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Breaking Attention


Guest blondealonso
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Guest blondealonso

Hi all,

 

We have some challenges with Al on walks in which he will snap at nearly every dog he meets close up. Usually we'll be chatting to passing dog owners on our walks and Al will go very still, very silent and when the other dogs come up to say hello he gives no warning sign and snaps at the other dog. (Of course he is muzzled!)

 

There is no growling, no barking, just a fixed stare until he lunges and snaps. He also is very alert, ears right up when he sees another dog, even from a distance and nothing seems to break his concentration on what he is watching (which is of course understandable as he is a sight hound :) ) We might momentarily get his attention with a treat but generally he is not food orientated on his walks unless its a high value treat.

 

My question is what can we do to sort of break that focused attention he has with other dogs before he snaps, or better, teach him to become a more sociable dog with others. Dogs we introduce him to slowly he is much better and doesn't snap at all... but this is over the course of an hour or so. Something we cant achieve on walks :) Hes perfectly fine with people and tends to be more on edge if the other dog is off leash and barking.

 

One thing we've planned for August is group obedience classes but i'm concerned if hes like this with other dogs on walks, its going to be very challenging taking him to group classes.

 

Thanks all!

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

There is no growling, no barking, just a fixed stare until he lunges and snaps. Guess what, the fixed stare is a HUGE warning sign. He's a sighthound, he doesnt make noise and bark like an annoying retriever, he is slient and waits for his chance to pounce. He was raised as a pack animal to do what nature taught him to do. Does he do this only with small dogs? Its called prey drive. He probably sees the small dogs as rabbits, nothing else.

 

You can try to desensitise him to smaller dogs, but you might have a greyhound that simply doesnt understand that small dogs arent prey. Be very careful about dog parks and letting your hound off-leash, with your hound's obvious prey drive, its a tragedy waiting to happen. I would also agree with you about the class, but as long as they dont have small dogs in the class, I would think it would be doable.

 

Look around here for LAT (Look At This) training, this is one way to work on getting your hound to focus on you, not prey. With work it is possible to get your hound to not be so reactive to small dogs, if he acts this way to dogs his size, you have a different issue.

 

Watch his behavior very closely, he stares, does he smack his lips, puff his cheeks, tense up his entire body? Or is it more of he raises his head when a dog comes near, staring out of the corner of his eye at the other dog, rasies his tail up, raises his hackles up? The latter is not prey drive, but a reaction to a challenge from another dog. A lot of times this is caused by inappropriate meeting. If the other dog comes right up to your dogs face and sniffs his muzzle, this in greyhound language is a challenge to fight. It is NOT the appropriate way dogs meet, dogs should be allowed to circle each other and sniff butts, that is the natural way that dogs meet. So if your problem comes from inapropriate meeting, take the opportunity to teach people the way dogs are supposed to meet.

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Guest blondealonso

hehe unfortunately in my area i'd say there are a lot of troublesome dogs, off lead and new owners. We also don't have the luxury like our friends across the pond ;) theres very few dog parks that i'm aware of in the UK, at least in Kent, so taking him off leash is never going to be a situation.

 

I'm unsure its his prey drive as this could be with any dog, he's often wagging his tail (albeit standing still) with his head up. Although hackles do not stand up. When he goes into prey mode (as if he's seen a bunny) he will literally lunge and hop to get at the rabbit from a distance (this is actually improving to a point where now hes just pulling as we walk by), where as with a dog the dog comes right up close and Al only reacts if the dog is inches from his face (and/or starts barking).

 

The dogs we've introduced him to properly have all been small and over the time has become uninterested with them or will let the other dog greet him. If anything he is more susceptible to snapping if he meets a long haired dog (regardless of size).

 

I'll look for LAT training :-) I think we've been doing something similar called 'Watch me' but its been slow progress.

Edited by blondealonso
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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

Ok you say he only reacts if the dog is "inches from his face", there is no problem with his reaction. He is correcting bad behavior from the other dog, aka challenge. You need to educate people that they shouldnt allow their dog to smother your dog's face, its rude behavior and in doggie language "lets fight". When I am at meet-n-greets and other people come up with their dogs, my hounds always go to their buts to sniff, which I allow enough lead for my hounds to do this. If the other person pulls their dog away or tries to get them to meet face to face, I explain that it is rude and a challenge between dogs to be so close face to face. If they still dont understand, I tell them that my dog will correct their dog if they dont watch it. I have only allowed this to happen twice. Each time, its a quick air snap and the other dog moves away. I do have a lot of experience in understanding my particular hound's reactions and body language, so I can pull this off, but with a new hound, I dont let this happen. I simply tell them that their dog is being rude by approaching my hounds face and I will redirect my hound away. That is really all you need to do, just keep your hound moving and there shouldnt be the issues with face to face confrontations.

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The tail wagging doesn't necessarily mean a good/happy thing. There are friendly and there are challenging tail wags. Friendly are loose-body, loose and flexible tail sweeping wags side to side (mostly - or really fast whipping side to side, sometimes with hind end wagging too, which is much more excited). Challenging is tail up, tense tail wags with a tense body. You can't look at the tail and ignore the majority of the body (head up, staring = challenge so you need to ignore what you think is a "happy" tail wag, because it is probably part of the challenge and not happy at all).

 

I kind of wish people would never learn that whole misconception that tail-wag=happy dog. It is so often not true and can cause huge issues when it isn't.

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Guest blondealonso

I'm fully aware tail wagging can mean several things, I did not imply it was a happy wag. Regardless, it is a learning experience for myself and others, if we knew what the best approach was when meeting other dogs then there would be no need to ask... ;)

 

There is so much to learn and take in when rehoming any dog I'm sure you can be sympathetic to the odd misconception...

 

GreyT - i'll give it a go with informing other owners when we approach :-) if he pulls though it might be the best situation is turn about face.... i've booked a home visit with the person who does the group obedience classes to 'prep' us for bringing him into a large group of dogs (of all sizes). I think this will be a great opportunity for us to understand more about this own behaviour as the trainer works with the retired greyhound trust in the UK! Looking forward to it :)

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I've now got two leash reactive dogs and one high prey drive. Who has taught the other. My best way of managing it is a quick change of direction./ I used to turn and walk the other way, now I just reverse very quickly. The dogs either pay attention and follow or they learn quickly that they need to. Now, they're both quicker at bringing their attention back to me (albeit for short periods of time), and I've introduced treats when they look at me. This also seems to be working. I'm also rewarding a lack of reaction or a calm reaction. Basically I'm trying to get my dogs to ignore others as, with Paige, it' never going to be safe anyhow.

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