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new dog barking/jumping at very dog we meet

(18 Posts)
spenthen Wed 30-Sep-09 14:12:01

Hi, we adopted a rescue lurcher two and a half weeks ago. He's about a year old and when we're at home he's great, easy to deal with, clean, good with the children, sleeps all night, no food issues etc. etc.

Just one big cloud on the horizon - when we're out walking and see another dog he begins barking and jumping about. Seems to be worse with small dogs (or maybe there are just more small dogs than big ones round here??) As he's quite a tall dog (25 inches at the shoulder) I need to be in full control so it's a big worry - I can't contemplate taking him along on the school run for example, because he really does bark and get very excited and it must be extremely scary from a kiddie point of view. At the moment it's an ordeal even to go for a walk in the park.

I've been reading up and we've started trying to pre-empt it by distracting him with a treat every time we even see another dog (obviously he doesn't get the treat if he kicks off). I'm also trying to get him to sit every time, so as to take control of the situation myself and help him (and me!) to be calmer.

He's being castrated tomorrow; when he's got over that I think we'll sign up for training classes. Anyone able to say if that's likely to help with this problem?? Or able to give any other advice? His behaviour means he's not getting near any other dogs at the moment, and I'm worried this will de-socialise him further and perpetuate the cycle, so want to get on with addressing the problem as quickly as we can. Wasn't really expecting this problem as we saw him running quite happily with the other dogs when we visited him in the shelter, and we were told he'd not had any issues with other dogs.

Thanks for any ideas.

spenthen Wed 30-Sep-09 14:22:34

That should say "every dog" in the title, obviously. blush

bumpsoon Wed 30-Sep-09 15:11:41

does he get the opportunity to be off lead with any dogs at all? Also is he excited ,waggy happy ,jumping up or snarling ,hackles up ? Have you thought about taking him to some training classes to get him better socialised or do you know anyone with a big dog friendly dog to walk with a few times ?Im sure someone with more experience will be along soon smile

minimu Wed 30-Sep-09 16:18:15

This may take time but can be sorted out. You will have to consistant and everyone in the family do the same thing.

You are doing the right thing by trying to distract him but at the moment it is too big an issue in his eyes to be distracted from.

I would get a clicker. Click the clicker and then treat him. Do this for several days. Quite good when he is recovering from his op and will only be lead walked!

Then have him on a lead and put a bit of food on the floor Do not let him get the food and say "leave it" the minute he looks at you (It may need a gentle pull on the lead) click and treat. Do not let him have the food on the floor. His treat must come from you.
Keep doing this until the leave it command is pretty solid. Then keep making the leave it item a bit harder eg a piece of sausage, a favourite toy.
Then you can try the leave it command when you pass the dog.

In the meantime until you get to this stage keep walking past the dog do not let your dog lunge and keep the mood light and cheery.

Ideally you have to be the centre of your dogs life. He needs to get all his enjoyment from you so playing with toys, tuggies etc, loads of training, even trick training and treats will make you more important than anything else. A long term project.

Does he play with other dogs well off the lead? If he is on the lead it can be a fear reaction as he feels he can not escape but again a good bond with you will give hime confidence.

If you do have a friend with a dog you could walk together. When the dogs first meet do not introduce them face to face. Just let them walk alongside each other until he is walking properly. The more you do this the more the dogs confidence will grow.

Castration is controversial for behaviour issues. If it is aggression then it may help but if the aggression is due to fear it generally does not help and may make things worse as there is less testosterone in their system.

spenthen Wed 30-Sep-09 17:21:11

Wow, thank you. A long-term project maybe but brilliant to have such a detailed response, thank you.

He's only been off-lead once so far as we've only had him two weeks and being a lurcher he can obviously run fast. We let him off in a secure area in the park, he was fine until he saw another dog then was running up to the fence barking away. I'm not sure whether it's excitement or fear, will keep watching the signs.

The neutering isn't specifically for aggression, by the way - we have to have it done as a condition of adopting him from the rescue.

