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Reactive sheltie runs from leash

Discussion in 'Behavior' started by kmarcel, May 20, 2019.

  1. kmarcel

    kmarcel Forums Regular

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    I have been struggling the last several months with my leash reactive male Blaze. He is one years old. He’s on the large size 35 plus lbs and a very strong puller, also very reactive when other dogs are out on our walks. I will add that he loves doggie daycare and I believe his behavior on a leash is because he wants to “meet” the other dog. The few occasions where the other dog got close enough and they sniffed each other he wanted to play. Of course, no dog walker would want to approach us when seeing his behavior.

    I tried the Halti collar which he hated. Kept rubbing his face on the ground. Also did the Freedom no pull harness which didn’t help much and he chewed it up. He is now on the Gentle leader. Works somewhat but he still lunges pretty bad but not as bad with regular leash. I use a double ended leash that also attaches to his collar so I can control it better and avoid his neck snapping.

    I’m trying to correct his leash reactivity by doing positive training, treats, refocus, turning the other direction if I see a dog in time, etc., with little success.

    But the other issue is that he runs when I bring his leash out to walk him. I did all the treats and gradually introduced the Halti, Gentle leader and harness. I’m sure he likes his walks but I have to try to be very sneaky and corner him to get it on him. He really takes the joy out of walking.

    Funny thing is he used to come when I held up the regular leash that I used without the Gentle leader. The only obvious difference between the two leashes is one is blue and the other is black (ha and my husband says dogs are color blind). Now he runs from that too. Think he was on to my bait and switch.

    He is an only dog and even though my husband and I are retired, I feel guilty that he gets bored and I think walks are good for all the obvious reasons. I had hoped when I got him right after I retired that he could go many places with me but I avoid that for fear of running into other dogs. I envy people that can walk a calm dog and take them to places like Petsmart and Lowes.

    Would more exposure get him desensitized and improve this behavior? The book Feisty Fido recommends avoiding all reactive situations until you can retrain him then gradually introduce those situations a little at a time. Would be nice if there were volunteer strange dogs that could gradually approach him a little bit closer each time walking. Very unrealistic advice IMO. But I have been turning the other direction when I see another dog on our walks. Not sure what it’s accomplishing in the long run.

    This is becoming a consuming issue for me. I feel I have tried everything except the prong collar option which I don’t want to do, at least at this point.
     
  2. ghggp

    ghggp Moderator

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    Can you take him to an obedience class? Discuss with the trainer first. Go to the class before you commit to paying for it to make sure you like their training methods.

    I have the opposite problem with mine being super shy. I am trying to desensitize him by being around other dogs and environments. They are certainly a work in progress at this age!

    Hopefully, it will help him too. He is only one year. I would seek professional help at this point.

    Good luck. Let us know how it goes!
     
    KarenCurtis and Caro like this.
  3. Calliesmom

    Calliesmom Moderator

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    I second getting a good dog trainer to help you.
    look for some dog clubs in your area to help you find a good trainer.
     
    KarenCurtis likes this.
  4. kmarcel

    kmarcel Forums Regular

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    Thank you Calliesmom and ghggp. He did pass obedience in late fall and he taken Foundations 1 for agility. He is scheduled for Foundations 2 in June. I emailed the person who teaches the agility to see about him taking her obedience class instead of repeating the one he took from the dog club. Hers also has a description of teaching manners for meeting other dogs and people, whereas the obedience class he took a few months ago you didn't get near the other dog at any point. I would like to really pursue the agility for him but when I take him to the class, I'm spending so much of the time trying to control him from lunging and pulling to get to the nearby dogs (and barking).

    I understand having the opposite problem. I had three previously shelties and all of them were shy. One was painfully shy if anyone approached her, kids on bikes, cars, etc. It was sad to take her on walks and have her constantly looking around and behind her to make sure there was no one there.
     
