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Loki GSD
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,

Our dog Loki, 16 mo, is very reactive to cars and has been like this since he's 6 mo.

Before diving into it, here is how a normal day looks like for him: 15-20mins walk when I wake up, then breakfast and 10mins training session (mix of sit, down, come, bow, etc), I leave for work, my partner gets up and walks Loki again about 3h after the first walk. Then Loki is alone in the kitchen until I come back from work (~7h). He's fine and only sleeps (I have a camera so I check on him from time to time). When I come back from work we drive to playing fields/woods and we have a 1h-1h30 walk about 50/50 on short leash/long line with some running, fetch play, recall training). He gets dinner with another short training session and a last walk before bed. Once I receive the equipment I'll start canicross with him.

Now the issue.
If a car passes by he will lunge towards it and yap/whine, not like the fear bark he sometimes does to dogs that come too strong/close to him. His sounds is very similar to the sound of a dog in pain (high pitched yap). The faster the car goes (and the more noisy), the strongest is his reaction. Buses, motorcycles, trucks are fine though. He doesn't care about them at all.

We've seen two trainers with two different approaches. When the issue first started we asked for a one to one session with the trainer that runs our group classes. Their approach was to have Loki sit by a road and correct with a slip lead every time he'd lunge at cars. We've tried this for a few weeks and honestly, I think it only made his reactivity worse over time. Now if he sees a car at a distance, he's already staring, stiff and ready to go at it. So asking him to sit only builds up stress and he explodes when the car passes by. Roads by which he was fine to walk slowly became a nightmare too.

The second trainer we saw a few weeks back told us to get rid of the slip lead, use a head collar / collar with a double clip lead, hold him very short so he cannot lunge and keep walking beside busy roads without correcting or talking to him if he reacts, only keep walking and reward for proper leash walking. Aside we also have a training program aiming to buil his focus on us.
Seems that it is a hit and miss, with Loki being fine in a certain situation but the day after he will react very strongly. He does seem to recover a bit faster than before though.

Our biggest issue is that we have no idea whether this is the right approach, how long should it take to see progress and if we don't, do we need to keep going or change approach altogether?

If anyone here has experienced something similar with their dog and succeeded in overcoming it, please do let me know how you went about it and how long it took. I don't care if it takes a year, but I would feel better knowing the approach worked before :). I looked up in the forum and saw a lot went with the flooding approach, but as I said, it just did not work for Loki. Or, likely, we did it wrong.

Thank you for taking the time to read and any advice is more than welcome 馃槉
 

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Loki GSD
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
When you corrected on the slip lead was there a verbal marker? The lunge was allowed then corrected?
We used "no" and the slip lead to correct if "sit" was broken due to a car approaching, so before any lunging could happen.
However, Loki became very stressed, as in shaking/whining, after a while and there was no way we could have his focus. It didn't feel right to keep going with this approach.
 

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The second method is best but try modifying it for your particular dog.If possible walk along the busy road in very short increments with some time spent going down a quiet side street.Flooding him seems like it's making him more frantic. Reward him whenever he glances at you.My Samson still doesn't like cars rushing by him but he no longer stresses over it.He'll tense up for a second and forget all about it. I encouraged him to look at me and had him heel so he had something to focus on. Also if the head collar is only worn next to busy roads it will become something that produces anxiety since it's use is connected to scary cars.
 

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Loki GSD
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
How is he walking on a leash as in does he pull or have a good loose leash walk?
He is getting there. Still needs verbal reminders and changes of directions if he smells something particularly interesting or sees a dog/squirrel. On a quiet street with pedestrians only he's really good.

@dogma13 Thank you for the suggestion! There is a place where I could go alongside a busy road and then in a quiet street so I can try it out. Would you do it several times during the walk then? As in 5mins busy road and 5 mins quiet and then repeat a few times?
 

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Do you let him smell things on walks? What does he do if he sees a dog/squirrel? If your in a residential area where cars pass less frequently and at a slower pace how does he do?
 

