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Exercising Reactive Dogs Thread

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mace   

I will be sure to let my clients that have experienced otherwise know this 'fact'.

What I am pointing out Cosmolo is the "Act", it's what law is based upon and if your clients have experienced otherwise, then there are obviously other circumstances involved being an incorrectly prepared defence or perhaps no defence at all. If for example a typical scenario: Dog walker is casually walking up the footpath with dog on leash. A dog rushes out of someone's driveway aggressively challenging you or your dog and the leashed dog grabs hold of the offending dog and kills it. The council "may" try to declare the leashed dog dangerous or charge the owner of the leashed dog with a legislation breach which is correct in the effect of a dog injuring/killing another dog, BUT in those circumstances the "Act" over-rides the situation with a defence and the leashed dog "cannot" be found guilty given that it hasn't breached the legislation. This in not my idea of the situation, it's written in black and white :D

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megan_   

Yeah but you have to pay a fair whack in legal fees to fight the council - not everyone can afford that.

Regardless of the legal outcome, the safety of the community comes first, so my girl will wear her muzzle on appropriate occassions. Without the muzzle, I would not be prepared to take her to an area where there are any children, for example. That said, I always keep her below the threshold.

Back on topic....

Puzzle toys have served Lucy welll too. The Nina Ottosan range is particularly good and if you buy from teh US you can get access to toys that aren't available in the US. I have found the following to be particulary good:

* Nina O's Brick Game: http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=1721&ParentCat=435

* Nina O's new Dog Treat Maze ($11.95!): http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=3037&ParentCat=435

* The Magic Mushroom: http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&product_id=2935&ParentCat=284&string=magic mushroom

* Buster Cude (expensive, but the dogs really have to work to get the treats out so it keeps them amused):http://www.oo.com.au/Buster-Cube-Large_P95856.cfm?cm_mmc=Googlemerchantcenter-_-HomeGarden-_-PetSupplies-_-PE1677&CAWELAID=986358467

I also have a Kong Wobbler but it doesn't rate against the ones listed above IMO. I got a few games with cleanrun free shipping, so it is worth keeping an eye out there. The Nina O stuff seems to be priced very similarly in Australia, so it is worth checking out local online suppliers.

I also have a mini agility course set up in my yard (weavers and 2 jumps, soon to add a tunnel that I got from a DOLER for the princely sum of $15). All up, the weavers and jumps cost me about $70 from cleanrun (free shipping pre-Christmas shopping extravaganza). You can set up waevers with just afew tomato stakes if you don't want to invest in the proper equipment. This really works Lucy's body and brain. There are many different combos that you can teach even with a few jumps.

She is also slowly learning scent detection. Her brother got it in 10 mins but she reverts to her default behaviour (sit and look at me) when she gets confused (good girl!) so it is a bit slow going. This is something that is relatively easy to teach and you don't need a lot of fancy equipment.

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Scent work is a great idea!

I would also add doing exercises using a FitPaws egg, balance disc or similar for a few minutes a day - I have one for rehab for my old dog but my DA dog loves it - it challenges the mind and body and exhausts him in 5 mins. Plus will help him keep fit and well into old age.

Edited by superminty

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megan_   

superminty I was going to get those from cleanrun but didn't know how to train the dog to use them :o

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megan_   

yeah but I can't imagine my two rascals naturally putting their hind legs on the fitpaw egg. Maybe I need to do more hind leg awareness first?

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I only have an egg - started with front paws and lured up. The dog in this video is pretty brave, but my scaredy-cat dog took to it really well too once she worked out there were treats involved.

That was maybe his second go? I also put the egg in between the couch and a table to steady it at first.

For back legs on a disc or box - put it in a corner and holding food, walk into the dog (if they aren't great shapers). Walk the dog backwards til a hind leg hits the balance disc, mark and treat. Rinse, repeat.

Edited by superminty

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hankdog   

Hi great to find this post.

I recently aquired a bulldog from the pound and whilst it was apparent he was dog aggressive he is so pleasant around people and walks and sits so well I decided to take him on. My last dog was a giant briard x pansy and I never had to worry about his behaviour. This little guy has bite scars across the side of his face so has been in at least one big fight. I have had him 2 weeks and my eventual aim is to be able to walk him confidently past another dog. At present when seeing another dog he tenses up and begins a mixture of barking and screaming, more screaming than barking. I don't want to get into a tugging match on the lead so I crouch down in front of him and talk to him in a low voice and offer him treats. If the other dog completely ignores him this is effective however if the other dog reacts he can't be distracted and yells obscenities until the dog is about 10m away. I walk him in a harness and unfortunately being a bulldog I'm unable to muzzle him as there isn't really much of a snout to muzzle although I would welcome the peace of mind that a muzzle would give me.

