advice. however there are times that you can NOT avoid having "pull/drag" your dog away. it's one of those lesser or two evils catch 22 situations that you try to avoid, but life still throws at you without warning out of left field. In which case the trigger is too close to attempt to do any of the many methods to help the dog get over their fear and if you just stand there the dog will continue to get worked up even more.

That is what this thread is about, or at least what I am understanding the specific issue is. and in this case you do need to do your best to just get the heck out of dodge so to speak and that unfortunately means tension on the leash sometimes. however if you can get distance and end the over the top emotional response by getting out of there, that is better than trying to go through treat/toy distractions at distances these steps would be completely ignored by the dog.
yummybagel wrote: When I see his body stiffening, I kind of immediately try to walk the other way but when he doesn't budge, that's when I start to kind of panic..In my mind I'm thinking "oh my gosh cheese, cheese, take out the cheese fast before he reacts" but even before my hands reach my pocket/treat pouch/zip lock bag he's already lunging.
I completely understand. Jack is only 18 pounds and I remember struggling with this my self.

what I would suggest is that at this stage when you see him go stiff, don't bother with the treats your already too late, do what Patrica McConnell calls the emergency U turn. you may need to practices this for a little while before using it when another dog is around. But what you do is exactly what the name implies, see dog, immediately U turn and go the other way. do not bother trying to reward a calm look at the other dog, a watch me, attempt to distract or anything else. just flip a U turn and get distance. Do not worry about "but I didn't get to train calm..." life will ensure you will have another opportunity. The minimum goal right now is preventing your dog going into a reactive mode. preventing that and breaking that cycle is just as important as conditioning a new response to another dog by providing treats or playing with a toy when your dog is calm and the other dogs are near.
yummybagel wrote: I am very often paranoid about if I'm doing things right, if I'm dealing with him correctly, or if what I'm doing is right (I'm a first-time dog owner). And yes, what other people might think about me and Bagel worries me too, to be honest. Some people really give us the look when he starts to lunge.
right there with you. Jack is my first dog too and I used to worry about all those things too. sooner you can find a way to not worry about what other people think the better. The idea that our dogs are misbehaving and need to be "punished" is SOOO ingrained in the public that the unspoken peer pressure of ..DO SOMETHING YOUR DOG IS OUT OF CONTROL.. is pretty strong. But you ARE doing something and it works, but it does take a little time sometimes. Try and gain peace and confidence from this. Every day is a new day and you have a fresh start to do it better. every time you go out with your dog and do the U turns or the any other of the other technique you will get better at them, the better you get at them the more your dog responds, the more your dog responds, the more confidence you will have which then starts a new positive cycle for you and your dog.
yummybagel wrote: Some other questions that pop up in my head..
I read somewhere in this forum that it is important for us to be the bodyguard. What is a good example of being a good bodyguard?
And also, does this method work when he sees a cat too? My goodness, when he sees a cat all hell breaks loose, and it's even harder for me to handle him once he starts lunging, baying, barking, pulling and all that..
So the "bodyguard" concept. really not as exciting at the word bodyguard makes it sound. but it's a good word to plant the idea that YOU will deal with scary for the dog. basically you do the U turn when you see a dog that pops into view too close. Or you see the other dog before your dog and you turn down a side street before they see each other. Or you cross over to the other side of the street and pass the other dog there. maybe it's ducking behind a parked car, bush, tree, dumpster to block line of sight. you do your best to keep your body between your dog and the other dog even at a distance so your dog can "hid" and peek out at the other dog or just pretend it's not there. if a dog charges up you try and blocking and deal with that so your dog doesn't.

It might sound like your avoiding the problem or "babying" your dog, but it's not. its dealing with things your dog isn't ready to deal with them self at this point.

as for the cat...yes you can use the same methods with cats. I now have Jack almost to the point he can pass a non moving cat with out him getting over excited and lunging. it was VERY easy for him because he sees cats as "self propelled toys" and it's not a fear trigger for him or a prey trigger. if they don't run, he loses interest fast on his own. in fact he has even tried to do a proper dogie meet and greet (butt sniffs and all) with a couple cats in the neighborhood that are highly confident around dogs. cats look at him like his is rude and Jack looks a bit confused why they aren't running from him. :lol:

runlikethewind
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Re: Dealing with a dog aggressive on leash..

Post by runlikethewind » Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:17 pm

The things I would work on together are the emergency U-turns for when it's too late (life happens scenarios, oh dear oh well situation where you U-turn off leash or on leash in a happy manner) and the other games and actitivies as detailed above. The important thing to do is to do them at a safe distance (where there is no reaction). This is the distance where the dog will learn and I think you can do them all together. Anyway, this works for me and my fear reactive dog anyway. I personally do not spend my walks avoiding triggers; however, nor do I put her right in them (flooding), but I use them for learning opportunities. That's just me. Not saying it will transpose to your situation.

jacksdad
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Re: Dealing with a dog aggressive on leash..

