leash aggression

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Postby carryallsmom » February 21st, 2009, 5:43 pm

Occasionally, when I walk my dog, she will get over stimulated. She will start biting on the leash and jumping on me and then maybe growling. At first I attempted to stop this by making her sit and giving her a treat. Then I carried a toy and would try that. It all worked for a short time. Now, I carry citronella spray and I have only had to use it a couple of times, but it works instantly. Last time, I just showed her the can and her demeanor changed and she started walking nicely again. Is this the solution, or is there something better I can do? What if I forget my spray? This does not happen very often at all, but I don't like it one bit. I am afraid that someday I would have to let go of the leash. Also, this behavior might take place in the backyard. If we don't play with her, and she is getting bored, she will start barking and jumping until we play ball. This also doesn't happen very often. Other than this problem, she is a great dog. In the house, she is super. It seems like sometimes she can't contain her excitement. She has obviously had some obedience training, and is very food motivated.
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Postby Malli » February 21st, 2009, 7:10 pm

It sounds like there is some question in her mind about who is in charge. Do you use Nothing In Life Is Free (NILIF) with her?

Redirective type behavior (wich it sounds like shes doing when shes walking onleash with you, but not in the yard) is IMO difficult, so I'll let someone with experience comment on that....
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Postby airwalk » February 21st, 2009, 8:15 pm

If I may, a couple of clarifying questions? How old is Snickers? She is the one that was in the shelter for about 1 1/2 years right and had 4 owners over a 3 year period? Does she only do this when she is bored or having trouble focusing??
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Postby katiek0417 » February 21st, 2009, 10:28 pm

Do you use a crate with her?
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Postby carryallsmom » February 22nd, 2009, 9:10 am

Snickers is 3 and 1/2 years old now. She only had a real home for a short time. She does have trouble focusing because she is so busy looking every which way. She is looking for dogs so she can pull toward them. She is looking for people so she can meet them. In the house everything was so new to her. She was afraid of everything from plastic wrap to everything (I can't mention them all). She has gotten so much better. Outside she is still afraid of any lawn equipment. She does get bored easily. She is just hyper. I was doing the NLF thing, but I guess I let up a little. I will go back to it, for sure. I only let up because she had an ear ablation done and had to wear an E-collar for 2 weeks. She looked so sorrowful.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 22nd, 2009, 9:38 am

It sounds to me (and I am no professional!) that Snickers is really overstimulated and just hasn't learned the proper way of dealing with it. I would recommend buying "Get Connected" by Brenda Aloff (I saw it on Amazon for $32 a few days ago). It's a large book and it comes with a DVD, and let me tell you, the exercises she recommends make so much sense - to you and the dog.

Also, how much exercise does Snickers get? Both mental and physical?
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Postby mnp13 » February 22nd, 2009, 11:54 am

That's not leash aggression, that's a bratty dog who needs to learn manners.

Your use of citronella is creating respect of citronella, not respect of you.

Personally, I'd put her in a down when she started that crap and stand on the leash if you have to. When she gets control of herself, continue your walk. That is just a stop gap measure until you get some training done and actually get rid of the behavior, but it will help a lot.
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Postby TheRedQueen » February 22nd, 2009, 12:12 pm

pitbullmamaliz wrote:It sounds to me (and I am no professional!) that Snickers is really overstimulated and just hasn't learned the proper way of dealing with it. I would recommend buying "Get Connected" by Brenda Aloff (I saw it on Amazon for $32 a few days ago). It's a large book and it comes with a DVD, and let me tell you, the exercises she recommends make so much sense - to you and the dog.

Also, how much exercise does Snickers get? Both mental and physical?


Ditto.

This is a dog that is excited to go out. Haven't you ever been cooped up in the house for a while...maybe you were sick, maybe the weather was bad? :neutral: Remember how excited you were to finally go out? :dance: Yeah. That's the same thing.

I'd work on self-control...as she appears to be lacking in self-control when it comes to facing EXCITING things. :D She's got lots of energy...and it's just spilling over. Ever seen kids come out of school on a sunny summer day? We don't call them bratty for being excited about being outside finally to play!