A friend has offered to walk her dog (a female golden retriever) with us so we'll try that once he's over the op. Dogs that we meet when out on the lead tend to respond by barking back at him once he gets going, so he hasn't found it easy to make friends yet, poor lad.

Lovely to have so many ideas for positive things we can do. Thank you very much.

bedlambeast Wed 30-Sep-09 20:04:42

Message withdrawn

spenthen Thu 01-Oct-09 07:38:11

Thank you bedlambeast, that's so positive and encouraging. Feeling better about it all already. And a very timely reminder, too, that actually we haven't had him long and he's still getting to grips with who we are.

Out of interest, how long have you had your current dog?

We'll be taking things nice and steady from now on. First though, there's the small matter of his gentleman's operation this morning. Eeek. Poor dog. Still, on the positive side, at least the kids won't be joyously pointing out his testicles to all their friends any more... Though if I know my daughter it'll be "Look, that is his empty scrotal sac!" for the foreseeable future....

JeannotLePushkin Thu 01-Oct-09 16:47:38

We also have a rescue lurcher, got him about 10 months ago. He's 3 years old and castrated (before he got to us).
You're not alone though - ours does the same thing: totally fine and friendly with both humans and other dogs, at home and when off the lead, but when on the lead walking around town, he will often go a bit crazy if he sees another dog (although not always - why?). Once, he even mistook a pullalong suitcase for a dog (at a distance).
I would hesitate to say that it's aggression, it's more like he wants to greet the other dog and gets frustrated if he can't. Interesting idea earlier in this thread about it being a fear-induced behaviour due to low testosterone. He also can get over-excited with other dogs playing in the park, and expresses this by barking. Which is OK for a bit, but can get annoying.
I haven't had much success getting him to stop this behaviour - in fact now he's settled into the family, it's more noticeable. I probably need to be more consistent with the discipline and try out the clicker training option.
In the rescue home kennels where we got him, there was a lot of barking going on much of the time - maybe it becomes a way of life for them and it's up to the lucky new owner to wean them off it. Good luck!

spenthen Thu 01-Oct-09 18:48:05

Thanks Jean (do you mind if I call you Jean?), interesting, he does sound a lot like ours. Love the pull-along suitcase story BTW, hope ours does something half as entertaining one day.

I'm in two minds as to whether it's aggression (fear-related) or just a misjudged attempt at greeting other dogs. To begin with I thought that, having gone from a dog-heavy environment to one where he's the only dog, he was just really really excited to see another one. But I'm not so sure now as it doesn't happen all the time and seems to be more focused on little dogs (especially Westies, more's the pity, as there are dozens of them round here).

Will post on here if we have any success with anything in particular. For now the poor lad is a bit shell-shocked at the loss of his family jewels!

JeannotLePushkin Fri 02-Oct-09 10:40:52

Do you know exactly what cross your lurcher is? Ours is three-quarters greyhound and one quarter collie.
It sounds like our experiences do overlap: I also get the impression that mine would like to greet the other dog but can't and doesn't know what to do, so goes for the default option of hopping around and barking frustratedly. My dog's particular bêtes noires wink tend to be largish brown dogs, not small ones like with yours. Puppyhood associations maybe.
Once he's gone into that frame of mind, nothing I do seems to relax him, until the other dog is out of sight again.
I've tried getting him to look at me, pulling out treats, tried to push him into a sit, turning round sharply and walking the other way, anything I can think of really, and it hasn't worked.
Often it's not a big issue, and he calms down again quickly, but some other dog owners can be pretty unforgiving if my dog behaves less than perfectly.

bedlambeast Fri 02-Oct-09 21:42:37

Message withdrawn

spenthen Sat 03-Oct-09 09:22:30

Guess what appeared at the school gate yesterday, lovingly cradled in its new owner's arms? - yes, another blooming westie puppy. It's beginning to feel like a conspiracy.......

