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Exercising Reactive Dogs Thread

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Snook   

Just posting up another exercise option now that I've tried it out (well.. technically Justice tried it out.. lol). I bought a doggy backpack for Justice after reading several different things that said they can help dogs focus and settle on walks as it gives them a job to do, as well as helping to tire them out (and we all know a tired dog is a good dog) and maintain or increase their fitness. It arrived yesterday and we gave it a whirl tonight with a can of spaghetti on each side for some weight (I don't want to risk hurting Justice so we're starting light and will gradually build up how much gets put in the backpack). He had his Thundershirt on underneath it and it was seriously the best walk ever. His focus was stellar, he didn't react to any dogs who were barking as we walked past and best of all when we got home and I took everything off he looked tired but totally relaxed with a huge smile on his face. I realise of course this doesn't help those who are having problems with off leash dogs approaching you but it might be one option for helping reduce your own dog's reactivity on walks. :)

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hankdog   

Haha Snook you'd think I'd have used food from his daily ration but no it wasn't totally obvious. So dog walking neighbourhood carrying spaghetti, well I might give it a try at least worse case in a fight it might act as body armour. Jake has had thoroughly good barks at what feels like all the well-behaved dogs in the neighbourhood, very embarrassing and yes I am starting to understand having to micromanage every situation but luckily he's smallish at only 22kgs so I'm starting to feel more confident about at least controlling him and I have a sneaking feeling he's starting to enjoy just having a bark. He certainly knows he's about to get chicken when he sees another dog.

I also found a toy called a kibble nibble it's an egg shaped ball with a hole in each end that you fill with kibble and they have to use their paw to roll it over the long axis to get the kibble to fall out, didn't take him too long to get it. Cost of toy $20 watching a bulldog eat kibble off the floor....priceless!

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trojka   

I have had the same experience with the backpack.

Put it on my boy for the first time, and you could instantly see his expression change, took him for a walk, and it was almost like walking a different dog. He is so much more calm, relaxed and confident with it on, it's amazing.

I think it works in the same way a thundershirt or a body wrap (not sure what they're really called) would. I should really get it out more often again.

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Aidan3   

Cool, my backpack arrived today. Can't wait to use it, even though my current dog's idea of being reactive is to play-bow at inappropriate moments (bless him).

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megan_   

I wonder if it is just putting a bit of pressure on the right spot. A behaviourist showed me a touch technique just below the shoulder blades that instantly changes my girl. I might try getting a teeny-weeny backpack for her. She is also less reactive when she has her raincoat on as she isn't 100% happy to be wearing it.

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hankdog   

Well Saturday is the big day... finally seeing our behaviourist for some desensitisation. Unfortunately since on the last 2 days we have been rushed by the "don't worry he's friendly" gang on 5 separate occaisions every walk is now a big dog hunt event. It's amazing just how quickly all the good work goes down hill. Since most people here will have probably been through desensitisation I was wondering if anyone has any tips on how to get the most out of the situation and general advice for the session.

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SammieS   

Well Saturday is the big day... finally seeing our behaviourist for some desensitisation. Unfortunately since on the last 2 days we have been rushed by the "don't worry he's friendly" gang on 5 separate occaisions every walk is now a big dog hunt event. It's amazing just how quickly all the good work goes down hill. Since most people here will have probably been through desensitisation I was wondering if anyone has any tips on how to get the most out of the situation and general advice for the session.

I watch this thread with interest because I have a reactive dog and I know all the things that we didn't do correctly with Asti when she was a pup to lead to this and have promised myself I wont make the same mistake with Angus.

I also know how frustrating it can be when "just friendly dogs" barrel up to yours when you're trying to keep your dog calm and under threshold then when your dog reacts the owner gives you the "there is something wrong with your dog look" when it was their dog that was displaying the rude/incorrect body language in the first place. :(

The best thing that I did was enrol Asti into a basics dog training class - it covered all the things we did in puppy preschool 3 years ago but I wasn't there to teach her to drop, stay, loose lead walk or go to your mat, I used the 5 weeks to let Asti know that she could be around other dogs and they weren't going to come near her and she wasn't going to have to meet them. I have seen such a difference that I'm going to continue training at this place because the trainers are very supportive (and place you in the class where your dog is most likely to succeed as in be less reactive) and they have a strict no meeting on the lead policy which takes the pressure off us knowing we don't have to worry about those "he's just friendly dogs" because Asti won't have to meet them.

