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I've posted a few times about Charlie and his on-leash reactivity. Unfortunately today he bit another dog.

 

I was walking and a Labrador owner wanted to ask questions about my two. The lab barked and Charlie initially barked back but then they both stopped. We were reasonably close and after the barking the labs owner asked if Charlie would bite, I replied that he didn't like dogs running up to him. The lab was fairly old and shuffled up to Charlie, they looked at each other then Charlie bit his nose. I am so annoyed with myself for letting this happen and was really naive to think this would be OK. The dog didn't bat and eyelid, no damage done and owner not bothered but I'm so sad and feel so guilty about it. Anyway this brings me on to my question:

 

I've been desperately searching for a behaviourist to work with. I'm not sure if it's our location but I'm struggling. I spoke to a nice chap this morning who is trying to fit us in (I'm really keen to do a session on our normal route). I described the behaviour and the man said 'you need to display better leadership then your dog won't be as scared'. Admittedly he hasn't seen us yet so this opinion may change but I wanted to ask what leadership is in this context and how should I be displaying this?

 

A related thought is that my second hound (spooky Daisy) is rapidly gaining confidence - is this because of Charlie's behaviour? which got much much worse since Daisy arrived.

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Poor old lab!

 

I don't know about leadership in this context. But I wouldn't allow Charlie to approach any dogs at all and might consider muzzling. I would also avoid situations where Charlie is face to face with other dogs.

 

Meanwhile, start paying attention to body language. What happened immediately before the bite. It didn't come out of nowhere. Charlie may have given signals which the older dogs didn't or couldn't pick up. I know that Benny, my senior doesn't see or hear as well as the others, and so misses cues. Fortunately they are also very tolerant of his bumbles, but I'm very cautious with other dogs for this reason. So it's up to you. If Charlie is at all unsure, it is your responsibility to protect him, so he doesn't have to. I always stand between Paige, Brandi and other dogs because I know they need my support and protection. You need to do the same.

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I don't think you failed in leadership. Like Brandiandwe said, watch his body language. Hopefully someone will have a link to that info.

 

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Thank you. I'm still kicking myself for not being more assertive and just not letting them sniff. Charlie has been on holiday for a week and I wasn't thinking properly! I'm thinking about using his muzzle - if I was to do this would it be best to keep on for whole walk rather than just busy parts - don't want to make more negative associations.

 

Re: body language you're both probably right, I've got much better at this generally but maybe I misinterpreted his silence (getting ready to lunge) as being OK with the situation. This said there wasn't any growl at all.

 

At least there wasn't any damage done and I can learn from this.

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I think the term leadership in this situation applies to what you call being more assertive and what I call being in control of the dog's actions; setting the rules and enforcing them. It's what you already do -- what we all do -- in dozens of situations every day with our dogs. We don't let them surf counters, dig in the garbage or eat kitty litter cookies. :flip Most of us don't let them off leash or tear down curtains (I fostered a loveable boy once who tried to do all of the above and did get curtains down!). We have rules for our animals we don't even think about because they are part of every day. This is leadership.

 

So extending the rules to this situation means you don't let him near other dogs. I don't like muzzles for every day walking, but I have never had a need with Annie.

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Hada the podenco maneta, Georgie Girl (UMR Cordella), Lulu the podenco andaluz, Rita the podenco maneta
Angels: Charlie the iggy,  Mazy (CBR Crazy Girl), Potato, my mystery ibizan girl, Allen (M's Pretty Boy), Percy (Fast But True), Mikey (Doray's Patuti), Pudge le mutt, Tessa the iggy, Possum (Apostle), Gracie (Dusty Lady), Harold (Slatex Harold), "Cousin" Simon our step-iggy, Little Dude the iggy ,Bandit (Bb Blue Jay), Niña the galgo, Wally (Allen Hogg), Thane (Pog Mo Thoine), Oliver (JJ Special Agent), Comet, & Rosie our original mutt.

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Standing nose to nose and "staring" at each other is in our dogs' opinion very impolite. Your grey told the other one "Stop staring at me". You can bypass these situations by turning your hound around, so he does not look directly at the other dog.

While walking you can keep yourself between your dog and the others. My greys know the word "Schau" (Look) and look up to me for a treat, when we encounter an unfamiliar dog on our walks.

Sorry for butchering the english language. I try to keep the mistakes to a minimum.

