Sarge Reacting to other dogs

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Postby rdneckwife » July 24th, 2010, 10:23 am

Hello all!

Okay so some of this is a re-post from the intro board, but I've edited it so that it has the relevant information. I would love any insight or help I can get!!

Sarge was pretty much so a backyard dog with the PO, so he hasn't had any experience around other dogs. I'm not ready to give up on him socializing with other dogs, but at the moment, we are extremely careful. My best friend has a pack with a pom, pug, Anatolian, and a Aussie. She is wonderful, and is helping me with what we have called "Sarge therapy". It took us 30 minutes today to approach her Aussie pup, who has more nerve than brains apparently. She was trying to stare Sarge down, and she's only 10 weeks old! Anyway, we were only able to allow a brief sniff before we both felt the need to separate them. I know they feed off of our energy and I am trying some calming approaches.

I'm hoping to get some insight and training ideas to help me help Sarge through his fixation on other dogs. It is like he is a completely different dog around other dogs. I had hoped to get him into some dock dogs or TD, as well as get his CGC...but that will not be possible with his dog/dog aggression. If it comes to it, I will accept that he isn't able to be around other dogs...but I'm not ready for that yet. He came in when my two young daughters and I were tickling their dad...and laid down in the middle of us.

Sarge's approach to another dog... Sarge see's dog, fixates (Even with correction), pulls, creeps, lunges....OR He starts grump/whining/barking noises and his jaw is snapping, like teeth chattering. :sad2:

I'm also wondering if it's walking him past the dogs in our neighborhood. There are several very aggressive dogs who try to attack through the fence. I try the head up, relaxed, walk past, with corrections for looking. Some of the dogs just break my heart...Some females who have been bred until their little boobies are dragging the ground (one who even has a nipple that is twice the size of all the others, dragging behind her when she walks).

My neighborhood is halfway great older people, but is slowly being taken over by enterprising shady people. My neighbor across the way waited until I came out with Sarge to potty in the front yard, then brings his female pit bull into the street (another of the females who you can tell has been over bred). Thankfully, Sarge did his business quickly, just looking at her. He was going to bring her on into our yard, but I quickly brought Sarge inside. Another fear I have is letting Sarge out to "go" in the backyard by himself, because I fear him being stolen by some idiot fighter. I take him on leash every time. We walk him at least once a day, usually twice. My walk with his is just over 2 miles. my husband takes him 3 miles, some of it jogging..So at this point, I know its not exercise (because he could barely walk a mile at first, without falling down asleep the minute we got home!). I also plan on fixing up my bicycle to run him more (Asthma and running=not good...but for some reason, riding a bike is easier).

sorry so long!!! Thank you!
Heather, Sarge, and Crew

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"The only thing vicious about my pit bull is his gas"
"Petey NEVER bit Buckwheat"
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Postby TheRedQueen » July 24th, 2010, 10:36 am

Okay, a few questions...

When you say you are giving corrections...what exactly are you doing?

How much training have you done with him?

How old is he?

When you say that you felt the need to separate the Aussie and Sarge, what exactly was going on?

How much training does your friend have with aggressive dogs?

Just trying to get a baseline here. ;)
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Postby mnp13 » July 25th, 2010, 11:46 am

Good start Erin.

Unless he is being reactive when he is looking, I would not correct him for simply looking at other dogs. Is he doing something as well?

And though he's your dog and it's your decision, why is it that you want him to be around other dogs? I'm not challenging your decision, just asking the "why" of it.
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Postby rdneckwife » July 25th, 2010, 3:54 pm

red queen-We have a pincher collar we use. We double the long lead onto a flat color and the pincher, because otherwise he is a good walker. We give a small pop on the pincher if he reacts. We have been training with him since day one, but are still in the beginning phases. He is 10 months old. The Aussie puppies hair raised and she began a growl, sarge stiffened for a lung. When I pulled him and turned him away, he snapped his jaw at her. (Standard is when i feel he is being overwhelmed by another dog, I turn him away from the dog, walk away, sit him...reward him if he pays attention to me instead of the other dog). Honestly, neither of us have had the training. The closest trainer to me that I would trust, other than a generic petsmart trainer (that I am aware of) is in north dallas, about 3 hours drive from me. My friend isn't actually attempting the training, she just brings her dogs for me to try to help him with. I'm attempting some of the Cesar Millan steps, but that is why I came here for help. I've never owned a reactive dog, so this is a new challenge for me.

