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Leash Reactivity - Bounced Foster Dog


Guest jetska
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OK, so I got a foster back Monday night who had been in a home for 6 months but circumstances changed and she had to come back to me.

 

She is 'on alert' all the time on walks, if she can hear dogs barking anywhere, she seems to think the are barking at her. She will walk with her head up and ears up, looking around to find out where the sound is coming from.

 

Last night she reacted twice to dogs. The first was at a fenceline with a barking dog behind. She barked back and thrashed around a bit and I could get her to move on.

 

The second time was when a bully type dog who didn't seem good with dogs himself was walking with his owner. He was pulling on the leash and making himself look big. Mouse responded by going ballistic, barking and going around in circles. I couldn't get her attention or get her to move. She then shoved herself between my legs so I kept her there as the other owner led her dog away.

 

I had Barbie with me as well. Barbie didn't react at all. If anything she seemed like she wanted to get away from Mouse. A couple of times I had to really ensure Mouse didn't tangle herself around Barbie, and she looked like she was going to redirect onto Barbie (good thing Mouse is muzzled).

 

She is very food driven at home, but she is so on edge when she's out the front on leash she ignores treats. I am going to escalate value now, roast chicken and bits of steak are what I will try next. I've only had her back for a couple of days but I really have to work on this - she is a really good looking dog, cat friendly too and a lot of people are going to want to adopt her because of that. I won't let her go to anyone who doesn't have a lot of experience with training and with behavioural problems as she is at the moment.

 

Has anyone had this experience with a greyhound? What training strategies worked for you? Did you manage to resolve the issue?

 

 


Pic!!! So you can see how we are going to be bombarded with adoption applicants when we start advertising her again.

 

mousefrou.jpg

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She is beautiful, and looks like a sweetheart!!

Here's a link to a thread about Look at That! training: http://forum.greytalk.com/index.php/topic/191307-curbing-leash-reactivity/

It's really helped Aston -- he used to zone in on barking, or ANY other dog within eyeshot, stare, cry and dance around. His threshold was REALLY low at first, so it was initially this barrage of CLICKtreatCLICKtreatCLICKtreatCLICKtreat... if I waited a second too long, I'd lose him. However, his threshold raised really quickly, and he eventually stopped (over-)reacting to everything. :)

Hope this helps!

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Before doing a whole lot of training, I'd suggest giving her a couple weeks to settle back in first. Keep walks to quiet areas, or at quiet times to avoid triggers for now. If you have a fenced yard and walks aren't necessarily, I'd consider even avoiding them completely for a week or two. Even though she was your foster before, I'm sure she's still stressed from the recent changes in her life. Stress can cause hypervigilance, reactive behavior, and a lower threshold. Give her a chance to de-stress, and then see what behaviors you need to work on.

Jennifer &

Willow (Wilma Waggle), Wiki (Wiki Hard Ten), Carter (Let's Get It On),

Ollie (whippet), Gracie (whippet x), & Terra (whippet) + Just Saying + Just Alice

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She has to walk, if she doesn't go out she will drive us all nuts.

 

We have a fenced yard, it's 150sqm and it's a narrow U-shape, the dogs use it as a racetrack, but it's not enough.

 

She already almost broke my foot doing crazy zoomies. I think I'm making progress with the reckless zoomies (using the couch as a trampoline type stuff), but getting her out on walks is part of that. Our area is quiet and we usually only encounter a handful of other people on our walk, even less dogs, the dog she reacted to was the only one out walking. The one behind the fence was just unfortunate, I will avoid that street with her for now.

 

In the 6 months she was in her home, she visited us a couple of times, and I saw her at the park a few times too, so she has kept in contact with the family. She did give her previous guardian a glance out of the window as she left but hasn't really shown any different behaviour than from last time. She was always crazy, bouncing off everything inside or outside the house. I think this reactivity has come from the dog she lived with as he was an awful little yapper. Even yapped at a cat when we went on a test walk together. Maybe I should have vetoed the adoption on the basis of the little yapper being very reactive and barely under control, but it's easy to say with hindsight, and Mouse was my first foster.

