"Reactive"?
  • KajaKaja
    Posts: 176
    hey guys! question.

    I should preface this with... it's a people issue. If the people have dogs it's a non-issue. This is only when it's PEOPLE and there are no other dogs around.

    Kaja likes to bark at people/gets a little wary of strangers. In the house, especially. If a stranger comes in and he isn't a dog person/is fearful... I have to put her in another room or she will scare the poor guy. Sometimes when we are walking and I stop to talk to someone, Kaja may randomly begin barking at them too. When I sit at cafes with her, or go in to a pet store, when people stop to pet her she often shies away.

    For the barking, she will do this for like ten minutes or so, and then she calms down and sniffs/gives kisses/plays if there are toys around. it's been said to people visiting our house "see, now you're my best friend!" whereas in the beginning, she was very very hesitant.

    I discussed this with our puppy training program people and they advised I return to the classes under the 'reactive' group, but I don't know if Kaja is actually 'reactive'? I mean perhaps she is. But... I'm worried about her being AROUND dog-reactive dogs, morelike.

    So I will either go for remedial NORMAL group lessons where she will be around other people + their dogs... or I will take her to the reactive classes (which I am a little hesitant about, just because I don't want her to be around bad role model dogs). The thing is, I can't say for sure this will work because as I mentioned... she is FINE when there are OTHER dogs around. And at these classes... there will be other dogs around.

    In the meanwhile I am just taking her to stores/walks/cafes and treating her/letting her have her space/telling people she doesn't like strangers.

    Thoughts on helping her ignore/be less wary? And thoughts on the training groups?
  • BearMomBearMom
    Posts: 162
    Don't know how old your pup is, but perhaps she is entering a fear stage and isn't actually reactive.
  • LexterGraceLexterGrace
    Posts: 23
    This could be a fear stage like @BearMom suggested. However, I would start counter conditioning work as soon as possible. Also, having a strong "watch me" command is really useful in situations like this.

    Here's a good article on the matter: https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/training/counter-conditioning-and-desensitization
    Apricity Kennel Hokkaido Ken
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  • LexterGraceLexterGrace
    Posts: 23
    Whatever you do, please do not flood her. If she is uncomfortable in a particular situation (shying away, wide eyes, refusing food, taking food more rapidly than normal, roach backed, barking, etc are all signs to look out for) remove her ASAP. Flooding has shown to increase fear aggression because it removes the dog's flight response, so to them, fight becomes their "only" option.
    Apricity Kennel Hokkaido Ken
    ~ Located in Northern Virginia, USA ~
    www.apricityhokkaido.weebly.com
    www.facebook.com/apricityhokkaido
    www.twitter.com/lexblanton
    apricityhokkaido@gmail.com
  • SoloSolo
    Posts: 12
    There's safety in numbers. ;-) Other dogs are normally a stabilising factor for dogs who are more shy.

    You can help by proactively stepping in between Kaja and any "threats" aka scary people. Have her Sit behind you while you body-block. You might also look up "Faith in Handler exercises", and Dream Dogz' "advocate for your dog". Also, confidence (or lack thereof) travels down the leash. If you are feeling stressed, or worried about how she will react, that can add nervous energy to a dog. Shy or unsure dogs really, really want to know that "you've got this" & they can trust you to keep them safe. If you don't consciously work on leadership skills, you may want to beef up your practice there, too, since a strong leader makes for a more secure dog. :-)
  • KajaKaja
    Posts: 176
    Hey guys! Thanks for the responses. I hadn't thought of it as a fear stage -- that could be correct.

    Kaja is a year and a half old, and I only started to see her acting this in a few meetings the past couple months. Sometimes she is wary and sometimes not. It was confusing at first, but as soon as I started to realize something was off I've been asking people to ignore her/not crowd her/let her do her own thing... or separate her if I have to. When she ignores or interacts with people she gets praised. I guess improvement feels slow. I will of course keep working at it!! I will check and double check my methods with the link you mentioned, lextergrace. Thanks.

    Something that I wonder.. .is if we have guests at the house and they offer her treats, is that rewarding her for being wary or is it associating guests with good things?

    Something that I've done is I take her to the front of a grocery store and we kind of sit at a distance and I try to acclimate her. A grocery store because it is busy, but also unlike sidewalks, which can be quite tight.... we have lots of space. This sort of thing is not too 'flooding', I hope. I try to just get her attention and practice tricks and chill. If anyone comes by to pet her (sigh) I tell them she doesn't like strangers and they move on. xD

    So then, for the classes. Knowing that she is OK so long as there are other dogs around, do you suppose the classes would help her in this problem area? She sees strangers at the dog park all the time + happily visits with them (again, there are dogs around/she's in her happy place) so I'm not sure if such an environment would be as helpful as I hope it would be -- perhaps I am better off continuing this on my own?

    But if I did do the classes again, do you suppose I could push for her to try the 'regular' as opposed to the 'reactive' group? I have tried very hard to limit her exposure to dog-reactive dogs, which is why I am so nervous about that group, is all.





    Post edited by Kaja at 2016-05-16 06:50:36
  • WrylyBrindleWrylyBrindle
    Posts: 3184
    Something that I wonder.. .is if we have guests at the house and they offer her treats, is that rewarding her for being wary or is it associating guests with good things?


    No, it is not rewarding her for being wary, it IS associating guests with good things :)
    photo Picture 3_zps4y5sotml.png Kai to the Core!
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 12210
    One note on the strangers-giving-treats thing, at first just have them drop the treat on the floor close by so Kaja can get it on her own terms. Sometimes a stranger trying to give a (shy) dog a treat can actually worsen the situation as it adds a lot of extra physical pressure to the already uncomfortable situation for the dog. Best approach is probably to have guests ignore Kaja and just drop the treats on the floor until Kaja starts trying to engage the new person on her own.
  • pyleapylea
    Posts: 19
    My 7-month-old is pretty similar. She barks at strangers approaching in the dark, and doesn't like when strangers try to touch her. I also tell them she doesn't like being pet, but I say they can give her a treat and/or let her sniff them. I also have her give them a high-five or "touch" them with her paw, in return for a treat. That way she gets rewarded for being bold and making contact with them. Similarly to Kaja, she loves other dogs and is fine with strangers petting her at the dog park.

    I take her to the grocery store almost daily too, but I actually carry her inside. She's completely desensitized to large crowds and people being near her (just hates when they reach out to touch her) because I've been doing this since she was 8 weeks old. If your pup likes being carried and isn't too heavy, maybe try carrying her in the store? Mine is almost 20 lbs now so I recently started letting her walk next to me inside the store. So far no one has kicked us out, hehe. I take her with me to busy cafés as well, and she doesn't mind all the commotion. In fact, I think she likes the attention but just doesn't want to be touched.

    I would absolutely sign Kaja up for another class, and not the reactive one. Puppy K really helped Pylea's timidness around other people. At first, she couldn't do "pass the puppy" at all--I had to go around with her, introducing her to people. Within a few weeks, she was able to make the rounds by herself, even though she still wouldn't let anyone hold her. Still, MAJOR improvement. I'm going to sign her up for another class after she's spayed.
    Post edited by pylea at 2016-05-18 20:44:06

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