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 Post subject: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 5:41 pm 
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So you know how I went to the pound and picked out the most pathetic, emotionally numb, smelly little dog I could find? Well, he's over all of that now and he barks at things that I really don't want him to bark at, forever, for no good reason. For example, if my neighbor comes out to garden, he goes to the fence and barks at her like crazy. Sometimes if we're talking, i'll pass him over the fence and she'll cuddle him and then put him down in her yard, where he will run around and pee and act normally. Then she'll pass him back over, and the second I put him down, he continues to bark at her. He also likes to go to the privacy fence between us and the other neighbors and bark at their dogs, jump against the fence, etc. He has gotten it down that he can't do that while i'm watching, so he will just run around in circles in front of the fence. Clearly, he has the boundaries of what he's supposed to protect figured out.

He also never forgets. If I take him inside for barking and then let him out after my neighbor is back inside, he runs right to the fence to look for her.

This makes walking him so, so frustrating. Obviously a dog in a yard or walking past us is going to get a reaction from most dogs (except Chester, he gives no forks), but let's say a dude is standing in his yard across the street, not really moving, not talking. Fawkes will bark at him. And bark. Bark bark bark, over his shoulder, as we continue walking. We had a dog guest this weekend, and when Brian and I took him on our dog walk with us, Fawkes tried to bark at him the whole time, so I had to carry him for most of the walk. Carrying him shuts him up pretty well, and sometimes I make him sit down and pet him to try to get him to calm the fork down. I swear to god, his tiny heart is going to burst from all of the excitement.

And since he isn't the only dog i'm walking, his flipping out often makes Harley look around and sometimes flip out. Once again Chester doesn't care and he doesn't always come with us, but juggling three dog leashes goes from being pretty easy to pretty hellish when 66% of the dogs are being dicks.

I've heard that clicker training is good for reactive dogs, but i've never trained a dog in my life. So please share any stories or insight you have!

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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 7:37 pm 
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I don't have any personal experience, but the lady who works with the dogs at my shelter uses clicker training. It seems to work since the dogs appear to have made progress the next time I see them a week later.


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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 12:18 pm 
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hi there.
i own one of the most reactive dogs on the planet! maybe i can help a little.

reactivity in dogs is mainly caused by fear. i guess there could be other reasons but fear is the biggie. fear of people, other dogs, objects etc. then they dont know how to deal with this fear and they react inappropriately and go a little bonkers. (my dog goes a lot bonkers)
i think a lot of reactive dogs dont really know "doggie language" very well and are very bad at interacting with other dogs because of this.
their "impoliteness" can illicit the wrong response from another dog and bad shiitake can happen.

sounds like your new guy may just not know what to do with himself. i would start with obediance training and for lack of a better phrase "becoming a leader" (you that is not the dog)
im not talking that alpha/pack/dominance crap-o-la, im talking that the dog looks to you for guidance and trust and you are in charge.

the one thing i WOULD NEVER NEVER NEVER recommend for a reactive dog (i wouldnt recommend it for any dog, but ESPECIALLY not a reactive dog) is any kind of punishment or fear based training. no shock collars, no prong or choke collars, no electric fences, no Dog Whisperer leash corrections.

use POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT ONLY. im not saying you would do any of the above im just throwing that out there.
clicker training is great for any animal and i think it's especially great for a dog. it helps bridge the gap between what the human wants and what the doggie understands.
you click for a desired behavior, the dog gets a treat. the dog understands that click is marking a desired behavior and then good things happen like a treat, or a toy, or love or whatever floats your dog's boat.

the thing we have to do with reactive dogs is desensitize them to what they are reacting too. i would highly recommend, if you can financially do it, find a positive reinforcement trainer in your area. if you can find someone who specializes in reactive dogs, all the better but sounds like your guy hasnt totally gone over the edge yet.

i can describe some of the things i have learned in my reactive dog classes but i am not a dog trainer and i wouldnt want to say something and have it come out wrong or you not fully understand it and you do more damage than good to your dog,

sounds like your dog needs to learn impulse control as well. obediance training will help wtih that.
as for the barking at the neighbor thing sounds like a bit of barrier frustration.
if you dog is bark bark barking at the neighbor DO NOT pick him up and hand him to the neighbor to pet. that is totally rewarding the behavior of barking at the fence. (i am assuming that your dog likes being loved on by said neighbor).
ask your dog to do something. a sit, a down, whatever and WAIT for a few seconds of calm behavior THEN pass the dog over for some neighbor love.

