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Exercising Reactive Dogs Thread

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We are back from our trip. Malcolm went pretty well apparently, no disasters. The sitters reported that he struggled sometimes but was easy for them to redirect. He was described as a "total bed and heater hog" which is 1000% accurate. :laugh: And the vet nurses reported that he wasn't much interested in playing fetch but boy oh boy did he love cuddles. :)

He does seem to be struggling a lot now though now that we're home. Lights, noises, movements, my husband approaching us, and resource guarding silly things like carrot sticks. Interestingly though his dog-dog reactivity seems to have dropped further. At the vet on Monday there was one dog crying the entire time out the back and he saw two other dogs. They were his favourite breeds (CKCS and German Shepherd) and well behaved, but still. He would look at them then look at me or a vet nurse instead of staring, and he did not bark or growl at all nor tremble excessively. :thumbsup: He was only climbing my arm in the exam room which he does when he's more stressed.

So we truck on. Working back up to where we were with the Relaxation Protocol and a VB check-in next week. The increased anxiety may be related to the Trazadone so we're not sure what will happen with that. I feel like he's more anxious on it and more anxious as it wears off, but I'm not sure if that's even possible. The Prozac is amazing though.

How's everyone else going?

Good to hear he did well. It might just take him a few days to settle back into having you home...

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Yeah I'm hoping that's it, although we did have some increased reactivity when he started on the Trazadone a week or so before we left. I was hoping that was more due to me being a bit stressed myself, as he's a little doggy barometer who feeds off any anxiety in a room. So we're giving the Traz a bit more time to make sure it's not just all the changes throwing him about mentally.

Did you have any favourite treats to take to Nosework classes Scottsmum? They say moist treats are best and also tiny pieces.

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ish   

Basically, this small white fluffy (ain't it always...) blindsided me and Thistle while we were talking to the trainers over our tasks for the next week. It came up behind us and apparently came on fast (obviously neither Thistle or I could see it coming from behind, so this is what i was told afterwards). It went right up in her face but Thistle managed to stayed in her drop, watched it, then looked at me. I wasn't very useful, I was "what should I do?" but I tried to be calm, keep the lead loose, said "leave it" and "good drop" praising thistle for staying in her drop.

I read this thread quite a bit but this is my first post here. My reactive dog is coming up to 13 years old now and has mellowed in her old age, but I still find this thread interesting

Thistle, I think you give your dog too much choice in these situations with the things that trigger her reactivity. Instead of taking control, you seem to adopt a bit more of a wait and see what she'll do response - and thats not always going to end how you'd like it to. In this scenario, all was well - she told the dog off without hurting it, the dog didn't retaliate (and wasn't of a size that would have been a huge threat), no harm done. But what if it had been a bigger dog, with a nasty intent?

When I sought help for my girl, leadership was the main lesson I had to learn. When I left my dog to make choices, she didn't always choose the right ones - so I had to always make the decisions for her. That worked 2 ways - I always took her out of situations where she felt she needed to react, so nothing bad ever happened again and because of this, she eventually trusted me enough that I could put her into situations where previously she would have reacted. She knew I would keep her safe. I completely took away her decision to meet other dogs - she wasn't allowed to at all, not for months and basically not until she stopped worrying (and then I would only let her meet dogs I knew were ok) Happily she got to the point where I could even trial her and do the out of sight stays without her worrying about dogs around her.

Any unknowns, unexpected meetings, dogs you don't know etc - high tail it out of there! The little dog showing up would have seen me put myself between Thistle and the dog, and take her directly to the car while it was removed. That dog wasn't something you could control so it was never going to be a good learning experience. Don't leave it to chance, missing out is better than having a bad experience.

Its really lovely to see how hard you try for Thistle, and I hope what I've said helps

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I hear you :(

Normally I do start high-tailing it if we are alone (and not so distracted I don't see it coming)! I guess I was different this time because I was mid-conversation with the trainer so I think I was hoping she could tell me what to do so I froze :(

It gets so confusing and my mind just goes blank and I'm of no help to poor Thistle. She made the best decision she thought and it got the rest of us moving, but you're right in she shouldn't have to :(

In a way, reassuring to read if upsetting (for me at myself, not you). In hindsight I would have preferred us to start walking fast and have the trainers to stay and deal with interrupting dog. Especially the moment when Thistle looked up at me - a good moment for us to "lets go!" but all that was gone from my mind! And that's what i've been teaching her! "Look at me when you want to move away from the person/dog/funny looking object on road". but i didn't follow through on my end of the deal...

I feel dreadful failing her this way, I will try better next time to show Thistle what to do. It is much harder for her to worry when we are moving, i wish i didn't worry so much too.

