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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I posted briefly in the Agility Classes thread about one of Marge's episodes towards another dog.

Here's what happened:

We have a 90 x 100 ' training ring mostly enclosed by snow fencing. Marge and I had just exited the ring and were hanging on the fringes for a couple of seconds. All of a sudden, one of the dogs in the classes after us - small, hairy dog, a dog Marge has never seen or met - starts running zoomies in the ring, coming to about within 10 feet of us at the closest. Marge kind of tensed up, looking intently, straining a bit. Tried to body block her and offer treats, but it was too late. All of a sudden she went off, straining at the end of the leash and barking, following the dog as much as she could on leash.

Now - Marge has been having some slight problems with fear - some of you might have seen my threads recently about it. She got 'reactive' towards both some other dogs and some other people, but by being proactive about it, I think we might have gotten through the worst of it.

However, this seemed different... she didn't seem afraid, she seemed like she wanted to chase! She has done this before, wayyyy back when we used to go to the dog park, she'd chase other dogs (NOT aggressively, even though I've come to the conclusion that she's not a DP kind of dog) while sometimes vocalizing. She did it in Beginner Obedience a while ago when a Lab bumbled across the room, and also during the first week of agility, when a GSD took the weave poles at a lightning rate, both times giving a displeased sort of grumble.

Soo.. what is this? Fear? Excitement? Is it NORMAL? I don't want this behavior to continue because I'm going to need maximum control over her when we start doing heavy duty offleash agility work.
 

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It's hard to say for sure without seeing it, but I would say it's a bit of both, most likely. Your Marge and my Cracker could be sisters in behaviour..lol.
Cracker is an anxious dog AND has a very high prey drive. If she's calm and in a good state of mind, the prey drive looks more like, freeze/point, stalk, chase. If she's already stimulated or nervous, she goes from zero to sixty in seconds..and if leashed she becomes a leaping, lunging, howling (can you say HOUNDDOG) maniac.

What I have found EXTREMELY helpful is using the "Look at that" game from the book "Control Unleashed" by Leslie McDevitt. In fact, I think since you are interested in agility (which the book is aimed at) you may find it even more helpful than I did. The book was written for people who do agility who have dogs that are fearful, reactive or too highly driven for self control..it is well worth the purchase price. I want to do agility with Cracker eventually as she loves physical work, jumping etc but cannot do it at this time due to time and money constraints. We make do with leaping park benches, crawling under fallen trees etc. LOL.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It's hard to say for sure without seeing it, but I would say it's a bit of both, most likely. Your Marge and my Cracker could be sisters in behaviour..lol.
Cracker is an anxious dog AND has a very high prey drive. If she's calm and in a good state of mind, the prey drive looks more like, freeze/point, stalk, chase. If she's already stimulated or nervous, she goes from zero to sixty in seconds..and if leashed she becomes a leaping, lunging, howling (can you say HOUNDDOG) maniac.

What I have found EXTREMELY helpful is using the "Look at that" game from the book "Control Unleashed" by Leslie McDevitt. In fact, I think since you are interested in agility (which the book is aimed at) you may find it even more helpful than I did. The book was written for people who do agility who have dogs that are fearful, reactive or too highly driven for self control..it is well worth the purchase price. I want to do agility with Cracker eventually as she loves physical work, jumping etc but cannot do it at this time due to time and money constraints. We make do with leaping park benches, crawling under fallen trees etc. LOL.
Glad I'm not the only one with a dog who does that. LOL :)

Thanks. I guess it might be a bit of both. Although I just can't figure out how it's a fear response.. the dog wasn't looking at her or heading for her.. just running around like a loon! Either way, you're right, I really need to just break down and buy that damn book.. I've heard soo many good things about it.

It stinks because we had just gone about two weeks without any snarky behavior, but she seems to sneak just ONE in at each agility class.. they're virtually disappeared otherwise.
 

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She doesn't have to be afraid of the other dog...nervous dogs have quicker switches (chemically) than calm dogs. She may have already been a bit "torqued" and the other dog was simply the trigger to overdrive.

I am working with a lab who's owner wanted help with the dogs FRANTIC barking and pulling towards every dog he saw. He was a country dog recently moved to the city. When I observed the behaviour of the dog on our "walk" with the owner, before he even saw any other dogs he was constantly scanning, head moving side to side, sudden bouts of obsessive sniffing and his occipital ridge (the bony part on the top of his head) was pronounced, when I looked at his face, he was panting, tongue out but TENSE tongue, curled at the sides. As much as to the uninitiated he seemed to be just tooting along on his walk having the occasional sniff, this dog was highly stimulated by EVERYTHING and when he saw another dog it simply put him over the top. Working with Look At That with a clicker and some good tiny treats has calmed him considerably.

There are many subtle signals given BEFORE the explosion happens. Watch Marge closely for tenseness in her face and tongue. You may see more than you did before and be able to anticipate the behaviour.

Oh, and Marge looks a lot like Cracker, colouring is different but similar structure. What breed mix is she?
 