same thing with picking him up on the walk. my fear is that alot of times with smaller dogs they get picked up when acting poorly and it only reinforces the behavior.

im not sure how to help you with the walking situation. my recommendation would be to not walk three dogs at once but you gotta do what you gotta do. i cant walk both my dogs at once because if the crazy one starts going nuts then the other one attacks him.
my husband and i walk the dogs together and i know to keep a good distance with the non-crazy one.

there is a great book by Ali Brown on how to train reactive dogs called Scaredy Dog.
http://www.amazon.com/Scaredy-Understan ... 778&sr=8-1

that link might be for teh kindle version. amazon is confusing me today.

i hope some of that helps. owning a reactive dog can be insanely frustrating because sometimes you just want to grab them and be like EVERYTHING IS OK CALM THE fork DOWN!!!!

if you can afford it i think a training class is the way to go.

good luck. if you have any questions i will do my best to answer them :-D

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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 12:53 pm 
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clicker training and distractions!
vee actually goes into the red zone around ups, fed ex and mailmen, so i can't help you there. but if we are walking near our house, he goes nuts when he sees another dog, and it often can work to just distract him. i start asking him if he wants to go places with me and do stuff with me, that works.

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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 2:44 pm 
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Everything LisaPunk said! We have a very reactive dog too. She has fearful reactions to both other dogs and people. It can be so exhausting and draining, emotionally, physically, and financially. I don't have much time right now but here's a few resources to get your started:

- Not sure where you're located in IL but there is a really excellent veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Ciribassi, in the Chicago suburbs area. http://www.chicagovetbehavior.com/staff They operate out of a few different clinics. We saw him at the Bensenville location. He is not cheap in the least, but we were at the end of our ropes and he put together a full training protocol and got us started on medication (not saying that your dog needs it but ours really did). I will add that we had a regular trainer as well, but he will consult with you periodically too after your initial visit.

- Relaxation Protocol. Developed by Karen Overall, this is a series of exercises that work to lower your dog's general anxiety level by reinforcing calm behavior. They start easy and become more difficult (for your dog, not you!) in order to raise your dog's threshold for the stuff that triggers him or her. I recommend seeing a positive reinforcement trainer as well, but our trainer told us that if you want to get the most bang for your training "buck" this is the best thing you can do.

Relaxation Protocol Overview: http://dogscouts.org/Protocol_for_relaxation.html
Audio files to make doing this a million times easier: http://championofmyheart.com/relaxation ... mp3-files/

The RP seems stupid, I know, but it really works if you keep at it. Promise!

- "Feisty Fido: Help for the Leash-Aggressive Dog" by Patricia McConnell and Karen London. It's a small booklet but it's great information.


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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 3:11 pm 
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Click to Calm is another great book.

i hate that it uses "aggressive" in the title but im sure you could use it on both aggressive or reactive dogs (to me they are TOTALLY different)

http://www.amazon.com/Click-Calm-Healin ... 240&sr=8-1

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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 5:41 pm 
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Thanks for all of the info, guys! A few things:

Fawkes hates being picked up, so that isn't a reward for him. It shuts him up because he kind of goes stiff and is like, "Why do you hate me." But I know that's not an appropriate solution because carrying him on a walk is obvious harder than walking him.

Like I said, Chester doesn't always go with us (sometimes I make him because it's good for his hip) and he just lumbers along and ignores things so much that it's like he's barely there. I like walking Fawkes with Harley because I can hold their leashes in a way that he has to walk on the outside, next to her, and he can't zig zag around and walks in a pretty straight line. It also kind of blocks his view since he's walking next to a dog mountain.

I would never use choke collars or anything, but I have tried finding what I call my 'fear of god' voice: not yelling, but authoritative so he knows when I mean business. So far I have failed on that front.

I'm going to get a clicker and luckily I have some teeny treats that I know he loves (he doesn't really get excited about eating), I did teach Fawkes to sit pretty quickly so i'd like to give it a go before I try to find a trainer, mostly because when I looked into trainers for my FIL, all of the trainers around here are also breeders and I don't want to give them money.