*no doubt there will be the next time, this is 3rd week in a row of offlead small ones coming up during classes. But the other 2 we were already moving or i moved us away or i saw them coming. This one i see i should have moved too :( thank you for your honest advice

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Snook   

We are back from our trip. Malcolm went pretty well apparently, no disasters. The sitters reported that he struggled sometimes but was easy for them to redirect. He was described as a "total bed and heater hog" which is 1000% accurate. :laugh: And the vet nurses reported that he wasn't much interested in playing fetch but boy oh boy did he love cuddles. :)

He does seem to be struggling a lot now though now that we're home. Lights, noises, movements, my husband approaching us, and resource guarding silly things like carrot sticks. Interestingly though his dog-dog reactivity seems to have dropped further. At the vet on Monday there was one dog crying the entire time out the back and he saw two other dogs. They were his favourite breeds (CKCS and German Shepherd) and well behaved, but still. He would look at them then look at me or a vet nurse instead of staring, and he did not bark or growl at all nor tremble excessively. :thumbsup: He was only climbing my arm in the exam room which he does when he's more stressed.

So we truck on. Working back up to where we were with the Relaxation Protocol and a VB check-in next week. The increased anxiety may be related to the Trazadone so we're not sure what will happen with that. I feel like he's more anxious on it and more anxious as it wears off, but I'm not sure if that's even possible. The Prozac is amazing though.

How's everyone else going?

Hey PK. I'm glad things went well for Malcolm while you were away. Trazadone can definitely increase anxiety. Justice became very agitated on it and spent hours fidgeting, pacing and running outside to bark. I'd given it to him and night before going to bed and he kept this up until about 6am. The anxiety can continue right through while it's wearing off too. I'm glad the Prozac is working out for Malcolm. :)

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Oh poor baby! For us it's more like it seems to have undone a lot of our progress. I spoke to our VB earlier and she wants us to immediately drop the dose by half and reassess next week, as it may just be a dosage problem.

Meanwhile I have a trembling dog on my lap who has been refusing to eat from his bowl as he's suddenly and inexplicably become scared of it.

How's Justice going?

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Snook   

Oh poor baby! For us it's more like it seems to have undone a lot of our progress. I spoke to our VB earlier and she wants us to immediately drop the dose by half and reassess next week, as it may just be a dosage problem.

Meanwhile I have a trembling dog on my lap who has been refusing to eat from his bowl as he's suddenly and inexplicably become scared of it.

How's Justice going?

Justice developed inexplicable fears on Prozac. It's such a shot in the dark trying to get the right meds for the right dog. I'm pleased to say that after a year of seeing the VB, we seem to have hit the jackpot with the combination of Paroxetine, Clonidine and Valium. The Paroxetine is daily, which evens him out a bit and the Clonidine is only for storms/fireworks or if I'm going to be away from home for several hours as he starts to stop coping and gets a bit frantic after 2 - 3 hours but thankfully my absences aren't for that long too often. Valium has been the big winner for us. Justice has been enthusiastic about seeing dogs when we've gone to do training sessions of LAT outside a fenced dog park, saw a dog about 30 metres away from him at our usual park and acted like nothing was wrong and happily trotted off in a different direction with me, had two dogs run up to a gate we walked past and he acted like a completely "normal" dog and sniffed hello through the fence for a few seconds calmly and came away when I called him, then went back twice more to say hello for a few seconds while I was talking to the owner and then continued on our walk like nothing had happened, and has had an off leash run around blinkblink's salon with the adorable Gruf. He's so much more enthusiastic and playful with his bestie now and I actually feel for the first time in a very long time, like he'll be able to cope pretty well if I decide to go away for a weekend and leave him with his bestie. His next big step will be an off leash run around at blinkblink's big property in the country, where he went a few times on his own last winter, but this time it will be with Gruf too. I'm pretty stoked and it's really opened up Justice's world for him and made life a lot more pleasant and easy for both of us. I'm being careful to break up the valium use so that he has days each week when he doesn't get it and stays home or goes for a walk in the local cemetery, so that he doesn't become dependent on it and then feel off if he doesn't get it, and so he doesn't build up a tolerance to it. At the moment I'm just working on tweaking the dose downwards ever so slightly (probably only a quarter to half a tablet) because he does get a bit over excited and enthusiastic at times and isn't as responsive to commands, and I'd like to dial that back a touch. His VB is thrilled with his progress too. It's a pretty big change from the dog who would shut down and shake and couldn't walk or even get out of the car if he saw another dog, no matter how far away they were. Thanks so much for asking!!

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Taliecat   

Snook that's amazing!

Someone has got to be cutting onions or something because my eyes were leaking a little reading how far Justice has come!

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Snook   

Thanks guys. It's pretty huge. While I don't love the thought of giving Justice valium, I've really reached a point where I'll do whatever gives him a better life and if this is it, then so be it. I don't think we have any other options and the degree to which he is happier on it is pretty extraordinary.

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AMAZING! :cheer: You've both come so far.

Nothing wrong with the right medication when needed. We wouldn't think twice about giving a dog insulin if his pancreas wasn't functioning properly, but can get kind of stuck when it's the brain.

(Says the person who approached them with trepidation as I have seen the good and bad of them 😬 ).

