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Rescue French Bulldog with a problem

Discussion in 'Dog Behaviour and Training' started by Flobo, May 19, 2018.

  1. Flobo

    Flobo Well-Known Member Registered Partner

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    I recently had this dog staying with me, I mentioned in another post that she is 2 years old, came from Bulgaria as a pup, has had a litter and is on her 4th home. This home desperately want to make this work, she has now been spayed and has settled beautifully with their 2 older Shih Tzu's(who usually stay with me). The problem they are having is her aggression to other dogs when they are out. She was with me for 2 weeks while they were away (she was fine with Jake)and I found that when we were out over the hills, or wherever, she met other dogs really well, I used my long line with her and had no problems.. and she was meeting groups of dogs or single dogs. But if I walked her along the road any dog she saw she kicked off at, I found it hard to find her trigger point, as with street walking dogs appear around corners or on the other side of the road and she was on guard the minute they came into view( usually we both spotted them at the same time!). I kept the lead loose, talked to her in my 'happy' voice, tried super treats but nothing would distract her,she was on a mission. I tried changing direction but she also wouldn't have that, in the end I was moving her so her back was to the on coming dog,preventing her from seeing them, and crouching down with her, and using my body to prevent her turning, all the while talking to her in a relaxed manner, after a couple of times of doing this we could walk on without her obbsessing about said dog.. But is this dealing with the issue? Her owners want me to walk her once a week now to try and help, but I am not a trainer or behaviourist, I generally work with my dogs on a one to one basis through experience, instinct and common sense! Any suggestions would be gratefully received.. She is a total sweetheart and I really want to give her the best chance possible in her new home but they are struggling. She picked up 'come', 'this way' and 'wait'(we have to wait for Jake!), just in the 2 weeks I had her, she is a bright little dog. ( though the owner thought she'd try clicker training at home but forgot about the parrot who picked it up in a heartbeat and now just causes confusion unfortunately!!)..
     
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  2. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    The parrot copying the clicker made me laugh!

    Ideally, as you said, you'd find the trigger point and avoid getting that close, but I'm sure you'd be doing that if you could. When you say she's 'on guard', is she just very alert and watching the other dog, or actively kicking off, lunging, barking, etc.?

    I'm not an expert, but I'm thinking of Jasper and cats. When he was younger treats and cajoling wouldn't work, or asking for a sit, or even saying 'NO!!!!', and trying to pull him on could result in him redirecting onto me. Sometimes just seeing the cat would make him redirect onto me. So I tended to do what was really my only option - I would hold on tight, not say or do anything, and wait for him to calm down. Then when he did calm down, I praised/treated him, and we'd walk on. This did work, eventually - I think the cats almost became boring as he accepted he couldn't get to them, so he effectively taught himself to self-contol. I still would turn and walk the other way if I saw a cat up ahead, but we can pass them in driveways with no problem.

    So if you're able to calm her, or wait till she calms herself, I think this is good, and should help in the long term. Do reward her when she's calmed herself down, but don't be in too much of a hurry because she might still be on a knife edge and the interruption to 'walking on calmly' might tip her over the edge again.

    But any time you do see a dog who is far enough away for her to be calm, do still reinforce her calm behaviour. 'Look at That' Look at That! A Counterintuitive Approach to Dealing with Reactive Dogs and behaviour adjustment therapy Need help training your dog? Learn all the best methods! ar/Behavior_Adjustment_Training.html are worth checking out if you're not already familiar with them.
     
  3. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    re MARKER training - she doesn't need to use a clicker or any audible marker that the bird is likely to mimic; i doubt her parrot can use a mini-LED penlight, :D , & that's a fine marker, it works even in daylight so long as U're within 10-ft of the dog & point it toward their visual field.
    She can also use a thumbs-up hand signal, again inaudible & not something the bird can mimic.

    re the dog's behavior, U need to reduce her visual stimuli at close quarters; i'd buy a Calming Cap & pre-condition it so she wears it happily indoors & outside at home, & in her home's immediate area - only then would i take it "on the road".
    2nd, i'd silence her own tags & the tags of any dog she walks with - that distinctive jingle sets other dogs up to start scanning for approaching dogs long B4 they arrive, & as all behavior is a conversation, THEIR reaction to Ur dog & to her will also provoke further reactions from the dogs U are handling.

