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I had nearly identical problems with my BC. It took a year of work but now, she's mostly past her issues to the point that she can be a hopeless flirt. Patricia McConnell is a fabulous resource. My dog would also lunge at, and nip other dogs and children. My agility trainer helped me a lot in dealing with her issues. She had me reward her first for just looking at something scary (another dog or child in our case) for a click and treat. (We went through a ton of treats in each agility class) Then we gradually worked up to getting closer with a look at the scary thing for a click/treat. Then she eventually had to sniff another dog for a click and a treat. (2 treats if she allowed another dog to sniff her, and multiple treats from children) Work slowly and don't rush any progress. You'll have a lifetime with this baby, so take your time. One of the best things she learned is to walk away when things get too much. This takes some practice and you really have to be able to read the subtle signs of stress in your dog, but, gradually work toward walking towards another dog (or child) then turn away and go the other direction at the first sign of trouble and reward for bravery. This took some time to master, but now she mostly avoids situations that she doesn't like, and I'm quick to reinforce her decision and move away with her.

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That was a very interesting case study. I appreciate the amount of detail she put into that.

 

One thought after reading it - unlike the dog in the case study, Juno may well benefit from a Look at That approach, although "watch me" is a great place to start.

 

I started with "watch me" with Speedy and it was excellent management and a great place for both of us to get started. In the end it wasn't enough, though. He got to a point where he would not react if he was cued to watch, but he would react if I did not do so. The thing that helped him most was sitting with him on a bench, watching dogs go in and out of class, with me watching his eyes and feeding him whenever I saw that he was watching the dogs with calm interest. That actually generalized very quickly for him and he was soon able to respond in a normal and appropriate way, without cues from me, when he saw other dogs.

 

I do understand what Ms. McConnell is saying about the tendency of some dogs to "lock on" visually and not be able to break away. Dean was like that when I first started working on LAT with him for motion trigger. It did require that he learn the game with dogs that were moving slowly prior to playing the game in the real situations. Once he was very adept at the game with dogs that were moving slowly, we played with dogs who were gradually moving faster, and with more excitement. The game did it's job and he is no longer triggered by other dogs. (I realize you aren't working with motion trigger, but with dog reactivity, but the same principle is at work in the game).

 

I guess I'm reflecting more on Ms. McConnell's case study than on Juno's situation right now, but Mommalove, there might come a point when you might want to consider building a "Look at That" structure into your work with Juno, whether that be true CU Style LAT, or something like what I did with Speedy all those years ago, which was similar but not quite the same.

 

"Watch me" is an excellent place to start, though, especially since this is your first time through this. Once you get a handle on that, something like LAT may be an excellent next step.

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We went to the park today with the intention of working on staying below the threshold of reactivity when other dogs were in view. The park we chose normally has MANY dogs out walking with their people. Of course, today there was not a single dog in sight!

 

However, there were several children who had their daddies with them, so Juno had the opportunity to focus on me and do some sit-stays instead of worrying about the big scary men. She also discovered squirrels for the first time (how did she not notice them before!?) and was instantly fixated - so, a great chance to redirect her attention away from the fascinating and extremely chase-worthy squirrels and get her to shift her focus back on me.

 

We also encountered skateboarders for the first time, and Juno LOVED them! She watched with great interest, without the crazy fixated obsession.

 

So, even though we didn't get to work on the dog issue, there were plenty of other great opportunities at the park today. Let's hope tomorrow the dog people are out :)

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My first thought was time for a new trainer. Just my opinion.

 

We also tend to use look at that versus look at me for fearful dogs. My trainer had explained that a lot of dogs get more anxious when asked to look away from whatever is scary and causing them to react. She compared it to having a fear of spiders and then being asked to look at someone else instead of being able to keep tabs on what is 'scary'. I've seen a lot of progress from dogs that have done look at that. Prior to this class I had always done look at me instead.

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My trainer explained the "look at that" technique as a way of changing the reaction from fear to "oh boy, I get a treat!" It takes a negative situation and gradually changes it to positive. Just go slow, this is not a quick fix, and always keep the dog under threshold.

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Dear Doggers,

 

In her first post, Ms. Mama Love wrote that her pup developed problems AT HER FIRST TRAINING CLASS. Duh. Fire the trainer. In southern Ontario Roger Hild is tops: http://www.tsurodogtraining.com/.

