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Old 09-15-2014, 10:20 AM
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Default Totally Overstimulated Outside

Sorry for the length! I wanted to give enough details.

I am struggling so much with Watson lately. He has been through a lot of changes since May, including having my husband become primary caretaker while he's home, traveling with me to a new apartment some weeks, and dropping all training classes.

I am finding it so difficult to connect with him outdoors. Any place remotely resembling a field or forest (area around the apartment building, college campus, park, residential neighborhood, etc) can cause him to lose his little doggy mind. I've seen this behavior from him before, but not to this extent.

He goes way over threshold - his eyes glaze over, he pants like crazy, and he quarters frantically on the end of the leash. Usually he is sniffing for wildlife, but sometimes he gets so frantic that he's not even taking in scents or actually tracking anything. If he sees anything interesting, like a squirrel, he starts screaming.

He will actually listen to cues when he's like this, but I can tell he's still not there. He will sit when asked, and look vaguely at me, but not actually make eye contact, and his ability to hold any position is about 3 seconds before he's lunging and possibly shrieking again. He will take treats, but again he's obviously doing it because it's conditioned, not because he actually cares that I have treats. I can reward with a "go sniff" cue, but I wonder if this just amps him up more. I'm pretty sure it's overstimulation rather than anxiety, but I'm sure they are probably very similar in their physiological effects.

He's not like this all the time. I can still walk him around our house and he's normal (a bit overstimulated, but not on another planet), and in certain areas he's fine, but his moments of totally checking out are becoming more frequent and aren't getting better with continued exposure to the places that cause it. I can't just back away from the trigger to work under threshold, because the entire environment is the trigger.

I'm at a loss for what to do. The only thing that seems to help is stopping and waiting him out until he's able to make actual eye contact with me and relax a tiny bit (this can take 10min, and needs to be repeated over and over). I'm not sure if that's really the most effective thing, and it doesn't seem to be working well. Sometimes we can walk until he's too tired to be frantic, but there must be a better way.

I can try to get a video tonight or tomorrow.

I need help!
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Old 09-15-2014, 01:28 PM
release the hounds release the hounds is offline
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as long as everything up that point was done well, imprinting, training, etc. it's situations like these where I make it very clear that everything is fun and games, but i'm not asking for your attention. It's non-negotiable.
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Old 09-15-2014, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by release the hounds View Post
as long as everything up that point was done well, imprinting, training, etc. it's situations like these where I make it very clear that everything is fun and games, but i'm not asking for your attention. It's non-negotiable.
Can you elaborate? What specifically would you do? I'm at a loss other than waiting him out, but even that isn't working well. Previously it did, and in most situations it still does, but not in these situations unless I'm not being patient enough.
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Old 09-15-2014, 02:18 PM
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It's up to you really. I don't know what other people do or how every day interactions are with their dog. Typically i've done a crap load of training before hand with everything. I would have done my recall training and proofed it. I would have done obedience stuff with building distractions in and out of the home and in all sorts of places, always keeping my dogs thresholds in mind. and I always give them plenty of opportunity to get it right all on their own and to figure things out, like waiting them out and removing distractors or removing ourselves from so many competing distractors, but if there comes a time when I think all of that has been done enough, it's a long line and prong collar. it's a correction and it's not nagging, it is big, it is impactful, and it is over.

It's not something done often or hardly ever really, but when i feel i've come to a point where it should be better, i pretty much demand it.
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Old 09-15-2014, 02:39 PM
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So, I just want to say some things I've noticed about your post.

You say that he's had a lot of changes like a shift in primary care giver and stopping all training classes and that after that this behavior has gotten bad.
Is it possible that he's not getting enough exercise/training and all this built up energy is sort of making him loose his mind? Also I know you've previously mentioned he doesn't have great focus offleash. So based on what you've written my guess would be that he needs more mental exercise and he needs his distraction proofing built up.

Since you said he's still ok in the house and yard, what I might do is start doing training sessions in the house with the door closed, then the door open, then the front steps/stoop/deck, then the yard, then the road, then down the road, etc. If at any point he fails that sessions is over and he gets brought home to settle.

At least that's where I would start if he were my dog.
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Old 09-15-2014, 03:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xpaeanx View Post
So, I just want to say some things I've noticed about your post.

You say that he's had a lot of changes like a shift in primary care giver and stopping all training classes and that after that this behavior has gotten bad.
Is it possible that he's not getting enough exercise/training and all this built up energy is sort of making him loose his mind? Also I know you've previously mentioned he doesn't have great focus offleash. So based on what you've written my guess would be that he needs more mental exercise and he needs his distraction proofing built up.

Since you said he's still ok in the house and yard, what I might do is start doing training sessions in the house with the door closed, then the door open, then the front steps/stoop/deck, then the yard, then the road, then down the road, etc. If at any point he fails that sessions is over and he gets brought home to settle.

