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I love how this site has helped me gain confidence from my totally dog ignorant state when I started. Again, I need help. Piper is getting more dog reactive. I think it's fear, even if she's in my arms she goes off every dog we meet, even Mickey's friends. We suspect she was an only dog who rode in a purse a lot in her former life. It's difficult and embarrassing to walk her. I've tried treating her when we approach a dog before she reacts, but lately she seems to be so afraid she isn't interested. Advice, please, please.
 

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We have the same issue with Finley that we're currently working on using BAT training. There's tons of info and videos online. Essentially what our trainer has had us start doing, is taking Finley out to dog parks, the beach, wherever there's sure to be a few dogs at any given point but that won't be super close contact. We take him by himself - he needs to work on his confidence WITHOUT his siblings there to "back him up". We start far away from any dogs we can see (we're also working on kids, as Finley doesn't like them either) - I'm talking like 100ft. The first thing you need to do is find their "threshold" - the distance at which they start to engage on other dogs and react. What you're aiming for is to slowly work inwards towards the other dog keeping a close eye on Piper to watch for her reactions. When she locks on visually to the other dog, stop advancing. You should be far enough away at that point that she is engaged on the dog in the distance, but not reacting with barking, growling, whatever - simply watching and observing in a calm or mostly calm state. The SECOND she breaks eye contact from the dog in the distance to look back at you (without being provoked to do so - IE you saying her name over and over), reward her with a treat. Use a treat that she really really is excited about and is willing to work for - we use hot dogs. Not something I would normally ever feed my dogs, but in very small bites for training purposes, when it's something as important as working through fear aggression, I'm on board.

So, that's the routine. Get her to engage on the other dog without flipping her lid. As soon as she ignores the other dog and looks back at you, treat. As you progress, slowly start moving closer to targets without getting her into that full out drive response of spazzing. Even if she does bark at the other dog, the second she pauses and looks at you, reward her.

If you get too close to another dog as you're testing her threshold and she totally peaks, back her away until she is back out of drive mode and pauses to look at you again without barking - and treat.

We've been doing this with Finley for about three weeks now and definitely are seeing some progress. It is slow going, we certainly aren't there yet and it's going to take some serious time and effort, but a confident/non-responsive dog you can walk without issues is totally worth it. Even just after the first week, in between his weekly puppy classes, he had a significant improvement in his responses to the dogs in his class in a very small training room, we were very proud of him!
 

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Thanks! I did not now that stuff. We're going camping this weekend and there'll be plenty of dogs so I can start this. From your info I can see some things I've been doing wrong.
 

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Alaina has it right. Just remember NOT to 'correct or shame' your dog while they are acting out. There is a sort of mask that goes over the dogs eyes (like a muzzle, but only for the eyes) Fabric is hard to see out of, but they can see close up just fine. it is made by premier and is called the "calming cap" We used it on several dogs at dog camp, until the dogs got comfortable with many dogs around.
 

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Thanks ! She's so tiny, I can cover her whole head with my hand.
 

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If she won't take a treat she is too anxious to learn, you are too close to her threshold.

I had exactly this problem with Delilah, she was not socialised at all as a puppy, didn't even go outside, so she was scared of everything when we got her at 18 months.
We used a very similar training method to what Alaina described above, de-sensitising, counter-conditioning and positive reinforcement, though not specifically BAT.
She is still reactive to dogs, I think she always will be, but is ok as long as they are about 10 feet away, nearer if she is in her sling. She used to go into panic mode if a dog was two whole fields away when we first got her, so it is a huge improvement.
She is generally calmer and more trusting now too, if she sees something scary now she tends to freeze rather than instantly going into full-on screaming aggression, so I can pick her up and carry her past the scary thing. (She still struggles with children, and wildlife tends to freak her out lol)

I found this site very helpful for explaining in really simple terms how to deal with fearful reactive dogs; Care for Reactive Dogs
 

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Discussion Starter #7
This is great info! Perfect for me. I need the details you are giving me. Thanks soooo much. (And keep it coming!)
 
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