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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We went for a walk in the woods and Winnie was on her leash. As we entered the woods, a big, muscular pit type of dog was on his way out. I had Winnie about 4 or 5 metres away from this dog. Winnie stopped to look at the dog for a few seconds and the other dog looked over at her and I thought that was the end of that and was going to continue walking on. All of a sudden this dog lunged straight for Winnie and was snarling and barking and growling. He was so strong, his owner had to use all his strength to hold him back. Of course this spooked Winnie and she jumped back. The dog left with his owner dragging him away but he was still snarling and growling. Winnie started whining like she was crying. We gave Winnie a bit of comfort and she stopped whining and carried on walking and seemed happy sniffing everything and looking at the birds and squirrels. We came across other dogs but they were all in the distance until we walked down a path and another dog (a collie type) was lying down on the path (also on a lead) while his owner was chatting to someone. Winnie would not walk past the dog. She was staring at this dog lying on ground but would not walk past it. I stood between her and the dog as I could hear Winnie growling, then she lunged towards the dog and was snarling and growling at it just like the other dog had done to her. She has met so many dogs in the woods and normally they are friendly and sniff each other and act playfully but this was the first time she has been spooked by another dog. What should I do to ensure this doesn't become a problem? She is not an aggressive dog so her reaction to the second dog must have had something to do with her being scared by the first dog.
 

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Her response to the collie was entirely informed by her experience with the pittie. If you have not already taught Look At That (LAT) do so asap. You will be able to use it in a way that when you encounter something that makes Winnie worried she will know that you have her back when you run into a problem. I would also suggest going someplace where you might be able to watch dogs that resemble the first dog from a distance that is outside her reaction threshold and do tons of counter conditioning so that over time she is able to recover from the trauma. Even though she wasn't physically hurt she formed a psychological picture that is traumatic to her. Your quick work to help her move through the experience is really important. Until you have helped her get her confidence back I would stay off those wooded trails to avoid retraumatizing her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Her response to the collie was entirely informed by her experience with the pittie. If you have not already taught Look At That (LAT) do so asap. You will be able to use it in a way that when you encounter something that makes Winnie worried she will know that you have her back when you run into a problem. I would also suggest going someplace where you might be able to watch dogs that resemble the first dog from a distance that is outside her reaction threshold and do tons of counter conditioning so that over time she is able to recover from the trauma. Even though she wasn't physically hurt she formed a psychological picture that is traumatic to her. Your quick work to help her move through the experience is really important. Until you have helped her get her confidence back I would stay off those wooded trails to avoid retraumatizing her.
I can do 'Look at me' which she knows quite well. I wanted to come across some of the neighbours dogs but they were not around today so hopefully she will see them in the next few days and she knows them well so was hoping this might give her some confidence back. There are a few pittie types that walk around the neighbourhood so she will definitely see them and I will stay across the road from them if I see them around.
 

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This is the most valuable thing you can teach your dog. More valuable than sit. What to do when worried? look at that! It’s a game to play for this situation. Keep your dog a long distance from other dogs, and play look at that. One event learning can be undone, but do not give Winnie a chance to rehearse barking and lunging.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

This is the most valuable thing you can teach your dog. More valuable than sit. What to do when worried? look at that! It’s a game to play for this situation. Keep your dog a long distance from other dogs, and play look at that. One event learning can be undone, but do not give Winnie a chance to rehearse barking and lunging.
Thanks I will take a look and try it.
 

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Your not alone. There's a big black smooth coated dog in our apt who is reactive. We have a similar scenario happen once every month or so when we cross paths. Basil is a amped up after but comes back down to her normal self once we get back to our routine.

An analogy that helps me understand is if you worked in customer service, and a "karen" came in i-rate at 9am pitching a fit. It could ruin your day if you take it personally. No one likes to be yelled, or growled at. You might be a little emotionally sharp the rest of the day as a result. But, you meditate a little, redirect your mind, and then your back to your happy go lucky self the next day.
 

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To re-emphasize what Catherine wrote, please don't take your dog to visit dogs right now, even familiar ones. Walk different paths, different areas, and go slowly. Look at that! Now, let's move away from that. Repeat, over and over. As professional trainers, Catherine and I have both spent many hours dealing with what happens when handlers rush their dogs.
 

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Can you please explain how you would have used a LAT command in the charging/grawling/Snarling dog (pulling on a leash) situation? I understand LAT but not how to use it.
 

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LAT isn't something you can use when someone else's dog charges yours. In that situation, you protect your dog and get out of there. That's a management issue. LAT is a training plan to either prevent your dog from becoming reactive, or rehabilitating dogs who have been traumatized, or dogs who are reactive for whatever reason.

LAT requires distance. That's critical. How far that distance is depends on the dog you are training. Some dogs lose their cool within 30 feet. Others within 10 feet. And still others flip out at any dog within a city block. So, there are no hard and fast rules about how far apart the trainer and dog should be. Close enough to notice, not so close the dog freaks out.

The reason you start practicing LAT in a low distraction environment, and gradually up the distraction level, is because you want to teach the dog how to play really well before you need it. The cue, "Look at that!" should be heavily rewarded to the point where your dog feels like they won the jackpot at a slot machine the second you say it.

