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Old 08-16-2008, 03:04 PM
samschic samschic is offline
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Unhappy Bad Leash Behavior-HELP

I adopted a 2.5-yr old Australian Cattle Dog, and he is very sweet natured and well-behaved, one of the best dogs I've ever had. Except for occasionally on his leash. He has a bad habit of turning around, biting his leash, and pulling and dragging backwards very aggressively. It hurts, and his favorite place to do it is when crossing a busy street where it's very dangerous. I've tried a couple of different discipline options for this, ranging from vocal scolding to (when it gets really bad) putting him on his back in the submissive position until he calms down. A friend of mine who trains agility dogs also suggested putting the leash in his mouth after he does it and quickly pushing backwards, hurting his mouth. Nothing has really worked so far, because he just keeps doing it. It's not the collar or harness I use, because I've tried almost every kind (except a pronged-choke collar, I don't know if I'm ready to go there yet).

Lately, it's been bad enough that I'm drawing negative attention from bystanders. I've even gotten some really nasty comments and looks, and while I know I'm not hurting him by placing him on his back, it's still very upsetting. I'm looking for a way to discipline him for this behavior without drawing a negative crowd. It's so weird, because it's really like a switch and he's incredibly well-behaved and sweet all of the rest of the time. Can anyone help me?
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Old 09-02-2008, 10:58 AM
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CoyCoyote CoyCoyote is offline
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Stop doing the alpha roll immediately, please. Just don't do it. Ever.

And do not shove the lead in the mouth, either. That could accelerate the problem.

This past spring I had a client whose dog did the same thing, grabbing the leash and initiating a tug-of-war game while on walks. Even though he growled and shook himself roughly, it was in play and he was having a great time.

It took about 1 week to stop this behavior, and here's what we did. When the dog grabbed the leash in his mouth, I had his owner STOP walking, turn away from the dog and cross her arms and remain stone-still until he stopped. If there's no reaction from the human, the dog will loose interest eventually and drop the leash. Once the lead has been dropped, you praise praise praise (just verbal and toss him a tiny piece of chicken, no petting) and continue the walk.

If you do this every time, in addition to praising him when he walks normally, the problem will go away.

And please, don't ever alpha-roll the dog again.
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Old 09-02-2008, 11:03 AM
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CharlieDog CharlieDog is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoyCoyote View Post
Stop doing the alpha roll immediately, please. Just don't do it. Ever.

And do not shove the lead in the mouth, either. That could accelerate the problem.

This past spring I had a client whose dog did the same thing, grabbing the leash and initiating a tug-of-war game while on walks. Even though he growled and shook himself roughly, it was in play and he was having a great time.

It took about 1 week to stop this behavior, and here's what we did. When the dog grabbed the leash in his mouth, I had his owner STOP walking, turn away from the dog and cross her arms and remain stone-still until he stopped. If there's no reaction from the human, the dog will loose interest eventually and drop the leash. Once the lead has been dropped, you praise praise praise (just verbal and toss him a tiny piece of chicken, no petting) and continue the walk.

If you do this every time, in addition to praising him when he walks normally, the problem will go away.

And please, don't ever alpha-roll the dog again.



What she said is right. I haven't had this problem with an adult dog, but puppies find it great fun to grab the lead and walk along with it in their mouth. What I did was basically the same thing. I'd stop walking, and ignore them. When they dropped the leash, praise and start walking again.
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Old 09-02-2008, 11:25 AM
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Does this method also work pretty well when you have a dog that pulls? Bamm really started having a problem with this recently. Here's what I've been doing. He sees something or smells something on the ground and will pull towards it. Usually if it's a smell in the ground he'll crouch down and pull hard on his leash towards that smell. If he sees a bird or squirrel he'll break free from walking alongside me and surge towards that animal.

I've started stopping as soon as he pulls and doing the stone still thing. What he wants most is to go forward towards wherever he's pulling to. I'm trying to teach him that we can continue our walk if he behaves. He doesn't like when I stop like that on walks and will still try and pull or whine and bark in frustration. So... I've been doing the same method that Coy gave the OP, but since my situation is slightly different... is there a better way to work on his pulling problem?
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Old 09-02-2008, 11:49 AM
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Skitt - Actually, yes. If you can predict this before it begins (if you see another dog approaching or a squirrel before the dog does), try to distract him and prevent the pulling altogether with a squeaky toy or by giving him commands until the distraction passes.

Dogs who are frantically pulling and excited don't learn very well. Imagine trying to do algebra while you're going up on a roller coaster just before the big drop. Chances are, your adrenaline is going to prevent you from thinking about these abstract ideas clearly. Its the same for dogs, and trying to train them while they're in that zone is often a moot point.

If you can get his attention and keep it, all the while praising and giving treats, while the distraction is present, your dog will eventually learn to look at you rather than at the squirrel in anticipation of treats. You'll be able to mold that attention once you get it, and have him ignore the squirrel at the command "leave it" (or similar), and he'll get a treat or praise instead of pulling you to kingdom come.



For smells in the ground, the "leave it" command will work. If the dog doesn't know how to leave something, begin training it by offering a delicious piece of broiled chicken or cheese in your closed fist and only let him have it when he stops punking/pawing at it or looks away. Clickers are golden for this training since it'll mark the exact moment he leaves it. You can incorporate it into your walks once the behavior is learned with both the smells and the squirrels.
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