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I'm having issues with my 7 month old puppy. I posted about her growling at the vet when she was 4 months, and it's not really getting better.

Backstory, I adopted her from a rescue at 12(?) weeks, she was dumped at the shelter at 6 weeks (the people said 8 weeks, but nobody believes that), rescued, then fostered alone with an old lady, who I doubt socialized her at all. I took her to my friends right away, took her to puppy classes as soon as she got her vaccines(she had a hard time being away from other puppies)... took her to puppy play classes where she started getting aggressive towards the other dogs if she was restrained in any way (we had to take turns letting the puppies play, and she would not sit still on my lap when it wasn't her turn), but totally fine once she was off leash with the other puppies.

I've been taking her out for walks since her 3rd series of vaccines, and she was already fearful of people getting close... even though all the interactions she had with them were fine really... now she randomly barks at people, and we took her to school this morning when we dropped our kids off and she actually did awesome until we were walking back and she snapped at a kid out of nowhere (didn't actually touch him, but still). Needless to say... we won't be taking her again anytime soon. I usually change sidewalks if we're walking past people and/or dogs (she goes crazy at dogs) but thankfully my neighborhood is pretty quiet so it's not really a big issue and easy enough to do.

At home we often have guests, and she barked like crazy at one of them last week even though he had treats (like she'd bark every time he talked), but she was fine with him yesterday when we had a party. She LOVES our close friends and their kids who she's seen every week since we adopted her, but yesterday one of them tried to take one of her special chews and she growled at her (I traded for a regular treat very easily after that). She also growled at a little girl who kept petting her, so I ended up crating her for a while. She hates being away from me so she was not happy about it, but if it's what we have to do, it's what we'll do. The worry for me though is that it seems that getting separated from people makes her more anxious and makes the situation worse (I still wonder if it's why she started getting leash reactive too).

She's also very attached to me and, I'm sure, protective of me.

She's a husky/American Eskimo/Lab mix (with some other random stuff). I initially wanted a puppy to go hiking with, and obviously that's probably never going to happen now. I do understand that some breeds are less friendly towards strangers than others, but I can't help feeling guilty and that I did something wrong. One of my friends rescued a puppy at the same time too, didn't take him to puppy classes, didn't take him for walks or socialize him at all, and he's a well adjusted dog... I'm just starting to wonder if I'm just a terrible dog owner or something (we had a dog with severe resource guarding issues too, and our other dog now is also leash reactive towards other dogs, and actually bit one once).

Thoughts? Tips to make things better? Finances are tight right now and we really can't afford a trainer.
 

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Tip to make it better? Protect her from scary people by keeping her at a distance where she is comfortable. In time that distance could get smaller. Giving her the space where she feels safe is huge. And 'in time' is likely years, not weeks or months. So make a practice to walk up driveways to allow others to pass, cross the street, turn around if it's really narrow. Bucky is now comfortable sitting and looking at me with strangers only 5' but I'm more comfortable if they are 10' away. Teaching her to sit and wait while people pass is a great thing, give her a tiny cookie as she performs. Do not let people pet her but she could show off a cute doggy trick. If you work with a positive based trainer you will get more ways to deal with this but it's a long slow process and you need expert guidance. My first fearful dog was only comfortable around dog savvy people. The sort that are naïve dog lovers? Dog eating monsters.

No you are not a bad puppy raiser. Most of this is her personality. Work with it rather than fight it and she will feel safe and hope to move on from there. It isn't a given that unless a dog is comfortable with strange people 6" away is a bad dangerous dog, every dog and person needs a certain comfort zone.

Remember growling and snapping are extreme signals she is uncomfortable. Figure out what she does before she is forced to growl and snap and move away at that point. Max's whiskers would move forward as he got agitated and needed to bark, I just figure Bucky's going to lose it no matter what! Time between fear and expression is extremely short, Max gave me a second or so to move him away from scary person.
 