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There鈥檚 two ways to do it in my opinion. You can slowly work at a distance and move closer as he becomes more relaxed around them working under threshold. The other option is to correct him whenever he reacts or fixates and giving him an alternate command, working over threshold. Those ar the simplified versions. I would walk him by cars with a command to heel and I would correct him with a prong for looking at a car to start. I鈥檇 start with parked cars and move to moving ones as he progressed.
 

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Loki GSD
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Do you let him smell things on walks? What does he do if he sees a dog/squirrel? If your in a residential area where cars pass less frequently and at a slower pace how does he do?
I let him smell things as long as he doesn't pull. If he pulls towards a tree or something I say "ah ah" and "here" so he comes back to me and we try again until he doesn't pull to get to the tree and then I "ok" him to go.

He will try to chase the squirrel. If I didn't see it I first manage and walk away to get Loki's focus back and then we try walking past it as described above. With dogs he gets very interested but if they are far enough keeping walking is enough to avoid him pulling towards them. He gets over excited if dogs come too close though so I avoid this as much as I can for now until we master passing them at a more acceptable distance.

Any car at any speed triggers a reaction. "Creeping" cars are as bad as "zooming cars" for him and cars driving by at 30-50km are not as bad, as in he'll pull towards them but not whine/yap high pitch.


Thank you for taking the time to ask the questions and sorry I didn't write enough details on the first post.
 

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More like 5 minutes busy and 10-15 quiet at first. Avoid getting him so stressed he can't focus on you anymore. There's no reason to rush:)
 

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Loki GSD
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
There鈥檚 two ways to do it in my opinion. You can slowly work at a distance and move closer as he becomes more relaxed around them working under threshold. The other option is to correct him whenever he reacts or fixates and giving him an alternate command, working over threshold. Those ar the simplified versions. I would walk him by cars with a command to heel and I would correct him with a prong for looking at a car to start. I鈥檇 start with parked cars and move to moving ones as he progressed.
Thank you for the suggestion! So a mix of the two methods I tried so far. I like the working at a distance one but in practice it's almost impossible to control when a car will show up on the most quiet streets. But we've done a bit of this in parks that have fences/hedges and a road going by. We got him to stop chasing cars on the other side of the hedge. But somehow we cannot translate that to the street.

He doesn't care at all about parked cars though, but gets reactive if we make the engine roar without the car moving.
 

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He sounds to be doing really well. You have set the limits and been very patient. At this age boundaries get pushed a bit and the constant reminders of what you should and should not be doing becomes nagging. You have been fair and shown him what's proper. Effective punishment and proper reward go hand in hand. Your doing great on the positive reinforcement side. You just need to eliminate the unwanted behavior.
Shield K9 has a loose leash walking video for free on you tube. A properly fitted prong used properly with positive reinforcement will create the clear picture for the dog you do not pull on the leash. Your dog will become very soft on the leash very aware of the leash and its movement.
When you gett this accomplished it would make correcting the reactive behavior clearer.
Sheild k9 has a reactive online course. Where he (Haz) specifically shows you with different tools ie slip lead, prong collar, social pressure and so on and how to reward the dog for doing the right thing. It's a rather good course. He also provides education in the beginning of the course.
A prong collar can make the reactive behavior worse. I don't know your dog. You would have to apply the right tool to your dog correct the unwanted behavior and move on.
It will likely only take one or two NO! DONT DO THAT moments. That's it - the dog relaxes.
Explaining on line how to properly correct the dog is really difficult. Haz (shield k9) shows and explains it so well. I would say he is a good cross of both those trainers you saw.
I took the reactive course personally.
 

