Monday, March 4, 2013

Pooches: Reactive Dog Goes to School

Maggie went to LARPBO's group training class for the first time this past Saturday.  I was surprised because she didn't start to freak out right off the bat!  There were about 30 dogs there so normally, this would be Maggie freak out heaven.

I don't have a ton of pictures from the day because I was busy keeping my arm attached to my body trying to keep Maggie's attention on me.  She did really well and even managed to do some good listening while she kept her eyes on all the dogs.

A LARPBO member got these fantastic pictures of Maggie's heart marking.
Thanks for the pictures, Ayumi!!
I wear my heart on my coat.
She really did great considering how she used to flip out at any sign of another dog nearby.  The best part was she was exhausted for the rest of the day.  Look at that tongue!
She was really hyped up for the rest of the day and the next morning but then she started calming down again.  On our walk today, she was calm and collected and only whined a little when we passed 1 of 8 dogs on our morning walk.  Definitely an improvement and drastic difference from October!  I think the combination of going to socialize and the LARPBO class may be doing wonders for her tolerance of other dogs.

Everyone at the class was SO friendly and understanding about Maggie's reactivity.  She was one of a few reactive dogs there and wore a yellow ribbon on her leash so everyone knew that we needed some space.  We're taking this week off because I'm out of town but we'll be making LARPBO classes a permanent part of our weekend routine.

There are some people at LARPBO who use e-collars for training (not for punishment purposes) but we're wondering if any readers have used e-collars for training.  Can't wait to be able to update everyone more on Maggie's progress!!!

9 comments:

  1. Yup! We know how controversial they are, but Ed is reactive too (not aggressive). He was such a handful when we first got him and really did not understand what we wanted from him. Verbal corrections just did not cut it; he was too "in the zone." We've had really good results and no longer use it!

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    1. Hannah, this is really good to hear. I don't want to rush into using it yet because I'm not sure we're there with Maggie but so many people in this group use it as a training tool for obedience. I'm interested to hear more about it.

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  2. So great that she's doing so well and it is such a supportive, non-judgmental group. We've also noticed on our SociaBulls walks that sometimes it is just so overwhelming to see so many other dogs that it will make them quiet.

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    1. I was SHOCKED! Normally, one dog makes her fly through the roof. I bet it's kind of like an overload at first because then she started focusing in on certain dogs and getting feisty. There was a frenchy there who I'm pretty sure she wanted to make a snack out of. :-) (Just kidding, perhaps she just had a bad time with a frenchy before...)

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  3. So great to hear that Maggie had a great class! It's really amazing that she was able to work so well with 30 other dogs in the class! Athena is a reactive one too, her problem is that she's "friendly reactive." She wants to be friends with EVERY-SINGLE-DOG that it just makes her so upset that we don't allow her to meet dogs when we are out and about. It especially ticks her off when she is in the presence of other dogs who are playing off-leash because she thinks that she's invited to every party. She whines and cries at other dogs and hasn't yet figured it out yet that those kinds of behaviors are not going to get her what she wants. She does do much better with other dogs around (like when we walk with RespectaBulls or during flyball practice) if we constantly do training commands with her. She has a stellar "leave it" and will stay in a down position staring at a treat in front of her for forever. This has really helped us to calm her down in the presence of other dogs and keep her focus off from wanting to meet/play with them.

    Can't wait to hear how Maggie does during the next class! P.S.- Her heart is so cuteeeeeeeee!!

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    1. I also think that Maggie is SO excited to see the other dogs. She isn't aggressive sounding, just very vocal and pulling to get to them. We're starting to work on exactly what your wrote about like doing commands as much as possible around the dogs. I'm very interested to see what happens when we take Maggie back in two weeks. Her heart is pretty adorable. I think her other marking on her back looks like a Mickey head. :-)

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  4. I've never even heard of e-collars for training. Tell me more about that...

    I didn't know Maggie had a heart spot on her coat! How cute is that. Hades has a "hidden Mickey" if you're familiar with the Disney term. It's sort of a stretch but I like to say that's what it looks like.

    As a future FYI reading about reactive dogs makes me cry because I know how it feels to work with it and how empowering it feels to make progress!

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    1. Maggie's other marking is a hidden Mickey!!!! I'll have to get a good pic of it. That's so funny. I guess people use the e-collars on a very low or vibrate setting to grab the dog's attention when it really starts to wander. I want to talk with someone more about it because they also phase it out eventually. Maggie only had 1 reaction this whole week and it was so amazing to not worry that my dog was going to sound like a snarling maniac on every walk. And I like that she wasn't getting so amped up. She flipped her cookies over a squirrel though so one thing at a time I guess!!!

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  5. I have a reactive dog too, and I know how frustrating it can be!

    I would say avoid the shock collar if at all possible. If a dog is too aroused to stop what they are doing and work with you at all, the right answer isn't electricity -- it's more space. I think you saw how effective positive reinforcement for right choices has been :)

    I know you said some folks are using it on the vibrate setting. As for the low setting, I would strap one on yourself and use it to make sure you're comfortable with the discomfort it will cause. If somebody told me they were going to use an 'e-device' on me, but not to worry because 'it was only a LITTLE shock' I still certainly wouldn't be happy about it!

    This sounds like an awesome class! I adore my trainer but additional options are always nice!

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