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Discussion Starter #1
Sasha, a 1.5 year old Australian Shepherd, has a lot of anxiety issues. Her previous owner bought her from a very bad breeder who took her away from her mother too early, and she never socialized Sasha at all. She basically spent her life in a backyard with two other crazy hyperactive dogs, and never learned any manners or how to even be a dog. Now she barks whenever she hears someone at the door, is always pacing around, and whines if it's night time or the house is too quiet. I give her stuffed Kong toys and bounce a tennis ball with her all the time, and make her do tricks frequently, I've even considered doing aromatheropy (Like the Calming Collar but homemade) but I know she really needs exercise.

There's a problem though... Walks with Sasha are absolutely hellish. She used to be a bad puller, but that was fixed pretty well once I got a gentle leader head collar. Now she walks on a loose lead most of the time just a couple of steps in front of me. That's not the problem, though. Every time she sees a child, person walking, or other dog, she totally flips out, barking and lunging at them. She'll jump towards them and start spazzing and thrashing about once she gets to the end of the lead; she must look absolutely terrifying to other people. To try to train her out of this, I've started taking very high value treats with us on walks (Canned chicken, sauted with a little garlic and Gouda for extra stinkiness) and once I notice her starting to fixate on something or somebody (I see her her ears perk up and her neck goes perpendicular to the ground instead of parallel like she's calm, and sometimes the fur on her haunches will get poofy) I then get her attention with the treat, make her sit and watch me for a couple of seconds, then give her the chicken and lots of praise. At this point, we're usually about 50 yards away. About every 10 feet I make her sit again, make her watch me for a couple of seconds, then reward. However, once we get within say... 20 yards or so of the "target," treats don't matter anymore. At this point she'll start with the barking, then lunging, all while I'm trying desperately to step in front of her and stick a treat to her nose to make her sit. The "targets" are typically people jogging or walking their dogs through the park, so I'll pull Sasha off the sidewalk and let them go past. When they're within 10 yards, there's basically no hope of getting her to chill, so I just stand there looking pitiful holding Sasha back and shouting "I'm so sorry!!"

I've thought about trying to tire her out in the back yard before going on walks, but in a couple of months we're going to be moving to Dallas and getting an apartment, so walks will BE our exercise. I'm also in the process of sewing her a backpack so she can carry around a few water bottles on walks (The store bought ones are like $40!!) so it might help a little once it's finished.

But honestly, I think a lot of the anxiety will be fixed by getting more exercise. Plus, she might even get some valuable socialization!! So, do you guys have any tips?
 

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Your moving to fast. Move only a few feet or inches at a time. Move really slowly.
Your trying to change her emotional response to these things, you have to go incredibly slow at this point. Try this, it worked for my aussie who used to be very anxious too. Buy Control Unleashed, it's great for reactive dogs.
I used Leslie McDevitt's Look at that Game. It teaches dogs that they can look at things, but there is a rule structure that they can understand.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I guess I can definitely see what you're saying about "moving too fast." I'll definitely try slow things down a bit, but I have a couple of questions.

First, how do I slow down when the park I walk through is relatively small and narrow, and there are people walking/jogging through it? The farthest I can get away from the path is probably 20 yards MAX, more like 10 yards in most places. What do I do when someone is trying to pass me? On the streets in front of the houses it's even harder to get away from pedestrians. Plus, when I move to my new apartment, it'll be even HARDER to stay away from people and their dogs, as people are always out walking, and there's simply not enough space.

Second, if I'm creeping by inch by inch on walks, how will Sasha get her exercise? We won't have a backyard in two months, and 5 am walks aren't exactly practical...

Also, thank you for suggesting that book to me! I'll definitely check it out and see if I can't find it at Half Priced Books! =D It looks like a very promising read!
 

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I read in a clicker-training book: CLICKING WITH YOUR DOG, I believe; That when your dog is lunging, pulling, barking, snapping. Make them sit, watch you, give them a treat if they're behaving. If they start up again- the book said to turn about-face, and make your dog turn with you.

I'm not sure if that will cure your dog of her fear, but it might help calm her down...

BTW: CLICKING WITH YOUR DOG was a great book; Taught you how to teach just about anything, even dealing with behavioral issues.

GOOD LUCK!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Deege, that's pretty much what I'm doing now, but once I get within 20 yards of the object of her obsession, it completely falls apart >.<

Also, I will look into that book, thanks =3
 

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In one of my books it said to turn your back on bad-behavior and only turn around and continuing when they behave. It's kind of like when some people suggest that you turn your back on your dog when it's jumping all over you, turn around- wait for him to stop, then turn around...

It works with some dogs, and some dogs it doesn't.

