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Old 01-31-2010, 08:07 PM   #1
Elsablue
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Red face Snapping at other Dogs

We have taken on a 3 year old female Staffordshire Bull Terrier, she is not a 'rescue' dog, but came from a family who I still keep in touch with and have been able to ask questions about our dog. The family have several dogs who they love but cannot dedicate enough time to them and decided to rehome Elsa to give her a better life. Unfortunately Elsa has been within a 'pack' and now we have her on her own she is snapping at other dogs when they come near, firstly we though this was through fear at being on her own, now I am not so sure. We are taking her training and the trainer has said that she is a fearful dog, unfortunately I am showing signs of tension when trying to introduce her to other dogs which I know is wrong but am finding it difficult to stop as I am just waiting for her to snap! So far she has not done any more than a warning snap at a dog that comes near her as I am always ready and pull her back and reprimand straight away. I would appreciate any tips to help me both relax and introduce her to other dogs as I don't want this to escalate.

We have only had her for a month, but in that time she has really settled down at home, has now started to play with pull toys which she did not do before, has learnt to sit, stay and walks on the lead really well.

Thanks for any help you can give, look forward to receiving your replies.
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Old 01-31-2010, 08:53 PM   #2
BetterDog4U
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Working with fearful dogs can be very trying and it requires A LOT of patience. You also need to become detached from the problem (like a doctor).

The key to working with a fearful dog is to create trust and a strong bond between you and the dog. Once the dog trusts you, you can build the dog's self esteem thru play and training.

Until the dog trusts you and has more confidence, trying to introduce her to the things she is afraid of will just create more problems.

Until the dog has a lot more confidence you must only use positive associations. NO CORRECTIONS ... Use only praise and reward her for her good behavior. If she does something incorrectly you MUST ignore it and move on or start over.

I suggest that you spend the next month or so playing and doing some basic training. If she already knows this stuff thats even better. You may also try to teach her some new things, but keep it basic. Work in short 3-5 min sessions and offer lavish praise, treats and play time with her favorite toys as a reward for her correct behavior. When you pet her dont stand over her. Stay on her level and scruff her on the chin or belly insteed of on her head. Coming over the top of her can make a fearful dog nervous and could provoke her to attack out of fear.

During play and training, get down on the floor with her. Establish yourself as a "loving parent/best friend" and she will learn to trust you and look to you for support and guidance. If you provide confident parental leadership she will learn to trust you and the fear will start to go away.
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Old 01-31-2010, 09:01 PM   #3
Elsablue
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Thanks Michael

Thank you for your response any advice is appreciated. Unfortunately she does not seem to know how to 'play' with any toys, we have tried balls, cuddly toys, pull ropes etc. but we are working on this with her. My son took her to the local park today and let her off lead in the tennis courts which she loved as her previous owners have never let her off the lead because of walking with 3/4 dogs at a time. However the tennis courts are enclosed with a gate so was safe to do so and she loved the freedom, my son said that a dog came up to the fence and they sniffed each other between the wire and everything was fine, no snapping. I do think that it is I that needs the training to be calm assertive! I will keep you up to date on her training progress.
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Old 01-31-2010, 11:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elsablue View Post
Thank you for your response any advice is appreciated. Unfortunately she does not seem to know how to 'play' with any toys, we have tried balls, cuddly toys, pull ropes etc. but we are working on this with her. My son took her to the local park today and let her off lead in the tennis courts which she loved as her previous owners have never let her off the lead because of walking with 3/4 dogs at a time. However the tennis courts are enclosed with a gate so was safe to do so and she loved the freedom, my son said that a dog came up to the fence and they sniffed each other between the wire and everything was fine, no snapping. I do think that it is I that needs the training to be calm assertive! I will keep you up to date on her training progress.
first of all well done you for taking her in and wanting to give her a better home. now the hard work starts. if she is not used to being given toys etc then obviously she will not know how to play. you will need to almost treat her as if she is a puppy and go back to basics. this will also give you the chance to instill confidence in her which it sounds like she is lacking. i agree with Michael, positive reinforcement only at this stage. everytime she does something good reward her with a treat, a toy, a fuss under the chin (never on top of the head). Ignore all the unwanted behaviour.

The fact that she willingly went up to the dog the other side of the fence when she was on the tennis court without making a fuss tells me that she is either picking up on your tension when she is on the lead or that she has been allowed to perform the lunging and barking in the past. Teach her the "watch me" command. once you can get her to look at you on command then you can distract her when another dog is close by and before long you should be able to walk on by without any more fuss.

be patient...be consistent...... be positive.
Gilly


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Old 02-01-2010, 01:01 PM   #5
6dogmom
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I completely agree with the others methods. But.... I just wanted to give you a little insight on the situation. I have done much watching and studying of my own pack. It may not be that the dog doesn't know how to play with toys or any of that. When a dog is part of a pack, and the owners don't take the dog out side of the pack, it is hard for the dog to create it's own identity.
Your new baby is just fearful because she's never been outside the pack. She has learned to have everything dealt with by the higher pack members. therefore she was never scared around them. Now that she is outside the pack she has to cope with it and this can be hard.
Also in packs, outside dogs are considered a threat. If she was never given an identity to accept other dogs, then this will be very hard for her.