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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 5:48 pm 
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Here's a resource with some training videos, too!

http://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/trai ... r-problems

Dog Star Daily is a great site. I'm looking for a couple specific videos that were posted a while back, I'll update if/when I find them!



Edit: Found it! Follow the link on the page to see the video on YouTube. This is a LOT of what we do with our dog. You can increase the distance and move to more difficult situations as your dog succeeds more and more. It is more beneficial to keep you dog under threshold, so I recommend trying to set yourselves up for success and make sure to end a training session before your dog ends it for you. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 6:34 pm 
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ah ok. i was assuming picking him up was something he liked.
i have a guinea pig like that. you pick her up and shes like bug eyed and all like "oh my god why are you going to eat me???" ive had her for 5 years and she still does that.

good luck with your training i think clicker training will work well for him.
does he like toys or playing?? you could use that as the reward if he likes that. i am lucky both my dogs are very food motivated.

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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2012 12:51 am 
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mrsbadmouth wrote:
I'm going to get a clicker and luckily I have some teeny treats that I know he loves (he doesn't really get excited about eating)


i think i read that you should give a really high value treat that they ONLY get when doing their clicker business (to make them super valuable). i've found veggie wieners work really well for this-- low fat, high value, affordable when you cut them up into really small pieces!
xo
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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2012 7:53 am 
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I don't know if he'll eat those, he is really weird about people food. He's all, "Oh, it's pancake day? I guess I will lick this dog pancake in your hand a few times before taking it to the other room to be eaten." The treats I have in mind are ones I got when Chester had his surgery and was a grump about eating, so he hasn't had them in a few months and I know he will eat them right away.

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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 2:10 pm 
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You might also want to check out Grisha Stewart's book - B.A.T. (Behavior Adjustment Training). It's all about how to rehabilitate reactive dogs by teaching them to behave when they're not totally amped up and then working your way up to them being good with other dogs/whatever their trigger is. My guy is good with other dogs but was freaked out by some people, and is definitely getting better using her method.

Also seconding any recommendations for Patricia McConnell's books, she's fantastic!


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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 3:26 pm 
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Congrats on rescuing your new dog. We adopted a dog this year, and when he came to live with us he became very dog-reactive. It really does get draining, I totally feel for you!! We tried many methods like positive reinforcement, distractions, corrections, obedience classes, clicking, doggie dates, quickly tell him that we are moving on, etc. but none of it was working (the treats did work to some degree) until our latest revelation that we needed to establish structure and leadership.

Since you just adopted him, it sounds like he may not view you as the pack leader if you did not work on establishing a solid relationship with him in the beginning where he knows you are in charge. What finally is working for us is starting all the way back at ground zero and establishing the necessary groundwork for him to accept us as leader BEFORE any kind of formal obedience training. Changing his underlying attitude will make training and integrating him into your existing family easier.

Check out this link that explains how and why to establish groundwork before you ever start training a new dog: http://leerburg.com/groundwork.htm

While most people may not have ever needed to go through this program with their pet dog, if you have a "hard dog" or a new dog that has significant behavioral issues, this could well be missing piece of the puzzle. I had been reading through the Leerburg website on occasion, but when things just weren't getting better, i read that article again and it really clicked finally as to why we were getting nowhere. We have a hard and dominant dog, so his intelligence and training were not the problem. Lo & behold, we gave this method a try, began crating him 24/7 and acting aloof, and after less than two weeks, our dog's reactivity towards other dogs has dropped incredibly and his demeanor on walks is much more relaxed and submissive. I was amazed, because I had never seen him walk tail down and ears relaxed back until now. He has not had a single blow up away outside of our apartment building since we started and will display avoidance behavior instead (face to face encounter in the building are still very rough though!). Note that during this phase, we are avoiding any intense encounters with dogs (never ever on the same side of the street / sidewalk) and I always keep my body between his and the other dog no matter how far away they are. Part of building trust is letting him experience that being with you means safety. In time, we will slowly desensitize him.

