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I take my dog to an "off-leash" nature reserve a few times a week for runs/hikes. It is a few hundred acres with a bunch of trails and fields. There are two behaviors that I need some help with. First, when I have him off-leash, he runs up to other dogs we encounter on trails. He tries to play and his recall goes out the window. He has great recall when we are alone hiking. It is only when he sees another dog then he can't control himself. He starts running around with the other dog and acts as if I am not there. Any tips on this?

Second, when he is on-leash at this park, he gets defensive when other dogs run up to us. He is usually okay with being sniffed on leash. Its when the other dogs start barking and jumping into our space then he gets defensive. He growls a littles but has never bit another dog. Should I avoid this park or can I train him to be less defensive?
 

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We'll, if he doesn't recall when he sees another dog, his recall isn't great. Use a long loose line if you need but I would make sure I have control over my dog. If not verbally then physically. Keep training. Walk him on leash at a distance from other dogs and work on being able to get closer without reactions.
 
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A long line or learn about e collar training and practice, practice, practice his recall under distraction. I would body block the obnoxious dogs and keep on walking.
 
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I wouldn't let him offleash without some way to be able to have contact with him if his recall isn't solid with distraction.

I go hiking in areas where I know people won't or usually won't be because my dog is dog reactive. He is Ok if he is the one who gets to smell first, but what if one of the dogs that your dog blows off recall to play with is reactive? I can have my dog around other dogs and fairly calm, but a dog running at him friendly or not, would make hackles go up and he would start pulling, growling, maybe barking. Even the friendliest of dogs could start a fight because of that. Who's dog would be blamed? Mine. Because their dog is friendly and mine is not. I think everyone should be respected when on a walk. Meaning, if your dog is off leash he needs to have amazing recall in all circumstances or be leashed.

I'm not saying don't walk off leash, just proof recall or make sure you can enforce recall and get him near you when he is "off leash". I bring my dog off leash all the time. He either has a 50ft long line dragging behind him, or an e-collar on. Never had to use either to enforce anything, but if I see or hear anything he is recalled back to my side to prevent any accidents and leash/ecollar is so if he ever did blow me off, I could enforce it.
 

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I prefer the rainy days to go to forest trails. The pet dog people are usually home because of the weather and the ones I do encounter tend to have control over their dogs.
I would not go if I didn't have a good recall on a GSD!
 

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A long line or learn about e collar training and practice, practice, practice his recall under distraction. I would body block the obnoxious dogs and keep on walking.
I have been body blocking the other dogs and that has helped a lot. I think it lets my dog know I have the situation handled and he doesn't need to take care of it.

I used to use a 50 ft long line. It looks like I will have to go back on it at this place. I was hoping we had solid recall by now, but he is too interested in other dogs.
 

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It happens. Some situations are just too overwhelming for our dogs.It takes some work to reset their reactions. Sometimes they never totally "reset" but you'll be able to keep him under control from acting on his impulse. Best of luck as you work through it:)
 

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Find a balanced professional trainer that will help you put an ecollar recall on the dog through negative AND positive reinforcement!
 

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I have a similar problem: Juno is curious and runs to investigate. Luckily, she is merely curious and just wants to see what other humans are up to. She is not that interested in dogs, but I am aware that this depends on the dog.

My rescue has figured out that he is not allowed to see other people unless he has permission. I did this with the neighbours. They'd be out, and I'd be out, and I'd keep him around me, and then I say "ok" and he is free to go see them. They adore him and give him treats. He's reactive with dogs, so dogs.... well, yes... but he knows because of the e collar he's not allowed to charge at other dogs.

The problem with hiking trails is that they are narrow. I can control my dogs great at a football field, where I can walk in circles away from the other dogs. I am prepared turn around when hiking. I also have e collar recall. For my GSD, I give her one of her favourite balls, which gets tossed for her, so that is her focus. But if she has the ball in her mouth, it is harder for me to control her. We are still working on the out.

I am working on a command that I call "with me", which just means: you're straying too far and you need come back closer to me. I use it when I hear something, when the hackles go up on my rescue, when we are approaching a bend and I cannot see further, or if I see people. It's a work in progress. I also know my trails really well and they tend to be empty because they are not marked, and I prefer to be in the areas that are open with good visibility (like meadows).

Sorry, I am rambling. Juno was eating cardboard half way through this message and retched it up (!)

anyway, my goal is: if the dogs are unsure, they should come back closer to me so I can leash/grab them when necessary or turn around. And if I know the area is safe/clear, then they can go wander a bit further, but the rule is: I have to be able to see them.

The football field is great, because if a dog even moves towards us in a concentrated manner, we walk away. I have never had one chase us thus far.

(I get your point though: before the e collar, my rescue was a wreck. He would give friendly signals, then charge up to other dogs, sniff them and then lunge and be a a jerk, which usually means snap and growl. He did this with a puppy once! No dog wants another dog running at them unless they are friends).
 
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