Posts Tagged ‘leash reactive behavior’

Help Working with Different Leash Reactive Behaviors

March 3, 2014

Does your dog react when he’s on a leash and sees another dog? The first thing to do is admit you have a problem.

Dog Pierson Sitting

Hi. My name is Pierson and if you’re a dog, I’m probably not going to like you. (Well, unless you’re Maya. I love Maya.) It’s nothing personal. If you’re a big dog, I go into protect-mode. If you’re a little dog, my prey-drive kicks in.

Dog Maya on the Chair

Hi. My name is Maya and I love other dogs. Well, except Pierson. Okay, I like him most of the time, except when he’s being a pest. Then I just tolerate him. But anyway, when I see another dog, I just get so happy that I start barking and lunging.

Pierson not liking dogs and Maya loving them both cause a leash reactive behavior. But because the causes are different, they require a different approach. To be honest, I have had more success dealing with Pierson’s aggressive behavior than with Maya’s excitement behavior. Just how do you deal with a crazy Labrador with GLS, anyway? (BTW, GLS stands for Goofy Lab Syndrome.)

If I see another dog while walking either Maya or Pierson, the first thing I do is cross the street. Because it has been more difficult for me to get their attention with the look command while still walking, I also make them sit. I give the look command and reward. I do this a few times until the other dog is passed.

This method works very well with Pierson unless the other dog reacts. He has made a lot of progress. However, this method is not working as well for Maya. When Maya gets excited about something, it is very difficult to distract her. She is so intent on what she sees (the other dog), that I couldn’t tempt her with a big juicy steak.

With Maya, I need to add another element to her training. If I see that she is going to start reacting, I need to turn her around and go the other way. So far, this is working, but it is not always possible for us to turn around. And I’m curious to know how doing this will eventually help her learn not to react. Any ideas on what training methods I can use for Maya? Keep in mind that when Maya gets excited, nothing, and I mean nothing can distract her. Not treats, not collars, not commands, nothing.

My Dogs Are Perfect, I’m Not

October 5, 2013

Me Maya and Pierson

You may have some misconceptions about my dogs. I bet you think they are perfect and can do no wrong. That’s because most of what you see on my blog are photos of them doing cute or fun things or articles on training tips or health tips. I generally don’t tell you the bad stuff. Why is that? Two reasons. Firstly, my dogs bring me such an enormous joy that I don’t really think about their imperfections. Secondly, I’m a bit embarrassed that I don’t have my dogs completely well-trained. Well, today you are going to get to peek into the real Dawn, Maya, and Pierson.

For the most part, I think many of Maya and Pierson’s imperfections are my own fault. They are dogs and do some doggy things that many in society don’t think are appropriate. But it is up to me to try to work through and redirect their most annoying behaviors. And here they are:

Barking

Pierson barks at almost every little thing. Since he is mostly indoors and it doesn’t really bother anyone but those inside the house, his barking isn’t a big deal. In fact, we’ve gotten really good at tuning him out. But what about when he is outside? As a responsible dog owner, I should really be working with him more on not barking so much. Believe it or not, teaching him to bark on command helped a little with teaching him not to bark on command.

Jumping on People

Even after six years, Maya is really bad about trying to jump on people. I’ve trained her not to jump on me or my husband, but it has been difficult teaching her not to jump on others. She gets so excited that it is difficult to control her when she is in this state. I tend to blame her behavior on the fact that she is an excitable dog, but truthfully her behavior is my fault. When she was younger, I did not actively seek anyone to help me teach her not to jump on them. Sure, I took the opportunity when the chance arose, but there was no consistency. Lately, I’ve been trying to amend that.

Pull No More dog harness

This dog harness / leash helps reduce Maya’s ability to pull.

Walking on a Leash

This is by far my biggest downfall. I have done a number of posts about it and have been great about giving tips. But I haven’t been so good at following my own advice. When we go for a walk, I just want to walk. I don’t want to have to stop and correct. There are some days when I focus on the training, but I don’t follow through on every walk or even every other walk. I think I am only about 20% consistent. This has helped. Maya and Pierson are not as bad as they used to be. But if I would only be consistent, they could be much better.

I have genuinely tried the Gentle Leader on Maya. I followed their instructions and advice very consistently every day for a month. All to no avail. I should try again, but probably won’t.

Pierson Group Walk Photo

Look how much progress Pierson has made with his leash reactive behavior.

Leash Reactive Behavior

Now this one I have been fairly consistent with on with Pierson. And I am so proud of how far he has progressed. The part where I may fall short is when winter comes. We won’t see as many dogs on our walks when the weather gets cold.

Maya is leash reactive too, but in a different way. Where Pierson barks because he hates other dogs, Maya barks because she is excited about other dogs. She does very well in public settings, such as the recent Responsible Pet Owner’s Day event and the Mutt Mixer event. But on walks, she does not do so well. I’m not quite sure how to handle her behavior. The methods that have been doing wonders with Pierson are not working on her. The only things I have not tried out is hiring a professional dog trainer or using an electronic collar, and I don’t want to do either. I can’t afford the first one and I don’t want to resort to the second one.

So there you have it. Maya and Pierson are not perfect because I am not perfect at training them. I think I’ve done a pretty darned good job with what I have done. And I believe they are mostly very good dogs. But I have fallen short on being consistent. It is my fault they are not perfect by society standards. But they are perfect to me. And I love them just the way they are, barking, pulling, jumping, and all (although it would be nice if I would train them to stop doing those things).

Do you have any shortcomings when it comes to training your dog? Come on, admit it. I won’t tell on you if you don’t tell on me. 😉