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Discussion Starter #1
Guys, need some advice on a dog I rescued recently.

Backstory, she's a 6 year old hound mix, or so the rescue folks tell me (I don't have a clue about dog breeds, so I'm just trusting here), weighs about 45 pounds. She's super sweet, and by some stroke of luck, came to me with excellent house manners. She doesn't counter surf, beg for food, or eat garbage, and she doesn't pee in the house. Just settled right in like she'd been here forever.

She's great around people. All kinda people. Big people, little people, little people on bikes/skateboards, etc. Not scared of or interested in loud and scary things like ambulances and garbage trucks.

The only thing that sets her off is other dogs. She can spot a dog from like four blocks away and go into high alert. Pretty non-reactive to dog sounds or smells, only perks up in sight of a dog, and leading her out of sight, even if the other dog is like twenty feet away around a corner or behind a bush, will usually calm her down significantly.

I don't believe her to be aggressive, just very excited and curious. Like, insanely excited. Like, there is no other world, including me, excited.

If we're stopped and she sees another dog, she'll bark vigorously. If we're far away, she'll just stand next to me and bark nonstop until the other dog disappears, and as soon as it goes out of sight, it's like a switch flips, she'll start paying attention to me again, and the barking stops.

If we're within about 30-40 feet and stopped, she'll add some spirited lunging to the barking. If we're moving at any distance, she'll usually not bark, but will lunged in a highly spirited manner.

If I'm reading her dog language right, she's occasionally playful (play bows, rapid circular wagging of the tail that makes her whole back end wobble), but 90% of the time, she's just super confident and forward in wanting to meet this other dog (standing tall and straight, tail straight up). Like, wants to take off at it in a straight line at the fastest pace possible, get there and sniff butts, and usually start some minor tiff (lightly licking or nipping at the other dog's junk, or trying to hump), and once the tiff gets settled, she'll ignore the other dog.

Because of her penchant to not greet politely (and because she will try to haul me over like a champion sled dog), I'm pretty reluctant to let her greet other dogs, especially since 90% of dogs are smaller than her. The last thing I want is to cause a problem with my neighbors because she provoked a tiff with their froo-froo dog. She has a couple of dog friends in the neighborhood who have understanding owners, but mostly people see her barking like she might have rabies and they'll pick up their tiny dog and hurry away.

I enrolled her in obedience class to see if I could help her get socialized. Today, on the first lesson, the trainer had me keep her from meeting the other dogs and feed her an entire bucket of liver treats to keep her quiet, which was very minimally successful in keeping her quiet. Kong stuffed with treats, also ineffective (though to be honest she's not much interested in toys at home either).

She spent the entire hour barking loudly. So loudly that I couldn't hear half the stuff the trainer was saying. By the end of the hour, I was exhausted, and the dog showed no signs of slowing down.

I kept her on a short leash, and once she figured out she couldn't get anywhere, she'd just sit or lay down next to me and continue to bark non-stop. Liver treats were effective in shutting her up for maybe 5 seconds at a time. As soon as she gobbled one up, she'd go right back to barking. At this point, I'm just following the trainer's direction, which is to keep feeding her treats so she'll stop barking.

In the last 15 minutes or so of class, after I'd fed her an entire bucket of liver treats (probably half a pound of liver), and I was so done with this dude's concept of feeding her giant liver pieces, so I went back to my normal "sitting on my front step" strategy, which is to calmly and firmly turn her away from the dog she's interested in. As soon as she figures out that when she stops fighting me, I'll let her go, she'll stop and I'll get 10-15 seconds of peace (and a dirty look from the other dog's human parent).

To be clear, I'm not hitting the dog, and I'm not using enough force to hurt her, just enough to turn her in the direction I want her to go, and as soon as she stops struggling, I immediately release the counter-pressure. I let her stay in whatever position she's in (standing, laying down, or sitting), and I don't put her down on the ground or roll her over.

