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English Mastiff & Lead Lunging(9 Posts)
Wondered how others posters have managed to deal with this sort of thing – I suspect I’m the one at fault here. I have a 3 year old female English Mastiff. She is fairly typical of the breed in as much as she’s an extremely affable and laid back character generally, but she’s in great physical condition and has a surprising amount of energy. She’s finally now very, very good on the lead and walks to heel with the odd correction. Unless we see a dog!
Over the last year or so she has started attempting last minute lunges at dogs walking past (and occasionally just people). She did this a couple of times last year and took me by surprise – I managed to keep her in place due to the types of lead/collar she wears but it looks awful and makes me feel very anxious. She’s extremely friendly and I assume she wants to say hello, but it’s totally unacceptable for her to drag me anywhere and it looks awful obviously. Even when taken over to greet another dog with an owner’s agreement, she will do a last minute dash to get to them.
I now reverse direction if a dog is on lead walking towards us, or cross the road, or keep her in place sitting, and distracted – always using treats. I suppose I have assumed that this will ensure no more lunges from her, and will enforce the idea of a treat if she doesn’t react. If a dog were to pass close by however, she would show intense interest and may still attempt a lunge. I suspect now this is probably due to the anxiety I feel when I spot a dog, and I very much doubt she’s associating having a treat with not lunging at a dog passing – the treat is genuinely distracting her.
The issue for us now is that although I am happy I can physically control her when I see another dog, my anxiety is still very much there and is surely causing even more reaction for her. We also don’t really go anywhere for walks except our usual route to our usual local field. I would really like to help her to become less reactive to other dogs but have no idea how best to start on this since I’m obviously concerned at the risk of her lunging given her size and strength.
I’m a bit ashamed I’ve let things go this way since I have spent such a long time working with her – she’s a great dog and I feel like I’m letting her down.
Is the lunge truly friendly? Or is it aggressive?
Either way we had a very large dog of about the same size who would lunge at people and other dogs. It was aggressive but not in a teeth bared type of way. As we would approach a dog/person I would nudge him fairly firmly with my kneee in his shoulder and tell him "walk nicely". I would try to position myself so if he lunged he was going to knock me down. If we made it past nicely I gave a treat. You might need some willing participants to set up the situation and help to train. Try your local Facebook dog group.
It appears totally friendly but I do wonder whether she's in protection mode as a reaction to my nerves perhaps. Thanks, the positioning idea is a good one..
If you're on FB I'd highly recommend the Reactive Dogs (UK) group. There's loads of great advice there for owners of reactive dogs whether they're fearful or just frustrated greeters. If your girl is ok with other dogs when she actually meets them then she could well be the latter.
The group advocates the use of the CARE for Reactive Dogs protocol which is a great way to work with reactive dogs, whatever their reasons for reacting.
They can also point you towards a decent trainer/behaviourist that covers your area if you decide you want some professional help.
It’s interesting you say in the last year or so and she is 3.
Bigger breeds mature emotionally 2 -3 years old.
I suspect your seeing her ‘true’ adult temperament come in.
I wouldn’t be convinced it’s friendly either.
What makes you think it is?
There is a huge amount of confrontational behaviour that doesn’t include growling or snapping.
Thanks so much Borderline! I will look for that group now.
@doggydoggydoggy I think you're right, she's now finally out of her puppydom. I suppose I assume its friendly as she is friendly when actually meeting other dogs and people. She is however I guess sometimes "bristling" a bit when reacting and pulling toward a dog which makes me wonder about her reacting to my anxiety.
What do you mean by bristling?
No one can say for sure online whether it’s overexcited friendliness, frustrating greeting, fearfulness, resource guarding or what is going on really but to me it doesn’t sound friendly.
I would get some professional guidance, it doesn’t sound friendly to me either.
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