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What Happened To My Gentle Puppy? Will It Get Out Of Control?

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#1 AnnoTanno



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Posted 25 June 2017 - 03:28 AM



I've loved reading this forum, thinking about things that may work with my 18 month old (approx- he's a rescue) Dane cross Spot. He's lovely and so well behaved at home for the most part (occasionally slip ups, but nothing bad). He's always been quite fixated on other dogs, though, and now that he's an adolescent I'm really starting to wish I'd done something about this sooner. Off leash he's great - he plays beautifully and his recall is getting better and better, though still requires some work. He goes to daycare where he apparently never needs correcting - he plays well with a whole range of dogs and listens when given instructions.


His on leash behaviour though...I have a problem. I'm feeling overwhelmed, and I'm hoping someone here can reassure me. He walks calmly and loosely until there is an animal to greet. Younger Spot would greet an animal normally- with enthusiasm and tail wagging (though pulling, and I now know I should have got on top of this then), then move on. Teenage Spot alternates between doing a stalky-pounce thing and just rushing to them. The other dogs get intimidated and growl, and now he's started growling back and trying to squash them! My beautiful, loves-everything puppy!! On his most recent on-lead walk he started jumping in 360 degree circles to try and escape his harness and go and greet a dog, then he lay down across the road and refused to move. I was so embarrassed and also scared that I wouldn't get him under control. Don't even get me started about how he behave|||s when a dog is barking at him through a fence.


Our neighbour-dog, a 14 month old male lab, came to visit today for a play date and they had a squabble (both dogs easily controlled by us, so definitely not  full fight). The neighbour took his dog home right away. They usually play so well together and love to say hi through the fence. 


We went to dog school. He could do all the tricks easily, but had a hard time focusing because of all the other dogs and everyone being on leads - it was his most intense, riled up situation with all these excited dogs and none of them able to greet each other! If anything he seemed to be becoming increasingly focused on the other dogs (at the start of our lessons he was more willing to ignore them, by the end it was very hard to get him to focus on me). We stopped going a couple of months ago when we moved house.


I'm beating myself up for not getting on top of all these early warning signs sooner. We've got the dog school lady coming to do some private lessons next week. I'm going to ask his day care to also take him for some on-lead walks with other dogs so he can get used to being tethered and in the presence of other dogs, but it also being an acceptable situation and not one we need to loose our mind over. And I'm going to get my plan of what I need to practice with him on our walks (which I'm starting to want to avoid, but make myself go on as much as possible as I know it would only get worse to avoid them) so he can get better - I know he needs to respond to me better when out and about. I pretty much have no verbal control if he's worked up.  

I'm so scared that he's going to get out of control. I feel Ok about getting a plan for his behaviour with the professionals in his life and putting it together, but I'm hoping someone on here has also felt overwhelmed at times about where their dogs behaviour is headed. If I knew someone had been here before and could reassure me that these behaviours aren't necessarily an indication that he's going to turn into a savage beast that would be amazing - maybe even you have a dog that's now a little older and is back to being gentle when out and about with a bit more focused training and also maturity? I imagine having that in my mind would help me approach his (much more intense!) training with optimism rather than desperation. 


Fortunately as he's only part Dane (other part Australian Cattle Dog) he's only 37kg, so I CAN physically restrain him when he's going bananas on the lead. But I shouldn't have to. 


Thank you to anyone who can help! 


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#2 bigcheese



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Posted 25 June 2017 - 10:56 AM

Dear Annotanno,

                           Sorry to hear you are having difficulties. We adopted a 18 month old Harlequin back in December 2016 and like you he is absolutely fantastic inside the house but was very reactive on walks.


Firstly if you are not already doing so get a dogmatic head collar as this gives so much more control if he decides to lunge.


Secondly when he gets in the stealth mode ready to pounce let him know in no uncertain terms that the behaviour will not be tolerated


Sounds like because he is on lead he thinks that he cannot get away if the other dog comes near so is putting in a pre-emptive strike...it's not aggression...it's more fear


Keep calm when approaching other dogs,walk tall and confidently and try and give yourself a bit more space between the two dogs or cross the street if necessary. Don't be afraid to tell the other dog owner to give some space


We also ask other dog owners to pass on our right as my dane walks to my left..this puts you in between the dogs showing him that you have the situation under control


We also only give our dane fusses on our terms not when he wants some and we also eat first,walk through doors first and greet all family members first when arriving back home


I know the latest thing is to praise all the time and ignore bad behaviour but it did not work for us..in fact it made it worse


It might be a teenage thing also and he is trying to assume his position in the family as they can be dominant if allowed to be


Do not beat yourself up about it, I know it's hard as the amount of sleepless nights we had in the first 2 months of having ours was crazy


Ours is still not allowed of lead yet so there is that bit of comfort for you


Best of luck 



#3 Yvette



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Posted 27 June 2017 - 06:04 AM

I recommend counter conditioning as the way to work with him on this behaviour. 


Do not go down the route of any training that calls for dealing with dominance, or being a pack leader...it is outdated and causes more harm than good - I know, i tired using professionals with my Great Dane who believed in pack leader stuff and it ruined him. Having done my research, I now know better and use positive training only.


I wish I had known before.


With counter conditioning, have high value treats (really important - and only used for training). I use a mix of chopped hot dog and grated cheese, they only need a smear of it so their weight is not affected.


Now keep him below threshold - ie far enough away that he is not reacting to the other dog....and that can be as far as you need (better too far away than and inch too close).


Show him the other dog and then give him the treat. Keep doing this, and gradually getting him to look at the dog and then look at you, then you treat as he looks at you.


Soon, he will see another dog and look straight at you for cheese - in his head his thought process will have changed from 'see dog and bark/lunge' to 'see another dog, where is my cheese'


Now you can start getting closer and doing it. Before long he will look at other dgs and just thing dogs = cheese


best of luck.

#4 AnnoTanno



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Posted 28 June 2017 - 01:20 AM

Thanks for your help guys. I've psyched myself up and am reframing this new phase from "I'm scared of what might happen" to "let's see how amazing it is to see him change with some hard work". So long as I catch it before he's too excited, he'll do almost anything for a tiny bit of cananossi.

#5 AnnoTanno



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Posted 06 July 2017 - 12:10 AM

Update: pleased to report we're now at day 3 post private lesson to get on top of this and he's doing so well! He can walk (mostly) calmly past dogs barking through fences and can greet dogs that are calm themselves very politely again. Cabanossi was the key for him. I can't believe this is the same dog as 72 hours ago. Walks are fun for us both again and he's learning so quickly that I am actually feeling positive and believing I'll have a dog who can sit at my feet at a cafe and not charge through all the tables to get to another dog. 

#6 kristal



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Posted 06 July 2017 - 04:40 PM

That's brilliant news, glad you are getting your good boy back again.

I'm curious, what method of training are they using?