Michelle-In no way do I feel challenged! :D I knew asking for help would take me humbling myself and a lot of "your doing it wrong"s for me to have to swallow. When I say "looking" at dogs, I mean Puff chested, ears forward, fixated stare, leaning into collar...I reward him for looking at other dogs with his ears back, submissive stance. The problem typically is, the minute the other dog moves, barks, or whimpers in some way, he jumps into his "Hulk" stance.
Heather, Sarge, and Crew

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"The only thing vicious about my pit bull is his gas"
"Petey NEVER bit Buckwheat"
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Postby rdneckwife » July 25th, 2010, 3:58 pm

oh and I forgot...the reason I had wanted him to be around other dogs is pre-sarge, I would spend hours on end at my friends house or her at mine. She would bring her dogs to my house. I would like to him to be able to mingle in that way....Also, I would love to be able to do some sporting events with him (He seems like he might do well in air tracking, dock dogs...I had thought maybe disc dog but he got bored with the frisbee when he got a his kong rings). I'm afraid I would not be able to take him to an event with other dogs around if he reacts this way, as well as take him hiking at the local state parks as was our plan for the fall.
Heather, Sarge, and Crew

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"The only thing vicious about my pit bull is his gas"
"Petey NEVER bit Buckwheat"
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Postby TheRedQueen » July 25th, 2010, 4:30 pm

You're gonna find a lot of pit bull owners here that have dogs that can't interact with other dogs (safely)...so you're gonna have many people that will wonder why you got a pit bull if you want him to be around other dogs. I myself do not have pit bulls, as I don't do well with crate/rotate, and I have a houseful of dogs...it's not in my plans to have dogs that aren't dog-social or dog-tolerant. ;)

Now, that said...not all of my dogs (4 Aussies, 1 pit mix and 1 mini dachshund) are super dog friendly. Most of the Aussies, and Score the mix don't really care for most dogs...they're not about to jump into a playtime with strange dogs...so they're not like labs or goldens or that type that think ALL dogs are friends. Just so you know where I'm coming from...which will be different than others on the board. 8)

You may not be able to ever have him loose around other loose dogs...so you need to figure out if you can handle this. However, I think being able to be around other dogs without, as I always say, "acting like an idiot" is a trained behavior...that dogs can figure out as long as you're consistent and train well. And when I say, "around other dogs" I mean that there can be dogs walking down the street, outside of the car, in yards as you go walking in the neighborhood, etc...without him reacting.

But honestly, my number one concern right now is that you're using a puppy to test his dog-dog behavior. This is bad for many reasons...the pup can get hurt/killed way too easily if something goes wrong, the pup can learn bad social skills from a dog that doesn't have good ones either, and not all dogs like puppies, even though they might be okay with adults. (my Xander doesn't like pups, but tolerates-likes most adults)

Again, honestly...scrap the Dog Whisperer crap...you're gonna end up getting hurt, or someone/some dog will end up getting hurt. The stuff he does is crap...he's a bad trainer that rushes in to do stuff on tv that no dog trainer worth their salt would do. Plus, it's all edited for TV and books. I just watched an episode the other day where three dogs were fighting...and the load of rubbish he told the owners made me laugh out loud...as well as making me cringe most of the time!

Let me look up some good articles for you on how to work on this behavior in a more positive way where no one's gonna get hurt. Because this is something you don't mess around with.
"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby TheRedQueen » July 25th, 2010, 4:36 pm

Also, I'm not a fan of using corrections for aggressive behaviors...because it can hinder more than it can help.

Here are some good articles that will help...without using corrections. At least read through them...lol

Diffusing Aggressive Behaviors
http://www.clickersolutions.com/article ... ession.htm

Help with dog-dog aggression
http://www.clickersolutions.com/article ... tizing.htm

http://www.clickersolutions.com/article ... ession.htm

There are also some great books that will help...my list includes

Click to Calm by Emma Parsons
Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt

And there is a thread here in the training section with book recomendations:
http://www.clickersolutions.com/article ... ession.htm

Also, have you done a search here on PBT on aggression or reactivity? I know you can find other stories of similar dogs, and what owners have been doing. Pitbullmamaliz has been working long and hard on her Inara's dog-dog behavior...I'm sure she'll be here soon to add her $0.02. :)
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"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby furever_pit » July 25th, 2010, 4:42 pm

First, I want to say that having a dog reactive dog doesn't necessarily mean that you won't be able to participate in any dog sports. I'm pretty sure that I am not the only one here with a DA/DR dog who takes him to training/shows/competitions. It's all about management and being one step ahead of the dog.

