Leash Reactivity: Tips & Timelines

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3spoiledpets
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Leash Reactivity: Tips & Timelines

Post by 3spoiledpets » Thu Sep 28, 2017 10:24 am

Hi all,
So, my biggest challenge with my sweet 1-year-old adopted dog, Sasha, has been leash reactivity towards other dogs. She is great off-leash and goes to dog parks all the time, but when she sees another dog while on a walk she gets super over-excited and sort of freaks out. We have been doing consistent counter-conditioning with her, and she has improved significantly. As we are nearing the 3-month mark since adopting her, I was hoping that some of you would share your own personal stories with this for some reassurance. I know counter conditioning takes a lot of time, and every dog is different, but I was curious about how long it took for other people for their dog to be calm when seeing other dogs. Were there any tricks that made a big difference for your dog?

Additionally, for those of you with reactive dogs, did you enroll in obedience classes at all? And did they seem to help, or hurt? I would love to get Sasha in classes so that she can start doing agility, since I think she would love it and be good at it.

Any tips, advice, and personal stories are appreciated! I would love some reassurance that it keeps getting better/easier and that we are on the right track.

Thanks!!

Lotsaquestions
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Re: Leash Reactivity: Tips & Timelines

Post by Lotsaquestions » Thu Sep 28, 2017 11:04 am

Going through this right now with my pup (see almost 7 months old pup thread if you want), you'll get some great advice from the guys here and it has helped my boy dramatically in such a short space of time.

What I did was:

1) Do calm above all else for anything to do with dogs. Going off lead to socialise meant he had to calm down himself first (even just a little bit to begin with). It had to be him calming himself aswell, he had to choose to sit or look to you or sniff the floor rather than me telling him to sit. If he got over excited playing (very barky and growly), he would go back on lead and calm before continuing.

2) Treat after passing dogs no matter how annoying, loud, obnoxious or crazy he was being before hand. Pass dogs, say nothing, keep walking, give treat when he's back walking on. At first I thought I was rewarding the display, but now he sees dogs, might bark a bit but most the time doesn't, then looks to me for a treat. It is no longer 'OH MY GOD DOG!!!' but instead 'Oh, dog, but... Chicken!'

3) I didn't stop him meeting dogs, which was some advice I was given. It might work with your dog since they are older, but for mine it made him even worse. Instead I found some calm dogs to walk with and waited until he calmed down walking with them, then gave him a treat / did some obedience with him / played a bit of tug. Now he is far more focussed on me than he was before, and he can even recall away from dogs (with a bit of help from me legging it in the opposite direction!). The problem with my dog was nearly all his encounters with dogs had led to play because thats what I thought socialisation was, perhaps that is what happened with yours before you got her. Rewiring Merlin's brain to see that dogs can be 'boring' helped ALOT.

4) My boy was already in classes, but he just barked nonstop to play with the dogs. I didn't take him for a month while I did 1, 2 and 3, so perhaps taking your girl right into classes might not work out. I know for Merlin it was sensory overload rather than desensitization. He's now back in classes, and is able to cope far better.

You'll get some proper advice soon, like I said I am literally going through it right now so I am following the experts, rather than being one! I posted my thread about a month ago (I think!) and in that space of time our dog has gone from screaming and jumping with glee when he saw a dog, to looking at them while he continues on with perhaps a small whine if they're a spaniel (don't ask :roll:)

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JudyN
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Re: Leash Reactivity: Tips & Timelines

Post by JudyN » Thu Sep 28, 2017 3:22 pm

What Lotsaquestions says - it's definitely worth having a read through their thread: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=23639 8) I'd also add that if you've seen a big improvement in the 3 months since you've had her, you're doing fine and she'll continue to improve.

When you say she's reactive, though, is she simply desperate to meet the other dog, or is there an element of aggression - either towards the other dog, or directed at you out of frustration?
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

3spoiledpets
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Re: Leash Reactivity: Tips & Timelines

Post by 3spoiledpets » Thu Sep 28, 2017 3:28 pm

JudyN wrote:
Thu Sep 28, 2017 3:22 pm
What Lotsaquestions says - it's definitely worth having a read through their thread: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=23639 8) I'd also add that if you've seen a big improvement in the 3 months since you've had her, you're doing fine and she'll continue to improve.

When you say she's reactive, though, is she simply desperate to meet the other dog, or is there an element of aggression - either towards the other dog, or directed at you out of frustration?
Thank you! And good question! To clarify, she is reactive in the sense that she wants to go meet/play with the other dog. It starts out as uncontrollable excitement, but if she goes long enough without calming down it escalates into frustration. However, she is fairly easy to redirect so it could be worse!

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JudyN
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Re: Leash Reactivity: Tips & Timelines

Post by JudyN » Thu Sep 28, 2017 3:55 pm

Ah, that's good, thanks :D

I'm not an expert - my dog used to be leash reactive in the other sense. He'd be fine with most dogs but just occasionally take a strong dislike to one. Our strategy was to avoid any situation where he might kick off, such as narrow paths where we couldn't take avoiding action, and to treat him when we passed any dog. He's far better now, though very occasionally he'll kick off with some dogs - usually young unneutered males.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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Shalista
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Re: Leash Reactivity: Tips & Timelines

Post by Shalista » Thu Sep 28, 2017 7:27 pm

*nod* most dogs bax is 100% okay to do a polite sniff and pass by.... but he has the ONE GOLDEN...... whoooo boy. some dogs are just not meant to be friends :roll:
Baxter (AKA Bax, Chuckles, Chuckster) Rat Terrier, born 01/16/13

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