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Hi everybody!

I wanted to ask for some help with training and socializing our new puppy. She is a terribly sweet, smart and playful 6-month German shepherd.

I moved to a very small village in a rural area in a new country. I always had dogs in the city, so I am used to meet plenty of people, and have multiple options to meet dogs. When we adopted her, I was very serious about her socialization, I really wanted her to be comfortable with other dogs and people. However, I found out that the people in this village is acting in a very unexpected way for me. Here people seem to keep to themselves (especially if you don't speak well their language, like me) and do not seem to do dog activities. When she was two months old nobody would even look at her during our walks (in my hometown you could barely walk if you had a cute puppy, as a lot of people would greet it). Its even worse with the dog owners, they would avoid any contact with other dogs, and would not let her approach their dogs (even when she was tiny and obviously not dangerous). We tried the only dog class in the area, but they were not interested in socialization, only in 'competition obedience' and we did not like the environment very much... I do not have friends in the country and my partner does not have any friends with dogs.

I was very afraid that she would not be properly socialized, especially with other dogs. She is extremely social, and she gets crazy excited with dogs and people (jumping, barking etc) to the point that she does not really listen or care for treats... I always read that you need to teach the dog to be calm before approaching them. For example, asking her to sit and rewarding her when the dog is still away, and she is not excited, and then let her approach the dog. I thought that with time the ‘excitable’ distance would get smaller and she could be calmer with other dogs. But of course, I cannot really practice this, as all the neighbor dogs would just not approach us…

Now, at six months, when she sees other dogs she starts barking much more loudly and getting excited and she seems to get more and more frustrated when the dogs do not approach her. I am very afraid because I don’t want her to grow into an aggressive or afraid dog towards other animals…

Any tips?
 

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I sympathize so much with living in a foreign country, dealing with the language barrier, and having a limited social circle. It's absolutely a rough time, especially when you have these kinds of training and socialization roadblocks. I'm going to try to give advice with the understanding of that experience, and based on my own experiences with my boy. Sam is also a frustrated greeter, also known as having excitement or frustration reactivity, partially due to his natural temperament and partially due to mistakes I made during his early socialization that I'm now trying to fix.

I would start by switching your focus from her socializing by interacting with other dogs, and focus on getting her to be dog-neutral and socializing by being around other dogs without interacting with them. Ultimately, she should see other dogs, know they're there, but stay collected and refocuses easily on you. Some of this comes naturally in time with maturity, but there's definitely things you can do to teach her that this is the best response. And one you're already doing: you should avoid meeting other dogs, ESPECIALLY on leash, unless she can approach calmly and politely.

The other major thing is to teach her a cue like "focus" or "watch" that means she turns her head towards you and away from the trigger (in her case, other dogs). Start in really low-distraction environments, like your living room or a quiet yard, and use treats or toys that are very rewarding so your pup learns it's a Very Good Thing to refocus on you when you ask. Work to doing this outside on walks when there aren't other dogs around, then other dogs that are so far away that she isn't lunging or barking. If she is whining, barking, lunging - you're too close. She's too overexcited and can't learn in this state of mind (as you said, she won't take treats, which is a classic sign of this), and the best thing you can do is get distance from the other dog as quickly as possible. You have to work this up slowly, over weeks or months. You can reward her for refocusing on you after a reactivity incident to help her learn to disengage, but it's less effective than avoiding letting her get to that state to begin with.

Obviously you can't control your environment 100% so you will probably have times when another dog surprises you, or you're on a sidewalk on a busy road with nowhere to safely move away from an approaching dog, but otherwise try as much as possible to stay far enough from other dogs to avoid the reactive behavior, so she doesn't keep practicing it and turning it into an ingrained habit. It's great that you've recognized this young! I did not, which is why I'm dealing with a nearly six-year-old dog whose progress is happening, but very slowly.

