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Please help - aggression problem

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Millie's mum, May 28, 2010.

  1. Millie's mum

    Millie's mum PetForums Junior

    Feb 14, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Now that my rescue lurcher Millie is finally comfortable about coming out for walks with me I keep coming across new problems that I'm not sure how to deal with. If a dog is calm and friendly Millie is absolutely fine and will join in the sniffing thing that dogs do when they meet. But, if she picks up any bad vibes from another dog she goes absolutely crazy, barking, growling and snarling at it and pulls really hard trying to get at it. The other day I was walking her and I passed two collies who took a dislike to her and barked aggressively at her. She was very aggressive back to them too. Today I took her for a lunchtime walk and I saw the two dogs coming so I crossed over the road. As we passed them Millie started barking before they did and was growling and snarling at them. It took all my strength to pull her back so she didn't drag me into the road. It is not good because she is a big dog and I'm only small! I felt really upset when I got home, I have started to dread walking her because I never know what she is going to do when we meet another dog. I do hope that I am not going to have to end up muzzling her. I have not let Millie off the lead yet, I'm not sure whether I will ever be able to considering her aggressive behaviour to certain dogs.

    I was just wondering whether her behaviour something to really worry about, is she showing lead defensiveness? Millie is due to start training classes in a couple of weeks and I am really worried about how she is going to react there now, if there are hyper dogs there I don't think she will cope at all. I would be most grateful for any advice on Millie's behaviour, would a behaviourist help? Millie has also been growling occassionally at my husband and two sons but this is only when they stroke her when she is resting, but then again, she never growls at me when I stroke her. Many thanks in advance, Millie's stressed mum:confused:
  2. lucysnewmum

    lucysnewmum PetForums Senior

    Feb 25, 2010
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    if you are struggling to control her then i would recommend getting a behaviourist to help you. many of the APDTtrainers in East sussex do one to one sessions. i dont know much about any of them as i am with the ADTB but i often see them mentioned and recommended on here. Have a look at the website
    Local Dog Trainers in Sussex - East UK
    contact the trainer you are planning on going to classes with and have a word about this behaviour and your concerns about coming into class.
  3. leashedForLife

    Nov 1, 2009
    Likes Received:
    she sounds like an anxious or timid dog - yes?

    it also sounds like all intros to other dogs are while leashed - if thats so, then the leash is part of the problem.
    i am NOT suggesting that U turn her loose :eek: only saying leashes complicate dog-meetings, inhibit body-language
    + prevent RETREAT - once committed, the dog cannot escape - hence they hugely magnify any uncertainty or nervousness.

    introduce her *only* to other dogs that she responds very favorably to - and read her reactions at a distance, before U get
    too close, where she might bark / lunge. be very careful NOT to tighten the leash during intros, just try to handle it
    very mindfully to keep the leash out of the way, but *loose*.

    also see this article on TRIGGERS + THRESHOLDS -
    Working with a fearful dog
    the entire site is helpful - but these 2 concepts are *critical*, as U need to keep her under-threshold: aware, but not reacting.
    its a balancing-act that requires monitoring her body-lang + emotional state.
    an Emergency U-Turn in these circs can be a great boon -
    cheerfully announce, lets go!, turn on Ur heel and briskly walk off, find a point to turn / go up a driveway or summat,
    and continue as U were going, after the person / dog / trigger passes.

    dogs stay more-calm if they are MOVING - asking a reactive dog to Sit-Stay as another dog approaches,
    or other high-stress circs, is a set-up for failure - i would avoid that. ;)

    the book Click to Calm is a very comprehensible DIY for reducing reactivity of all kinds -
    if U don;t want to buy it, the local-library may have it; OR they can get a copy via inter-library loan.
    there are clear step-by-step directions for B-Mod in the back; basically, U desensitize her to other dogs, gradually,
    then CHANGE her emotions about other dogs via counter-conditioning (counter = against; she already has a negative-opinion,
    we are countering it ;) )
    the process is often abbreviated DS/CC - ** excellent! ** treats are a key component, at least to begin -
    they should be very-tiny, no more than 1/4th inch cubes or even smaller, but high-protein / low-fat / low-carb -
    the stinkier, the better! ;) freeze-dried lamb-lung or beef-liver are dry + easy to carry, no spoilage; i prefer fresh stuff,
    i often drain a small tin of tuna or water-pack jack-mackerel and divvy it among sandwich-bags which SEAL,
    get all the air out, + freeze the lot; i take them out one at a time.
    cubed chicken-breast is another - tiny, tiny pieces; if she will work for it, its big-enuf!

