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Really Need Help : barking, lunging, reactive Sheltie on thin ice

Discussion in 'Behavior' started by Muddy, May 6, 2013.

  1. ClantyreSheltie

    ClantyreSheltie Forums Sage

    Feb 24, 2010
    The premise behind the Gentle Leader (at least what I was taught) is that when fitted properly, it sits right behind the occipital bone, putting pressure on a spot that is supposed to be calming.

    I know a dog that it worked wonders for *in the house*. I wouldn't use one on a reactive dog for just the reasons stated above. Too much neck snapping for me. But if it keeps them calm in the house, or enough that you can teach new things, then it's all good.
  2. Caro

    Caro Moderator

    Jan 14, 2009
    Canberra, Australia
    Haltis and Gentle Leaders are widely used here - both for reactive dogs and for larger dogs. I use them myself when my two start slipping over the edge of sanity! It definitely brings them back into line. My female probably wouldn't have been walked in adolescence if not for the head collar. If you're having trouble walking him I recommend it. For very reactive dogs you do need to double collar though - Halti comes with an extra attachment so you can attach the head collar to a standard collar in case they slip out.
  3. Katherine

    Katherine Forums Enthusiast

    Aug 24, 2008
    Charleston SC
    Welcome to the forum and thanks for taking the time you did to describe the specific behaviors that you are seeing.

    I also have a very reactive (to motion, somewhat to noise ---- he chased away a helicopter on the beach this morning !) sheltie and have spent the past year working on his many “issues” / individual triggers and learning about trigger stacking. We’ve made a lot of progress, but my dog will probably always require active management.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the recommendations for seeing a behaviorist. One thing that I did which helped me demonstrate my dog’s behavior was to have it videotaped (a one hour class outdoors in a park, condensed down to 8 minutes of film) and to share it with professionals, first in a meeting with my vet and trainer, and then with a (non veterinary) behaviorist. We then had a consultation with the behaviorist, followed by working sessions when they oversaw me handling my dog in public and coached me.

    The behaviorist helped me understand what was going on: was I dealing with fear / aggression, general anxiety, a frustrated greeter, some combination of these things, or something else ? How should I handle things when my dog goes over threshold ?

    The behaviorist is someone who can help you devise a customized program for your specific dog and guide you through what will be a long process.

    Dr. Karen Overall’s Relaxation Protocol is often recommended for reactive / anxious dogs. There is a dog trainer locally who consulted (long distance) with Dr. Overall about her dog aggressive dog. It seems to me that she submitted a very lengthy questionnaire (30 pages or so) and video to Dr. Overall; and that Dr. Overall teamed up with her local vet to prescribe meds and a behavior modification program. I recall as well that one thing she recommended was that the dog be confined to its house / yard for several weeks and not be taken out in public, so that its cortisol levels could return to a more normal level.

    The B.A.T. technique that Tagg referred to has been extremely helpful for my situation. You can read about it on the following website: http://functionalrewards.com/. There are You-tube videos of it in practice as well; and the website has a link to a Yahoo Group of users, with very experienced moderators and trainers in the technique.

    Flower essences have done nothing for my dog; L-Theanine (marketed as Anxitane) has been helpful. My dog comes to work with me and I have a DAP infuser plugged in, run a fan for white noise, restrict his visibility out the window with wax paper; and in extreme situations in public I may even pull a calming cap out of my pocket and put it on him.

    We’re pulling for you.
  4. Muddy

    Muddy Forums Novice

    May 6, 2013
    Again, I am so grateful for all the resources!
    Thank you!

    I need to find the time to sit and digest it all.

    Update -- we went to our vet, who is not up on behaviour but he did submit a report to the behaviourist at Guelph U for us and prescribed Clomicalm (we haven't started it yet, nor heard back from Guelph).

    We are extending Archie's physical activity (I had Britts for years and 'better living through exhaustion ' was our motto!) and I have a borrowed halti on the way for walks. I am getting a basket muzzle for wearing when he is off leash-- we run him at local ball diamonds, generally deserted but you never know, and at our friends' farm where we let him loose. We can't risk it if a man or stranger showed up.

    Out of the house he is rewarded for eye contact (well gradual approximation!) and calm behaviour. I am asking people not to try and touch him, though! In and around the house when he is barking at the windows (passerby, not at our door) I am calmly calling him to me and giving him lots of loving, and he is coming off the barking more readily for this. These are the situations we can handle.

    The door, visitors, sharp noises, motion chasing, fears will have to be more specifically addressed but I hope the meds/professional can help. Right now these behaviours are so compulsive I can't 'get in' and nothing in my arsenal is more motivating than the fear/barking.

    I am looking forward to speaking with the behaviourist, I feel like I need an objective opinion on what we can reasonably expect to improve given we have a biter without any inhibition at this point.

    But *i* feel less frustrated and hopeless which is a major component here.
    I have accepted I can't fix it overnight, life is so busy, but with baby steps we can see where we get.

    I'll update when we try the meds etc.

    Oh! Little funny!
    Last week I was taking Archie out to the car on leash and as we were getting to the car a group of 30(!!!) shirtless(!!) men came into view on the sidewalk. Archie went berserk! They were men from a local treatment/rehab for labourers-- so pretty tough looking fellows! I had Archie hanging from his collar (martingale) and trying to stuff him in the car, while all the men were trying to be helpful by calling to Archie, trying to approach with hands out, and generally directing all their attention at him to let him know it was OK. The WORST possible scenario, nearly broke Archie's brain having a mob of scary men on his sidewalk approaching him and I (and my daughter).
    Poor Archie!

  5. OntarioSheltie

    OntarioSheltie Forums Celebrity

    Apr 29, 2008
    Ontario, Canada
    Glad to hear that you're feeling less frustrated and that your vet has given you something for his anxiety and recommended you to a behaviorist. It sounds like you're on the right track to helping Archie. :hugs

    Let us know how he does on the Clomicalm and with the behaviorist! We're thinking of you! :fl
  6. Taismom1

    Taismom1 Forums Novice

    May 9, 2013
    Palm Desert
    Barking/Aggressive behavior

    Hi - I have a 10 year Sheltie that constantly barks and has done so and it has gotten worse since his full brother Tai died. When ever a door bell rings, or someone knocks at the door, Cody will bark his head off. We tried the shock collar but he barked so much the batteries wore out, we tried the citronella collar, he loved the smell so much we had to keep re-filling. We turned to the thundershirt and it did help quite a bit. We live in the desert so of course in the 100 degree temps we cant use this now. When he doe he the door bell or someone knocking, he comes out of his corner literally chasing our other dog. My vet calls it displaced aggression. He has never bitten anyone other than a few othe dogs. Our chichuhua ho always bites his ankles, ok on that one. He charges our Bichon who also barks but he nipped her in her neck. We also had one instance where we were watching a wheatene terrier who had the same problem and tore my shelties neck open. We had to have over an hour of surgery to get rid of the abscess. I work out of town 5 days a week, and when I am home hes fine. Ive tried natural drops in his food which helps, and the thundershirt. he also has bad arthritis in his shoulders, elbows and wrists. Could there be some medical issue causing this behavior? Please don't give up :smile2:

  7. kazie

    kazie Premium Member

    Jul 30, 2018
    A halti or head collar makes a HUGE difference for Luna. If I know someone is coming to the house, I put on her head collar and leash and she behaves like a perfect citizen. Calm, quiet, happy to make friends with whomever comes. Without the head collar, she lunges and barks continually the entire time. I admit I have not had an extreme lunging problem at any time and I imagine if that started, I'd rethink using the head collar but for now it makes my life and hers so much easier.

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