"Prey Fixation" on Other Dogs??GSD started a discussion on December 12th
Hi, I found out about NDT during a search and am looking into it if it can help sort out some problems I am having with my dog. Ever since I got her, as an adult, she has been "obsessed" with other dogs. As she escalates (which I try to avoid, if I can help it), she will whine and pull and bark. It is not barking in a mean way, it is more excited. I tried different trainers and they all basically wanted to train my dog by using food and going closer little by little, letting her look so long as she didn't react, etc. My dog doesn't just "look" at things when she's in that state, it's more like targeting. I feel that this training made my dog even more stressed and I felt like they didn't understand my dog. But, what do I know? I'm not a dog trainer. Finally, I found a trainer that seemed to understand my dog and also who does Schutzhund. She told me, my dog is not really reactive and that desensitizing will not work with the problem we are having. By looking at her, she saw that she gets that "prey fixation" when she sees other dogs, and gets agitated when she can't get to them. The trainer said this often happens when a dog like mine with high drive will fixate on things when their needs are not being met and/or they are never blocked and redirected from fixating on undesireable (to us) things. Like it could be, since my dog who spent most of her time in a back yard alone to her own devices, that she was basically just fixating on things to try to satisfy her drive and developed this obsession. At least, that is how I understood it. I also understood that frustration builds, so the more she wanted to go after something and couldn't, it only made her want it more, like vicious cycle. We practiced things like having her go after her toy while on a long leash in the presence of another dog that the trainer was walking. Holy crap, she hit that toy 10x harder than usual. Holy crap, she actually had a 95% recall rate on the first call, in the presence of the largest distraction ever (for her)! The trainer said my dog has to learn that I am the one who satisfies her and that my dog will start to learn to stop fixating on other dogs. We are also starting some obedience training with her and the trainer often has a dog in a kennel to serve as a distraction. The problem is, after only a few times, my dog does not even notice the dogs there much any more. The first day we were there, she was a crazy mess over a dog in the kennel, she saw it before we even got out of the car. Now, she doesn't even look at it. I think because she knows she is going for training. But, at home, we are still having difficulties when out on walks, it's getting better and vocal reactions are down, but she still tries to pull. Can I ever expect this to stop? I am reading a Schutzhund book and it says that dogs can make an "imprint" with particular training places, could this be what is happening and why her reactions are different compared to in real life situations? I wanted to write to you and was wondering if NDT can help us, because even though her training seems to be going well on the "training field", it is taking much longer to cross-over into real life. Do you have any exercises to recommend that can complement what we are already doing? Thanks for reading, sorry for being so long-winded.