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What is a good dog training book? I need help with Maggie.

Discussion in 'Dogs - all breeds / types' started by elizavixen, Sep 8, 2006.

  1. elizavixen

    elizavixen New Member

    Hi again. I'm having one problem after the other. Still working on the ant problem. The water bowl problem is semi fixed. But now I'm having a few issues with Maggie. Maggie is 1 yr and 4 mos now - and weighs 102 lbs. She is extremely submissive with me and with my other dog Indy. She has always been very afraid of things. It took her a month to get up the courage to walk up/down the stairs. Same thing to jump out the car. But when she was younger other people/dogs weren't a problem - she was just very submissive with them. But lately, I am afraid she is becoming fear aggressive. I want to put a stop to it NOW. There have only been a two instances, but I know it is only been two because i haven't allowed any more.

    The first instance was a couple weeks ago. I had just moved about two weeks before this so Maggie was still adjusting to the new house. Well, my grandmother, who maggie had never met and who doesn't understand dogs very well, came over. Me, not thinking, just opened the door and let her in with the dogs loose. Maggie sniffed her and then sort of snapped/barked/growled at her. I say sort of b/c if she wanted to really bite her she could have but she didn't. She just lunged at her and did her meanest bark. This was the first time she had ever done that to a person so I was surprised. My grandmother is a little old lady so not exactly a threat. But I grabbed maggie and dragged her into her bedroom and left her there. After a few minutes I let her back out and she again wanted to bark and possibly snap at my grandmother (I was holding her by the collar so she didn't get a chance). I know she was just scared. I didn't really know what to do b/c I didn't want to risk her biting my grandmother but I didn't want to let it go either. After we were sitting for awhile and Maggie was still upset I gave my grandmother some cookies and she held out her hand and Maggie did go take the cookies from her very sheepishly. But then she barked at her again.

    Second incident happened today at the vet's office. I was filling out the new patient form and wasn't paying attention/wasn't thinking and a dog came out of the waiting room and sniffed nose to nose with Maggie. Maggie sniffed her then lunged at her, barking up a storm. Didn't bite her, but sounded horrible. The other dog was a golden retriever, didn't growl or anything, was very friendly, so there was no provocation. Maggie was just scared b/c it was the first time I had taken her away from the house since we moved. She did do well with all the people though.

    But now, I dont' know what to do. She is a big St. Bernard so any aggression can't be tolerated. And now, I'm concerned about it which I know will make it worse. She is a hard dog to read b/c it seems to just come out of nowhere. She acted like she wanted to sniff that dog and then wham!

    The vet suggested the book "cesar's way" by that dog whisperer. Is this a good book or are there any other suggestions? I am going to look into obedience classes (maggie did a round of them and did good in them - but that was almost a year ago), but I don't know if I'll be able to find a good trainer b/c I've moved to a very small town. I'm going to try to start taking her on frequent walks, etc. but I don't know a good/safe way to get her used to other dogs or to people coming in my house. I'm scared to risk her biting someone or another dog. Help!!!
     
  2. NickSter7715

    NickSter7715 New Member

    Re: What is a good dog training book? I need help with Magg

    I'm not sure of any good books. But, Sue Parker (MyPetTherepyDog) is a dog trainer, and she wrote some books too. she sent me alot of good advice for my dog. I highly recomend that you ask her to help you. She was a great help to me.

    -Nicole
     
  3. nern

    nern New Member

    Here are a few book suggestions -

    The Cautious Canine by Patricia McConnell
    Scardy Dog! Understanding and Rehabilitating Your Reactive Dog by Ali Brown
    Aggression in Dogs by Brenda Aloff
    Help for Your Shy Dog by Deborah Wood
    Help For Your Fearful Dog by Nicole Wilde
     
  4. MyPetTherapyDog

    MyPetTherapyDog New Member

    Help for Your Shy Dog by Deborah Wood
    is an excellent book. I have read it twice.
    I did send you a great article I have about desensitizing shy dogs. I am going to post it here for other too.
    I hope it helps you.
    Let me know how things are going. I will be glad to help you further if need be. I am just a phone call or e-mail away.
    Sue

    desensitizing shy or nervous dogs.

    The following is intended to be of assistance to those whose dogs, whilst not displaying overt aggression, are obviously uncomfortable with strangers; will not go forward to meet and greet and tend to take refuge either behind their owner or in a place where they feel most secure.
    If the description of shyness/nervousness/timidity fits your dog it is very important that you do not attempt to force him to overcome his fears. Dogs have three instinctive reactions to situations in which they feel insecure or challenged: freeze, flight, or fight. Most dogs will opt to either freeze, and thus hope to go unnoticed or appear too insignificant to bother with, or to run away from a stressful situation. If freeze is not working, and they cannot run, they then have no choice but fight. A shy/nervous dog, forced to accept the attentions of a stranger, may growl, snap, or bite out of fear.