Post by jacksdad » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:10 pm

runlikethewind wrote:The things I would work on together are the emergency U-turns for when it's too late (life happens scenarios, oh dear oh well) and the other games and activities as detailed above.
yep, good point. you can build the skills at the same time then phase them into real life as they become ready.
runlikethewind wrote: The important thing to do is to do them at a safe distance (where there is no reaction). This is the distance where the dog will learn and I think you can do them all together.
just emphasizing this point..it's an important one.

runlikethewind wrote: Anyway, this works for me and my fear reactive dog anyway. I personally do not spend my walks avoiding triggers; however, nor do I put her right in them (flooding), but I use them for learning opportunities. That's just me. Not saying it will transpose to your situation.
how we each apply the different tools depends on so much. it's good that we each share how we are applying them so that people can see them in action, how things progress etc. that things change for the better.

runlikethewind
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Re: Dealing with a dog aggressive on leash..

Post by runlikethewind » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:18 pm

8)

jakesmom
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Re: Dealing with a dog aggressive on leash..

Post by jakesmom » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:08 pm

Please don't worry. Once you feel confident that you can hold Bagel you'll be able to turn things around and handle these situations.

I understand the panic you feel when you cannot control your dog, when you really need to.

My last GSD (Sam) was heavier than me and extremely reactive. It took both me and my partner, to hold him back once he lost control, which was frequently.

My only chance of holding him, was by making sure that I spotted anything that he would react to, before he did, and trying to get him out of the way quick or bracing myself for the battle. Of course that wasn't always possible, so i lived in a state of panic where I was always prepared for the unexpected.

When it takes every ounce of strength you have just to stop them from dragging you down the road and perhaps attacking another dog or a person, you can't relax enough to even consentrate on training them.

It got to the stage where I stopped taking him for a walk for weeks at a time. It was exhausting and too stressful, and of course the more stressed I was, the more reactive he was.

I tried just about everything on the market to control him, including the halti, gentle leader, harnesses and spray collars. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't he didn't walk well on the lead, he did, I just couldn't hold him when he reacted.

Then when he was about 7 years old the training club we were attending had some new head collars for sale, the "dogmatic", and I can honestly say it changed mine and Sam's life. For the first time ever, I could actually hold him under control. It was freedom for both of us. I felt more confident by the day. I coupled the dogmatic with his harness and for the first time in his life we actually enjoyed our walks. It then took a further 3 years and a strong extending lead to stop him being reactive (well 90% of the time) because it was like starting afresh.

Just find the best gear you can for Bagel, so you feel confident and I'm sure you'll be fine.

jacksdad
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Re: Dealing with a dog aggressive on leash..

Post by jacksdad » Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:24 pm

I personally wouldn't recommend relying on something like the dogmatic, which from what I can see on their site it is just a variation of the gentle leader concept. I briefly used the Gentle Leader with Jack and the way he flailed about in a full on reaction I was worried he would break his neck. he was that worked up and that "out of control" of him self. it also did nothing to resolve pulling, only training resolved that.

A good harness is your best and safest tool once the dog is in a full on reactive mode. Like mattie said though, you can use the gentle leader type head collars together with a harness if you really want. But I would never, ever my self recommend relying solely on neck or head collars to control your reactive dog.

Extending leads should be 100% avoided with reactive dogs at least in the early stages of working with them. too easy to hurt your self or your dog. I used one briefly but quite after seeing how fast the line goes out and the quick harsh yank when it hits the stop, seeing Jack's leg get tangled when he would go reactive and the half a dozen really nice cuts on me as the line goes out when he would go reactive. one time came close to taking off my pinky. had I not been a bit faster on my reaction which was to start running with jack as he took off, the best case would have been stitches and worst would have been severed finger.

I realize soon as i say this the might be 100 people who say they had no problems with any of the above equipment, but it is far better to error on the side of caution when we give out advice, that we suggest only the safest possible equipment and advice. I know for my self, the last thing I want is to have said "oh ya, extending leashes are great" to a reactive dog owner only to have them come back and say they got seriously injured or their dog lost a leg because they followed my advice to use one.

could be just me..but.....

dgtrainer101
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Re: Dealing with a dog aggressive on leash..

Post by dgtrainer101 » Thu Mar 10, 2011 12:31 am

I personally wouldn't recommend relying on something like the dogmatic, which from what I can see on their site it is just a variation of the gentle leader concept. I briefly used the Gentle Leader with Jack and the way he flailed about in a full on reaction I was worried he would break his neck. he was that worked up and that "out of control" of him self. it also did nothing to resolve pulling, only training resolved that.
I have heard some people say this has happened to them, and I can see how it could as well. My own personal experience is that I loved the Gentle Leader. The Gentle Leader helped relax my other dog who was reactive around other dogs and people. He was able to focus better. I believe because of how it sits on the dog's head, it puts pressure on pressure points and helps aide in relaxation. My aunt is also a trainer and has used similar head halters and has gotten very good succsess with their use, some she even liked better than the Gentle Leader. However, it is true, this is not for every dog, and can even irritate the dog even more.

dgtrainer101
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Re: Dealing with a dog aggressive on leash..

Post by dgtrainer101 » Thu Mar 10, 2011 12:33 am

please excuse me for that last post, I forgot how to use the quotes. I was quoting the previous response from jacksdad.

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