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I hope someone can help me with an issue involving my rescue 3 ½ year old 18 lb miniature male Poodle/Schnauzer mix dog. He is a fantastic dog and companion except for one issue. When we are on walks he barks and lunges at most of the dogs he sees. There are a few other dogs that my dog loves seeing and is very mannerly around, but not many. Making my dog stop and set doesn’t seem to work because even with treats he will get up and start barking again regardless of how many reminders I give him to set. I’ve even tried using the command “stay” instead of set, thinking that might help, but that was a fruitless. At least “set” lasts a second or two, stay doesn’t even faze him. If I just keep a good hold on the leash and try walking past the dog (even if the dog is on the other side of the street) my dog will be so focused on the other dog that getting his attention has so far been impossible until the dog is far past us. Otherwise, at all other times, my dog walks beautifully on the leash and absolutely loves meeting people and kids during our walks, especially if they want to pet him. Health/pain isn’t an issue since he is in good health and eats about ¾ to 1 cup of food a day.

Would a halter head harness help or maybe a thin quick release chain?? I live in an apartment building and my dog seems to get along with the majority of the dogs here but there are a couple of dogs he will lunge at and bark at and I don’t understand what the difference is. Whatever that difference turns out to be really doesn’t matter since this behavior has to stop somehow, so any ideas or suggestions would be most welcomed.
 

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A no pull harness or head halter would help with controlling him. Both would enable you to turn your dog away from the other dog, the head halter more so. The down side to the head halter is that some dogs absolutely hate them, so you either go through a lengthy desensitization process before you use it or you risk having the dog spend the whole walk trying to get it off/refusing to walk/dragging his face on the ground, etc. Depends on the dog though. I would not use a choke chain or prong on an aggressive/reactive dog as the dog may associate the pain of the collar with the presence of the other dog and just hate them even more. Plus it will not change the dog's emotional response to the sight of dogs which I think is a better way of going about it.

My suggestion for actual training would be to play what is called "Look at That" with your dog. This is used for aggressive/reactive dogs to teach them to become happy at the sight of what previously upset them, and teaches them to look at the other dog and then at you, repeatedly. It's very simple to do. You first teach the dog a marker word or you teach the dog the meaning of a clicker. I use a marker word on walks for my dog so I don't have to worry about forgetting the clicker. I use the word "yes". At home I teach the dog that "yes" means he's getting a treat, I never say "yes" to my dog unless I'm giving a treat (or other reward). I do this by teaching a simple command, usually a hand target (teach the dog to poke your palm with his nose). Every time the dog does it I say "yes" and give a treat. Once the dog understands that "yes" means a treat is coming you can use it on the walk.

It is VERY important you always carry treats on the walk, good ones. Preferably ones that the dog will only get on walks. I often use natural balance rolls cut up into cubes, but whatever your dog likes is fine. Just make sure you are okay with it in your pocket. I find soft treats are better in the case that your dog does bark...mine will choke on hard treats. Plus the dog can take too long to chew hard treats which gives him time to stare at the other dog. Make sure you bring enough and keep them in your pocket where you can easily access them. Then what you'll do is the SECOND your dog glances at an approaching dog, no matter how far away the dog is, say "yes!" and give a treat. repeat EVERY SINGLE time your dog glances at the other dog (this is why you want to make sure you bring lots). Do this until the other dog has passed far enough so that your dog will not react. I would make sure to be on the other side of the street when this happens. I recommend you don't stop walking through this process (except pausing to hand the treat if you need to). If your dog does happen to start barking during this process just quickly and unemotionally walk on by (this is where a no pull harness or head halter will be helpful, the dog won't be able to stall you very much, you'll be able to move him away from the other dog without as much of a struggle and when he goes to lunge the halter or harness will turn your dog away from the other dog). Over time the dog should begin to associate the oncoming dog with you giving lots of treats and actually have an emotional change from anxiety/fear/stress to excitement and joy at the sight of another dog. This does not mean that your dog has any desire to interact or make friends with the other dog, but he is super pumped about what you do when another dog comes along. After a while, when the dog never reacts anymore you can start using fewer treats. Reward every other glance, then later every third or fourth glance. Eventually you'd be able to give one small jackpot of treats after the dog has passed (if you want to, with my fear aggressive dog I prefer to continue giving a few treats throughout the person's passing, plus one at the end).


I've found this works very well for my dog. You can easily see his face light up at the sight of people coming (he's fear aggressive towards people, not dogs), his tails starts going and he begins looking back at me with a happy, expectant face (look mom a person!! that means treats right!?). He doesn't feel fear or anxiety anymore so there is no chance of him reacting. The treats are no longer really needed for passing strangers, he is not concerned with them anymore, they do not elicit fear, but since he continues to have issues with people on walks when at a closer proximity (not passing, but stopping and interacting with him-eye contact, speaking, kneeling, etc.) I will continue with the treats even for passing strangers, I want to make people as positive as possible for him.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank You

..........I've found this works very well for my dog. You can easily see his face light up at the sight of people coming (he's fear aggressive towards people said:
Thank You so much for this advice!! Wow! I'm heading for the store tomorrow and then will start putting this in practice. I have a feeling this is going to work with some patience on my part and plenty of treats. Thank you again for your help!!!!!!
 