My neighbours' dog is also DA but it took him about 3 days to work out that she couldn't get to him and now he ignores her barking so I believe there is hope that he will be able to overcome his problem.

I would like to hear from other DA dog owners about their strategies for improving their dogs behaviour and the length of time it took for behaviour to improve.

The nurse at the vets where I had him neutered is a dog behaviourist who gave me some advice but I was disappointed by her non commital answers to my questions.

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Snook   

I only just discovered this thread. Great idea!

I am on another list where a couple of the respondants have advocated a Thundershirt for reactive dogs. Obviously you have to get the dog used to wearing it first, but in some individuals it certainly seems to reduce the stress levels; barking, lunging & the tendency to bite.

Just wondering if anyone here has used the Thundershirt for this purpose?

My boy is reactive toward other dogs if he feels threatened by them and I've been having significant problems with him during obedience class, which we started in February for the first time. The problem at obedience hasn't been what you would normally expect from a reactive dog (such as lunging, snarling, barking etc.), as we try to maintain a reasonable distance from other dogs and our class is quite spaced out because we have a few dogs with issues, but hyper arousal resulting in him being out of control in terms of jumping on people (i.e. me and the trainer), unable to focus on commands even when they've been proofed extensively outside of training, leaping about, pulling in every direction possible so hard that it takes all of my strength to hang on to the leash and huge amounts of displacement sniffing. I spoke to a number of people including our trainer, others who have had experience with reactive dogs or aggressive behaviour, another trainer and someone who had sought the expertise of a vet behaviourist for aggression related issues.

Out of all of this I'm trying several things that will hopefully all work in conjunction and produce a calmer, less reactive dog. One of those is the Thundershirt which arrived last week. We had our first obedience class in two weeks tonight (last week fell on the public holiday) and got to try out the Thundershirt on Justice for the first time with other dogs around (I'd put it on him a couple of times at home to get him used to it first). He was sooooo good compared to the previous few weeks. He still got a little bit bouncy a couple of times but only about 10% of his normal "woo hoo I'm at obedience" bouncy, it was heaps easier to get his attention and I even managed to keep him focused on me while the dog next to us lunged at him (which normally would have seen him whip around and start barking and snarling) and also when the same dog pulled her owner over who was sitting in a chair (as in completely tipped her on her side) - twice! - and started trying to play with and climb on top of the dog on the other side. For once Justice wasn't the naughtiest dog in class!

We're now being assessed during class to see if we pass the term and get to move up to the next level and we got signed off for several things including a 30 second stay and loose leash walking, which he did perfectly for the first time EVER during a class!! Two weeks ago we couldn't even get through the loose leash exercise because he wouldn't listen to me and was pulling like a freight train in every direction. The only time he was really out of control tonight was when we were doing recalls on a long leash for the first time and the first couple of goes he ran at me full pelt and either jumped on me or kept running past me until he got to the end of the leash and flipped over.. lol (thank goodness the leash was attached to his chest instead of his neck!).. but then he calmed down and did it properly. I really think the Thundershirt made a huge difference to his behaviour tonight, especially with the dog next to us being out of control for most of the class. Normally that would have set Justice right off and I wouldn't have been able to do anything at all with him. I can't wait to see the changes long term, especially with other strategies complementing the Thundershirt. :)

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well I almost got lost and nearly became bored throughtout the few pages of Muzzle talk......... wrong topic

I LOVE the idea of the "Find It" game!! I have a 1YO Ridgie and a 7YO rescue and very recently they have developed a seperation anxiety (although they often have been out seperately?!) With the "Find It" game I can use their crates and keep them focussed seperately without the anxiety of not seeing each other.

Thanks heaps for these ideas!!

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You know what?

You can see the best behaviourist around, follow their desensitisation programs to the letter and you'll STILL have a reactive dog.

And all it needs is some moron yelling "don't worry he's friendly" as their offlead darling rushes towards you and you can be right back where you started. :cry:

So this IS a thread that should be about more than "what will I do while my dog is being cured" because that simply will NEVER happen for some dogs.

