I'm so discouraged right now. Emilu went after 2 dogs last night in class. Most of you probably know that we have been haveing issues with dog agression for the past year. We have worked hard and had been doing very well. I did get discourged a little while back and cried on Susans shoulder a little because I realized that Emilu is ALWAYS going to be a nervous type dog who has a hard time settling down, and that will never change. But last night she went after a Pekinese (small, hairy dog) and an Aussie who's owner had tossed a glove in EMilu's direction and when the dog went to get it, Emilu charged him. The first one was 'my fault" because I was tallking to the owner of the peke and wasn't watching Emilu closely enough, and I knew that EMilu didn't like the dog because it growls and barks in it's crate and Emilu is very suspicious of it. Luckily no harm done to the little dog. Then next time, well, we were so far away from any other dogs that I wasnt' on guard there either - but she has done this before and we got put on probation for it. I am more worried about her going after dogs who are retrieving something in front of her because this could happen during a show and she might not be leashed if she is in the ring. I also worry about long sits and down (espcecailly out of site) She has always been good as gold during them, but I can't tell what she would do if the dog next to her growled, and challenegd her. I've worked so hard with her, and she loves class and competition , I can't imagine not trialing, but I can't let her hurt another dog either. I'v made a vet appt for her and we'll discuss options - I'm even thinking of a mild calming agent for her - she loves class and learning, but she does get nervous around too many dogs. If she didn't seem to like to show, I wouldn't make her, but she does seem to like it, and I can't imagine stopping. Just really upset right now. The instructor wasn't there last night or we would probably be out on our butts now.
Wow, tough decisions!
Have you competed with her in obedience yet?
How much training have you done specific to this particular problem? (i.e. having her concentrate only on you during sit stays and correct if she so much as glances away or sniffs the floor? and then increasing the distractions.)
I have a similar problem with Hoss, although there is no aggression on his part, just amorous charges, lunges and such. His intent is not the same but the end behavior is similar. I can not trust him around long haired dogs (why that I do not know), unless I am 110% focused on him. If he so much as glances at another dog, I correct him. (I use an ecollar where I can and a pretty hefty collar pop where I am in places where I can not use the ecollar. That being said, I know that using an ecollar in aggressive situations has the potential to make things worse. I am only stating how I use it). I do a lot of healing around his temptations and correct him if he so much as thinks about another dog. I do have to be careful though, as too much of this causes him to avoid the other dogs excessively and he has a tendency to shut down unless I play with him a lot in between. (He is more worried about getting corrected than the other dog. I think he thinks the other dog is "zapping" him.
I think it will take A LOT of concentrated training on your part, but hoopefully you and emilu can work through it!
We have been actually competing for over a year - have our RN,RA, RE and our CD. We are now training for Open. I feel that I can safetly go on to get our RAE because she is alone in the ring with me, there is no throwing of objects to retrieve and no stays at a distance and I should be able to prevent any altercations outside the ring by careful watching. But I want to be able to keep going to class with her. There are so many different reasons for aggression, sometimes more than one in the same dog, and you need to be careful what method you use to correct. And even then, I guess you still have an aggressive dog that is under more control, but still has underlying issues. Just can't believe that my girl is one of them. :-\
Baloo is the same as Hoss. I like that term, "amorous charges"...
He will take every opportunity that presents itself to go "visiting". : I have to watch him like a hawk. He's solid on "watch me", which helps a lot. I also use a lot of distraction games. Taught him to spin, touch, that sort of thing.
I work on "proofing him" every chance we get. Just hanging around while other dogs are doing stuff and practicing getting/keeping his attention on me. Petsmart works well for this.
I know, not the same problem, just trying to throw some ideas out there.... :-[
Baloo - 5 year old black lab
Peanut - 7 year old minpin
Monster - 3-ish year old frenchie/jack, rescue
Good for you for recognizing this as an issue and trying to fix it. I have a friend who's Doberman is extremely aggressive but her excuse is always the same "well he's an intact male." : I know lots of intact males. They aren't aggressive. Until she recognizes it as aggression, all of the advice we give her will fall on deaf ears. We're managing the situation by making sure our dogs are never around hers. Of course, that doesn't do much for the poor unsuspecting person who happens to walk their dog by hers but I do try to warn most people.
Back to you... I'd have the thyroid checked while at the vet. A lot of aggression issues are triggered by thyroid problems.
Next, I'd contact a behaviorist to help you work thru these issues.
In the meantime, keep a journal of her issues. When does she attack? What type/sex/breed/color of dog does she attack? What was the dog doing? What were you doing? How did you correct? You may discover a common thread ie always small dogs, always when you aren't watching, always at night, whatever.
