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Dog aggression question .
MemberNovember 2, 2021 at 6:38 PM
If posted in wrong place, sorry.
I’m in japan and if you don’t know japanese love dogs mostly small ones and that leads me to my question.
I have a Corso who is very dog reactive to all these little bite sized prey looking dogs. I’m sure my neighbors all think I’m walking a mad dog with the way he try’s to have a go. Mostly i try to find a time when most others have walked their pets so late nights and early afternoon. He mostly ignores people unless they stare at him too long and hes not keen on the whole mask wearing thing.
Question is . I haven’t any spare dogs to train him with like i see in most videos relating to dog/leash aggression issues therefore I’m looking for other strategies as i do feel bad as he chokes himself buy his powerful lunging add to that its bloody hard to hold him back. I had the leash wrapped around my hand last night and it nearly broke from his exertions.
MemberNovember 5, 2021 at 5:32 AM
Jesus , you’re an unhelpful lot. Either that or there is not a lot of community here.
ModeratorNovember 5, 2021 at 7:47 AM
Shayne, I’m sorry that is the impression you have gotten. Unfortunately, at least for me it is not that I mean to be unhelpful. It is simply that you have a very difficult situation with limited options to work on it. The typical strategies that would be recommended are likely not practical from what you describe. You don’t say how old your Corso is, which could make a lot of difference. A corso is a powerful dog with high prey drive, so the fact that he is so reactive to the little dogs is simply part of his nature. The older it is, the more difficult it will be to overcome this behavior. Solid obedience is an absolute must. The dog must be able to sit or some other alternative behavior to the lunging. If he does not, then he can be corrected. Ideally, you would be able to work the dog far enough away from other dogs to work with him when his drive is at a manageable level, and then work more and more closely to other dogs as his self control improves. Do you have anywhere that you can start working on this with NO (or only a few) other dogs around? Watch all of Robert’s videos on reactivity for recommendations on how to handle these situations. What type of collar do you have the dog on? He might need a prong to be able to control him, but there is also concern that in some dogs, prong collars can increase reactivity. So it is a delicate situation. But in any case, the solution must begin with getting some very solid obedience skills when he is NOT in a reactive environment and then gradually taking him to places with more and more distractions. You might want to ask Robert directly in the Ask Me Anything (AMA). You can find the form to submit at the bottom of the Members section. You are limited to 500 words, so try to provide as much info (breed, age, type of collar being used, brief description of the problem) as concisely as possible. Robert might have some more helpful tips. Good luck!
MemberNovember 5, 2021 at 8:14 AM
So this situation has come up in conversations before. It is sometimes hard to find a person with a balanced dog to work with and perform the exercise as done in the videos. You can do your part of the video it’s just that you are working with a moving target. Keep working on obedience at home.
When you are out you have to read him and catch him before he goes off. They go into what I call “LaLa” land and there isn’t much you can do until he calms down. Have him sit as the other dog approaches, you will be able to tell if he is going to break. Ears will go up, chest will stick out, you can see/just feel the tension mounting. Then “Lets go” turn in the opposite direction maybe 5/7 steps and return “Sit”. Also you can approach dogs that are behind a fence and perform the same exercise and get closer each time. We use this at the shelter for some of our more exuberant tenants.
You didn’t say how old. If he is past the puppy stage it will take longer. You have a lot of dog and he might have a high prey drive. This is where the obedience comes in, “Down,” “Stay,” and if a couple little walk by he might not like it but he remains obedient. Also with the fence work when I get close enough I will give both treats.
MemberNovember 5, 2021 at 6:03 PM
I am struggling with reactivity as well. 10 month female GSD. On walks she has been increasingly reactive to other dogs. She’s on a prong, I loose leash walk as best I can with her. General obedience is good. I’ve watched all the videos and others. I feel like what’s missing is how do you correct in the moment of reactivity, in real life situation? And as others have mentioned if corrections on prong aren’t working? So… I’m taking her back to trainer tomorrow fingers crossed!