I've got to run into work so this is going to be a quickie...sorry.
I think that if your dog has some obedience skills that he *knows* that is not unreasonable to ask for those behaviors when you are in circumstances where there are triggers (ie other dogs) around. Correct for non-compliance with a command, and reward for compliance. Take it easy though, don't just walk out into the middle of a dog park and start there. Start slow and give your dog the chance to succeed. You can always take your dog away from the stimulus if you need to to regain focus and control. And then you can try again.

I will note that I don't really care if my dogs get along with other dogs. My DR dog has a select group of "friends" that he gets to hang out with once in a blue moon but other than that, nothing. My dogs are also automatically on a crate and rotate system when they come here. So I am not concerned with rehabbing a DR/DA dog so that it can hang out with others. All I care about is management.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » July 25th, 2010, 5:16 pm

Yeah, plenty of us have reactive dogs here! Like Erin said, I've been working REALLY hard with Inara since January and she has made AMAZING strides. She's able to calmly walk beside a group of dogs, and a strange dog sniffed her butt today and she calmly turned to him and sniffed his side before moving on. That's UNHEARD OF for her. I found a couple links to the threads I've made about how we've worked through it:

viewtopic.php?f=19&t=32118&hilit=relax

viewtopic.php?f=19&t=32804&hilit=relax

viewtopic.php?f=19&t=33399

You can also check out my blog, http://inaradog.wordpress.com , to read more about the mess that Inara used to be and what I've done to work with her. And even though I still consider her reactive, we've now competed in 2 obedience trials and gotten 4th place in both. So competing is definitely do-able!
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Postby rdneckwife » July 25th, 2010, 7:37 pm

TheRedQueen wrote:so you're gonna have many people that will wonder why you got a pit bull if you want him to be around other dogs.


The PO claimed that he was okay around other dogs. I had read that most pit bulls were dog aggressive, so my intention was to adopt one that wasn't. That being said, I know Sarge is Sarge and whatever that means for us, he's with us for up to 15 years.

TheRedQueen wrote:You may not be able to ever have him loose around other loose dogs
Actually, I prefer him leashed. I knew that with the pit bull breed, I would need to be even more responsible because, for example, if a poodle picks a fight with Sarge, he will get the blame.

Honestly, the puppy at this time is the biggest dog she has that isn't DR (Like her Anatolian). We did decide not to use the puppy again after that day, for the same reasons you listed.

furever_pit wrote:I will note that I don't really care if my dogs get along with other dogs.


this is how I feel. I don't want him to go in there and play buddy buddy. I just want him to not lunge at other dogs. Ignoring, would be the better word, I guess.

pitbullmamaliz wrote:She's able to calmly walk beside a group of dogs, and a strange dog sniffed her butt today and she calmly turned to him and sniffed his side before moving on.


this is what I want!!

Thank you all for the resources! I'm going to read through them and then I'll probably have a ton more questions!!
Heather, Sarge, and Crew

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"The only thing vicious about my pit bull is his gas"
"Petey NEVER bit Buckwheat"
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Postby TheRedQueen » July 25th, 2010, 7:58 pm

Okay...good response! I was worried that you wanted a dog that could say, go to the dog park, etc.

If you're just looking for polite behavior...that's good. :D
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Postby mnp13 » July 25th, 2010, 8:30 pm

Wanting him not to act like an ass is fine, but I was just checking to be sure you didn't want him to have lots of "doggie friends" because he might not be capable of having any. That said, even very dog aggressive dogs often tolerate selective other dogs if they are introduced correctly and are supervised and handled well.

My dog Riggs tried to attack Liz's dog Inara when they met. However, a few days later, when she was in a down and he was loose in the house, he completely ignored her... as long as he is left alone he generally leaves other dogs alone.

Plain, simple obedience will help you out a lot. And like Erin said, forget all the Ceasar Milan stuff. He's crap.

You'll find a LOT of differing opinions here on training methods - Erin and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum on a lot of the discussions actually, but on the CM topic, we are in total agreement.

If you are working on your own, be very very very careful about correcting the dog for any reactive or aggressive behavior. Any mis-timing on your part can make the behavior much worse, unintentionally of course, but once things get worse they can be a big problem to fix!
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » July 25th, 2010, 8:50 pm

mnp13 wrote:My dog Riggs tried to attack Liz's dog Inara when they met.


