Anxiety when pack separates
How do I teach my girl not to freak out; pull on the leash; whine and cry when her human pack separates out in public?
She is almost 15 months. She has always had this issue. She won't take treats when stressed (believe me, we have tried). We use a prong for walks and when we are in public gatherings. We have given her collar corrections without much success and a two occasions she shutdown...not what we wanted. Our inexperience there.
We (DH and I) don't often go out and separate. But, when we do it's a nightmare.
Example: Kids were home for the weekend. We went to a baseball game. If the kids or anyone in the pack got ahead of us Ziva would go nuts, pulling on the leash, she whined and fussed. I would give a "no" and leash correction. She would stop for a few seconds and start again. She was throwing calming signals left and right: yawning, lip licking, jaw snapping. I tried turning around and going the other way to distract her. She just kept looking over her shoulder trying to find the kids or DH or whoever in the group was missing. We tried having the ones ahead stop so we could approach so Ziva would understand we would reunite. She tried to drag me to them. I tried a "NO" with collar correction with a sit and wait, then heel. She would just start all over again until we were all together.
Heeling is an issue in this situation as well. She feels the need to lead the pack. We know this is a training issue. Just don't know the best way to go about fixing it. We don't often have times when we are together to work this out.
Oddly enough, this is a walking issue. Once we sat down, if someone left the group she was fine. She noticed the departure but settled and waited calmly for a return.
What are we doing wrong? I am open to better ways to deal with this.
I actually have this same issue with my boy. He HATES it when his "pack" is separated. And like your situation, it is impossible to get him to focus during these times. And he will also continue to try to get to the rest of the pack if we try to go in a different direction. I'm curious to see what feedback other, more experienced owners have to say. :)
Just walk the other way...far enough that once she does "calm down" or realize that there is no getting to them, you reward her for that. If she's good at obedience...start giving her obedience commands (sit, down, ect) to make her do things. If she doesn't do them...you correct for that. When you're correcting for her freak out...you're actually not correcting anything because you haven't taught her anything. All that will do is amp her up.
You should only correct when she does something she knows she's not supposed to do. So, you tell her sit, she doesn't...you correct. If you're just yanking on her collar and yelling "no" she has no idea what you're yelling about. In her mind, she doesn't connect the fact that her reaction is what's unwanted.
My dog used to do this...the goal is to figure out how far you have to get or what you have to do to finally get them to focus on something else.
Also, for clarification, when she freaks and pulls I am correcting for the pulling. She knows loose leash walking and she knows heel. She doesn't care for heeling but she knows it. I get what you are saying. She is so amped I don't think understands what the correction is for. It makes sense.
I do make her sit/wait. But as soon as I take a step toward the others she is lunging ahead again/pulling toward her pack. We do this over and over until we reach the rest of the pack. To be honest there have been times when this occurred where I just didn't have the time or the patience to deal with it so I made the others turn around and come back. I know...didn't teach the dog anything there...*sigh*
Is this something that is age related? Will it get better as she matures? You know...the anxiety of the separation. Or, is just a training issue plan and simple?
Unless I see it, I wouldn’t call it anxiety. Some dogs have a strong pack drive and need to be in control. It’s part of their herding instinct to make sure people are safe. What you have to do is teach the dog to control that urge, to understand that it’s not always acceptable to act that way. It will continue unless you train her to not do it, I doubt that age will do anything to help this.
You’re right…you are being impatient. It’s just going to take time, and even if that means you don’t get to do something because of the way your dog is acting, you have to accept that and do what’s best for the dog. Either you go to a fair and use it as a teaching moment, or don’t take her with you. Don’t keep giving into your dog.
The fact that she’s not heeling, means she doesn’t understand that heel means heel. She still clearly only does it when she wants to and that’s a training issue as well. I think at this point you have to figure out what’s best for you and what you want out of your dog. I’m assuming like most people you were never that hardcore about a heel, and just about loose leash walking and so that’s what you have now.
In the state of mind that she gets into, she can’t learn anything. So the key is to get her to a point where you can start to teach her. If that’s 100 feet away from the group, that’s it. If its 500 feet away, that’s fine too. It’s just about you doing what needs to be done. I can almost assure you that it won’t take that many training sessions to straighten it out. You just have to make sure you stay calm and don’t add any extra stress to the situation. The more you freak out (even at her) the more she thinks you’re also joining in on the party of freaking out because the group has separated.
I see what you're saying about pack drive . When we are in a group she does try to circle around us and push us all together. Then she wants to be out front leading the way.
I guess I see it as anxiety because she throws calming signals. She air snaps, licks her lips, yawns, the whole nine yards during these times.
She's not well bred. She air snaps, yawns, stops to scratch, licks her lips during training too. I see it as the "ok, I'll sit/stay/down but I'm letting you know I don't want too" signals. Mind you she still has to do what I say during training. And she does not get a reward it she air snaps while preforming a command.
I admit we (DH and myself) have been delinquent in training sessions as of late and it shows in the dog. To quote our previous trainer," If your dog fails it's because you failed your dog". :blush: You're both right.
Thank you for the reality check and the advise.
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