I second Liz's book recommendation...and also recommend "Control Unleashed" by Leslie McDivitt. Both books will help you get a better relationship with the dog...and will help you with fun exercises to get you both on the same page, so to speak.

Some good articles on self-control and working with over-stimulated dogs:

http://www.diamondsintheruff.com/overstim.html

http://www.diamondsintheruff.com/Impulsecontrol.html

http://www.clickertraining.com/node/1721

Video: "It's Yer Choice" (Impulse control training)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipT5k1gaXhc
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Postby DemoDick » February 22nd, 2009, 12:16 pm

We don't call them bratty for being excited about being outside finally to play!


If they are being pushy and not listening, then I call them bratty. Dogs, as with kids, need clearly defined boundaries.

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Postby TheRedQueen » February 22nd, 2009, 12:28 pm

DemoDick wrote:
We don't call them bratty for being excited about being outside finally to play!


If they are being pushy and not listening, then I call them bratty. Dogs, as with kids, need clearly defined boundaries.

Demo Dick


Never said that they didn't need boundaries...just check my links-methods for setting up boundaries...for the dog's entire life, not just during walkies.

A pushy kid that's not listening...sure, that's bratty behavior sometimes...but at the heart of it is often a lack of self-control. There can be many reasons for the "bratty" behavior...but it's overly simplistic to just label it as such. :|

I have John's little 6 year old over here every so often. Do I label her as bratty? Sure I do... :shock: I'm not known for my patience with kids. ;) But along with calling her a brat, I work giving her things to do to keep her from being "bratty". She's 6...she's being a brat because it gets her attention. When she's got stuff to keep her occupied, she settles is quiet and happy.
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Postby DemoDick » February 22nd, 2009, 12:41 pm

She's 6...she's being a brat because it gets her attention. When she's got stuff to keep her occupied, she settles is quiet and happy.


I wasn't always given stuff to keep me quiet and happy. Sometimes I just had to sit still and behave. I think it's important to teach that lesson to dogs as well as kids.

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Postby TheRedQueen » February 22nd, 2009, 1:15 pm

DemoDick wrote:
She's 6...she's being a brat because it gets her attention. When she's got stuff to keep her occupied, she settles is quiet and happy.


I wasn't always given stuff to keep me quiet and happy. Sometimes I just had to sit still and behave. I think it's important to teach that lesson to dogs as well as kids.


What I think is important is to give the dog/kid coping tools. Sure, you're not always going to have something to keep the dog/kid occupied...and they have to learn to cope no matter what. I'm not disagreeing.

Just like trainers need lots of tools in their toolbox, dogs need to have "tools" also. They need to be taught ways to cope with different situations...and dogs will need different methods depending on many things (breed, age, motivation, etc). But it up to us as the humans in charge to help them along the way. Dogs are not always going to develop self-control on their own...(just like some kids)...and they need human intevention.
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Postby airwalk » February 22nd, 2009, 3:03 pm

I'm going to jump in here, not because I'm a trainer (cause I'm not) but because I have a little experience with shelter dogs and I live with a bratty dog. Shelter dogs learn lots of things, very few of which are high quality stay at home behaviors. If she was in a shelter, even the very best of shelters (unless it's something like Animal Farm Foundation) she has learned some behaviors that worked in the shelter to get her attention. She barks, she jumps up, she acts in a manner that got her attention.

My Standard Poodle is a brat - he wasn't in the shelter long, but I can tell you several reason why I'm pretty sure he ended up in a shelter and bratty behaviors are the biggest ones. I am still every day looking for new training methods to get through to him.

If she doesn't listen well when over stimulated (which is when Magic either acts like a brat or completely shuts down) and she is food and toy motivated - here's some of the things that work with Magic.

1) Start by starting a bit from scratch to develop a quality relationship. If she's food motivated, find some small (really small) training treats that she absolutely adores - use these whenever she is being a good girl and doing what you want. I use them in the house when he stops barking when I've asked him to - when he sits politely when asked, when he comes when called. I mix it up using jackpot treats and lots of verbal praise.

