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I understand there is only so much you can learn, or teach, through an online medium such as this forum. I might have gotten to the point that I simply need private class. I want to, as that is far more pragmatic, but.. yeah... budgeting. Can't manage now, maybe next month. Hope some of you still has the patience to read this.

I have read numerous threads about this topic over the last couple of weeks, even asked about it myself on this forum, or with people on the streets with seemingly calm dogs. The latter never gave me anything tangible, but I have read a lot of helpful things here.
At this moment, as things aren't working out, I'm getting quite frustrated at my dog, and I really don't want that for him. It's not his fault he got stuck with a mediocre (at best) dog trainer.

He might be a bit underexcercised at some moments, as I don't let him go off-leash and sometimes have difficulty finding other mental stimulus than our usual clicker training commands (I hide treats, but he goes completely nuts when I do so, sit and stay never works for that). I do walk with him 3 times 45min-1.5h a day, changing pace often.
If there is no one around, and if he has not seen any dog up close yet, I can get his attention somewhat when wanted and even get a solid 10 minutes of walking before I give him his "go sniff" command. I also started with the "ready" and "done" cue's, and always incorporate some basic training during our walks. But all is lost if he encounters or even spots a dog. As many roads are narrow, not many open areas, I sometimes cannot escape them.
Yesterday was a gigantic fiasco. I evaded someone with their two German Pinschers, only for them to pop out of an alley right in front of me a few minutes later. At that moment a man with his two bear cub like American Bulldogs apeared, and on the other side a man with a pittbul. I just wanted to sit on the floor and cover my head and let them figure it out.
From there on it didn't get better, I lost his focus, completely, and he was super alert searching almost desperately for cats and dogs. Every. single. one. of them he spotted resulted in full force pull. I can keep him short, but he'll just make crazy jumps until he falls on his side and make me look like have zero control over the saturation, which is obviously I at that moment don't have.

I know in theory what I have to do: reward him with treats from a manageable distance when he diverts his look from the dog he just spotted (think it's called B.A.T?) to the ground or something else. Avoid all close encounters, don't let him meet the dog in his agitated state, don't yank/pull/yell/get angry/pinch, etc.

My main issue is that I cannot correct him at the right time. He spots a dog and I lose him immediately (not if its at a great distance. But I have to get to those areas first). I tried the little "Cesar tap" with my foot, but he doesn't mind that when he focuses. I can't lure him with food either.
How am I supposed to correct him when he spots something? It seems that I lose him in a matter of one second, and if that happens two or three times during our walk, I lose him for the rest of the walk. It becomes this "I have to drag you home" walk, because the only thing he is doing is walking side ways to look behind, stop, pull, stop, walk sideways, start running out of nothing and make a 180 because of the leash I am holding, and then do some maneuvering tricks.

So.. When I lose him, should I just wait and hold the leash close until all stimuli has left (if I walk I have to drag him, he won't give in). Should I get a super high value treat and only use it at these moments to lure him away.
Should I consider getting a slip lead to put I high on his neck, or even a prong collar? Or am I then just managing symptoms?
 

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For the dog - you need to redirect his attention on you BEFORE he notices the dog. That means that you have to be on the constant lookout. When you see them, turn him around and put him in a sit with his focus on you. If it's a dog in a yard that you have to pass, get him focused on you and use corrections to keep it on you. Or, the easiest thing is to simply turn and walk away.
Use areas where you will see dogs as a training opportunity. Go where he knows there is a dog around but far enough away that he can keep focused on you. Work with him for just a couple minutes and leave.

DO NOT DRAG HIM. That simply teaches him that that is how things work. Give him a correction - a quick POP of the collar. If necessary, pick him up and carry him away.

I can't remember how old he is?
Get a long line and use that for exercise time when you can't get him off-leash to play.