 

Nadine with Paddy (Zippy Mullane), Saoirse (Lizzie Be Nice), Abu (Cillowen Abu) and bridge angels Colin (Dessies Hero) and Andy (Riot Officer).

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I wouldn't muzzle him while walking. In the U.S. not required and gives greyhounds a bad image. Sounds like you are in the UK.

With all due respect IMO might be best just concentrate on "getting the big picture" (as they said in my drivers ed class 40 years ago) while walking. My terrier who was abandoned in a house with three other dogs is a wild card in how he reacts to other dogs. If I see one coming we just quickly cross to the other side of the street and on a few occasions have hung out for a few minutes in side yards or on the opposite sidewalk where a car blocks his view so I can detract him while the other dog goes by.

 

I'm not a fan of the Alpha theory which I think may be what the guy meant by leadership. My one mantra is listen to your dogs and they'll teach you many things. we have always worked on mutual respect here - crazy as that sounds.

Edited by Hubcitypam
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Be very careful, and listen closely to what that trainer says. You want someone who focuses on positive reinforcement, not "alpha theory" and bullying your dog to make it behave.

 

I know it feels rude, from a human perspective, but you need to pay more attention to *your* dog and less attention to the people and their dogs that you meet. If their dogs are not remaining calm and are jumping or paying too much attention, just say Hello and move on, keeping your dog on the opposite side of your body from them. Keep your body between your dog and the other dog at all times. Make sure you pay attention not only to what he's sounding like, but his tail attitude, his ears, his posture, his eye focus. The signs will be extremely subtle. Pay attention.

 

If the approaching dog is calm, and you know the owner, ask if you can stop for a minute. Either way, as soon as you see a dog approaching, begin to engage your dog's attention. Use treats, use a squeaky toy, whatever your dog will pay attention to. You may need to significantly increase the value of the treat for this to work. As long as the other dog is around, as long as you are standing there with the other owner, your dog should be getting praised and treats for keeping his attention on you and remaining calm. Keep these sessions SHORT, in the beginning - 10 seconds, maybe less - increasing the time only when your dog can handle it.

 

You need to keep these interactions below your dog's reaction threshold. and begin to build up pleasant associations around meeing other dogs on leash.

 

You may have done this before, but if you post your general location, one of the trainers here on GT might be able to recommend someone for you.

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Guest Amber

Hi there

first, it doesn't sound like a real bite, as no damage was done, sounds more like a warning snap that made light contact. Your dog is displaying full control of his jaws and bite inhibition and that is a good thing!

 

I noted the bit about the two dogs standing face to face and looking at each other, well the direct eye contact from both parties isn't good, maybe the lab didn't mean anything by it, but your Charlie took offence at his direct staring or looking. So now you know that's a trigger, try to avoid any head on encounters and / or dogs that make direct eye contact with other dogs. It's a shame, but with a dog like him it's difficult to be sociable and talk to other dog walkers. Much better if their dog is on lead, very neutral ie not at all interested in your dogs and you can walk along side by side whilst talking.

 

leadership, yes they all need that but if this trainer is cesar millan fan and on about pack leader and dominance steer well clear!!! Can you speak to him on the phone again and find out about his methods and any qualifications BEFORE you let him near your dogs?

 

Ideally if you want a behaviourist get a referral from your vet and for a trainer try the APDT website (if you are in UK) which lists trainers who at least should meet a minimum standard.

 

I went through very similar with my old dog oscar and TBH leadership and confidence in handling situations was a big part of improving things but also gradual socialising with lots of dogs, training, and food rewards and managing walks more effectively were all pieces of the puzzle. Most important strange as it may sound was accepting him as he was. I stopped having high expectations and thinking i could fix him , accepted he was grumpy, and in a strange way that made me more relaxed, because it took the pressure off? Focussing more on managing him so he didn't get into trouble and on controlling any reactions quickly and moving on and trying to be emotionally detached from his behaviour seemed to help him relax more.

Edited by Amber
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Guest Amber

Just wanted to add now i remember , we did see a behaviourist who made a huge difference and he did say that my dogs were lacking leadership and he was right, cos i had lost my confidence out on walks, with oscar and his lunging and barking at other dogs. He advocated operant conditioning with food and real clear cut training. This idea that i could control oscar and quickly get him to sit and look at me, instead of going berserk was a great boost.

