crazy dog on leash with distractions

Posted by Paula-D
Jun 10, 2011
Hi, I have an almost 2 yr old lab who has been a great dog, submissive with no aggression and has been socialized with people and dogs both on and off leash and is perfect dog in the house. I never knew the" boss" rules though and now that I know what I do he was boss and showed slight dominant behavior. At about 1 and a half he started barking randomly at boxers aggressively but has never bit one and had started barking aggressively on leash at strangers around my condo and when in my car. So I took him to training and started reading all about this stuff. He has done great with commands and is well trained now when not being stubborn. Here is my problem now. I can walk him perfectly around my condo until I see another dog or people he doesn't know. If I walk by a building and someone walks out a door he barks aggressively like a lunatic. If I see another dog he will start pulling and lunging and barking like crazy. I've tried tugging the leash telling him to sit. He ail sit but then go right back at acting crazy. Most of this is all that he just wants to play with the dog. Only certain breeds does he growl at on leash. Help. How do I stop him from going crazy and getting him to approach dogs calmly and not to bark at strangers.
Posted by KOPCaroline
Jun 10, 2011
Hi Paula,

Sounds like excitement, as you said, and wanting to play mostly. Things to try are distraction, which it sounds like you've started, with the sit command. But, how long do you make him sit? When he's sitting are you getting him to focus on you and not the other dog/person? Does he only get up when you say its ok to, or does he come out of a sit when he wants to?

I'm working with my own dog on this problem, he gets too excited at the park we go to over other dogs and likes to rush them. He only wants to play but he's a big dog and its usually too much for the other dog! So what I've been doing is telling him to sit, and snapping my fingers and saying his name and "stay" repeatedly. I make sure he's looking at me, not the other dog/person. I keep him in the sit until either the other dog is gone, or the other approaches him to say hi. Then, and only then, Jackson is given the ok to get up and say hi, or get up and continue our walk. Its working really well for him, we're to the point where he doesnt have to sit everytime, he can heel to me and not rush the other dog as we walk past. I'm really happy with how its going.

So, I'd suggest a similar training method with your dog. If he doesnt know heel, I'd strongly suggest teaching it, even if he's only even on leashes when you walk. Dogs that pull look a bit intimidating, and its not pleasant for the person on the other end of the lead!

As far as his aggression to certain breeds, its a bit tricky. Have you looked into enrolling in an obedience/training class in the area, so that he generally gets more used to other dogs in close proximity, especially dogs he doesnt know? This might really help you out.

I hope this helps, and I hope you can manage him on walks. If my suggestions dont seem to help I'm sure other members have advice. Good luck!
Posted by Paula-D
Jun 11, 2011
Hi Caroline,
I did take him to training and now am taking him there once a week for day care to socialize with all different breeds. It seems to be helping a little bit but he seems to be worse on leash. He got bit by an american bulldog that rushed him while/on leash so I don't know if this has something to do with it. He doesn't know the command heel but knows the meaning of it thru a correction. I have tried to get him to stay when a dog is approaching but sometimes as it gets closer/he does get up before I tell him too and he gets agitated and I hope it doesn't make him aggressive by trying to hold him back. He is much better off leash but I have to keep trying and not get frustrated. I will try what u said and try to stay in one spot when they are walking by. Thanks. Any tips are appreciated.
Posted by Paula-D
Jun 20, 2011
Hi; so Louie is doing so much better now with the pulling crazy on the leash and rushing dogs. He is still anxious and barking at strangers while on leash though and I've accomplished being able to either stop the barking or control it when he does but he still huffs with anxiety and I get nervous not knowing if I can trust him. Any suggestions. I take him to dog parks off leash and hiking thru trails and he is friendly with everyone unless he gets spooked by a hood or something strange and he will rush someone and bark but does come when I yell to him. This behavior is typically on leash at my condo or in my car.
Posted by KOPCaroline
Jun 22, 2011
Hey Paula,

The "huffing" can just be excitement/continuing being worked up but being a good boy and not full on barking. My own dog does this in the yard sometimes when very loud people walk past - he knows he shouldnt bark, so he does the low, breathe out "ruff" sound instead. If I catch him doing it, I give a sharp "enough!" and thats usually enough to convince him to go inspect something else

With your dog, Id give a similar command for now and maybe tug his lead a bit. It sounds like a great improvement from his previous behaviour, so a warning to drop it should be enough to train him out of this. He's obviously doing much better controlling himself! Good job with training, you should feel so accomplished!!
Posted by StevieM
Jun 26, 2011
Patricia McConnell has a wonderful way of teaching dogs to watch their owners even under distractions. I've been using it in my classes for quite a while - I've had several classes of beginning dogs that were all reactive. She has the owners absolutely master the Watch me until the dog starts looking for you whenever he sees his trigger. Sounds so simple, but it's really worked well for me. I read about it first in one of her books, and then saw a DVD in which she demonstrates it. Totally positive reinforcement, no corrections - you don't want dog to associate pain or corrections with the source of his excitement. And yes, it works for excitement as well as reactivity. The DVD is called Dog-Dog Aggression & I got it from Tawzer Dog. Maybe I'm just a visual learner, I really needed to see it to understand how it worked, cause I was skeptical just reading about it. It's a tool I'm using a lot, and it's worked wonderfully.