    sometimes i add HIGH-quality cat-kibble - meat is the 1st-ingred; NO maize, wheat or soy ingredients.
    sample-size bags of really-good cat-kibble are terrific for this - READ the ingredients, tho -

    CORN -aka- MAIZE is one that can predispose dogs to high reactivity, it is short on tryptophan, a dietary-precursor
    of serotonin; some dogs are more sensitive than others to this, and change threshold markedly if they eat any corn / maize.

    U have some time to begin a pos-R B-mod program - get to grips with that, and see if U can reduce her reactivity.

    DON;t stroke her while she is resting!? duh-oh... :rolleyes: if U want to fuss her + she;s resting, say her sacred Name,
    look inviting + happy, and see if she comes TO * U to be petted; if not, let it go.
    looming over an anxious dog while they are lying-down, often with a direct eye-to-eye gaze, is VERY intimidating, bossy,
    intrusive, RUDE behavior, and i cannot blame her a bit for being worried + telling them to back-off.
    they are lucky she is either forgiving or too-fearful to bite in self-defense - as many anxious dogs would, in those circs.

    my sugg? :lol: put prong-collars on all 3 men, with short hang-tabs -
    if U see them so much as THINK about going to the dog when she is lying quietly,
    grab that hang-tab, deliver a short firm tug, and RE-Direct the sinner to another activity - wash the dishes,
    take-out the trash, set the table, red-out their room, etc. ;)

    contacting the trainer (hopefully pos-R APDT-uk or COAPE) to let them know that she is reactive ahead of time,
    while working on the issue, gives them time to find ways to accommodate her -
    visual barriers, the class at one end, U 2 at the other, etc.

    a CALMING CAP is often very helpful in reducing proximate reactivity -
    52 Weeks : 33/52 - Calming Cap on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    it reduces the visual stim so the dog is less-aware of it, and can focus on other things - like training. ;)
    it is not a blindfold; like a fly-mask on horses, it is a screen, but instead of screening flies out, it screens visual-stim.

    CALMATIVES described here -
    Pet Forums Community - View Single Post - dog body-language - and why it matters so much...
    are always helpful - directions on when, how, etc, are in the post.

    do let us know how she gets on :thumbup1:
    happy B-Mod,
    --- terry
    #3 leashedForLife, May 29, 2010
    Last edited: May 29, 2010
  4. Millie's mum

    Millie's mum PetForums Junior

    Feb 14, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Thanks so much Lucysnewmum and Leashedforlife for your help and advice, it is very much appreciated. I will definitely try out some of the suggestions you gave me and I will contact the lady in charge of the training class and let her know about Millie's problems. Millie certainly is a very anxious dog, she still gets spooked easily when I am walking her and I think her over-reactions to other dogs are probably fear-based too. I will try the U-Turn idea, that sounds like it will be really useful. I have had a look on the APDT website and there is a trainer not too far from me which is good, if things don't improve at the training classes I will contact them, I just hope it isn't too expensive! Thanks again for your help, I will let you know how I get on with Millie.
  5. JjPhoenix

    JjPhoenix PetForums Member

    Jan 6, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Dog Communication.....because mutts need manners!

    Do you wish your dog was more friendly and confident with other dogs?

    Do other dog walkers go the other way if they see you and your dog/s coming?

    Are you worried your dog is aggressive ?

    Does your dog want to play but end up intimidating other dogs?

    Are you trying to socialise your dog with other sociable dogs but finding it hard?

    If the answer is 'yes' to any of the above - then we can help you.

    i can personally recommend penel and laura - they are great and will be able to help you easily, they deal with this sort of thing on a regular basis.
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