Mr Lurcher is settling down now after the assault on his dignity, but didn't want to do much walking yesterday so we've had a bit of a welcome break from Westieland.

Did wonder about maybe engaging a behaviourist who would come on a walk and could see exactly what the issues are - and, as you say, decipher the dog for me - as I imagine the environment in a training class is quite different from that out on the street. Not sure about the bank balance though, we'll have to see how things go. Hopefully will get together with a friendly dog or two for a shared walk over the next week or so and we'll see what happens.

Mesmerising testicles indeed, bedlambeast. I can see why you'd want to hang on to them (as it were). Ours were nothing like as gaudy. Dark brown and kinda shiny. Just very very prominent. Missing em already.

spenthen Sat 03-Oct-09 09:25:33

PS Jean, he's got lots of saluki, probably crossed with whippet. I believe his salukiness is supposed to make him wilful. Hmmmm.

bedlambeast Mon 05-Oct-09 21:57:13

Message withdrawn

tryingtocookacurry Mon 05-Oct-09 22:20:48

I have exactly the same problem! Mine is a choc lab! He does exactly what you describe. He is not aggressive with other dogs in any way and just wants to play, however, not all dogs want to do the same and the barking can be very intimidating to the other dogs.

We are going to 1-1 training weekly at the moment and my dog trainer told me exactly what minimu has described.

She told me to try and make myself 'my dogs world' so that he will listen to me. An example of this was to distract him when we pass another dog with treats and try and get him to sit next to me but this is very difficult to do.

She has also got me to do the sit and stay or wait signal with him. She identified doing this with his food or his favourite toy. So he starts responding to signals from me.

She has also recommended clicker training - in fact - I think Minimu could be her.LOL!

Why can't it be as easy as Cesar makes it look.

spenthen Tue 06-Oct-09 10:28:52

Well we're trundling along, he's a bit excited and jumpy-abouty on the lead at the mo, I think because he had a few days of only short walks due to his op.

Last night OH claims they passed 5 dogs on their walk and Mr Lurcher didn't bark at any of them so that's great (if it's true...). We are using distraction with treats when we see a dog coming, he loves his treats so it's not so hard to keep him focussed on the treat until the other dog is past. Then he has the treat, turns and looks behind and does yelpy whiny noises. Better than full-on in yer face barking. We're also stepping up the training generally, e.g. he sits every time we come to a kerb, every time he's fed, etc. etc. - to help him get the hang that we are in charge (though I don't feel terribly in charge at the moment I don't think!).

Someone suggested keeping the treats in a tin and taking it on walks, then shaking it when another dog comes along. A kind of very positive distraction? Might try it, I think it might also be useful for recall (that's the next issue - as soon as the muzzle arrives, to protect the local small fluffies).

Do update with how your 1-1 training goes, Curry; is your trainer kind to you? I think I'm a bit scared of having a really clued-up person pointing out my inadequacies! I sort of imagine being scolded by a Barbara Woodhouse figure in a thick skirt, and that makes me feel all funny.

tryingtocookacurry Tue 06-Oct-09 18:44:08

The trainer has been very stern and strict with my lab (and me) blush as she has explained that as he is an older dog, he needs 'tougher' training as he is very bolshy and thinks he's boss! She explained that due to having not raining, he really is just like an 8 week old puppy but due to his age, is so so strong!

I explained to her what a nightmare the barking was - as at this point it was all the time in the house and garden and he would bark 'at' me. On my first session, she very quickly asked me to fill a bottle with stones and shake it every time he barked and say quiet. He picked this up very quickly and we never really have any barking in the house now. She has encouraged me to use the same tactic when out and about.

So, every time we see another dog and he barks, I shake the bottle and say quiet. Not sure that we are getting anywhere with this one though.

tryingtocookacurry Tue 06-Oct-09 18:46:09

Actually, saying that, he is better! Much better!

I also use a halti when we take him out and this can also be used as a corrector to remind him to 'quiet' when barking as when pulled just a little, it tightens round his nose.

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