    3rd, i'd start working with her at places with loads of dog-traffic & long, long sightlines - pet-supply stores, vet clinics, groomers, anyplace with a big parking-area where U can be 50-ft or more from the passing k9s.
    Stage 1:
    Begin by using classical conditioning - Open Bar / Closed Bar: every time another dog is in view or audible in any way, feed feed feed... as soon as that dog is out of sight / earshot, NO MORE FOOD. // The tidbits are pea-sized or half-pea size & can be any fresh or freeze-dried or canned / pouch protein - diced lean beef or chkn-breast, trky brst, freeze dried tripe or whitefish, canned mackerel / pouch tuna / canned water-pack sardines, freeze dried beef liver or lamb-lung, etc.
    The DOG DOES NOTHING TO "EARN" THE FOOD - the presence or absence of her trigger determines when she's fed [dog/s present] or not fed [no dogs visible or audible]. Even if she's barking like a fool, IF DOGS CAN BE SEEN OR HEARD, she's fed a nonstop string of small high-value tidbits. This is NON-contingent.

    Stage 2:
    Once she's looking at U fairly consistently, expecting her goody when she sees / hears a dog - at least 3 times out of 4 dogs seen / heard --- U can begin stage 2: every time a dog hoves into sight or can be heard, reward any or all desired behaviors, which to start with are ANYthing that's "not reacting". She sits? - mark / treat. Stands quietly? M / t. Looks at them, then U? M / t.
    Anything, everything, is rewardable.
    Walking her side-on to the other dogs, at a 90' angle to their P.O.V., helps her to display non-threat body-language & she'll get less provocative responses in turn - plus, MOVING is always easier & less upsetting for a stressed dog, vs standing or sitting or holding any pose whatever. // Rewards now are contingent on her own behavior - it may take a month or more to get this far, it depends upon the handler's speed of delivery, timing [as soon as a dog is seen / heard BY THE DOG, she's got a tidbit under her nose with a palmful ready to follow that one...], the number of dogs per day [# of trials], & so on.


    In BOTH instances, noncontingent or contingent rewards, Reduce the distance between her & the other dogs only as she can calmly tolerate them, & any time there's extra stress or more distractions [a crying infant, loud auto-engine, barking dog locked in a car, a plane overhead...] MOVE BACK a bit, then move up when it stops.
    U cannot make it go faster; U can only follow the dog's lead, & go as they get better.
    Note the distance daily at the start & end of the session, & start a bit further back at the start of the next day - then move closer as she gets more into the B-Mod. [E-g, she ended the session w/i 30-ft of the pet-shop door; next day, start at 40 & see how she does, & reduce it as she improves.]

    Suggestion:
    a front-clip harness will make redirecting her much easier, but for ultimate control of her eye-gaze - which is where threats & challenges begin! - i'd habituate her happily to a headcollar; the Gentle Leader is the one i've used most, altho the Halti was the commercial-model i began with [i made my own headcollar of climbing-rope, B4 that; the leash attached at the back of the dog's head, it was to prevent my puppy eating every bit of trash he saw or smelt! ]

    DAP pump-spray AKA Adaptil spray is also highly recommended, plus U can use a snug body-wrap to help her relax - Adaptil is immediate-use, but the body-wrap [Ace wrap a'la Tellington touch, or a snug t-shirt with a minimum of 10% Lycra in the fiber content, or an Anxiety-Wrap] must be pre-conditioned.

    ยป THE TELLINGTON TTOUCH BODY WRAP FOR DOGS

    Anx Wrap link: How it Works

    HTH,
    - terry

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  4. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    some explanation of T-touch & the use of obstacles, body-wraps, etc, to help dogs relax & learn -
    What to Expect

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  5. Flobo

    Flobo Well-Known Member Registered Partner

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    Many thanks, when I said she's 'on guard' I mean she plants herself solid and won't move, whilst watching very alert and as dog gets closer she starts the lunging and manic barking. I was turning her as soon as this process started (ie as soon as dog was spotted)and we waited it out.
    I will look at the Ttouch body wrap and try and find a treat that she will take when in that mode, as food seems to be the last thing she wants,at least until she's started to calm down..
    Just going to have a look at the links you both gave me, thanks again
     
  6. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    That's a sign of extreme stress. I don't have much to add, but I do have another link for you!

    Start Here - Care for Reactive Dogs
     
  7. Flobo

    Flobo Well-Known Member Registered Partner

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    Thankyou,Yes I agree, we don't know much more about her previous homes,but I don't think they were loving, teaching or nurturing environments, so I'm guessing everything she is experiencing now is very new to her and pretty scary.I am hopeful though as I said when we meet dogs on walks away from street, she has been doing really well, so I'm also hoping by having those good experiences re enforced with fuss and treats that it may eventually give her the confidence on the street too?? I have to get my ferrets out now, Sid has just launched his waterbottle off the cage as I am late! Will check out the link you gave me later,;)
     
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  8. arealhuman

    arealhuman Well-Known Member Registered

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    I have plenty of experience of this! Once they're in the zone, there's nothing you can do that will get them out of it until the other dog (or cat!) has passed. I'm sure dogs perceive streets as tunnels along with the associated lack of escape routes. What do we do? Pretty much all of what you've said - we tend to cross the road if at all possible, back it up with high value treats (in this case chicken), and calm and rewarding praise for good behaviour. Of course, it's not always possible to escape, and a surprise by another dog coming around a corner always sets our dog off. I think patience and perseverance is key, ours has definitely got better (we spent a fortune on trainers with mixed results) but I think he's at the point where he's as good as he's going to get.
     
