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growling at other dogs

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Deb, Mar 23, 2011.


  1. Deb

    Deb PetForums Senior

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    I have a 2yr old border collie - she attended puppy socialisation classess and some fly ball sessions. As a puppy if she met another dog she lay down in submission until they had passe. But over the last few months that has changed. If she is off lead and meets another off lead dog she is fine - sometimes she plays but more often than not she just ignores them. But when she is on lead and passess another dog on lead she at times lunges and growls at them. She never makes contact and it can be a small or large dog. sometimes she justs walks passed them. Yesterday she passed a dog that she usually plays with off lead but they were both on lead and she lunged and growled at her. Today while sitting outside a cafe she lunged and growled at every dog that passed. But then ignored another dog when we walked passes it. when she walks passed a dog and doesnt growl I praise her but when she does I tell her firmly NO. It doesnt seem to have helped though. Any suggestions welcome.:confused:
     
  2. Rottiefan

    Rottiefan PetForums VIP

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    From what it sounds like from when she was a puppy, she may have been fearful of other dogs and this has escalated. Many dogs feel more vulnerable on the lead as it takes away their primary reaction to a fearful situation, i.e. running away! It's like being backed into a corner. Thus, the option is to lash out. Since this is probably working for her on lead (the other dogs are moving away) this particular behaviour is getting reinforced.

    What experience do you have with training? I would enrol the help of a positive reward, accredited behaviourist who can help work on this before it gets too out of hand.

    Does your dog like any toys or games, e.g. frisbee? Or perhaps food treats? Whenever another dog comes into view, immediately act all happy and positive and engage her in an activity, whether that be playing with a tug toy, throwing a frisbee (would need a long lead for this) or practising some basic commands with treats. The more you do this, the better association that's going to be built with a presence of another dog. With time, passing other dogs won't be much of a problem and you can slowly decrease the distance between her and the other dog.

    If she gets too reactive when trying to pracitise the above, don't say a word; just put more distance in between you and the other dog and try and regain her attention. If you use food (a very powerful tool with reactive dogs) you can use her daily meal allowance and take it on walks and reward her for calm training. Clicker training is also good, but you need experience in doing it ideally.
     
  3. lucysnewmum

    lucysnewmum PetForums Senior

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    this sounds like a behaviour she has learnt over time and the NO correction clearly isnt working for you.

    i would suggest with a highly reactive dog like this it is VITAL to get the dogs attention away from the thing that is causing the reaction (ie the passing dog) and onto something more pleasant so that with a bit of practise and in time your dog will associate a passing dog with something nice.

    next time you feel she is about to react try dropping a treat onto the floor directly infront of her nose and keep feeding in the same manner until the passing dog has passed. keep saying "nice dooooog, nice doooog" in a low calm voice so that she understands that what she is doing (ie picking up the treats and ignoring the passing dog) is a good thing.

    eventually you should be able to say "nice doooog" when you see another dog coming towards you and your dog will be less reactive already knowing that nice things happen when a dog passes. you want to get to the stage that there is no reaction to the passing dog before your dog gets the treat but dont rush it.... it will take time. work at your dogs own pace and dont get frustrated.

    bad behaviours take longer to correct than teaching new ones!!!
     
  4. Hayden

    Hayden PetForums Newbie

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    I think the two posts above have pretty much hit the nail on the head.

    Treats and destraction are the best action. What every you do don't pull the leash and tug them away, as this is likely to get you dog in an uncomfortable position making the more uneasy.

    A ball, treat, frisby as mentioned above are great ways to distract them.

    As soon as your dog sees another dog start distracting them with the treat or ball.

    H
     
  5. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    Congratulations! We're allowed to be biased, aren't we? ;)

    Unfortunately Collie bitches seem especially prone to such from what I see, even the dog trainer/behaviourist expert's bitch showed such signs when my dog & I were inside the academy kitchen, her dog was unphased by my male youngster.