 

Thanks for the thread o_rooly, we shall see if I can get her to take treats on walks :P

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I'm no Giselle, but maybe work on a few things using clicker-training inside (when/where she is better accustomed, with fewer possible triggers present) for the time being, to get her to start focusing on you? Then start taking it outdoors when she is picking up on being more attentive?

again... I'm NO Giselle :lol

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She's very focused inside. But we do have stuff to work on.... I am going to work on sit/stay and then sit/stay at doorways and also 'leave it'. I am hoping those kinds of tricks will help her with her self-control.

 

I can get her to sit her butt on the ground mid zoomie, it's almost an emergency sit. Would be great if it could be done outside!

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Guest FawnFan

Someone from our greyhound group had a hound like Mouse, every time he saw a dog, whether he was on a walk or in the car, he'd start freaking out with the barking, twirls, etc. She had found this training advice that suggested taking a small container, like an Altoids can or a small plastic deli counter container, and place a few pennies in it. (I want to say the training advice was from the woman who ran the Gilley Girls show. I don't have time right now to search for it.) Then every time the dog starts the antics, you shake the container. Obviously you can imagine the Altoids can is pretty loud so it is enough to stop and distract the hound. This lady didn't use the Altoids can, she used a small plastic deli container. Within a few walks, her hound was "cured" of his leash aggression and it worked in the car too. Shortly after that all she had to do was show the container and the greyhound knew not to start carrying on. Eventually she didn't need the container anymore. I don't know how it works yet I know it works because when I walked with her, there would be two walks. One walk for the reactive hound and then another walk for the rest of the pack (or if I was hound-less, I would walk the rest of the pack while she walked the crazy boy).

 

Good luck! I hope you are able to find something that works. She's a beautiful girl and I'm sure she'll find her forever home very soon.

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My Peggy is a bit like that with dogs that are giving out bad energy (= sneaky and not under good human control), but she will stop the nonsense if told to look at me or something else. I think with her it's more of the 'roaring' they do which invites chase play.

 

Allow your adorable bounced dog time to settle back in and be sure she knows you're already onto every theat that could possibly matter. ie. She's out on your walk and everything is fine.

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Her issues aren't THAT bad. I agree she will probably be better once she's settled again. I did the Look At That! for my reactive returns. I also want to recommend the Karen Overall Relaxation Protocol. It's great to help tense dogs center. Do it inside, not on walks. Eventually, it can translate outside but she's no where near ready for it. I used this with my Zoe when she first came to me. And trust me she was a reactive mess. :) We still use aspects of it when she needs to focus and calm down.

 

http://championofmyheart.com/relaxation-protocol-mp3-files/

Colleen with Covey (Admirals Cove) and Rally (greyhound puppy)
Missing my beloved boy INU (CJ Whistlindixie) my sweetest princess SALEM (CJ Little Dixie) and my baby girl ZOE (LR's Tara)

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She calmly met a dog on our morning walk this morning. We crossed the road to avoid 'the fence barker' but he still barked and she went hyperalert again. I think she just has a really low threshold at the moment, which can be measured by the position of her ears. Double ears up = right on the edge. There's a waiting list with my rescue for cat-friendlies and as such she is meeting someone next Tuesday (she hasn't been advertised yet, this is just the adoptions coordinator matching her up). I really don't think I am going to have the opportunity to see her completely calmed down and settled, which is fine as long as her adoptive family is patient and willing to work with her. I will be passing suggestions on to them from this thread :)

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Our John E was leash aggressive. We took him to U of P to a behaviorist. What does help is a head halter, treating on walks for diversion and eventually he wound up on a low dose of prozac. He was exactly as you described. Looking behind, always on alert and very tense. The older he got, the worse he was. We always called him our work in progress. He was a wonderful people dog, though and loved kids. He was really fine with other dogs just not on a walk or on leash.

Irene Ullmann w/Flying Odin in Lower Delaware
Angels Brandy, John E, American Idol, Paul, Fuzzy and Shine
Handcrafted Greyhound and Custom Clocks http://www.houndtime.com
Zoom Doggies-Racing Coats for Racing Greyhounds

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She's still young, 2 and a half but only 6 months off the track. I'm hoping it's just a bad behavioural trait she picked up from her little housemate. She is quite impressionable I think. Hopefully Barbie's steady ways will help Mouse realise theres' nothing to fear.

