Dealing with the stereotype

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Dealing with the stereotype

Post by StaffieNerd on Mon May 08 2017, 20:17

Hi! I'm a new member but a long-time Staffie owner.

I have a rescue male (neutered), three years old, typical cuddly Staffie guy around the house.

I got him from the RSPCA, they knew very little about him and where he'd come from. The only information I have from his past is that he was crated for most of the day and was brought in because him and his brother were fighting.

He's good around the apartment and no bother. I do a lot of trick/obedience training with him which he really enjoys and is also absolutely fine to be left alone.

His issue is other dogs. He's very hit and miss. One day he would be running off lead with something having the time of his life and the next day he'd be trying to attack something. I've noticed that off lead he seemed absolutely fine, it's when he's restrained. We have had one incident with him where he was off and the other dog was on the lead - the other dog snarled at him and mine then attacked and had to be pulled off. Since then I haven't let him off so wouldn't be able to say how he'd react if he was off lead now.

Once he sees a dog in the distance he's just in a different zone and NOTHING I do can bring his attention back to me. I've tried all the suggested techniques; getting him to sit and look at me, treating when he sees a dog, telling him off when he goes for them, ignoring him and just dragging him past etc. All he's focused on at that point is getting to the other dog.

I'm going to start taking him to training classes just to socialise him more to see if that helps.

All of our previous males have been this way no matter what we've done or how much socialisation they had as puppies. The only one who's fine is the family dog bitch who we have at the moment who's an angel in every way!

I would just like to hear from others who go through this. I'm finding it really hard to not get despondent and embarrassed when I see people looking at him/me and can clearly tell what they're thinking! I feel like shouting 'I'm trying my best, please don't judge me!'
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Re: Dealing with the stereotype

Post by -Ian- on Mon May 08 2017, 20:55


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Re: Dealing with the stereotype

Post by -Ian- on Mon May 08 2017, 21:05

Hi ya, welcome to the forum from Flo and me Big Grin

Ok first off... You are not alone!!! There are and have been many Staffy owners that have gone through this exact same thing.

It reads as though you're pretty clued up with most techniques and it is often surprising to other breed owners that food doesn't always work, sometimes Staffies just get fixated and have to interact. So what to do?

Classes are an excellent way forward, wish more dog owners would go to them. You should learn loads about your little fella and some things about yourself as an owner too. Have you tried a favourite toy? My girl loves her Stix above anything else including food (well, when on walks anyway) and is the distraction/focus instrument for her.

Your anxiousness will also have a bearing on behaviour too, it's easy to say relax but harder to do if you're unsure of what will happen. Have you thought about a muzzle in the short term? It would enable you to work off lead with the knowledge that he can't do any harm other than make loads of noise.

We have a great moderator here (Liz) who I'm sure will share some other helpful tips too.


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Re: Dealing with the stereotype

Post by LizP on Tue May 09 2017, 08:34

My ears are burning...

First things first, you're not alone. What you're describing is very common.

The good news is that you can work on it. It takes time and experimenting to find what works for you, but it absolutely is possible to improve things. I volunteer at an RSPCA affiliated home and the difference we can make even in that high stress environment can sometimes be amazing.

I'd really recommend you look at Grisha Stewart's BAT method. I've got a thread on it here:

https://staffy-bull-terrier.niceboard.com/t64420-bat-training-for-dog-on-dog-aggression-and-other-things

Rather than following the method exactly with the structured set-ups, I've used it with Chaos as a general theory and it's made a huge difference. Walks became less route where you go from A to B along a pre-determined path, and more a snuffling relaxation time. Lots of giving choices but lots of setting up to make the right choices.

One really important thing Grisha talks about is finding the distance that your dog can cope. That's the area I'd always work in when training horses. If you get too close (and that can be a long way away!), adrenalin kicks in and you no longer learn positively. Not close enough and you learn nothing. The key is finding that area when your dog is aware, a little concerned but no more, and is then able to learn that he can do this.

The other good book is Patricia McConnell's Feisty Fido.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Feisty-Fido-Help-Leash-Reactive-Dog/dp/1891767070

The methods are slightly different but in fact complement each other. Grisha focuses on the relaxation, the coping distance, etc, whereas Patricia's book is more aimed at practical advice for day to day walks.

I personally wouldn't go to training classes. I did try that with Chaos before he actually had much of a problem and it caused one. It was all just too much pressure. He held it together but his stress got worse and worse each week - I think we only went 3 or 4 weeks and I left mid session on the last time. And they were great classes! The other thing, of course, is that you are liable to get other people in the class seeing a staffie, worrying, causing a feeling of tension for all the dogs, etc.

Instead, I'd start by reading those two. Then, find what really motivates your boy. Cheese is a good high value treat and tuggy toys work for a lot of dogs. You being more interesting than the other dog and the comfortable distance are your main tools.

And patience. Lots and lots of patience!

Hope that all helps!


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Re: Dealing with the stereotype

Post by I❤dogs on Thu May 11 2017, 21:48

You have some great advice. With the stereotype nonsense I think it's best just to ignore or educate if someone is responsive. Some people just don't listen & it's a waste of time. A lady at my eldest sons school asked me if Rebel,my puppy, was one of those vicious dogs. After my friendly explanation she then asked if he would have to wear a muzzle when he grew up! Luckily I don't care what people think
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