In my friend's case her dog always attacks when she isn't paying attention and when she is stressed (like at shows, matches). Any time she lets her guard down, the dog takes full advantage of the opportunity. It sounds like you may have a similar situation. I'd suggest keeping her crated when you can't give her your full attention. If you want to socialize, she's crated. If you are listening to the trainer, she is crated. This is just a management technique until you can get help from a professional.
There are two really good books out that address this issue. Control Unleased and Click to Calm. Both are available from Clean Run. com. One thing you may try is tell Emilu to look at the other dog and then call her attention back to you. Click and then treat. My dog got bit during a practice drill. He then became hypervigilant during runs. Always checking behind his back. He lost his focus. The look game improved this significantly. The agressive type reaction is typically a symptom of fear and is more reactive than agressive. If you allow the dog to look at the thing that triggers them and then reward for returning attention back to you, it can help nip this in the bud. I cannot say enough good things about Control Unleashed.
Those are the 2 books that I have circled to buy - guess I need to get that order placed pronto. Glad that they come recommended by you too. Basically what I have been doing is first, making sure that I am aware of her behavior at all times (which I fell down on last night), if she shows any signs of "alerting" to a dog, I tell her to "watch me" and treat or praise when she does. If she actually growls, I say "uh,uh, or no" , then watch me and treat. This had actually worked quite well. Like I said, I can watch her when I'm with her, but if she is off-leash and another dog goes to get something that was tossed near her, she goes after the dog. I have been wanting to "proof" her for this, deliberately setting up this situation while she is on-leash and I can correct her, which I think would really help, but I find it difficult to ask someone to put their own dog into this situation, even though I would have control over her. I'm just very discouraged and depressed about it right now.
How much socialization around other dogs has she had? Does she ever have just off lead fun with other dogs?
If you are ever in the area, we'd be more then happy to invite you here to play, and set up some situations. (Ruby doesn't give a shat who is growling or why...ignorance is bliss)
I think you are doing the right thing by admiting that she has a problem. Although it may/may not be something you are comfortable with, I would not hesitate to give her a few very stern and physical corrections for this behaviour.
We also do a lot of dominance work with our young dogs in a class situation. Have Emilu lay down when you are talking with others, in a submissive position.
The look game is different than watch me. It allows the dog to look at what typically riles them up and then look back at you for a reward. MoDean would get so wound up when a dog would come on the agility or do one of the contacts he loved. He would sometimes go off course and try to get the dog to "play". It was not agressive but to others looked aggressive. We would break up into groups and I would overhear people say "I don't want to be with the yellow lab". I also will play the look game as a distance game. It seems that he definately has a comfort zone. When we cross the line he becomes agitated and distracted. I would keep MoDean far away from the others doing their agility while waiting for their turn. Then I would slowly decrease the distance for the look game. With Emilu could you tell her to look as the glove is being thrown to some other dog, call her name, click and reward. Then over time decrease the distance from the other dogs. I also found that I really needed to let other people know what I needed. In class I often had to ask the other dog owners to move their dogs back or to not crowd the exit of the exercise. MoDean is improving. I have a friend who has a very reactive BC. She described the experience as "it's like being Jeffrey Dalmer's mother on parent-teacher conference night". I definately felt ostrasized by several of my classes. Then I took one with an instructor I knew very well and he helped me by standing on course in case Mo took off or by being firm and letting the other doghandlers know that all dogs need to be at least 5ft apart. I definately understand your frustration. I do not think this is a case of being undersocialized. Mo goes to doggie daycare without any problems. I think it has to do with fear. Good luck and definately get the books. They will give you hope.
I'm glad for all your suggetions. We have actually been working on this for over a year now. I think my "what to do" at this point, is wondering if we can actually continue with classes and showing (I am tearing up as I type this) When we were put on probabation, I wasn't as upset because we weren't so far into the game and I thought "it's just showing dogs - we don't need to do it if it doesn't work out. Apparently I'm feeling a little more involved in it now :-\ Emilu gets to solialize some with other dogs and gets along with them fine - it fact she LOVES to play. And of course there's always Skippy to chew on. She actually loves most of the dogs in class, once she gets to know them, or they are labs or other bigger dogs (unless one tries to retrieve something in front of her). I really think that she does get nervous around new dogs, or a lot of dogs - when we have to heel very near other dogs (done for proofing sometimes) you can tell she's nerous and giving them all the hairy eyeball. The little, hairy dog thing is something else - not sure what. I will talk to my instructor again, take her to the vet and I'm seriously thinking of starting her on some kind of med if the vet is familiar with something to give her. She has always been a more 'reactive" dog than Skippy. Like I said though - I'm at the point where I'm having to decide how I am going to continue training and showing :-\