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plenty of treats. Thank you again for your help!!!!!!
Excellent advice by Maxy24! To add one thing, you might have to work a bit to figure out what treats your dog *really* likes. For example, I have 2 standard poodles, Seamus and Teaghan. Seamus' most bestest favorite thing in the whole world is are little bits of cheese!

Teaghan however, is a diva. She will reluctantly take Natural balance rolled food,cheese, hot dogs, steak, Zuke's Mini Naturals, pretty much anything you'd think she'd love. In fact, I gave her a Zuke's mini naturals once, she spit it out!

I have found 3 things she thinks are "OMG, OMG, OMG..TREATS!!!!"
1. Nuked chicken breast pieces with a little garlic on top
2. Salmon, eggs, and wheat flour
3. Smoked Elk Heart

You want tiny treats. make them small, then make them smaller again. As an example, if I use Zuke's mini naturals for training with Seamus, I tear each little piece in thirds. The key is to keep giving them treats, they don't really take time to chew.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
........I have found 3 things she thinks are "OMG, OMG, OMG..TREATS!!!!"
1. Nuked chicken breast pieces with a little garlic on top
2. Salmon, eggs, and wheat flour
3. Smoked Elk Heart

You want tiny treats. make them small, then make them smaller again. As an example, if I use Zuke's mini naturals for training with Seamus, I tear each little piece in thirds. The key is to keep giving them treats, they don't really take time to chew.
Thank you for the advice. I feel like I'm a bit more capable of dealing with Midnight's lunging now. So far Midnight's CAN'T RESIST IT treat is "Beggin Strips" broken into little pieces. I keep experimenting though.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
We made some progress the other day

I have to tell you all something that happened the other day. We were on a walk and saw a cat that lives just a building or two down from us on the same block. (I hadn't gotten to the store yet for the head-harness and a truck load of treats.) Again Midnight started his huffing and puffing and lunged at the cat. Well, out of frustration, I turned Midnight around and we walked a few feet in the other direction. Then we turned back toward the cat and walked a few feet before turning again in the opposite direction. I had to do this a good dozen and a half times before Midnight's attention on the cat was broken. FINALLY he looked up at me as if to say, "Just what do you think you're doing to me?" At that point he got my praise, I petted him and ruffled his fur a bit, and gave him a treat. The next time we had to do this, which was just a few minutes later, it only took maybe a dozen times of turning around and around before his attention was broken. Again, he got my praise, fur ruffling, and a treat. It will definitely take more times of this before the light bulb goes on BUT there is progress being made.

It's because of you guys that we are making progress here too and I can't begin to thank you enough. Midnight is a WONDERFUL dog and a fantastic companion and he certainly has found his forever home. He's a fast learner and only wants to please me and get loved on so I know with a little time and some effort on my part this one issue will very soon not be an issue. THANKS SO MUCH!!!!
 

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I have to tell you all something that happened the other day. We were on a walk and saw a cat that lives just a building or two down from us on the same block. (I hadn't gotten to the store yet for the head-harness and a truck load of treats.) Again Midnight started his huffing and puffing and lunged at the cat. Well, out of frustration, I turned Midnight around and we walked a few feet in the other direction. Then we turned back toward the cat and walked a few feet before turning again in the opposite direction. I had to do this a good dozen and a half times before Midnight's attention on the cat was broken. FINALLY he looked up at me as if to say, "Just what do you think you're doing to me?" At that point he got my praise, I petted him and ruffled his fur a bit, and gave him a treat. The next time we had to do this, which was just a few minutes later, it only took maybe a dozen times of turning around and around before his attention was broken. Again, he got my praise, fur ruffling, and a treat. It will definitely take more times of this before the light bulb goes on BUT there is progress being made.

It's because of you guys that we are making progress here too and I can't begin to thank you enough. Midnight is a WONDERFUL dog and a fantastic companion and he certainly has found his forever home. He's a fast learner and only wants to please me and get loved on so I know with a little time and some effort on my part this one issue will very soon not be an issue. THANKS SO MUCH!!!!
Why out of frustration? Turning around like you did is a great method for reducing the lunging. I'm glad it is working out for you so soon in your training.
 

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The reason I mentioned frustration

Why out of frustration? Turning around like you did is a great method for reducing the lunging. I'm glad it is working out for you so soon in your training.
When asking for advice in this forum I guess I was hoping for something I could do to bring about a quick and affective behavior change. We've been working on this same issue for some time now but apparently from a wrong approach. I had indeed heard about the "turn the dog and walk in the opposite direction and then back until their attention on you is restored" approach but it didn't sound to me like it would work so I never tried it before. This particular time when I tried it, I was definitely surprised with the results. Have tried this approach many times since that day and yes it eventually works. In fact I think my poor dog gets as frustrated with me these days as I was with him before. My Midnight is always on a mission to hunt when seeing another dog or a cat and I won't let him get on with that mission. Poor guy!!

In closing let me say, I could have easily used the words annoyed, irritation, stymied, disturbed, discouragment but instead used the word frustration. Opps!!
 

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Glad it's working out with you! My dog has some similar issues, but only towards certain dogs. I might give this a try :)
 
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