So, your dog knows how to play LAT and now you're on a walk. And your dog sees a trigger in the distance. Trigger could be anything that your dog is unsure of--another dog, a kid, a skateboard, a man with a hat. If your dog shifts from meandering along sniffing bushes and fire plugs, and suddenly stands still and leans forward, you've found a trigger. This is your cue to say, "Look at that!"

Classical conditioning will kick in. You've paired that cue with reinforcement so often your dog will reflexively turn toward you looking for a treat. Give a treat, cue another look at that, now... and this is important, move away with your dog. By moving away from the trigger, you'll reward your dog twice. Once with a treat, and second by getting away from the upsetting thing. After playing LAT and moving away, over and over with similar triggers, your dog will hopefully change how they feel about seeing a trigger. Less upset, more relaxed. The trigger predicts a fun game, instead of flooding the dog with stress hormones.

I pull LAT out of my tool kit whenever my dog is concerned about something. It basically gives the dog something to do other than freak out.
 

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LAT isn't something you can use when someone else's dog charges yours. In that situation, you protect your dog and get out of there. That's a management issue. LAT is a training plan to either prevent your dog from becoming reactive, or rehabilitating dogs who have been traumatized, or dogs who are reactive for whatever reason.

LAT requires distance. That's critical. How far that distance is depends on the dog you are training. Some dogs lose their cool within 30 feet. Others within 10 feet. And still others flip out at any dog within a city block. So, there are no hard and fast rules about how far apart the trainer and dog should be. Close enough to notice, not so close the dog freaks out.

The reason you start practicing LAT in a low distraction environment, and gradually up the distraction level, is because you want to teach the dog how to play really well before you need it. The cue, "Look at that!" should be heavily rewarded to the point where your dog feels like they won the jackpot at a slot machine the second you say it.

So, your dog knows how to play LAT and now you're on a walk. And your dog sees a trigger in the distance. Trigger could be anything that your dog is unsure of--another dog, a kid, a skateboard, a man with a hat. If your dog shifts from meandering along sniffing bushes and fire plugs, and suddenly stands still and leans forward, you've found a trigger. This is your cue to say, "Look at that!"

Classical conditioning will kick in. You've paired that cue with reinforcement so often your dog will reflexively turn toward you looking for a treat. Give a treat, cue another look at that, now... and this is important, move away with your dog. By moving away from the trigger, you'll reward your dog twice. Once with a treat, and second by getting away from the upsetting thing. After playing LAT and moving away, over and over with similar triggers, your dog will hopefully change how they feel about seeing a trigger. Less upset, more relaxed. The trigger predicts a fun game, instead of flooding the dog with stress hormones.

I pull LAT out of my tool kit whenever my dog is concerned about something. It basically gives the dog something to do other than freak out.
Thanks so much Click! Just watching the videos and reading a bit about it never really got the underlying point across (to me anyway). Your explanation is quite clear, and now I understand it much better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
What should I do if the neighbours dogs approach us? It's hard to avoid them sometimes as we meet up with a few no matter where I walk. Do I do the LAT with them too, although I don't know how she is going to react with them until she meets up with them.
 

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If you know your neighbors, you can write a flyer and put it on their door handle. Something with a picture of Winnie and a note about her getting scared by another dog. And that you need space for a while to re-train her. So, you'll be crossing the street for a bit when you see their dog. Some people get really bent out of shape when you cross the street to avoid a dog. If you explain that you're training and rehabbing, they are more likely to try and help, rather than get upset.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
If you know your neighbors, you can write a flyer and put it on their door handle. Something with a picture of Winnie and a note about her getting scared by another dog. And that you need space for a while to re-train her. So, you'll be crossing the street for a bit when you see their dog. Some people get really bent out of shape when you cross the street to avoid a dog. If you explain that you're training and rehabbing, they are more likely to try and help, rather than get upset.
So I thought I would try the LAT on our walk this afternoon. She caught on to the concept very quickly during training and I was eager to try it on the walk. We managed to avoid dogs but I saw some in the distance. Winnie didn't see them so I just carried on. I tried the LAT on a few squirrels we came across and a cat and a few ladies with prams and some kids on bikes. She is normally good with bikes and prams but I thought I would practice with them anyway as I would prefer her looking at me for a treat than deciding last minute that she would rather chase something with wheels. I had a bit less success with the cat and one squirrel out of two but she did eventually look at me and I was able to move on a lot quicker than we normally would. So I rate this as good and we will keep practising. I did notice that she was looking at me more in general as we were walking without me saying anything so I rewarded her when she did this as I figured more looking at me was a good thing until we got to something super smelly to sniff.
 

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Yes keep it up and it will get easier and easier and become more effective. I am also glad you took at her offered check ins while out and about. The more Winnie gets the message that keeping connected the more she will understand that you are a team.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I have been working with Winnie and she is back to her old (young) self. Thank you all. We met one of the neighbours dogs today. Quite by accident as we had gone past the house and they had opened the door to go for a walk and their BC must have caught a whiff of Winnie in the air and came bouncing out. It's an old dog and well known to Winnie and she didn't feel any threat nor did she react adversely. We also came across the ladies who dog walk for the first time since the incident and she was happy re-acquainting herself with all the doggy troupe. We will try going back to the woods at the weekend. I will keep my eye open for the dog that went for Winnie and give that one a wide berth.
 
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