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Thread: The Dog Park.

  1. #1

    Default The Dog Park.

    I took my dog to obedience class today - and then i had to drag him back home before we even got started. My dog is ridiculously dog reactive, definitely not aggressive but he's still a pup and when he grows up it can easily turn into aggression.

    He's actually a really great dog at home or when I take him for a walk. He doesn't pull on the leash at all (anymore) although loud cars and buses still freak him out. He doesn't need obedience classes to be a "better" or "well-behaved" pet but when he see's another dog something has to happen and when it's a whole bunch of other dogs - like at a dog park or obedience classes - there's no way I'm going to be able to control him.

    How often do you take your dog to the dog park and how often do you think he should go there?

  2. #2
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    I have had a very dog reactive dog, she also was fine at home and had a great heel on a walk. I did join my local dog club and I did do obedience training with her but I always worked her at a distance where she wasnt reacting to other dogs. I was there for a very specific reason - to help desensitise her. There was another lady doing the same thing and the dog club was very supportive of this and helped where they could.

    If I were to take her to a dog park I always went at times that I knew it wasnt going to be busy and worked where I had a good view of what was going on and always at a distance where she was comfortable. Over time I got her working closer and closer to the other dogs and it got to the stage where I could work her in a class although I always made sure we had space and I monitored her stress levels. Little and often is much better than trying to do the whole hour in a class.

    I really worked on my dogs focus skills and also her recall skills. Dont put your dog in a situation where he feels forced to react as this reinforces the situation, work on keeping space and gradually narrowing that space. Allow him to acknowledge other dogs but reward him for returning his focus to you.

    My dog was also very sensitive to loud noises in the environment and too much overload would send her over the edge. Her problem did have a genetic component so it wasnt easy but we made a lot of progress. I had to do a lot of work on teaching her how to cope with environmental overload and it took a considerable amount of work. I did get some good professional help as that point I had never had a dog quite like this one before. I found it very helpful.
    Last edited by Kalacreek; 02-23-2014 at 03:51 PM.

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    You need to start working on fixing his reactivity as soon as you can, you have what is going to be a very powerful dog! If i had been aware enough to see the sign's in Koda when he was young and actually done something to help him, he may have been very different to the way he is now. Going to the dog park is not a necessity, however socialising your dog is a necessity. There are no dog parks anywhere near where i live so i have never been to one. You need to get your pup out and around dogs, obviously don't put him in a situation where anyone would get hurt. Different methods work for different dogs, If he is motivated by treats then you could use treats to teach him the command "look" and get him to focus on you. Once he's mastered 'Look' you can put it into practice by using rewards to have him focus on you rather than reacting to dogs that are around. This method works with some dogs, it wasn't working very well for Koda though. Check out this thread to see the method i'm currently using with Koda.
    http://www.dogforum.com.au/dog-train...d-success.html
    Last edited by maddogdodge; 02-23-2014 at 04:35 PM.

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    Ugh... double post

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    Quote Originally Posted by maddogdodge View Post
    If he is motivated by treats then you could use treats to teach him the command "look" and get him to focus on you. Once he's mastered 'Look' you can put it into practice by using rewards to have him focus on you rather than reacting to dogs that are around. This method works with some dogs, it wasn't working very well for Koda though. Check out this thread to see the method i'm currently using with Koda.
    http://www.dogforum.com.au/dog-train...d-success.html
    The trick with the look is to first allow your dog to observe his stressors at a distance when he is not reactive. It is called "look at that". Then reward the dog for looking back at you. I dont personally use a look command, I used a look at that command, dog has a good look at the other dogs at a distance and then looks back at me once she had had a good look.

    In the book control unleashed Leslie Devitt explains that teaching your dog to look at you without first being allowed to acknowledge the things that stress him first can actually increase the problem. The method is explained in the book Control Unleashed.

    It is a pretty important distinction. It is all about getting your dog to relax when his strssors are in the vicinity, not to bury his head in the sand and look at you while inwardly he is still stressing at what he is not being allowed to look at. I absolutely found this with my dog. Our walks were all about acknowledging the things in the environment that were upsetting her while she was below reaction threshold..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalacreek View Post
    The trick with the look is to first allow your dog to observe his stressors at a distance when he is not reactive. It is called "look at that". Then reward the dog for looking back at you. I dont personally use a look command, I used a look at that command, dog has a good look at the other dogs at a distance and then looks back at me once she had had a good look.

    In the book control unleashed Leslie Devitt explains that teaching your dog to look at you without first being allowed to acknowledge the things that stress him first can actually increase the problem. The method is explained in the book Control Unleashed.