    Calliesmom likes this.
  5. SheepOfBlue

    SheepOfBlue Premium Member

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    Silly question but when he sees a dog have you tried stopping 100% if he pulls. Kind of like you do with puppies that heel bite. It shows him pulling does not get him what he wants (or anything) then once he stops start again if he repeats go in the opposite direction.
     
  6. Piper's mom

    Piper's mom Forums Enthusiast

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    I agree more obedience training would be beneficial. My boy Piper was just like yours when he was around 8 months or so (and it continued for some time. I remember asking the trainer what could I do to stop it, she also said go in another direction lol...this wasn't really a solution. What really helped was teaching him a solid sit (or down) stay, I worked him on his sits at home first, then in more public locations and then on walks if I saw another dog I'd get him to do a sit stay. He was just like yours, just wanted to play (no growling, just barking and spinning...excited). I now do competitive obedience with him and he's the perfect gentleman but on walks I still have to put him in a stay as he wants to play with every dog lol.

    I'd say Blaze doesn't like the leash because he remembers what they do to him. Try walking him with a regular leash (use treats to get him to come to you) and a martingale collar and correct him if he pulls (for Finnie I say walk nice). Your using these different leashes as a correction when you should be verbally correcting him, this way he knows what he's doing wrong.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
    KarenCurtis likes this.
  7. Calliesmom

    Calliesmom Moderator

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    if you have taken an agility class with a good trainer who also teaches obedience, that looks like a good plan to take that class.
     
    KarenCurtis likes this.
  8. kmarcel

    kmarcel Forums Regular

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    SheepofBlue I have not tried the 100 percent stop when he pulls. I envision if he’s on just a regular leash I would be stopping constantly but will try.
    Piper’s mom, he does well on sit, stays on our walks. I also add look when he seems to lose his focus and he will look at me until I release him from stay with OK. However if there is a dog nearby, forget it. Although I will say he will stay focused with a dog barking that isn’t in our vision, which is an improvement. I never got a Martingale collar because the last obedience instructor said it was good for a dog not slipping out of their collar, but not for pulling. Maybe I should switch to that and not use the Gentle Leader. Will he be less apt to choke himself pulling with that instead of regular collar?
    Calliesmom, I did get him into an upcoming obedience class by the same instructor he takes agility from. Both classes don’t start up again for another 3 weeks but I’m optimistic because she’s a really good dog trainer
     
    KarenCurtis likes this.
  9. KarenCurtis

    KarenCurtis Premium Member

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    My Sheltie was about 7 months old when he would lunge and pull on the leash every time a car went by, etc. I stopped every time he started to pull, and had him sit every time a car was close and went by, and treat. Eventually Sandstorm got it, it took time, for me I had to get the timing just right- I'd have him sit just before the car got close, and treat. Every time, consistently. He became the perfect walker on busy roads. He still lunges a bit when people and dogs walk by, but it's more controllable than it was. Good luck!
     
  10. Calliesmom

    Calliesmom Moderator

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    Glad to hear that you're already signed up with the good trainer.
    Martingale isn't that different from a regular collar from a choking standpoint- if you're afraid that he'll choke himself while lunging- I'd consider a no-pull harness. I would also give him many treats while getting him used to it. My one sheltie isn't reactive but he did not always want to come when we would finish our agility turn. I had a few runs in trials and practices where he would not come when we had finished. We use a slip leash for getting in and out of the ring so I taught him the lasso game. I would hold the leash so that there was a nice big loop in it. I had my clicker and tons of treats. We did this for at least a month- but when he got near the leash, click and treat until he got to the point where he would put his head in the loop so he was lassoed. I did wish many times that I could really lasso him but that is not a skill that I have. Anyway, he now loves his leash and comes when I hold it out for him. I also taught him to jump in my arms at the end of a run so mostly we don't have that avoidance issue anymore.
    I would do the same thing with your leash, whatever you decide to attach it to- cookies for not running away from it until it's cookies for coming when you pick it up......
     

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