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Thread: Some Advice Please Plus Update!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    South Australia

    Default Some Advice Please Plus Update!

    Hi guys,

    It may seem as though I haven't been around much but I have been lurking lol.

    Me and Bails are going well at mums place. Had some trouble with the ex but the police are involved now so hopefully things will settle down and so can me and Bailey, who has been an absolute wreck since the day he got her into his car and tried to steal her! Phew! That was close!

    Still haven't heard from council but hey I'm not complaining about it. We have gone up 2 levels in obedience class since I last posted and other than our recent issue she has been an absolute angel She is a lot more confident around new people and there is less growling, cowering and barking Still wary of children but we are working on that too.

    We have REALLY good days and some not so good days, but the latter is far and few between. Getting to be 5 steps forward and 1 step back rather than 2 steps forward 1 step back.

    Well I suppose the thing I need advice about most is Dog Aggression .... sigh

    Bailey was attacked over the face by another dog on our walk a few weeks back. She wasn't badly injured however she has a large scar that runs down the bridge of her nose to her bottom lip. It may take some time for the scar to disappear but until then it stands out like, excuse the expression, dogs balls lol.

    Well ever since it happened she has become scared of other dogs but instead of hiding etc she gets nippy and lunges almost as though she figures it is 'bite or be bitten'' situation. THIS IS A BIG NO NO FOR ME!!!! I will not allow it.

    I understand it can be in her breed etc and if she will remain like this well I will just need to manage it however if I can knock this on the head, so to speak, I want to do it RIGHT AWAY!

    I have a muzzle for her and was thinking about muzzling her and having her around dogs so she will see that they wont all hurt her......

    but she is fine with dogs she knows so I would have to do it at a dog park or something and obviously this isn't the best idea.....especially if another dog DOES bite her whilst she is muzzled.

    Im also not sure how she will cope with being muzzled like that because obviously where there are other dogs there's other people. It may not be good for her anxiety/stress condition.

    My obedience trainer is working on it with me whilst she is on lead but obviously this is much harder when I'm not at dog obedience. The way she is teaching me to do it is approach another dog, let Bailey get in close, sniff and then pull her away to show her that I am in control NOT her. Works ok but sometimes Bailey reacts before she can even get in close for a sniff. I dont feel in control letting my dog get in close when she could nip or bite.
    People (including myself) are not normally to happy about you approaching their pet with a dog that is lunging, snarling and nipping.

    I'm a little stumped at the moment and was hoping people could chuck me some suggestions.

    Please remember that Bailey is a very anxious dog and I am trying my very best not to provoke it

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009


    Hi, would like to have a good think about this one and post when I can get it condensed down a bit.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    South Australia


    Thanks MAC much appreciated!

  4. #4


    First of all congrats on going so well together! And so glad to hear that the police are finaly involved...maybe now you'll be left in peace.

    With the much as I hate to say it,it is more a case of management now rather than rewinding so to speak. Its like a switch and once its tripped its on and thats it with these dogs,she will now always be in defence mode. You can get her to become more tolerable around dogs rather than her lunging etc. To the point of only becoming upset should a dog really push to enter her space. It wont be easy and you'll need some friends with some laid back,gentle friendly dogs. Be careful that she doesn't in turn upset these dogs either,perhaps a muzzle at first might be best.I have used it before for almost the exact same reason so dont feel bad about using it.It is a tool not a long term fix.
    GageDesign Pet Photography
    Site still in construction so will post link when it's finished.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009



    Fear aggression is a pretty normal response to being attacked.

    I mostly see border collies with it. But lots of other breeds. The trouble with your dog is she is scary to look at and could probably do serious damage very quickly - so it is worth preventing the possibility of an attack or the need to defend.

    Muzzling the dog, is a signal to other dog owners that your dog bites or probably bites and most of them will do the right thing and keep their dog away. I would if I saw the dog was muzzled. But I might also put Frosty on lead and have a discussion with the owner from a safe distance about why the dog is muzzled.

    We should all get permission up front for our dog to approach an on-lead dog, muzzled or not, but even I fail there. If my dog wants to say hello, I let her approach and watch to see how the other dog and owner respond. If they look upset or freaked out, I call her back and she comes (phew). But she is such a grovel dog, she always stops a couple of metres out and rolls over, which defuses the situation for a fear aggressive dog.

    But some dogs are just plain aggressive and would attack her anyway, and the owner's response and watchfulness is usually a dead giveaway that I need to get Frosty back, right now.

    However loads of owners - don't have that kind of control and their dogs go zooming up and get bitten. And it happens really quickly.

    So best to muzzle and avoid trouble. The standard response is - if you know your dog might bite then you should have it muzzled - even if it's the other dog - usually a little harmless looking one - that did the wrong thing by harassing yours. Not fair but that's how it goes.