I have to admit that I always took my cool calm and collected husband with me and I did sit in the car after class one night and had a cry because we were put too close to the trainers dogs in class (they were in a pen) and Asti lost her brain (only once in the 60 minutes) but all I could feel was the whole class looking at us! :o

I hope all goes well on Saturday Hankdog and that you come back in here to tell us how it went!

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ESCS   

I would like to try a backpack on my reactive tibbie. However, is he likely to overheat with it on as he has a long coat and blunt face? We walk early mornings.

It sounds a great idea and worth a go as long as I'm not compromising his health.

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Snook   

I would like to try a backpack on my reactive tibbie. However, is he likely to overheat with it on as he has a long coat and blunt face? We walk early mornings.

It sounds a great idea and worth a go as long as I'm not compromising his health.

The one I've got has a sort of weave fabric on the underside which doesn't seem to cause excessive heat. As he also has his thundershirt on underneath the backpack I either walk him early or around sunset on warmish days and when we had some hot days walked late at night. I'm not sure how your breed would go as Justice is short haired, but he does seem to run at a higher temperature and overheat more easily than a lot of dogs, hence me being a bit cautious about not walking him when it's warm. You could always get one and start out with a short walk and if it's going well increase the distance?

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Sylvie   

Well Saturday is the big day... finally seeing our behaviourist for some desensitisation. Unfortunately since on the last 2 days we have been rushed by the "don't worry he's friendly" gang on 5 separate occaisions every walk is now a big dog hunt event. It's amazing just how quickly all the good work goes down hill. Since most people here will have probably been through desensitisation I was wondering if anyone has any tips on how to get the most out of the situation and general advice for the session.

I watch this thread with interest because I have a reactive dog and I know all the things that we didn't do correctly with Asti when she was a pup to lead to this and have promised myself I wont make the same mistake with Angus.

I also know how frustrating it can be when "just friendly dogs" barrel up to yours when you're trying to keep your dog calm and under threshold then when your dog reacts the owner gives you the "there is something wrong with your dog look" when it was their dog that was displaying the rude/incorrect body language in the first place. :(

The best thing that I did was enrol Asti into a basics dog training class - it covered all the things we did in puppy preschool 3 years ago but I wasn't there to teach her to drop, stay, loose lead walk or go to your mat, I used the 5 weeks to let Asti know that she could be around other dogs and they weren't going to come near her and she wasn't going to have to meet them. I have seen such a difference that I'm going to continue training at this place because the trainers are very supportive (and place you in the class where your dog is most likely to succeed as in be less reactive) and they have a strict no meeting on the lead policy which takes the pressure off us knowing we don't have to worry about those "he's just friendly dogs" because Asti won't have to meet them.

I have to admit that I always took my cool calm and collected husband with me and I did sit in the car after class one night and had a cry because we were put too close to the trainers dogs in class (they were in a pen) and Asti lost her brain (only once in the 60 minutes) but all I could feel was the whole class looking at us! :o

I hope all goes well on Saturday Hankdog and that you come back in here to tell us how it went!

I have been reading this thread with attention too, having 2 reactive JRs. We have seen a behaviourist who helped us a lot (Jane Harper) but I'd like to try obedience classes also to get them in chalenging situation in a more controlled environment. I planned to take them one at a time, switching the two every week. I have just contacted the Jindalee Centenary Obedience Club. Did anyone have had experience with them?

SammieS, which part of Brisbane are you in? And could you give the name of the place you went for the classes?

Thanks.

