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Old June 2nd, 2010, 03:25 PM
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Spatx Spatx is offline
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Trouble greeting dogs - Any ideas?

I've been dealing with an on going problem with Nova's behaviour. She has trouble meeting dogs.

Here is a scenario:

Walking down the street, she sees a dog. Nova gets really excited, scramble walks, bounces, wags her tail, she can't wait to go see the dog!

The dog goes to say hello to her, she instantly snaps and starts growling, snapping and becoming super defensive. It doesn't matter the size of dog - she does this to any dog from a chihuahua to a great dane. It is aggravated more by large dogs though.

She won't let the dogs sniff her, or if they are excited and trying to come see her she will constantly snap at them. She is not trying to bite, but acts extremely defensive.

Once we eventually get past the initial reactions and the other dog is no longer interested in her - she's perfectly fine. She'll be around them no problem, even play with them. This is what happened on the weekend when she met a large shepherd X a friend has. It took a good 10 minutes until the other dog finally lost interest, but then they started to play. Play bows, chasing, stalking each other. They had great fun!

But initial meetings are extremely stressful because she flips out. I avoid meeting other dogs on the street since there is no time for her to get past the initial reactions and calm down. I go to a park and the dogs know each other, so there is hardly any problems there unless a dog she doesn't know comes.

There are certain dogs that she just loves, kisses them and is all over them - but they all have something in common, they plain out ignore her.

Any dog that shows too much interest in her she will show her teeth to and constantly tell them off if they get too close.

I've never seen a behaviour like this with other dogs before, and was wondering if anyone had any insight? I've been told it can be a Border Collie problem, and know another BC that goes to our park with the same problem, but only much worse and will never allow other dogs to go near her. (Unless she is around them all the time and accepted them as one of her pack).

They aren't trying to hurt the other dogs, but are definitely warning, telling them off, being very defensive, and extremely snappy.

Ideas?
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Old June 3rd, 2010, 03:21 PM
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Luvmypitgirls Luvmypitgirls is offline
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Sorry to hear you having this issue with beautiful Nova...(ya know I'm in love with that lil diva).

I'm just wandering when she's acting out like that, what corrections are you attempting? I'm only asking because I had this problem with Abby for a bit.
What I ended up doing was putting a pinch on her, I know they aren't the choice for everyone, but I have found great success with them. If used correctly they can be a great tool.
If a dog was approaching us I would take Abby to the side of the path/sidewalk, before the dog would reach us. I would have her sit and I would stand infront of her blocking her from the other dog, calmly telling her to sit, stay and leave it. If she made attempts to get around me or lunge I would use the pinch to give her a correction. After a while I made the step to just make Abby move forward, paying no attention to the other dog, at first she would try to spin around or look back and again I used the pinch and just kept moving forward. Of course I'm talking just about our daily walks, not dog parks or off leash areas because I don't access those areas with my dogs.
I hope you find a resolution to your concern.
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Old June 3rd, 2010, 09:40 PM
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luckypenny luckypenny is offline
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It sounds like Nova is too aroused on leash when she sees other dogs. And high arousal can quickly lead to aggressive behavior with some dogs. Problem with dogs greeting on leash is that they can't do it in a way that's natural for them. Next time you're at the park, carefully observe how the dogs greet when they are off-leash and then compare it to on-leash greetings...I bet you'll notice some very remarkable differences. For example, when two well socialized dogs greet in neutral environments, they give each other all sorts of calming signals ie, no direct eye contact, heads turned sideways, one may play bow or even lie perpendicular to the other one who approaches. You may see yawns and squinty eyes. When they do finally sniff each other, it's only for a few seconds and one or both may walk away and perhaps shake off some stress. Then they either go each their own way or it may start all over again until they begin to play. None of this is possible on leash...an aroused dog needs to know there's a way out and there is none when on leash .

Our Penny freaks when dogs run up to her as well. And she too is only comfy with super calm dogs that ignore her. What we've taught her is to look at us and we try to keep her focus there and re-direct her before she becomes too highly aroused. On leash, if she's still within her comfort zone, she's only too eager to comply as the scary stuff goes away if she's not focused on it (in her case, strange dogs and people).
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Old June 3rd, 2010, 09:50 PM
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Luvmypitgirls Luvmypitgirls is offline
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The dog park sounds like such a fun place...wish I could take my dogs there, but I just won't risk it.
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Old June 3rd, 2010, 09:58 PM
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luckypenny luckypenny is offline
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You're not the only one LMPG. It's not for all dogs . Come to think of it, I know of very few people who's dogs do well in such a large setting with so many other dogs.

Spatx, what would Nova do if another dog didn't back off after a warning? Does she just walk away or does the other dog?
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Old June 3rd, 2010, 11:17 PM
Etown_Chick Etown_Chick is offline
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Penny
that's really good advice. Scruff is much better at greeting when he's off leash..now it makes sense why.
We go to the park all the time as it's the only place I can tire him out. Lots of incidents when it's busy. I tend not to go when the 'tourists' are there, only when the regulars are. Much better.
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Old June 3rd, 2010, 11:40 PM
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Unfortunately she reacts the same on-leash vs. off-leash, but it is definitely worse on leash because there is no where for either dog to go. Most dogs tend to walk away once she starts snapping at them when they are off, but I've never had it progress any further because I don't allow it to. It usually only lasts from 1-5 seconds when she starts snapping.

Part of what I have found as well is that Nova seems to always attract the attention of other dogs. She is very focused when it comes to toys, or when she gets over-excitided/stimulated she just seems to get all the other dogs wanting to check her out, which of course, aggravates the behaviour.