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Guest Clawsandpaws

I don't know if this is a valid suggestion or not, but: do you have a harness you could try using? (unless you are already using one, then disregard) we have some dogs in the kennel that are terrible to walk with a collar/leash. They are constantly bucking, twirling, lunging. Now those are not due to aggression, however, when we put a harness on them (for safety!) the behavior greatly improved. I don't really have a concrete idea as to why (just a few hundred theories) I can imagine a stressed dog only being more stressed when they pull on the leash and their throat is getting crushed. Obviously I have no backing for that opinion, but it seems like an easy thing to try, and with a hound that is twirling around, it could be safer so that they won't slip the collar.

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A harness could be very beneficial, or it could make the problem ten times worse. For my guy, the harness made him feel more constricted, which then caused his leash reactivity to be more severe. He hated it. He would actually run and hide when I brought it out. :(

 

One big thing to consider is- what is your behavior like when you're walking her? When you see a possible distraction that could put her over threshold, do you tense up and automatically tighten the leash? I was doing that instinctively because I wanted to have better control in the event he freaked out. Over time, I learned that my behavior was contributing to his anxiety.

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Guest Giselle

Don't have much time these days, but, yes, get her focus inside w/o distractions and then move forward to working outside w/ distractions. Remember: Asking a reactive dog to focus in the face of triggers is like asking a child to perform calculus. It will not happen...UNLESS you build the proper foundation. That child CAN learn calculus, as long as you provide a solid foundation with arithmetic, algebra, and trigonometry. Likewise, reactive dogs CAN learn to focus and stay calm in the face of their triggers, as long as we build strong impulse control foundations in the home, first.

 

It's a bit of a project, and it sounds like the dog is going to a new home soon. So, I'd recommend requiring that the new adopters commit to focus training before adopting the dog. Perhaps, you can show them these threads on GT and ask that they keep in touch via the forum? Reactive dogs can turn into redirected aggression, so it is an issue that I would make clear with new adopters. Training must occur = non-negotiable. Good luck!

 

Edit: As for harnesses vs collars, I've always believed that all these tools are simply tools. They are simply physical things that tether the dog to you. If you need a harness to keep the dog safe, great. If not, a regular collar is fine by me. When I'm out and about, I want to be able to place my confidence in my dog's training and know that my dog is responding with her brain and not her brawn. So, use whatever tool you like. But put your emphasis on the training. If the dog is responding happily and focusing on you, it doesn't really matter whether the creature is on a harness or collar or whatever, right? Just my two cents!

Edited by Giselle
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training, training, training, i agree w/ what has been mentioned above. a 2 year old grey can still be in the midst of adolescence, and if there has not been consistent training (which is sounds like) one is in for a real ride unless someone takes the driver's seat really fast. it's a shame that he will be going to yet another home, this dog needs one set of rules and that's it. exercise, rewards and simple training of simple manners can be a start but the new owner MUST be experienced and committed to giving this boy a new lease and leash on life. best of luck, hopefully this one will be a very very careful placement.

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OK well I have told the adoptions coordinator I would prefer to hold on to her for a while so that I can spend some more time with her. I use martingales on greyhounds, they would have to be VERY skilled to get out of one. One of my fosters, Zelda, actually would sprint backwards to try and slip her collar but she never achieved it!

 

The guy who was meant to meet her next week is going to adopt another suitable hound, so that is good!

 

I do have a harness but I doubt it would fit her. She is very tiny (22kgs or 48.5 lbs!). I will see if it fits her. I take Giselle's point that these things are just 'equipment' but just in case the collar pressure is making her worse I will try it. I once had a Rottie X who was really crazy reactive on the leash with his previous owners. Turns out the previous owner was using a choke chain on him. I changed to a normal flat collar and after a few weeks he was fine. I think the collar was contributing to his reactions. My WAG (wanna be a greyhound) is walked in a harness because he can go into fits of reverse sneezing from collar pressure, he's a mastiff x staffy x lab x whatever else and he can pull hard if he wants to. He's also a bit leash reactive but not in the same league as Mouse!