    Dunbar is saying once per week, puppy socialisation play is not enough; they really need much more regular than that to play nice. Then in adolescence they need ongoing regular socialisation to keep them confident as they work through the issues, becoming calmer adults.

    I like Lucy's advice and Rottie's suggestion to try distraction with games or toys. I found with my dog's litter mate, there was no substitute but for room and space to pass other dogs, below her threshold, to try to begin counter-programming work so stranger dogs had a more positive associaton. Distraction has to happen soon enough, if she's afraid then she wont' care about playing right at that moment. If she's calmer then you can get her to look and immediately away, then continue with the game, so building a positive association and feelings of calmer security.

    If you do have a trainer/behavourist with good socialisation programme then perhaps that would help. They have non-reactive stooge dogs, or non-threatening puppies available to help.

    If you think about it, the "No!" type thing would perhaps help against out & out aggression that's not fear based, but having you sounding alarmed and annoyed trying to deter her, probably doesn't make passing other dogs less stressful. So I think desensitising is the way forward, at a distance, repeat passes with non-reactive dogs. Perhaps if you see one coming where there's not much room, then turn round and go slowly, so you can pass quickly when they catch up in area with a little more room, without time for anxiousness to build up, and your bitch to act loopy.
     
    #5 RobD-BCactive, Mar 25, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2011
  6. Deb

    Deb PetForums Senior

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    Thanks for the replies. My dog is not treat orientated outside of the home (inside she will do ANYTHING for a treat!!) but i will certainly try it. With regard to the toy distraction - if she knows i am carrying something she will not settle and keep jumping for it so will leave that as a last resort. The problem is that i dont usually know when she is going to do it as there is often no sign until it happens and some dogs she just ignores. I have to pull her back (she has a harness on so it doesnt pull her neck) as it doesnt look good to other dog owners if i let my dog jump at their's. I have tried a 1-2-1 trainer and also a behaviourist in the past for other problems and was sorely disappointed with them both - and also a good few pounds lighter! so am not keen on going down that route again.
     
  7. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    That's a clue, if she's not taking nice food when out, then she's probably a touch stressed. Perhaps on nice days if you have some spare time, you can chill a while and see if she relaxes, in an area without too heavy distractions, may be you could progress to do some training and work her a bit with food rewards.

    My BC won't be too interested in training treats if he's playing, but he can take them when there's not "work" to be done. I use an old back pack to carry around the doggie clobber, it is fatal to let the Collies see a ball etc

    Quite a few local dogs, look at me with rapt attention now, if I shift my pack and look like I might get something out, as they're expecting something interesting game-wise. They seem to ignore it, so long as I don't rummage around.

    Rather than pulling back, I'd try and gently take her to side, sit her down. Hauling her back is setting her up for aggro and must provoke anxiety. Perhaps walk her on lead a bit behind a confident dog she knows and feels secure with, and see if that rubs off?

    If she can regularly socialise off leash, then you are not really losing so much not greeting on leash. So many dogs are less sociable then with their freedom of movement restricted.
     
  8. bluebadger66

    bluebadger66 PetForums Newbie

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    I think it is a female Collie thing - all of the female Collies at her agility class seem to be like it. My rescue Collie X has started doing the same from about the age of 2 as well, but she is like it on and off the lead.

    My feeling with her is that there may have been an outside influence from another dog as well as her being territorial. This week I have taken her away from her usual places and introduced her to new dogs in different parks.

    There have been a couple of near incidents, but generally the distraction technique and a really tasty treat seem to be working.

    If your dog is not food orientated, have you tried something extra special. I make treats from Ox liver, and even the most fussy dogs seem to love them.
     
  9. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    It isn't inevitable though, I know some older Collie bitches who interact quite well, so long as they're not busy playing ball, then they just ignore other dogs. They happen to be the most consistently socialised dogs, that regularly come across unfamiliar dogs every day.
     
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