amazincc wrote:How did you achieve that??? How out-of-control/fearful was Hannah? How did you get her to focus on you in the first place when she exhibited fear aggression?
I have grappled w/this issue forever.
And I, by no means, used physical corrections nilly-willy... it was actually a last resort. And I hated doing it.
Sorry, Liz... this is SO NOT what you asked for.
I decided to start a new topic for this since the other thread was already split once, and this is sort of a different topic again.
I will try to explain what I did with Hannah, though it's been an on-going process that started two years ago, so I am guaranteed to forget some things. And this is going to be very long, I apologize.
First, how out of control was Hannah?
Hannah came to me at around 4 months old. She was being returned after being adopted at 6-8 weeks old by a family with two or three young kids. Their reason for returning her was that she was growling and snapping at the kids (I can't remember if they said she actually nipped a kid once). They said this happened a lot when the kids were eating, and that she was guarding her poop from the kids. They also described her as "Jekyll and Hyde".
When I met Hannah on the night I was going to take her home, she growled and snarled at my friend and I when we looked at her in her crate. She was okay with me once I got her home, but I was also careful with her. Any time she met anyone she didn't know, she would bark and growl, and if the person didn't back off, she would bark and growl and lunge at them. I could tell she was fearful, but she was not backing off. She had decided the best defense is a good offense. Kids were the worst. There was a toddler walking with his parents on the opposite side of the street, probably 200 feet away from us and she exploded with barking and lunging. I was worried that she would bite someone if they got close enough.
What I did with Hannah (in a very large nutshell):
I started clicker training with her right away, teaching basic obedience. She is extremely food motivated, which helped a ton, and she loves to learn. I have a great trainer friend who let me take a class with Hannah, and as long as everyone ignored her, she was fine. (If she hadn't been fine, I would have waited on the class.)
I started taking Hannah to a local coffee shop where we could sit outside and watch people. I took really tasty treats with me and we waited for a person to come by. As soon as Hannah noticed a person, I started shoving treats into her mouth. If she was growling or barking, I didn't care, I just kept shoveling treats into her mouth. If she was too upset to take the treats, we moved away from the person until we were far enough that she could eat again. When the person went away, so did the treats. I did the same things on walks. We walked in places where we'd see people on a regular basis, but not a ton of them, and not large crowds. The only criteria for treats was the presence of a person. I did this until Hannah started to growl and then look at me for treats. That's when I knew she was ready for the next step.
We went to the coffee shop and when Hannah noticed a person, I would click and treat (c/t) before she got upset. If she looked again, c/t. If a person got too close, we would move away until we were far enough away that she could focus. Leslie McDevitt calls this "look at that!". A big part of this was me learning to read the tiny nuances in her face and posture that meant she was getting uncomfortable. Her mouth goes forward, her ears raise slightly, and her eyebrows move together. If I don't catch it there, her hackles go up, her tail goes up and "flags", and she barks, growls, and lunges.
I also used the "jolly routine" sometimes. Basically, when she noticed a person I would get all silly, and say funny things to her like, "ooh look, it's a person, you're so silly, that person doesn't want to eat you, you're a black dog, and everyone knows that black dogs don't taste good". My silliness made Hannah feel more relaxed, and if the people heard what I was saying, it made them relax too, which made them less scary. I still tell her all the time that people aren't going to eat us.
I also taught Hannah to target my hand (touch my palm with her nose). When she started to get more comfortable around people, I recruited dog-savvy people to help me and sent Hannah to touch their outstretched hands. When she touched someone's hand, I'd c/t. The treats always came from me because I didn't want her to go close to the person for the food and then freak out about being that close to a scary person. This changed the person from something scary, to something she could interact with to get treats.
Hannah was very reactive with people walking past the house. She'd bark and lunge at the door, or the fence if she was outside. To work on that I would call her and run to the kitchen (conveniently located at the back of my house) every time she barked at something going past the house. Eventually, she started running to the kitchen or to find me all by herself without me saying anything.
During all of this, I also managed Hannah to avoid situations she couldn't handle as much as possible. If I wanted to go to the coffee shop and actually enjoy my breakfast, I didn't take her. If I was going to the pet store and actually needed to buy something, I left her home, or left her in the car while I went in and got what I needed, then let her come in with me after. At home, if we had people over, Hannah went in her crate in the bedroom with a kong or other food-stuffed toy. If they were dog people, I'd let her out for short periods of time to work with her, if not, she stayed in her crate. On walks, if there were kids riding their bikes or skateboards (her ultimate fear), we'd turn around and go the other way. If she couldn't handle something, I didn't push it. And I still don't. That doesn't mean that I let her get away with things though, I just recognize when something is too hard for her and she can't handle it...YET.
This is a really simplified version, please feel free to ask questions. I love talking about training, but I get long-winded, especially when I'm talking about my own dogs
Hannah still has outbursts sometimes, but she's getting a lot better. She can walk around at crowded flyball tournaments without losing it, and she's actually made friends with a few people at flyball, and with some people who have come to visit and have stayed at our house, including my nieces who are 3, 5, and 12. She cuddles with the 12 year old like she does with me, and even let my niece run her at flyball practice this week.