I'd highly recommend picking up Dr. Patricia McConnell's Feisty Fido booklet. It's inexpensive and short, but has really clear instructions on how to deal with leash reactivity and very understandable explanations for why dogs behave this way and how the methods work. I've been working using many of the techniques and tips from this book to quite good (if slow) success. Grisha Stewart's BAT 2.0 is also a good read on these kinds of issues, but it's much longer and denser, which is intimidating when you just need simple, clear instructions. I'm working through it now, but I'm happy I read Feisty Fido first.
 

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I sympathize so much with living in a foreign country, dealing with the language barrier, and having a limited social circle. It's absolutely a rough time, especially when you have these kinds of training and socialization roadblocks. I'm going to try to give advice with the understanding of that experience, and based on my own experiences with my boy. Sam is also a frustrated greeter, also known as having excitement or frustration reactivity, partially due to his natural temperament and partially due to mistakes I made during his early socialization that I'm now trying to fix.

I would start by switching your focus from her socializing by interacting with other dogs, and focus on getting her to be dog-neutral and socializing by being around other dogs without interacting with them. Ultimately, she should see other dogs, know they're there, but stay collected and refocuses easily on you. Some of this comes naturally in time with maturity, but there's definitely things you can do to teach her that this is the best response. And one you're already doing: you should avoid meeting other dogs, ESPECIALLY on leash, unless she can approach calmly and politely.

The other major thing is to teach her a cue like "focus" or "watch" that means she turns her head towards you and away from the trigger (in her case, other dogs). Start in really low-distraction environments, like your living room or a quiet yard, and use treats or toys that are very rewarding so your pup learns it's a Very Good Thing to refocus on you when you ask. Work to doing this outside on walks when there aren't other dogs around, then other dogs that are so far away that she isn't lunging or barking. If she is whining, barking, lunging - you're too close. She's too overexcited and can't learn in this state of mind (as you said, she won't take treats, which is a classic sign of this), and the best thing you can do is get distance from the other dog as quickly as possible. You have to work this up slowly, over weeks or months. You can reward her for refocusing on you after a reactivity incident to help her learn to disengage, but it's less effective than avoiding letting her get to that state to begin with.

Obviously you can't control your environment 100% so you will probably have times when another dog surprises you, or you're on a sidewalk on a busy road with nowhere to safely move away from an approaching dog, but otherwise try as much as possible to stay far enough from other dogs to avoid the reactive behavior, so she doesn't keep practicing it and turning it into an ingrained habit. It's great that you've recognized this young! I did not, which is why I'm dealing with a nearly six-year-old dog whose progress is happening, but very slowly.

I'd highly recommend picking up Dr. Patricia McConnell's Feisty Fido booklet. It's inexpensive and short, but has really clear instructions on how to deal with leash reactivity and very understandable explanations for why dogs behave this way and how the methods work. I've been working using many of the techniques and tips from this book to quite good (if slow) success. Grisha Stewart's BAT 2.0 is also a good read on these kinds of issues, but it's much longer and denser, which is intimidating when you just need simple, clear instructions. I'm working through it now, but I'm happy I read Feisty Fido first.
Hi again!

Its great to be able to talk with more people who understands the problem! This has been one of the main challenges with her, for the moment.

We have been working on 'Look' (as you said, to look at me) and of course Sit and Stay. She is quite reliable, except if there is people or dogs around... I am also working on rewarding her every time that she is relaxed while hearing/seeing a dog (I even tried to teach her to not react to a dog's bark with youtube dog videos). Now I want to work on 'Quiet' because of all the barking...

The problem is my lack of experience in such an empty place. I trained a previous dog with a similar problem (more fearful then excited) and it really went well. But again we were living in the city, there was plenty of dogs that we could use to 'practice'. Now I barely see other dogs and as they quickly run always as soon as they hear her barking, we can barely practice... I really like this country but the people here seems to be extremely asocial...

I will really keep trying, lets hope that eventually she calms down. I really don't want to have a dog that has problems with other animals... I will take a look at the books. I was actually looking for training books, so you help me a lot with this.
 