 

I had done that sort of training before that had helped, but he'd fallen back again.

 

What i had failed to do previously was find a way for ME to stop loose dogs running over and upsetting him.

 

Many will not agree, but this trainer advocated using a can of compressed air which made a loud hiss noise aimed at the loose dog that was charging over. I did use it a few times and it worked. Once oscar saw i was in charge of the stressful situation and could get rid of the rude dog, he realised he didn't have to. I also used my voice and body language to ward off unwanted dogs.

 

So after maybe a couple of months of this, one time a large playful bitch ran over in the park, by this time i was quite confident in dealing with this and using body blocking, basically keeping my 2 greys behind me and pushing the loose dog away with my thigh. She was that close but to my surprise oscar didn't react, in fact he wanted to speak to her and say hello nicely!

Quite soon we got to a point one day where a friendly but reasonably polite dog came over, i didn't do anything and oscar was fine with it.

 

Now you won't make friends with people doing this, but if they can't or won't control their dog and it is charging over, then you need to control it. Obviously use judgment for each situation. A young male dog racing up needs to be stopped quickly; an elderly dog slowly wandering over in your direction can be avoided by you quickly walking off in other direction.

 

I think that's leadership, cos it's dealing with your dogs fears and protecting them .

Edited by Amber
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I have no issue with using something against another dog to keep my dog safe. Compressed air isn't harmful, though if it makes a lot of noise coming out of the can, I wouldn't use it around Annie because strange/loud noises scare her and she'd try to pull away. When I visit one of my sisters, who lives in a small town where the leash law is not enforced, I carry a can of Halt! Dog Repellent. I've never had to use it, but would not hesitate.

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Make sure that whatever trainer you use uses positive reinforcement methods and not dominance theory.

My dogs are great with everyone, but I'm a dog walker and some the dogs I walk can be questionable. When I bring my dogs to meet these questionable dogs, I position my dogs facing away from the other dog. The other dogs get a chance to sniff my dogs and get to know them without eye contact and they feel less threatened. After a minute or 2 I let my dogs greet them. They usually barely sniff the dog then ignore them. I'm always super careful and I know my dogs extremely well and they're very reactive and I usually also know the other dogs pretty well.

 

As for your pup not growling, growling is only one of many signs a dog gives before biting. Also, if he's been corrected for growling, he may not growl because he's been told growling is unacceptable. Growling is actually a gift. It's the dog telling us that he's uncomfortable. It gives us time to help the dog before he gets to the point where he feels biting is his only option.

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No, please no to this trainer. Tell me where you live (be specific, PM if you need to) and I will get you a good referral.

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Guest Amber

To be fair though, we don't know what tbis trainer's methods are.

 

All dogs do need leadership, or having a good doggy guide, or training. I guess what we don't know and what Matt was asking was what he meant exactly by leadership.

 

I agree it's a bit suspicious the trainer diagnosed lack of leadership on the phone and does make you suspect he may be into dominance theory, but the only way the OP would find out is by talking and querying the trainer more, beforehand.

 

But in a general sense, the trainer is right: the owner being passive and /or nervous (as i was) in tricky situations doesn't show the dog with the problem tnat he has a trustworthy leader/guide/protector.

 

I am all for reward based training but i still believe the owner needs to do a job :control resources; provide training; set boundaries ; be fair, clear and consistent in enforcing rules

 

some soft dogs you can get away with being very passive and not doing much of the above, some strong characters need a lot more input

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Like dominance theory, this idea of leadership, which stems from the idea of being a "pack leader" is outdated. You help dogs through proper behavior modification, mainly using counter-conditioning and desensitization, and through positive reinforcement (and when absolutely necessary negative punishment). There are all kinds of owners - not everyone can be a really skilled or confident handler. A good behavior modification program will help any owner help their dog improve although of course some people/homes and dogs are just poorly matched.

 

Do I know for sure what this trainer's methods are? No although I'd be happy to do a little digging if the OP wants me to and sends me the trainer's info. However, I know enough about the language different types of trainers use to know there's a better option for the OP.

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Many dogs don't like to greet face to face; butt sniffing is lots less stressful for everybody. If you run into this type of situation again, maybe say, "Will you walk along with us for a little ways?" and keep moving so the dogs aren't maneuvered into a face to face situation.

