Jump to content
BC Boards
kilabelle

Training question on dog aggression

Recommended Posts

I have adopted an 8 year old border collie with aggression against other dogs because she has never been socialized. I can't afford a dog trainer so I am trying to train her myself with this problem. I have been walking her 4 times a day to parks so she can see other dogs being walked. We stay at a distance and we are slowly getting closer to the other dog walkers. But here is where I am confused. One training video says to use a halti or gentle leader. When she begins to show aggression, make her focus solely on me and nothing else. Don't let her look around. Then I watched this short video: http://www.brightcove.tv/title.jsp?title=2...channel=5977435

 

The trainer says the opposite because the dog in this video is a border collie.

Which is the best way? What are your experiences?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Two resources (books): "Control Unleashed" and "Click to Calm" - both address dog aggression well with positive training methods. I've also gotten a lot of use from "Feisty Fido" and "Fight!".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For my reactive dog, the key was getting him to the point where he trusted me to put him in safe situations. I did a lot of what the trainer in the video suggest: getting Buddy to sit or lie (and rewarding) in the presence of another dog. Eventually, we could be closer and closer, and he wouldn't react. He still gets tense on leash meeting dogs or off leash if the dogs are very big or scary... but he's much better.

 

I used a Gentle Leader for a while, at the recommendation of my trainer, but found out quickly that I didn't need it, because Buddy wasn't a pulling kind of a dog in any way. He's really treat-focused, so I didn't need to pull his head toward me to get his attention.

 

I'm not sure the presence or absence of a Gentle Leader will be the key. I think you're doing the right thing: gradually bringing the dog closer to other dogs, to desensitize him.

 

There are lots and lots of previous threads in this forum about how other people have handled their aggressive or reactive BCs. You can do a search for them. I second the recommendation of "Feisty Fido" and the other books, and would add a recommendation for "Bringing Light to Shadow" as a story of how to desensitize a dog to things he fears.

 

Good luck!

 

Mary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will third "Fiesty Fido", and add in "Cautious Canine" and "The other end of the leash" it's not really about dog aggression, but it may give you more insight as to why they do what they do. I have not yet read CU or CC, but they are both sitting on my counter waiting for me. I don't really know why it's suggested to use specific collars other than you have more control with them opposed to a regular flat collar. If he's good at walking on a flat collar then just use that. I think that the gentle leader (one that goes around the face) works, but I don't use it in situations where my dog may become anxious or aggressive because the other dogs can not properly see any signals she's giving them. So most of the time I just use a harness that attaches to the leash in the front or her flat collar. If you are introducing known triggers at a slow rate then it shouln't really matter what kind of collar you are using because the dog shouldn't be getting to the "freak out" point. If we are walking somewhere I know there will be dog activity, I only let daisy get as close as she can handle and then switch directions quick and offer a treat. Of course this isn't always possible, so I am getting good and making her stop and offer a couple of tricks or I will just place my body in between her and the other dog.

 

Good Luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Two resources (books): "Control Unleashed" and "Click to Calm" - both address dog aggression well with positive training methods.

 

I love these two books to death. Both have helped our dog aggressive golden immensely. They really are great! Some other authors you should look into are Jean Donaldson, Patricia McConnell, and Turid Rugaas. They have all really helped me understand dog behavior.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've seen that video before. I came across it by accident one day. I found it so amusing that I sent it to my friend who is a CPDT. The good doctor's rationale that the head halter is the cause of the dog's aggression because the dog is a herding breed is complete horse hockey. His advice to just let the aggressive dog approach the other dog is dangerous, too. It will probably work as long as the other dog has a rock solid temperament. But, if the other dog is the least bit reactive or unwilling to put up with some strange dog jumping on them, getting in their face, and basically being rude, your going to have a nice dog fight on your hands.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will just chime in on the CU and CC as great resources, and give a small antidote. Hoku has been reactive with other dogs for most of his life, and we have been working positively using the above methods. We did the county fair agility demo this weekend, and it is a high stress situation, where his triggers are all in his face. We are sooooo proud of him. A couple of out of control dogs rushed him, and he just looked to us (as we have worked so hard with him to do) and was fine. On our practice night before the fair opened, I had him tied off to a big tent on one side of the course (I was with him) and while the course was being changed for tunnelers, a woman with a HUGE intact lab-rottie or something on a prong collar was being dragged in our direction. She kept approaching us (to ask if she was in the way...duh, your right the middle of the course....), so I got up and stood between Hoku and her, asked her to please not let her dog approach Hoku. At that moment her dog lunged at us, pulled her right off her feet, and I guess that the force of her flying through the air and landing sprawled on the ground surprised him or pinched him hard enough that he stopped. Hoku just lay there, no growl, just on high alert watching me. He trusted me that I was protecting him, which is just huge for us. Last year he would have gone all Kujo on that dog.