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I find it pretty doubtful that you are to blame for your dog's reactivity issues. I think a lot of people have a bit of a misconstrued view of the nature/nurture debate, so here's the best way I've seen it described:

Imagine that there's a scale from 1-10. 10 is the most stable, bombproof, non-reactive, calm dog that has ever lived. And 1 is the most reactive, unstable, anxious, aggressive dog that has ever lived. Most dogs are born somewhere between a 1-10 on that scale. That is nature. Each dog has a natural 'number' on the temperament scale.

Then nurture comes into play. A person can take a puppy who is a natural 7, and not socialize it or train it, and the puppy will likely remain fairly calm and stable. It may turn into a 6, or even a 5, but a natural 8 is never going to be a 2 or 3 (outside of downright abusive circumstances). Similarly, a person can take a puppy who is a natural 3 on the scale, and socialize it and train it, and that 3 is never going to be an 8 or 9. That 3 might turn into a 5, or maybe even a 6. But it will take a lot of effort and work to maintain that number, as the dog's nature is generally skewed towards instability.

It sounds like your dog is pretty low on the natural scale, and your friend's dog is pretty high. No matter how much socializing and training you do, your dog is likely never going to be as stable or even tempered as your friend's dog with a natural tendency to behave that way.

That being said, the situation isn't hopeless. I just want you to understand that it's not your fault.

From what you said, it sounds like she has some leash/barrier reactivity issues. There's a forum sticky on leash reactivity training tips, so you can look there for advice on how to deal with that issue. It also sounds like she's becoming overwhelmed and trigger stacking when you put her in uncomfortable situations. This means that she sees a trigger (another person or dog, for example) and her anxiety elevates. Then she sees another, and it elevates more. When her anxiety is repeatedly elevated and she's not removed from the situation and then a child comes to pet her, she's far more likely to snap. Similarly, if a child is petting her and she becomes anxious and the child doesn't stop and then she becomes more anxious and the child still doesn't stop, she's being forced to elevate to a growl in order to express her stress and discomfort.

I think you need to get her acclimated to wearing a muzzle, and also work on short and positive exposures to situations she may find stressful. Since she obviously resource guards, she shouldn't be allowed to have bones or toys around your guests. When you have guests over, she should have access to a crate or safe place where she can retreat if she feels uncomfortable. You should manage her interactions with people closely and remove her from your company if she displays stress signals. You should also instruct your company to not approach and pet her or crowd her space, but to rather allow her to approach them if and when she feels comfortable in doing so.

Eventually, if the situation continues to not improve and she lives in constant fear or stress, you may want to look into medications that would help reduce her anxiety to a level that would make her easier to train in stressful situations. There's a fabulous thread by one of our members, CptJack, about her journey with her reactive and fearful dog, Molly: http://www.dogforums.com/general-dog-forum/422457-medicating-molly.html

I'm sure other members will have advice for you, as well. Quite a few of us have dealt with reactivity issues, so you're not alone. And try to keep in mind that it's not your fault. Both anxiety and resource guarding are genetic traits. You can absolutely make them worse with the wrong type of training, but there has to be a genetic disposition to those behaviors first and foremost.
 

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I find it pretty doubtful that you are to blame for your dog's reactivity issues. I think a lot of people have a bit of a misconstrued view of the nature/nurture debate, so here's the best way I've seen it described:

Imagine that there's a scale from 1-10. 10 is the most stable, bombproof, non-reactive, calm dog that has ever lived. And 1 is the most reactive, unstable, anxious, aggressive dog that has ever lived. Most dogs are born somewhere between a 1-10 on that scale. That is nature. Each dog has a natural 'number' on the temperament scale.

Then nurture comes into play. A person can take a puppy who is a natural 7, and not socialize it or train it, and the puppy will likely remain fairly calm and stable. It may turn into a 6, or even a 5, but a natural 8 is never going to be a 2 or 3 (outside of downright abusive circumstances). Similarly, a person can take a puppy who is a natural 3 on the scale, and socialize it and train it, and that 3 is never going to be an 8 or 9. That 3 might turn into a 5, or maybe even a 6. But it will take a lot of effort and work to maintain that number, as the dog's nature is generally skewed towards instability.