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I get you. Norwegians are very nice, but also very private people, so it's pretty uncommon for complete strangers to chat and get to know each other. I'm also limited in my resources because we don't have a car currently, so I've had to figure out what I can do with my boy without access to a lot of other dogs or human helpers. I may wind up going an hour or so away to find a club or training school once I do have reliable transportation, and even then the language barrier will be a pain to navigate. My Norwegian is passable for everyday stuff, but in a class setting where someone's speaking quickly... oof.

Something that's helped me out recently is to watch Sam really closely. Sometimes he'll be interested in something that isn't a trigger - say a child, or someone with a piece of luggage. He'll stand really tall, head straight up, ears perked, mouth closed (the "tall dog" on this reactivity chart Lili Chin illustrated: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lilita/8329539254). I'll stand with his leash loose and wait for him to turn away on his own (I know he won't react because it's not another dog). As soon as he does I mark it (Yes! or Good dog!) and move away quickly from the thing that caught his attention, then reward him with a treat. Since I've started doing this, he's much more able to disengage from situations, including those involving other dogs. It's not perfect, but practicing disengaging from less intense situations seems to really help him know what to do in more exciting encounters.
 

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Hi everybody!

I wanted to ask for some help with training and socializing our new puppy. She is a terribly sweet, smart and playful 6-month German shepherd.

I moved to a very small village in a rural area in a new country. I always had dogs in the city, so I am used to meet plenty of people, and have multiple options to meet dogs. When we adopted her, I was very serious about her socialization, I really wanted her to be comfortable with other dogs and people. However, I found out that the people in this village is acting in a very unexpected way for me. Here people seem to keep to themselves (especially if you don't speak well their language, like me) and do not seem to do dog activities. When she was two months old nobody would even look at her during our walks (in my hometown you could barely walk if you had a cute puppy, as a lot of people would greet it). Its even worse with the dog owners, they would avoid any contact with other dogs, and would not let her approach their dogs (even when she was tiny and obviously not dangerous). We tried the only dog class in the area, but they were not interested in socialization, only in 'competition obedience' and we did not like the environment very much... I do not have friends in the country and my partner does not have any friends with dogs.

I was very afraid that she would not be properly socialized, especially with other dogs. She is extremely social, and she gets crazy excited with dogs and people (jumping, barking etc) to the point that she does not really listen or care for treats... I always read that you need to teach the dog to be calm before approaching them. For example, asking her to sit and rewarding her when the dog is still away, and she is not excited, and then let her approach the dog. I thought that with time the ‘excitable’ distance would get smaller and she could be calmer with other dogs. But of course, I cannot really practice this, as all the neighbor dogs would just not approach us…

Now, at six months, when she sees other dogs she starts barking much more loudly and getting excited and she seems to get more and more frustrated when the dogs do not approach her. I am very afraid because I don’t want her to grow into an aggressive or afraid dog towards other animals…

Any tips?
Dear goodness I wished I lived there. I do. That place sounds PERFECT. Socializing your dog is NOT people touching your dog or other dogs greeting your dog. Socializing is getting your dog used to new situations and things (people, dogs etc.) being around them.

Your dog does not need to meet everyone, does not need to allow their hands on her or greet other dogs. IGNORING those things is the desire.. and the people in this country you are in are doing what I wish EVERYONE did. I have to TELL people to not touch my dog, especially my German Shepherd who has NO INTEREST in every person around touching him! In the US I have to constantly advocate for my dog and tell people No do not touch and please go away!!!

As to the barking at other dogs at six months.. that is common. Get between your dog and the other dog and step quickly and sternly into your dog's space and make your dog back up. The focus needs to be on YOU.

I was told, when my GSD was 6 months old and doing EXACTLY what yours is doing to "take care of that now before it becomes a problem." And so I did. Refocus on me was the answer. At six months old I recall one time she started this crap and I actually grabbed her face on both sides with my hands (my back to the other dog) and I said, "THAT is enough of THAT" while pushing her backwards.