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  9. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    QUOTE, Flobo:

    "...when I said she's 'on guard', I mean she plants herself solid and won't move, whilst watching, very alert - as the dog gets closer, she starts the lunging and manic barking.
    I was turning her as soon as ... the dog was spotted, and we waited it out.

    ...
    _____________________________________________
    .

    I wouldn't "wait it out" - i'd get the heck outta Dodge, fast! :D
    I'd teach a fluent, happy emergency U-turn at home, away from all other dogs, using a cheerful new cue such as "Let's go!", & i'd walk briskly or even JOG away from the approaching dog. // I would not stay in the same place & let the dog close the distance between us - i'd move away.
    If i could, i'd quickly choose an alternate walk - anywhere, going in the opposite direction with the other dog well-behind us, turning onto another street, anything that popped into my head.
    If i needed / wanted to continue the way we were headed, I'd backtrack, turn onto a cross-street or cross-path, & we'd WAIT there for the approaching dog to pass by; i'd keep my dog busy with training exercises, simple stuff, "puppy push-ups" [sit, down, sit...] or similar, & after that dog went by, we'd scoot back out, & continue on the same heading as original.

    If i literally must get past the approaching dog & couldn't take the time to backtrack, there are 2 options:
    A - jog toward the dog with MY dog on the outside as we pass the other dog, or
    B - i'd get as FAR to the side of the path / sidewalk as i could possibly get, using anything for lateral separation: up a driveway, into the parking-lot of a shop or strip-mall, onto the grass of a park, etc.

    In both cases, i'd orient my dog parallel to the approaching dog's path; neither butt-on, nor face-on at 90' to the path, but sideways while they did simple tricks or played tug or _______ .
    I'd also try to put a visual barrier between my reactive dog, & the approaching dog - to keep both of them less intrigued by the k9 stranger, & prevent staring-contests. A park bench, a sidewalk trash-bin, a parked car or better yet, a big truck... anything me & my dog can stand *behind* to be out of direct eyeshot.

    Caught in the open with wildly-reactive clients' dogs who weighed 40# or less, i've been known to pick 'em up & pop them into the open bed of a pick-up truck, & have them practice sit / down / stand / down / sit / stand, or "spin" clockwise vs "turn" widdershins, until the danger was past, LOL. :oops:


    cont'd, Flobo:
    I will look at the T-touch body wrap & try and find a treat that she will take when in that mode, as food seems to be the last thing she wants, at least 'til she starts to calm down.
    ...

    _____________________________________________
    .

    If she can't or won't take food that she normally would, she's too close; that doesn't mean don't offer any, as merely *sniffing* food will produce endorphins that help calm the dog & lower cortisol production, BP, pulse, etc.

    There are some dogs who don't eat readily while on leash & off their home turf - once outside their own garden, they're either too excited or too apprehensive to eat. // If she's one of those, i'd start slowly expanding her comfort zone, & offer food just outside whatever she thinks of as "the boundary", growing it steadily.

    But for most dogs, if they sniff a goodie they'd usually gobble, & then leave it to continue staring at the other dog, BACK UP. :D

    happy B-Mod,
    - terry

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  10. Flobo

    Flobo Well-Known Member Registered Partner

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    just a quick update on Nellie, we've been working on keeping her stress levels down on all walks. I've been walking her in quietish places and working on her changing direction at random, saying 'this way', which she has picked up really quickly and does with no lead prompts. Her owner txted me the other day to say she'd successfully got her to change direction at her local park(it was lashing it down and she didn't expect to come across any other dogs!) on 2 occasions with dogs approaching, brilliant! I did say to hang on to that experience if she took a step back the next day but... it gave her the encouragement she needed and showed her it was possible. We'll keep at it, when out with me we have met other dogs really well, interest but no aggression and when I say 'let's go' we go, again now without lead prompts, so fingers crossed!:)
     
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  11. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    HURRAH! :D well-done, what a good dog! - & good owner, & good teacher, too. :thumbs-up:
    that's wonderful to hear. :)

    .
     

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