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Advice on how to control an aggressive dog on walks

Discussion in 'Dog Behaviour and Training' started by ShihTzu0217, Apr 25, 2018.

  1. ShihTzu0217

    ShihTzu0217 New Member Registered

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    My 1 year old Shih Tzu gets agressive towards other dogs while on walks. This started around last November it has not been a constant thing. He went to puppy training classes from May - July last year had no problems with him there. He is fine with dogs he knows there are dogs around the area that he has seen regularly since he was a puppy and is well behaved with them it is just new dogs he gets agressive with. Usually we try to walk him at times where we know it will not be busy and if we do see another dog in the distance we use a clicker and give him a treat so he associates dogs with something positive but if there is a dog coming towards us we try to cross the road or turn around but he will not move he drops to the floor and lays down waiting for the dog and when the dog walks past he tries to lunge at the dog and starts barking like crazy we ignore him and wait until he has stopped barking to carry on the walk. But once he is in that zone you cannot distract him with anything his focus is just on the dog we have tried offering all sorts of treats and jumping up and down to get his attention but he won’t budge. He started going to doggy daycare in February once a week and he is totally fine there they asses all dogs and make sure they fit into the group and he really enjoys it there! At doggy daycare he is off lead as it is in an enclosed farm. We don’t not take him off the lead while we walk him as we are unsure how he will react if he sees another dog in the park. We use a long lead so he can run free and if we need to grab him we can but we went to a enclosed picnic area in a park and let him off the lead in there to practice recall and a lady with her dog came into the enclosed area to walk through and he ran straight to the dog and tried to attack. Any advice on how we can train him to stop the aggressive barking and lunging and maybe how we can get him to not take notice of dogs at all when he is on walks?
     
  2. Mad Murphy

    Mad Murphy Well-Known Member Registered

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    I cant offer any great training advice but what I can do is say you get a gold star from me for trying and looking for advice. Far too many small dog owners dont. They think the macho behaviour of their dogs is funny.

    Near us is a JRT who has attacked Murphy several times, even drawing blood. Problem is Murphy is now grown up and he now starts to grumble if he sees this dog, I know if the owner lets the JRT off and it goes for Murphy again there will be big trouble and not for Murphy..

    The only reason the owner keeps his dog online now is because last time I got the police involved..

    (sorry for the rant but this is what happens when owners dont do as you are and look for ways to stop Macho behaviour in little dogs)
     
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  3. ShihTzu0217

    ShihTzu0217 New Member Registered

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    Thank you I don’t want it to carry on as it’s stressful for my dog and the dogs and people around him. I think this behaviour might of been triggered when he was a pup around 7 months old when I would take him for walks at a certain park (I go to a different one now) dogs off lead would come out of no where and jump on top of him trying to play of course that’s quite frightening for a small dog so I don’t know if that’s triggered some sort of fear in him now. I know it can be sorted it takes time but he will understand in the end
     
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  4. arealhuman

    arealhuman Well-Known Member Registered

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    I think this is a fear response, my dog exhibits similar behaviour and we do almost exactly as you do in order to avoid other dogs, and we always keep him on the lead. With dogs he knows and passes regularly, he's generally OK, but will bark at others. We do what you do to get him to stop barking (I don't use the clicker now though as I carry too many things). If you search on some of my posts, and those of @doggie1, you will see some good advice. In my new-to-owning-dogs opinion, you might get to the point where he's as good as he's going to get - we've tried a couple of trainers with varying levels of success.
     
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  5. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    He may well have got a fright in his second fear period that has triggered this. You have picked up on the very key issue that is distance.

    He will have an invisible radius of space around him where he feels secure . It is called flight distance and anything within that safe radius triggers the flight or fight response that you may be familiar with. When another dog gets into his safe zone, he can't get away so has to put on a big display of 'I'm big and scary, don't mess with me'. And that's the lunging and snapping.

    Find out what his safe radius is and keep him far enough away from other dogs that he is relaxed. Sitting on a bench in an open space is ideal. Reward his calm behaviour. Keep practicing with as many repetitions as possible, even asking dog owners to give you space as you are training him. Gradually, over weeks and months, not days, work on reducing the distance. But - be aware that if your dog has had a stressful episode the stress hormone can stay in the body for up to 48 hours so a distance he was comfortable with the day before might be too close that day. So the safe distance can change, watch his body language. And, maybe don't even start the training until he has had a couple of calm days, if necessary after garden exercise only.

    Avoid narrow paths or places where you could suddenly meet a dog, that could upset your training.

    Trainers describe behaviour like this with reference to the three Ds. Distance, as above but also be aware of Duration (your dog might be tolerant for 10 seconds, but not 15) and Distraction - how distracting the stimulus is; a calm dog might not trigger any reaction at a given distance but a bouncy one might.
    Alongside that you could train a 'watch me'. As your dog looks at you, mark and reward the behaviour. Ask for longer periods of watching. Then if a dog approaches, after you have worked on the distance issue, you can get your dog to focus on you and not the other dog. BUT - some dogs find this scary as they cannot see the thing they are anxious about so you need to judge your dog.
     
