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jarn

Doggles (Training ideas)

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So...somewhere along the way, the puppy (now 14 months old) decided to be reactive to strange dogs, especially in our building's lobby/at the entrances - territorial and barrier aggression.  

This happens ONLY when he is with Xerxes, our beagle, who is reactive, and who always has been.  At first I thought he (Agis, the puppy) was queuing off of Xerxes, and I think he was, but now sometimes he reacts first - but again, if I take him for a walk or run on his own, he's fine.   It's the presence of Xerxes. 

But - I know, you're saying, take them out separately.  We live in an apartment, and Agis barks non-stop if left alone.  We have a woman two floors up who makes sure to text me so I know (yech).  We can do that if we're both home, but with COVID, I work from home, so the lion's share of dog stuff is left to me.   

He loves to go to the park and play with the dogs.  But he's 50lbs of pure muscle and puts on a helluva show when he does react.  

I know he needs more exercise - we were doing so good at that and then fell down a bit, I've been off and on with depression and it's been affecting my exercise. 

I was taking them for an early-lunch walk today and we had a big reaction to a dog by the elevators as we were getting off (admittedly, I think it reacted first), which completely unnerved me, so we just went out to potty, not for a walk.  When he's that hyped up, lord only knows how the walk would've gone.

So - 

  • I will be running with him tonight (on his own)
  • Started doing more short training during the day
  • More playing in the apartment to try to get some of those yah-yahs out (in addition to training, which also tires them out mentally)
  • I'm going to work on desensitizing him to strange dogs by observing from a distance.  I'll also go down to the lobby with treats and work on that, watching dogs come and go

Anyways, I thought this would be a fun place to not only talk about what a failure I am as an owner :( but share dog training tips/ideas!  I know lots of us have dogs.

Edit:  I thought I should say, Xerxes is WAY less reactive than he was, we've really worked on it.

Edited by jarn

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my dog micha (1.5 yrs) can be huffy when she's on leash and sees another dog say while we're walking, but off leash in a dog park, she's just fine with other dogs. she's pretty good now, but when she was younger, we pretty much just tried to move her along and give lots of treats. lots of praise when we go by a dog without any huffing or barking. she also hates men with beards, for some reason, which is weird because we've had her since she was a puppy, and she's never had a bad experience with a man with a beard. my only guess is that she just thinks they're weird and scary.

she's definitely territorial about her yard, though. when people come to the door, when cats are at the fence, when the neighbours have strangers over... bark bark bark! standing outside with her seems to help, and when it's a person she's barking at, introductions make a big difference. she's fine when people come into the yard, though. she just sniffs and then keeps her distance. all bark, no bite. we try to be really fast to scold her when the barking starts, and we haul her inside pretty quickly.

the other thing that's super important, as i'm sure you know, is keeping a routine. right now the dogs are pretty used to being alone through the morning while my mom and i are working, and in the afternoon when i get home we have some quiet time, then dinner, and then we HAVE to either walk or go to the dog park. they totally run on rails and go nuts right around 6:00 or so.

have you tried a prong collar with agis? we've found it pretty effective for controlling micha when she wants to lunge and for moving her along when she wants to tango with passing dogs. it's also the only thing that controls her pulling on leash (my personal dog training failure).

sorry, i don't really have a lot of advice. mostly just commiserating about my mediocre training. 

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Thanks @echolocation

We actually do take Agis out on a prong, because he's so strong - but I am worried he is amping up because of it so we're going to switch to a martingale.  Give it a try, anyways.  Previously we'd been using a harness (still use that for running).

It's true, if we were in a house, there'd be a lot more space and less horrific reactions.  I need to remember he is doing better on walks.  I was just SO upset yesterday.  

We're pretty good with a routine.  I think.  

Ahhh, dogs!

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Well as we were leaving to go outside this morning (it's Toby's day off), there was a dog coming into the other vestibule as we were walking out, it barked and fussed and Agis didn't react at all.  As we were coming in, a dog had just left the building on the other side, and Agis stayed calm.  Far off encounters, but still.  It's something.  

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It's been awhile since Agis went for a run (go the humans being depressed!), but I took him out at lunch.  We saw two dogs, a Lab that jumped towards him which scared him (but he didn't vocalize) and a little dog he REALLY wanted to say hi to.  As we entered the building, Heidi, a Beagle that lives on our floor, was there, so THAT was really exciting (they're similar in age though not size, and Agis loves her).  

We were without Xerxes, and he wears a harness running, so...still, I think the martingale is helping.  Xerxes reacted a dog in the lobby this morning, and then Agis barked, but he was more barking at Xerxes.  It was way better than it has been.

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On 10/14/2020 at 4:48 PM, jarn said:

So...somewhere along the way, the puppy (now 14 months old) decided to be reactive to strange dogs, especially in our building's lobby/at the entrances - territorial and barrier aggression.  

This happens ONLY when he is with Xerxes, our beagle, who is reactive, and who always has been.  At first I thought he (Agis, the puppy) was queuing off of Xerxes, and I think he was, but now sometimes he reacts first - but again, if I take him for a walk or run on his own, he's fine.   It's the presence of Xerxes. 

Sorry if this sounds like a stupid question, but are both of your dogs neutered?

If not, neutering them could eliminate or greatly improve this type of behavior.

I have extensive experience with dogs, as I used to work as a professional pet groomer for 20+ years, and also in the past, volunteered in dog rescue for many years.

Edited by CrazyRedhead

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Yes, they're all neutered (we have three - Xerxes and Agis were neutered before we adopted them - Agis was neutered at best guess around 11 weeks, so I am pretty sure it's not high testosterone floating around in his system).  

We did a walk this morning and he generally only reacted when the other dog barked first - with two exceptions (and one Xerxes bayed at first).  But we probably saw 30-40 dogs, so two isn't so bad I suppose.  