    It is a pretty important distinction. It is all about getting your dog to relax when his strssors are in the vicinity, not to bury his head in the sand and look at you while inwardly he is still stressing at what he is not being allowed to look at. I absolutely found this with my dog. Our walks were all about acknowledging the things in the environment that were upsetting her while she was below reaction threshold..
    Yep, you explained it so much better than me, haha
    That method alone really didn't work for me, because even though Koda looked at the thing that stressed him out and then looked at me, he was still extremely anxious and way over threshold. I know the whole point of that training is to keep the dog under threshold, however that is virtually impossible in my situation at home, hence why it wasn't working. With using the, as others here are calling it "cut the crap" method, Koda calms down so much quicker and can often be totally relaxed with the thing that would usually set him off not too far away from him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by maddogdodge View Post
    Yep, you explained it so much better than me, haha
    That method alone really didn't work for me, because even though Koda looked at the thing that stressed him out and then looked at me, he was still extremely anxious and way over threshold. I know the whole point of that training is to keep the dog under threshold, however that is virtually impossible in my situation at home, hence why it wasn't working. With using the, as others here are calling it "cut the crap" method, Koda calms down so much quicker and can often be totally relaxed with the thing that would usually set him off not too far away from him.
    I think herein lies trying to work it out with individual dogs. The desensitisation method is not easy. I had to do a lot of hard work and planning. The dog club was great becuae I could go there almost every night of the week and work on her below threshold and it became a place she flet comfortable with despite the continuous ebb and flow of different dogs..

    I have always been a cut the crap type trainer and this was the first dog that got progressively worse with what has always worked with my other dogs up to that point. I had her from a pup and she deteriorated as she grew, becoming increasingly fearful and reactive with each passing month regardless of what I did.

    This is when I saught help and the woman was fantastic. It opened a whole new world and probably inspired to where I am now with getting into performance dogs. Fortunately I have hadnt such a difficult dog again. Make no mistake I dont stand for any crap but my current dogs are fairly stable animals even the abused rescue I have who was reactive when I got him but underneath it all he was not on the same planet as my very reactive dog. She had serious temperament flaws as did her sire I found out later, genenitically a scew a teeny bit loose. I had to try and re pattern her brain. Cut the crap just made her internalise and become potentially more dangerous.

    Not fun I have to say but I made so much headway with her. It wasnt just about "look at that" there was a lot more to it that I couldnt even begin to put on paper. This is where the trainer I worked with was really good. She is very much respected among performance circles and her understanding of dogs is very good and her problem solving was excellent.

    So I think it is important to sort out what is happening and tailor it to the dog. Finding a professional isnt always easy. The first one I went to was a dead loss.

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    He doesn't need obedience classes to be a "better" or "well-behaved" pet but when he see's another dog something has to happen and when it's a whole bunch of other dogs - like at a dog park or obedience classes - there's no way I'm going to be able to control him.
    What you need dog obedience classes for - is what the others have said. Pick a club that has room and is willing to allow you to work with him at a distance far enough he can still pay attention to you and then work on getting him comfy around other dogs.

    Until you have that - I would not take him to a dog park at all. You just don't know when other people are going to come in with their dogs, and if it's a fully fenced park - the other dog is trapped in there with yours. And other people coming into dog parks expect all dogs there to be friendly they often don't understand why you want them to wait until you're safely out. "STOP - MY DOG HATES DOGS LET ME LEAVE FIRST" might be the best thing to yell at them. Because most of them assume it's ok because their dog is friendly and will ignore anything you say about staying out.

    Tho yelling at people coming in - is not going to help your dog feel good about them but it keeps them safe... I just wouldn't take a dog aggressive dog into a dog park and most people expect that nobody takes an aggressive dog into a dog park even if it is empty.

  9. #9

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    My dog's not dog aggressive - I just think he really wants to play with the other dogs. He does go absolutely nuts though kinda like when a train or a bus goes by and there was some aggression when I got him (and I made a thread).

    I'm gonna stick him on a lead and go to the dog park - the fenced in kind and stay there for a while. He seems to think that every other dog automatically means play and good things - I would really like for him to know that another dog is just another dog and not an opportunity to play and not all dogs mean good things.

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    Whether its aggression or not, him acting rude around other dogs is not on in my opinion. Acting rude to other dogs is exactly what Koda was like at that age. He was just really over excited, he barked and pulled desperately on lead to reach the other dogs, he wouldn't' have hurt a fly at that age, he just really wanted to play. I too had to leave obedience classes early because of it, and I eventually gave up on going.

    I'm not saying your dog is going to become aggressive, i'm just making sure you know that something that seems like a small issue now, could escalate to a different and more severe issue as he gets older. I just want you to be aware of that, and try all you can to teach him to be calmer around dogs because I would hate for you to end up in the same situation with your dog, that I am in with Koda.

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