Socializing Dexter @ 8 months
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  • J

    I posted a little while back regarding Dexter's anxiety around other dogs on our walks. He becomes very frightened (showing piloerection) and would undoubtedly snap at a dog that came too close. I was suggested to just keep our distance, which we have done, but the problem persists. Even from a distance, Dexter spots a dog and becomes beyond anxious, jumping up and down and even crying as if he wants to go see them, but he's nervous as heck!

    We are in a basic class, and have been in puppy kindergarten when he was younger. What I have noticed is that off leash Dexter plays with other dogs very, very well; and in class on a leash with 6 or 7 other dogs, Dexter is completely content. It is the setting of a walk around the block that this occurs.

    I'd also love input on how any of you have socialized your dogs with strangers. Dex is perfectly fine with people, but I want to reinforce this as a comfort zone for him because the goal is to have him therapy certified to work at Children's Hospital.

    Thanks for any thoughts!

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  • Have you read Control Unleashed? There's also an active yahoo groups list that you can post to once you've read the book.

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  • S

    Have you talked to your training teacher about his issue?

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  • J

    @sharronhurlbut:

    Have you talked to your training teacher about his issue?

    Yes, She suggested taking him to the dog park more often, which we did today and he was really phenomenal with the other dogs. Unfortunately, I'm not sure this will translate into on-leash obedience around other dogs in the neighborhood. Only time will tell, but we were proud of him today!!

    Oh, and I'll be sure to pick up the Control Unleashed book!

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  • Dogs are often quite different with other dogs when off leash. I find leash aggression is a common problem.

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  • J

    @eeeefarm:

    Dogs are often quite different with other dogs when off leash. I find leash aggression is a common problem.

    I agree. The past two mornings Dexter has played so well in the park, but the second we got out of the car back home today, he saw a dog on the sidewalk and started lunging at it and crying. I'd prefer to teach him a command to completely ignore the other dog, since that will be required for the TDI test we hope to take next year. Any suggestions for this on leash aggression/frustration?

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  • I haven't worked on this myself because we live in the country and I don't do much leash walking, but my niece who had a leash aggressive GSD used rewards for ignoring the other dogs. She basically asked him to replace his attention to the other dog with attention to her, and had a treat handy when he did. Took a little while, but he figured it out and now the sight of another dog cues him to come to her side and look at her until the other dog passes, or they pass the other dog, at which point he gets a cookie. I think clicker training might work well for this…..

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  • J

    Unfortunately, Dex isn't very food motivated. I have tried all sorts of treats; no matter how much he loves them, if something else gets his attention, no matter if the food is in his face he won't take it. Maybe this means clicker training would be best? I haven't attempted clicker with Dexter, and we don't use clickers in class but I can give that a try as well.

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  • @jdido09:

    Unfortunately, Dex isn't very food motivated. I have tried all sorts of treats; no matter how much he loves them, if something else gets his attention, no matter if the food is in his face he won't take it. Maybe this means clicker training would be best? I haven't attempted clicker with Dexter, and we don't use clickers in class but I can give that a try as well.

    This is probably because he is overthreshhold at this point. The CU book will explain about threshholds and more of what to look for.

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  • J

    @agilebasenji:

    This is probably because he is overthreshhold at this point. The CU book will explain about threshholds and more of what to look for.

    Ordered the book! However, when I say he won't take treats once his attention is caught I don't just mean with the on leash situation. Even in class, Dexter's attention span is extremely small. He finds something of interest on the floor and won't work for food whatsoever until a lot of pressing him to focus on me instead.

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  • Wow! Unusual in a Basenji…....they are usually really happy to earn food. My BC wouldn't even look at food if there was anything else of interest around. Fortunately, like most Border Collies, he would work his heart out for my approval.

    It is possible to get around this problem. I would suggest learning a little bit about clicker training, then work with him at home, free of distractions. Make sure your rewards are particularly yummy. (Food is the best answer here, simply because it is quick. Playing with toys, etc, takes too much time and interrupts the flow of training) Many dogs get into the "game" of figuring out what will earn them a reward. Eventually the click itself becomes positive reinforcement, a la "I got it!". Hopefully he will get into the spirit of it, and then you can begin challenging him a bit more. I would suggest putting "watch me" on cue. Practice a lot. Then try to make it a behavior you require when he sees another dog, to the point where seeing another dog becomes the cue.

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