 

I am aware of my own body language, especially because she is such a sensitive girl. I think I'm getting better at reading her. Actually yesterday morning she was OK, and we met another bit staffy type with fairly relaxed body language. They were able to be in close proximity, all wags. Later on in the walk though she heard dogs barking and got tense again - we then saw another dog cross a road up ahead, maybe 100m away and she fixated on that dog a bit until it went out of sight. When both ears go up that means avoid other dogs if possible.

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I agree so much with what has already been said here.

 

It can be done! I am quite optimistic about it! But it is a bit of a lifestyle change. Not just training to help the dog stay in control while out on walks, but training the owners to be strong and consistent leaders in and out of the home. If Mouse can trust that her humans will keep her safe and decide how best to proceed in situations outdoors, then she would feel less need to react and take charge of the situation herself. It's quite possible she will need lifelong training and attention, though it should get easier with time.

 

JJ came to us very reactive and aggressive -barking, growling and lunging- at all unfamiliar dogs AND people. I followed a lot of the advice on this forum, and consulted with a certified behaviorist to come up with a training plan. We chose not to medicate, though it was presented as an aid. It took about 5 months before we could walk outdoors without a muzzle, and about 8 months before we were comfortable walking past a person on the sidewalk. He is SO much better now. It is very rewarding and I feel very proud of the progress we've made.

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OK, so Mouse coped with an outing to the city (Northbridge Piazza) with a few dogs, and then the City of Wanneroo Dog's Breakfast with SO MANY dogs. We were next to the Husky tent and there were a lot of rooing and barking Huskies there but she didn't react. She wasn't entirely comfortable the whole time but she stayed below the trigger threshold.

 

I think the trigger is specifically barking or growling when she cannot see where it is coming from. I am thinking about doing a classic conditoning regime with barking dogs through the TV/stereo to work on her threshold. There were a lot of people at the Dog's Breakfast who were saying 'I really like that little white one at the back' where she had retired to snuggling with my partner and the other greyhounds who were lazing around. We started on sit/stay at home on the weekend and she is so smart I think she gets the concept but her self-control needs work.

 

She still does some insane zoomies where she uses the back of the couch as 'banking', going sideways in the air and launching herself off them. As adorable as it is I don't think many adopters will appreciate it!

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Argh, dear Mouse. On our morning walk today a Jack Russel and generic Little White Dog appeared from the driveway of the townhouses just two houses down from us. I was trying to watch them, and Mouse, said Hi to their owner, and Mouse seemed OK, then for some reason exploded into a fit of barking, I don't know what set her off. I am walking her in a harness now and it means that I can control her thrashing around better. She doesn't jump into the air as much cos I can grab the back of the harness and stop her.

 

She is hard to move on once she's going off, and the lawnmower man was parked in our common driveway leaving us a very small gap to squeeze through, so I decided to just hold her and wait for the other dogs to move off. One of them barked back as the owner took them across to the park. Mouse's barking and thrashing moved to more of a whingey sort of vocalisation.

 

I'm thinking she is more likely to react to other dogs close to home. She is fine in situations where we have driven somewhere else, so I am going to try and take a drive after work with her a couple of times next week. I am very glad the weekend is coming up so I have time to take her to the fenced dog park and let her run off some steam!

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Someone from our greyhound group had a hound like Mouse, every time he saw a dog, whether he was on a walk or in the car, he'd start freaking out with the barking, twirls, etc. She had found this training advice that suggested taking a small container, like an Altoids can or a small plastic deli counter container, and place a few pennies in it. (I want to say the training advice was from the woman who ran the Gilley Girls show. I don't have time right now to search for it.) Then every time the dog starts the antics, you shake the container. Obviously you can imagine the Altoids can is pretty loud so it is enough to stop and distract the hound. This lady didn't use the Altoids can, she used a small plastic deli container. Within a few walks, her hound was "cured" of his leash aggression and it worked in the car too. Shortly after that all she had to do was show the container and the greyhound knew not to start carrying on. Eventually she didn't need the container anymore. I don't know how it works yet I know it works because when I walked with her, there would be two walks. One walk for the reactive hound and then another walk for the rest of the pack (or if I was hound-less, I would walk the rest of the pack while she walked the crazy boy).

