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Old 01-21-2013, 09:59 PM
 
Location: Verde Valley
4,054 posts, read 9,102,887 times
Reputation: 3419

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I have a very sweet toy dog (10 lb white fluff ball) who is very innocent and somewhat shy with new dogs however you'd never know it if you saw her with one of her best dog friends. A couple of new dogs that's she's met recently have been agressive with her. One that we stayed with for 3 days over Christmas, was very jealous of my dog and slept in her bed, tried to eat her food and snapped right in her face (no actual contact), when she tried to play with one of her own toys. Prior to that, she met another new dog that was rather agressive toward her (but no physical contact). She will be near them but turn her face away and pretend they're not there. Unfortunately, both were dark, sleek haired toy dogs, so she is now more scared of dark ones.

Since then, she's terrified to meet any new dogs, and just yesterday she met a sweet (if not a bit rambunctious) 2 year old Yorkie (very light in color) that was smaller than her, and when they sniffed noses for the first time my dog started screaming in a high pitched fashion and ran away screaming, all the way to the end of her flexi leash.

She normally loves to socialize and play with other dogs, and I'm worried as to how I can get her to relax a little when meeting and getting to know new dog friends. I am very careful as to which ones I introduce her to.

Ideas?
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Old 01-22-2013, 09:53 AM
 
1,699 posts, read 3,551,036 times
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Oh dear. So sorry your girl has had some bad experiences lately with other dogs. It can take many, many positive ones to recondition and get back on track.

For a while, you'll have to speak up on behalf of your dog and explain to other owners that if your dogs are to meet it must be a process that looks like this:

1) Parallel walk. This means both dogs on leash are walked together at a brisk pace. Neither dog is ahead / behind, but rather are kept parallel. Distance apart is dictated by the dogs' signals. Any tension, staring, barking means move them further apart, they are "over threshold" and too close for comfort. Once you see the dogs sniffing the ground and taking their eyes off one another you know you are at the correct distance apart and are making progress in the introduction. You can gradually move the dogs closer, continuing to walk, as long as you are seeing the ground sniffing, forward looking behaviors (or as long as the dogs are not staring at eachother, barking, etc.)

2) Close proximity = reward and relax. Once the dogs have walked side by side and almost seem to have grown bored with one another, it is time to rest with the dogs in close proximity. They will not be encouraged to meet yet, but will instead interact a bit with their individual handlers. Offer a treat or 2 and massage & pet to build the association that being close to another dog means good things happen.

3) Off leash interaction.

First, my rant about why off leash..
Leashes ruin everything!!! The first time your dog really interacts with her new friend, you want both dogs to have total freedom of movement both to retreat and to express the full range of body language dogs use to communicate. Owners will often feel much safer with their dogs restrained by leashes when greeting a new dog - what they don't realize is that leashes cause problems instead of providing an easy solution. Dogs feel restricted and therefor automatically more defensive on leash. Their ability to get away from the situation is reduced so by taking away their flight option we leave them only with 'fight'. A too tight leash can prevent the dog from displaying low, wiggly greeting behaviors meant to convey the message to the approaching dog "I'm friendly and harmless" and instead can force the dog into a posture that says "I'm looking for a fight". Leashes WILL get tangled if the dogs perform the proper greeting ritual which I will describe later. Owners want the safety net of the leash so that they can rip the dogs apart if a spat breaks out. But this is not a good way to break up a fight anyway. Especially with small dogs like the OP references, leashes are totally unnecessary in getting 2 dogs away from one another should one or both get snarky. My preferred method in such a case would be to place a large object between the dogs to first break their visual and physical access to one another. Then each handler can either herd (like a border collie!) their dog back away to a safe distance from the other dog or physically move them away and then clip leashes back on the dogs once they're apart.

Now onto what the off leash greeting should look like. It is a beautiful thing really that once you see hundreds of pairs of dogs do it becomes like a familiar movie. It plays out basically the same way each time. The greeting will typically start face to face but should not linger in this region, sniffing should promptly move in an arc, with noses following the side of the other dog's body and ending up at the rear. When you see the dogs sniffing each other's behinds with their bodies in an arc shape, you've reached the last step of the initial introduction ritual. That face-side-butt sniff is comparable to the human handshake. It is a "nice to meet ya my name is ___" for dogs.

So after the arc sniffing ritual is done, you might see any range of interaction between the dogs. They may both "shake off" and have little interest in playing. They may offer play bows (lowering the front end and sticking the rear in the air) and run and chase. But if you've spent the time on Parallel Walking and Close Proximity Reward & Relax (1 & 2 above) you shouldn't see much in the way of teeth baring and air snapping at this point.


I want to give you a simple protocol for 'fixing' fear in dogs. This protocol can be applied to many situations but I'll use fear of other dogs as my example: (This is based on the BAT protocol Behavior Adjustment Training (BAT) | Official site for BAT: dog-friendly training for reactivity (aggression, fear, frustration) by Grisha Stewart, MA , BAT Ahimsa Dog Blog )

1) Expose below threshold. So in our scenario that would mean taking your little dog somewhere where she'd be guaranteed to see another dog, or arranging for another dog to be in a specific location. You'd have your dog at a distance away from the other dog that makes her feel comfortable enough to display calm behavior. If she is staring at the other dog, whining, barking, pacing, or exhibiting any tension - you are too close and need to move further away from the other dog. Once you've found your safe zone, you are ready to begin working.