It sounds like your dog is pretty low on the natural scale, and your friend's dog is pretty high. No matter how much socializing and training you do, your dog is likely never going to be as stable or even tempered as your friend's dog with a natural tendency to behave that way.

That being said, the situation isn't hopeless. I just want you to understand that it's not your fault.

From what you said, it sounds like she has some leash/barrier reactivity issues. There's a forum sticky on leash reactivity training tips, so you can look there for advice on how to deal with that issue. It also sounds like she's becoming overwhelmed and trigger stacking when you put her in uncomfortable situations. This means that she sees a trigger (another person or dog, for example) and her anxiety elevates. Then she sees another, and it elevates more. When her anxiety is repeatedly elevated and she's not removed from the situation and then a child comes to pet her, she's far more likely to snap. Similarly, if a child is petting her and she becomes anxious and the child doesn't stop and then she becomes more anxious and the child still doesn't stop, she's being forced to elevate to a growl in order to express her stress and discomfort.

I think you need to get her acclimated to wearing a muzzle, and also work on short and positive exposures to situations she may find stressful. Since she obviously resource guards, she shouldn't be allowed to have bones or toys around your guests. When you have guests over, she should have access to a crate or safe place where she can retreat if she feels uncomfortable. You should manage her interactions with people closely and remove her from your company if she displays stress signals. You should also instruct your company to not approach and pet her or crowd her space, but to rather allow her to approach them if and when she feels comfortable in doing so.

Eventually, if the situation continues to not improve and she lives in constant fear or stress, you may want to look into medications that would help reduce her anxiety to a level that would make her easier to train in stressful situations. There's a fabulous thread by one of our members, CptJack, about her journey with her reactive and fearful dog, Molly: http://www.dogforums.com/general-dog-forum/422457-medicating-molly.html

I'm sure other members will have advice for you, as well. Quite a few of us have dealt with reactivity issues, so you're not alone. And try to keep in mind that it's not your fault. Both anxiety and resource guarding are genetic traits. You can absolutely make them worse with the wrong type of training, but there has to be a genetic disposition to those behaviors first and foremost.
This is tremendously valuable advice. Your dog is the way he is because he is genetically pre-disposed to be this way.

Muzzle? Absolutely. When guests come over? A crate in another room is your best friend.

A dog bite, especially to a child, is not something you can afford. You KNOW the score with this dog.

Work with him but remember, a dog that is defensive as this dog sounds CAN BE A LIABILITY. (BTW he is NOT protecting YOU when he leash reacts.. he is protecting himself and is in defense drive and is backing up to you because you are safer than that person over there).

Another point to ponder is that all the training in the world cannot change his genes. It can help him and, as noted above, make some progress. HOWEVER, IN THE END he will be what he is and in a stressful situation (Vet, Crowds, strange places) he will likely drop back to being who he is genetically.
 

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I think this thread is full of helpful and thoughtful advice! I just wanted to mention also that there isn't a scenario I can imagine where you wouldn't be able to go hiking with your girl. Even if it means doing some muzzle training and using this as a tool to keep things safe, I'll bet there are options for trails that aren't crowded/are wide enough/have enough detours that you could still make it a goal to enjoy this activity with your dog!

Also, I get the impression that the majority of people have to do some kind of management when walking their dog on a leash and that dog's particular poison (stranger/other dog/certain vehicle/squirrel) appears during the walk.
 

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No off leash hiking is all. In my area it is illegal to have dogs on longer than a 6' leash so there's that. Bucky loves hiking although it's lots of drama if he sees a HORSE. He is muzzle trained too. Get a back pack for her. Use it empty now and start loading it up after she's about 15 months old. Dogs with backpacks are super cute. See my avatar, 13 pound dogs dolled up for a hike. They can carry my keys and phone, so useful!
 
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