Home » Fear and Anxiety » Rangers Journey with Fear Agression (2)

Rangers Journey with Fear Agression (2)


So after having almost “lost it” last week and was even thinking bad thoughts that I couldn’t deal with this dog! (told my husband to ignore me in the future and explain to me that WE CAN DO IT!) I have recovered and am motivated and confident in my dog training and I will never take him to a ‘balance’ trainer again.

It may seem silly but I am sure there are other people out there that deal with the conflicting emotions of owning an reactive dog (I hate the word aggression but when your dog is lunging at the end of a lead trying to attack another dog there is no other word for it). I would love to hear from someone that has taken on this challenge and working through it like I am. I read a lot of information from trainers etc that deal with aggressive dogs but don’t hear a lot about pet owners (non-professionals) that deal with it and their experiences.

Where I left the last post was after Rangers bad experience at Agility, we had to leave early because we couldn’t participate in the class as I was trying to keep him off the other dogs…. sigh.

The next day, he was still distressed and even gave a warning snap to my 5 year old sister. Well this took me into panic mode and I desperately looked for a dog trainer asap. I booked him into the first appointment at the closest dog trainer I could. I asked them what training method they used and “Balanced” was the reply. Being so desperate I took the first appointment.

The lesson started as planned, after a chat and explanation of the problem, we ventured into a demonstration. The trainer put a lovely well natured chocolate dog (maybe lab cross) into a play enclosure and we were on the outside. As expected Ranger went nuts and lunged at the dog, grows, hackles up etc. The trainer had put a chain around his neck and snapped the leash back as soon as he did it. It totally broke my heart hearing my little boy cry and the training didn’t seem very ‘balanced’ to me. I didn’t like the method they used although the desired result was achieved after a few attempts at him lunging. I made sure I took over and rewarded every look away and every calming display he made from the other dog. I think Ranger got just as much or more from the positive training after as from the “balance” training.

This experience motivated me to go home and read everything I could about positive training methods. I had read a lot already but because of this experience I was more determined to search for the right training method for Ranger. For the few days after I focused on gaining Ranger confidence. Instead of walks (which he is afraid of) we played fetch in the front yard. We also did – jump into the car training (which he is also afraid off).

A few days later we were ready (or I was, he is always ready) to tackle an obedience class and although I felt anxious and nervous that he was going to display his aggression  I just kept “I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts” flowing through my mind and we were all set!.


2 thoughts on “Rangers Journey with Fear Agression (2)

  1. I had a dog reactive GSD Smokey (who sadly passed in August). He was a rescue from a puppy mill and had lost half of his left ear to another dog. Needless to say, he wasn’t super thrilled with other dogs. I, like you, at the time had little to no idea about training methods and just wanted my dog to behave and be “normal”. I was fortunate enough to have a really great experience with a positive reinforcement trainer and I started to get absolutely hooked. Now, I’m an avid trainer and work in herding with my GSD Shelby (who is people reactive, but we’re working through it). We recently rescued another GSD Panzer who was used as a bait dog (probably) and he is also people reactive, but he is improving rapidly using positive reinforcement. I can tell you one thing, if they’re already afraid, then making them face their fears and then punishing them for acting on just makes the fear worse, not better. We tried a choke chain with Smokey in the beginning before we went the +R route and he got worse and worse and worse until it was almost unbearable. Then we started using the positive methods and he turned around so quickly it almost seemed like a miracle.

    Some recommended reading if you haven’t looked into it yet – Karen Pryor’s Reaching the Animal Mind, Patricia McConnell’s The Other End of the Leash, For the Love of a Dog and Feisty Fido and “Click to Calm” which you can get on Karen Pryor’s website, but I don’t actually think that one is by her. 🙂 Good luck! Can’t wait to hear how you progress!

  2. Hey thanks!, Im currently reading Feisty Fido and Leader of the Pack by Patricia McConnell. I havent got my hands on The other end of the leash yet but looking forward to it.

    I recently read a great book by Turid Rugaas, “On talking terms with dogs – calming signals” and the cautious canine by McConnell, both very good.

    Now the challenge is developing the perfect approach for Ranger. I use positive reinforcement but need to pick one of the many difference positive training methods I have read about as i believe consistency is going to be the key.

    All the best with your GSD, Thanks for the encouragement!


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