MemberNovember 5, 2021 at 11:50 PM
Shayne, I can relate to your frustration trying to help a reactive dog in an uncontrolled environment with random people and dogs. I struggled with this with a very reactive adult Cattle Dog I got from a rescue in the spring. Here a few things I discovered:
1) I had to find places that I could get some distance from other dogs so I could have some control over how intensely my dog was reacting. If the dog is totally flipping out they won’t learn. If they stay completely under threshold and aren’t being challenged by the environment, they also don’t learn quickly IMO.
2) I had to find a method of correction that was effective and fair for the dog. Prong collar corrections increased his aggression massively, which was unfortunate because it was a great tool for teaching heel when he wasn’t reacting. Main point of a correction is that it should interrupt the behavior and make it less likely to happen.
3) I practiced a lot with ever decreasing distance to other dogs. Main thing was keeping the dog accountable and focused on me. Robert says corrections should happen when the dog is away at the end of the leash, and I’m a believer. I correct when the dog tries to ignore me and reward heavily when he pays attention.
4) You’ll inevitably get in a space that’s too crowded and the dog will flip out. Just try and get out of there and let the dog calm down.
5) Consistency is great, but the definition of insanity is repeating the same action and expecting a different result. Different dogs respond to different techniques. Try things in a consistent manner and pay attention to how the dog reacts. If you’re barking up the right tree, you should see some progress. What worked well for my dog also changed as he improved. Heavy corrections seemed to rule at first, now I get the best results by nicely asking him to step away from the strange dog.
6) Be patient and mindful. I did things that made the problem worse with my dog on occasions. (See the prong collar comment) Over seven months of trial and error, I’ve built a relationship with the dog and know what he’ll respond well to.
7) Be prepared to put in work. You got a strong breed of dog. You’ll need to be stronger.
TLDR: You’ll have to use passing dogs as opportunities to train. Go to places you can control distance and the strength of the dog’s reaction somewhat. Try to minimize uncontrolled flip outs, but challenge the dog daily. Watch as many reactive dog tutorials as you can find and figure out what works best for your dog.
MemberNovember 7, 2021 at 10:54 AM
Wanted to give an update and say I agree with other members loose leash walking and respect on the leash is key, I didn’t really get what that meant , the terms are put out there but must really practice it and demand it. The correction (as Jared said) must be enough that the dog does not want to repeat the behaviour. For my dog and her reactivity what has worked (as of last nite\today) is a shake jug (emptied juice jug with a few coins inside). prong corrections were not enough. She reacted, barked and lunged at another dog and I said NO and threw the jug at the ground by her. It was a little embarrassing but had to be done , at least it was dark ! I’m sharing because I know how frustrating it can be and it seemed nothing was working but the solution is very simple make it terrible for the dog to do the unwanted behaviour and in most cases won’t have to repeat the correction as the message was received! Hope this helps.
MemberNovember 7, 2021 at 2:39 PM
I would just like to say that I am having the same problem and these responses from the members have given me some great ideas and direction. Thank you all.
MemberNovember 7, 2021 at 5:33 PM
If the dog is tough you still have a few tools. If you can read the dog well, timing can make up for intensity. Similarly distance can kind of make up for less than perfect timing because the stimulus is lower. If all else fails preparedness and posture and a loose leash can help you deliver an effective correction, but when the line is taught, well the learning/teaching opportunity is already lost, and we are left with managing the situation as best we can
ModeratorNovember 8, 2021 at 3:52 AM
I’d just like to add one thing for others who might be having similar problems. Because of the description and breed of dog in this case, I am assuming that this is a case of true dog aggression (or at least leash reactivity) rather than fear, but this might not be a valid assumption. It is extremely important to understand the difference between the two since the treatment is totally different between the two. Both may involve lunging, barking and growling. True aggression can be managed (although not necessarily “cured”) with strong corrections (exact approach will depend on the dog and circumstances), but these same corrections will make a fear aggressive dog worse. The fear can be greatly increased because you have just given the dog proof that the other do truly is dangerous. After all, bad things happen (the correction) whenever he sees the other dog. So for people with aggressive dogs, first be sure to objectively assess the reason for the aggression.