You have a shot at stopping this reactive crap now BEFORE it's a problem. Do it.

Here is the deal. The dog can have it's feelings but it cannot be disobedient. Break the focus on the other dog and get it back on you.. and do it however you need to. Then tell the dog to sit or lie down (assuming your dog knows what those things are) and then enforce the sit or lie down (commands are non-negotiable). Be CLEAR.
 

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3GSD is quite welcome to use what techniques they wish on their dogs. But neither of us have seen your dog in person, or know her temperament, and even then neither of us are professional behaviorists (or even trainers) and so are probably not qualified to evaluate her.

Grabbing a dog's face and shouting - or even saying something loudly and firmly - is a good way to get either a very scared dog or a bit handler. Or both.

Some dogs can handle that kind of technique and let it roll off their back and be fine afterwards. 3GSD has one of these dogs. Because we do not know your dog intimately, I highly urge you (and any lurkers reading this with similar issues) to only consider confrontational, physical, punitive methods as described above under the in person instruction of a certified, qualified professional.

And even then, most certified, qualified professionals these days will have you working with less extreme methods well before they resort to 3GSD's "come to Jesus" techniques.
 

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Let's be real: "Come to Jesus" techniques are, about 98% of the time, not actually training. they are a result of frustration + ignorance + lack of actual training skill and experience, coming together. Sometimes, when you accidentally have the right dog, they work. Then people feel all vindicated, pat themselves on the back and fancy themselves competent enough to give advice to other people, while actually displaying said ignorance and lack of experience, skill and knowledge. If the people they're giving advice two are also frustrated and ignorant (as in uneducated) they go on and give it a try and so on and so forth forever.

It's ridiculous and would almost be entertaining if
A-) there wasn't a real risk of doing real damage when this crap is done to the wrong dog, either by damaging a soft dog - or trying it on a dog with REAL defense drive and the owner gets injured, badly.

Or

B-) People ever woke up and realized how actual NOT TRAINING OR TEACHING THIS IS.

(OP, none of this is directed at you. Daysleepers has good advice. Listen to her and in general never take advice from anyone to tell you something that is designed to cause fear or pain in your dog unless the situation is a-) dangerous and will result in injury or death b-) the person giving you advice has SEEN YOUR DOG IN PERSON and c-) has actual credentials and is willing to share them with you.)
 

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NOTHING I have done or suggested caused either pain or fear (pain? REALLY?).

Reactive behavior tends to escalate. As my one training partner said with her 6 months old dog "this is unacceptable."

If you can get refocus with food? Great. Most of the time you cannot. The message to convey to the dog is twofold. 1. You are in charge, not the dog and so these other dogs are not his/her responsibility. 2. Obedience is non-negotiable.

Too often we are unclear with our dogs. A bit of clarity as in "this behavior is not acceptable" at the outset can truly and permanently create a far better picture for the long term AND (here we go with the nay sayers) make for a better relationship with your dog because he knows you will "take care of it" and advocate for him. Believe it or not, it builds a team instead of the dog thinking, "Oh my.. another dog.. I need to look all big and bad so they are afraid of ME first" (this is the source of most reactivity).

When you step in, getting between your dog and the other dog and convey, "Cut the crap, I've got this" it is amazing how often the dog relaxes and is like "Oh GOOD!" It may take about twice.. perhaps three times.. and they see another dog and look at you. At that moment you get between them and the other dog. A nice sit or down and keeping focus on you while you feed them bits of food for the sit or down and focus on you while the other dog and person go on by is gigantic. You build on this until you can walk on by and your dog looks to you.

If you allow reactivity to continue it will just get worse. You can find those dogs on these forums with a ton of management advice and re-training advice for dogs that have established re-activity as their "go to" response when they see other dogs. Of course the nice thing about established reactivity is that it does pay the bills for more than a few dog trainers out there.
 