For the treat game, yes, expecting him to hold a sit stay while you do this is going to be counter-productive. At best, you're teaching him that he doesn't have to listen to you. Get someone to hold him and enforce the stay while you hide the treats. Just make sure that they are able to keep him in a sit. Or simply use the "wait" command and have them keep him in that spot. Or put him in his crate until you have hidden the treats and then bring him into the room where you hid them and tell him "find it"
Feed his meals in a puzzle or use a frozen kong.
Do a trail of kibble in the backyard, leaving a pile at the end (or a couple piles along the way). Take him outside on the long line and tell him "find it" or whatever command you are using with the treat game. If you don't have a yard, do it in the house.

Lots of simple and easy ways to put mental activity in daily life.
 

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Henricus, I think you're right that you need someone hands on to help you.You're also correct about the timing errors.IMO your corrections need to be firmer.
Example: Walking along you spot another dog first= get your dog's eyes on you and be interesting and fun!The INSTANT he spots the dog FIRM leash pop,change direction if possible.Eyes on you,be interesting and fun,loud,clownish,whatever it takes!Jog or run away!

You find yourself surprised by multiple owners and dogs.FIRM pop and jog on out of there.Treats are only for calm behavior,to reward not bribe.

Is there a place where you can observe dogs from a distance?If you can find a spot to sit and insist that he lay down and watch quietly,reward,stroke him soothingly for calm behavior, and leave when he can settle for a few minutes.This would be a major struggle at first but he can learn how to calm himself.This is how I helped Samson learn to deal with his reactivity.Practicing a new state of mind.
 

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@Dainerra
Sorry, I forgot to mention it, my pup is 6.5 months old. I have a long line, 10m (32.8ft), haven't used it very often yet, but I need to change that.
I do my best to be on 100% alert for dogs, but that works best when I'm out of my neighborhood. Then it's fairly easy to stay at a distance, turn around, or play a short game. In the neighborhood it can get a bit crowded with people walking with strollers, people with multiple dogs and running children, etc.

I know, I should never drag him. It's pure frustration that leads to that, nothing having a clue what to do next.
Is it ok to lift a 6.5 month pup and walk away in such a situation? He is used to it, because I lift him up multiple times a day when I go to my room (attic, so two stairs up or down).

When my sister is around, I ask her to hold him tight. But he shakes and cries pulls and pushes, does his best to get out of there. I haven't noticed if she has enforced a stay, but I will ask her to do that next time. If she doesn't manage, then I'll put him in his crate.
Thanks for the tips, I will try those. Especially the long line of kibble, I think he will love that one. :)
@dogma13
That would really be ideal, just a few private lessons. I will definitely save some money for that.
I think I do a fairly firm leash pop, but I certainly do not do anything clownish or fun to get his attention. Got to try that next. :) The firm leash pop only works (at least how I've done it) when the dog is not very close. But if somebody comes out of an alley within a radius of about 5m (16ft), then I lose him. Yesterday out of nowhere a guy comes behind us with his little dog, about 5m behind me I would think. Madoc hears something and turns his head around. I give a leash pop, he reacts by swinging his whole body around so that he can face the dog. I pulled him while he was turning and that made him fall sideways, but still a 100% fixated on the dog. I will try the clownish act and jog when something like this happens, although he does bite (quite hard) when I jog (for the bus, rain, etc).

I have to remember indeed that treats are only for calm behavior.

There is a place where I think I can sit on a bench and have face a small portion of the off leash area. I was there once before, but I have to be lucky to have people pass that point at that time. I will try to go there on the "busy hours".
 

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A couple of sessions with a good trainer will get you back on track.It's just so hard to describe timing and nuance over the internet.:|
 

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Yep - agree with dogma - you can read, and read, and read, but often seeing something with your own eyes will answer your questions.


Find a trainer that epitomizes the type of dog handler you want to be, and learn directly from them. The instructor that I use has an absolutely calm, unflappable demeanor. She hardly ever raises her voice, she often works silently, but she radiates authority. From the first time I saw her work her dogs, I wanted to be like her, and I wanted to have that sort of relationship with my dogs. So that's where I spend my money.


There are many ways to train dogs, and I think you will have the best results when you decide exactly what sort of handler you want to be - and what sort of relationship you want with your dog. Find someone who does it, and learn from them.


