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Old 08-31-2016, 05:27 PM
1,706 posts, read 1,209,623 times
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There can appear to be many different reasons for reactivity, but IMHO it usually boils down to just a few root causes.

These I think are the most common root causes of reactivity; dogs clearly may vary in how the reactivity manifests, but it usually comes down to one or a combination of these:

1) A dog who was poorly socialized during early fear periods with the result that it is afraid of everything under the sun, e.g. many of what are generally known as shy or fearful dogs

2) A dog who formed a negative association to a behavior, thing, animal, etc that then blew up into full blown fear episode when it sees the trigger, e.g. the young dog who initially just barked at other dogs out of curiosity is conditioned to expect other dogs to = bad things happening by an owner who jerks on the leash and/or uses a prong/electric collar incorrectly with the result that the dog develops a full blown reaction to other dogs because it associates other dogs with a negative. There are countless variations on this.

3) Poor impulse control creating frustration, for instance, barrier reactivity such as leash or fence reactivity

4) Aggression- true aggression though is very rare in dogs, and indicates that something isn't wired right in the dog's brain. This is the "I want to kill you and I will find a way to do it" mentality. Clearly this isn't applicable in your situation.

In the case of the dog in your class- we don't know what caused this dog to become do distressed that it reacts to everything so strongly. And it really doesn't matter because the therapy and work involved now is the same regardless of the cause.

I suspect that this young inexperienced soft dog was over threshold from the word Go. It simply didn't have the maturity, experience, or tools necessary to deal with all the activity, different people, and different dogs.

Add in that a dog-agressive dog was giving this young dog the stink-eye effectively bullying this dog, and it is a recipe for disaster that just built on itself week after week. It certainly doesn't help that the owners aren't experienced....

From what you say, this dog needs private 1:1 sessions with an older stable "helper" dog to help this dog learn some coping mechanisms in certain very controlled environments. And then very slow exposure to various people, situations, and environments but always under the dog's threshold and always very controlled.

This dog needs help FAST or the situation will continue to degrade, and that doesn't bode well for this dog, either in terms of quality of life or in terms of being able to live a full life.

BAT/Behavior Adjustment Training, a technique developed by Grisha Stewart, is a very useful tool in helping reactive dogs learn coping mechanisms. She has numerous seminars out there, videos on Youtube, and books. You really need to read the book to understand the theory and then watch her videos in order to understand how to properly apply the method.
Expert Dog Training & Behavior Info from Grisha Stewart

A reactive rover class taught by an experienced skilled professional behaviorist or CPDT-KA certified trainer experienced in reactive dogs would be a good start for this pup. Ian Dunbar has an excellent seminar on Udemy for his Growl classes. It would give a taste of what a good reactive rover class would look like. The caveat here is that the trainer/behaviorist MUST be experienced in running and managing a reactive rover class.
Here is the Udemy class link, and it is on sale now for $24; once you buy the course you have unlimited access to it.


Good luck.

Last edited by twelvepaw; 08-31-2016 at 05:59 PM..
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Old 08-31-2016, 09:00 PM
Location: Illinois
122 posts, read 61,967 times
Reputation: 306
OK. I had an Obedience Club Board meeting tonight. Our meeting was to happen next week and I didn’t want to wait another week for my issue which is why I posted here – suddenly it became urgent for the meeting to happen this week (no comment by me on that one). Met with our Secretary who is also on the local Humane Society Board and knows a lot of contacts. We had a quick dinner before the meeting and decided on the following:

Bring the young couple back in but without the dog. Explain what the issues are and give them resources that they can use for their dog. We are going to suggest the one-on-one training with a behaviorist that some here have suggested.

They paid for the lessons, they have the right to attend the remainder of the classes and are encouraged to do so without the dog and are free to ask questions and practice what they can with their dog at home.

We really would like feedback on how this dog is doing from now on. I have to say, other than Am Staffs, I never have been a fan bully breeds (although I think Cane Corso dogs are awesome looking – I can see a Caesar roaming around Rome with one. I just would never own one). Where I live, we have wanna-be gang-bangers who like to parade these dogs around to make themselves look tough. But this dog is about the sweetest but scared dog that I have ever seen.
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