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I recently adopted Ginger, a 5-6 year old, small mixed breed (poodle and some sort of terrier). I was told that before being in a foster home for a month, she was in a shelter who had picked her up as a stray. They believe she was a stray for about a year. Other than that I have no idea about her history. She is microchipped, knows basic commands (sit, stay, come), and is completely house-trained.
Ginger does bark. A lot. Anytime a person or animal passes our window she barks, and we live in an apartment complex. I take her on walks and to the doggy park every day. She is GREAT at the park, could be a little more interactive with other dogs, but she is social and playful and has never been aggressive at the park. On our walks, she does pretty well as long as no one else is around. She's gotten better about barking at people, but still barks at other dogs. I tried letting her meet the other dogs on our walks, but if she's on a leash she starts growling, lunging, and snapping at the other dog.
If she was a stray for as long as the rescue people think, her reactions might be fear based. I try to stay calm when this happens, but I'm honestly worried that she'll hurt another dog. I don't want to use punishments (especially if she was abused in the past), but some people have suggested bark collars. Any advice is helpful. THANKS!!
 

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My Ginger is a yappy dog too. We got her as a 5 year old and she's 9 now. It got better once she settled down and I used some training techniques to encourage her to bark less. She isn't allowed access to the window facing front of the house and is called into the house for a cookie when she barks outside. It's the sight that sets her off, she doesn't bark at the front door unless people come to the door so try limiting sight and see if that helps. Bucky needs white noise if it's generally quiet like at night and occasional noises happen.

Don't let her meet the dogs on leash. A leashed dog often feels trapped for one thing and of course she cannot meet them all. I block view by hiding behind cars and bushes and will turn around and go the other way to avoid dogs. I continuously treat the dog as soon as I see another dog approaching which evolves into rewarding for looking at the dog then looking at me to get the treat. I'll also do some obedience as we are hiding behind a car, Bucky always looks like he knows I am getting away with something but he plays along. Both my dogs are small and respond well to being picked up and I'll turn to block view of the other dog as well.

Once Bucky's frustrated screaming at not getting to meet all dogs went down in intensity I enrolled him in obedience class. Not for sit, down and all that [although our skills are improving] but for working around other dogs calmly. Two classes so far, he has been terrific. Silence with only intermittent treats last class and he's really interested in working with me. Yes he is the oldest dog in the class at 4 years old but Ginger was in the same class and she's 9.
 

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Never let your dog meet other dogs on leash. The leash forces face to face greetings and can increase reactivity.

Your dog is not being aggressive. She is AFRAID. She LOOKS aggressive, but she is small and a Terrier mix.. the behavior is pretty common. She is conveying the message of "I will get you before you get ME and if I look tough and nasty you will stay away." The best thing you can do is to first and foremost stay between your dog and other dogs. I would not go to the Dog Park (I would never go to a dog park with a dog).

I would put some rock solid obedience on Ginger, Sit. Down. And I mean ROCK solid.. proofing this everywhere. Once you have that, you can go where there are other dogs. Ginger may still want to be reactive to the the other dogs, but you are going to take Ginger off to the side and have her sit or down. She is entitled to hate the other dogs. You cannot punish her for her feelings. You CAN ask for obedience (such as a sit). You can correct Ginger for breaking the sit and for breaking attention to you (and, of course you will be standing and facing her while you are standing between her and the other dogs which helps her). ASSUMING she solidly KNOWS Sit or Down everywhere you go without other dogs around, you can get quite testy with Ginger for breaking the command if she does.

Really it all comes down to impulse control. Her impulse is to be reactive and she needs to learn to control that impulse in favor of the obedience you ask for. Use food and as long as she is quiet and sitting, keep the food coming. After a few months you should see improvement IF you are consistent with both her obedience and your insistence that she be obedient.
 

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Thank you for the feedback! You are absolutely right, that obedience is what needs to be worked on. I have been addressing her fears (not just around other dogs), and that seems to be helping. Reassuring her that I will take care of her and she doesn't need to react seems to be helping a lot of things. Thanks again!
 

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Thank you! Blocking other dog's view works wonders!!! I just pick her up and cover her eyes for a few moments (at least when I see them first), and she doesn't freak out at all! I do want to get her enrolled in obedience classes after the holidays, I'm glad to hear that older dogs do well! Thanks again!
 

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Just noticed you are in Ventura County. So am I! The guy that does the training at Thousand Oaks Parks and Rec is good and does classes elsewhere too. Russ Avison, Canine Logic.
 

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I'll turn my back to block the view and when B is quiet I move so he can see. When he vocalizes I turn again. At first I was shoving my string cheese stick in his mouth and he was just about sucking on it like an upset baby. Now he will look for it and want to chew on it rather than scream, a good thing I think.

This evening I took B out for some clicker training for class homework and Lily the scruffy dog down the street came running up. She was sorry. He was goosing her like mad and wanted to jump on her too. He was good until Lily's owner called her back, then he was barking. Paid good but noisy attention to me. Very pleased with how relaxed he was during the encounter and how quickly he settled down. We are familiar with Lily, she's a sweetie that gets away on occasion.
 

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Please be very very wary about advice telling you to focus on obedience and using corrections to ensure she follows commands. The last thing an anxious small dog needs to to be flooded (forced to look at something they are afraid of) and then punished for not following obedience cues. If she doesn't follow a cue in that situation it's because she's scared not because she's deliberately disobeying. If you punish her in that situation you're running the risk that she will associate the punishment with the other dogs which could make her more reactive.

Look into how to do counter conditioning. The CARE program would be a good place to start. http://careforreactivedogs.com/ You basically want to teach your little dog that dogs coming by are a good thing and not scary. I would also echo Kathyy's advise above about not having her do any leashed greetings. I'd limit her dog exposure to known small dogs in controlled settings rather than going to dog parks since she's already nervous about dogs.
 

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Rock solid obedience doesn't involve corrections. It means you've worked on the behavior in so many places and under so many conditions that the dog hasn't any problem sitting and staying under really stressful conditions like a strange dog making a direct approach.

I prefer my dog to be comfortable with other dogs/people but giving him something concrete to do has helped a great deal. I'm rewarding him continuously for sitting [and not barking or lunging]. If he cannot perform then I'm too close and I move away. So at obedience class I'm moving a step this way and that the whole time as he relaxes and the other dogs lose interest in him. My previous fearful dog was better at the sort of thing you are suggesting though. One size apparently doesn't fit all!
 

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I agree Kathyy. I also use well-known cues as a way to judge if my guy is under threshold and also to manage his reactivity when I'm not in a position to work on counter conditioning. I wasn't trying to raise issue with anything you said I was referring to this from above which was written by another poster.

You can correct Ginger for breaking the sit and for breaking attention to you (....) ASSUMING she solidly KNOWS Sit or Down everywhere you go without other dogs around, you can get quite testy with Ginger for breaking the command if she does.
 

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In your original post you said the she is better at the park. I'm assuming that she is off leash there. You also said that she barks at the window and is reactive while on leash.

That sounds like barrier frustration to me. Block access to the window. Window watching can increase reactivity enormously. Find a positive trainer that understands desensitization and counterconditioning protocols. If a trainer suggests a choke, prong or e-collar, run away.
 
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