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Dude, if you can't be clear without grabbing your dog by the FACE and yelling at them, I don't even know what to say.

If you think ADVOCATING for your dog is having come to jesus meetings with them while they're freaked out, I really don't know what to tell you.


But ain't neither one of those things real evidence of 'training skills' or 'understanding dogs'.

PS: MY DOG ISN'T REACTIVE ANYMORE. MY DOG. The one you would, 100% have written off as 'not worth it' and 'genetically flawed'. I'm pretty content in saying I have real, functional, EFFECTIVE, experience to back up my claims. I had a real reactive dog and now have a dog who can go anywhere, do anything (though there are situations I choose not to put her into), and nap through dog events.

What have you got besides opinions, an attitude, and determination to remain ignorant, justify your bad 'training' and make a fool of yourself in public? WHAT EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE to back up your claims? Which REALLY reactive dog have you ever worked with and fixed? Because you WRITE OFF dogs who are really reactive. Your method works on a dog who sometimes barks at some stuff and you call it reactive further proving you don't know *CRAP* about reactivity or how to deal with it. Which makes your opinions here pretty meaningless, and your methods unsupported.

AND YET YOU KEEP TRYING TO PLAY EXPERT. TO EVERYONE.

You know highly stable, moderate drive, german shepherds who do IPO, and aren't even PETS. So maybe stop trying to advise people about how to handle things you have no experience with and no idea how to handle before you get a dog killed or person hurt with this crap.
 

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Suggesting that someone you do not know grab the face of a dog you do not know - on a public forum full of lurkers looking for advice that you know even less about than the OP - is going to get someone bit. And quite possibly dogs killed as a result. To deny this is grossly irresponsible and, quite frankly, more ignorant than I took you for.

And before you go off on it, no, it's not because the dogs that would bite are "defective", "genetically inferior", "damaged", or otherwise somehow not up to your personal standards of what a "good" temperament is in a dog. It's because grabbing a dog's face is scary and confrontational and wholly unnecessary for the grand majority of dogs.

I have never denied that my amateur handling in Sam's first few years contributed significantly to his current behavior. This is why I'm offering advice based on the things I've learned from that mistake and the techniques I am now successfully employing. I have never once suggested the OP just leave it be and it'll get better on its own, nor would I, because I don't want people to wind up where I am if they can avoid it. But frankly, I'd rather they wind up where I am than with a shut down dog or a dog with a bite history - or a dead dog - because of bad advice.

I won't even address the bit about "refocusing with food" because it shows a complete lack of understanding of how desensitization and counter-conditioning works, and you've shown a complete lack of intent to change that.
 

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Daysleeper, hey're probably thinking 'refocus with food' because all you do when you grab them by the face is refocus them with unpleasant physical handling that puts your hands into the face of a freaked out dog.

I mean that's not what food is or how it works at all, but since all they can do with the situation is grab the dog by the head and shut down the response it's no wonder they can't comprehend that you might be doing something else with food in the picture.

(I DO sometimes now tell Molly to shut up. Without touching her. Because she's no longer reacting, she's barking. Not the same thing.)
 

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A place where nobody want to interact with other peoples dogs?! I'm actually jealous. OP, that is actually how alot of us wish things were. We put alot of work into teaching our dogs to ignore other people and dogs, and focus on us instead. German shepherds also frequently tend to grow out of being social butterflies as they mature, so its usually not an issue for them to ignore others. But for a dog thats allowed/expecting to be able to meet and greet lots of strange people and dogs, yeah you can get that behavior where they bark and pull and act like spoiled brats when they dont get to meet and greet. Shepherds tend to be vocal and pushy anyway.... You see where this is going.
Most people with alot of gsd experience are going to advise you to cut out the meet and greets and teach your dog to focus on you while ignoring others. Theres a high chance your dog isnt going to want all the attention from strangers anyway once mature- shepherds are bred to be aloof, not the right breed to be a social butterfly in most cases.
 

