Developing leash aggression because she’s been Aggressively approached by loose dogs twice, so now she’s afraid and ‘on guard’ on walks and barks at all other dogs even if they are on the other side of the sidewalk. She lunges and spins and will not listen even when I try to get her attention and have her focus on me. She’s good motivated and I keep treats on me but once she sees another dog she stops caring / listening. She’s fine in the backyard with all the neighbor dogs, no barking or fear. I want to be able to take her on long walks in parks (4-6 miles) and not have her barking and lunging. Her bark sounds so loud and vicious and scares other people on multi use paths. I get embarrassed which she probably can sense and doesn’t help the situation.
Hello Page, I suggest working on the structure of your walk first. You want pup to be working during the walk - having to stay behind you, focus on you, perform commands periodically, and not have her mind on scanning the area in search of other dogs. The walk should start with her having to exit your home very calmly, performing obedience commands at the door if she isn't calm. She should wait for permission ("Okay" or "Free" or "Let's Go") before going through the door instead of bolting through if that's an issue. When you walk she should be in the heel position - with her head behind your leg. That position decreases her arousal, reduces stress because she isn't the one in charge and the one encountering things first. It prevents her from scanning for other dogs, staring dogs down or being stared down, and ignoring you behind her. It also requires her to be in a more submissive, structured, focused, calmer mindset - which has a direct effect on how aroused, stressed, and aggressive she is - it makes her feel like the responsibility is on your shoulders not hers around other dogs. Additionally, when you do pass other dogs, as soon as she starts staring them down, interrupt her. Don't tolerate challenging stares - even if she is stressed. Remind her with a gentle correction that you are leading the walk and she is not allowed to break her heel or stare another dog down. It is far easier to deal with reactivity when you interrupt a dog early in the process - before they are highly aroused and full of adrenaline and cortisol, and to keep the dog in a less aroused/calmer state to begin with. This also makes the walk more pleasant for her in the long-run. Leading the walk this way can actually boost a dog's confidence in the long run around other dogs because the dog feels like you will handle the situation so they can relax. Protect her from other dogs. If she feels nervous and someone wants to let her meet their rude, excited dog, tell the other person no thank you. A simple "She's in training" tends to work well. Be picky about who and how she meets other dogs. Avoid dogs that don't respect her space, pull their owners over to her, and generally are not listening well - those dogs are often friendly but they are rude and difficult for a nervous dog. Also, avoid greeting dogs who look very tense around your dog, who stare her down, who give warning signs like a low growl or lip lift, who look very puffed up and proud - that type greeting with a dog is likely to end in a fight since your dog doesn't know how to diffuse that situation. A stiff wag is also a bad sign. A friendly wag looks relaxed and loose with relaxed body language overall. A tense dog with a very stiff wag, especially with a tail held high is a sign of arousal and not always a good thing. If she is doing well enough to meet another dog safely, keep the greeting to no more than 3 seconds, then happily tell her "Let's Go!" and walk away, giving her a treat from your pocket - which I recommend carrying discretely right now, when she starts following you - to help her learn to follow when you say let's go and associate the encounter with good things. Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Once pup is calmer and more likely to take food - most dogs won't take food while still highly aroused or anxious, then you can also reward pup whenever they pass another dog calmly, are focused and obedient with you, and generally maintain calm body language on the walk around others. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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