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Discussion Starter #1
Fluffy is dog reactive to the extreme. It used to be that we could walk without much more than barking. We even went to the dog park a couple of times, before we knew how dangerous they could be. Then another dog, when Fluffy licked him in the eye, flipped him over and tried to bite him (fortunately, Fluffy got away with nothing more than a bruise on his tummy), and now he totally flips out anytime a strange dog comes near us. Weirdly, he seems to want to go up to the dog, and he’s slipped out of his harness a couple of times trying to do so while I was holding him back (I’ve caught him every time). He’s doing better when the dog is at a distance, but... It’s just so embarrassing, and I feel like I failed him by not socializing well and letting the other dog attack that one time.

I’ve noticed it’s a lot worse around puppies for some reason, and when I could let him play with other dogs, he went to mount them a lot? Could there be a reason for this particular issue, and could getting him neutered help at least with that? I was going to ask the vet to do that recently, but then I had a health issue of my own and decided it would be best to wait.
 

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Neutering increases fear based aggression. So I would be hesitant to do that. He probably feels more confident around puppies and that's why he acts that way. But mounting puppies isn't sexual. So it won't necessarily be impacted by neutering. You probably would benefit by working on this with a good trainer, though finding a trainer that is good with reactivity can be hard.
 

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The bad experience with getting rolled and bitten (even if not breaking skin ) is the most likely root cause of the reactive behavior. You should counter condition this and Look At That (LAT) training can be a useful tool in doing that. I would start with sitting on my front steps or a in a lawn chair out in front of your home but not too close to the street. Have Fluffy leashed and unable to wiggle out of collar or harness. Have lots of treats on hand. Having previously installed the LAT reward him acknowledging dogs passing in the street and then looking back to you. This will teach him that rather than having to try to chase off that bad dog in the street himself he can look to his connection to you for assurance that nothing bad will happen. He will gradually react less and less and will be faster to connect back to you to cope until these situations no longer provoke reactions. The seeds are in what you talked about on your CGC training thread involving the neighbor's dog.

And don't neuter to try to alter behavior. Sometimes that works and just as easily it can make things worse.
 

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We were working on LAT with our trainer when classes were cancelled due to quarantine. Luckily, it's easy to practise. And it's so rewarding when our dog starts looking to us when scary things appear.

Anchoring in one spot is so helpful, too. I struggle with keeping Peggy under threshold when we're out and about. When things are going well, it's easy to get excited and push it. And then something pops up around the next bend and she loses her brain and I lose my confidence.

I do way better when we just park somewhere and watch the world. It requires less coordination, too!

From your other thread, it sounds like Fluffy did well with your neighbour's dog from a distance. So he's telling you what he's currently comfortable with. That's really helpful.

When Peggy refuses treats, that's when I know I've pushed her too far. (I'm realizing now, as I type this, that happens less and less these days. I guess that's progress?)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Neutering increases fear based aggression. So I would be hesitant to do that.
And don't neuter to try to alter behavior.
Okay. I’ve been on the fence about that, anyways.
He probably feels more confident around puppies and that's why he acts that way.
I never thought about that! Maybe that’s why he doesn’t usually do it to strange adult dogs (he does it to Misty on occasion, especially right after something stressful, now that I think of it)! Another piece of the puzzle that is Fluffy solved!
This will teach him that rather than having to try to chase off that bad dog in the street himself he can look to his connection to you for assurance that nothing bad will happen.
We’ll try that! I’ve actually been reading Click to Calm, and the author wrote about a similar approach—but clicking for good behavior. Do you think clicker training might help, too? I usually just use my voice.
When things are going well, it's easy to get excited and push it. And then something pops up around the next bend and she loses her brain and I lose my confidence.
Yeah, I think that’s part of the issue for us.
You probably would benefit by working on this with a good trainer, though finding a trainer that is good with reactivity can be hard.
If you do a search for "Spirit Dog," she's got online courses. I've chatted with someone who had extremely good results with her reactivity training. But I know it takes a lot of time and patience.
We’ll definitely look into that—I think there’s a couple clubs around here that might help. And that Spirit Dogs thing looks interesting—I’ll do some research into that.
(I'm realizing now, as I type this, that happens less and less these days. I guess that's progress?)
Hooray for progress! :D
Thank you all for your help, I really appreciate it!
 

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I use verbal markers since despite being ambidextrous for many tasks I have never mastered juggling leash, treats and clicker with any decent timing or consistency!
 

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There is a really good reactive dog community on reddit with tons of resources...I found it while looking for stuff for Annie's squirrel issues, which they aren't as geared towards.

I trained annie with a clicker for a while, but have since switched to a soft tongue click most of the time if we are outside, like lily cd re, I also lack a third hand! I like the tongue click because it is very distinct from my usual human babble, and quiet/discreet.
 

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I agree with the difficulty of handling the clicker. The way I mastered it with a leash and treats was by using one that I could attach to my thumb that I just needed to squeeze against my hand to click. It was excellent. That said, I do generally use verbal markers as well. See below for the clicker I like.

link to the marvelous clicker
 

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I'm trying to remember how old and what variety Fluffy is because of the neuter mention. I agree that neutering to resolve "behavior problems" isn't really a very successful move.

Also, it's now strongly recommended to wait til he's reached physical maturity before neutering. This is for health reasons.

