Walk woes - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-23-2019, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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Walk woes

Eirian is four months old now. I've had her for two months, and overall, her training is miles ahead of what I expected after my first GSD. She even does well loose lead walking (for now, I know that could change when she hits "teenager"), or at least she does well when there aren't other dogs around.


So a few weeks ago we were walking and someone with a big black dog was on the same sidewalk. We all moved to opposite sides of the concrete, everything is fine, la la la--and then the blasted black dog lunges across the sidewalk, almost getting away from its owner in the process, and scared Eiri half to death.


Since then, she's getting progressively more dog reactive on walks, in large part because every single dog we come across barks and/or lunges. Part of it is my fault, too, for not having Eiri's attention as well as I should, so I'm sure she stares, but still. It's driving me completely mad.


I hate the city. I'd take her out to the woods trails, but I'm not supposed to go by myself and no one else has time during the week.


With my first GSD, whenever he started getting worked up, I had him sit or lie down until he calmed down, and we were making progress with that. For Eiri, though, it isn't working so far. I'm going to try some of the engagement games in the forums, but does anyone have suggestions for other things to try? I know she's really young still, but I need to fix this before it becomes a bigger problem.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-23-2019, 05:08 PM
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If you can't stay at a distance where she is nonreactive another tactic is to be so animated and upbeat that your pup can't take her eyes off of you as you hustle by the other dog.LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME GOOD GIRL!!!!Be prepared for some weird looks from other people
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-23-2019, 05:08 PM
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I would work on being "under threshold" for a few weeks. That will require that you be vigilant enough to keep control of the situation enough to stay under threshold. One thing that worked for my young dog and I when the issue was cars was to walk when there was less traffic. That was somewhere between 10 PM & 2 AM. If you can't find an appropriate time that works for you, plan on moving further away than the "other side of the pavement". And be pretty matteroffact about it when you can't get that distance.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-23-2019, 10:59 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by middleofnowhere View Post
If you can't find an appropriate time that works for you, plan on moving further away than the "other side of the pavement". And be pretty matteroffact about it when you can't get that distance.
Yeah, today we went to the other side of the street, and then she tried to run back across the street. Unfortunately she got past me so fast she did a somersault when she hit the end of the leash. Beats getting hit by a car, I guess.
Thanks for the suggestions. I'll try them out. It's just frustrating when I'm trying to teach my pup good manners and nobody else in this particular neighborhood seems to bother, thus indirectly teaching my pup bad manners.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 11:35 AM
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OK I forgot to add something in my "what worked for me" thing ----- carry the tastiest treat you have (little bits of steak worked for all my dogs to date) and add to the moving as far away as you can safely move your continued "sit and focus on me" to be rewarded with that little bit of wonderfully tasty stuff. That's an almost critical element and I'm sorry I forgot to include it in my initial response. Harsh though it may have seemed, the summersault seems appropriate self-correction. I hope that you were matter of fact in response to that - because fussing would have messed up the psychological impact.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 11:50 AM
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She is very cute BTW... I love how we buy all these dogs toys and at the end of the day all they want is a water bottle
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 12:23 PM
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I would be very focused on socializing her with other (friendly) dogs and puppies. I know there are mixed opinions in the GSD world about socializing (and the idea of making puppies too "doggy" and losing their obsession with you), but she is reactive out of fear, and this is a critical stage in which to counter-condition that fear so that she is neutral about other dogs as she moves forward in life. If I'm not sure how my puppy or the other dog will react when crossing on a walk, I also move mine well off the path, have them sit or down, and feed them high value treats every few seconds until the dog passes, to condition a positive emotional response to passing someone on a walk. If you can walk her with a non-reactive adult dog in public places, that could help, too.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 04:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charmander52 View Post
We all moved to opposite sides of the concrete, everything is fine, la la la--and then the blasted black dog lunges across the sidewalk, almost getting away from its owner in the process, and scared Eiri half to death...Since then, she's getting progressively more dog reactive on walks, in large part because every single dog we come across barks and/or lunges. Part of it is my fault, too, for not having Eiri's attention as well as I should, so I'm sure she stares, but still. It's driving me completely mad.
Welcome to our world! I was keeping count once and I think the statistic I came up with 4 out of 5 dogs we pass, lunge and bark at us.
The little dogs are the worst (very few calm ones) and the calm well-trained ones actually tend to be the big, older dogs.

Soooo...we survived this phase and we can actually be seen ambling along on the sidewalk at 5pm these days.
It was a combination of things that helped:

- getting them to focus on you instead of the other dog, which involves a command (in my case "Yes!") and a tasty treat. I see some owners use "Sit" instead of "yes" but my dog's joints aren't so great so I stuck with just getting eye contact from him. The timing of the "Yes" + treat is critical. Don't make the mistake of doing it too late, so you are rewarding your dog for getting amped, pulling and reacting (I did this for weeks, and wondered why my dog was not getting the message!)

- making distance (crossing the street, walking behind parked cars, turning corners, etc) helps your dog to stay calmer.

- staying calm yourself (remind yourself: it's just some excited barking and pulling, nothing's going to really happen). The calmness is contagious. Your dog senses it and they calm down themselves. ( Worst thing to do is a suddenly short tight leash and saying in a tense loud voice, "stop it rover. stop it now. be a good dog. stop it!" It seems to rile dogs up...)

- training a Heel command so they know to stay close by your leg and not go lunging themselves! ( I just use a loose "Stay Close", I don't ask for the formal heel where they are gazing at you.)

- walking at times of day with fewer dogs while you are "in training". A few passes for training purposes is nice but passing a dog on every street just wears out both of you and makes walks something to be dreaded...

- keep at it...sooner or later your dog will learn..maybe after passing their 999th dog? Well, hopefully sooner! Mine acts like he passed his 1002nd dog in the sense that the other dog will be going mad on the end of its leash and my dog is doing a mental eyeroll :-)

Well, other people on this forum are actual dog trainers so I'm sure can give better tips!

But that's what worked for me and my dog.





-
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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OK I forgot to add something in my "what worked for me" thing ----- carry the tastiest treat you have... That's an almost critical element and I'm sorry I forgot to include it in my initial response. Harsh though it may have seemed, the summersault seems appropriate self-correction. I hope that you were matter of fact in response to that - because fussing would have messed up the psychological impact.
Yep, the high-value treats I knew about. No worries. I'll be swiping some chicken or something from the freezer. And there was no fussing after the somersault, partly because I was annoyed.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 05:22 PM Thread Starter
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She is very cute BTW... I love how we buy all these dogs toys and at the end of the day all they want is a water bottle
Thanks. Yes, she does love crunching water bottles! Also her stuffed dinosaur.
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