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Help with aggressive behavior when leaving play group

Discussion in 'Behavior' started by dream2012, Jul 17, 2017 at 1:42 PM.

  1. dream2012

    dream2012 Forums Regular

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    Jax is our fourth sheltie - love the breed! Jax has been a great dog and i have trained him rather well with basic commands, but he exhibits a totally different behavior, primarily, when having to exit a play date with his friends in the neighborhood. Once i put on his leash, signaling it is time to leave and play time is over, he attacks my feet, growls and becomes a jekyl-hyde dog. I have tried spraying him with water, which doesnt work. I have to coax him, talk firmly and pull the leash and then he settles down. The entire episode is gernerally about ten seconds, which seems like an eternity when dealing with an unruly dog.

    This can also happen if we stop and visit a dog, both leashed, during a walk, same behavior with me and, many times, he hows aggression toward the dog, many who are much larger than he is. It is embarassing and feel like i cannot control this bad behavior. I dont wish to wait until he bites someone or a dog. I always remain calm pull on leash firmly to distract him and to keep walking.

    It will also happen when we visit a dog park. When it is time to leave, leash back on, he gets crazy, growling, going after my feet. I understand the herding instinct in this breed and all four shelties have had a a strong herding instinct but this is extreme, though i could see how effective it would be if i were a sheep or goat.

    I would appreciate any advice. I love this dog and he is a sweetheart 90% of the time, loyal, affectionate and rather obedient, walks well on a leash - pulls occasionally if he sees someone he knows or a dog friend.
     
  2. dream2012

    dream2012 Forums Regular

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    I might add, Jax is 18 months old.
     
  3. ghggp

    ghggp Premium Member

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    Well, that is a problem for sure! I would be concerned about it escalating over time if not correct early!

    Is your pup food motivated?
    Can you redirect immediately when the behavior shows itself? I would want to try and get his attention to your face by working on the 'Watch Me' command and the walk away slowly with you! That way it would take the focus off your feet!

    1. Start in a quiet place with no other competition.
    2. Say “watch”, wave a treat in front of the dog's nose and lure up to your face/eyes.
    3. Encourage eye contact by smiling, nodding, praising.
    4. Your voice must be calm and happy.
    5. After a second or two, say “OK” to release and give treat.



    I am sure others will have suggestions as well...

    Wishing you good luck and success!
     
    Caro likes this.
  4. Caro

    Caro Moderator

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    I agree, reward for not attacking your feet and he definitely needs a good watch me command.

    Also, try the exercise when you aren't just taking him away from his fun. It sounds like he has some leash reactivity. You put his leash on and take him away from the fun. Over time putting on the leash provokes a level of anxiety, so when added to the disappointment of ending his fun there's a disproportionate anxiety reaction. Does that make sense - it's similar to a panic attack?

    Say there's a scale of reactivity from zero to 10, zero being calm and 10 being his reactivity. Putting on a leash may be a 5 in the anxiety scale, and leaving his friends may also be a 5. A 5 may provoke some minor reaction, say tugging on the lead, so doing one or the other won't be a big issue. But when you do both 5 leash + 5 leaving = 10 reactivity. You need to work on having a zero reaction to having a lead put on so leaving results only in a level 5 reaction. Also, when you take the leash out of the equation, it should make working on his reaction to leaving and to other dogs easier.

    To do this you should put on and off his lead without actually doing anything. In class this is often practised doing recalls. Call your dog, put the lead on, give a reward and then release him. Do this several times in a row. When he's getting the idea add in a 'look at me' like Gloria describes below or some other command that takes concentration.

    Start doing this in low value places - like at home and in the yard. Call him, get him to sit and look at you and put the lead on, give him a treat and then take the lead off. Once he's getting better try outside on walks. You probably can't have him off lead, but you could try it with harness on (leaving on his collar) and walking along clip the lead on and off his collar. If you don't have a harness, do the exercise but touch his collar around the leash area instead of taking the leash off.

    When you think he's doing well at home, start doing the recall and release exercise at his play dates. I'd suggest you start the exercise before the play date starts. You will need some really high value treats, something smelly like salami would work. If he's not food motivated use a squeaky toy to get his attention (you'll have to play a little with him so you don't devalue the toy). Of course the only problem with a squeaky toy is you'll probably have all the other dogs coming over too!
     
    Cara Sandler and ghggp like this.
  5. ghggp

    ghggp Premium Member

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    Great ideas Caro!
    Never thought about the leash reactive part!

    Hope these ideas resolve the issue!
     
  6. dream2012

    dream2012 Forums Regular

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    Thank you both for you suggestions. Jax doesn't mind the leash and he exhibits this behavior while on leash after maybe a neighbor showed attention, petting. etc., after playing with a dog while on leash. It happens quickly and it is over quickly. I will try the watch me training, but honestly, i dont want him to work/obey for treats. Did this with previous dogs and, yes, it worked, but they were consuming too many treats (training treats) and i really would like him to obey and work for me and an occasional, ntermittent treat, which i also did with previous sheltie. He never really knew when he was getting a treat.
     
  7. ghggp

    ghggp Premium Member

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    I understand your concern about treats. When I was in my beginner obedience class we were taught to use treats every time we asked the dog to do a command. Once the dog learned the command we would never give a treat every time. Maybe every 5th has or 6th time. Then we weaned off treats all together!
     
  8. Hanne

    Hanne Forums Enthusiast

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    A dog does not do things that it can not see an opinion in, therefore, treats are a good starting point :yes:

    I have never had special training treats - always used their dry food, to Minnie these are so tiny.

    When she eats them as "food" she swallows them, but chews them when the are treats :lol:

    it does not take anything from me :no: that
    - I always have goodies in my pocket, reward sometimes
    but always when she comes to me, with "come and get your leash on"
    Or we leave a playmate with "bye, bye dog"

    I know that she always will be obedient (with great pleasure) even though I should have forgotten treats.

    Always special treat after grooming :lol:
     
  9. Daisy1015

    Daisy1015 Forums Enthusiast

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    This isnt a regular training situation and treats can help counter condition anxiety associated with leash or leaving. It helps rewire the negative memories with positive. Then you can make it intermittent . I have had to work extensively in anxiety based/ reactive behaviors in my current singleton pup with great success, albeit different triggers than you. As an adolescent and teen dog it wont be linear and you can expect regression periods where you need to step up the rewards and training for a bit but the regressions will come less and less frequently. Each dog has different needs and your loads of sheltie training experience will be very helpful. Some are just more difficult teens. My current is the worst i have had but blossoming into a wonderful adult.
     
  10. Piper's mom

    Piper's mom Premium Member

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    Are you sure it's actual aggression? Or is he just trying to be the boss and not do what you want when you want? Keep in mind that at 18 months of age he's into that nasty teenager stage (even Piper was a brat at that age). I'd give a stern NO, and when he settles praise him and then put the leash on him. Good luck!
     

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