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That sounds like fear aggression, It doesn't look like fear because they don't want to appear fearful. my last dog acted the same way around dogs, she was fear aggressive, but we worked with it. Redirection, and going for walks with people and their dogs. Going to dog populated areas and working on focus commands from far away, basically desensitizing her to dogs, and dogs running. Dogs running definitely freaked her out and she would lunge and bark and vocalize a ton.

It's kind of like..there afraid, but they want to appear tough to get this scary weird thing to go away.

There are many subtle signals given BEFORE the explosion happens. Watch Marge closely for tenseness in her face and tongue. You may see more than you did before and be able to anticipate the behaviour.
I 10000000bajillion times agree with that. You need to redirect her before she even starts showing signs that shes going to show signs that lead to outbursts. That sounds complicated, but just watch for any slight change in body language. Maybe she stared a second too long, or her ears were more alert than normal, there's always something..
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
The thing is, though, she LIKES other dogs. I mean, right now we're staying away from all strange dogs as kind of a "reset" period, which every one I've spoken to (trainers, vets, fellow fearful dog owners) has told me to do. But if given the chance she would LOVE to sniff noses with just about any dog, except maybe large ones. I understand what you're saying about fast movement setting off the aggression, though.

We've started our beach walking again.. there were TONS of dogs including dogs that barked their heads off at her and she was perfectly cool about it, ignoring them as I rewarded her.

During this agility episode, she seemed more like.. "ohhh what's that.. gotta get'em gotta get'em.. *leash is now tense, she is being held back* ohh he's still running still running WOOF WOOF WOOF" it was maybe three barks and then she stopped. I bodyblocked, and stayed there a bit until she was calm, then treated her and walked away. The initial "look" that she had was very similar to if she had seen a squirrel (loves those damn things). That's why I said prey/chase... small dog, high speed, and I know Marge loves to chase.. could just be me though.

The other agility incident was with a Dox a couple of weeks ago and this WAS a fearful response. She saw the dog/handler coming from about 30 feet away and tensed up and went off. The two incidents just seem very different. She saw people coming from all over Tuesday at agility class and didn't snark at them the way she did to the Dox.

Oh Cracker, we think she's a predominantly Lab/Hound/(Small Breed)Terrier mix.
 

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Oh Cracker, we think she's a predominantly Lab/Hound/(Small Breed)Terrier mix.
I thought so.
We think Cracker is foxhound and lab. Here's a pic, I think her pose and Marge's avatar pic are pretty similar.



It could be that Marge is reacting to the size and speed of the dogs that she "focuses" on.
Cracker is not allowed to participate in small dog chase games at the park as you can predict the change to prey drive in her. Her head goes down and she tries to take them down by grabbing their hind ends. Thank god for recall training!
If she were on a leash at this time, it's almost guaranteed that the bark and lunge would happen before I started the "Look At That" training.
 

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Yes, my last dog LOVED other dogs, thats what makes it so confusing. Fear aggression isn't necessarily like, aggression, like I said, it's just them trying to act tough so they don't seam weak to the other dog. They display it in loud vocalizations, and anything that looks, well, "macho" haha.

But usually once face to face with the dog, and sniffing, or walking with, they are okay, some can be a bit nervous if the dog gets to close inside their "bubble".

Marge definitely looks like she has some pitty in her. They can come in a range of sizes, the UKC doesn't have a real standard for weight, as they can look like about anything. APBT can be like 20-60 pounds or something.
 

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There are many subtle signals given BEFORE the explosion happens. Watch Marge closely for tenseness in her face and tongue. You may see more than you did before and be able to anticipate the behaviour.
Tongue? That's a new one for me :)

Granted, Wally keeps his in his mouth (because his mouth is always closed when he's freaked, at least while outside). His eyes get as wide as dinner plates and he's 1000% fixated on me and staying a certain distance away from me. If I take a step, he'll scoot over to stay as close as he was before I moved. It would be funny if it were in a different context.
 

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LOL. Yep the tongue can tell you more than you know...but if you are that close to the trigger the mouth closes.
Brenda Aloff's book on body language is very helpful for discerning the smaller signals..it's all in photographs.
A relaxed, happy face usually has an open mouth and a "loose" tongue, out the side or over the front teeth..a drooling fool.
An overstimulated but not terrified tongue often is curled at the tip, or rolled up on the sides and very rarely is hanging out all the way (side or front). The lab I work with is overstimulated. His forehead is wrinkled up, his head scans back and forth, his occipital ridge stands out and he has "grimace" marks on either side of his commissure. It takes a bit of practice to tell the difference between "I'm tired and panting/hot" and "I'm stressed" at this level. But this dog starts panting as soon as we walk out the door. The ridge and the tongue are easiest to see of all the signals when the dog is walking slightly ahead, so that is what I told his owner to watch for.
 

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I'm going to have to look super close. Sometimes I see Wally's tongue like a cm past his teeth (I guess he has a relatively small tongue since he's a small dog?).

I did see his tongue, briefly, when he got a little worked up on our walk this morning and it was pretty far back, but he closed his mouth when looking at me, probably just focused on what we were going to do next/about the situation.
 
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