At least that's where I would start if he were my dog.
It's possible, but I don't think that's the cause. On the weeks that he's home with my husband, he gets the exact same exercise that I gave him. The main difference is no training classes - my husband is all about exercise and play, but he's not a trainer. Haha. My husband swears that he's great on walks and listens well, so I don't think he's letting Watson get away with being a nutcase either.

When he's up here with me, we stay with my parents and they take him on 3 walks a day before I even get home. Some are slow and easy, and usually one is on a long line where he can run around. They claim he's really well behaved for the most part, though he has come down a couple notches since the first weeks he was here as he's gotten used to the apartment complex. When I get home from work we take another walk (though shorter than what I would've given him at home, but it's his fourth walk of the day). I've been doing a lot more training in the apartment and out in the open areas of the complex, and he's doing much better. The main problem is if we try to take him anywhere else, like the college, or other residential areas (in town he's fine).

So I think he's getting the same amount of exercise he's always had overall. He's very good in the house, and just as good in most public places as he was before. It's just when he's in the woods or other open places that he's nuts. Last week we stayed in a cabin on a lake and he was insane every time we were outside. He was getting a lot of exercise and would crash every time we were in the cabin, but he will still nuts outside. The only time he was calm outside was about an hour into a hike, but the first hour was extremely frustrating.
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Old 09-15-2014, 03:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by release the hounds View Post
It's up to you really. I don't know what other people do or how every day interactions are with their dog. Typically i've done a crap load of training before hand with everything. I would have done my recall training and proofed it. I would have done obedience stuff with building distractions in and out of the home and in all sorts of places, always keeping my dogs thresholds in mind. and I always give them plenty of opportunity to get it right all on their own and to figure things out, like waiting them out and removing distractors or removing ourselves from so many competing distractors, but if there comes a time when I think all of that has been done enough, it's a long line and prong collar. it's a correction and it's not nagging, it is big, it is impactful, and it is over.

It's not something done often or hardly ever really, but when i feel i've come to a point where it should be better, i pretty much demand it.
I do have him on a prong a lot of the time now, because he was just getting uncontrollable in a harness (even front clip) and I was getting tired of him pulling until my shoulder ached. Normally he's totally fine on a harness, but not when he gets like this. I've given some mild corrections on the prong, and he doesn't seem to notice a whole lot. I'm not sure if a harsh correction would bring him down to earth or just amp him up more. He has hit the prong pretty hard on his own, and yelped loudly, but it didn't impact his behavior beyond a minute or so.
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Old 09-15-2014, 04:26 PM
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How is he in the car when you get to new places? Can you use the car as your starting point? And have you done any crate games with him?

My next suggestion with the new info would be start crate games at home to set up criteria. Then put the crate in the car and start taking him new places with the crate as your starting point. And again just work up your distance from the car, if he fails the fun gets taken away and he goes back in the crate to settle down.
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Old 09-15-2014, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by xpaeanx View Post
How is he in the car when you get to new places? Can you use the car as your starting point? And have you done any crate games with him?

My next suggestion with the new info would be start crate games at home to set up criteria. Then put the crate in the car and start taking him new places with the crate as your starting point. And again just work up your distance from the car, if he fails the fun gets taken away and he goes back in the crate to settle down.
That's exactly what another dog friend suggested and I plan to try it as soon as I can get his crate from home in a couple weeks. He was crated most of the time during an obedience seminar in June and it was the best he's worked in a crowded class environment. I think the crate helped reset his brain in a way that he can't do himself while on leash. I guess impulse control is hard and the crate makes it easier because there are no other options.

He does get out of control in the car as we get to new places. Another idea I had was to go there and then just leave him in the car, as if I was going into a store without him. Teach him that he doesn't get to act on his craziness and that I'll just leave him in the car if he's obnoxious. Clearly some of this behavior starts in the car (when it's some place we're driving to) so I can work on that.
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Old 09-15-2014, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Elrohwen View Post
That's exactly what another dog friend suggested and I plan to try it as soon as I can get his crate from home in a couple weeks. He was crated most of the time during an obedience seminar in June and it was the best he's worked in a crowded class environment. I think the crate helped reset his brain in a way that he can't do himself while on leash. I guess impulse control is hard and the crate makes it easier because there are no other options.

He does get out of control in the car as we get to new places. Another idea I had was to go there and then just leave him in the car, as if I was going into a store without him. Teach him that he doesn't get to act on his craziness and that I'll just leave him in the car if he's obnoxious. Clearly some of this behavior starts in the car (when it's some place we're driving to) so I can work on that.
That's basically what I did with my dog and it really helped him. Crates can be amazing tools for impulse control.

Just make sure you have a solid base for what your criteria for getting out of the crate is prior to taking him anywhere with it.
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