My boys, especially Remo were particularly mount happy. Very young, it was part of play, then as they reached maturity there might have been a small sexual component. We scheduled our neuter shortly after they turned one but before that, I realized one day that I hadn't had to tell Remo to get off his brother for weeks. They basically stopped on their own.

Neo is reactive but only to dogs which are themselves not controlled. If a chill dog goes by, he doesn't even blink.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I'm trying to remember how old and what variety Fluffy is because of the neuter mention. I agree that neutering to resolve "behavior problems" isn't really a very successful move.
He’s a 4 year old toy/mini poodle about 11 inches tall. He was 3 when the incident happened. When we moved shortly after, and were considering the neuter, our temporary vet told us at his health check up that he had luxating patellas in both knees, so between that and his extremely low pain tolerance I had decided against it until now because I was hoping that the testosterone would help him build muscle in that area. When I think about it, he hasn’t done mounted our other dog in a while. Maybe our training has helped his confidence? But I really don’t want him bit ever again... I don’t know what we were thinking, bringing him to a dog park. So many other things could have gone wrong... I guess ignorance is bliss.
 

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Beckie is a true monster when it comes to dog reactivity. She will bark a high pitch bark and scream like a maniac, as if she was being butchered, every time we meet a dog on the street, big or small. It is very embarrassing to say the least. She does it out of fear. I know because she will turn to me and asked to be picked up (which she never does, she’s not that type of dog).

Since I can’t walk my dogs in winter (too much snow/salt, they won’t go) for almost six months, and my health prevents me to walk them enough the rest of the year, it’s very hard to work on this behavior.

So I’ve started picking her up when we meet another dog. She’s small, 7 lbs, so it’s doable. She became really quiet and I was able to put her down a few meters away. I’m probably not teaching her anything but at least we all get peace in return... :)
 

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Remember that there is nothing magical about a physical clicker. Denise Fenzi makes a clicking noise with her mouth and accomplishes the same thing. You're marking the behavior in some way. It could be a clicker, a snap, a mouth click, a flashlight pulse, a whistle, how you mark is less important that what you mark. Your marker takes a photograph of correct behavior and gives that photograph to your dog when you give a treat. If you mark, you must reinforce with a treat. That's a contract you make between your dog.

For a dog who has been attacked, being upset around dogs makes sense. Two things. LAT game is half of the equation. The second half is rewarding the dog by moving away. Did you see the dog? Look at that! Great! Let's run the other way together and watch it again.

Seeing something scary together, and rewarding look at that by moving away, gives you a chance to reinforce calm behavior a second time. And since getting away is what the dog naturally wants, you're allowing the dog to experience emotional relief from pressure. This gives you a chance to reinforce calm multiple times. From an increased distance, you can play more look at that, and reinforce more calm.

When the dog is always calm with the look at that, run away, look at that, game and you haven't had a single issue for two weeks, crank the game up a notch.

See a dog, look at that, run away, reinforce retreating with you. This time, pause a breath and, instead of playing look at that, move a little closer, then ask, Look at that. And run away again, but not quite as far back as you did the first time. If we're measuring sidewalk squares, your first runaway is eight sidewalk squares, move closer two squares and retreat one. This makes your second retreat shorter.

The goal is, Look at that, take a single step back, reinforce. And you get there slowly. Let the dog guide you. If you see your dog arching forward on toes, you're too close. If you see changes in ears and posture, you're too close.

Also... There's this... https://www.clickertraining.com/node/339 It might be your own body language going into the leash.

With toy and small dogs, the size difference between little dogs and big dogs is that of a you and a grizzly bear. I can see why they freak out. I'd freak out if a grizzly bear showed up in front of my house and someone said, "He's friendly." Just the size difference alone would scare me. Is it OK to pick up a toy dog, walk past another dog, and then set the dog on the ground? Of course, as long as the dog in your arms isn't throwing a massive barking snarling fit. It's important to treat our small dogs like they are dogs, meaning they still must learn standard dog manners. But, at the same time we need to have compassion for their vulnerability.
 

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When Noelle was a tiny puppy, she was utterly terrified of garbage trucks. Thought they were poodle eating monsters. She flipped out barking, and screaming and just lost her mind. So, I would... run away from the poodle eaters with her. "It's a poodle eater! Run!" We'd run away. We'd watch the scary poodle eater from a distance, and she would eat a treat for looking at the poodle eater. We'd go a little closer and then, run away from the poodle eater! Whew, it almost got us that time. Can we be brave and get a little closer? Wow, so brave. Let's run away together. Poodle eater, run!

We ran less far away each time. I marked the distance with sidewalk squares. But, we still ran away together, and I got down on my knees and watched the scary poodle eater go by with her. I paid attention to garbage truck schedules so I could make sure we were on various streets when trucks came by, so we could practice the poodle eater game over and over.

I was actually sad when Noelle saw a garbage truck, shrugged, and went back to sniffing a bush. It was fun running away from poodle eaters.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thank you Click! We tried that in our session today, and I have to admit, it was kind of fun! Fluffy went from screeching like a banshee at the dog across the street to just looking back constantly at him and then to me (of course, there was a lot more distance than usual). That garbage truck story is great. Gives me hope. 😄
 

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Lots of distance is your friend. It can be fun to just run away together. Gradually get your dog used to calmly watching dogs at a distance and slowly close the gap. But, your dog is never required to say hi to another dog on a leash. Being able to pass calmly, without reacting, is enough. Even if you pass calmly on the other side of the street, that's huge progress.
 
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