 

Good luck! I hope you are able to find something that works. She's a beautiful girl and I'm sure she'll find her forever home very soon.

 

I actually use to do this with a soda can... i'd put in 10 pennies and seal the hole in the top with an old rubber stopper (they use to make them to pop on your can so you could drink half the can and keep the other half for another time w/o being flat, but I don't think they make them anymore) so use tape or somesuch that is really sticky and cover up the hole.... and I had cans all over the house... when the heard would start, i'd shake the can, and a quiet calm would occur... it redirects their attention from whatever they are reacting to, to you... and in that moment, issue a command they have mastered, and redirect them away...

 

I use to think I was sooo original with the pennies in the can... the only diff I see is, the can would be louder than the clicker you use in the house, and the benefit here is, when she's busy carrying on and getting so physical, the clicker may not be loud enuff to steal her attention away back to you.

 

Lex

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The potential problem with using the "pennies in the can" punishment idea is that if there's any element of fear in the reaction already - it's not just excitement or predatory drive for little prey-sized dogs - it has the potential to increase the fear and the reaction. I'm a nervous dog and I see something that makes me more nervous and when I try to protect myself there's an unpleasant, loud, sudden noise right near me, sure as shootin' I'm going to be more keyed up and upset if I see another dog or the same dog again. The sight of the dog that makes me upset also makes scary noises happen near me. They are more dangerous than even I had thought, so I'm going to have to up my game. Keep them even farther from me so they can't make me more scared.

 

I know it takes a while to counter condition a dog that is reactive (I have one who is reactive toward other dogs, too, and her reactivity is fear/defensive), but scaring a dog that might already be reacting defensively may increase the stress associated with the source of the dog's discomfort. She's pretty good with most dogs, and there are some dogs that can run up to fences and bark and snarl at her and she looks at them with no reaction whatsoever, but there's one dog that scared her once about 3 years ago and she still hates him. She's less reactive than she used to be (grumbles and huffs instead of growling and barking when he's walking across the street), but it took time and a lot of work to get her to this stage, and she can be calmed by getting her to do something other than focus on the object of her fear/hatred. Sit, down, nose-touch, etc. is now possible, so she is loads better than when I'd have to nearly drag her behind a car to block sight of the dog. And then she also gets a "good girl" and pets (at first it was treats, luckily she would take them outside if they were good enough).

 

And it's easier to train a dog to hand gesture commands than to verbal, and sight is so very important to our sight hounds, so I don't think the dog is going to tie the noise to their reaction necessarily, but more to what they're seeing.

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I managed to get her into an obedience class with a dog trainer friend who had a spare spot. I thought it would be good to have a venue which is somewhere between 'home' and 'walks in the wild' to do some training. It's in an industrial warehouse which is a doggie daycare setup. There were 3 other dogs in the class and two of them were noisy little poppets. The noise really helped because Mouse stayed responsive the whole time despite being a bit on edge about the barking and yipping.

 

It definately flicked a switch for her because on our walk this morning I was able to get her to give eye contact and sit! She hasn't even been close to doing that before, even with high value stinky polony in my pocket.

 

I will be taking her to classes for as long as I have her as it clearly helped her make the 'step' to not being so hyperalert on walks to everything but me.

 

In terms of avoiding triggers where possible I am avoiding fence barkers by crossing the street. The distance then makes it easier for Mouse to cope. For dogs heading towards us on the path I'm on the look out for hard stares. It seems if they don't stare she doesn't have a problem. Of course she starts the stare sometimes, but if I can get reliability with her eye contact I can break that I hope.

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She is improving with every walk so far, we saw a lil staffy in his front yard today and whilst she stared at him, she gave me eye contact again right after. I can even get her to sit now. She is meeting someone on Saturday who should be able to keep up with her exercise requirements and have had experience building up confidence of their spooky hound. If they can cope with her exuberance they could be a good match for her.

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