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.
Ahh...you are very wise. You nailed it! Never was hardcore with the heel. I just don't want a pulling dog. For us walks are for sniffing and getting out. Heeling is usually only used when we are in a store or crowd, which isn't everyday.
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".
You're both right.
Thank you for the reality check and the advise.