I have no idea what is going on with her...

Share your favorite training tips, ideas and methods with other Positively members!

Moderators: emmabeth, BoardHost

Post Reply
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 4:14 pm

I have no idea what is going on with her...

Post by Roswalien » Fri Jun 15, 2012 7:13 pm

I have a 2 year old APBT. She is a great dog at home. She rarely barks and loves playing and hanging out with the cat. She is obedient and well trained. She turns into a different dog when I take her for walks. She does well when there are no other dogs around, but as soon as she sees another dog I no longer exist. She sometimes acts aggressive, sometimes fearful, sometimes playful (tail positions); but she always makes the same noise. She makes a high-pitched, whimpery-whiny noise. She makes the same noise when we play with her favorite toy if I don't throw it right away; like "come on, throw it already".

I have tried to distract her with food and toys. Even her favorite toy has no effect, and she usually goes completely crazy for it. She loves attention as a reward, but Victoria has warned against rewarding a reactive dog with attention. She recommended giving the dog a high-value treat. No such treat exists for my dog. She spits them out. I have tried starting really far away and getting progressively closer, but there is nowhere in my area that is predictable. Another dog always seems to show up.

I recently moved to an apartment that allows us to live there depending on her behavior. At the park today, a teenager walking a well behaved dog, showed up. I tried to keep my distance, praising Honey for not acting too crazy, looking at me, following me w/o pulling, looking away from the other dog, etc. She started overheating, so I stopped at a bench and kept her attention on me. The teenager walked up behind us with his dog and Honey started making her noise, the other dog reacted, and if I hadn't reacted they would have been close enough to fight. I don't know if they would have, but I don't want to find out.

I want to make sure that this doesn't happen anymore. I want her to ignore other dogs. There is no trainer in my area (I would have to drive for 4 or more hours, one-way, to get to the nearest one). Because she is strong enough to pull me, she wears a halter. I've tried the no pull harness, but she could still pull me. We used to walk on abandoned dirt roads, but there is nothing similar in my area. Because of her behavior, she is not going on enough walks. I don't want to be evicted if she reacts unfavorably to one of the other resident's dogs.

Any ideas?

Posts: 2037
Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:07 am
Location: USA

Re: I have no idea what is going on with her...

Post by Ari_RR » Fri Jun 15, 2012 8:47 pm

Yes.. Check this thread -> viewtopic.php?f=4&t=14851
Especially comments from Nettle and Emmabeth.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a similar kind of dog to APBT.

Best approach for now is avoidance.. Stay away from other dogs. There are ways to reduce her reactivity.. They need time, require patience and ability to manage environment (essentially ability to keep other dogs away).
But I am not an expert on that. Perhaps someone with more knowledge will comment.

Posts: 4885
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:48 pm

Re: I have no idea what is going on with her...

Post by jacksdad » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:05 pm

Sounds like your dog is conflicted. This is actually fairly common. Kind of a "oh boy dogs woohoohoo" when your say 20 feet away, but at 10 feet that changes to "oh no, dog, oh no, dog...grrrr". And without more info, ability to observe her, that is the safest over the internet assumption. fear and/or low confidence and weak social skills do not always manifest as a dog cowering trying to hid, particularly in terrier types, which you have. it can manifest in "let me at them" looking behavior. for some dogs that "look" is just a bluff, for others it is not. so it's good you are trying to keep her away from other dogs.

If toy's and treats aren't distracting her, you are too close. as the stress rises and arousal increases dogs loose the ability to listen, play, and eat. As for high value treats, are you using something that is real, such as cooked chicken, steak, really good natural healthy hotdogs or some other actual meat? or maybe a smelly cheese, or something along those lines? what you buy in the pet store, no matter how "high value" the labeling claims, almost never isn't high value enough. There are exceptions of course, such as natural balance food rolls and others, but most of the actual "treats" are basically like giving your dog a cracker for a reward.

