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Old 02-20-2013, 07:32 AM
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Default Overexcitement During Leash Walks

At times during our leash walks, Ivan gets a burst of energy and starts nipping at my heels. He doesn't do it hard, but it's an unacceptable behaviour and i'm afraid if his excitement keeps escalating he might hurt me. Especially since we're still getting to know each other and build trust between us, I still don't know him 100%. Then he decides to start tugging on the leash like a game of tug of war. Since he's a big dog, i'm having a hard time controlling him when he gets like this. He's very different from all my past fosters, so I need to tread more carefully with him.

I sent an e-mail to a local trainer but still waiting for a reply. In the meantime what can I do to get him to understand this behaviour is unacceptable?

I don't have a fenced in yard, and it won't be going up until hopefully the spring or summer (pending weather/rain). I'm trying to find a fully enclosed (and private) place I can take Ivan to to run off-leash.

On anotehr note, Ivan came out of his crate by himself today!!!!!! Whoo hoo!
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Old 02-20-2013, 09:48 AM
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In the meantime what can I do to get him to understand this behaviour is unacceptable?
It's not really a matter of making him understand that it's acceptable or not (dogs rarely care...), it's a matter of giving him something else to do that's more rewarding than freaking out, and preempting his freaking out with this alternative behaviour so he doesn't have an opportunity to rehearse the inappropriate stuff.

When Cohen was a puppy she'd periodically attack the leash out on walks. It was her version of the zoomies - she'd bark, tug, growl and generally be a pain in the ass. We managed to work through it by bringing a tug toy out on walks with us (or picking up a stick) and playing with her with that when she got that crazy, mischeivous look in her eye. We'd play a bit to get the pent up energy out, then we'd do some fun obedience with lots of rewards to get her back to being focused and calm, and we'd continue on our way. Or I would cue a focused heel or something else with a high rate or reinforcement to work her through the crazies before they happened. It took a while but eventually she stopped... with me. I found each person who walked her would have to work on the issue themselves, as she didn't apply her good behaviour to the rest of my family without a bit of work on their parts.
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Old 02-20-2013, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Sekah View Post
It's not really a matter of making him understand that it's acceptable or not (dogs rarely care...)
They care if understanding it's unacceptable means making him realize it's just NOT going to happen.

Is Ivan only excitable when walking away from the house? Some dogs will pull going away from home, but not going towards home. If this is the case, you can simply turn around every time he starts and immediately head back to the house. I'd also do "be a tree" and become completely unresponsive. Stop walking, don't look at him or talk to him, until he settles down.

I'd also be using some kind of halter lead (I can never remember which one is good and which one sucks, hopefully someone else can chime in). I think the halti is better than the gentle leader, but I'm not positive. If he doesn't have anxiety or aggression issues during walks, and you feel confident using it correctly, I wouldn't be opposed to using a prong collar on a dog that size either, especially if you're worried about him physically overpowering you.

If he has an reactivity issues or signs he might develop them, I'd avoid a prong collar, however.
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:54 PM
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Heel nipping you might need to experiment on. My first thought would just be standing completely still for 20 seconds or until calm and then start up again. That way you are not acting in a way he finds fun, you're boring.

For leash tugging I've done a few things. One was preventing him from successfully tugging by never letting the leash go taught. I'd hold the end of the leash and just move it in whatever direction he pulled so that the slack remained. Tugging is no fun if you don't tug back. On that same thought you can also hold the leash close to the collar (or just hold the collar) when he grabs the leash so he just ends up with a limp leash in his mouth. Avoid this if you think he'll try to mouth your hand in response. If you think he'll try to back out of the collar you might avoid doing this one or get a martingale.

You could also just try holding the leash perfectly straight in the air with it clipped right behind his head so it's hard for him to grab hold of, but beware if he tries to jump and grab as hands can get nommed.

Those are my initial thoughts. You can always try a head halter for both issues or a metal leash for leash tugging. I would also suggest exercise before the walk. Walks aren't really tiring, so some activity beforehand, like playing or running in the yard, might take that crazy energy edge off before the walk.
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Old 02-20-2013, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Sekah View Post
It's not really a matter of making him understand that it's acceptable or not (dogs rarely care...),... When Cohen was a puppy she'd periodically attack the leash out on walks.
I don't really agree with the first part of your post, you're entitled to your opinion though.