    So you need to get your dog used to the muzzle. The usual way to do this is let her sniff it and put treats inside of it so she's keen to stick her face in it. And do this a few times before you try to put it on her. Then put it on, take it off and loads of treats etc. Like you train a dog trick.

    Once you have her comfortable in the muzzle - do you let her off lead? Well that depends a lot on what other dogs are around.

    There is a whippet that visits our local oval that is muzzled because his idea of fun is to bite the tails of GSDs so they will chase him. And this can make the GSD fear aggressive. They see a whippet coming and go into attack mode - bad. But there is no issue with other dogs attacking the whipppet - because it is so fast, most of them give up.

    My dog knows a secret though - whippets have no stamina. But though she can out last a whippet and catch it this way, my dog does not take advantage, and she and the muzzled whippet do a couple of zoomies and that's it.

    You are going to need to introduce your dog to the other dog owners and their dogs and basically get their consent before you let your dog off. You are going to need to have perfect recall, ie she's going to need to come back to you even in the face of an aggressive SWF. And you are going to need to be super vigilant and spot any new dog in the park / area before your dog does, and then start with proper introductions. This is more to make sure she doesn't get attacked when/because she can't defend herself properly.

    About the approach and retreat plan. It's good but you need to be super vigilant about reading your dog and the other dog.

    So you approach and the minute your dog seems interested in a not so friendly way, maybe hackles? Tail right up? Before the growl or lunge even happens, turn away. If she takes up the slack in the lead turn away, you need to be able to approach on a loose lead. A tight lead will increase her anxiety and likeliness to attack. If you actually loosen off, she will be calmer. Reward for attention on you, and reward a loose lead, starting at a distance and work up to closer slowly with lots of retreats as needed.

    It helps if the dogs you practice with to start with are grovel dogs aka Omega dogs with no desire to be boss dog.

    At a seminar I went to in May - I volunteered my dog as the dog to be approached because she is such a grovel dog. It worked beautifully for the first dog and my dog sat still - good. And they got to say hello eventually. The second dog, was a farm dog heeler x too, and after the third or fourth approach Frosty turned her head towards it and it growled, and Frosty went upside down instantly - all she wanted to do was say hello and couldn't wait. But she also had the right response for a fearful dog, upside down is completely non threatening and reassures the other dog. Another dog might react aggressively "you started it and I'm not backing down" (common with bull breeds and some terriers). That's the wrong dog to work with on fear aggression. You need a "grovel dog".

    Usually when I meet an owner who says their dog is fearful. Frosty is already in grovel, and their dog is usually showing interest, so I stop Frosty from approaching further and encourage the owner to give their dog a bit of slack so it can make its own decision about whether it wants to approach or not. Frosty has never been bitten by one of these dogs, they always back off as their first option if they have the slack to do so, given that Frosty is in the least threatening position possible for a dog.

    Hope that helps.

    If you are in need of a grovel dog, we could probably help.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2009


    Judge I sent you an email, if your address has changed let me know, but really it has all been so beautifully put by Choppa and Hyacinth already.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2009


    ive got the exact same issue with my sheppie! one bad experience with another dog and the switch has definatley been clicked!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Memphis TN USA

    Default Pavlov

    Hi JTBNTD,

    Sorry to hear of your problems. I am new here and have not gotten off to a good start, but I joined to learn and to offer helpful advice when I can, so here goes .

    I like the suggestions in the other replies, especially the loose lead comments and tips for desensitizing your dog to a muzzle.

    Fear related aggression is an involuntary behavior. At the sight of some dogs, Bailey’s immune system kicks into fight flight freeze mode. One cannot change an involuntary response with reinforcers or punishers. I.e. you can’t give me $500 to make me calm (lower my heart rate and respiration rate) at the dentist’s office (assuming I was terrified of dentists ). Neither can you hit me with a stick and make me relax. Immediate consequences do nothing to change involuntary behaviors. Of course you can change my voluntary, observable reactions to the fear, but you wouldn’t really change my perception (underlying cause for the reactive behaviors) of the dentist visit.

    So, before she can interact with dogs off leash, you’ll need to change her initial involuntary response to the sight and approach of other dogs. To accomplish this, you will arrange very controlled practice sessions and use classical or Pavlovian conditioning. Once you’ve changed the initial response, you can use rewards for polite, voluntary behaviors.

    Here are instructions for changing your dog’s initial perception to the sight and presence of other dogs. Once you’ve done this (with all dogs safely leashed), you can set up actual play sessions with very dog-friendly dogs - and muzzle -as Hyacinth suggested. The largest obstacle for following this plan is setting up these sessions with other people and dogs. Hyacinth’s offer to help with her dog is a real treasure!

    Find the distance where your dog can see other dogs (which are the triggers for the involuntary behaviors) but not react with “out of control” barking, lunging, et cetera. I’ll refer to this distance as the threshold for reactivity. It may be 400 yards or 20 feet. It will change depending on the environment, your dog’s current emotional or physical state, or any number of factors.

