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Dog pulling on lead and barking at other dogs on walks

(7 Posts)
stbm Thu 29-Sep-11 09:24:24

I have a 2 year poodle cross who is a nightmare on walks. As soon as she sees another dog she pulls on the lead desperate to get to them. As they get closer she then growls and barks and is impossible to calm down. This morning I was pushing her down to sit and trying to distract her, and she bit me which she has never done before. I have tried getting her to sit and wait for the other dog to pass but this has not worked. I have tried putting my foot on the lead near her collar so she has to lie down. This stops the pulling but not the growling and the barking. She is walked twice a day so I don't think boredom is the problem. Any advice greatly appreciated as I have had enough and getting to the point where I just can't face walking her anymore.

toboldlygo Thu 29-Sep-11 13:09:45

Get thee to a training class!

At the moment you are reinforcing this behaviour - every time a dog approaches you haul back on the lead, push her down, hold her tight and force her to sit and squirm while a strange dog comes past, stress stress stress everywhere, no wonder she barks and goes for oncoming dogs if that is the result.

A good trainer will be able to teach you how to get - and keep - her attention and then gradually ramp up the levels of distraction until you're able to do it around other dogs. 'Watch me' is the key - rewarding the dog for focusing on you.

You can start this at home now, get whatever she likes best (high value food, chicken, cheese, sausages, a squeaky ball, anything they will obsess over), wave it at her, when she knows you've got it bring it to your eye level and say 'watch me'. If she tracks the object up to your eyes, a proper squeaky good giiiiiiiirllll! and she gets the treat. Repeat ad nauseum. You want the dog to focus on your every move and regard you as the source of amazing things.

Once you've got this you can start to add in other things - 'watch me - sit - stay - come!' etc., anything you can do to prolong the time that your dog is paying attention to you, even if it's a daft thing like 'paw' or 'speak', if your dog is watching you and waiting for a command that's perfect. It's at this point that you'd start to take this work outside and start working with other dogs at a good distance away, gradually working closer and closer. Many trainers will have a non-reactive stooge dog available for this purpose.

Poodles are very, very intelligent dogs and need a challenge like this to keep their brain ticking over, it's all very well doing two walks a day (are they long enough and challenging enough?) but you need to stimulate the brain as well and tire them out mentally.

MrsClown Thu 29-Sep-11 15:13:29

Hi, I have a 9 year old toy poodle that I only got last January. I started a dog training class last Saturday and would highly recommend it. I had a big problem with him barking everytime I stopped when out walking (eg if I bumped into someone to chat to). The trainer recommended a Lucozade bottle (little one) with a squirter on it and water in. I have only had to use it twice now and the barking has stopped.
Toboldy - I totally agree. I never had a poodle before and came upon this one by accident but never knew how intelligent they were. I am still working on the training etc but his recall, sit etc is now excellent.

mummyofteens Thu 06-Oct-11 11:08:09

Hi, I have a four year old Lhasa Apso which barks at other dogs when we are out and about, particularly if the other dog is off lead. I would be grateful if you explained exactly what you did with the water bottle as she sometimes gets herself so worked up that they is nothing I can do to distract her. I end up holding her lead very firmly which just seems to make her even worse. At home and with people, children etc, she is very calm, rarely barks but it is just when we are out and about.

toboldlygo Thu 06-Oct-11 13:54:35

Please don't squirt your dog with water. Can you see that if you squirt her with water every time you see another dog, she will associate other dogs with fear and punishment? If you are lucky the dog will shut down, if you're not so lucky you'll end up with a hugely fear-aggressive dog.

As with the above scenario every time you meet other dogs currently you are 'holding her lead very firmly', I expect you tense up instantly whenever you see another dog, awaiting the barking - you are confirming her fear, that dogs lead to tension and pulling and anxiety, reinforcing her need to bark and lunge and get worked up.

Try going back to basics, focus training, reward her every time she manages to keep her eyes on you then work on doing it closer and closer to other dogs. If at any point she starts to bark try to remain as calm as possible, remove her from the situation and try again, redoubling your efforts to keep her attention with cheese and sausage and chicken and all the praise in the world.

anchovies Thu 06-Oct-11 16:08:03

Toboldygo's method worked perfectly for us. I started by teaching watch me, touch etc and working hard to make sure there was no tension in the lead (crossing the road or whatever when necessary.) Now he is perfectly calm and approaches other dogs nicely and has no fear or frustration on his lead at all. It didn't take long to see a massive improvement.

Crosshair Thu 06-Oct-11 18:03:00

Also have the problem of barking at other dogs/children and pulling on walks. We're off to training class. smile

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