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Leash Reactivity


Guest Winnie2014
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Guest Winnie2014

Recently, Winnie has become more leash reactive around dogs when they pass us on-leash. Before, she would whine and show submissive behavior as we passed with no issues. I've been giving her more space when passing other dogs - either changing the path or changing direction if possible.

 

I've been working with her to not have her reach her threshold, but that doesn't always work. I've got her on a loose leash and I'm clicking and treating her with some success with passing dogs. Her behavior is usually ears up/alert, mouth open, and tail up and wagging. This could either be playful behavior or more of her standing her ground. When we pass the dogs, I call her name, click, treat, and make sure her attention is back on me. Sometimes she stops and looks, other times we keep walking.

 

When she does hit her threshold, she either lunges, barks, and/or growls at the other dogs. Off-leash dogs are worse. I can't ever get her attention in these situations...often she stares, jumps around, starts spinning, etc. I don't think I can do much in these situations...I just wish people would leash their dogs as it's the city law.

 

I guess my question is...am I doing the right thing in training her this way? I think my issue was in the past was that I would tighten the leash sometimes - which may have started this problem to begin with. That or she wants to protect me now that she knows I'm her forever home.

 

I'm trying to get her to associate passing other dogs as a positive event - hence the treats. It's just sometimes a dog getting to close for comfort right now is unavoidable. I can get her attention back quickly though, usually. Often it takes me turning around, but we can do it. I'm wondering if she needs play-time with another dog off leash...so I've got her signed up for an evaluation at a doggy day care next week to see how she does. The dog trainer I was working with suggested it over taking her to a dog park as unpredictable dogs at dog parks vs evaluated day care dogs. Plus it would poop her out - and she is a rather active 3 1/2 year old. :)

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Guest normaandburrell

My first grey was reactive if he was on leash and other dogs were off. I guess he felt vulnerable. I think taking her for a play date at doggy day care is a great idea. We have taken both our hounds to a boarding kennel/day care on occasion and to a park where all the dog owners are responsible owners and police their dogs.

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Guest Winnie2014

Thanks everyone. :)

 

We were still somewhat reactive this morning, but no barking/growling so that is an improvement. She still often doesn't listen or stops after the dog passes, but I just keep walking, tighten the leash, release, and tell her to "Continue!" and name, click, treat to get her to focus back on me.

 

And I think some of it is vulnerability. We had a chocolate lab full on rush Winnie a few weeks after I got her, and she did not like that in the slightest. Dog was not listening to owner recalling the dog at all. We had some vocalization/whining when she saw an off-leash dachshund this morning, stopped, turned, and tried to get closer to the dog. Did the same thing, kept walking, tightened leash, released, told her "Continue!" then name, click, treat and once the gate shut she focused back on me.

 

I think doggy day care will be good for her.

Edited by Winnie2014
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Guest OPointyDog

I have a leash-reactive dog, too. I watched a bunch of training videos on you-tube about how to train for this problem, and saw the same thing you have been trying - use treats to distract the dog before they start barking/reacting. We've been doing this for over a year now, and currently have about an 80% success rate. There are certain dogs that ours reacts to, no matter what I do. And off-leash dogs are always a problem. Most of the time he turns and looks at me when he sees another dog, though. It took months to get this to happen.

 

Interestingly, the other thing that sets him off is snowplows. :dunno This morning he turned and looked at me when he saw one for the first time, so that seemed like good progress!

 

I think consistency is important and that it takes longer than you think. Good luck - seems like you are doing the right things!

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Guest Winnie2014

I eventually want to get her to the point of looking at me when we see another dog. We're still at the staring stage.

 

Watching the YouTube videos is what got me on this kick! Feeding treats while we see dogs is great, but often she walks ahead of me when exciting things happen. And if I stop her to feed her she only eats sometimes, other times she's too stimulated.

 

While we're still so new to it all her walking ahead doesn't bother me too much so long as the leash is slack and not taught. So constantly feeding treats with passing dogs (same direction/opposite direction) isn't the best solution right now. The clicker really helps because even if she ignores me calling her, she will look at me when I click about 75-80% of the time. And she does tend to settle down faster now when I call her, click, look, treat, "Good!" after we've passed.

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Lol. It's taken me three years with Paige but she's at 80% now. She used to be so bad that I'd be wedging treats into her mouth while she was barking. Then when she opened her mouth to bark. Now the little stinker sees a dog, pretends to bark then looks at me for a treat before trotting forward wiggling her butt and thinking she's the smartest thing ever. She is also a non food motivated dog so it can be done.