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OP, look up:

-Look at That
-Dog Thresholds (to understand the parameters that enable good training)
-Engage/Disengage training
-Engagement by Denise Fenzi

Never, ever, grab your dog by the face and yell at your dog. I cannot think of a single situation that warrants that kind of behavior. At worst (a dog that is reacting), I move the dog out of the situation. At best, I prevent the situation from even happening.

Every poster thus far EXCEPT 3GSD (and I don't know about Dexter and his GSDs) has direct experience living/working with a reactive dog.
 

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Now that I have somewhat calmed down from my profound disbelief, I have actual advice that I wish I could somehow make available to everyone who has a reactive dog (as opposed to fear periods or normal, if not great, puppy behavior):

It's a long haul.

You are going to feel like you aren't getting anywhere. Sometimes, you're going to think you're going backwards. Sometimes you're GOING to go backward, because of the unavoidable nature of working on this in an erratic and chaotic real world and the fact that sometimes shit just happens. Sometimes, you're going to cry (or want to). Sometimes, you're going to run out of patience, and get frustrated - or angry. It's going to feel like this is your life FOREVER NOW.

It's normal. It's okay. Take a break. Stop working on it. Stay home. Or walk at 3 a.m.
Or hike off to the middle of the woods. Roll your eyes and let yourself stop caring when the inevitable crap happens. "Give up" for a while. Train tricks or work on basic obedience skills. Play with your dog and appreciate the really awesome things about them. You know, those things that get buried under frustration and embarrassment and fear.

Come back to it when you feel like up to it again. It'll get better slowly enough that you may not even notice, but both you and the dog will improve.

You're NOT, no matter what method you use, going to fix it quickly. It's a marathon, not a sprint, basically. Pace yourself accordingly, and hold onto perspective. It HELPS.
 

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No experience with genuinely reactive dogs here- was thinking the OP's issue could possibly just be that the pup has learned this behavior from being allowed to meet and greet strange dogs and people at a young age. Lord knows I could be wrong, but I differentiate between that and what everybody describes as a truly reactive dog. Have seen quite few dogs that learned this type of behavior from being allowed to interact with strangers rather than just getting exposure. Young german shepherds can be pretty vocal and pushy ( read bratty ) when they dont get their way!
 

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No experience with genuinely reactive dogs here- was thinking the OP's issue could possibly just be that the pup has learned this behavior from being allowed to meet and greet strange dogs and people at a young age. Lord knows I could be wrong, but I differentiate between that and what everybody describes as a truly reactive dog. Have seen quite few dogs that learned this type of behavior from being allowed to interact with strangers rather than just getting exposure. Young german shepherds can be pretty vocal and pushy ( read bratty ) when they dont get their way!
Yup, inadvertently teaching a dog that meeting other dogs on-leash is normal and expected is a great way to cause this behavior - and it is a form of reactivity. Trust me, it took me a long time to realize that Sam's behavior was reactivity because "well, he isn't scared or aggressive". Nope. Reactivity from frustration and overexcitement is still reactivity, and the basic principles for modifying that reactivity are the same as those for dealing with fear-based reactivity. If the pup is already reaching the point where she can't take treats when she's worked up over other dogs, imo it should be treated as a reactivity problem.

Good news is, puppies like the OP's haven't created an ingrained habit out of the behavior yet, so they generally see much quicker result and faster progress. That and working on managing and correcting it now will take full advantage of the self-control and maturity that will naturally come as the pup ages.
 

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Every poster thus far EXCEPT 3GSD (and I don't know about Dexter and his GSDs) has direct experience living/working with a reactive dog.
You assume. And you are incorrect.

I HAD a FEW act just like the OP's dog at that age. This is a behavior that you put the lid on NOW or you end up with an ongoing issue (which I do NOT have experience with because I put a lid on it at a young age!).

My (current) older dog was totally reactive. Genetics.. Her sister (I was not that dog's handler) actually jumped a ring gate to get to another dog. Mine would have been the same way.. but it was dealt with and ended when she first started to act.. well.. like a jerk. Same with two others. Greta was the worst because I did not nip it in the bud at the outset..