Xerxes knows the quiet command, and is fairly good at it now, but he's not 100%.  With Agis I use 'focus' because when I run with him, he wants to say hi to the dogs, and I want him to focus on the run, so it's an 'ignore' kind of command.  

(Edit to tag @CrazyRedhead - thanks!)

Edited by jarn

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I should mention, we're pretty sure Agis is party Husky (he howls at fire alarms, and his tail curls over his back, plus, he's from a northern community (if that means anything).  

Anyways, I suspect it's the tail held high thing (just how he holds it most of the time), but it is common for dogs to react to him - so I think now he reacts first as a warning thing.  That's my best guess.  When he's not being reactive, and they react, he gets scared.  

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21 minutes ago, jarn said:

Anyways, I suspect it's the tail held high thing (just how he holds it most of the time), but it is common for dogs to react to him - so I think now he reacts first as a warning thing.  That's my best guess.  When he's not being reactive, and they react, he gets scared.  

Another question.....Does he react to other dogs only when on a leash?

If so, it could be "leash aggression" or "leash reactivity".....Leash aggression is when a dog is reactive to other dogs only when on a leash....

It's actually a fairly common problem.

Edited by CrazyRedhead

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8 minutes ago, CrazyRedhead said:

Another question.....Does he react to other dogs only when on a leash?

If so, it could be "leash aggression".....Leash aggression is when a dog is reactive to other dogs only when on a leash.

Oh 100% it's leash aggression with both of them - Xerxes is a rude player at the dog park, but he's not aggressive, just pushy (so we tend not to bring him).  Agis loves going to off-leash trails and playing with other dogs.  That's what I meant by 'barrier aggression' in my first post.  

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38 minutes ago, jarn said:

Oh 100% it's leash aggression with both of them - Xerxes is a rude player at the dog park, but he's not aggressive, just pushy (so we tend not to bring him).  Agis loves going to off-leash trails and playing with other dogs.  That's what I meant by 'barrier aggression' in my first post.  

Leash (barrier) aggression can have multiple root causes.....One of the most common causes is that the dog was not properly socialized during the critical period of 8-14 weeks....This period of time is critical because it is when the part of the dog's brain that processes fear develops.

if a dog is not properly socialized during this period, it can lead to fearful behaviors, including leash aggression.

Some solutions that may work, but you need to be consistent with them, and give him a little time to respond:

......If the dog is a high-energy dog,  then I would suggest letting him run around and play off leash for awhile, right  before you take him on walks.

.......Another suggestion, which may or not be doable, is to just try your best to avoid other dogs when he is on leash......

.......Also, another strategy would be to try and distract him with a dog treat if you encounter another dog when he's on leash, and also reward him with a treat if he encounters another dog without reacting.

If none of these suggestions seem to work, you might consider talking witha professional dog behaviorist or trainer.

Edited by CrazyRedhead

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We adopted him at 13.5 weeks, and he was scared of outdoors, so we really tried to expose him to the world, but it was tough, because we did miss that period.  

We live in apartment, so can't really let him run around first.  I do run with him though.  We used to use treats, and got away from it, but are going to restart.  I need to find the squeeze tube for the applesauce.  

We generally cross the street when we see other dogs.  Sometimes it's not possible.  

We had a trainer come in one on one in the winter, I'm considering that again.

Thanks!

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1 minute ago, jarn said:

We adopted him at 13.5 weeks, and he was scared of outdoors, so we really tried to expose him to the world, but it was tough, because we did miss that period.  

We live in apartment, so can't really let him run around first.  I do run with him though.  We used to use treats, and got away from it, but are going to restart.  I need to find the squeeze tube for the applesauce.  

We generally cross the street when we see other dogs.  Sometimes it's not possible.  

We had a trainer come in one on one in the winter, I'm considering that again.

Thanks!

If that fear period occured before you got him, that's not your fault at all.

I do understand the difficulties of living in an apartment with a dog, and also understand it can be difficult to avoid other dogs when walking on leash.

If you could start doing the treats again, that would be great......Also good that you can consult a trainer if you need to.

Best of luck with him, and also let us know how he's doing....He sounds like a nice dog to me.....Also, there is the fact that he is still pretty young, and could calm down a bit as he gets older.

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6 minutes ago, CrazyRedhead said:

If that fear period occured before you got him, that's not your fault at all.

I do understand the difficulties of living in an apartment with a dog, and also understand it can be difficult to avoid other dogs when walking on leash.

If you could start doing the treats again, that would be great......Also good that you can consult a trainer if you need to.

Best of luck with him, and also let us know how he's doing....He sounds like a nice dog to me.....Also, there is the fact that he is still pretty young, and could calm down a bit as he gets older.

Thanks.  Yeah, he bounced from a rescue through to two shelters before we got him (over 1000s of kms), so he was really shut down.  He was scared of grass, scared of outside, wouldn't walk on leash (not even around the yard), he would just shut down completely.  Neb, our eldest, I had from a younger puppy, and it was completely the opposite experience so I wasn't entirely prepared for Agis to be as bad off as he was.  It's why we brought in a private trainer.   

Toby thinks he used the squeeze tube to bring shampoo to work (he cycles in).  They sell them at his store, so he'll buy another tomorrow.  We also can't find our treat baggy, it's been missing for a few months (hmm).  

I think he does need more exercise - I ran with him yesterday, and he'll run later today with either Toby or myself...we've both been depressed and it's been affecting us, but I need to push through it for the dogs.  The other two are older and more forgiving of down time.  

I felt soooo good after I ran with Agis yesterday though.  It's one of the first times I've ever had that strong of a mood pick-me-up from exercise.  

(And he really is a sweetheart - so loving and affectionate)

Edited by jarn
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