Take a look at that article and see if it feels right in your situation. Crating may seem drastic (fiance and I thought it was inhumane.. we were total dog noobs!) but dogs often enjoy having a safe den - our dog now pulls hard to go back into his crate because it means post-walk mealtime! =) Its also just temporary and will result in a more free and relaxed dog in the long haul. We've seen amazing progress in just the last 2 weeks and are currently watching two of their DVDs.

How old is your dog and what kind of dog is he? If you are interested in clicker training, the leerburg site also has a good article on it:

http://leerburg.com/markers.htm

Good luck and look forward to hearing updates!


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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:23 pm 
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I have a super reactive dog too and I found Leslie McDevitt's Control Unleashed to be super helpful. It's geared towards people who want to agility train their reactive dogs, but a lot of the exercises are pertinent and useful for reactive dogs in general.

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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 9:40 am 
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Yes to positive reinforcement and distraction! I think the most important and hardest thing for us to learn was that you can't treat him like a normal dog and you can't expect him to act like a normal dog (with my guy, at least). We made so many training mistakes at the beginning and probably did some damage until we accepted this. My little dude requires constant vigilance outside. You have to know what sets him off, see it coming and distract before he loses it. Good luck with him!


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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 9:48 am 
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I'd also like to have a reactive dog rant, if no one minds.
My dog is really playful and will sometimes come across a dog that he instantly loves and really wants to romp with. But if we're in a park and the other dog is off leash (off leash is totally acceptable here) the other dog owner will sometimes try to convince me to let my dog off the leash so they can play. And as much as i explain why he can't run free, that it's unsafe etc etc, the other person will Not Let It Go. When telling me how much fun they could have fails they move on to all the ways that i'm harming my dog by not letting him play when he wants to. It already breaks my heart that he can't run wild like a normal dog but you're not helping! Let it go!


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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 10:22 am 
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I got my clickers and decided to work on associating them with treats by asking him to sit, since he already knows how to do that.

Also i've had Fawkes since November, since we didn't go for walks and my neighbor wasn't in her back yard until the spring, I didn't realize quite what a little tootie-patootie he was until a few months ago. He's guess to be about three? And he's some kind of yorkie mix, so he's a little ankle biter.

Last night I suited everyone up for their walk, but my neighbor was outside so Fawkes was already pretty keyed up, but not barking at her much (he is getting a little better about that, I just have to keep reminding him not to do it). I opened the gate and he lost it barking, so I put him back inside and took Chester and Harley. I knew if he was already that worked up, the walk was going to be awful even if we didn't see another soul. So I took him after, just across the street and to sniff each corner (he doesn't really pee or need the exercise), and we saw a kid on a bike and I just started talking to him and he was pretty good. I think I may have to do it that way for awhile before pairing him back up with Harley, it's not a big deal since he just wants to go for funsies so he doesn't go very far.

I think the hardest part is trying to accomplish this with other dogs around. I can take him outside alone for training, but for just catching random things in the house it's difficult because everyone wants a treat! Also, my FIL doesn't believe in dog training (he thinks his dogs should just 'get' things, like he walks them twice a day to try and keep them from peeing in the house instead of teaching them), so Fawkes can do whatever with him. I'm not very iron fisty, but that's because Chester and Harley came pre-trained as good dogs, they weren't born that way!

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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 6:28 pm 
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i think it was the right idea to take him outside by himself afterwards. especially since he was all worked up about the neighbor
depending on the dog sometimes having other dogs around gets them keyed up even if its dogs they live with. i know thats wicked true with my reactive dog.

i totally understand what you're saying about having to treat all the dogs when you are trying to work with one. there are so many things we should/need to work on with WIlly that we could do in the house but Marty shoves him out of the way whenever there is food and Marty doesnt need the training or the mental stimulation AND he's a tubby little beagle mix so he doesnt need the extra treats either.

its pretty much impossible to do training with both of them around because Marty is a bully.
we have to put him away in another room so we can work with Willy which in all practicality means we just dont do it very much :-/

we also got "surprised" by Willy's reactivity several months after adopting him. we dont have tons of dogs in our neighborhood (THANK GOD) so when we took him to what was supposed to be a basic obediance class that turned out to be puppy kindergarten (he was not a puppy) we found out he hates other dogs the hard way. he REALLY hates puppies too.

ugh!

