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Exercising Reactive Dogs Thread

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Snook   

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:

Hey Robbi :wave: I got Justice's backpack from here and postage was $13. I had a look for them from Australian retailers and the ones I found are charging more than double this price. Justice is loving it. We just got back from a 45 minute walk and he was so happy and focused during his walk although he was starting to slow down quite a bit by the end of it.. lol. He's come home and crashed on his bed with a huge, relaxed grin on his face while he waits for me to get his dinner. I might just be seeing what I want to see but he really does look like he thinks he's doing a job when he has it on, even with just the way he walks.

I'd be surprised if a 600ml bottle of water weighs 600grams? Justice is about 24-25kg (I tried to weigh him at Petstock a couple of weeks ago but their scales are way out and he came in at 19kg even though he's a tad heavier than normal.. lol) and I started him with a 420g can of spaghetti on each side (so 840g) and he was perfectly fine with that. I didn't want to start out too high and risk accidentally hurting him so we kept that weight until this week and I've now added a 505g tin of soup to each side so in total he's carrying 1.85kg now. You can definitely see the difference the added weight makes just by how much it slows him down but he was still perfectly happy the whole time and during the part of our walk where he gets to go off leash (in a cemetery so no other dogs around) he was still trotting ahead of me to check things out then coming back to me every time I practised his recall and then trotting off again (which I imagine he wouldn't be doing if the backpack felt too much for him). I'll keep this weight for at least two or three weeks until he's completely used to it and it isn't really slowing him down.

I'm going to teach Justice the Look at That game to reduce his reactivity to other dogs. The difficult part is finding an environment where there are other dogs but absolutely no risk of any of them approaching him. I'm going to see if it's okay to stay back after our obedience class when they start up again next week and work on it with him while the second lot of classes are running and was thinking about taking him to a dog park but sitting outside the fence, so he's protected from dogs rushing up to him but can still see them and be rewarded for looking at them. The Look at That game might be something work looking in to (pardon the pun) for Abbie?

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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:

Hey Robbi :wave: I got Justice's backpack from here and postage was $13. I had a look for them from Australian retailers and the ones I found are charging more than double this price. Justice is loving it. We just got back from a 45 minute walk and he was so happy and focused during his walk although he was starting to slow down quite a bit by the end of it.. lol. He's come home and crashed on his bed with a huge, relaxed grin on his face while he waits for me to get his dinner. I might just be seeing what I want to see but he really does look like he thinks he's doing a job when he has it on, even with just the way he walks.

I'd be surprised if a 600ml bottle of water weighs 600grams? Justice is about 24-25kg (I tried to weigh him at Petstock a couple of weeks ago but their scales are way out and he came in at 19kg even though he's a tad heavier than normal.. lol) and I started him with a 420g can of spaghetti on each side (so 840g) and he was perfectly fine with that. I didn't want to start out too high and risk accidentally hurting him so we kept that weight until this week and I've now added a 505g tin of soup to each side so in total he's carrying 1.85kg now. You can definitely see the difference the added weight makes just by how much it slows him down but he was still perfectly happy the whole time and during the part of our walk where he gets to go off leash (in a cemetery so no other dogs around) he was still trotting ahead of me to check things out then coming back to me every time I practised his recall and then trotting off again (which I imagine he wouldn't be doing if the backpack felt too much for him). I'll keep this weight for at least two or three weeks until he's completely used to it and it isn't really slowing him down.

I'm going to teach Justice the Look at That game to reduce his reactivity to other dogs. The difficult part is finding an environment where there are other dogs but absolutely no risk of any of them approaching him. I'm going to see if it's okay to stay back after our obedience class when they start up again next week and work on it with him while the second lot of classes are running and was thinking about taking him to a dog park but sitting outside the fence, so he's protected from dogs rushing up to him but can still see them and be rewarded for looking at them. The Look at That game might be something work looking in to (pardon the pun) for Abbie?

Thanks Snook :) I will be hiking the hills with Abbie and her backpack in no time :thumbsup:

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hankdog   

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! :)

Thanks I'm on Sydney North shore but really will travel anywhere in Sydney to see someone good, Jake is a car lover. Frustrating thing, is in a controlled situation I can slowly approach a quiet dog so really I need a practice dog to sit quietly. Mmmm anyone know a park where a couple of old dogs just lay in the sun?

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OSoSwift   

It is easier to break up a dog fight when you only have one lot of teeth to deal with. Of course no one wants to get into this situation but in the event that you do, i can't imagine why anyone would want two dogs potentially latched on instead of one.