2) Control the known stimuli. If she's not quite ready to walk around the block yet - don't. If she likes to play ball then when the weather is nice, go out in the back yard and play ball for 5-10 minutes to burn off some excess energy - then use her love of the ball and some jackpot treats for 5 minutes of obedience training. Start with very simple commands and then relax. Then start again. You can do this, depending on her attention span three or four times. When she shuts down and doesn't listen, stop - go in the house and don't worry about it.

I know sometimes it's really hard to find the time, which is why I break mine down to 5-10 minutes at a time. If the weather is crappy and you can't get outside, then in the house is fine (and sometimes is an even better starting spot because you can control stimuli).

If she's a pill with the leash, start in the house, walk her up and down the hall. When she's good, reward both food and praise and when she's not, drop the leash and walk away completely ignoring her.

lather, rinse & repeat.

As her self control improves add distractions - like maybe stand out front of the house on lead and reward when she's controlled and completely ignore her when she's not. If she becomes difficult to manage, go back in the house, take the lead off and ignore her.

After two years of work, Magic is now able to understand that I will not put the leash on him until he is sitting in a controlled manner. I don't give any commands any more (I did when we started and rewards prolifically when he sat and stayed sat). Now when he's bouncing around like a jackrabbit, I simply ignore him until he sits.

My biggest mistake with Magic - hopefully you won't have it happen to you - I get frustrated with him and it shows. He knows it and he shuts down and won't do anything, won't listen, won't come, nothing. I'm working very hard and trying to read him better. When he's done, I quit trying.

He is improving, not great and I won't lie and tell you that I don't get amazingly frustrated with him - because I do - but the improvements are noticeable and coming more every day.
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Postby BullyLady » February 22nd, 2009, 3:13 pm

You may not be a trainer, Diana, but that is all good solid information from someone who has been in the OPs shoes. Thanks for posting that!
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Postby mnp13 » February 22nd, 2009, 3:24 pm

BullyLady wrote:You may not be a trainer, Diana, but that is all good solid information from someone who has been in the OPs shoes. Thanks for posting that!


x2

And being a "trainer" means that you can evaluate behaviors and develop plans to manage / reduce / repair problems. Don't sell yourself short.
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Postby carryallsmom » February 22nd, 2009, 4:34 pm

Wow, thanks to all of you for your suggestions. I am going to consider all of them and see what works for her. I do walk her 3 times a day. Once is at the park. I play ball with her at least twice a day. I will now work more with obedience, which I haven't been doing very much. I do have a clicker. I searched my cabinet and found it. Well, she is so afraid of it. So maybe that won't work. And it sounded like a good idea. I did one click and she took off.
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Postby mnp13 » February 22nd, 2009, 4:47 pm

carryallsmom wrote: If we don't play with her, and she is getting bored, she will start barking and jumping until we play ball.


Do NOT play ball with her when she is acting like that. Take the ball and put it away. Only take it out when you decide to play with her. If she brings you any toy, do not play with her. Play is on your time, not hers.

Think of it like a bratty kid in a store, screeching at his mom because he wants candy. If he gets the candy, he'll screech every time he goes in the store. If he only gets candy when he behaves and is polite and quiet... he'll learn to be polite and quiet to get what he wants.
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Postby airwalk » February 22nd, 2009, 6:24 pm

Well all I know is that sometimes when you are in the middle of trying to deal with a behavior having too much information is almost as bad as not having enough. I have finally realized that with Magic I'm better off having 2 or 3 steps planned out and carry those out until they work, then reinforce those and figure out the next 2 or 3 steps.

Sometimes have 6 or 7 steps simply means I try to go faster than he is capable which, of course, just sets us back 10 steps. :D
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Postby TheRedQueen » February 22nd, 2009, 7:01 pm

:clap: Yea...great post, Diana! :clap:
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Postby amazincc » February 22nd, 2009, 7:19 pm

carryallsmom wrote: I do have a clicker. I searched my cabinet and found it. Well, she is so afraid of it. So maybe that won't work. And it sounded like a good idea. I did one click and she took off.


A clicker CAN be a great tool! Have you tried clicking WHILE feeding her an all-time favorite treat??? You have to get her to associate the clicker = very good things happen. It may take a while, and you have to have patience. :wink:
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