Ivan is not a puppy. He's a young dog that came from an abusive home and was sitting in a shelter for months before he came here. I'll try bringing out a toy but I haven't found one he really likes yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by milos_mommy View Post
They care if understanding it's unacceptable means making him realize it's just NOT going to happen.

Is Ivan only excitable when walking away from the house? Some dogs will pull going away from home, but not going towards home. If this is the case, you can simply turn around every time he starts and immediately head back to the house. I'd also do "be a tree" and become completely unresponsive. Stop walking, don't look at him or talk to him, until he settles down.

I'd also be using some kind of halter lead (I can never remember which one is good and which one sucks, hopefully someone else can chime in). I think the halti is better than the gentle leader, but I'm not positive. If he doesn't have anxiety or aggression issues during walks, and you feel confident using it correctly, I wouldn't be opposed to using a prong collar on a dog that size either, especially if you're worried about him physically overpowering you.

If he has an reactivity issues or signs he might develop them, I'd avoid a prong collar, however.
Ivan gets random bursts of energy regardless of where we are on our walks.

I am using a gentle leader, but he's so strong even with it on. If he wants to go somewhere he will use his whole body strength to get to it. (at least that's what it feels like). I will try the "be a tree" thing and see if that works. Thanks for the tip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxy24 View Post
Heel nipping you might need to experiment on. My first thought would just be standing completely still for 20 seconds or until calm and then start up again. That way you are not acting in a way he finds fun, you're boring.

For leash tugging I've done a few things. One was preventing him from successfully tugging by never letting the leash go taught. I'd hold the end of the leash and just move it in whatever direction he pulled so that the slack remained. Tugging is no fun if you don't tug back. On that same thought you can also hold the leash close to the collar (or just hold the collar) when he grabs the leash so he just ends up with a limp leash in his mouth. Avoid this if you think he'll try to mouth your hand in response. If you think he'll try to back out of the collar you might avoid doing this one or get a martingale.

You could also just try holding the leash perfectly straight in the air with it clipped right behind his head so it's hard for him to grab hold of, but beware if he tries to jump and grab as hands can get nommed.

Those are my initial thoughts. You can always try a head halter for both issues or a metal leash for leash tugging. I would also suggest exercise before the walk. Walks aren't really tiring, so some activity beforehand, like playing or running in the yard, might take that crazy energy edge off before the walk.
Ivan does jump so I don't think holding the leash up will be a good idea. He's really tall to begin with too. Considering his background, I don;t think it;s a good idea to grab hold of his leash. He flinches a lot in general and startles easily. I could get bit if he gets scared.

A also like the idea of having the leash slack when he decides to pull on it. I'll try that one too.

I don't have a fenced yard yet. Ivan is definitely not ready for off-leash time without a fence. I don't think he'd come back if called.
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Old 02-20-2013, 05:47 PM
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The keeping slack thing worked VERY fast for a dog I was walking at the shelter that liked to grab and tug the leash. Luckily we walk on a very quiet street so I could just keep following whatever direction he tried to tug in even if it led us across the street.

I don't have a fenced yard either, but I do have a 50 foot tie out that is fantastic (only used with supervision). Walks rev Tucker up a lot so sometimes after our walk I tie him and toss his toy around until he has himself a good hard zoomies session. Then I let him calm down for a little bit and we go inside. If I don't do this he will sometimes be nuts in the house, want to chase the cats, that sort of thing. So I figured if the dog gets nuts on the walk getting some zoomies out beforehand would help. So perhaps a tie out would work.
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Old 02-20-2013, 11:46 PM
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Chain leashes are tough on hands, but great for leash-biters. It usually stops the behavior right away. Sometimes a small bottle of bitter apple spray can work for the leash biting, one you can carry with you and spray on the go.

In the long run, engaging him and teaching him to walk with you and making it interesting will probably be more important than anything. I'd start from the beginning wih leash walking, and discourage the biting and tugging all together.

Gentle leaders and other head haters are great for control, but they do nothing to actually STOP the dog from pulling. You'd actually end up with a dog that pulls sideways or crooked. The only thing that will teach him to walk right is you, so I'd use some treats and start from the basics!
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