|Barked: Tue Mar 19, '13 11:53pm PST |
|It's much, much, much, much, much easier to address reactivity issues when they first crop up than when they've been going on for years. So, good job there!
One thing you can do is find a spot where you can watch dogs go by. Ideally you want to be at a distance where she notices the other dogs but doesn't freeze up, lunge, growl, or bark. Every time she sees a dog, give her a really good treat as soon as she disengages from the dog by looking at you, sitting or lying down, going to sniff something, looking away from the dog, or any other relaxed or comfortable behavior. Once she understands the game, you can move a little closer each session, as long as she continues to be calm. Since right now she only has a mild negative association with other dogs, this will start to teach her that other dogs are good. For right now, step off the sidewalk when other dogs walk by and don't let her greet other dogs up close.
Another thing I would absolutely do if I were raising a pit puppy is to reward calming signals. I would carry treats in my pocket and give them out any time I saw a yawn or lip lick.
Once you've worked up to where you're treating very close to other dogs, allow her to meet dogs on leash only when the owners say it's ok and the body language of the other dog is exceptionally friendly- look for loose muscles, wiggling rather than freezing, and a tail that wags in a wide arc. If you have any doubt, wait for the next dog. This will help insure that the experiences she has with other dogs are positive ones.
You might want to check out some books- Behavior Adjustment Training and Scaredy Dog are good places to start.
I agree that fear or aggression around other dogs can be completely unrelated to human aggression, and it really is often fixable, especially in the early stages when there's no bite history.
If she's spending time in an outdoor kennel, make sure she can't see or hear other dogs, since being caged or tied out around other dogs is the most common cause of aggression (she can't run away, so when she's scared she puts on an aggressive display)
Also keep in mind that there are soft, comfortable muzzles that allow panting and feeding treats. When introduced properly, these should cause her no stress at all. It's important to be able to take her around other dogs for socialization.
Here are some links that should be helpful.
Edited by author Wed Mar 20, '13 12:00am PST
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