 

I just wanted to share that the positive stuff really works for us, so keep us the good work, it's ongoing, but it really does work. Keep exposing your dog at levels under his threshold, but keep exposing him, that is the key I think. When Hoku is home for to long a time without dog exposure, he regresses to that hard mouth and grumbling. Can you enroll in an agility or some kind of fun class where you will be with other dogs in a controlled environment? It has also really helped to learn to read his body language, and Turid Rugaas's book and especially the video was extremely helpful. When I can read that he is approaching his threshold, I can move him away (space, or the lack of it, is his main trigger) or distract him so that he doesn't go over the line to that unreachable place of fear and reaction. Good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kila is improving. I find that when we are walking and there are small dogs that seem friendly, the owner will allow me to get real close for a sniff encounter. So far we got to know and play with 4 separate small dogs on our walk. She smelled them and was satisfied that they were no a threat, so she relaxed and was OK.

 

But here is where I am confused. We were walking by an old senior white lab on a leash. The dog was 15 years old, walked real slow with a slight limp from arthritis and was partially blind. It completely ignored kila. The owner gave me permission to approach. When kila slowly approached she began to try to nip this poor dog. After several tries, we decided she was not going to be friendly so we left. Why would she do that. This dog was anything but threatening. She did this to a friendly older golden retriever too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kila is improving. I find that when we are walking and there are small dogs that seem friendly, the owner will allow me to get real close for a sniff encounter. So far we got to know and play with 4 separate small dogs on our walk. She smelled them and was satisfied that they were no a threat, so she relaxed and was OK.

 

But here is where I am confused. We were walking by an old senior white lab on a leash. The dog was 15 years old, walked real slow with a slight limp from arthritis and was partially blind. It completely ignored kila. The owner gave me permission to approach. When kila slowly approached she began to try to nip this poor dog. After several tries, we decided she was not going to be friendly so we left. Why would she do that. This dog was anything but threatening. She did this to a friendly older golden retriever too.

 

Sometimes you never know what sets a dog off. Our golden reacts strongly to a lot of dogs, but there is no clear pattern to what type of dogs he reacts to. Its really strange... There must be something about these dogs that we can't see that is somehow threatening or scary to them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
When kila slowly approached she began to try to nip this poor dog. After several tries, we decided she was not going to be friendly so we left. Why would she do that. This dog was anything but threatening. She did this to a friendly older golden retriever too.

 

What is so valuable about reading some of the aforementioned books recommended (I've read CC and Other End of the Leash after I adopted a dog with aggression issues) is that they teach you how to "read" your dog and recognize how she is feeling before she triggers. Your dog may have been sending you signals that she was not OK with the dog you approached, and if you aren't well versed in her "language" you will miss these cues. When you consider that 95% of what dogs communicate is through posture and body language, there's a whole lot of communication going on that we may be missing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I gave up trying to figure out why Buddy likes some dogs and hates others. I just got really good at reading Buddy's signals about whether he wants to meet nice or not. :rolleyes:

 

If there's an unliked dog near us, Buddy will give all kinds of signals that he doesn't want to approach. He'll walk off to the side of the path and get really interested in the bushes. He'll keep walking but move as far away from the other dog as possible. If I stop to chat, he'll pull to the end of his 16-foot Flexi leash and look away from all of us. All these things are avoidance signals, telling me that Buddy is tense. I learned that from reading a lot of books - oh, and also watching "Calming Signals", the DVD by Turid Rugaas (not previously mentioned).

 

Meanwhile, if there's a "cool" dog coming, Buddy will look alertly toward the other dog, tugging his leash a bit to get closer, tail up and wagging. This isn't a guarantee the meeting will always go well: the other dog can still do something to set him off. But I can generally see if the excited-meet stance relaxes into friendship or stiffens into fear. Again, it's something the dog tells with his body language before he goes to be snappy.

 

I'd say that if your dog is trying to tell you he doesn't want to meet, don't force it. Maybe it's enough that he's near the other dog and relatively calm. I think that contributes to his feeling like you're in control and giving him safety - you're not putting him in a situation he can't yet handle. Closer and closer meetings can happen eventually, but they don't have to happen with every single dog, every single day. I'm not sure my dog will ever get excited to see a boxer, but we can survive without having boxer friends.

 

Mary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Learning how to read your dog is absolutely amazing to be honest. I can actually tell if Daisy is going to be ok with someone petting her, or if she's had enough of someone petting her just by the position of her lips. I'm no pro of course, but figuring it out is better for you and the dog in the long run. Who knows why your dog didn't like those other two, maybe it was the limp that set him off, maybe the dog is old and there was something else wrong with him that she could sense, perhaps she is comming to know that small dogs are ok, but still unsure of big dogs. They need to be socialized to every size, shape, colour etc. Daisy has a HUGE problem with boxers, black dogs and small white dogs. Boxers and black dogs are a mystery to me, but she's been bitten by 3 small dogs, 2 were white, so I get that one!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...