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Making Corrections


MattB
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I've posted a couple of times about my grey's (Charlie) 'aggression' on the leash and I thought we were making progress but seem to have regressed.

 

I've been avoiding these situations as much as possible and using rewards and I thought he had become much calmer.

 

It feels like sometimes Charlie is excited - jumping up and barking, tail wagging, and other times aggressive - more aggressive bark and pulling hard.

 

It's frustrating because when he meets other dogs off the lead he's really gentle but at the moment I'm conscious that he's scaring other dog owners.

 

My question is, if this happens when I'm out walking - what is the best way to correct? - I can say/shout 'No' until I'm blue in the face, pull on his leash and it becomes a tug of war which, this morning was the only way I could get him away from a dog behind the fence (that doesn't even bark at him!).

 

Any thoughts much appreciated.

 

 

 

 

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Hi MattB

I have a Charlie too! He can be a little snarly at other dogs too. It has happened because he was attacked by two different dogs in a 2 yr span who were off leash so i can't blame him. He needs to know i will be the leader and protect him.

I haven't solved it but i bought a muzzle which on one hand seemed to calm him. I only used it once though. Fortunately i didn't because he would not have been able to defend himself. So i am in a catch 22.

Anyhow, i would redirect him and walk him in the opposite direction if you see him getting overly excited. I am not a dog trainer however, are you able to contact a positive trainer and get some tips? Other than that i hope you get some good ideas from other readers here. The weather here has been horrendous so i will try training and redirecting soon when the roads aren't so salt laden.

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Thanks (I'm also visiting MA in a few weeks time - exciting but didn't know the weather was so bad atm - Charlie is staying home in the UK though)

Yes the muzzle thing is difficult as I'd hate it if he couldn't protect himself - there are some big dogs running off-leash around here and his barking usually stops them in their tracks. We've been to classes and he was pretty chilled out with the other dogs there so it's difficult to correct when they're not doing it - I guess if we got a trainer one-to-one to come on a walk with us that might be helpful.

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I would try a one to one trainer or behaviourist, make sure it's someone with recognised qualifications and who uses up to date reward based methods.

 

Shouting no and pulling back on the lead won't help at all , if anything, will have the effect of egging him on unfortunately.

 

Also, you can try different equipment, a harness with a double ended lead is good for lungers, there is a to trick handling it using both hands, with leash clipped either end at collar and body harness, so there is no bracing or lunging against the lead. A decent behaviourist could show you this. Or Some people find a harness with a front attachment ring good as again the dog cant lunge forward.

 

As you say he is ok off lead (tho again, would be best to have a professional assess that) i think maybe the key could be to remove all tension from the lead, so he doesn't feel the restriction. In combo with training. In a sense, 'correction' is too late, it's more about management, prevention and forming new behavioral patterns, also improving your relationship so that he takes direction and looks to dad instead of flying off the handle.

 

A lot of hard work, but it's worth it.

Edited by Amber
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Saying no and yanking on his lead is probably not going to help him learn to stop the behaviour in future. I have two leash reactive dogs. My other half reminded me last night just how bad our boy was (not a greyhound) before we put him on Endep as a behaviour moderating drug. Now he will sometimes cry at dogs but he will very rarely lunge and bark unless it is a very big dog.

 

The other is Mouse. She is improving - obviously with things like this it can seem like one step forward and two steps back. Mouse can do pack walks and areas with lots of dogs (like obedience training) and be fine, but if she sees other dogs in her neighbourhood walking the only way to stop her reacting is to redirect her behaviour before she gets fixated. I have used both classical and operant conditioning here. Classical is when she's worked herself up and I just shove cheese in her mouth til she looks at me and we can continue on our merry way. Operant is when she sees a dog and sits/looks at me and gets a reward for it (this is happening more and more now).

 

The secret is changing the emotional state that your dog gets in to when he sees another dog. If you are having to play tug of war every now and then, don't worry it's not a devastating set back, but you really need to add distance to get him under that reactive threshold and work with him then.

 

I think you need to get your head around thresholds. Check this out for a start :

 

http://eileenanddogs.com/2014/02/25/thresholds-in-dog-training/


What you want to do is get the 'sensory threshold' (when he notices the dog) and the 'aversive threshold' (where he freaks out) further apart with training

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Thanks - these are very helpful.

 

I realise that him freaking out isn't helpful from a training perspective and that training needs to take place before he passes his aversive threshold. I suppose I'm just after some practical advice because, with the best will in the world, sometimes we do encounter/get too close/get surprised by a dog who Charlie reacts to and, like everyone seems to agree - pulling and shouting may well have an effect of exacerbating his reaction, although at the same time I need to do something to stop/get him away from the other dog. So how would people go about this without making the situation worse?

 

This last time (although I was walking 3 greys) I struggled physically to restrain him despite weighing 220 lbs (me, not Charlie!).

 

I hope it's not making Charlie sound out of control - these incidents are rare, which is why it takes me by surprise!

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Thanks - these are very helpful.

 

I realise that him freaking out isn't helpful from a training perspective and that training needs to take place before he passes his aversive threshold. I suppose I'm just after some practical advice because, with the best will in the world, sometimes we do encounter/get too close/get surprised by a dog who Charlie reacts to and, like everyone seems to agree - pulling and shouting may well have an effect of exacerbating his reaction, although at the same time I need to do something to stop/get him away from the other dog. So how would people go about this without making the situation worse?

 

This last time (although I was walking 3 greys) I struggled physically to restrain him despite weighing 220 lbs (me, not Charlie!).

 

I hope it's not making Charlie sound out of control - these incidents are rare, which is why it takes me by surprise!

 

In terms of managing the situation practically and now, I would suggest that you need to try to walk him by himself. I know this isn't always possible but it's hard to read your dogs signals if you have a couple of other leashes in your hand.

 

Map out the neighbourhood and avoid fences with dogs behind them if you are going to be walking multiples.

 

On solo walks work on counterconditioning (ie cross the road when there's a dog behind a fence) and perhaps pause on the other side to assess his comfort level. Take him to places where you know there will be dogs but where you can control your distance from them - ie is there a dog club near you that works in a park ? you could find a comfortable distance from the dogs in the park and work from there ?

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