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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-17-2009, 12:56 AM Thread Starter
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calming down before a walk?

I've noticed something about walking my older dog Riku, a GSD mix. We go for a walk every morning around 6:30, so there tends to be a predictable routine -- I put my shoes on, grab pepper spray, a grocery bag, etc. At the moment I start putting my shoes on, he starts getting excited, sometimes to the point of barking. And even when he is still, he is charged with energy and is breathing heavily. When he's in this state, he tends to want to lead on walks more than follow -- he will forge ahead of me slightly, and I need to correct him a few times to remind him to stay in the right spot, although he is not "pulling".

The only times he's happily walked along, looking like a *true* follower, was when I "sprung" a walk on him, by getting up out of my chair with my slippers on, threw a leash on him, and headed out. Then he's like a dream.

With my morning walk routine, I have tried waiting a few minutes with him in a down position, although he's ready to pop up in an instant, I know he is just trying to act calm. Should I just keep waiting, or are there other active things I can do to calm him down? Are there behaviors I can do (ignore him, stand next to him, leave the room, etc.) to help the calming process?

Thanks for any tips.

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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-17-2009, 01:01 AM
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Re: calming down before a walk?

My only advice is if you can, work in a 5-10 minute game of fetch or some sort of play activity.


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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-17-2009, 11:32 AM
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Re: calming down before a walk?

My GSD (mix) has similar issues. Fixing this is all about patience--at least it was for me. Here are a few things we worked on.

Her first problem was she would attack my shoe laces out of excitement. She knew we were headed out soon and just exploded with energy. So I would put the leash on her first and loop it around the base of a heavy dining room table that she couldn't move. I'd then sit right out reach and start to put on my shoes. I'd get the explosion of energy, whining, sometimes barking. I'd stop. It took quite a while the first time, but eventually she stopped too and laid down--took about 5 min the first time. I leaned forward and gave here a treat and some praise. Basically I just repeated this. Every time she went nuts, I stopped putting on my shoes. Every time she was quiet, she got a treat. I took off my shoes and put them back on at least a dozen times that first morning over a 30 min period. We repeated the exercise a few more times and now she leaves my shoes alone when it is walk time.

This same idea was repeated with other triggers. I would get her leash randomly and only put it on her when she was calm. Not just sitting--as you described, she could be sitting but quivering with anticipation. But there is only so long a dog can keep that up. Eventually she'd get bored and actually relax. Then the leash would go on, she'd get a treat, the leash would come off, repeat.

At the door was the last hurdle. I would have her sitting or down with no tension on the leash and open the door. She had to remain calm with the door open in front of her. If she got up, got excited, tried to run out the door, etc. I'd correct her, close the door, wait until she got quiet again and repeat. She will now just chill at the open door until I go out first.

The basic theme here is patience. If you have somewhere to be and if your 6:30 walk starting later than 6:35 is going to throw off your whole morning routine, then it is going to be hard to affect Riku's behavior. The basic conversation you want to have is that you only go on walks with calm, submissive, polite dogs. If Riku isn't calm, the walk (or the process of starting the walk) stops. As long as she stays excited, no walk with be forthcoming. GSDs are smart enough to quickly figure out that being calm is the key that unlocks the walk but they will only figure that out if being excited is what locks the walk away in the first place.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-17-2009, 11:46 AM
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Re: calming down before a walk?

Quote:
Quote:The basic conversation you want to have is that you only go on walks with calm, submissive, polite dogs.
Lol, my dogs wouldn't ever get walked! My female turns 8 in august, every walk she still yodels an opera at me. She stopped stealing my sneakers maybe 2 years ago. Seriously, how am I supposed to take a walk if she's carted my shoes off to the back lawn...

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-17-2009, 01:02 PM
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Re: calming down before a walk?

Pre-walk rutine: Grimm's bunz must be on the floor, no yammering, and.. "Mother, may I?" (he needs to give FOCUS)... before the door to the apartment, then the door to the main building gets opened. He is the size of a loveseat sofa, I am the size of a cotton-haired Granny that needs to sit on a phonebook to drive.

If I let him hype himself up before walks, he'd send me into orbit the minute the door was opened, and you'd only be able to track me on doppler radar.

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 11:46 AM
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Re: calming down before a walk?

Rofl, loved the Doppler part. But great advice from everyone, I'm working on Astig's walks atm, he does the same thing. However he still tends to pull a lot even when he is calm, some days we have a perfect walk, he’s right by my side doesn’t have his nose to the ground the whole walk and only tugs here and there; other days he’s a monster and even forgets how to sit once his leash is on. He is only 7 months, so I’m hoping it’s mostly just puppyhood and he will grow out of it in time…lol I haven’t even attempted to walk him and his 15 week old sister at the same time yet

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 02:00 PM
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Re: calming down before a walk?

I've noticed that young dogs like a pretty brisk walk, they don't pull so hard and snap into walking mode pretty quickly. I change directions a lot at the beginning, ask to sit or wait or come from sit or down during any walk even a very leisurely one, and even when I walk both dogs together. I do like actually that they are excited to go for a walk because even if I'm tired and not so much up to walking them myself their happy faces and wagging tails boost my motivation.


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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-20-2009, 04:31 PM
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Re: calming down before a walk?

Quote:
Originally Posted By: AstigHe is only 7 months, so I’m hoping it’s mostly just puppyhood and he will grow out of it in time…lol I haven’t even attempted to walk him and his 15 week old sister at the same time yet
I wouldn't count on him growing out of it. Aodhán is 7 yrs and still does this - the excited talkng and need to get out of the door. Once we're walking she's OK but the behaviour when we're getting ready drives my DH nuts. I finally had enough of it and started working on the problem recently. Better to work on it while he's young rather than waiting.

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Aodhán (GSD)- Mar 2002
Caleb (Quill vom kleinen Teich) - Mar 2009
Rica (GSD)- Nov 1996 - July 2009 RIP
Max (GSDx) - 1983 - 1998 RIP
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-20-2009, 04:32 PM
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Re: calming down before a walk?

Quote:
Originally Posted By: BrightelfPre-walk rutine: Grimm's bunz must be on the floor, no yammering, and.. "Mother, may I?" (he needs to give FOCUS)... before the door to the apartment, then the door to the main building gets opened. He is the size of a loveseat sofa, I am the size of a cotton-haired Granny that needs to sit on a phonebook to drive.

If I let him hype himself up before walks, he'd send me into orbit the minute the door was opened, and you'd only be able to track me on doppler radar.
Patti - your imagery is priceless. I'm glad Aodhán isn't that big.

Johanna


Aodhán (GSD)- Mar 2002
Caleb (Quill vom kleinen Teich) - Mar 2009
Rica (GSD)- Nov 1996 - July 2009 RIP
Max (GSDx) - 1983 - 1998 RIP
Kelly (GSD) - 1986 - 1996 RIP
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-21-2009, 12:15 PM Thread Starter
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Re: calming down before a walk?

Hi guys- thanks for everyone's input!

I did discover this link when searching around online, see the Red Light/Green light thing, it covers exactly this topic.

http://www.dogstardaily.com/training/training-dog-walk

I tried it last weekend and he certainly learned that sitting is what let's us continue the walk. I think it's a promising technique, but it may take longer than 3-4 times for a dog that has been conditioned to go nuts as I've been doing all these years.

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