Tried? :wink:
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Postby mnp13 » July 25th, 2010, 9:20 pm

pitbullmamaliz wrote:
mnp13 wrote:My dog Riggs tried to attack Liz's dog Inara when they met.


Tried? :wink:


:smileUp: :smileUp: :smileUp:

Well, he only connected the one time, so I think that counts as an unsuccessful attempt. Right? :oops: (ok, he's an ass, what can I say? :| )
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Postby rdneckwife » July 26th, 2010, 9:32 am

okay quick question...is it normal for DR dogs to react to a human who normally has a dog, but doesn't have it with them at the moment?

One of my female neighbors who is usually out walking her border collie approached me this morning without her dog, and Sarge reacted...barking and lunging. I only had him on a flat collar so in the front yard to pee. She wanted to know which shoe to wear to a funeral. He was trying to get to her.

She came into my yard...but still...this worries me! Usually, he approaches people ears back, tail wagging, sniff then thinks their his best friend. :|
Heather, Sarge, and Crew

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"The only thing vicious about my pit bull is his gas"
"Petey NEVER bit Buckwheat"
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Postby TheRedQueen » July 26th, 2010, 9:43 am

rdneckwife wrote:okay quick question...is it normal for DR dogs to react to a human who normally has a dog, but doesn't have it with them at the moment?

One of my female neighbors who is usually out walking her border collie approached me this morning without her dog, and Sarge reacted...barking and lunging. I only had him on a flat collar so in the front yard to pee. She wanted to know which shoe to wear to a funeral. He was trying to get to her.

She came into my yard...but still...this worries me! Usually, he approaches people ears back, tail wagging, sniff then thinks their his best friend. :|


No, HA and DA don't usually go hand in hand. However, if he associates her with having the dog that he reacts to...she may have just been a cue for him to react.
"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » July 26th, 2010, 10:12 am

Was he just really wanting to go meet her? Inara often acts like an ass if a person is out of reach and she really wants to say hi.
"Remember - every time your dog gets somewhere on a tight leash *a fairy dies and it's all your fault.* Think of the fairies." http://www.positivepetzine.com"

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Postby amalie79 » July 26th, 2010, 11:21 am

My girl reacts badly to strangers, especially if they're staring at her, when she's on lead, and my older lab mix can be leash reactive to people approaching him. The old man requires management-- not allowing folks around him who I can't trust to follow my directions (kids; idiot friends), but I'm working with my young girl using some of the methods that Erin and Liz already linked you to-- especially clicking for attention to me and calm attention to the trigger.

The BEST advice I was given, however, was to take it slowly-- even slower than you think is slow enough. Be thrilled with minor victories. I started by taking Robin to the coffee shop or to the park on a busy Saturday and she went over threshold every time. I had to back off a lot-- keep our distance from her triggers, start slowly at home, in the front yard, on our block-- and now we CAN be at the park and we CAN go through the coffee shop drive through. Doesn't mean we don't have set-backs on occasion...but she's so much better and I see improvement every time. Lots of patience and baby steps.
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Postby mnp13 » July 26th, 2010, 10:52 pm

If she normally has a dog with her that he reacts to, it sounds like it's a conditioned response at this point. "That's the lady with the dog, I have to act like an ass." Which makes me wonder if he's actually DA/DR or if he just thinks that he "should" be for some reason. Know what I mean?

Without seeing the dog, there is no way for me to know, it's just a thought.

When did these behaviors start? Was there a specific thing that suddenly caused him to start acting like this?
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Postby rdneckwife » July 29th, 2010, 10:27 am

Michelle-I really think he just reacted to her because she's normally with the dog. The dog has never given him REASON to react. I would hate to think that the PO conditioned him, but it is possible. I didn't know him before I adopted Sarge from him. He did say his wife's pugs were mean to Sarge. Could that be a possibility?

The first time we took him past a dog who was in their backyard on a walk, he fixated and lunged. When I introduced him to my best friends Pom, he walked nice, then laid nice beside her...unless she tried to move. THEN he was after her. It looked very prey driven with her, because at the time she was kept in long coat.

Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. I'm in the middle of treatments for a severe allergic reaction. To what, we don't know. I've been a miserable, hivey mess since last Friday. My fingers are a little swollen for typing, but I didn't want y'all to think I had bolted. Be back when I'm not a mess :D
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"The only thing vicious about my pit bull is his gas"
"Petey NEVER bit Buckwheat"
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