toy's and praise are ok. praise often isn't high value enough in most cases in this situation and some dogs just aren't toy motivated, but if your dog is motivated by these things it is ok to use them. I would have to see the "whole story" where you say Victoria warns against "rewarding a reactive do with attention" to actually understand what was going on. However, Reactive is kind of a catch all description, why the dog is reactive varies and how you address all forms has over lap, but there is variations. one form of reactive you would actually be giving time outs in response to some of what the dog is doing. in this case the dog isn't actually afraid of other dogs, they LOVE other dogs, but have VERY, VERY poor social skills. So in specific situations with these type of dogs, you give a timeout. this type might have been what Victoria was dealing with in this case. just a guess. but for fearful dogs the initial goal is changing their emotional state, praise, treats, playing with toys, playing with you etc are all ok. you want to change their association and make them feel safe. those two steps go a long ways to turning things around.

What I would suggest to start out with is....

Avoid dogs for a week or two at the least and at the greatest distances possible.
teach your dog watch me and U turns

Avoiding other dogs. There are several reasons to do this. first is a combination of stress relief and breaking the cycle of see dogs and over react. To avoid dogs does take a bit of effort sometimes. this could mean driving to some place else to walk your dog where few people walk dogs. It could mean changing your walking times. if most people in your neighborhood walk dogs in the evening say between 5 and 7, you walk at 8pm or even 11pm or join the midnight dog walking club and walk you dog at midnight...assuming your neighborhood is safe to do so. This step along can actually reduce the distance needed later. When I took this step with my reactive dog I drove to other locations besides my neighborhood. it's always harder to work with a reactive dog in it's own neighborhood. I did it for a week and after that I suddenly had a reasonable "safe zone". prior to doing this my dog would often react to dogs as far away as 200 yards. my dog actually bonded to me a bit more, just him and I out walking, he started relaxing a bit more.

the breaking the cycle. your dog is developing a habitual response of see dog, react a particular way. if she doesn't see dogs she can't practice this behavior.

Watch me. this is where you teach your dog to look at you on command. you need to make this a very solid behavior before you try it with other dog around. start in your living room, move to your back yard, then practice asking your dog to look at you when a car passes, then a person, and so forth. I would actually advise continuing to avoid dog as much as possible until your dog is really good at this. the ultimate goal is for your dog to learn that when she sees other dogs, to turn and look at you without being prompted and earn a VERY high value, yummy treat. I would NOT suggest doing Look at the dog type activities at this time.

Watch does a couple things for you. one, it gives your dog something else to do verse looking at the other dog and getting worked up. when your dog "stares down" another dog, the other dog may react back, which escalates your dogs behavior. The other thing it does is turns your dogs head. a sort of calming/defusing behavior. and since your indicate you have differentiating getting enough distance, from other dogs, this is a good alternate behavior until your dog's "safe distance" is something you can work with in your neighborhood.

LAT is a great tool, but if your dog NEED 200 yards to be calm when looking at another dog and you don't have anywhere you can go with that kind of distance, you will be spinning your wheels. Like LAT, Watch does in fact work on your dogs internal state and it also changes your dogs association towards other dogs.

U Turns and protecting your dog. might sound crazy, but practice making spontaneous U turns on "command" with your dog. basically teach your dog to turn around and go the other way on "command" a "lets go" or "u turn" cue. and like watch, practice it against other things before doing it with dogs if you can. then when you see a dog you can't pass at your dogs safe distance, say "u turn" and go the other way. being taller, you should be seeing the dogs before your dog does.

Protecting your dog. this basically you dealing with the other dog for your dog. you keep loose dogs way, you tell people to not bring their dog closer, you move your dog to be on the opposite side of you than the other dog is etc. this is particularly important when passing close to other dogs (something you want to avoid as much as possible right now anyway) and asking your dog to "watch" you.

Lets keep it simple and start there. As your dog improves there are things like Look at the dog or (aka LAT game) which is a great tool for teaching a dog it's ok to look and not get worked up that you can do for example. BUT for this to work, you need to be able to have the distance your dog needs to look and not react. if you don't have that distance, watch is where you need to start to build that reduced distance.

please feel free to ask any questions, if something doesn't make sense, please, please ask. not all of helping your dog is going to be intuitive and what I am advising is just the starting point. as your dog improves or you gain a better understanding of your dogs motivation behind the reactivity (is it fear, over excitement, resource guarding, leash frustration, combination of all etc) what you do will need to be adjusted.