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Guest Amber

Like dominance theory, this idea of leadership, which stems from the idea of being a "pack leader" is outdated. You help dogs through proper behavior modification, mainly using counter-conditioning and desensitization, and through positive reinforcement (and when absolutely necessary negative punishment). There are all kinds of owners - not everyone can be a really skilled or confident handler. A good behavior modification program will help any owner help their dog improve although of course some people/homes and dogs are just poorly matched.

 

Do I know for sure what this trainer's methods are? No although I'd be happy to do a little digging if the OP wants me to and sends me the trainer's info. However, I know enough about the language different types of trainers use to know there's a better option for the OP.

 

i would disagree that the concept of leadership necessarily stems from pack leader/ dominance stuff. It's just a word that now has unfortunate connotations because of Cesar Millan etc. Think i explained in the above post what my concept of leadership is (which is what matt was asking us all): leadership is just being a good, on the ball owner and yes, acting confident and taking charge of awkward situations, even if it's not in your nature to do so.

 

many modern up to date behaviourists and trainers recognise that much of dog training is in the type of relationship the owner and dog have, scientific learning theory is good, but both dogs and people are emotional animals. If your dog doesn't trust you to be proactive in protecting him from something he is scared or worried about, then in my experience anyway, large amounts of CC and DS won't really work in the real world, where the environment cannot always be controlled.

 

I spent a long, long time with my dog doing CC and DS but not being able to control or keep away loose dogs put in the real world ruined all that effort.

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I'm not going to go back and forth with you as I was just posting to help the OP. Bottom line is that no one can explain to the OP what the trainer meant by leadership except for the trainer himself and I have a strong suspicion that the OP could find a more appropriate trainer.

 

OP, my offer to help you find someone and/or check out the guy you are considering working with still stands. Feel free to PM me.

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Thanks so much for all your input and big apologies for my late response, your thoughts and experiences are much appreciated.

 

What I've taken away/realised (although noone said as such) is that this isn't a different or an escalation of Charlie's reactivity, but my own mistake in management of an existing issue. I've always been really careful not to get too close to other dogs but taking away a lesson from this I know I made a wrong assumption. It's also easy to think that we're not progressing because of this but looking at the whole picture we have come on in the past few months, particularly with dogs behind fences and Charlie will respond to 'No' and walk past calmly.

 

Neylasmom - I'm in North East England - Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Assumed you were from the US? If you do know anyone over here I'd be very interested. I appreciate all the above concerns about this trainer and although I'm not very knowledgable I did make sure that the class we used to go to used positive reinforcement and bullying a dog is not something I would do (or let anyone else do). I did receive a recommendation from someone else with a greyhound, I know this doesn't mean anything necessarily but I'm feeling a bit lost and frustrated at the moment and would like to talk to someone with more experience than myself so I thought I'd have the session with him (next week) and see how it goes. Re: dog and homes being poorly matched - If he behaved like this initially I would have been worried about our ability to manage but it was 6 months until he started barking at other dogs -looking back, and having read some of those articles macoduck, thanks :) (we picked him up 15 months ago) when I thought that he was fine with other dogs barking or trying to play with him he probably wasn't and has since learned that if he barks at them they stay away usually. The big turning point definitely seemed to be when we got our second hound.

 

Re: Boisterous dogs and keeping them at bay - 'air' absolutely terrifies Charlie; since firework night last November I can't open a bottle or pump up bike tyres anywhere near him) so I couldn't use compressed air - although usually (although there are a significant number who don't too!) owners will call their dog or leash them when they realise they're not going to get a friendly greeting. What is more of a worry is leashed dogs walking past us on a narrow path (overgrown in the summer) which Charlie will bark and lunge for i.e. they don't have to be behaving rudely towards him first.

 

Also yes - the nervousness when out walking is a vicious circle, losing confidence when things like this happen which makes me more nervous next time around. If I'm honest I'm not always too comfortable with walking around my neighbourhood without dogs either so maybe they pick up on this.

 

Matt

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Guest Rose29

Hi Matt, were from the Durham area and took our grey to training classes at a place called haveagooddog

 

They were very good, the people were lovely and it was all positive reinforcement stuff, they have lurches themselves. They also do behavioral consultancy and do home visits.

 

Here's a link to there website. Hope it's of some use to you!

 

http://haveagooddog.sharepoint.com/Pages/Consultations.aspx

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