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Loki GSD
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
He sounds to be doing really well. You have set the limits and been very patient. At this age boundaries get pushed a bit and the constant reminders of what you should and should not be doing becomes nagging. You have been fair and shown him what's proper. Effective punishment and proper reward go hand in hand. Your doing great on the positive reinforcement side. You just need to eliminate the unwanted behavior.
Shield K9 has a loose leash walking video for free on you tube. A properly fitted prong used properly with positive reinforcement will create the clear picture for the dog you do not pull on the leash. Your dog will become very soft on the leash very aware of the leash and its movement.
When you gett this accomplished it would make correcting the reactive behavior clearer.
Sheild k9 has a reactive online course. Where he (Haz) specifically shows you with different tools ie slip lead, prong collar, social pressure and so on and how to reward the dog for doing the right thing. It's a rather good course. He also provides education in the beginning of the course.
A prong collar can make the reactive behavior worse. I don't know your dog. You would have to apply the right tool to your dog correct the unwanted behavior and move on.
It will likely only take one or two NO! DONT DO THAT moments. That's it - the dog relaxes.
Explaining on line how to properly correct the dog is really difficult. Haz (shield k9) shows and explains it so well. I would say he is a good cross of both those trainers you saw.
I took the reactive course personally.
Thank you so much for the detailed answer!

The car issue is more difficult for me because of how distressed he seems compared to the reactivity he shows towards dogs for example, for which he can take a leash tug if needed and move on.
I will check out the videos and the course you mentioned. I used to have him on a prong and he did very well with it, but would completely ignore it with cars and keep trying to lunge. I wondered if that could make things worse in the long run so stopped using it after we saw the second trainer.

Thanks again for taking the time to help!
 

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Your welcome. I understand about the prong. In the course Haz talks about bonkers. You don't actually hit the dog with the bonker PSA. I found the bonker helpful at breaking that intense initial arousal. Follow the directions closely. It's impressive how well the dog responds. Once I got through that arousal got it toned down. Took me twice. Communication with the dog was much easier. Along with loose leash walking.
I could use the prong collar easily without making the reaction worse. It all comes together rather quickly if you follow the instructions.
Best
 

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Loki GSD
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
@Apex1 thank you so much! I'm glad it worked well for you and your dog.

Is his reaction the same if the car is coming toward him than from the car coming from behind him?
It's definitely worse if the car comes from behind him. I always make sure to turn him around to face it and keep walking in the opposite direction to limit the outburst when that happens.
 

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I'm currently trying to work through similar with my shepherd, though nothing distracts her even if I try correcting as soon as she starts focusing. And she's the opposite where if it's a busy area with some sort of visual grass area or cement blocker and tons of cars she has no problem. Quiet side street, she's lunging and slavering at the mouth wanting to attack the cars, and buses and trucks and motorcycles are the WORST. And red cars. Idk what the deal is with red. It's to the point I don't even want to walk her.
 

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I'm currently trying to work through similar with my shepherd, though nothing distracts her even if I try correcting as soon as she starts focusing. And she's the opposite where if it's a busy area with some sort of visual grass area or cement blocker and tons of cars she has no problem. Quiet side street, she's lunging and slavering at the mouth wanting to attack the cars, and buses and trucks and motorcycles are the WORST. And red cars. Idk what the deal is with red. It's to the point I don't even want to walk her.
That sounds frustrating. Something that would help is to do quick enthusiastic obedience routines along the busy areas and do the same in the quiet areas with meaningful rewards, correcting for noncompliance.I suspect the corrections right now are ramping him up because he isn't clear what he should be doing instead. Do the quick routines when there are no cars or when you spot one way down the block. Engagement with you rather than certain things in the environment.
 

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Loki GSD
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I'm currently trying to work through similar with my shepherd, though nothing distracts her even if I try correcting as soon as she starts focusing. And she's the opposite where if it's a busy area with some sort of visual grass area or cement blocker and tons of cars she has no problem. Quiet side street, she's lunging and slavering at the mouth wanting to attack the cars, and buses and trucks and motorcycles are the WORST. And red cars. Idk what the deal is with red. It's to the point I don't even want to walk her.
We're on the same boat! I hope you will find something on this discussion that works for you and your dog :).
All the best!
 
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