  6. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    @JoanneF, did you post a link to a video where a dog on lead was trained to respond to their owner's movements and stick with them? I'm wondering whether this could be helpful in encouraging the dog to turn away from the trigger rather than lie down and plant herself? Obviously it's better never to get that close in the first place but some dogs are always going to appear when you're not expecting it.
     
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  7. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Maybe this one?

     
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  8. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    Yup, that's the one:)
     
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  9. ShihTzu0217

    ShihTzu0217 New Member Registered

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    Thank you for the advice I will have a look at those posts!
     
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  10. ShihTzu0217

    ShihTzu0217 New Member Registered

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    Thank you this was really helpful especially about the stress hormone staying in the body. Me and family have been doing a lot of research and your explanation is probably the best we’ve seen.
     
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  11. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Oh, thank you!
     
  12. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    .

    Along with teaching "Let's go!", AKA 'Emergency U-turn' - which is taught at home, away from other dogs -- i'd suggest something that provides better physical management of the dog.

    I've no idea what sort of collar / harness & leash combo U currently use, but i'd get a simple sturdy Y-harness - 2 straps go over the shoulders from the girth, & connect to 1 strap going between the forelegs, which also attaches to the girth-strap - from below.
    Any brand will do - it needs to fit well, with box-stitching everywhere 2 straps cross [a fixed point needs box-stitch; if a loop is made by one strap going AROUND another, rather than a fixed point that needs box-stitch, it's mobile]. Look for harnesses with a minimum of 3 adjustments [at least 1 buckle, plus either buckles or slides]. FIVE adjustment points is great! - it can be adjusted to fit any dog.

    this is a tried-&-true harness -
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/PetSafe-Surefit-Harness-Small-Purple/dp/B00606XU00

    the big difference is WHERE U clip the leash: it's attached at the chest, & if U buy a Sure-Fit, there's a handy metal ring that's perfect for the purpose. :) Now U can control not only how far away the dog is, but keeping Ur hands low & wrists / arms straight, U can easily convert the dog's forward momentum to an arcing curve toward U.
    If the dog is to yer left, they curve right when they pull, or when U put tension on the leash; if they're to yer right, they curve to their [& Ur] left when the leash goes taut. There is very little force exerted ON the dog by a front-clip harness, & it also requires very little work [in the physics sense] on the handler's part - U don't need to use brute force to control the dog, & U don't need brute strength to do it, either.
    A front-clip harness improves Ur body-mechanics, & simultaneously reduces the dog's leverage. Win-win! :)

    - terry

    .
     
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  13. Flobo

    Flobo Active Member Registered Partner

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    The Miniature Pinscher I walk sometimes, has this problem, I worked out his trigger distance as said above and just before we reach it I distract him by calling him all excitedly and get his attention with a treat, I usually manage to keep his attention on me and the treat until we have passed the dog successfully, then he gets treat and a lot of praise! This still only mostly works with him , being able to pass or approach just some dogs is a good walk! Good luck!;)
     
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  14. ShihTzu0217

    ShihTzu0217 New Member Registered

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    Thank you!
     
  15. ShihTzu0217

    ShihTzu0217 New Member Registered

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    Thank you! Made some progress with him on todays lunch time walk more dogs were out than usual about 4 at once as soon as we stepped out the house in the distance and across the road but managed to get his attention and distract him before he started barking. Even managed to distract him when 2 dogs behind us started barking at him. So at least we had one successful walk today:)
     
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  16. Flobo

    Flobo Active Member Registered Partner

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    Brilliant! :)
     
  17. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Just another thought. I was watching the Problem Pets programme on BBC and one of the behaviourists used a technique called lead stroking. She basically formed an O with her forefinger and thumb and ran that up and down the lead, about a foot each way, taking about a second for each direction, several times. She said it calmed the dog. Now, I have never heard of it before so I can't offer it as 'advice' but I can't imagine it doing any harm so it could be worth a shot. It was episode 1 with Pupagano if you want to catch it on i-Player.
     
  18. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    Hmm. // If i ask my partner to look at a photo of my dog while we're out walking, & send calm, happy feelings, i'd expect it to be about as reliably effective. :rolleyes:

    Did said behaviorist continue to *walk* while stroking the lead up & down, or was she standing in place?

    - terry

    .
     
  19. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    It was while walking - and I was a bit sceptical too but she is actually quite a well respected behaviouist in the UK and the tv programme was well made - not one of those that has me wanting to scream at the tv after two minutes. And there have been plenty of these.
     
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  20. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    The trainer was Sarah Fisher, a Tellington Touch practitioner. I'm sceptical too, both about the lead stroking and TTouch (beyond what basic massage can achieve). To me, a gentle vibration coming down the lead means that Jasper's letting out a subsonic growl and I need to move him away from the other dog:eek: But still, it's worth a try and even if it does work by relaxing the owner and that being communicated to the dog, every little helps!
     

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