A decent dog club with its own grounds can be your saviour as can adopting the hours of a shift worker and lurking around public dog areas in the wee small hours.

Obedience will wear out the mind but dogs still need a bloody good blat every now and again for their mental well being IMO. If you can cultivate the company of people whose dogs your dog will tolerate for social outings, so much the better.

I rarely walk my dogs around my suburb straight after work. That seems to be the worst time and place for attracting the attention of dogs belonging to people who don't know their arses from their elbows when it comes to canine behaviour or courtesy to other dog owners. :(

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Snook   

One of the things I'm doing for Justice after it was recommended is reading Leslie McDevitt's 'Control Unleashed'. I only started it Monday night and have made it through the basic theory and what she trains on the first night during her Control Unleashed program and I'm already dying to try stuff out and am blown away by how obvious her methods seem after reading them, yet it never occurred to me to approach things that way. It's way too much for me to go in to specifics and I wouldn't do it justice anyway but I am so thrilled someone recommended this book. It's aimed at managing and training reactive dogs and I've been so engrossed in it the last two nights that I've stayed up way later than I planned and had trouble putting it down to go to bed. It's definitely worth checking out!

As for exercising Justice, I must be lucky in that we've never been rushed by a dog while walking around the neighbourhood so there are no restrictions for us there. I have a smallish park in my street that is fully fenced and dogs are allowed off leash after 5pm but as it's a dual purpose park with a playground and not a "dog park", it's usually empty. I won't take him in there with another dog unless it's one he knows and is fine with (like the little old scruffy terrier mix who just sniffs hello then ignores him) and there's only one entrance and the set up enables me to see if anyone is coming and the park is small enough that I can yell out and ask the person to wait while I leash Justice. It's pretty rare though that this occurs as it's usually just us. I also walk Justice in large parks that are on leash only and I go during the day when everyone is at work, so rarely come across another dog. I've also recently discovered that a local primary school is completely fenced and it's a great option for allowing Justice to run off leash in a different place to the usual. We go after 6pm when all students and teachers have gone and there might be a few kids or families who've come along after dinner for a game of cricket or basketball but never any dogs. There are heaps of different areas full of plants and bushes for him to sniff and check out, the oval to go nuts running on and there are a couple of areas within the grounds that are fenced off from the rest of the school so if anyone did come in with a dog we don't have to leave, we can just go in to one of these separate areas. I've also found that if I take along a bag of the yummy treats I use for training I can use them to practise recall and regularly call Justice back to me and then let him go again as soon as I've given him one. He thinks this is a fabulous game and loves getting to race up to me, get food and be allowed to race off again.

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I have only skimmed through the posts but in response to the issue of another dog coming up to your dog on a lead, try walking with an umbrella. Can be used as a stick to keep another dog at a distance, but can also be opened up suddenly to add that "shock" factor and will usually stop the approaching dog in its tracks.

Cody was a very fearful dog, never actually had a problem off leash when he could escape a situation (not that he had the chance to run off lead very often) but on lead would bite first ask questions later.

I made the decision 1 day to buy a hannibal lector style muzzle and it was the best thing I ever did. He loved his muzzle and would run up to shove his nose in it whenever he saw it. Very rarely had anyone allowing their dogs to get in his face after that (didn't help the roaming dogs though) but like others have said I would rather have one dog to be pulling off than 2.

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You know what?

You can see the best behaviourist around, follow their desensitisation programs to the letter and you'll STILL have a reactive dog.

And all it needs is some moron yelling "don't worry he's friendly" as their offlead darling rushes towards you and you can be right back where you started. :cry:

So this IS a thread that should be about more than "what will I do while my dog is being cured" because that simply will NEVER happen for some dogs.

A decent dog club with its own grounds can be your saviour as can adopting the hours of a shift worker and lurking around public dog areas in the wee small hours.

Obedience will wear out the mind but dogs still need a bloody good blat every now and again for their mental well being IMO. If you can cultivate the company of people whose dogs your dog will tolerate for social outings, so much the better.