    There are several reasons why a dog may exhibit shyness - lack of early and ongoing socialisation, lack of confidence due to an unpleasant experience, or genetic predisposition. The method of helping your dog which is suggested here should work for a dog of any age. This program has no set time frame for which you should aim. The rate of progress and improvement will depend on the individual dog and the degree of the problem. However, the older the dog the more ingrained the habit of distrust will be and, therefore, positive results may take longer to achieve.

    First of all, take your dog to a quiet place and simply sit and watch the world go by. Find somewhere that has some pedestrian traffic but that is not as busy and frantic as a shopping centre. A quiet park that does not have children and dogs rushing about, or outside a public building such as a library, museum, government offices, etc. would be good choices. Station yourself so that people passing by will not impinge upon your dog’s comfort zone. If you see that he is at all apprehensive then increase the distance. He should be able to see people but not be worried that they might come too close.

    Do not comfort him or reprimand him if he shows fear at any time. Instead you should talk to him in a perfectly normal voice - tell him a story, read aloud to him, sing a song, recite poetry or the multiplication tables - anything to let him know that you are not in the slightest bothered by strangers and that therefore there is no reason for him to be worried. It is very important at this stage not to allow anyone to approach too closely. If necessary explain that he is a dog in training. Do not be tempted to rush this stage of the program. You should carry it out over at least a week, and in as many locations as possible. Only when you are absolutely sure that your dog is quite relaxed and confident in this situation should you gradually move nearer to the pedestrian traffic

    One you reach the point when people can pass fairly close by, and your dog does not display a negative reaction, give him a treat each time that he calmly accepts their presence. Do not give treats or praise if he shows any sign of nervousness as this, as well as a comforting voice, will only reinforce his notion that being scared of strangers is a correct response. Always be aware of your dog’s comfort zone and be prepared to increase the distance if he becomes stressed. Again, allow a week or two, possibly more, for him to become secure in the knowledge that passers-by are no threat.

    The next step is to ask people with whom he is not acquainted to walk past him without speaking or looking at him and to drop a treat as they pass. Repeat this routine as often as possible. After a while your dog should begin to connect strangers with a gratifying, rather than a disturbing, experience.

    If he accepts this strategy calmly then you can ask people he does not know to hold a treat in their hand and see if the dog will approach while they are talking to you. Again, it is important that they do not speak to your dog, make eye contact with him, or attempt to touch him. Neither should you encourage him forward. Let him make up his own mind whether or not to approach. If he does come up and take the treat then do not make a big thing of it. Ignore him and continue talking to the ‘stranger’. Give the person another treat and repeat the exercise several times. Find as many willing participants as you can. Every time your dog approaches a stranger and finds it a rewarding experience the more his confidence will grow.

    This program can also be adapted to dealing with visitors in your home. Ask the visitor to ignore the dog totally - no talking to him, looking at him, or trying to touch him. The latter is especially important if the dog has retreated to a ‘safe’ place. You, also, should ignore the dog. Your visitor can be given a tasty treat to place on the floor a little distance from where he/she is sitting. If the dog comes forward to take the treat ignore him and repeat this procedure several times. Once this step is successful then you can progress to having your visitor holding a treat to see if the dog will approach. Again, no encouraging, looking, touching. Allow your dog to proceed at his own pace, do not praise him if he takes the treat, do not reproach him if he doesn’t. Any type of pushing or persuasion will damage his fragile confidence.

    Do not expect a miraculous quick fix. You require a lot of time and a great deal of patience as you will need to repeat each individual step many times before progressing to the next. It may take weeks or months before any improvement is obvious, and even then your dog may never completely overcome his wariness of unknown people. But, remember that your dog does not have to like everybody. If he wants to be everyone’s best friend that is excellent, if he doesn’t, well, that is fine too. After this program he should be a great deal less shy but you should allow him to make his own decisions about whether or not to approach people. If he still has some reservations, don’t force the issue. Just explain to people that he does not care to be fussed over and to please ignore him unless he initiates contact with them. The aim of desensitization is not to turn your dog into the life and soul of the party but to assist him to relax in the presence of strangers and to associate them with good things rather than regarding them as a source of worry and apprehension. Most importantly, by helping him overcome his shyness, his world should be a much happier and less stressful place.
     

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