Adding Structure to Help Stop Inconsistent Dog on Dog Reactivity

By: David Codr

Published Date: August 1, 2018

For this Playa del Rey dog training session we worked with 6 year-old Jindo lab mix Sadie and her 12 year-old Jindo room mate Jinsol to stop him from attacking the other dog which he has done more than a few times.

This was one of the more challenging sessions that I’ve done. Jinsol was not very treat motivated because the treats I was using the weren’t his favorite and both dogs were so full of cortisol that even their favorite treats were only partially effective.

Jinsol has gone after Sadie multiple times and now the younger dog is starting to fight back. I’ve worked with many clients who have dogs that were fighting one another, but the way that these two were interacting apart from their fights was somewhat confounding for me. Sadie at times seem to seek out Jinsol company and at other times would move away if he even looked or moved in her direction.

One of my suggestions was to start incorporating breaks between the dogs. Since most of the flights seem to occur or after 7:00 PM I suggested the guardians start getting Jinsol some alone time sometime between five and 6:00 PM. This will give both dogs and opportunity to decompress a little bit.

This would also give the guardians an amazing opportunity to train the dogs which would be best done separately anyway. Building up a dog’s confidence can help just about any dog with behavior issues. Not only will it deepen the relationship between canine and human, it will boost their confidence and give the guardians multiple ways to distract or redirect the dog’s attention to stop any fights before the happen

I also made a number of recommendations such as keeping an activity journal (Which may turn out to be the most helpful thing of all as it will help identify trends or things that may influence or impact altercations), walking the dogs together, how to break up dog fights without getting bit, suggesting a few new rules as well as how to read Jinsol’s body language. Recognizing the warning signs that lead up to a fight will go a long ways towards helping the humans stop them from happening.

I showed the guardians how do to teach the dogs to focus on them on command. As a Los Angeles dog behavior expert, I have found that this is a very powerful way to redirect a dog’s attention before they can get into trouble. But in order to use this command, the guardians are going to need to practice the focus exercise in different locations for progressively longer and longer durations; first inside, then outside on the deck, then outside the front of the apartment (in the hall) and eventually on the street with no other dogs are around.

I mentioned that we may want to set up a BAT training session in the future to work with Jinsol on his dog aggression and reactivity. Unfortunately he was attacked by a pack of dogs when he was in his critical socialization period and has never been the same dog since. Setting up a BAT session in a month will allow me to show his guardians how to help him regain his confidence around other dogs instead of acting aggressive to get them to move away.

During this in home dog training session, I noticed that both guardians were petting the dogs at times when they were nervous or anxious. While petting a dog is usually a great thing, petting a dog when it’s in an unbalanced state can actually reinforce the stress, insecurity, frustration, aggression, or excitement as well as any action the dog is engaging in.

To help the guardians start petting the dogs at the right times and for the right reasons, I went over my petting with a purpose and passive training philosophy with them. You can get some free positive dog training tips by watching the free dog training video below.

Adding structure to petting and asking the dogs to ear their praise can go a long ways towards redefining the leader follower dynamic in the home. This should also help the dogs start to seek out attention from their humans; a trait that is not usually very strong in this breed of dogs.

Next I took Sadie out for a walk to see how she did outside of the home. It was quite the transformation. While she was still agitated and anxious, she had a bit of a bounce to her step, her tail was up, her head was up, ears forward, her pupils were no longer dilated and she seemed interested in checking out the world. This is the dog behavior I want to give to the guardians all the time.

I think walking these dogs together on a regular basis is going to be really helpful. The guardians had already been walking them together, but with one in front of the other which can create an imbalance or a rivalry situation. By walking the dogs next to the guardian so that neither one is in front or behind, the guardians can start giving the dogs a communal activity which will help them bond. Dogs get over things by literally moving forward, so this is a wonderful rehabilitation method to help dogs practice being together positively and without pressure or posturing.

To help the guardians remember all of the posting dog training secrets that I covered in this five hour in home dog training session in LA, we shot a very long roadmap to success video that you can check out below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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