• Teresa Stanczak

    September 12, 2011 at 2:25 am

    Hi Rebecca,

    When he is showing aggressive behavior, I would not step into his space and correct with the leash. This is likely to be viewed as confrontational by the dog and could result in aggression directed toward you out of fear or frustration. I do recommend using body blocks (ie stepping into a dogs space), but only for rude behavior, dogs who are constantly in your space, or shoving past you to get into the refrigerator for example. I would never recommend it in a charged situation, such as a dog showing aggression as it can result in more issues than you started with.

    As for acting prematurely, the only concern you should have in this area would be in the instance of using a correction (leash or body block). In fact in the foundation method of training all gentle corrections are taught using the same pattern, that way there is no correcting a dog without warning, and always an opportunity for the dog to avoid the correction. There is no issue asking him to watch you, or perform any other command for that matter prior to his aggressive reaction. In fact this would be the goal, that he is willing to to work for you although he is aware of the trigger. When evaluating this situation and how to help him progress, you should be careful not to put him in a situation where he is likely to fail. You should be aware of all of his triggers and the distance by which he is affected by these things. Generally if there is more than one trigger present, they work together and lower the dog’s threshold for reactivity, beyond what it would normally be if the triggers were presented seperately. Example if Dublin will react when a man wearing a hat is 6 feet from him, or 10 feet for a man wearing sunglasses. If he encountered a man wearing a hat and sunglasses he may react at 10 or more feet. You should use this information when presenting a situation to Dublin. If he is consistently reacting and unable to focus on you then he is too close in proximity.

    If your goal is to get a solid “watch me”, you will need to work below threshold and have good success, also rewarding him for automatically giving you eye contact in the presence of the trigger. When he seems more focused on you than on the trigger, you know you can decrease the working distance or increase the distraction from the same distance.

    The video of the greeting drill, which I linked to my last post, is an exercise that is taught to dogs who are dog and people reactive to simulate real life situations and interactions. All of the dogs which you see in the video have all completed Obedience through Phase 3. This exercise is a compilation of skills learned through the various phases of training. Once Dublin is at this point in his training, you can set up the same type of scenario with a willing friend, it does not have to be in a class setting. For Dublin, his goal at first would be to start out sitting behind your left leg while you walk out 6 feet and shake someone’s hand. Do not attempt to have someone pet him. If he breaks this position, you can use gentle correction to place him back into the sit position.

    I would recommend that you outline a plan with specific techniques and work on them. It is confusing to both owner, trainer and dog, to use many different methods at once.

    I hope this gives you some good direction!