Wondering if anyone else is dealing with (or has dealt with) the joys of a leash reactive dog? Beez is 1.5 yrs. old and around a year old he started becoming very reactive towards other dogs (and sometimes other stimuli) while on walks. He's been going to doggy daycare occasionally since he was quite young and absolutely loves playing with other dogs, but it's a different story on a leash. We've been working with him a lot on this -- desensitization and counter-conditioning (i.e., shoving hot dogs and cheese in his face anytime he sees another dog on leash) and things are improving. Today was a milestone as we walked by another dog that was lunging and growling at him and Beez managed to keep his composure! Didn't even bark back! This is HUGE for him. So, I see hope on the horizon. Has anyone successfully trained a dog through this behavior to the point of being able to walk past other dogs without having a reaction? I long for the day, but maybe my expectations are too high. The dog I was used to waking before the corgi was a super mellow lab that could have growling dogs and screaming kids running straight towards him and he wouldn't even blink an eye, so this is new for me. Any other advice or tricks we can use is welcomed!
Our Doberman was 6 when she came to live with us and had been allowed to lunge at other dogs. Her behavior is based from fear and I took her to obedience classes. Classes are a more controlled environment and helped me learn to get her attention. I teach the "watch" command by holding a nice treat up by my eye and as soon as she looks at me she gets a treat. It took awhile for her to focus on me but after she was good at it I started using it on walks if another dog was coming by or in a yard we were passing. It took time and patience but she rarely reacts now even if the other dog is lunging at her.
Thanks, Bev! It's so encouraging to hear that others have worked their dogs through this. I give people *so* much credit who work through this with bigger dogs. I *know* there's a stigma attached to having a reactive dog, but at least with a corgi people aren't as threatened -- not that it makes it easier necessarily but sometimes with bigger dogs they are more frightening to people when they react which can alter our own state of mind. That is really great your Doberman worked through this. Good idea about holding the treat up by the eyes. I will try that. He's been to a few obedience classes and was fine, but maybe it's time for a refresher. This behavior didn't start until he was older.
I'm glad to hear all these success stories too. Although Jeli doesn't react agressively on leash, she dances on the end trying to get to the other dogs because she wants to play. I'm am working so hard at getting her to walk nicely on a leash and the minute she sees another dog all that hard work goes poof! I can put a steak on her nose and she doesn't care. LOL We have gotten better in class with the other dogs she is used to, but she is by far the worst one in class for 'wanting to visit' with other dogs. Right now we are working on our CGC and I don't think she would pass because of this issue, but you all give me hope!!! :)
Good luck with Jeli! CGC would be WAY out of the question for us right now too! lol The easy-walk harness helps with his walking quite a bit, but not sure you can use those for CGC.
My trainer switched Jack to the easy-walk harness, and then arranged and fitted the harness so it is upside-down so the leash attached to the front of the throat.
Works really well!
A friend suggests: with both dogs on short leash, get the non-reactive dog in front so the reactive dog can sniff butt and get acquainted.
That would be helpful I think -- provided the dog is not reacting out of fear. There are a handful of really well-behaved dogs that walk regularly in our neighborhood and I'm thinking of trying to follow them at a distance and then gradually close the gap.
when baden was 6months old he was very reactive on the leash. treats didnt do much but when i found out how much he loves the laser pointer i started taking that out on walks and when i seen another dog or person i would show him the laser pointer and then run and say "come on boy lets go!" and once we were past them i would praise the heck out of him and give him a treat (high value such as cheese or hot dogs). it got to the point to where he would see someone he would look straight at me and we would just run past and he would stop for a pet and then we were on way to finishing the walk.
now that hes almost two. he isnt leash reactive anymore. he at times will do a small growl or noise but a small correction is all he needs or he will look at me as if to say "sorry" and then we continue. he always gets praise after walking by with no reaction
Rebecca, that is great to hear that Baden has gotten through it OK. When he growls now, what kind of small correction do you do? Beez is getting much better and it's been a while since he's had a total outburst of barking, but he does still do slight growls (especially if the other dog is being reactive) or low "boofs" --- that's where we have a little bit of a conflict: should he be rewarded because he stayed (for the most part) under control and didn't go nutso -- or, do we only reward *totally* calm behavior?
Yesterday we began our intermediate training class. After warming the dogs up by walking through the aisles (Petsmart), the trainer had us do an exercise with the 4 dogs in the class. She had one of us walk to the end of the next aisle. The she had the next dog walk past that dog and stand halfway between that aisle and the next against the wall. Then she repeated it for the last two dogs one at a time. We went all the way around to the back of the store and back to the training area doing this. By the time we left, all dogs were comfortable with each other and passing each other.
I really felt this was a great exercise! Of course we had our dogs heeling right next to us and were able to praise and correct as needed. Do you have any friends with dogs you could practice this with?
Laurie, that does sound like a great exercise and I wish I had more friends who are dog owners. The few I know would not be good dogs to practice with as they are more reactive than Beez, so probably wouldn't help his state of mind. I've been thinking of calling a local training place or something to see if they would have dogs we could work with. So glad you are making progress!
I took Angie through obedience class because of the same issue. What I ended up doing with Angie was talking to her in a calm voice(frequently treating)and complementing her on her good behavior. The trick is to keep them focused on you. When it came time to wean them off treats it's a little difficult at first but it gets easier. If he tries to pull or bark when he sees the dog coming just stop and talk to him. Make sure he stays at your side but make it easier for him if he walks away or doesn't focus on you. Get his attention and have him return to your side followed by a positive word such as "yes" or "good boy" and treat him if treats are still available. If not just the positive word and lots of praise.