 

I have no opinion about raw vs packaged dog food. For centuries Border Collies survived on corn, sheep poop and carcasses.

 

Standard treatment for sheep guarding dogs who are too aggressive with lambs is lowering protein. Often that solves the problem.

 

Is anyone still feeding puppy chow?

 

 

Donald McCaig

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Dear Doggers,

 

In her first post, Ms. Mama Love wrote that her pup developed problems AT HER FIRST TRAINING CLASS. Duh. Fire the trainer. In southern Ontario Roger Hild is tops: http://www.tsurodogtraining.com/.

 

 

Per your suggestion, I checked out Roger Hild. Unfortunately, he is about five-six hours away from me. However, I do have a wonderful resource nearby, a trainer who specialises in behaviour and psychology, and we are going to visit her on Thursday night (and participate in her fun "Tricks" class!).

 

I've lined up several acquaintances who own dogs and have made arrangements to meet them at the park and have them walk around with their dogs, play, act silly, run and jump, etc. while I work with Juno at a comfortable distance. We'll have several planned outings per week and work towards closing the distance between Juno and the other dogs. I hope that by the time the snow flies I am able to get Juno comfortably approaching and calmly walking past other dogs. Maybe even playing with them!

 

Today we are headed out to the park again to do some more work as we did yesterday :)

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This evening I loaded Juno and the baby into the car to head out to the trainer/behaviourist and the "tricks" class. It was a half-hour drive, and five minutes from my destination I realised that Juno was not in the car. Nothing to do but turn around and drive home. I guess my five-yr-old son thought it would be mighty funny to let Juno out of the car while I ran into the house to grab my keys, and even funnier not to tell me that she wasn't in the car anymore. <_<

 

So, I drove back home, handed the baby over to Daddy, got Juno back into the car, and went for a solo evening walk with her in the park. We practiced all the standard obedience stuff we've been learning in puppy class, and then over the hill came a rottweiler. Perfect! Juno started growling low in her throat and tugging forward slightly, with the fur rising on her neck. I stepped in front of her and told her to sit. She did! Then I told her to watch me. It took a bit of coaxing, but she did tear her eyes off the rottweiler and watched me as he passed us by. She wasn't totally calm - I could see that she was still agitated - but I didn't expect her to be calm at this point and I was very pleased that she followed through on what I asked of her. The rottweiler paid her no attention whatsoever. Juno received heaps of praise.

 

We continued on our walk, heeling and sitting and staying and so forth, and then a woman was heading our way with a shih tzu and a lhasa apso. Juno saw them and started to get agitated. Her fur was starting to rise. I told her to sit in a firm voice, and immediately she did. She raised her eyes to look at me. I praised her enthusiastically, loaded on the treats, and before I even had a chance to stop it, the woman brought her dogs over to say hello.

 

Well, wouldn't you know, Juno was ok! In the first few moments, she got herself ready to lunge and I could faintly hear a little growl forming in her throat. The other woman didn't notice. I told Juno to sit again, which she did, and the two other dogs approached. In less than half a minute, Juno's fur flattened out again, her tail started wagging, and she took an interest in the two little fur balls who were checking her out.

 

When the woman and her dogs went on their way, I gave Juno a jackpot of treats, hugged her, sang her praises to the heavens. Juno was exuberant and happy - a good way to end our evening walk :)

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Good for Juno!

 

There's something about speed of approach that triggers reactivity, too. Working with good dog-walkers to have them gradually approach while Juno desensitizes might be worthwhile. If I keep the other dog at a distance, and Buddy really likes him, he'll eventually pull toward the other dog, which is the sign he's ready to meet.

 

Mary

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Great news! Sounds like you are really working on your issues.

 

I would really encourage you to get and read Control Unleashed especially the Look At That part. It seems counter-intuitive I know, but it really works.

 

I used to always get my dogs to not look at stuff they were scared of/reactive to and look only at me, but once I read about LAT it made all kinds of sense, basically you teach her to look at the things shes worried about and you reward her for looking. Number one, it will keep her calmer as she won't feel like she can't look at something that scares her (keeping tabs on scary stuff puts her more in control), and number two, it creates an association that those things are a predictor of good things from you. Win-win.

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Yesterday was wildly successful!