Sylvie

Edited by Sylvie

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SammieS   

I have been reading this thread with attention too, having 2 reactive JRs. We have seen a behaviourist who helped us a lot (Jane Harper) but I'd like to try obedience classes also to get them in chalenging situation in a more controlled environment. I planned to take them one at a time, switching the two every week. I have just contacted the Jindalee Centenary Obedience Club. Did anyone have had experience with them?

SammieS, which part of Brisbane are you in? And could you give the name of the place you went for the classes?

Tanks.

Sylvie

Hi Sylvie, I have also seen Jane Harper and have found a combo of what I learnt with her and also our weekly training worked well. We go to Urban Dog Training at Carina - Danielle and Paul are fabulous, very down to earth and the results are outstanding.

Asti attended the Urban Basics class and Angus attended the two Puppy ones and also attends the free Adolescent play groups up until he's 12 months old. My next plan of attack is to get both Asti and Angus into Clicks and Tricks, and Loose Lead Walking (in that, Asti will learn to walk around other dogs who are also on lead!) and then depending on how we go I want to keep repeating with Asti until she gets the hang of being around other dogs and knowing they don't care about her.

When you go to an Obedience Club, do they have classes/sessions like other dog training schools? or is the training specifically for competing in competitions?

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Sylvie   

I have been reading this thread with attention too, having 2 reactive JRs. We have seen a behaviourist who helped us a lot (Jane Harper) but I'd like to try obedience classes also to get them in chalenging situation in a more controlled environment. I planned to take them one at a time, switching the two every week. I have just contacted the Jindalee Centenary Obedience Club. Did anyone have had experience with them?

SammieS, which part of Brisbane are you in? And could you give the name of the place you went for the classes?

Tanks.

Sylvie

Hi Sylvie, I have also seen Jane Harper and have found a combo of what I learnt with her and also our weekly training worked well. We go to Urban Dog Training at Carina - Danielle and Paul are fabulous, very down to earth and the results are outstanding.

Asti attended the Urban Basics class and Angus attended the two Puppy ones and also attends the free Adolescent play groups up until he's 12 months old. My next plan of attack is to get both Asti and Angus into Clicks and Tricks, and Loose Lead Walking (in that, Asti will learn to walk around other dogs who are also on lead!) and then depending on how we go I want to keep repeating with Asti until she gets the hang of being around other dogs and knowing they don't care about her.

When you go to an Obedience Club, do they have classes/sessions like other dog training schools? or is the training specifically for competing in competitions?

Thanks SammieS,

The Jindalee Centenary Obedience Club has Basic Obedience training session of 6 weeks, I don't expect to do any competition with our dogs.

I will probably enroll one of the dog for the basic obedience class next month. They think it is better to take same dog for the full 6 weeks and then work on the other with all the information from the class. The hard bit is to choose the one with the worst behaviour for the class as they work as a team: one starts growling and barking while the other comes to the rescue and lunges to grab the other dog. I guess I'll go with the one who starts! He is also the pushy one at home.

That is also what I'd like to achieve, getting them to be around other dogs and knowing they don't care about them. Jane does not seem to think that we will be able to trust them enough to ever let them play free with other dogs, which is a bit sad, but if we could walk past other dogs without mine trying to jump on them would be great.

Thanks again for your reply.

Sylvie

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ESCS   

Thanks, Snook. I'll try your ideas. I walk the dogs before work so it's quite early and being close to winter, it would be the best time to try the back pack. He can carry his own treats and poo bags! I would be thrilled if it would reduce a little of the reactivity so that it gives all the other training we have been doing with the behaviourist a better chance of working.

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hankdog   

Well not quite sure what I expexted but 45 minutes of being read information from the internet wasn't quite in my mind. Finally the dog we were going to be exposed to turned up and the behaviorist told the handler to walk her around whilst Jake sat, so this immeadiately got him completely upset. I suggested that the dog sit and Jake walk at which point he started to relax and she sent the dog away. So about 5 minutes of practical work and 55 minutes of being told stuff I had already read and put into practice... not really a good way to spend money and I was hoping for some breakthrough. Has anyone actually seen a behaviourist that has made a concrete difference to their dogs behaviour? Little ratbag is now in surgery having a piece of fabric that he stole out the sewing room removed from his stomach. Really, really not having a good dog day,it's a good thing he's so cute when he's being nice.