Edited by Papillon Kisses

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Really loved this blog post:

FEARFUL DOGS

I really like this bit:

Taking all of this in can be overwhelming to the owner of a brittle dog. If your dog’s history suggests developmental disabilities, it’s important to realize that your dog is not a normal dog. He has special needs. Asking your dog to suck it up and go to the dog park or to stop cowering behind the couch every time visitors come over dismisses the very real disability your dog lives with every day. It’s as insensitive as calling someone in a wheelchair lazy or laughing at the retired combat veteran next door when he asks you to please give him a head’s up before you light off firecrackers. We wouldn’t ask a dog who was missing a limb or an eye to engage in behaviors which were potentially dangerous to him, but because we cannot see the damage to the brain of our previously-neglected dog with our naked eyes we oftentimes forget to give him the same respect. It’s unconscionable to ignore a disability just because it’s not instantly visible.

Also just stumbled across this blog post(again? I think I've read it before):

Does your insecurity affect your dog?

Yes!

Your insecurity affects your dog more than you may think. Not only can it prevent you from doing what’s necessary to give your dog the structure, training, and guidance they need, but it also bleeds down your leash, adding fuel to any insecurities your pup might already have, leaving him searching for a leader and assuming the position if he can’t find one.

And this because I am down today:

Remember:

Be Proud – You are working hard to give your dog structure, training, and exercise. You should be proud. Let your dog’s successes empower and drive you. You’ll find that your relationship drastically improves if you do.

Perfect Isn’t Possible – Making mistakes is the foundation of learning and evolution, so don’t fear it. Instead, embrace your mistakes as opportunities for growth. You can’t get better without them, so quit trying to avoid them, and instead, learn from your mistakes and evolve your training.

Get Above It – What gives people the right to judge you? What gives their words power? Even if they are judging, what makes them qualified to do so? People can say what they want, but at the end of the day, it’s your dog and you’re the one holding the leash. If they have suggestions, be open. If they approach with hate (which from experience, I can honestly say they RARELY, if ever, do), don’t give their words value. You’re actually training your dog and giving it more than a vast majority of the population will ever give, and for that, you’re AWESOME.

Engage, Play With, and Train Your Dog – I can tell you that 99% of the time, I train my dog at the park, and we are LOUD, and we are PLAYING together, and I completely tune out the world around me. I’m met with so many kind words, inquisitive people, and compliments…. even (or especially) when I am making mistakes and troubleshooting. It’s rare that I am ever met with judgement or hate. Be your dog’s cheerleader. He’s your biggest fan, so step up and make him believe you’re his too!

We have guests over today, fingers crossed we keep it positive.

Edited by Thistle the dog

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Yep! It's all about progress not perfection, feedback not failure.

If we or they make a mistake or can't do something it's ok! We are learning every day. :)

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Snook   

Great blog posts! I'm sorry you're feeling down today, Thistle. I hope things are going well with your visitors. *hugs*

As you've probably guessed by blinkblink's post, Justice has a new doggy friend!! He and Gruf were fantastic today and Gruf is such a wonderful dog. Not only are they very clearly friends now and had an absolute blast tearing around for a couple of hours and exploring together (they even started playing towards the end but were too tired to last long enough for me to get the video going.. lol), but Justice also dealt with the resident dog called Mr Shivers, who was on the other side of a fence but barked and snarled at Justice every time he went near him. Prior to taking this video, Justice had chosen to go up to the fence several times and not once did he get upset or start shutting down and you can even see in this video when Mr Shivers startled Justice a bit, Justice recovered quickly. Not bad for the dog who can't get out of the car or walk and completely shuts down at the sight of another dog, no matter how far away they are!!

And a video of them running around the property together and Justice scoring pats from one of this most favourite people in the world:

To say I'm stoked would be a HUGE understatement. Thank you SO much for today, blinkblink!! :D :heart:

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Ahh I love them together! They are like two peas in a pod! I have never noticed that black spot halfway down Justice's tail before? It's a lucky mark I swear!

And how well he recovered from the startle he had! He looks so relaxed and happy, you must be so proud! I'm proud and he's not even mine, so you must be ready to burst from it!

:D

Look at that happy tail go.

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I'm super super happy with Laikey (dog reactive). We've been working with Amy from Advanced Behavioural Training for a few months now. This past week, at the facility, Laikey approached Amy's crated dogs, by choice and didn't bark. She then happily worked with Amy at the front of the crates.

Today at home, we've been packing for the move. Some friends came over to help and brought their mini foxy who was crated a metre away from where Laikey was crated. Laikey didn't bark when she heard Roxy the Foxy. Additionally, when i took Laikey out to eat dinner, she needed to walk past Roxy's crate. As she was walking past, she stopped happily to have a look (knowing Roxy was in there) and didn't bark. Roxy barked the house down as soon as Laikey came super close. At that point Laikey did bark as she was becoming excited about dinner. She walked past into the kitchen and managed to settle herself quite well and focus on me.

I'm now looking at finding a behaviourist in Brisbane to continue working with Laikey so the ground isn't lost in her training. Even though she barked at Roxy, it was only after Roxy barked; a month ago she would have barked at Roxy as soon as she smelled her in the house! Super pleased mama here biggrin.gif

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