 

In the morning, I met with a friend of mine and her dog at the park. She hung out with her dog while I worked on heeling and sit with Juno some distance away. Juno noticed the dog, but did not react. As we practiced our heeling, we slowly moved closer and closer to the dog. Juno glanced at the dog every now again and seemed interested. By the time we were two feet away, Juno was excited to meet the other dog, approached very respectfully and calmly, and within a minute or two they were playing exuberantly together. HOORAY! We let the dogs play for an hour, and tails were wagging the entire time.

 

Afterwards, I went by a different friend's new farm to check it out. They recently got a Newfoundland puppy. Juno approached the puppy just as she had the first dog, and within a minute they were rolling around and having a ball. My friend's neighbour has two big GSDs, who came barreling over (while owner yelled at them to "come! come! come! I SAID COME YOU IDIOTS!" :rolleyes: ) to see what all the fun was. Juno's fur went up at the unexpected dogs, and almost immediately went back down again, and she began to wag her tail. All four dogs ran to the creek and splashed in the water for a good half-hour. Juno had a blast.

 

Our afternoon and evening were spent at a War of 1812 Bicentennial festival, with tons of people, dogs, loud music, canons shooting, and fireworks. Juno was golden through all of it.

 

I think Juno was experiencing a fear phase, and it has completely passed. She still has moments of shyness, but she's getting over it quickly. I was so thrilled to see her happily playing with dogs she had never met before!!

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  • 4 years later...

I am sitting here right now with a large black eye from my 10 year old border collie punching me in the face with his nose, hard. I think some border collies are born with fear aggression. My dog started with it when she was 6 weeks old. I have posted on here often. There was a time when two different trainers told me how to handle her, and it made her worse. One said to put her on the ground and knee her. She growled more. Another said to take her by the cheeks and hold then and scream at her, it wanted to attack me then. I held on until she calmed down. Today we wanted to go with us and was at the car. I told her to get into the gate, and she didn't want to come, so I yelled at her. She came in, and then I reached down to pet her when this happened. It has been 3 or more years since the last time.

 

She also lunges at dogs if the come too close. I gave up on her with that. We walk where she doesn't have to meet dogs. Anyway that you do to a dog with fear aggression that scares her it will make them worse.

 

She is a very good dog otherwise. I have talked with the man at border collie rescue, and did this when she was a pup. He just said I had a big problem. It has taken a long time to be able to brush her without her growling, to wash her and to even towel dry her.

 

She used to bump people in the mouth if they tried to pet her. I don't allow people to pet her that don't know her. After two trainers told me how to handle her and after it failed, I read that
Fear aggression cannot be met with aggression as it makes them worse.

 

I have had her on raw food before, and it didn't make her more aggressive. She is on Fresh Pet now. If I had known what I did when she first starting growling at me at 6 weeks old I would have taken her back to the kennel where I bought her. I can't give her away for fear someone would have to put her down or someone would get hurt. I can't put her down, but I would if she began using her teeth. But what is the difference. I have a swollen cheek and black eye. Second time in 10 years. Now I know not to yell at her as it frightened her.

 

Dogs with Fear Aggression will also run away from noises, dogs, etc. She can't be off the leash unless it is safe for her.

 

Type in border collie, fear aggression, and it will give you an article by a vet at Border Collie rescue.

 

I wish you the best.

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This post was 4 years old, but hopefully anyone looking for answers will find help here. :)

Josey, whoever told you to attack your dog every time she growled at you were complete idiots. All that does is essentially tell the dog, "I don't care WHY you are upset, freaked out, confused or over threshold, I'm going to PUNISH you and you can't ever trust me to help you out!" :blink:

You are absolutely correct that aggressive responses to aggression only beget more aggression. It's a darned shame you didn't have access to more knowledgeable people when she was small - though getting her at 6 weeks old could have been part of the problem. At that age they still have a lot of social skills to learn from their mama and each other.

Anyhow, I'm sorry your girl had a relapse and I hope your eye will heal speedily. Easy does it with dogs who are subject to fear and panic. Hang in there with the old girl.

~ Gloria



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Josey, whoever told you to attack your dog every time she growled at you were complete idiots. All that does is essentially tell the dog, "I don't care WHY you are upset, freaked out, confused or over threshold, I'm going to PUNISH you and you can't ever trust me to help you out!" :blink:

 

This! YES!

 

The other thing it'll teach your dog (maybe the same thing, really, but from another angle) is that "I've got plenty of reasons to be afraid and protecting myself because, look, my person is also being aggressive towards me! I can't trust anyone! I'm going to have to get even do even more to protect myself!"