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Guest Winnie2014

Well we had 2 good interactions and one nearly disastrous one. The first she was too interested in sniffing to care, the second I changed paths and clicked, treated for her looking but not doing anything else.

 

...and then we had the little white dog and the owner who was texting. I tried to quietly walk past (narrow path), but no, the white dog starts barking and pulling and trying to get to Winnie. So what does Winnie do? Lunge at the dog again and again while the owner was all, "They just want to say hi!" Does my dog looking at your dog like a meal and both dogs showing aggressive behavior means that they want to be friends? Idiot.

 

I apologized for Winnie's behavior even though she didn't instigate and said we were working on walking past dogs quietly and not lunging. Ugh.

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Guest Winnie2014

So we had better interactions today. We're still turning to look at other dogs, but the clicking and treating seems to be working in getting her attention back.

 

I've started doing this with humans running past as well. She sometimes tries to jump up on them and obviously people don't like that. I think she is just excited about everything...bikes, runners, walkers, dogs. It's probably her personality starting to come out.

 

Is the happier reaction a better one or should I still be really looking for her to completely focus on me on our walks?

 

We've got her daycare "date" on Tuesday of next week - I honestly think she needs the socialization.

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I had similar problems with my old bridge dog Oscar. He went through phases of being better or worse and ultimately, got almost completely better (to the point of being able to interact with suitable unknown dogs off leash).

 

This is what helped with him

 

1. Getting a good behaviourist in to give us a behaviour modification programme and to show me techniques to reduce reactivity and make him feel safe and that I was in charge of the situation

 

2. Obviously, the above was very detailed and tailored to Oscar and me, with nuances but I can outline the basic points:

 

3. I was to act as Oscar's protector and to be mindful of his comfort levels at all times and manage things accordingly ie leave *plenty* of space - so this could mean at first walking in open areas where there's more space as opposed to narrower pavement walks

 

4. In a situation where Oscar looked like he may react, interrupt immediately *before* he went full blown: we used a *slight* leash pop to interrupt, sit and an extended watch *then* a food reward

 

5. If he did react, bring him under control ASAP with above method.

 

6. protect him from loose dogs by body blocking and if necessary me scaring the offending other dog off (e.g. by using threatening body language towards the loose dog). This was amazing once Oscar realised that I could handle the situation and he didn't need to!

 

7. Learning to fend off the loose dogs yourself empowers you as the handler and makes you less nervous that your dog will react and then you can all relax more. It's a self-perpetuating thing: the more you can keep other dogs from invading her space and let her know that you are in charge, the more relaxed she will be.

 

8. Clicker - I found works best only if you can do sessions (either set up with a stooge dog or opportunistically in an area with lots of space where all other dogs are on leash/under control) where you can definitely keep her far enough away (whatever her own threshold distance may be) so that she notices the dog but is not worried or overly interested by it. Then is a good time to reinforce being (fairly) relaxed around other dogs - when you can guarantee them far away so she is not worried. If she is on alert with her ears up, clicking and treating may reinforce that unwanted tense behaviour. It could also be that the clicker and even the treats become negatively associated with scary other dogs - so in her mind, clicker becomes a signal for something bad. The clicker shouldn't be used to gain her attention when she is already aroused, but rather to reinforce a good behaviour that you like and want to see more of (e.g. being calm and fairly relaxed)

 

9. Understand that the reasons for this behaviour is often complex and a mixture of emotions. There is excitement, frustration from what you describe but she could also be confused as to how she is supposed to react to these dogs, scared of some, there could be prey-drive chasing type motivations as well. It is not clear cut, but if you are not sure why she is reacting, the best thing to do is to treat it as if it is fear based.

 

10. Understand that there will be certain dogs or types or breeds or behaviour of the other dog that will push her buttons more and try to find types of dogs (quiet, non-confrontational ones who ignore other dogs) to practice with and maybe start to socialise with.

 

11. Practice training obedience and anything else (tricks, whatever) at home away from the triggers. The more your dog learns and knows what to do, the better your bond and the more confident and relaxed she will become in all situations. Also - use NILIF to an extent and ask for sit or down before food etc. Let her know that you are in control of resources and are a trustworthy leader who is worth listening to. Of course still be affectionate and loving, but don't let her rule the roost at home (I was a bit guilty of this!)

 

I'm not sure that I would put a dog like her into daycare - as you will not be in control of how her interactions with the other dogs there are handled and it could go either way in making things better or a lot worse.

 

This is just from my experience - each dog is an individual.

Edited by Amber
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Guest Winnie2014

Very good advice, thanks!

 

We had good interactions with dogs off leash last night in a fenced in area. Lots of play fighting and running/blocking the other dog. She may actually be too rough for daycare, but we'll try it and if I need to go pick her up mid-day I will.