    The threshold is fluid, not static. You’ll need to find the threshold every time you start a practice session. Whatever it is right now, this distance or threshold will become shorter and shorter as you practice. You’ll always start each session outside the threshold.

    Set up the Practice Session
    For this step you’ll need the help of others. Their jobs will be to present the trigger outside the threshold, move a few steps closer and then move back outside the threshold. With each cycle of exposure, they will walk their dog a few steps closer - and then return to a distance that is not threatening to your dog.

    For instance, for the first cycle, they walk 2 steps towards you and Bailey, turn around and take 2 steps back to the threshold. The next cycle they walk 4 steps towards you and Baily, turn around, and walk only 3.5 steps back to the new threshold. Each cycle they will be just a bit closer before they turn around and walk away. And the new starting point will always be just a bit nearer than before. If Bailey starts to react, your helpers will adjust the starting and turning around distance. Bailey’s success will determine how close they get before they turn around and how far they walk away before they stop.

    If you don’t have any helpers, you can still set up the session. Go to a place where you are likely to see the triggers, such as a walking path at the park or a parking lot of a pet supply store. Get several feet off the path or away from the traffic, outside the threshold. In this scenario, you will move a few inches or feet clser to the path with each successful cycle.

    It helps if your dog is hungry. Do this before feeding time or withhold dinner and feed during these sessions.

    Change your Dog’s Perception
    Optional: Obtain a Gentle Leader head collar or a Canny Collar. Introduce your dog to the head collar and practice with the head collar, so that your dog is not distracted by wearing the head collar. Head collars make it possible to safely move or control your dog’s pulling behaviors.
    Optional: If your dog is “crazy excited” for squeaky toys or balls, get a couple of new ones and save them for these exercises. You can use the toys as rewards, or as distractions to get your dog’s attention when the triggers are too close.

    Before you start with the triggers, ask your dog to perform a few simple commands such as “here’ or “sit”. This will engage your dog to pay attention to you!

    If you are working at a park or other area without helpers, you will stand outside the threshold of a trigger. Regardless of where you are holidng these sessions, you'll always label the trigger. The instant you see the dog (or person or car - any trigger) approaching, announce the trigger. Tell your dog something like “that’s a friend or that’s a truck” and immediately feed your dog several treats. Keep feeding until the trigger has retreated and is no longer nearby.

    (If your starts barking or lunging, you are too close the the trigger, move away. If your dog starts to stare or looks like he or she might be ready to bark and lunge, command “here” and present your two finger target, or ask your dog to “look”. Either one of these commands gets the dog to look away from the trigger and focus on you. Ask your club trainer or visit for instructions about teaching these behaviors)

    This sequence is called a cycle. You will hold many cycles during a session.

    Between each cycle, give your dog a tension rest to absorb the recent events. The tension rest should be as as long as it took to perform the cycle. So, if the trigger is in sight for 10 seconds before it moves outside the threshold, the duration of the tension rest immediately after the cycle will be at least 10 seconds.

    Repeat this process for at least 20 minutes per session. Perform another cycle followed by a tension rest. The idea is to change your dog’s immediate, involuntary responses to the trigger.

    Instead of “oh no, there’s another dog, which is immediately followed by involuntary barking, fleeing, freezing or lunging (fight, flight, freeze behaviors), you want your dog’s initial involuntary response to the sight of the triggers to be anticipation of food. You are using classical conditioning to associate the trigger with the delivery of food. Your dog cannot be aggressive or fearful and salivate in anticipation of food at the same instant!

    As you progress through the session, you will notice your dog will begin to ignore the trigger and focus on you and the food as soon as you announce the trigger. Perfect. Now you can move a bit closer to the trigger and continue. The threshold is getting shorter!

    Repeat these sessions until your dog automatically looks towards you whenever a trigger is in sight. Continue to announce the triggers on routine walks, and anytime you are interacting with your dog, be it during a practice session, or not.

    Real Life Ambush
    If you get “ambushed” by a trigger during an outing, and you are not ready with several treats, kindly ask your dog to sit facing you, or to bump your two finger target. If she is too excited, move her away from the trigger and ask again. Repeat this sequence until your dog is far enough away that she will listen to your commands.

    This basic method will work with most dogs, and most reactive behaviors, however it is not as efficient as perception modification via Syn Alia Training System.

    Keep in mind, there are many factors about your relationship and your daily interactions with your dog that influence behaviors. In addition, your dog may be influenced by other dogs in the household, medical conditions, diet, nutrition, genetic and or neurological factors. If your dog constantly barks at triggers from inside the house, or fence fights with the dogs next door, the prognosis is poor.

    You’ll need to prevent your dog from practicing fear related aggression if you want to succeed!

    Happy Training!
    Last edited by Dogand; 06-26-2010 at 12:54 AM. Reason: clarification
    This dog is outfohere, catchyalater fellow dogs

    Alan J Turner- How's Bentley - Memphis TN USA

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