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Leash aggression...

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
Zimmer

1278793
 
 
Barked: Sat Jan 12, '13 1:43pm PST 
A few weeks back, my rescued GSD, Zimmer, was attacked at the fence-line of a dog park by another large (larger than Zimmer) dog. Ever since, Zimmer has been aggressive towards other dogs. If he's off leash, he's fine (if the dog is smaller than him), but when he's on leash and we're out for a walk, he begins to do his "scary bark" which turns into a borderline snarl. His tail is wagging, but I know that doesn't mean he's happy/excited about the situation.

While he knows "leave it", actually getting him to leave it when out on a walk is another story. I was told by my trainer to always bring his favorite squeaky ball with me to redirect his attention back to me, but this morning he paid no attention to me, or the ball. I had to actually grab him by the collar and turn him around to walk in the opposite direction. I know that his aggression could be a reflection of my feelings, so I always try to remain calm in situations like these, but it is a little nerve-wracking.

He just seems to be getting worse. It used to be just the big dogs he'd have a fit about, now he's become aggressive towards the smaller dogs. It's scary. I feel like I won't be able to take him anywhere without the constant fear that he may, one day, lunge and attack another dog...

Any thoughts on what I should/could do?
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Squ'mey

too old to eat- any more KD
 
 
Barked: Sat Jan 12, '13 5:36pm PST 
"I was told by my trainer to always bring his favorite squeaky ball with me to redirect his attention back to me, but this morning he paid no attention to me, or the ball. I had to actually grab him by the collar and turn him around to walk in the opposite direction. I know that his aggression could be a reflection of my feelings, so I always try to remain calm in situations like these, but it is a little nerve-wracking."
Your trainer gave you good advice, but your intuition to go the other way when the toy didn't work was also smart. If he is over his threshold he is not able to pay attention to you.
There is nothing wrong in getting out of the situation. The fewer times Zimmer gets to practice the over reacting, the better. And you're right..if you are tense, he will feel that, so it is soo important to stay calm, yourself. Not easy..I know..Squam can be a total turd so I've been where you are.
Try putting direction changes into your walk routine. That way it encourages Zimmer to focus on you, in case you turn around, or stop suddenly. Whenever possible try to move forward. Pay attention to Zimmer's body language..his ears, tail, posture. When you see anything that means he is *targetting, that is when you squeak the toy.
You want him to realize that he can trust you to deal with any situation.

I sent you a p-mail smile

Edited by author Sat Jan 12, '13 5:42pm PST

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Opheila

It ain't over- till the fat- kitty sings
 
 
Barked: Sat Jan 12, '13 7:40pm PST 
I'm sure you'll get alot of good advice on how to redirect and eventually solve the problem, in the meantime maybe a soft harness like the Petco Comfort would help you feel safer than just a collar. Best of luck
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Smokey

Let's play tug!!
 
 
Barked: Sun Jan 13, '13 12:13am PST 
It's really good news that you asked for help so soon. Problems are infinitely easier to fix after a couple of weeks than after a couple of years.

Is it financially feasible for you to have a few sessions with a trainer? here’s a place called pawsitive tails that mentions being reward based and being comfortable with aggression.

If you need to do things on your own, I found the book BAT really helpful.

You also might try the look at that game

Simple counterconditioning (pairing dogs with treats) may be a huge help, since you're catching it so early. Make every effort to keep your dog under threshold (far enough away that he's interested in the other dog, but not freezing, staring, growling, or lunging) and feed him really good treats- think pepperoni and cheese. For right now, it is much more important that you work on the reactivity than that he gets long walks. Try to exercise him in a way that doesn't stress him out, and make walks quick so that you can stay focused and keep him calm.
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Sabi

When the night- closes in I will- be there
 
 
Barked: Sun Jan 13, '13 7:59am PST 
I agree with Squ'mey, sometimes its just time to get out. My walks with Shadow cannot be planned as on any given walk we may have to vacate 6-7 areas. Once your dog has reached that point, no distraction or redirection is going to work. I can tell you that better then half of the Shepherds I have lived with and known are not social butterflies. They do well with their family but are not fans of strange, rude dogs. And I have met far fewer of them who would willingly turn the other cheek. A lot of them struggle with leash aggression and to some extent that is complicated by the fact that they are for the most part an instintively protective breed. You need to back up a bit. If you have a friend with a dog that's helpful. When you are out on walks and see another dog, watch Zimmer. As soon as he stiffens or starts to stress, before he flips out, turn around and go the other way. When he settles reward him. You may need a lot of distance to start, but you should be able to slowly bring the distance down. Another trick I find useful is as soon as Shadow sees a strange dog we start running obedience exercises, heeling figure 8's mostly and speed changes, stuff that forces her focus back to me.
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Zimmer

1278793
 
 
Barked: Thu Jan 17, '13 2:02pm PST 
Thank you all so much for your input! I really appreciate it.

I just wanted to give a quick update on Zimmer: He seems to be doing better with his leash aggression already, which I feel is kind of like a miracle. I don't know if it was just a fluke brought on by his not-so-friendly encounter with the other GSD at the dog park, but he hasn't growled or snarled or done his "scary bark" for the last few days whenever he came into contact with other dogs. Yesterday he was happily playing with several different dogs (a Labradoodle, another GSD [YAY!], and a Pit mix) for nearly an hour at the park all of whom he met before while on the leash. I watched for any signs of aggression, but he exhibited none of his usual behavior. I did a bit of LAT with him, but in the end, he seemed OK and so I let him off the leash and that was that. We didn't have any problems for the next hour. I breathed a sigh of relief because I feel like we're taking a real step in the right direction.
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Squ'mey

too old to eat- any more KD
 
 
Barked: Thu Jan 17, '13 2:54pm PST 
way to go Zimmer. That is great news. Keep up the good work..whatever you're doing, it seems to be doing the trick.snoopy
We had a great walk today..we were charged by an offleash cocker. I put dogs behind me, let out a mighty roar that stopped the rush. Thank goodness the owner was right there washing his car. He gathered his dog, so I thanked him & told him it was not his dog, but mine, & I can not afford any extra vet bills laugh out loud Not even a lip curl from Squ'mey.doghappy dance
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Dylan aka- Dilly

frisbee- s rule
 
 
Barked: Thu Jan 17, '13 3:55pm PST 
welcome back Squ`mey
and good job. I would not have done so well
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