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Ask Jane Lefler Your Own Question

Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 18963
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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We have an ex-racing greyhound (male). He is four years old

Customer Question

We have an ex-racing greyhound (male). He is four years old and has been with us for around 18 months. In the home setting he is relaxed and loving and well socialised with other people. He does bark when people come to the door. As an aside this surprised us as we'd been led to believe greyhounds were quiet and almost useless as guard-dogs.
We exercise Fynn twice a day. He is able to let off steam in our garden and every so often we take him to an enclosed paddock for a really good run.
Our problem is mainly with local walks. Increasingly he is rearing up and barking aggressively at other dogs. Although this behaviour used to be intermittent it is now becoming more common. We tried to reward good behaviour by giving a small treat and praise immediately if he passed a dog and did not react. As you will appreciate he is a big dog with a loud bark and can appear, I imagine, intimidating.
We've also had to put up a second line of fencing in our back garden as he is now charging at the hedging if he spots a passing dog.
Fynn is our first dog. We are young-retired and spend a lot of time with him.
Your thoughts and suggestions are welcomed
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
Hi JaCustomer,
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My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
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I think you have given me enough information to answer your question. I'm so glad you put up a second line of fencing. Often just having that buffer zone of free space helps stop the behavior. Training can also be done. Attach a long lead to hm and if Flynn charge the fence, if possible give a short tug to break his concentration and a firm NO. After a few corrections, you should see him hesitate at that point praise him and he is likely to come to you, then give him a high value treat like a hot dog (vienna sausage) slice or liver sliver. These high value treats seem to aid in correcting behavioral issues.
Dogs are aggressive toward other dogs for a variety of reasons. It might be that they are fearful of other dogs and thus are aggressive before the other dog can be. In other cases, a dog is aggressive in order to dominate the other dogs and be the alpha member of the pack. Other causes could be that the dog feels they are the alpha member of the pack and as the alpha member they must protect the pack (you) from threats (other dogs).
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In addition, owners sometimes make the situation even worse by tensing up and worrying about what will happen. The dog senses the owner worry and feels that he is justified in his aggressive stance because you are obviously worried about the dog. They don't know you are worried about them attacking, they just feel that you are worried and assume it is the other dog. I suspect this may be contributing to the issue especially on the walks. You have to try to relax. I have a lot of clients that come to me stating their dog is an angel around other dogs off leash but on leash lunges and sounds fierce. As soon as they relax and aren't holding the leash taut, they see a big difference.
One thing that can help is get him walking right by your side on a relaxed leash. I use a food and praise reward system. I use almost paper think pieces of hot dog as the oil from them coats your hand and keeps the smell on your hand. Let the dog smell the treat in your closed hand. This gives your dog motivation to be by your side. He should be happy to follow your hand around the yard. Keep your leash short, but without pressure on it. If the dog starts moving away, a correction toward you should be made. Give him a treat every once in a while initially so he understands walking by your side get him treats. Try to time it so it is before he gets distracted. If he starts to glance elsewhere, give a correction and tempt him with sight of the treat. When he is back to paying attention, reward him with the treat in a low calm "good boy". No excitement to your voice as you want him calm. Repeat when you think his attention is shifting. As he gets better at paying attention to you and your "smelly hand", make corrections giving more praise and less treats. Before you know it, your dog will be walking right next to you all the time,
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If he is anticipating that treat he should be ignoring on coming dogs as well especially if you stay relaxed. Often a muzzle on the dog will help you relax as well. If he lunges, give a correction of a short tug and firm NO and reward non lunging with the "special treats".
The BAT method may help as well.
http://functionalrewards.com/BAT-basics.pdf
http://www.petexpertise.com/behavior-adjustment-training-dog.html
I up your obedience training as well even if he knows commands well. He needs for you to reinforce that training. The following site is helpful for teaching you how to train your dog. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.
http://www.schutzhund-training.com/training_theory.html
Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.
http://www.pets.ca/articles/article-dog_nilf.htm
That will help as well. I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .
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