We have many dogs that come into class and behave perfect when the other dog is by there side, but when you take away the security they become fearful and don't listen as well.

It will be very important for you to become her leader so she can trust that you will take care of every situation for her.

She was most definitly a lower ranking pack member, if not the lowest, so I would start with some bonding at home before you move on to bigger things. Once she trusts that you are her leader she won't be as scared to conquer stuff.
Good Luck.
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Old 02-01-2010, 09:31 PM   #6
Elsablue
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Thanks for the support

Thanks for your responses I will keep trying with her as she is such a lovely dog. We have just returned from training where I think she has done fantastically, she sat and let the other dogs walk past without lunging at all, so long as they did not get too close to her. She did not want to walk in a circle where there was a dog in front and a dog behind but the trainer is very good and let her sit in the middle and the dogs walk around her in a wide circle so not near her, then she walked on her own.

How do I go about doing the 'watch me'?

Trina
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Old 02-01-2010, 09:47 PM   #7
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Good luck to you with this rescue. I had one who did the same thing. Max was a rescue with a really bad attitude and I got it under control as far as my other dogs were concerned but I had a problem for years with him wanting to attack ANY critter who came close to me. Always with first vet appointment for the day and I couldn't take him to dog parks at all. He was only 30 pounds but he'd take on the biggest critter out there. You already have a trainer so that's good but I had to use Nothing in Life is Free (NILIF) on Max to get him to focus on me. It worked and I strongly suggest it. It goes into the very things you discuss about the fear coming thru the leash and the pooch focusing on you. Try it in addition to your professional training.
Sharon - Mom to Mozart, Monte, Merlin and Mylee! my boyz!
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Old 02-01-2010, 11:18 PM   #8
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WATCH ME ...

Teaching the "Watch Me" command consists of four things:

1. Call your dog by name.
2. Wait for the dog to make eye contact with you
3. Say "good - watch me" in a friendly, pleased voice
4. Give your dog a treat while you have eye contact

Repeat!

If your dog is not making consistent eye contact, move the treat, or your finger and thumb, to the side of your head next to your eye in order to get his/her attention to your face. At the very second you notice eye contact being made say "good - watch me" in a friendly, pleased voice.

Your timing is crucial. You MUST get the "good - watch me" response on time with the dog making eye contact in order to get your dog to understand what you want. Then repeat this several times over a couple of minutes. Once you have your dog's attention, you can move on to the next part of the training.

Now call your dog by name and add "watch me" and as soon as your dog makes eye contact say "good - watch me" and reward your dog with a treat.

You can reinforce the "watch me" command even when you are not training. Simply saying "good - watch me" and reward your dog every time it makes eye contact with you. An example of this would be when your dog is watching you make lunch or supper, or when it wants to go outside. Another good time might be when your dog is laying on the floor in front of you. As you get out of your chair or off of the sofa your dog will most likely get up to see what you are doing. So when it makes eye contact with you, you can simply say "good - watch me" and then reward with a treat.

Over a very short time your dog will give you a large amount of eye contact. The command "watch me" will become an automatic attention command to your dog. Eventually you will be able to decrease the amount of treats you give as a reward until your dog executes the "watch me" without expecting a treat..

Once the watch me command is in place, you can use it to teach your dog a wide variety of commands and tricks.

I know, it sounds simple doesn't it? Well, that's because it is! Believe me, it can make a huge difference to your training. Being able to get your dog's attention when you want it can be critically important someday and may even save your dog's life.

As with all training, keep the sessions under 10 minutes in length and do something that the dog likes to do when the session ends. This will keep your dog interested in training and because there is a "fun time" after the training it will make the dog more willing to train well.
- Michael -



Full of Life ... and Herself - Visit PATCHS' Website
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Old 02-02-2010, 07:45 AM   #9
Elsablue
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Thumbs up Michael - many thanks

Many thanks for the clear instructions I will certainly do this with Elsa and also get the kids to try aswell. As they say if we are all singing off the same page!!
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Old 02-02-2010, 02:48 PM   #10
BetterDog4U
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Originally Posted by Elsablue View Post
Many thanks for the clear instructions I will certainly do this with Elsa and also get the kids to try aswell. As they say if we are all singing off the same page!!
Your welcome, glad to be able to help out!!!

There are other articles and helpful stuff on my A BetterDog 4 U site too if you need them.

All the best!!!
- Michael -



Full of Life ... and Herself - Visit PATCHS' Website
Loving Friend & Faithful Companion - Visit NEKA's Memorial Website
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