2) Wait for or manufacture an acceptable behavior. Acceptable behavior is defined as anything other than staring, barking, lunging, pacing, and other nervous behavior. You can wait for your dog to sniff the ground, look at you, sit without being told - and then do step 3 OR you can manufacture an acceptable behavior my making a kissy sound so that doggie looks at you and then move to step 3..

3) Mark the acceptable behavior with a clicker or a verbal marker like "good!" or "yes!" So in our case it would go: dog sniffs ground or looks at handler, then we mark that good behavior with either a clicker or a word like "good!" and then we do step 4..

4) Give functional reward (decrease stimulus intensity). In our scenario that will mean moving even further away from the other dog.

5) Give a bonus reward. Treat or toy whichever is preferred by the dog.

You'll keep repeating these steps and should be able to get closer to the other dog gradually. Even though writing out the steps this way makes it look like something of a process, the steps should actually run pretty rapidly one after another once the dog is under threshold and displays an acceptable behavior.

You might want to start your rehabilitation with the BAT protocol above and once your dog has success with it move on to the first method I explained and have her meet a new dog. Choose wisely of course as additional negative experiences will only compound her issue.
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:34 AM
 
Location: West Virginia
12,432 posts, read 31,476,724 times
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You didnt say how old your dog is... Puppies go thru fear stages so you need to just back up let her play with dogs she benn playing with. Then what she comfortable again move forward. K9 insturctions are right on!
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Old 01-24-2013, 10:24 PM
 
Location: Verde Valley
4,054 posts, read 9,102,887 times
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Thanks to both of you. I will see what I can do, often dogs are on a leash due to cars and coyotes and because it's a rule in my community.

My dog is 5, she's rather unusual, she only learned to do stairs (I have 4 on my porch) in the last 1.5 years and she goes in and out of being able to do them. Also, she can't jump up on a chair or ottoman, she never learned how. Occasionally she barks like mad at people and dogs, like she's really tough but she is terrified if they come her way and hides behind me .

PS when she gets barking (which is somewhat random and WAY more frequent when she hears loud motorcycles, trucks or planes in the distance), her whole body gets rigid and she can't calm down.
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Old 01-24-2013, 10:54 PM
 
1,699 posts, read 3,551,036 times
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Yes I wanted to add that of course off leash interaction would need to occur in a safe, securely fenced area if done outside. (I've used fully fenced tennis courts in a pinch!) If greetings do have to happen on-leash (which again I don't recommend especially in the early stages of rehabilitation) keep those leashes loose loose loose and follow your dog along that arcing sniff path, never creating tension on the leash. Problem is the other dog's handler must do the same.. so again you have to get vocal and bossy for a while and speak up on behalf of your dog's needs. Until she gets her groove back, you'll need to orchestrate all of her interactions with other dogs and that includes instructing the other dog's owner. You might even want to look into supervised playgroups for small dogs at a training center. We have tons of them where I live. If you have trouble finding one I can try to help you. I'd just need your general location.
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Old 01-25-2013, 09:22 AM
 
Location: Verde Valley
4,054 posts, read 9,102,887 times
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Thanks, I'll try to find one, however I'm in Sedona AZ and it's a town of 10,000 and I've never known of a training center here, there is a dog park but it's all rock and dirt (AZ) and my dog doesn't like it. Last time we went there was a huge GSD in the small dog section and the woman said don't worry, he's friendly so we didn't go in and everyone there thought I was being an idiot.
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Old 01-25-2013, 11:08 AM
 
1,699 posts, read 3,551,036 times
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From a quick search of the CCPDT website ( Home ) I found several certified trainers in Flagstaff.. Might be worth it to email each of them and just inquire about playgroups. You want something monitored by skilled professional trainers as opposed to a dog park. Where I live playgroups are $5 - $10 for an hour of supervised play.

Will be thinking of you and your little girl! You mentioned in your OP that she does have some doggie friends she's comfortable with.. it would be great if she could have more visits with them to remind her other dogs can be nice and fun. Best wishes
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Old 01-25-2013, 08:38 PM
 
Location: Verde Valley
4,054 posts, read 9,102,887 times
Reputation: 3419
Quote:
Originally Posted by k9coach View Post
From a quick search of the CCPDT website ( Home ) I found several certified trainers in Flagstaff.. Might be worth it to email each of them and just inquire about playgroups. You want something monitored by skilled professional trainers as opposed to a dog park. Where I live playgroups are $5 - $10 for an hour of supervised play.

Will be thinking of you and your little girl! You mentioned in your OP that she does have some doggie friends she's comfortable with.. it would be great if she could have more visits with them to remind her other dogs can be nice and fun. Best wishes
Thanks, Falgstaff is 1 hour each way up switchbacks with no shoulders (and a nasty drive after dark due to animals on the road) so not something I could commit to regularly.

My dog plays with her best friend almost daily, actually she obsessed with her (and I think the issue with other dogs is worse as she's become obsessed with this one friend - and she's like a wolverine with that dog ) but they're moving away withing the next 60 days which will make things worse. I am so sad for her as she lives for her time with her best friend. I'm sure she'll adjust but this dog has really made her come out of her shell and she's learned so much from her.
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Old 01-28-2013, 08:16 AM
 
Location: West Virginia
12,432 posts, read 31,476,724 times
Reputation: 8135
Dont allow her to bark at other dogs its sending them the message shes scared they may attache her.
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