Post # 1
So I have an 80-lb lab mix named Barney. We adopted him from a shelter when he was 2-3 years old, and have had him for 18 months. The shelter where we adopted him offered free obedience training for adoptees and their owners, and we spent several months going each week and made tremendous progress. But one issue remains.
We live in a condo, and walk the dog at least three times a day for 30 minutes each. He is always leashed, and we don’t take him to off-leash dog parks because of his aggression towards other dogs. However, we of course still encounter multiple dogs on each walk in our busy neighborhood. Barney will occasionally progress past woofing or staring at other dogs, and lunge towards them. Yesterday it happened again, and he lunged at an awkward angle and pulled me off my feet and onto the sidewalk (ouch is an understatement). He didn’t bite or injure the other dog, but he was up in his face barking and snarling until I could get back up and control him.
I am hoping for some advice from you all on what I can work on to prevent this from occuring again (I’ve gotten pulled over three separate times in 18 months). Although it’s superficially an issue of my physical strength (my fiance is always able to restrain him), I know that we need to find a technique for getting and maintaining his attention and focus when other dogs are close by. Any suggestions on training techniques? I know some of the problem is my tension and anxiety on the other end of the leash when approaching other dogs.
Post # 3
Post # 4
Part of the problem can be solved by using the right tools. The leash/collar combo you are using right now isn’t working. I’d recommend getting a biting chain collar (not a choke chain, which is used for training, not walks). Or maybe try a Halti, and attach the leash to both the Halti and his collar. Also maybe you need a leash that won’t burn or cut into your hand when he pulls like this one. You may also consider buying a muzzle to put on your dog while you are training him so that you don’t have to worry if you let go of the leash. I do not recommend a shock collar unless you use it WHILE working with a professional trainer. Also do not use harnesses. It gives your dog more power to pull you over.
Petsmart offers private training with trainers. I would recommend at least four private lessons with them. They can really help you retrain your dog. Their methods use positive reinforcement and praise/treat training. Our dog responded very well to it. We are still working with him, it’s a long process, requires a lot of patience. Boundary aggression isn’t YOUR failt, it simply is. So don’t blame yourself!
Post # 5
i swear by the gentle leader! my lab was crazy on a leash too and shes almost 80 lbs so very hard to control. out trainer recommended this and it has worked like a charm. it goes around their muzzle and behind their head kind of like a horse harness but without a bite block. anyways it keeps them from pulling and lunging 🙂 here she is with it on, shes such a good walker now.
Post # 6
Thank you both.
@MightySapphire: We actually use a Gentle Leader on him, and it has helped tremendously with pulling while on the leash. With the GL on he walks calmly right next to us, unless there is a close encounter with another dog. We also use a thick 6′ leather leash. But I’ll certainly consider switching things up a bit–a friend (a fellow small woman with a big dog) also recommended the biting chain collar.
And thank you for the specific training recommendation. I am thinking I’ll give our previous trainers a call. We had some one-on-one sessions with Barney early on, and learned to deal with his general Alpha tendencies. He’s the funniest dog–never gives an inch, even if you are walking full steam towards him! There’s a lot of bumping him (gently) with knee caps to claim the space for the humans. 🙂
Edited: @Stephanie–thanks! We use the GL to, and it’s great, except for the specific close encounter scenario. Our dogs look a lot alike–I’m a sucker for the pink nose. 🙂
Post # 7
Have you ever watched the show, “Its me or the dog”? She has some great tips on how to get a dog better at this. Sorry i can’t remember them but I think it shows on animal planet.
Post # 8
Has he been done (neutred)?
I have the same problem with our rhodesian ridgebacks, the halti does prevent them from pulling me, otherwise they’d have me over on my feet. But, they do lunge and bark at other dogs. We’re getting them neutred to calm them down.
Post # 9
@Prewitt: It’s interesting that you ask that. He has been neutered, but it didn’t happen until right before we adopted him, so he was already full grown. We’ve theorized that his late neutering has something to do with his territorial aggression, since he spent 2-3 years as an intact male.