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I have a wonderful 11 month old Chessie/St. Bernard mix who is very well behaved in all ways except one; he goes out of his mind with excitement when he sees another dog on our walks.

I believe what he has is called "leash frustration" and I'm worried he'll develop "leash aggression" from it. A certified dog trainer advised me to not allow Remus to be close to other dogs unless he's calm. As long as he stays calm, we can get closer. Eventually he should learn that calm will get him what he wants.

So here's what I do:
When I see another dog coming I pull Remus about 20 - 25 feet off the path and make him sit. I reward him almost constantly while he's sitting calmly watching the dog walk by. I also try to divert his attention from the dog to me, rewarding him if he listens but usually he's so obsessed with the other dog he won't look at me.

Here's where I'm stuck:
The other dog walks by, Remus is sitting and well behaved but focused on the dog. I take ONE STEP in the direction of that other dog and Remus bolts up and tries to drag me to it. So we go back one step and start over with the same result every time. So far I've been able to decrease the distance I remove him off the path to about 15 feet, but as soon as I make a move in the direction of the path again Remus goes insane.

I've been 100% consistent with this routine, never allowing him to get closer to the dog as long as he's pulling but it's literally been over 3 months, two walks per day, EVERY DAY, and we're not getting very far. I'm also worried because he's still growing, he's expected to be over 100 lbs. I can BARELY control him at 85 pounds, I can't imagine what's going to happen if we can't get this under control before he gets much bigger!

Here are some more details:
* He's incredibly smart, I work with him a lot on tricks which he loves to do and he knows many advanced tricks that impress even dog trainers (shake right or left paw, whisper instead of "speak," rings a bell to go outside, etc)

* He usually "heels" appropriately (as long as no other dogs are around). He's still a teenager so occasionally he'll try to get away with inching ahead of me or trying to lead me another direction. He always responds very well to a small correction (as long as no other dogs are around).

*The degree of his frenzy varies depending on how exited the other dog is; if the dog is calm and wants nothing to do with him he still wants to go see it but is easily corrected back to "heel." But if we cross another excited puppy FORGET IT. I can't control him, he's pulled muscles in my back twice.

*At the dog park he approaches other dogs appropriately; calmly walking toward them a little, letting them advance the rest of the way and then the formal smelling of the butts begins and they're off to play.

Any ideas?
 

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First off what do you walk him with? Obviously a leash, but what is the leash attached to?

Secondly, I would also contact a behaviorist to help you work on the issue.
 

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When I see another dog coming I pull Remus about 20 - 25 feet off the path and make him sit. I reward him almost constantly while he's sitting calmly watching the dog walk by. I also try to divert his attention from the dog to me, rewarding him if he listens but usually he's so obsessed with the other dog he won't look at me.
I think what you have is a puppy acting like a puppy. The way you treat this situation will determine what kind of dog e will eventually be and I think you are creating the very thing you are trying to avoid, particularly if you are using something like a pinch collar or choke chain.

I wouldn't pull him off the path when you see another dog coming. The message you are giving him is "Here comes danger, let's avoid it." I would start treating him the instant you see another dog but keep walking in that direction. As long as he is well behaved of course the treats keep coming. THe instant he looses control THEN make a turn and head off the path. That way he will figure out that it was his behavior that caused a deviation from the path and not danger approaching.

Another thing you could do is get a friend with a dog to help you. Practice meeting them and when your dog gets out of control, the OTHER dog turns and walks away from you in the other direction. When your dog calms down, the OTHER dog turns and starts approaching again. This process is repeated over and over and over until your dog learns that his actions will cause the other dog to go away. This assumes that your dog wants to get to the other dog to play and is not actually afraid of the other dog and wants to scare him away. You will have to be the judge of his motivations.

Here's where I'm stuck:
The other dog walks by, Remus is sitting and well behaved but focused on the dog. I take ONE STEP in the direction of that other dog and Remus bolts up and tries to drag me to it. So we go back one step and start over with the same result every time. So far I've been able to decrease the distance I remove him off the path to about 15 feet, but as soon as I make a move in the direction of the path again Remus goes insane.
Obviously your method isn't working, try mine.

I've been 100% consistent with this routine, never allowing him to get closer to the dog as long as he's pulling but it's literally been over 3 months, two walks per day, EVERY DAY, and we're not getting very far. I'm also worried because he's still growing, he's expected to be over 100 lbs. I can BARELY control him at 85 pounds, I can't imagine what's going to happen if we can't get this under control before he gets much bigger!
There are ways to control any size dog. I like the Gentle Leader head halter. I have never found a dog that I could control with one finger using a Gentle Leader. There are also no pull body harnesses.

* He usually "heels" appropriately (as long as no other dogs are around). He's still a teenager so occasionally he'll try to get away with inching ahead of me or trying to lead me another direction. He always responds very well to a small correction (as long as no other dogs are around).
You just need a little more work in this area. You need to work in an area with NO distractions. When he is good there, GRADUALLY add small distractions, working your way SLOWLY to larger and larger distractions. DO NOT work with him when too large of a distraction will likely happen. When he looses it because he can't handle the distractions, it is a step backward.

