Dog vs Other Animal Agression / Distraction

Posted by grimesnic
Aug 26, 2008
I have a wonderful lab... 90% of the time. Inside the house and in our yard he's the most obedient yellow lab (3 yrs). He pays close attention to commands, comes when called, stays when told to, doesn't bark, love to play, understands his role and place (I think)... an absolute joy.

When we leave our house however, he becomes completely different. He becomes so distracted by every little thing, and will not listen unless you stop, stand still, and wait for him to listen. His attention to us completely turns off. We don't shout or get out of control with him. If we dicipline him its after calmly getting his attention... what drives me nuts is that he understands he shouldn't do things. As soon as I call to him after the "situation" is over, he lowers his head and comes slowly to me as if knowing what he just did was not approved by me.

If he see's another dog 100 yards off, he starts pulling to get to it... jumping up and down, whining :confused:. I can't get him near another dog without the hair on his back standing up.

If he see's a cat close by, he'll whine & cry to get it until I can get him away from it.

One of our neighbors was playing with cats in her lap, and then later came to say hi to our dog (they have played well together in the past)... he started sniffing her inner thigh, and then bit her. (This was the straw that broke the camels back)

My wife will not take him on walks anymore because he's too strong for her to control if a situation arises. I can control him just fine... but I would love to just be able to take him to a park with us and not worry about him flipping out crying, jumping, whining to get at another dog/animal if he see's one... for both his joy and ours.

Any help would be great... (my wife's given me until December 08 to straighten him up, or she wants to find him a new home). :eek:

[B]What I've done so far:[/B]
- I've gotten a "gentle leader" to remove his body strength on walks. It has worked in regards to being able to control his pulling. But when he still sees something he wants (dog / cat), he'll turn around and pull against me trying to get his head out of the collar. I can control him pretty easily, but it's not the solution to his spazzing out.

- I've also gotten an remote electric training colar. We've been going to a field with few, but occasional, distractions. I have a 20' lead and we just walk around. I start on the lowest settings, as he starts to not pay attention to me, I'll call once... if no response 1 low nick... if no response, I adjust up a little and 1 more low nick. He's been getting better about looking at me while we're walking and paying attention to where I'm at, and staying closer. I just don't know if this is really going to help if another dog is around though.

Any other training suggestions...
Posted by grimesnic
Sep 2, 2008
:mad: Man... I'm glad a spent the money to get a "consultant"
Posted by Annie
Sep 2, 2008
Hi there,
sometimes it takes a while for people from all over the world to put their 2 cents in...I remember for my 'consultation' that I sent it directly to the sitstayfetch email adress and got an email reply....For me, this site is a good one to exchange ideas, and sooner or later a moderator will reply to the hundreds of requests.
I also used the electronic collar, for my dog running away hunting in the forest. It worked very well, but I wouldn´t reccomend it for other dog contact. The idea ( for me ) was that my dog got to the forest and there was an uncomfortable feeling and then she came to me and I was full of treats and kind words , as in, she prefered me to the scarey forest. If I think of that with other dogs, then I don´t want her to be scared of other dogs....

What you described sound like a middle stage of training. When your dog is well behaved with no distractions, thats great, but slowly you need to do the same training in a place with a few mild distractions....when he can be 90% reliable, then make the distractions more and more etc etc.

I´m not sure when you discipline him that this is enough? You sound really calm, and I´m thinking maybe your dog can´t sense the difference between what is not OK...and what is REALLY not OK. Commands should ( ideally) be said once and obeyed. I would try changing your tone, body language, and intensity depending on the problem. Sniffing around and not listening to you should get a gruff response. Whining after other dogs should be an immediate halt and sit...and aggressive or biting to humans would ( for me) be an immediate bannishment from the family area.

Do you visit dog parks? can your dog play freely with other dogs? My dog was also a 'rough-starter' as in she went in too fast, often got in a fight and didn´t make friends easily. I really fixed this by working really REALLY hard on recall ( useing a long line) until she was 99% good. I then had the confidence to let her off line to play with other dogs. If I saw the situation going strange, I can now clap my hands loudly and say ' come-HERE' and she will break contact to come. I can almost always let her return immediately as the mood is broken and the dogs can play.

I really know what you mean when you say the dog does something wrong, and then comes to you guilty This was the hardest thing for me to stay cool when she was obviouly guilty....hmmm. I decided that if she can to me then she would not be in trouble, but, if I had to go get her...then no treats, on line, straight home etc. Now she sees me angry and step towards her and she will scoot straight back to me!.

I also agree with De-sensitisation, or 'dog-getting-bored-syndrome' sit and watch dogs play , for hours if need be, tie the line on to the seat if you can´t hold him. watch kids plaing everyday, sit and watch the cats next door..and when he can relax and be calm then give some treats. do this over and over and over. It really takes the excitement away. If this was combined with lots of excercise and playing with other dogs...well, I think your dog would pay more attention to you.
Does he like food or balls? carry one with you...keep it in you pocket and keep his attention.

I would also re-read Alpha tipps as this would really help with his respect to you and your wife.
I would also try to sort out his 'heel' problem so your wife can walk him comfortable. You need to make it upbeat, fun, and change directions suddenly. Keep zigg-zagging around, make a game of it ( with no distractions) until he is where you want him. Then slowly add distractions.
I also get the feeling that although you love this dog very much in the house...I think he scares you a bit in many situations. You are the strong leader and are setting an example for him. When he finds you not assertive enough, then he will take over the role of boss. I believe you could get down and dirty give some good deep growls till your throat hurts. I have ' hunted' my dog using huge body language and wide eyes, and when my dog has been asked to go to her place when a visitior arrives, I have 'hunted' her there growling. I´m not saying all the time, but if you are not happy with his behaviour...stop reasoning with him that it will not be tollerated.
Sorry this was so chaotic...I have kids and dogs crawling all through the house
If I can expand on any ideas let me know, but I think you are dealing with a respect problem....
good luck
Posted by Annie
Sep 2, 2008
I´ve just re-read...
It would be great if you could get someone to help you with the training collar. It would be good to call your dog. no response then give a litlle zap and a big tug on the line to get him moving towards him over sweetly with treats and your arms high in the air and you standing tall. Don´t feel you have to crouch down on the ground for your dog to come. If you had a friend, or your wife to pull on the line etc, then you would be in the right postition to greta your dog. It´s very hard to have your hands doing everything!.

It is also very important that the timing is just right. Leave the collar for a bit. Call loud and clear...pause fraction second, big tug and then he´s looking a you for the fun...arms in the air, maybe running away in the opposite direction...treats etc. I would save the collar for when he is (later) off line, and you are doing the same idea.

It really works. but start easy...then in the fields..then in the dog park...don´t move up too quick.
Good luck.