|Barked: Tue May 28, '13 5:13pm PST |
|They sound a lot like my mom's dogs. They were from a semi-hoarding situation. Something like 10 or 15 dogs, bullied somewhat by the other dogs, not socialized much, healthy but no vet care, and fearful of most people.
I'd work on some slooooooow counterconditioning. How fast you go will depend on them, and you might find, like with my mom's dogs, that one is much braver than the other, and need to do it separately (also may be a good idea to prevent fighting over treats or one not getting any). But to give a rough sketch, maybe:
Day 1, show them their new harnesses, and give high value treats, like little pieces of deli turkey, for sniffing them. If you have to sit across the room and use your most relaxed body language, that's fine. Say "yep!" in your happiest rainbow-sunshine-butterfly-unicorn voice and toss the treats over. Even if they wait to eat them until you leave, receiving them was still reinforcing. Aim for 2 or 3 sessions a day of less than 5 minutes each. Day 2, sit at half the distance and do the same thing. Day 3, lift the harnesses off the ground, "yep!" treat, repeat. Day 4, lift the harnesses and make the tiniest bit of contact with their noses or backs, etc, etc.
By the way, head collars are a no-go for reactive dogs who lunge and twist. They can cause neck damage. If they're strong, I'd use front-clip harnesses, and otherwise regular/mesh harnesses. Making it uncomfortable to pull tends to cause even more of a negative conditioned association with other dogs, but if it's necessary for safety, so be it. You may also be ok with a regular harness if you get one of the Kong traffic leashes with the giant padded handles so you don't get rope burn.
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