The trainer told me afterwards that I should bring her to the Petsmart as often as possible and walk her past other dogs, following a 20-foot rule (look but don't greet), so that she'll get used to seeing other dogs. This is a strategy I've tried for two weeks at home on our walks to little improvement (along with the "sitting on the front step and waiting for dogs to go by" strategy).

I'm a little doubtful about this strategy for the following reasons:
1) His initial strategy was for me to feed her an insane amount of liver treats to shut her up; yes, at 45 lbs she's pretty big, but not big enough that she ought to be eating an entire bucket of liver in one sitting. Totally not effective, the liver bucket replaced her dinner, and she'll probably have the runs.
2) He did not want me to have her greet the other dogs which usually helps her settle down, even though there were about 5 willing groups in there.
3) She has an insane amount of energy. I walked her briskly for an hour before we went to class, and she still barked non-stop for an entire hour. Any strategy that relies on exhaustion or overexposure will result in my exhaustion long before she gets tired.
4) This guy is like 80 years old, I'm not even sure he remembers his own name.

Thoughts on the look-but-don't-greet strategy?
 

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I'm a little doubtful about this strategy for the following reasons:
1) His initial strategy was for me to feed her an insane amount of liver treats to shut her up; yes, at 45 lbs she's pretty big, but not big enough that she ought to be eating an entire bucket of liver in one sitting. Totally not effective, the liver bucket replaced her dinner, and she'll probably have the runs.
2) He did not want me to have her greet the other dogs which usually helps her settle down, even though there were about 5 willing groups in there.
3) She has an insane amount of energy. I walked her briskly for an hour before we went to class, and she still barked non-stop for an entire hour. Any strategy that relies on exhaustion or overexposure will result in my exhaustion long before she gets tired.
4) This guy is like 80 years old, I'm not even sure he remembers his own name.

Thoughts on the look-but-don't-greet strategy?
1. this is pointless if you are giving them when she is barking, by doing so you reward the behavior you are trying to stop
2. Set up introductions should be done to help show the dog that new things are not to be feared. But I can see the point of if she is barking not to reinforce it by giving her and introduction that she can see as a reward. OTOH she needs to have a few to learn so it should be the lesser of two evils here.
3. what was he doing for the others? she needs more focus for sure-was this a small group?

You need to decide what you want her response to be. For example I have two ACS that I take to the petstore together, there train response is a "look at me" marked by a sound I make. It may take a few weeks to months start at home and move to outdoor. I don't know if the look-but-don't-greet is going to hurt but at some point you are going to have to greet. I would start slow and work up to that at first by the way you say she acts.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
To be clear:
1) I thought it was pointless too, but every time I stopped, or I tried to carve down the size of the treat (from 1" cubes to fingertip sized pieces) I was reprimanded and told to continue feeding large pieces "because she's a big dog." I think the rationale was a) she can't bark and chew at the same time (true); b) bigger pieces take longer to eat (also true, by about two seconds) and c) eventually she'd wear out and the flow of treats could slow to a trickle (not true). He told me to make her "work" for the treat by sitting (not applicable, she was already sitting or laying down), and to have her make eye contact with me (also not applicable, she already knows that when a treat is involved, she needs to look at me to get it). I also didn't like this method because this is the first time she has bitten at my fingers (albeit lightly) and gotten pushy to get treats from me. I clicker trained her in a few days to shake, spin in a circle, and poke a stick with her nose, all with small treats, while being calm and well mannered, so I found this constant emphasis on keeping her mouth full and allowing her to remain excited and pushy to be rather objectionable.

2) I'm about 99% sure that she's not fearful; the exact opposite, she's super confident. Always stands up straight when another dog enters her field of view, with her tail going straight up in the air, looking directly and unflinchingly at them. Honestly I think she scares other dogs more than they scare her, and I want her to relax so she can have a peaceful greeting with other dogs without intimidating them or tearing my arm off. It's tough to do around the neighborhood because most small dog owners will scoop their dog up and hurry away when they see a 45-lb dog colored like a German shepherd barking vigorously at them.