Muzzles ease owners stress. A stressed owner decreases a reactive dogs threshold significantly- we want to increase the dogs threshold so we need to deal with every factor affecting it. It is flawed to either ignore an owners emotional state or expect them to change it quickly- it just doesn't work. Owners emotional states (like dogs) take time to change and in some cases, muzzles help in the meantime.

In addition to the other suggestions- i think its important that if a reactive dog has some 'dog friends' that thet do get regular interactions with them if possible. Regular predatory drive rewards can also help to stimulate and tire a reactive dog.

Simple Cosmolo, the dog that gets latched onto is your muzzled dog which can also come with severe injury to your dog, why on earth would anyone want their own dog injured by an off leash dog when it could potentially diffuse the situation being unmuzzled and come through it unscathed :confused:

Okay another view.

I had two Dobermann bitches.

They got along well but were never together when I was not around.

One day The got into a fight. One was 8 years old and desexed, but the top dog. The other was two entire and hitting her prime.

The older girl wore a basket muzzle when out of the house/her dog run due to an on going condition that caused her to eat unusual things in great quantities following three Tortion surgeries in 2 years.

One evening while I was trying to feed a poddy calf the two got into a fight, not sure exactly what it was over but I think it is because they both tried to cock their leg on the same thing at the same time.

The young one started it, the old girl defended herself - she was muzzled. The young dog was biting her face but also grabbing her over her shoulders and neck and trying to throw her on her back. Luckily the old girl was wearing a coat that was moving independantly of her enough that she could brace her legs and stop herself going over. It also meant the coat was full of holes not her neck.

I believe the fact the older girl was wearing a muzzle actually saved her life. Because she didn't fight back the young one was not as fueled in her attempted killing of her. I believe had she been able to fight back without her muzzle that would have caused the situation to excalate further and her life would have been in far more danger than it was.

Luckily I got to them and managed to get them to back off. The old girl had a shredded coat and multiple puncture marks to her lips, ears, eyelids and over her head. Her coat was a double thickness extanded neck coat which is also another reason she did not have her throat torn open.

I can understand the worry of the dog not being able to defned it's self, but I also believe in many situations that being able to inflict pain, can cause a higher surge in adrenaline and fuel the fight more the dog that is muzzled and the dog has the potential to save it's self more severe or life threateneing injury as a result of being muzzled.

Sorry to take this thread further off topic but I though that another view on muzzling a reactive dog may help people see it from another side.

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Hi again Hankdog - keeping in mind that I have no idea about geography (and get routinely lost),K9pro (Steve Courtney) is at least in your state (kurrajong??)- he'd be a good place to start. I also believe that he keeps a list of good behaviouralists australia wide which makes him an even better place to start.

A lot of these guys run reactive dog classes - which is where all the dogs are reactive which means all the owners are working on keeping their dogs calm - and it gives you a great place to practice in the company of people who understand what you are going through. Duke (my reactive dog) loves them - he'll even stop having hysteria about small fluffy dogs in the class - after 10 or 15 minutes. Which is a vast improvement on 45 minutes of total mindless canine hysteria that we used to have just because he spotted the tip of a dogs tail a mile or two in the distance :( .

Good luck, let us know how you go!

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hankdog   

Thanks ChristineX I will give him a call, I think word of mouth is probably going to be my best bet. As it turns out the piece of fabric turned out to be the needle and thread I was working with shortly before he started choking. I was chatting while working and must have let it dangle, whilst under anaesthetic they also removed some excess soft palate that will help him breathe better. So no excitement for a week. I'll be working on the sit/ stay program I found on the internet called "Protocol for Relaxation" by Karen Overall. It gives a day by day task for 15 days, I'm good with clear instructions. I'll give Steve a call and hopefully set up a meet for once the throat is all healed.

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Nekhbet   

just FYI our school is set up for reactive and aggressive dogs, they're more then welcome no matter the breed or problem if people need a place to train. I know its in Geelong but there is at least an option and agility equipment.

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Hankdog - that sounds awful! Here's hoping for a speedy healing. I make jewellery for fun, and Duke in particular likes to 'move' them around the place. fortunatly, no misadventures (yet).

Nekhbet, that's a very kind offer! Hankdog, I have no idea of the distances involved, (did I mention, geographically challanged?) but that has got you two really good options with two really good people. :)

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Nekhbet   

The school is in Victoria, available for anyone that wants to join a school set up with the experience and facilities of reactive dogs.

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hankdog   

Well Kurrajong is just a bit over an hour away so we'll definitely get there once we've recovered. He's now know as a "billdog" rather than a "bulldog". I have as a goal to attend an obedience class but I'm not sure how that works for reactive dogs. Do they gradually just calm down and stop carrying on or do you sit on the sidelines for a few weeks? I'm doing the sit/stay protocol, first day was easy and I see the beginning of this forum has a pinned excecise called triangle of temptation that I think we could work on but I'm concerned about over doing everything and causing too much stress if every aspect of his life is so much of a trial? Has anyone done this with their dog? Thankyou for the replies, very much appreciated.