Equally as important - and this is a tough one - you may need to set aside comparisons, each dog is an individual. I alluded to this in my last comment on your posts. The internet is full of videos, pictures, anecdotes. Don't get so caught up comparing and contrasting to everyone else's dog that you miss out on puppyhood.


Commit this to memory: "Comparison is the Thief of Joy." - Roosevelt.
 

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Henricus, I was thinking about your position with finding and affording a trainer. I would start looking for one now. When you do find one that you like, I would contact him/her and open up a discussion.

If the training sessions that he offers are to expensive for you, maybe he would be willing to do 1/2 sessions or even 1/4 sessions. Or some other arrangement that you can afford right now that will get you and your pup started with professional hands on training. Just a thought I had that might be an option for you.

A game that my boy loves: Kibble in a box.....put some kibble or treats in a strong cardboard box, tape the top shut and punch a few holes in it that are a bit larger than the kibble. Put it down and enjoy the show lol. Only down side is he will probably love tearing the box apart as much as getting the food so it is a bit messy.But....

I took the game a step further and after I taught my boy to pick things up for me. I incorporated the pick up box pieces into the fun.

It just dawned on me so maybe this is a bad idea but after your boy knows the box game and the sounds it makes, maybe you could bring a mini box with you on you walks and if he becomes distracted, shake the box in a happy voice say something like"almost time for kibble in a box"

Similar to shaking pennies in a can to startle a dog BUT with a positive twist and happy reaction to it. Plus, if there is space available, you can throw the box down so he can have fun. Ha! You could even attach a short rope to the box and drag it for him to chase to keep his attention.

I hope this helps or leads you to ideas of your own that will make things more fun for both of you.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
@dogma13
Yes, you are right. This goes, at least for me, beyond the help I can get through text (this is an incorrect statement though, because I'm getting a personal trainer because of these conversations. So it is very helpful in another way).


@WIBackpacker
Although I fully agree with your beautifully written comment, I do not know how to find a trainer that epitomizes what I want to be like as a dog trainer and owner. I am bounded to local trainers. I live in the northest province of the Netherlands, which is the largest (still tiny in comparison to the US), and fourth least populous, province. From doing an extensive Google search I could only find one person who is a specialized behavioral dog therapist and as a bonus has a profile picture with a German Shepherd, definitely scored some points. Her reviews are promising though, and her pricing is fair, especially considering she will come to my house and stay for 120 to 150 minutes. All other private lessons are offered out of a dog school, therefore giving me no clue who I am getting. Most of them also teach at their school, and I prefer having one that walks with me in my neighborhood. I failed to mention it, but I started obedience class three weeks ago. I have a good teacher, but she has to teach six of us in 45 min, which doesn't give her much time to help my current issues. In hindsight, I should've never started obedience before solving "this" first.
Anyway, I've decided, I will email this dog trainer and make an appointment for the beginning of July. Hopefully marking a much desired next step with my pup.

Thank you for saying that. This reminds me, although slightly different, to something Tim Minchin said at his UWA address in 2013:
"I never really had one of these big dreams. And so I advocate passionate dedication to the pursuit of short-term goals. Be micro-ambitious. Put your head down and work with pride on whatever is in front of you? you never know where you might end up. Just be aware that the next worthy pursuit will probably appear in your periphery. Which is why you should be careful of long-term dreams. If you focus too far in front of you, you won?t see the shiny thing out the corner of your eye"


@Heartandsoul
I have found one dog trainer who seems to be good, as far as I can perceive something like that as good through the Internet (I have, if you haven't read that yet, answered this part more extensively in my answer to WIBackpacker).

That's an excellent idea! I imagine it will be a big mess, but that's fine. :) I will try it today, I have an empry card box somewhere.

Yes, it really helps. I consider myself to be creative, especially when I have to solve minor technical problems with household items. I seem to be far less pragmatic when it comes to inventing some fun things for my pup to do. Got to let that creativity flow more. :D



A big thank you to all of you!!
 

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the easiest way to find a trainer that has a style that you like is simply to go to local dog events. Don't take your dog - just go to watch the people. People with well-behaved dogs, talk to them and find out where they did their training.
 
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