She's the dog equivalent of the loud annoying meathead at a party that barrels around trying to show everyone how cool he is. Unlike the loud annoying meathead, who will never understand that he is constantly committing social faux pas, I would like my dog to eventually realize that she's being rude and pushy.

3) The group size was about 6 groups, including me, and one group had two dogs. On the occasional instances when I'd get a few seconds of peace out of her without plying her with treats, as soon as Gramps started demonstrating something or interacting with another dog, she'd get worked up and it'd be off to the races again.

Honestly, I wanted to give this group class thing a chance, so that I could try to socialize her in a controlled setting, on neutral ground, with willing participants, but it was a huge letdown so far, because none of those things happened.

I'm not adverse to trying anything, and I don't mind if it's going to take a long time, I just want an idea that seems like it makes plausible sense. Cutting walks out of her life and shutting her up inside is not an option being considered.

The bottom line is, I want to know if this concept of walking her around pet stores to see other dogs without greeting them even sounds remotely sane, because if it doesn't, I'm going to fire this geezer and find someone who can remember where he is and what he's doing.
 

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I don't like the idea because it does not have a continuous goal with out letting her greet people. I would recommend one on one for you to start with then with groups since your dog is excitable.
when I posted before about fear she may be excitable but if you go about introductions and something goes wrong she may become reactive (in a unsure/fearful/not like) way and you do not want that. I would think that is why he suggested the walk around, but in such a place you can not be sure you will not bump into someone even if you don't mean to, that makes it unwise and unhelpful to you.

I would go one on one with a trainer and then go from there
 

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The bottom line is, I want to know if this concept of walking her around pet stores to see other dogs without greeting them even sounds remotely sane, because if it doesn't, I'm going to fire this geezer and find someone who can remember where he is and what he's doing.
Sounds completely sane to ME, but only _after_ the dog has a decent relationship with you and has had some training. Your dog basically sounds under socialized, overexcited (duh, you know that) and honestly exposure is the best thing for that - and not exposure ala greeting every dog or even most dogs she meets since she's rude and TONS of dogs of all sizes are going to respond to that kind of greeting by snarking - or outright starting something. If she pulled that crap with any of my dogs, they'd respond badly because she has horrible dog matters. That includes the 100lb GSD mutt who would correct her into the ground and if she didn't take that well (ie: 'apologize and back off) would probably end up in a nasty fight. Se SirviRavenWind's remark about it going badly - that's the badly.

My dogs aren't precious but they *aren't* putting up with rude, pushy dogs and that's what your dog is.

She needs to learn to hold her crap together around dogs and to know she can't greet dogs she sees out and about. She doesn't need to be greeting dogs on leash. She does need to learn how to be on leash around other dogs without meeting them. I'm really not sure 'go walk around petsmart' is the best way to do that, but what your trainer is suggesting is basic counter conditioning and desensitization and "Look at That", but starting outside your dogs threshold. That's... extremely typical, yep. Though just being around the other dogs is not the basis of that game, it's looking at the other dog and then looking at you to get a reward.

(Also this dog is already reactive. It's just frustrated/excited reactive instead of fear/aggressive reactive (maybe, frankly the behavior upon meeting sounds pretty confrontational to me). So any of the stickies about reactivity will apply here.)
 

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My dog is exactly the same, reactive due to overexcitement/frustration versus fear/aggression. Definitely look up Look at That (LAT) training and the sticky for reactive dogs at the top of the training thread.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY7JrteQBOQ&index=12&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a
This video from kikopup gives an idea of what I've been doing with my dog. While we're nowhere near as close to other dogs as the dog in the video, we are making progress, slowly but surely. Basically, I'm training him to be able to see distractions, like another dog, and still remain calm.