I know when Donatello get's out of hand chasing cats or something, I'll pull him close to me, make him face me and sit- Turning his back on the cats... Then once we turn around he'll calm down and walk like a dog should.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I wish I knew how to do that with Sasha.. I could litterally have a savory piece of garlicy cheesy chicken pressed against her nose, and she still wouldn't care about anything but the person or dog she's lunging at =(
 

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That's really sad to hear... : ( Has to be embarrassing and hectic, making the walk unpleasant.

Are you firm with her? Like really firm? "Sasha- NO!" and make her sit/watch you?

My step-mother's dogs walk all over her, and I keep telling her; "Talk to them as if you'd beat'em." It sounds scary, but if you just deepen your voice, just an octave, and sound forceful, even though you're not. The few times my step-mother has used that voice, it's worked. lol!

Many times I don't even have to change the tone of my voice, and Donatello is cowering on the sofa; He though has some severe emotional anguish from the past that makes every day a chore.
 

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I wish I knew how to do that with Sasha.. I could litterally have a savory piece of garlicy cheesy chicken pressed against her nose, and she still wouldn't care about anything but the person or dog she's lunging at =(
Is there a distance to where she's still aware of the trigger, but still open to your instructions?

That's where I would start with teaching this. She's still receptive, yet is aware of the trigger so she can make a connection between things.
 

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You're trying to socialize by overwhelming her with every sight, sound and activity in the world. By going slow we mean one person at time...one dog at a time....start from the beginning. Teach her that strangers are really good things. Meet a friend in the park with no one else around....no other dogs. Have the friend toss treats from 20' feet away. Your friend is not to look at or talk to Sasha...just toss treats and then turn his/her back....keep doing the exercise....even if Sasha is flipping out. Here's your assignment....you just stand there...no talking, no eye contact...you just hold the leash.
There are two important things to realize...Sasha is not being rewarded for her bad behavior with the treats....you're trying to change her perception of strangers....good things come from them (previously YOU were doing the treating...but, that has to come from the strangers to have any effect). Secondly, this takes time and you may never get her entirely comfortable but, you should be able to get her to cope better.
If she won't respond (refuses all the treats) even with the 'stranger' walking away to a much greater distance then, try it at home....lower her anxiety level by putting her in more comfortable surroundings.
Same for dogs...find one well socialized dog and arrange a meeting or playdate. I assume she is not dog aggressive.....just poor social skills.
 

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Many times I don't even have to change the tone of my voice, and Donatello is cowering on the sofa; He though has some severe emotional anguish from the past that makes every day a chore.
I don't have to with Wally either, I know the feeling about emotional issues all too well *sigh*

And apparently I can make some kind of expression that just lets him know I'm beyond pissed at him.

Consciously, I know if I just stare him down and sorta scrunch my eyebrows down like this -> :mad: that he'll get it - but sometimes I don't even do that, but he reads my displeasure somehow.

Anyway, I also agree that tone of voice can help. I like that description "talk to him like you'd beat him" - too colorful :D
 

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Have you tried using a reward other than treats? I've found with Misty, who is very interested in other dogs/people on walks, that taking a toy along as a reward help to channel her energy burst and focus it on me works fairly well. And it's not a boring old treat. It's a fun, interactive game.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for all of the advice everbody! I tried taking it slow like you suggested, and instead of walking through the park at "rush hour," we walked through a quieter portion of the neighborhood right before it started getting dark. I think it helped that there weren't very many people jogging towards us, which seems to bother Sasha. We just stayed across the street from everybody, and I had her sit and gave her a treat every couple of steps, and I wasn't very stingy with the treats, either! LOL! She did pretty good, though there were a few slip ups. LOL, my poor vision doesn't help, either, as there were tons of instances where Sasha will see something long before I do, and I'll be like "What's your problem? Oh well, sit then!" This happened with a couple of stray cats, an overly bold loose Pomeranian, and a lady who I thought was asking if Sasha was secure, but it turned out to be holding a huge brown dog by the collar, lol! Over all it was a good walk. There was even a young boy on a bike that wanted to pet her, backed off when he saw her barking, but rode around the street at a safe distance asking me questions until Sasha got used to him and stopped barking! The only time she just refused to listen was when we were almost home, and there was a woman walking a black labbish looking dog across the street from us, but it was starting to rain, so we just hightailed it back inside. But other then that, I think she did okay! I'll try to inlist the help of some friends as soon as I get a chance.

I've got a question, though. I watched a bunch of those videos CP, and they are really cool, thanks! I seem to be using the head collar correctly (it actually came with a bunch of instructions and training tips) but occasionally, when Sasha's really flipping out, she manages to get the nose loop up above her eyes! Of course I always adjust it ASAP, and make sure everything is fitting correctly. I'm not 100% on how she's doing it, but it doesn't look very comfy so I'd like to try and prevent it. Is there anything I can do?
 
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