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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:33 pm 
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So today and yesterday we just had two short, five minute sessions outside of click-n-treat. Not that I ever thought Fawkes was dumb, but today he immediately lit up when I clicked, before he even saw the treat. After a few basic click-n-treats, I threw a ball and then clicked a few times when he ran for it, to get him to come back. And tonight when I take him out for his walk alone, i'm going to click-n-treat because walks are pretty exciting to him even without dogs/people to bark at, so it'll be another good test.

I'm really glad this is easy so far, because I am a terrible teacher. He was outside while my father-in-law was suiting up his dogs for a walk, and I got him to come inside with the clicker.

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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 4:09 pm 
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Yay! I'm glad it's going so well so far. I actually find clicker training kind of fun...it's like a game for me, too!


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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 7:09 pm 
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Pants just started puppy school and we did some of this stuff yesterday. The school does clicker training, except we always lose the clickers so we just mark the behaviour by saying 'yes!' (or 'si!' because we like to pretend that Pants speaks Spanish). Anyway, the big thing we learned was marking and rewarding her when she sat down and looked at us. We started the class just letting her wander around and smell things, then when she came back over and looked at us we would say 'yes' and give her a treat. Then we moved up to doing that while walking, so whenever she started pulling on her leash or barking at another dog we would just stop and ignore her until she got bored and came back. Then when she looked up at us, she got a treat. By the end of the class she was walking the whole length of the yard totally ignoring all the other dogs and staring intently at us.

Our instructor really stressed being non-verbal- not telling her 'no' or asking her to sit, just letting her figure out what the right behaviour is on her own. Starting out and just letting her wander and be an idiot until she paid attention to us was super boring and kind of frustrating, but the early stages are the hardest part and it does pay off it you have the patience to see it through.

In terms of the fear-based barking- in yesterday's class she freaked out at this flapping bit of plastic on the fence, she was barking and disrupting everything and being a general embarrassment. The instructor had us walk her over to the fence to show her that it wasn't scary, then we sort of threw treats on the ground, getting closer and closer to the fence so she had to walk right up to it to get the food. It took a little while, but by creating a positive environment around the big scary thing she eventually calmed down. Then when we took her back over to our seats we just kept rewarding her when she sat and looked at us- the idea being that we are way more awesome and interesting to look at than the fence. She didn't have any problems with it after that.

And yeah, in these early stages it's best to use treats that your dog really loves. And make them really, really small. In Pants' first class we took chickpeas and were breaking them in half, but she still ate so many that she got full and lay down to sleep in the middle of the class.

I'm glad it's going well so far! We're pretty terrible teachers too, and Pants is far from the Stephen Hawking of the dog world (despite her full name being Professor Pants), but she's responding really well.

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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:18 am 
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So Fawkes is doing better despite the fact that he has the most half-assed teacher ever. We took him to the Farmer's Market and I only had to pick him up once, and that's because I saw a big dog we would have to walk past and didn't want to risk it. There was SO MUCH that I think he was too excited to be a dick, which is what I thought would happen. He barked at a few dogs and then we got past them and he was absorbing all of the people again and forgot about the dogs. It makes sense though, when we walk around the neighborhood if he sees another dog or a cat or a person, they are the only thing there so there's nothing to distract him.

I also need more clickers because I couldn't actually tell you where one is. I should've gotten the eight pack.

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"The Tree is His Penis"

The tree is his penis // it's very exciting // when held up to his mouth // the lights are all lighting // his eyes start a-bulging // in unbridled glee // the tree is his penis // its beauty, effulgent -amandabear


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 Post subject: Re: Training a reactive dog.
PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:27 am 
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Seagull of the PPK
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Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:46 pm
Posts: 7975
Location: Brasil
glad it is working out!

my Nacho is the calmest, coolest dog you've ever seen, until the mailman or the garbage truck comes by, whereupon he turns to Cujo. It gets embarrassing. Of course we do have the neighbor man who stands in front of the fence and yells "stupid dog! sonofabitch dog!" and makes it worse. I need to think of some creative way to train the dog through this but haven't had the time to think about it yet. Also, i'm not always home when said stupid neighbor comes by- i would bet he comes more often when i'm not here.

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I'm just a drunk who likes fruit. -- Desdemona


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