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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm fostering a boston terrier/pitbull mix who I would consider mildly dog reactive. From my observation, it seems to come more from insecurity. It's usually when first meeting a new dog, she prefers to avoid/ignore them. She'll tolerate some sniffing, but is visibly uncomfortable. And once she's hit her tolerance threshold, she gets snappy. This is with polite dogs that I know, not just random encounters. It's usually off leash or with the leash just dragging on the ground, so as not to cause any added tension. What is the best way to correct this kind of behavior? I don't want to coddle or reinforce the undesirable traits...but I also don't want to over correct an already insecure dog? What is the best way to handle when a scuffle does happen? I want her to know that over reacting to minimal stimuli is not appropriate. Most of my fosters up to this point have had little to no behavior issues and so I've never had to train/work with this before.

I should also mention that she actually has a handful of dog friends...and even some of the dogs that she started off snappy with have become her playmate, as they were patient with her and she finally got comfortable. She seems to have less trouble with dogs that are aloof and let her come to them...or just dopey, good natured dogs (usually boys) who put up with her bossy behavior and still want to play despite her attitude. She does show some insecurity in non-dog related situations as well. If walking in a new area, she's on high alert and is startled easily...she'll sometimes even begin to nervously drool. I try to bring her focus to me with treats when I see this. Sometimes she is easy to distract and other times even the treats don't snap her out of this zone.

Thanks for the assistance!
 

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I wouldn't call that reactivity so much as selectivity. If she only does this with certain dogs then it means she's telling the dogs/you that she doesn't want to be around them, and that's okay. My first suggestion is to stop allowing off-leash encounters. If you know she doesn't enjoy meeting all dogs then you could be setting her up to fail by allowing her off leash. I personally don't see this as a behaviour that needs to be corrected. She just doesn't like all dogs. You probably don't like all humans, right? No need to force her to interact. :)

EDIT: it's also your job as handler to not let her go over her threshold. If you see the signs that she's uncomfortable, remove her. There are only so many ways a dog can communicate that until a fight will occur, and you need to prevent it.
 

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I would not let her get to that point of having to be snappy, if you see that she is not comfortable she needs to be removed from the situation. Letting it get to the point of a scuffle will not help her at all, and she should not be forced into that type of situation.
 

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Thanks for the feedback so far. I've only tried a handful of supervised one on one meet/greets...some go great and some are what I've described above. I see what you are saying with the ones where she is uncomfortable, I should end the meeting once she shows her signs but before she feels the need to snap. Would you recommend that I stop allowing her to have the meet/greets all together if sometimes there are no issues, since she seems to be selective? Any thoughts on how I can work with her on the non dog related nervousness? I believe that part of my responsibility as a foster is to work with her as much as possible so that her chances of adoption are greater...I just want to be sure I'm doing good by her.
 

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Thanks for the feedback so far. I've only tried a handful of supervised one on one meet/greets...some go great and some are what I've described above. I see what you are saying with the ones where she is uncomfortable, I should end the meeting once she shows her signs but before she feels the need to snap. Would you recommend that I stop allowing her to have the meet/greets all together if sometimes there are no issues, since she seems to be selective? Any thoughts on how I can work with her on the non dog related nervousness? I believe that part of my responsibility as a foster is to work with her as much as possible so that her chances of adoption are greater...I just want to be sure I'm doing good by her.
Meeting other dogs is perfectly fine! Just know her body language and when she's had enough, and please don't allow her off leash around strange dogs. As for the nervousness in new areas and such, I'd say that's relatively normal as well. My male gets very over-stimulated when we try new places for walks, etc. I just try to bring his focus back on me and do a bit of obedience work before starting the walk. "Watch me" is the most important command I've ever taught him, and from your first post it sounds like you do something similar. Just keep her focus, give lots of praise and treats when doing well in new situations, and continue to slowly build her confidence. It's great that you are trying so hard to work with her, I hope she finds a forever home that is understanding of her particular personality. :)
 

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Yeah it stinks, my dog was selective and is now pretty much not a fan of other dogs at all. We had a setback with his injury and he was home bound for a long time which I feel was a HUGE contributor. We are getting back there though. I say keep getting her out there, maybe don't have the dogs meet at all, but walk and socialize and hang out with other dogs and then when you see her relax know you can take it a step further. Trust your instincts. If you see a dog coming to greet you and you know its gonna piss your girl off, don't be afraid to tell the people not right now. Don't feel bad for looking out for your girl.
 

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One of my dogs is highly selective. I still take her out and about, but all dog meetings are supervised - as soon as she looks uncomfortable, we're out of there. Being selective isn't the kiss of death for finding the dog a decent home. Solstice goes hiking with me, she goes to the beach with me, and we wander around and hang out. She'll just never be ok in an Agility venue, or in a crowd of other dogs. She's one of 3 dogs here, so she has her little band of friends and seems fine with that.
 

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My dogs would have a problem with any dog approaching us, but I can allow them to play with some dogs if the introduction is done correctly. I'll tell you what has always worked for me, and maybe it will do your girl good too:) I start with going for a walk with the other person and their dog walking on the opposite side of the street (I make sure it is a back street that does not have much traffic). Once the dogs seem comfortable I will move into the street a little as we are walking, if they seem fine I will move to the middle of the street and continue walking. As long as the dogs seem comfortable I will continue to slowly inch closer and closer until we are walking as a pack. If a car comes before then I just move back to the opposite side of the street, then slowly move back to where you were after the car passes.
 
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