*The degree of his frenzy varies depending on how exited the other dog is; if the dog is calm and wants nothing to do with him he still wants to go see it but is easily corrected back to "heel." But if we cross another excited puppy FORGET IT. I can't control him, he's pulled muscles in my back twice.
Describe "corrected".

*At the dog park he approaches other dogs appropriately; calmly walking toward them a little, letting them advance the rest of the way and then the formal smelling of the butts begins and they're off to play.[/QUOTE]

Cool.

I think you probably need some more professional help to get you over your little hurdles. I would find a positive reinforcement trainer to work with you a little and point out your mistakes.
 

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I wouldn't pull him off the path when you see another dog coming. The message you are giving him is "Here comes danger, let's avoid it." I would start treating him the instant you see another dog but keep walking in that direction. As long as he is well behaved of course the treats keep coming. THe instant he looses control THEN make a turn and head off the path. That way he will figure out that it was his behavior that caused a deviation from the path and not danger approaching.

Another thing you could do is get a friend with a dog to help you. Practice meeting them and when your dog gets out of control, the OTHER dog turns and walks away from you in the other direction. When your dog calms down, the OTHER dog turns and starts approaching again. This process is repeated over and over and over until your dog learns that his actions will cause the other dog to go away. This assumes that your dog wants to get to the other dog to play and is not actually afraid of the other dog and wants to scare him away. You will have to be the judge of his motivations.
I've seen that exact same method used on "It's Me Or the Dog" on Animal Planet with a Great Dane teenager. They put him on the gentle leader and then practiced that method and after some consistency and practice it worked like a charm. Listen to Rawfeddogs on this one!
 
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Basic needs

I have found that many problems come from a dogs basic needs not being met.

You have a puppy that needs to play with other puppies, if not every day, at least 3 times a week. For several hours each time. That is a very basic need.

And by play I mean full out face grabbing, ear pulling, chasing and belly bucking.

You could find a good dog day care or just hook up with people you know with a fenced in yard and a nice playful dog. In my classes the people with the fenced in yards are always the most popular.

I don't call it "leash frustration" I call it the "Brad Pitt syndrome". Try walking ME past Brad Pitt. I will be doing some lunging and no harness is the world is going to hold me back. But maybe if I spent 3 days a week with him some of the thrill would wear off. :)

It sounds like you need to find a positive trainer who has a lot of experience.

I get a kick out of some of the trainers I see who have a dog sit while another passes. Around here you would never get anywhere! The streets are clogged with people walking their dogs.
 

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I have found that many problems come from a dogs basic needs not being met.

You have a puppy that needs to play with other puppies, if not every day, at least 3 times a week. For several hours each time. That is a very basic need.

And by play I mean full out face grabbing, ear pulling, chasing and belly bucking.

You could find a good dog day care or just hook up with people you know with a fenced in yard and a nice playful dog. In my classes the people with the fenced in yards are always the most popular.

I don't call it "leash frustration" I call it the "Brad Pitt syndrome". Try walking ME past Brad Pitt. I will be doing some lunging and no harness is the world is going to hold me back. But maybe if I spent 3 days a week with him some of the thrill would wear off. :)

It sounds like you need to find a positive trainer who has a lot of experience.

I get a kick out of some of the trainers I see who have a dog sit while another passes. Around here you would never get anywhere! The streets are clogged with people walking their dogs.

When my son took his dog for obedience training, the instructor had all the dogs run around and play together before the class. The pups had time to get some of their excitement and energy released, they also socialized with the other pups.

It also gave the instructor time to chat with the people in the class, answer questions etc.
 

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I agree that the gentle leader is the best tool for this case. You will have control over his head and the ability to keep him from controlling you with his pulling. I would get a double clip leash (also known as a convertible leash...they sell them at petsmart) and clip one to his normal collar and one to the gentle leader. As you approach the dog I would reward for calm behavior. As soon as he begins to jump or start to pull say "AT AT" and immediately walk the other way. Once you have his attention again and he is calm turn around toward the dog again. Repeat this until your dog can approach other dogs calmly. I would use a certain treat that he only gets on walks like a hot dog or something like that. This way his attention is on you because he really wants that rare treat.

I agree that you need to find a friend with a dog that will work with you. This will take a lot of patience and it will not be easy but you should be ok. Also you may try to attach a "leave it" command around the house so you can use this on your walks. I had a similar problem with my German Shep and I found that using "leave it" in the house allowed me to control him better on the walks because he knew when I said leave it he was not allowed to touch it or go near it (i.e. the other dogs) until I decided.

Also I cannot stress the need for your dog to be off lead at a dog park and get to express himself. He doesn't see a dog in forever (4 hrs is forever to a dog) and now you won't let him play? He just doesn't get it and he is so excited he just can't contain himself. Being able to interact and play with other dogs will lessen the "I must go see that dog NOW" reaction. If you do all of this you will soon have a wonderful canine citizen. Good luck!
 
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