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Dr Chris
Dr Chris, Veterinary Surgeon
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 612
Experience:  BVetMed MRCVS
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Rescued lurcher abandoned in ireland as a puppy) reacts

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rescued lurcher abandoned in ireland as a puppy) reacts violently towards other dogs when walking on the lead.
JA: I'll do all I can to help. Have you looked to see if there is a wound on their foot?
Customer: No wounds. perfectly healthy 2 year old
JA: What is the dog's name?
Customer: Finn.
JA: Is there anything else the Dog Trainer should be aware of about Finn?
Customer: very attentive to me in the home, totally ignores me when out off the lead. This is in enclosed areas with no other dogs. Responds to a thrown toy or ball about 10% of the time.

Hi, Welcome to Just Answer. I'm Chris, a small animal Vet based in the UK. I am reviewing your question and will get back to you as soon as possible

Sorry to hear this. Lead aggression or reactivity is actually a very common problem. It all stems from fear of other dogs. When scared dogs are placed into 'fight or flight' mode, and sadly if on the lead they cannot escape thus triggering this aggressive behaviour to try and chase away the threat.

Thankful this issue can be helped, although may not be able to be fully resolved. We need to overcome his fear of other dogs through increased (careful) exposure and positive reward based training to help recondition him to not be so fearful. I note that he doesn't respond much to toys, is is food orientated? Also how close can you get to another dog on lead at present before this behaviour starts?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
The sight of a dog in the distance is enough to set off. When in this mood he has no interest in treats. I usually just turn him away the minute I see another dog but this is just avoidance and isnt a solution.
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
i'll stay with chat at the moment. I am a pensioner and have already spent extensively without results
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Dr. Chris, are you still with me? Derek

Hi yes, I'm still here. As an email based service there can sometimes be delays

Ok so it sounds like we need to try and work to decrease his anxiety so that we can get him to accept treats. An adaptil collar may be worth looking into - it may help to provide him some reassurance, there are also anti anxiety drugs which could be considered, these would need to be prescribed by your vet.

We need to try and get him to accept a treat when another dog is at a great distance and slowly build on this, turning him away, walking away a little then turning back towards and giving the treat can help as this will allow for some of his 'flight' response and may help his anxiety to be less when you turn back in the direction of the other dog.

Lurchers are very movement focused, so sometimes throwing treats in.front of him can achieve a better response than giving by hand.

It will take a lot of time and patience to overcome this issue, working with a qualified dog behaviourist may help to give you extra ideas and support.

Please let me know if you would like me to go into more details regarding any of those points.

Chris

Just checking that you were able to view my response?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thank you Chris. As expected, I've just wasted another fiver as I already know what you've just told me. I'm looking for some radical advice on this matter probably involving actual contact with dogs en- masse.

Do you mean what to do when encountering large numbers of dogs on a walk? I would certainly try and avoid contact with dogs 'en mass' at this stage, we need to get him comfortable with just one dog before we can look at introducing to groups of dogs. If you have already tried the above steps with limited success then some pharmacological intervention may well be the next step. I can give you further information about this if you wish

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Perhaps some advice on pharmacological treatment could be helpful.

Well as I said above, some anti anxiety medications can improve the success of behaviour modification programs. They will not 'cure' the anxiety, but may make it more manageable and allow your dog to become more receptive to treats and other positive rewards if some of the overbearing fear can be reduced.

One such drug would be fluoxetine (prozac), so it may be worth discussing use of such a medication with your vet.

Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help.

Chris

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thank you. I will investigate.

You're welcome. Also if you find a limited response to 'normal' treats, try boiled liver or kidney pieces. My non food motivated lurcher goes mad for them!

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