My dog is 2.5 years old. We adopted her from a rescue at nine weeks of age. After a week or two at home we noticed that she had very fearful tendencies and I I did my very best to socialize her to children, babies, and adults. We did huge amounts of positive reinforcement, lots of people with treats, took her to school so that she could get used to crowds of children, had people constantly come over. Our work and effort was well rewarded; my pup loves children, is wonderful around people, and everywhere we go she gets tons of compliments on her excellent behavior, good training in, and social attitude. Overall, we did a good job training this pup!
But I made one big mistake that I wish I could go back and redo. as a young pup my dog was fearful around dogs, too. We took her to puppy training class in hopes that the exposure to pups her own age would help. Big mistake. That particular class had a 20 minute puppy play session each class. This was great for a lot of the other dogs, but mine was really scared. She'd hide under the chair for the first few weeks. Eventually she came out of her shell and would play one-on-one, but as soon as a more dominant puppy would come over she would get scared and hide again. Eventually she got stepped on accidentally several times by a huge Great Dane puppy and that was it: she wouldn't come out and play any more.
We did our best to have some one on one play time wi other pups, and it always went well. Likewise, she got plenty of time with friend's adult dogs, and for the most part this went okay. But it happens on more than one occasion that she got scared by big, boisterous dogs. When she was young she would try to hide, but as an adult she began to show definite signs of fear aggression.
If a dog comes over to our house that she doesn't know: no problem. She sniffs and makes friends and engages immediately in play. If we go over to someone's house that has a dog: again no problem. She respects their territory and either makes friends or leaves the other dog alone.
The problem comes when we are out in neutral territory. If we are on a walk, at a park, or in a dog training class the moment she sees another dog she gets tense, stressed, hackles raised. If the other dog is friendly not much happens beyond this. if the Other dog is reactionary as well she lunges and barks and sounds freaky as hell! (though we have been having improvement with this to some degree).
Has anyone else been here before? Do you have any training tips or ideas? My dog is so great, and it makes me sad that I can't take her out to do her favorite activities like mountain biking and hiking in off-leash ok areas. And I hate that any walk we take her on turns into this stressful thing.
you need to work on redirecting her energy as well as desensitizing her to other dogs. Karen Pryor has a good book
Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt would also be helpful. If you can afford it I would recommend hiring a certified behaviourist to help you out as well. Be careful of the general people out there who call themselves trainers and behaviourists and look for some real credentials.
Personally I would never trust your dog offleash, dont set her up to fail. If you want to walk on trails and other areas use a long line, that way she can run but you still have control over her.