 

As for the clicking, I try to start before we get close to the dog/running human so she is focused on me before they pass (successful with humans). And once we pass I use the clicker to get her to relax and continue our walk. We're still interested in other dogs and prancy (for lack of a better term), holding her ears like this:

 

KQe9ZIR.jpg

 

If she's prancing, I just tell her to continue and wait until we pass to settle down, and name, click, treat. She's not a greyhound that is willing to sit - and I know with most other dogs that's how you get attention back when overly excited, hence why I'm using her name and then treating her. Telling her to stay often makes it worse because she really can focus on the dog/person then and not at me (lunging).

 

We don't have many options of walking out in a large field - we're in the inner city and live right next to some lovely trails around a bayou. I've been keeping her to the larger of the two trails on our walks.

 

I may give our dog trainer a call again to get him to come out and work with us. The issue is, if it isn't at a busy hour than he won't necessarily see the behavior. He recommended using the treats and me getting her attention/get her happy before we see other dogs and to make it positive, aka the treats and getting her attention beforehand.

 

We are doing better though. The tight leash vs the loose leash is like night and day. While before it was more fearful (growling/barking), now she is more "prancy" and "rubbernecky", which is easier to handle around other dogs. I still give her as much distance between her and the other dog as I can, and if I can't, I'll turn her around and get her focus back to me.

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She is cute! And those aren't the full mast ears lol. Maybe she is more curious and frustrated than aggressive. She doesn't sound as bad as my Oscar was, especially if she can interact off leash with dogs she doesn't know, albeit rough play.

 

The intensity of the stare towards the other dog and especially the tightness of the mouth and jaw are a good indication of the depth of the issue. You say her mouth is often open so it could be more excitement ... but...still be careful, as you say she is still new to you and more behaviours are coming out.

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Guest Winnie2014

I learn something new about her (and ME!) every day. :) She's my first ever dog so every day is a learning day. Always told my trainer...train me not the dog. She will figure it out, I've got the overthinking worried brain. Haha.

 

I think she's more curious now that I've brought her back the loose leash. She obviously read me shortening the leash before a dog as me being nervous/whatever. Now I have just eyes for her and getting her attention back to me. We have been doing such a good job with "Winnie stay" and just "stay" meaning stop walking. No hand, me next to her and she looks and stops. So proud!

 

She's always been a people dog but runners she sometimes just really really wants to say "Hi!" to. She does the looky-loo when people are walking together and talking too. Lol.

 

One of these days I'll clip the GoPro to me and film her when we walk. I've gotten ears at full mast before, tail wagging, but that's usually when dogs RUN past us same-direction with their owners (and then the pulling starts, but we've gotten over pulling...most of the time). Best solution is for us to work on our turning and turn around for a bit and walk the other way.

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A lot can depend on the other dog's behavior/posture too I think. Rudy is generally either indifferent or curious about passing another dog, but one time we passed one that lowered its head and stared (threatening posture) and Rudy went berserk barking and snarling. I had to really hold on and get past quickly.

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Guest Winnie2014

It definitely depends on the dog and the owner. She tends to rubberneck more if the dog is interested in her (or if it's off leash/she sees the dog a lot). I think most of it was that she just needed to play and interact with other dogs. We always see this dog off leash in the morning and sometimes she rubbernecks, other times she whines at him, and sometimes she flat out ignores him if he is far enough away. The owner doesn't attempt to even look at me, so we're not going to go anywhere near him or his dog.

 

For the first few months I had her, Winnie either would ignore most dogs or whine at them when we passed. Never could figure out the whining. She doesn't seem like a submissive dog, but once again, it must be dog dependent.

 

I always leash her when we meet new people. In my house, at my parents' house, and she does fine with people. She wants to say hi to runners sometimes by jumping at them playfully, but most people don't like dogs jumping on them while they're busy doing other things.

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The whining could have been frustration at not being allowed to meet/play with the other dogs? One of my old ones used to do that - she was very dog friendly and wanted to say Hi to everyone and sometimes whined when she saw a dog but wasn't allowed to meet it. Sounds like mostly your Winnie is lacking in manners and as she has got more confident in her new home, the whingeing has escalated to 'shouting'.

 

If it were me, I would reinforce (click and treat) any behaviour that I liked and wanted to see again - this could include more calming, non-threatening actions on her part, like looking at you, or sniffing the ground (you can throw food on the ground at first to encourage her to her head down and eyes off the other dog), ignoring other dogs and eventually, once she is calmer at a bit of distance, polite on-leash nose to butt greetings (keep those greetings short 2 seconds at first and pick suitable, calm dogs). Try to pre-empt any unwanted behaviour, as you are already doing, by turning away, or if she does go off on one, try to interrupt this and get her under control quickly.