She also snaps at other dogs if they get in the way of her 'working' when playing with toys, or if they follow her. She'll play with dogs on her own terms, but she will not allow them to chase her. She has to chase them and remain in control or she stresses. For the most part she doesn't usually interact with other dogs, she'd much rather pay attention to people, or toys, and the majority of her 'playing', is usually chasing, circling, and 'herding'. It was unusual on the weekend that she went into a playbow and actually allowed the shepherd X to chase her back. After the stressful introduction I guess she decided the dog was in her good books

As far as discipline, I'm not really sure what to do. I praise her when she greets a dog nicely, and tell her stop the second she starts to exhibit the undesired behaviour, but it isn't doing anything. She's just getting worse with age.

I think working on getting her to calm down when she sees a dog when on leash is a good first step. I'll have to try getting her to sit calmly. She does get too excited and starts doing that scramble walk and wagging her tail wildly. The moment she meets a dog her posture completely changes - ears back, low to the ground, will even lie on her side or back with her tail between her legs, and if the dog doesn't stop sniffing her within 3 seconds she will suddenly raise hackles, bare teeth, ears back, growl, and go into a wild snapping fury for 1-5 seconds. Than she will be perfectly fine, normal posture, ears up, alert, unless the dog comes back to check her out again, than she does the growl, snappy face again.

She does this to calm other dogs as well, as long as they are paying attention to her she just goes crazy. She only loves dogs that ignore her completely

I just tell people she has personal space issues and can be snappy, but I don't really know what is going through her head. Her posture suggests she is intimidated by other dogs, despite the size, but often she gives me the feeling that she feels like she has no control over the situation and is stressing.

I don't go to a dog park as much as a local park where a certain group of us bring our dogs to meet others. I like it because I know all the dogs there, and they know each other. It means for the most part Nova doesn't have any problems because the other dogs respect her and don't bother her. She's really happy there until a new dog comes, I don't bring her to parks where there are unfamiliar faces as it's probably the worst situation to put her in. The dogs she knows she has seen since she was a puppy.
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Old June 4th, 2010, 12:20 AM
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luckypenny luckypenny is offline
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I think managing the environment as much as you can while you work on these issues is the way to go for now. By bringing her to the park where she knows the other dogs is great so you are already managing an aspect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spatx View Post
She also snaps at other dogs if they get in the way of her 'working' when playing with toys, or if they follow her.
Can you take her out without her toys when other dogs are around? Perhaps a tug toy in your pocket to help with distraction if you need her to not focus on something that is causing her some anxiety is a good idea. But toys for her to "work" with are probably not a good idea right now. I'm not sure if you can work with that issue in an area where there are other dogs unless the owners can keep their dogs away from her?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spatx View Post
She'll play with dogs on her own terms, but she will not allow them to chase her. She has to chase them and remain in control or she stresses.
That's not unusual though, not in my experience anyways. Not all dogs like to be chased, even by dogs they know well. But lots of dogs like to chase who's running right? If your friends are up to it, that would be a perfect time for them to practice recalls with their dogs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spatx View Post
As far as discipline, I'm not really sure what to do. I praise her when she greets a dog nicely, and tell her stop the second she starts to exhibit the undesired behaviour, but it isn't doing anything. She's just getting worse with age.
Instead of telling her to stop, can you redirect her? Will she come to you as soon as you call her? If so, give her something else to do immediately. If you're going to tell her what not to do, you have to give her something to do as an alternative. For example, rather than have Lucky bark at the door at the sound of the bell, we trying to teach him to go to his crate for a treat/chewtoy. So it's "thank you Lucky, go to bed now." Do you see what I mean? The bell will start to become his cue to go to his crate. In Nova's case, if a dog is in her space, you can teach her to come to you and offer an opposing behavior. Another dog approaching will soon become her cue to do something else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spatx View Post
I think working on getting her to calm down when she sees a dog when on leash is a good first step. I'll have to try getting her to sit calmly.
If she's within her comfort zone, that may work. You can also add in a few tricks that she likes to do (or a quick game of tug if she enjoys that). You can also either turn her away while you're doing this so she can't see the other dog or stand in a way that you're blocking her view. If she's not within her comfort zone, having her sit is like telling someone who's house is on fire to relax and have a coffee. Does this make sense? So your job would be to get her to a place farther away where she's comfortable and then tell her to sit and offer her something fun to do to relieve some of the stress.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spatx View Post
Her posture suggests she is intimidated by other dogs, despite the size, but often she gives me the feeling that she feels like she has no control over the situation and is stressing.
I think the first part is right but it's the stress she has no control over so she reacts.

Have you read Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt? I think you'll find all sorts of exercises you'll find extremely helpful with Nova's issues. Nova would certainly benefit learning alternative behaviors that will ease her stress in the situations you describe.

http://www.controlunleashed.net/
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Old June 4th, 2010, 01:53 AM
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Spatx Spatx is offline
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Thankyou for your advice! That really helps me figure out what it is that is wrong. That helps and gives me somewhere to start. It definitely makes sense to redirect, and she loves tugging so maybe that will help.

You are right, I couldn't think of how to word it, but it is the stress she can't control that sets her off. For her, meeting other dogs is a stress and she feels like she lacks control and lashes out as a defense mechanism. This is why she's not trying to hurt dogs, but rather its her way of coping right now. I need to find a solution to offer her to minimize stress and give her an alternative to snapping at dogs.

That book looks interesting, I'll have to see if I can get sommeone to order it for me. (Hate having no credit card yet!)
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