 

And the aggression escalates.

 

I'll never understand who in their right minds would ever believe aggression pacifies aggression.

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Thanks for your posts.

 

Gloria. Actually, she was 8 weeks old when I got her. I wasn't thinking. I just wish that I had not listened to any of the trainers. And now I feel that she and I are walking on egg shells again.

 

She has hated being brushed since she was 8 weeks old, and that has never changed. Most dogs love it. Today, when I brushed her I had to cut out some matts that I should not have been allowed to develop, but I had been ill for a month. I thought to give her animal treats while doing it to see if that would help. It really didn't but she was good.

 

And of course I worry that some day she might poke out my eye or decide to use her teeth, which in a way she does, but she doesn't open her mouth all the way, just exposes them. Basically, I feel that her issue has been with me from the moment she was a puppy. My husband tolerates her but just feels that she isn't a good dog as we can't trust her. But he is good to her.

 

She has never really bonded with us in any way that dogs normally bond. She is not overly excited to see us. When we went on vacation this summer, we left her with my sister for 10 days, and she missed us. When we got back she was glad to see us, but not the tail wagging happy dog, tail wagging, yes. But for the first time since the first day she and I met, she kissed me. She actually got on the couch with me, (my sister allows this) put her paw and head in my lap and then reached up and kissed me. It was very touching. After that it was back to her being alone on her bed or being alone outside, unless we are out walking together or playing ball.

 

I took her to the vet to have her anal glands expressed yesterday. She has only seen this vet about 4 times. I told the vet that Mocha had fear aggression and explained it, showed her my eye, and she said very nonchalantly , "Oh," and turned and walked away. This vet never allows anyone to be with their dog in the treatment room either. I felt horrible with how she reacted to my commits. I only went to her because she was the only vet in town who said that he/she would send my dog's lab to Dr. Dodd in CA. Now I am thinking of going back to the other vet that she also likes. He may have just said, "Oh" too; I don't know. And my husband just thinks I am too sensitive.

 

(As to the lab results, she has thyroid problems, but I put her on Fresh Pet and a grated raw carrot, and her coat is now shinny, and she has lost 5 lbs.)

 

I feel now that I just know some of her other aggressive points, no yelling. And never bend over her to pet her.

 

I just feel so bad for her.

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That seems very young to me for her to have thyroid issues (but I'm no expert), but it could be at the root of this. Has she been put on medication to balance the thyroid? If not, she should be.

 

Personally, I would never go to a vet who would not allow me to accompany my dog into the exam or treatment rooms unless they'd demonstrated that the dog was behaving badly as a result of my presence. I know that sometimes this is the best option for all concerned because some pet owners really make things worse and not better, but I at least want the vet to give us a chance together rather than arbitrarily making that decision right up front.

 

As far as sending a sample to Dr. Dodds (or anyone else), you're perfectly within your rights to make an app't for a blood draw and then take care of mailing it yourself. No vet should refuse that. Maybe they didn't want to bother packing the sample up to mail it if it was going somewhere else, and I can understand that. But if you're taking care of everything but the blood draw itself, I see no reason why any vet should refuse to do it.

 

For the most part, though, if it were me I'd go with the vet you and your dog are most comfortable with though. If it's the one who had an issue sending a sample to Dr. Dodds, have a discussion and ask about options. Maybe you'll just have to go to the other vet for blood draws only, but really, I think most reasonable vets will be willing to work with you, even if you have to take care of the mailing. I've done that in the past. It's no big deal; they provide detailed instructions.

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Thanks Gentle Lake,

 

She does have thyroid issues, and Dr. Dodd said that the amount of meds she is on is fine now, so I now have the reports and know what her levels should be, although I thought that the T4 was a little high, but not by much.

 

I noticed this vet doesn't allow anyone to come into the exam room. I don't like it, but I knew if Mocha didn't like going to her I would know.

 

I say this because I had taken her to a vet who took a cyst out of her, and when he picked her up, I warned him first that she would urinate on him. and she did. She spent the night there for surgery, and when they handed her over to me she pulled the leash hard and just wanted out of there. I tried to take her back just to weigh her since we were in the neighborhood, and she was too upset. I knew before that, that I would never take her back to see him, and now I won't even take her there to weigh her on the scale in the waiting room.