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Snook   

That doesn't sound like a very good consultation at all. :( Unfortunately it's such an unregulated industry that anyone can call themselves a behaviourist. What area are you in? I'm sure someone can recommend a good behaviourist for you.

ETA: I had a behaviourist called Mark Singer out at one stage and it was a very different consultation to what you described. We talked for about the first 20 minutes but the whole time he was also assessing Justice, seeing what Justice did when we both ignored him and wouldn't let him in to our space, getting me to feed Justice treats to see how Justice took them from me and showing me how to get Justice to wait until he was released to take the food. The next 40 minutes were all hands on including walking Justice and teaching him not to react to a dog that always barks at him etc.. It was supposed to be a two hour consult but as Justice is such a soft dog and there were no real issues other than the fear aggression, it only took an hour. He gave us a free follow up consultation for an hour instead (although ended up being here for more than two hours because I asked him to look at the interaction between my friends dog and Justice to see if it was safe to have them together, as her dog had tried to bite me and had had a go at Justice a few times and I was due to look after him for a few days and her dog flipped out at Mark (all Mark did was stand there with his hands in his pocket and try to move in to the dogs space) and Mark didn't think it was safe for him to leave with the dog in that state, so had to work with him and bring his arousal levels down before he could leave. He didn't charge for the extra time either.

Edited by Snook

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Robbi   

Snook where did you get Justice's backpack from? I think Abbie would benefit from wearing one on walks, she is the sort of dog who loves to feel she is doing a job and helping out :) I think she would be fine carrying two 600ml bottles of water, she weighs 36kgs so 1.2kgs shouldn't be too heavy for her do you think?

We are never going to be able to go to dog parks with Abbie(thats Yogis forte) but she is getting less reactive to dogs on walks slowly but surely, I do find the biggest problem is off leash dogs on our walks and find myself yelling at people to call their dogs back to them rather loudly sometimes but it seems some people dont realise a reactive dog doesn't want to just say hello to their dog :eek:

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huski   

Most of our behaviour consults are discussion of theory, it is important for the owner to understand the behaviour and how we will address. Then the practical side should be easier to implement. But you definitely should not have been left feeling like the consult was a waste of time and without seeing some positive change in your dog by the time the consult was over. A behaviourist consult should leave an owner feeling inspired and confident that they have the tools to help their dog and that their dogs behaviour can change for the better.

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Jumabaar   

Well not quite sure what I expexted but 45 minutes of being read information from the internet wasn't quite in my mind. Finally the dog we were going to be exposed to turned up and the behaviorist told the handler to walk her around whilst Jake sat, so this immeadiately got him completely upset. I suggested that the dog sit and Jake walk at which point he started to relax and she sent the dog away. So about 5 minutes of practical work and 55 minutes of being told stuff I had already read and put into practice... not really a good way to spend money and I was hoping for some breakthrough. Has anyone actually seen a behaviourist that has made a concrete difference to their dogs behaviour? Little ratbag is now in surgery having a piece of fabric that he stole out the sewing room removed from his stomach. Really, really not having a good dog day,it's a good thing he's so cute when he's being nice.

Yes I have had really positive results- with the correct theory, technique and tools I saw changes within days. I have since gone back to the same person for some trouble shooting- and once again have had big improvements. Understanding the motivation behind the problem and having it all explained is really important as it allows the handler to think about situations from the dogs perspective and act well before there is an actual problem.

I agree with Huski- I ended my consultation feeling like it was going to work and I think that was a big part of the reason why it DID work!

Sucks you didn't get more out of it.

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Hi Hankdog - the problem is, that reactive dogs need good behaviouralists. If you get a good one, you start seeing the difference very very quickly.

Let the people here know roughly where you are - we'll point you in the direction of someone who's worth seeing! :)

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