Also, I agree that you should not let your dog greet other dogs on leash. She'll just learn to expect it every time and then if you don't allow her to greet a dog her frustration will cause her reactivity to skyrocket. The number one thing I wish I knew when I got my dog was to not allow my dog to greet other dogs on leash, or at least I wish I was aware of the side effects that can arise from doing so.

Good luck with your training! Reactivity really sucks but with a lot of hard work you can work through it. And, I totally know how if feels scaring other dog owners! My 80lb dog turns into cujo when he sees other dogs and has sent people sprinting in the other direction, even though his scary barking is just pent up frustration from not being able to play, albeit rudely, with their dog.
 

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I have a reactive hound as well. Personally, I wouldn't bring her into a pet store until you are able to get her within a reasonable distance of another dog without reacting in a more controlled environment. Do you have any friends that have dogs that could help train? If you can get your dog to settle and take treats while she can see another dog even if it's 50, 100, 200ft away then you have a place to start. You want to keep her under threshold to allow for training to make an impact. Once you find a starting point you can gradually decrease the distance if she shows improvement.

If she reacts no matter the distance you can try blocking the view of the other dog with a gate or temporary wall. Reward her for not reacting even though she can hear and smell the other dog. Once she's settled you can walk the other dog out from behind the wall and then right back behind, reward if she's calm. etc.

Have you looked for a reactive dog class? That or a personal trainer might be helpful.

One thing that I've noticed that has made a big impact is the second they start to react, turn around and walk the opposite direction. If they settle then you can go back the way you were walking, repeat, repeat. They seem to get it pretty quickly that if they are quiet they get to go the way they want. Kind of similar to teaching loose leash walking.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Thanks for all the advice. I don't want to just live with the behavioral problems I inherited from the previous owners. At heart she's a really good dog, and I don't want to make things worse by following bad advice from a trainer that I felt in my gut didn't make sense for my dog. I'll probably end up either enrolling in a reactive dog class (AlAnon for dogs?) or getting a private trainer. I read articles, forums, and books, and watch youtube videos, so I have all these ideas floating in my brain (including the reactive dogs sticky), but I don't feel like I have the dog experience to be able to effectively use advanced methods without some coaching.

Maybe in her previous life, her owners didn't let her out much. Maybe that's why she has awesome house manners and terrible dog manners.

On the size perspective, I know that if I was on the other end, and my tiny dog was being barked at by an insanely loud 45 lb dog that was straining like her owner was the last speedbump between her and winning the Iditarod, I'd run away too. And I steer well clear of actual large dogs; I think she's too confident in herself to realize what a big dog who doesn't appreciate her pushiness can do.

As for dog friends, she doesn't really have many, because she's rude. There's a terrier a couple doors down that's just as excitable as my dog, and honestly I don't think her owner is much interested in training. I think my best bet is her only other dog friend, a fairly calm collie with a good owner that I've only met once. The vet just put my dog on anti-inflammatories and inside-time for two weeks for a bum paw, but after that, it's back to investigating the whereabouts of this collie.

I've also tried the leash-walking-style about face, but it doesn't work because she's highly stubborn and will continue to twist around and look at the other dog until a physical obstruction blocks her sight. The first few times I tried it, I thought I was making breakthroughs because she'd suddenly stop lunging and twisting and she'd look at me. Then I'd look back and realize that we'd gone so far away that a hill had come up between us and the other dog.

One discovery I made lately was while we were sitting on the front step, a lady and her spaniel walked down the sidewalk on the other side of the street. Of course my dog did her usual barking (the vet suggested that she might have some beagle in her somewhere, and she does sound rather beagle-like). As the spaniel turned and went away down a side lawn, I got a couple-second break where even my poor reflexes got a click and treat in before the barking started up again. About 10 seconds later I got another pause, click, and treat before the spaniel disappeared. Then my dog laid down and whined in frustration. Then the strangest thing happened: the spaniel came back, and my dog just laid there and whined, but didn't get up and bark as they crossed the street to our side, got in a car and left. This discovery seems like its worth further investigation.
 
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