User avatar
Posts: 81
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 4:00 pm
Location: North-West England

Re: I have no idea what is going on with her...

Post by Maz » Wed Jun 20, 2012 12:37 am

Been reading this interesting thread and it may be obvious but I can't work out what LAT stands for ... "look at ?" ?

Posts: 2120
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:49 pm
Location: Bad Fallingbostel, Germany

Re: I have no idea what is going on with her...

Post by Sarah83 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:24 am

LAT is Look at That :D

Posts: 4885
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:48 pm

Re: I have no idea what is going on with her...

Post by jacksdad » Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:24 am

Maz wrote:Been reading this interesting thread and it may be obvious but I can't work out what LAT stands for ... "look at ?" ?
like Sarah says LAT = Look At That

Some people may call it different things, but if the actual activity is to look at something on cue, than LAT is probably what is being talked about..

When I cue my dog who is dog reactive to look for the other dog I say "where is the dog" or "where is <other dog's name>" but it's still LAT.

It's a great tool for helping dogs be able to look at the thing that is working them up, but learn that it is ok to look at whatever it is that normally works them up and and not need to get worked up. the "working up" could be fear/anxiety or it could be over excitement reactions.

However there are things to keep in mind when using LAT such as...

you need to be able to maintain a safe distance from the trigger. if for example a dog needs 50 yards in order to not "get worked up", but you don't have 50 yards between your dog and it's trigger, don't try and do LAT at that moment.

or if your dog "locks in" and really stares down the other dog, don't use LAT yet

Or if your dog locks in and starts getting worked up no matter the distance, don't use LAT yet.

LAT is a great tool, and I use it a lot, but I also have to keep in mind when to use it and when not to. sometimes crossing the street and passing there is the right choice over trying to do a LAT "session", sometimes turning and going the other way is the right choice over trying to a LAT "session", and sometimes doing WATCH/Look At Me is the right choice over trying to LAT. The same goes for when to use LAT over the other options. It is very difficult to help a reactive dog with only a single tool, so the more tools you can learn the better off you and your dog will be. You will find your dog does better with one tool or the other or may have to make a level of progress before a tool becomes useful. And so you will probably use one tool most of the time, but having other options makes it much easier to deal with a wider variety of possible situations that you may find your self in.

Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 4:14 pm

Re: I have no idea what is going on with her...

Post by Roswalien » Sun Aug 19, 2012 11:46 pm

We have been taking 3 times weekly walks at a park where we are usually the only ones there. Every once in a while there will be a jogger and even more infrequently, another dog. We have her just about loose leash trained again :). We have started taking different foods to use when she gets distracted by birds, squirrels, people, etc. So far she has turned down: cheddar cheese, pepperoni, turkey pepperoni, monterrey jack cheese, colby jack cheese, turkey, ham, steak, chicken, and tuna. She also doesn't care about her ball in the park. When we see dogs, no matter how far away, she reacts as she always has and I walk her out of the line of sight of the other dog, usually behind a tree. She then frantically tries to relocate the other dog and will give up after about 5 minutes. She acts more stressed and pulls for the next 5-10 minutes of the walk.

As we were walking late last week, a family was having a picnic at the park, which as milding interesting to Honey. As we passed them their off-leash chihuahua came streaking straight at Honey. She did not make any of her usual noises. We attempted to keep Honey away from this other dog and she slipped her collar and chased the chihuahua a little ways, held it down and proceeded to groom it. Apparently, because she has been exposed to many puppies, she thought the chihuahua was a puppy. Thank God! I then proceeded to chastize the adults in their group about having their dog off leash. I am hoping that she would react in a friendly fashion with all the dogs we encounter, but I'm not sure she would.

I also would like more information LAT. She is still reacting more than a football field length from the other dogs we encounter, therefore we shouldn't try LAT. How do I get her to the point that she can? What should I be doing now?

Post Reply