 

A lot of it is about training what you do want them to do and forming new habits, that become the new 'default setting'. And not practising the old unwanted bad behaviour, so that it dies out.

 

Personally, I would try to work on gradually improving manners and meeting dogs on leash, before allowing her to interact off-leash with dogs she doesn't know, as if she is very rude/rough and boisterous in her off leash play that will just rile her up even more and she will be practising unwanted behaviour. But depends on the dog, difficult to say without knowing her.

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Guest Winnie2014

She is rather rough when she played off leash. Ramming herself into the other pup when they tried to go after the ball and then play fighting. So should I hold off on Daycare? They usually have 15-20 big dogs at this place each day. I won't know how she does with other "approved" dogs until we try, though. Worst is that they can tell me not to bring her back/go pick her up if they call me and tell me she isn't ready for Daycare.

 

What I have noticed is that while she will stare at other dogs, she isn't the instigator in lunging/barking/growling anymore on the long leash. And she's usually prancing/ears up and floppy, tail wagging, and interested while looking at the other dog.

 

We had a puppy last night pull her owner to get over to Winnie and Winnie growled at the puppy and I just got Winnie away and calmed her down. Met a dog not 5 minutes later, we arced around the person/dog, and while W was looking, the other dog jumped up/towards her so she did the same back. Owner and I had a convo about them saying hi but I told him we needed our manners before we say hi on walks.Jumping towards a dog is not the way to say hi, it isn't good manners.

 

I'm trying to set her up for success, and we do better in the morning with less dogs (still stares, but we can usually get past no problem.) Mornings she is also more likely to just ignore me at parts of our walk when I call her/ask her to do a command.

 

Edit again: I'm going to start working with her on "Look at that" training in the house with one of her toys. I was doing something similar with recognizing her name, but I think another cue would be better. Before I was squeezing the toy, called her name, and when she looked at me I clicked and gave her a treat. While this worked well for name recall, that won't work for LAT training. We'll start with just the click and then will start to introduce the cue when she always looks at the toy/friend I have over to work on the distractions. Then we'll move out into the hallway, other places, etc.

 

Eventual goal is allowing her to "Look" (Dog/person/bike/whatever) she looks, click, focus back to me and treat. "Good!" rather than having her continue to look at the distraction or react to it.

 

New challenge...I'm looking forward to it. :) Don't want to use "Look at that" either since we have "Take a bow" which sounds awfully close if you listen to it.

Edited by Winnie2014
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How does the Daycare work ? We don't really have that type of thing over here in uk. Are the 20 + dogs in separate kennels and then let out together in small compatible groups? Is the assessment done with the daycare owners own 'stooge' assessment dog?

 

You might find she does better in a small group than 1 -1 with another dog. But If the daycare group is not well managed by the staff and its a free for all, 20 dogs are all milling about together in 1 mass group , hmmmm, well if they are all very laid back dogs maybe, but i wouldn't really be comfortable leaving my own dog in that situation.

 

But maybe small groups of like minded dogs is ok, just hope nobody gets beat up!

 

Let us know how it goes

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Guest Winnie2014

It's 20 or so dogs milling about in big/small groups - one is on-camera inside, the other outside off-camera. The amount of dogs depends on the day - I'm taking her on the slowest day which is a Tuesday. When they do the introduction, they bring the dogs in one by one outside and judge how the dogs interact/if they're a good fit for daycare.

 

I just checked it before naptime and the larger dogs were by themselves (less than 10) and the smaller/medium dogs (shelties, bulldogs, poms, other small dogs) were on the other side (20 or so). So they do keep the dogs separate.

 

I think I'm going to take her and see how she does. I've got reservations but the worst that could happen is that I have to go get her and take the rest of the day off.

 

We're still going to work on our LAT training in the house first and then bring it on walks eventually. Same with "Here" for a come command on a long lead at home/when I take her to the park. Right now I need to be focused on her training and getting her to listen when I call her name or tell her to come. She "takes a bow" well in the house but needs coaxing on walks sometimes (though she will do it if we're out and about at random places). Most of the leash reactivity should be solved with me working with her more on her commands and focusing on me, it's just going to take time and patience.

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You are doing the right things....keep up the good work.