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Snook   

Well Kurrajong is just a bit over an hour away so we'll definitely get there once we've recovered. He's now know as a "billdog" rather than a "bulldog". I have as a goal to attend an obedience class but I'm not sure how that works for reactive dogs. Do they gradually just calm down and stop carrying on or do you sit on the sidelines for a few weeks? I'm doing the sit/stay protocol, first day was easy and I see the beginning of this forum has a pinned excecise called triangle of temptation that I think we could work on but I'm concerned about over doing everything and causing too much stress if every aspect of his life is so much of a trial? Has anyone done this with their dog? Thankyou for the replies, very much appreciated.

I can only speak for our obedience school but when we apply to enrol they get us to fill out a detailed questionnaire about our dogs, their behaviours and how much time we spend with them and what we spend it doing. They use this info to sort the dogs in to groups and so our group was all adult dogs and they all had issues of some kind, including a few who are reactive, and we were allocated a trainer who has a lot of experience with reactive dogs (including her own) and runs her own private dog training/behaviour business outside of the school, which is staffed entirely by volunteers. To make allowances for the reactive dogs she spaced everyone out at least twice as far from each other compared to the other groups and were placed on the far side of the oval so we could park over there and enter through the rear gate and go straight to our group without having to walk our dogs past 48 other dogs first. Most of us got there 15 to 20 mins early every week to give our dogs time to adjust to the environment, walk them around the oval, practise getting them to focus on us and revisit the work we'd been doing during the week with them. We would also make sure we were seated in the group with our dogs for around five minutes before class was due to start to give the dogs a chance to settle down a bit. The first obedience class was just for the owners with no dogs present and during that session they taught us how to teach our dog to look at us on command and our homework was to spend the week teaching this to the dogs before they started class, so that we already had command we could give them which was great for moving their attention off of the other dogs. Maybe give your school a call beforehand to find out how they manage reactive dogs and what you can do to prepare?

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Jumabaar   

Well Kurrajong is just a bit over an hour away so we'll definitely get there once we've recovered. He's now know as a "billdog" rather than a "bulldog". I have as a goal to attend an obedience class but I'm not sure how that works for reactive dogs. Do they gradually just calm down and stop carrying on or do you sit on the sidelines for a few weeks? I'm doing the sit/stay protocol, first day was easy and I see the beginning of this forum has a pinned excecise called triangle of temptation that I think we could work on but I'm concerned about over doing everything and causing too much stress if every aspect of his life is so much of a trial? Has anyone done this with their dog? Thankyou for the replies, very much appreciated.

I do Triangle of Temptation (TOT) and Nothing In Life is Free (NILIF) with my boy. He LOVES having a 'job' to do so the NILIF is great.

I also reward for specific behaviours- I am trying to get my low drive dog to fetch a tennis ball for me so every time she has a ball in her mouth I make a fuss and give her a cuddle. This has resulted in her looking for a ball or toy and bringing it too me when she wants attention because she knows that the rule is she always gets rewarded for it (for the time being- I usually set the criteria harder as training progresses)- it gives her some control in her life. I do similar things with my reactive boy and just like her he really enjoys that he can 'turn on the cuddles' when he wants one.

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Hi Hankdog, love the BillDog

Every obediance club will be different - but it can be doable. Duke and I still attend obd classes as well as reactive rover classes. Okay, the first two years (lots of fear was part of Duke's problems) we spent 30 metres away from everyone else, I would basically copy whatever class I attached myself to (not beginners - they just don't have enough control to keep a reactive dog calm) so if they were working on sit/stay, so was I. At 2.5 years, we managed to join a class! There are still days when we spend time at a distance, but its more like 5-10 metres, and its usually if something has upset Duke. The trainers are happy for me to choose what I do. Over the past year, though, I now spend the first couple of weeks 'helping out' with the beginners - if someone is having lots of trouble or a reactive dog rather than the trainer spending their time helping, I'll do that to get them off to a good start. Oh yeah, Duke stays in the car until everyone is in their class - not having milling dogs around helps a lot!

:) Luck and fun with the BillDog!

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megan_   

My suggestion is to go to the school first without your dog and have a look around. Some of the large clubs are not at all suitable for reactive dogs IMO - lots of chaos, dogs being allowed to say hello to strange dogs, some classes INSIST that all dogs get forced into a big group to say hello at the start of a session (this happened to me at a polular, well known club in Melbourne)!

The best classes for reactive dogs that I have found are small, privately run classes with instructors who are suitably qualified to deal with reactive dogs. Unfortunately these cost more than the volunteer run classes.