Here you have a six month old puppy. You can stop this now OR you can diddle around for months or years and always have to manage it. I do not want that. I will NEVER want that.

Anyway.. carry on. It is YOUR dog.

I am blessed with a dog now that never offered to be.. well.. a jerk (reactive). He is 16 months old. He does OTHER silly things (puppy brain in big dog body).
 

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I'm sure the large number of people who have successfully rehabilitated their dogs' reactivity without resorting to bullying tactics (two of which have contributed to this thread, if I'm not mistaken) would disagree with you, 3GSD. But as I said. You can train your own dogs however you like. But I will not stay quiet if and when you give dangerous advice.

Puppies - especially puppies whose issue is frustration and excitement rather than fear - generally have very good, quick lifelong results from ds/cc protocols when they're done well and consistently. Adult dogs with a long history of reactivity take longer, and many may never be 100% around other dogs, but most successfully reach a point where they need minimal management and have excellent leash manners.
 

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3GSD, the fact that you feel compelled to repeatedly call reactive dogs "jerks", even if your own, glaringly shows how misinformed you are about this very common challenge that many dogs and owners face. I've seen your responses on other reactivity threads too and am not impressed.

Yes, sometimes it takes months to resolve reactivity issues. But you can "nip it in the bud" with motivation based training too. As in, if an owner starts working on it immediately it could be a matter of days or weeks rather than months. I wouldn't imagine you to know this because I doubt you've ever even tried that route and instead choose more medieval methods first.

Case in point (and one of many personal examples)... This month I was working with a shepherd/X who's always been aloof with people but has recently been lunging and nipping strangers when a new puppy was added to the home. The dog even ripped at a stranger's clothes, which is totally unacceptable. The owners describe having to pretty much lift him in the air by the harness as he barks and attempts to lunge at people passing by, even when they step off the trail. He was becoming increasingly reactive to other dogs too. I think the owners did wait a couple weeks too long but did seek help sooner than most. Within 1-2 weeks (the time between lesson 1 and 2), I was working with them on a walking path with pedestrians, men holding surfboards, groups of people, dogs, kids, etc. And the dog was calmly (but very aware and showing low level stress signals) walking right by all of them. Yes, we did put him on the opposite side of the owner and we were heavily rewarding great decisions. But we were walking ON the sidewalk-like path with all of these distractions for an hour. At one point we were even surprised by a camp of barking dogs and homeless folk within 20 feet of us. My client's dog was very alert but chose to move away on his own accord. ZERO reactions or anything close. In many instances my client said, "I can't believe it - he absolutely would have reacted to ______ ". But she's a great handler and I worked with her before so I had faith in them...

Anyways, they went from 'can't walk this dog past anyone - run and hide when distractions approach' to 'walk by all the things' within 2 weeks. I am NOT saying the training is done. But it is not uncommon to see significant progress in 2 weeks with some dogs. It takes a genuine effort to work with the dog rather than getting on top of the dog.
 

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We've been over this. At length. The inability to absorb and retain information is... concerning.

Reactivity is a case of the dog effectively
a-) having a panic attack
b-) being so overly excited their brain fell out. Ie: 13 year old meeting Beiber or something.

How quickly you have success with any method is going to vary by *what the emotion behind the reaction is* and how severe that emotional over-reaction is and what lies behind it - ie: genetics, brain chemistry, the differences in fear vs frustration, and just plain old temperament.

It also really depends on what you define success AS.

And, of course, whether or not you get stupid and grab and yell in the face of a dog who is terrified out of their wits and thereby make the problem worse. (Or, in full disclosure and in the sake of fairness, have shit timing and try to feed the dog cookies while they're melting down though the risk of that is more 'doesn't work' than 'dog dead because it bit owner in the face because the owner did something a 4 year old should have more sense than to do).
 
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