I rarely walk my dogs around my suburb straight after work. That seems to be the worst time and place for attracting the attention of dogs belonging to people who don't know their arses from their elbows when it comes to canine behaviour or courtesy to other dog owners. :(

Love it. :)

Nice to see you back in the training thread. :thumbsup:

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hankdog   

Yep and we were doing so well yesterday walked right past the neighbourhood behind-fence-barkers with just a slightly faster pace no barking and then walking down the fire trail and here comes 3 medium dogs and one owner not a leash in sight. I take Jake to the side make him sit yell to the owner to please call his dogs and get the standard "don't worry they're friendly". No kidding especially the front one tearing at us barking? I managed to get in front of Jake and used my stick to hit it away and then leaving the park had to wait half an hour in the kids fenced play area because a stray great dane was wandering the street just outside the park exit. You really get a different view of dog ownership and responsibility when you have a dog like this.

I was worried about the effect this was going to have on the poor dog but I think it's probably more on me, today thought I spotted an oncoming dog so crossed the road and made him sit started giving him treats. One very confused dog was more than happy to give out a couple of wimpers when the "dog" turned out to be a black travel bag on wheels!!!

Ok so I have booked a session with a dog behaviorist who has enlisted a trained labrador and handler and we will do some controlled desensitisation otherwise Jake will too chubby to bark at anything if I'm going to give out treats for every bit of passing baggage. In the meantime working on a very basic handshake luckily coming from the pound he has a bit of weight to put on because after a week of training he still doesn't even shift his weight across in anticipation of lifting his paw although he is slowly coming around to a game of fetch but only when I'm working and he's run out of other ways to distract me.

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Snook   

Yep and we were doing so well yesterday walked right past the neighbourhood behind-fence-barkers with just a slightly faster pace no barking and then walking down the fire trail and here comes 3 medium dogs and one owner not a leash in sight. I take Jake to the side make him sit yell to the owner to please call his dogs and get the standard "don't worry they're friendly". No kidding especially the front one tearing at us barking? I managed to get in front of Jake and used my stick to hit it away and then leaving the park had to wait half an hour in the kids fenced play area because a stray great dane was wandering the street just outside the park exit. You really get a different view of dog ownership and responsibility when you have a dog like this.

I was worried about the effect this was going to have on the poor dog but I think it's probably more on me, today thought I spotted an oncoming dog so crossed the road and made him sit started giving him treats. One very confused dog was more than happy to give out a couple of wimpers when the "dog" turned out to be a black travel bag on wheels!!!

Ok so I have booked a session with a dog behaviorist who has enlisted a trained labrador and handler and we will do some controlled desensitisation otherwise Jake will too chubby to bark at anything if I'm going to give out treats for every bit of passing baggage. In the meantime working on a very basic handshake luckily coming from the pound he has a bit of weight to put on because after a week of training he still doesn't even shift his weight across in anticipation of lifting his paw although he is slowly coming around to a game of fetch but only when I'm working and he's run out of other ways to distract me.

That must be so frustrating having to deal with off leash and stray dogs while you're trying to walk Jake. You're probably already doing this but one thing I'm trying to do to stop Justice from putting on weight (he actually has gotten to the point where I need to get maybe 1.5 to 2kg off of him now) is using the dry food he would normally get given as a meal in a bowl as training rewards and walking or training him at meal times. This way he isn't getting any more than he normally would and because he hasn't eaten a separate meal, he's hungry enough that even plain kibble seems like an awesome reward. By the time we're done and he's had the equivalent of his meal allowance he suprisingly doesn't harass me for his breakfast or dinner, depending on the time of day. I really thought he would as he's so used to getting him meal given to him instead of working for each piece and he's a garbage guts who'll eat as much as I'm willing to give him and still look me like he's a poor starved waif, if I should then get something for myself.. lol.

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Ms Genki   

Megan,

Your inbox seems to be full so here's my message.

I was very surprised and relieved to see your thread on keeping reactive dogs active and occupied. I have one such dog that's very athletic and was despairing that he can't play off leash on ovals because I just can't take the risk that a small or medium dog will be sighted off in the distance. He can and will break away from me because he's strong and nothing works when his prey drive kicks in.

I'm very grateful for this thread. There have been many times in the past when I've beaten myself up for taking on a dog that was a constant exercise in micromanagement for a very long time. Feels great to have more options for managing him. Thanks for starting up the thread.

Have a lovely weekend.

And for the record of other readers, yes, mine has seen a behaviouralist who was excellent. Some of these ideas are a great complement to the things that I didn't get around to discussing with him.

Edited by Ms Genki

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