 

Having a reactive dog is an education....you will learn so much, always err on the side of caution...but from personal experience I know that it's worth it. Angel Sadi took ten months to come good.....Johnny is at 9 months and counting:lol

<p>"One day I hope to be the person my dog thinks I am"Sadi's Pet Pages Sadi's Greyhound Data PageMulder1/9/95-21/3/04 Scully1/9/95-16/2/05Sadi 7/4/99 - 23/6/13 CroftviewRGT

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I'm having an interesting time trying to train Emmie out of her leash reactivity. She is a very bossy bitch and with her it seems very much to be about wanting the other dogs in our neighbourhood to know that she is in charge. If we take her out of our neighbourhood she doesn't react at all, and she's fine with other dogs off leash and at day care. I tried the distracting with treats thing but that would only work to a certain extent, and besides, she's so food motivated that we came to the conclusion that she was just getting even more excited when food was presented, or had learned to react to get a treat (even though we'd been very careful to treat before she started reacting). So now I've withdrawn the treats and am just keeping her on a short leash and sternly telling her 'no' when she starts to react. It's working a little better. She's still reacting but not as badly as she was and she stops more quickly.

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Guest Winnie2014

We had better success today overall, and there were a lot of dogs out today! Even better, someone asked me if I was a dog trainer because of my weird behavior with walking Winnie! :rofl They then asked me for advice about this very topic! With two reactive dogs I didn't have much to say, as both of them were staring at each other rather intently and the German Shepherd was barking/jumping at Winnie. Best to get out of that situation.

 

We haven't had any more barking/growling, but I'm also turning her around if I feel like we're going to meet a dog too close for the time being. We kept turning around since we ran into about 4 dogs going both my direction and the opposite direction on a narrow bridge. I turn her, tell her to continue or Let's go! and when she settles, I call her name, click, treat. She's gotten really good about following me when we turn towards me. I know she has focused when I stop, tell her to stay, and she looks at me and stops. So proud! :beatheart I have not been clicking her when she is focused on another dog, instead I either wait until we pass or I work on turning her around and then getting the attention back.

 

Winnie does tend to open and close her mouth sometimes, lick her lips, etc. when she sees a dog. Usually her mouth is open and ears floppy, but sometimes ears are at full mast, other times one ear up one ear floppy. What should I be understanding from this behavior?

 

She was quite excited about all the people and wanted to say hi to just about every human standing still this afternoon! "Oh hi are you here for me?" While I'm telling her to continue walking. Silly pup.

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Great update! Regarding your questions, it's hard to say without seeing it, but it sounds like licking her lips may be a calming signal - a sign of mild discomfort/stress when she sees other dogs. Ears that are in various degrees of the up position are usually a reflection of how alert and interested she is.

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

gtsig3.jpg

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She just sounds a bit too interested in other dogs at the present time. But you are doing great! Keep up the management, turning her to avoid awkward narrow situations that would likely end in a reaction etc and reward with food and praise when she does good. You will get there.

 

When i got Fey for the first few months she would stop and stare at all other dogs as if they were martians. She's not reactive, so no barking or lunging, but rooted to the spot, would NOT move and stand and stare. Not really conducive to successful meetings! And awkward that she wouldn't move off. I used a squeaky toy to get her moving, as she's crazy on toys.

 

But now she is great and mostly ignores other dogs on walks on or off lead, or if she gets the right signals will say hi or play. It's only now a year on that I trust her to manage most dogs by herself but i still try to protect her from barky, reactive dogs, or those who look like they may not be friendly. She socialised with dogs in a controlled way in a training class and our agility class and that really helped.

 

My main problem with her is nicking other dogs balls, so i have to keep an eye out for that!

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Guest Winnie2014

Thanks!

 

We are doing a lot better. She still looks but often ignores dogs if they're far enough away. Arcing her away from the dog really helps as does if the other owner does the same thing. Happened today with a Husky, and Winnie barely spared a glance for him.

 

She did jump at a small French Bulldog as we were on our way back to the building. She's definitely more excited about other dogs than she is nervous. The bulldog was interested in her too. We did meet another Greyhound yesterday and it was like night and day with her and other dogs. She calmed down immediately and started following him around. It was so cute.

 

I'm hoping that daycare works out because I wasn't too pleased with her interaction with a pitbull yesterday. They were on opposite sides of the fence and they chased each other from one side to the other with Winnie barking to turn the other way. The pitbull had a ball in it's mouth otherwise they both would have been barking. They kept it up for about 10 minutes until Winnie decided she was pooped. Not sure if this was a playful interaction or a territorial one. She seemed happy, tail wagging, ears interested, I just didn't like the barking.

 

I'm hoping that if she is in a controlled setting that she will learn her manners around other dogs and calm down when she sees other dogs. Worst comes to it, I have to go pick her up because it doesn't work out.

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