Unleashed dog encounter...appropriate response?

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Unleashed dog encounter...appropriate response?

Post by rnor1120 » Thu Sep 01, 2011 5:10 pm

I've posted a few times about my dog-reactive pit bull Chance, in a nut shell he's incredibly reactive around every dog he comes into contact with, excluding my roommate's pup. He's believed to have been a fighter, and his aggression seems to be mainly out of fear. I do clicker obedience training with him several times a week, walk him for 20-30 min three times per day, let him play fetch in the yard, etc etc.

Today I took him out on the route where there are about seven houses with fenced dogs to do clicker training. It was the first time in about a month. I know, I know, naughty owner. Unfortunately finals hit me hard this semester, and then I was away for ten days.

Regardless, Chance did very well getting antsy only at our first house, which he was almost always antsy at in the past. He started making moves toward the house but I had him sit and look up, and after doing that a few times he was good. I took it pretty easy with him today, mostly just trained him walking calmly past the fences. He even did very well and kept his cool when a new doberman ran up to the fence (on the other side of the street) at him.

Anyways, just as we were finishing, a huge black lab ran out of its yard at as after we passed the house. Ironically enough, this lab belongs to the young lady that rescued Chance from the 20 foot hole he was found in, and he's been in a fight with this lab before when he was staying at the woman's house. He was maybe 25-30 feet away from us when Chance turned and saw him walking towards us. Before Chance had an opportunity to do anything, I said in a really cheery voice, "C'mon buddy, let's go!" and ran away from the house until the lab stopped chasing us. Chance never reacted beyond looking back continuously at the house.

Was this an appropriate response on my part, or would doing this just reinforce the fear that he has? It hasn't happened much, but every now and then a dog will get away from its owner, or if you can remember from a previous thread poor Chance-man was bombarded by two other off-leash dogs in an obedience class. Is running away from another dog, leashed or unleashed, an appropriate response to these types of situations? Also, today I started giving him L-Theanine, an herbal calming aide, to help with his training. We'll see how that goes.

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Re: Unleashed dog encounter...appropriate response?

Post by Dibbythedog » Thu Sep 01, 2011 5:25 pm

It sounds like you're really doing well with Chance. :D
I'm not an expert but I would have done the same as you. Perhaps you could practise the Come on lets go and running or walking quickly as part of his training (without any dogs around) so its not strange or unusual to him .

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Re: Unleashed dog encounter...appropriate response?

Post by Erica » Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:37 pm

I've seen people recommend, for several fearful dogs, turning around and walking/running away whenever they see a dog. It's exactly what I think this forum would recommend in that situation - Chance didn't have a bad encounter (good) and didn't get a chance to react (good). Overall, a perfect response, as far as I know!
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Re: Unleashed dog encounter...appropriate response?

Post by emmabeth » Thu Sep 01, 2011 9:48 pm

Not reinforcing, giving him the opportunity to deal with the situation in another, better way! Good strategy and well done for thinking of it in a moment of crisis.

The only thing you could have done to possibly improve this one, would be to 'treat bomb' the approaching do (ie, lob a handful of high value rewards at the dog, then run away!).
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Re: Unleashed dog encounter...appropriate response?

Post by jacksdad » Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:53 am

I have done exactly the same thing with my dog Jack when he was at the same stage as your dog. works great and since Jack loves to run and chase, it turned a possible negative in a fun positive. just this week we had a very close encounter of the coyote kind and this is exactly how I dealt with it. turned it into a game.

you can't reinforce his fear, it's there, it apart of him etc. what you can do is reinforce the response by doing things like just standing there while another dog is coming to close and letting chance "flip out" trying to drive the other dog away. again your would not be reinforcing the underlying emotion, just the means for dealing with it.

When you ran away you changed the subject, you showed Chance there is another response to his emotion. If he likes to run and play with you, and you timed it right, the turning and running is fun and distracting and made him feel good. he knew the dog was there, but got to do something other than focus on and flip out over the other dog. anytime you can prevent that, the focusing in on and then flipping out over another dog it's a good thing. Even if that means avoiding the other dog all together by running away.

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Re: Unleashed dog encounter...appropriate response?

Post by rnor1120 » Sat Sep 03, 2011 4:49 pm

Thank you all for the encouragement! I started training the "C'mon let's go!" thing as we walk away from the fences. I did one today where we ran past (fenced) dogs as suggested and, GASP, Chance was wagging his tail!

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