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Alright ladies and gents, prepare for a rather long, confusing post by yours truly.

I got Luna at four months, missing her key socialization window. I didn't know much about her history other than that she grew up with 13+ other dogs and had to compete for food. She was VERY thin when she arrived at my home. Though she never showed any direct food aggression, I could tell it could have easily gone that way if I hadn't worked on it. Any time my hand would go near her she would eat as though she was about to miss out on the last kibble known to man.

Then came the outdoor issues. It has been a struggle since the first walk. The first day I tried to take her for a walk I couldn't even get out of the townhouse driveway. It took lots of patience, coaxing and food to teach her that walking wasn't so bad and that the cars and buses weren't out for blood. Finally we could go for somewhat-normal walks, meeting new dogs was still a horrifying experience. Every new dog would result in her rolling over or tucking her tail, even when meeting new puppies.

I did my best to make her comfortable and she made quite a few doggy friends... She loved to play and she listened to my cues like a dream. However, a few months later I was walking with her and she sharply jumped out at another dog, resulting in a very unimpressed look from it's owner. I think this was what triggered our problem. It was my fault, i'm sure of it.

My first adopted dog when I lived with my mom had horrendous dog aggression issues and I'm almost sure that when Luna gave that first leap into an oncoming dog, I subconsciously started tensing up whenever another dog would go by to keep her from trying to lunge at it. Big woops. I noticed when a less-than-friendly-looking guy walked by and I tensed up.. same lunging response.

Since this day things have gotten worse. She spirals out of control pretty quick when she sees a dog. Jumping, lunging and whining. She has also gone from extreme fear responses to a 'bravado' of puffing up and standing completely still until she's sure the other dog means no harm. She's never gotten into a fight, but i'm sure that her puffing up, paired with her irresistible urge to run towards other dogs, could easily result in one. Anytime she sees another dog she just hyperfocuses on it. It's extremely hard for me to get her attention back if I haven't got it before-hand.

If I am prepared, however, I can get her to lay down (conditioned from many hours of sitting in the middle of a school field while other dogs play and walk around her) long enough to actually let the dog come up to her, rather than just charging up to it. She still loses her cool at the last few seconds, but her self-control has definitely improved. She has even sat politely while other extremely reactive dogs are dragged by (super proud!).

At the moment I am working on teaching her that a tight leash means good things happen, and to put tension and slack on the leash on cue. Also working on a better eye-contact cue. I click and treat her when she sees other dogs and sits or lays down politely. But she still focuses on them way more intently than i'd like.

How can I help her relax around other dogs? I don't want her to run up to another dog and get bitten. She used to have a solid A+ recall, but now her insane focus on other (new) dogs, gives her an awful case of selective hearing so I can't take her into the field outside anymore. Less exercise since it's winter is also a factor, i'm sure. I really want a dog-friendly dog. So badly. She has such amazing potential, I don't want it to be spoiled just because of her puppy-hood and my past bad experiences. I know how much she loves to run and play with doggy friends.. I just need advice on how to get her to calm down, and greet dogs in a more relaxed, easy-going manner. Help!

I havn't had the money to get her fixed yet, so perhaps her hormones are also playing a part here?

Any advice or helpful stories would be greatly appreciated!!
 

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Keep treating her when she does manage to be calm around other dogs. She doesn't have to lay down, she can stand, but she needs to be calm and still be able to focus on you.

Start at a distance she can focus on you and reward her for calm behavior as you get closer to the dog.

She may not ever be entirely dog friendly, you may just have to accept that.

However, only time and work will really tell. Try to have positive experiences with other dogs, if you can. You will need dogs who are completely good around other dogs though for this really. They can be hard to find.

I wish you best of luck. I know how it can be having a dog who is out of control when they see another dog. My dog's issue is he believes every dog was put here to play with him and it needs to happen RIGHT then. He will lunge, bark, and scream (not just whine, but scream) when he sees another dog. It looks VERY bad on my part, and makes him look VERY aggressive, which he's not. However, we've been working on it his entire life and it hasn't really improved.

Your dog seem like she has much more hope though, as far as being able to at least be around other dogs politely.
 

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Can you take her to a training class? Growl classes didn't exist back when Sassy was acting pretty much the way your dog is acting but going to a class with the same dogs week after week meant she learned [I did as well] how to behave around a set of dogs. She eventually was pretty good with quite a large group of dogs, ~300 dogs that participated in agility trials in our area as well. An outdoor class where you can do exercises at as great a distance as you need would be best - as long as there aren't doggy lookieloos around!

Look up 'Calming Signals' by Turid Rugaas as well. The author is all about using natural dog signals to help dogs work through issues. If you can find a calm dog to do a parallel walk with she will learn how to calm down on her own. I have done this to introduce new dogs into the household and it is quite amazing. We start on opposite sides of the street and both dogs are lunging and barking, keep walking and by the end of the second block dogs are ignoring one another so we move a bit closer and inside a mile they can walk side by side.

Not a fan of having your extremely nervous and reactive dog hold a down stay while another dog approaches, her tension is getting worse with every step the other dog takes. Not a fan of trying to force your dog to focus on you either. This needs to be by choice. Rather shower her with tiny cookies when you notice another dog, before she spots him/her. Keep as far away as you can, turn around, cross the street, use cars and bushes to block view. Keep up the cookies as long as dog is in sight or she is tense. If you are doing this right she will never tense up. In a couple weeks she likely will look at you when you spot a dog, praise and treat as you have been doing. Slow down the delivery of treats but never stop them entirely, you will want to carry treats with you indefinitely to reinforce that other dogs are good and she will be fine if she doesn't get to sniff any noses/butts.

Ginger is going through this now, if I have to use her name to focus her I messed up and need to start treating her sooner. Except for Saturday's amazing 1/2 block backwards hopping [kid on skateboard with large dog towing was super exciting and I should have picked up 16 pound Ginger or crossed the street when they were in view] she now only sings a little when other dogs are around rather than screaming in frustration that she will die if she doesn't get to meet them but there are LOTS of cookies involved!
 

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Thanks for the replies =) So far, with the exception of my inlaws awful dog, and this one dog that ran up to her offleash and tried to bite her, most of her experiences have been very positive.

I will have to see if my library has the book you mentioned, Kathy. I guess maybe I should have described things better x) The only reason she lays down now is because when I was working on it initially we were in the middle of a school field and I was just sitting/laying in the grass with her and that was the position that seemed most comfortable, she was still free to get up/move around if she felt the desire. I just wanted her to be able to see the dogs moving around and remain somewhat calm, which she was doing much better at. Now she just does it on reflex if she starts to get worked-up. The only reason I ask her for anything is because if I don't, and the other dog gives her too much energy (eye contact, other reactive dogs, etc) she will react, and with huge piles of snow on either side of us, moving isn't always an option. When the option is available, however, I will move to a distance where she feels confident and comfortable. I feel it's better to contain her when we don't have a choice, than to let her practice spastic flailing on the end of the leash. Plus, it keeps me calmer since I feel more in control. I have also been working on following dogs on walks, so I can keep a good distance and reward her for being polite as we walk. Until the snow melts I'm sort of stuck, I don't have a car either, so I can't go to classes with her. I requested 'control unleashed' to be bought from my library, so i'm crossing my fingers they order it, and also crossing my fingers the snow will melt soon! x)
 
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