 

I like what you said about packing the sample up myself and mailing it if the vet didn't want to do so. I don't think that the vet Mocha was going to knew who Dr. Dodd was, and he didn't seem to want to try to find out. He had given her a thyroid test, but he sent it to our local hospital, and I really wanted Dr. Dodd's lab and advice. He told me later that he had looked up thyroid issues and said that giving her pills would not always help her to lose weight. So he did that much and even suggested the thyroid test to begin with. I sometimes take her back to him for her anal gland, but now I am going to go back to him after this last visit with the vet in regards how she handled the fear aggression issue. It could be that some vets just don't understand fear aggression.

 

That is a good idea to go back to her just for the blood withdrawal, but I noticed that the second one that she had done was with reluctance. Perhaps it was too much work for her too.

 

She still weighs too much. 65 lbs. but she looks leaner and her coat shines now.

 

I don't know if her thyroid problems have anything to do with her fear aggression as she had this fear from a puppy of 8 weeks. She didn't start gaining weight until she was maybe 3 years old, and the thyroid test that was done back then was normal.

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If you have a Facebook I really recommend you join the group "reactive dogs"

 

And I also recommend visiting the website (which is the backbone of the Facebook page) careforreactivedogs.com

 

I cannot expressed how much these tools have helped me and my fear reactive dog. He is happy and relaxed when he used to be a lunging barking fiasco. All it took was proper desensitization and counter conditioning. The facebook page is incredible because you have a group of wonderful supportive and experienced friends that understand what you are going through. Good luck!

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I had watched a video by a dog trainer, who said to never get into a dog's face. He talked about how people are always reaching down to pet dogs. Then I called a dog trainer, who said that my dog was just trying to get me out of her face because she was afraid of me. she felt cornered. both times she hit me in the face she thought I was going to do something to her. he suggested training, but he would put a color on her that would, I am not sure, maybe a shock collar or a punch collar. I don't think so. IN other words, he wanted to set up the situation, and when she lunges, she gets hurt. But what I get out of these two people is to always come at her from the side when I want to pet her, and don't do anything to scare her.

 

I joined that group on FB and am waiting to hear from them.

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I had watched a video by a dog trainer, who said to never get into a dog's face. He talked about how people are always reaching down to pet dogs. Then I called a dog trainer, who said that my dog was just trying to get me out of her face because she was afraid of me. she felt cornered. both times she hit me in the face she thought I was going to do something to her. he suggested training, but he would put a color on her that would, I am not sure, maybe a shock collar or a punch collar. I don't think so. IN other words, he wanted to set up the situation, and when she lunges, she gets hurt. But what I get out of these two people is to always come at her from the side when I want to pet her, and don't do anything to scare her.

 

I joined that group on FB and am waiting to hear from them.

If it were me I would trust your instincts :) it is my opinion (and I have had success with this) that if a person or animal is scared you don't do something that would make them MORE scared. The CARE protocol that the two online pages I mentioned are based off of this ideal. You can look over that website without the approval of the group and you will get a great idea of what everyone there will recommend and be talking about.

 

They are very adamant about picking your trainers carefully, and it is best to work with a veterinary behaviorist as opposed to just any old trainer because many times for a fearful aggressive dog the rough techniques will make the dog more scared and therefore increase his (the dogs) belief that the particular stimulus causes bad things to happen. However the entire program can easily be done be on your own, which is what we did/do.

 

I am excited to see you in the group, it has been the most life changing thing me and my boy Wick have ever found or experienced, just alone having others to talk to about it with is amazing but the transformation in Wick is such a relief!

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Dear Doggers,

 

Ms. WickandArtoo write,




"They are very adamant about picking your trainers carefully, and it is best to work with a veterinary behaviorist as opposed to just any old trainer because many times for a fearful aggressive dog the rough techniques will make the dog more scared and therefore increase his (the dogs) belief that the particular stimulus causes bad things to happen."

 

Yep.Bad trainers can make things worse. Bad Veterinary Behaviorist trainers can make things worse too and there are plenty of bad Veterinary Behaviorist trainers.

 

It's probably not wise to pick a trainer for his/her doggy quasi-religious beliefs. I'd inquire of the trainer if he/she has had success with dogs like yours and can he/she provide contact numbers. In lieu of this information ask to see the trainer's own dogs doing whatever work they do.

 

If the trainer cites advanced academic degrees, grab your wallet and run.

 

Donald McCaig

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