ETA: I suggest also learning about the "Look at that" game as you can use it to keep your dog below the threshold.

Edited by megan_

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Nekhbet   
Some of the large clubs are not at all suitable for reactive dogs IMO - lots of chaos, dogs being allowed to say hello to strange dogs, some classes INSIST that all dogs get forced into a big group to say hello at the start of a session (this happened to me at a polular, well known club in Melbourne)!

oh my god are you kidding :eek: that would freak me out let alone the dog

Thats why we have the red bandana rule, any dogs wearing them never get approached by other dogs or people. People already have learned to give red bandana dogs about a 5m berth :laugh: That and the rule is no approaching dogs without the owners express permissions anyway, bandana or not.

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wuffles   

I'm a volunteer instructor at our local dog club, I agree, go and visit the club and ask some questions first. Our classes aren't suitable for highly reactive dogs as there are just too many dogs out on the field and no matter how much people are told, some will still not give a wide enough berth.

I have some mildly reactive dogs in my class who are managed quite easily, as well as a moderately reactive one who has caused no issues so far. I give a little spiel in my first class about the "rules", not letting dogs eyeball each other, suitable spacing between dogs, recognising signs and moving away, etc. Though this is not something all our instructors do. Many have no experience with reactive dogs. We cannot afford to be picky unless more people volunteer!

That being said, I think that more work needs to be done with most of these dogs as group classes (at least like ours, who are not specifically set up for dogs with issues) help but often don't seem to translate to "the outside world". My own dogs certainly behave differently on their morning walk then they do at dog club!

Edit: Our syllabus does include a "meet and greet" type exercise which is included in assessment. However, owners specify whether they would actually like the dogs to meet, and if they say no, they are allowed to stop 2m away (dogs on opposite sides of handlers) and continue walking without the dogs meeting.

Edited by wuffles

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Snook   
Some of the large clubs are not at all suitable for reactive dogs IMO - lots of chaos, dogs being allowed to say hello to strange dogs, some classes INSIST that all dogs get forced into a big group to say hello at the start of a session (this happened to me at a polular, well known club in Melbourne)!

oh my god are you kidding :eek: that would freak me out let alone the dog

Thats why we have the red bandana rule, any dogs wearing them never get approached by other dogs or people. People already have learned to give red bandana dogs about a 5m berth :laugh: That and the rule is no approaching dogs without the owners express permissions anyway, bandana or not.

Yeah, we were told at the induction not to let dogs meet without the express permission of the other owner and to walk in an arc around any dogs we may be passing. The really reactive dogs have to have a bright pink leash which means no person or dog is allowed to approach them at all. They decided Justice didn't need one of these after assessing him but I still don't let him meet the other dogs.

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hankdog   

Oh boy I'm starting to understand why the behaviorist seemed to think he was wild and sent the other dog away. If Jake actually sees a dog he will bark, today he saw one at the other side of the football pitch and I thought he did well because twice I managed to get him to leave off barking and look at me and he didn't pull on the lead!! 10m away is a bit of a dream right now. On the plus side doing the sit/stay protocol seems to have made something click in his head, he got complimented by a ladies walking group for being so well behaved on the lead, staying left at heel and sitting at each cross street! Thanks ladies I'll take any positive feedback right now.

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Snook   

Oh boy I'm starting to understand why the behaviorist seemed to think he was wild and sent the other dog away. If Jake actually sees a dog he will bark, today he saw one at the other side of the football pitch and I thought he did well because twice I managed to get him to leave off barking and look at me and he didn't pull on the lead!! 10m away is a bit of a dream right now. On the plus side doing the sit/stay protocol seems to have made something click in his head, he got complimented by a ladies walking group for being so well behaved on the lead, staying left at heel and sitting at each cross street! Thanks ladies I'll take any positive feedback right now.

Every bit of progress is fantastic. Great work. :) It might be worth asking the school if they have barriers to separate dogs so they can't see each other. We had a couple of dogs in our group who would get really wound up whining and barking if they could see the other dogs. Our trainer brought in big wooden dividers to put around these dogs so that they couldn't see the rest of us, which brought their arousal levels right down and allowed them to participate in the training.

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Skye GSD   

Well Kurrajong is just a bit over an hour away so we'll definitely get there once we've recovered. I see the beginning of this forum has a pinned excecise called triangle of temptation that I think we could work on but I'm concerned about over doing everything and causing too much stress if every aspect of his life is so much of a trial? Has anyone done this with their dog? Thankyou for the replies, very much appreciated.

You will be in good hands with Steve Courtney. I use Triangle of Temptation every day - you have to feed your dog every day so it is an easy program to put in to place.

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