7 year old leash reactive labrador - what to do?

Discussion in 'Labrador behaviour' started by siljenora, Jun 3, 2019.

  1. siljenora

    siljenora Registered Users

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2019
    Messages:
    3
    Hi!

    Our family dog recently moved from my parents house in a small village to my house in the city. He is calm and very obedient in the house, but our walks are not very pleasant. He lunges and barks at other dogs and sometimes people, and I suspect that he is either frightened or frustrated because he wants to greet them. Or maybe both! I want to help him feel safe and protected when we're outside, and be in control so that he doesn't hurt himself or traumatize other dogs. I'm training his impulse control and ability to listen in low-stimulus environments to make sure he can keep his focus on me, but I'm uncomfortable to take this big (and STRONG) boy on longer walks as his focus gets lost even in the garden if a dog walks by. His pulling reaction is very unpredictable and he seems to og from relaxed to overly excited in less than a second.

    To make matters worse, my father has used a choke collar on him to keep him. I'm very opposed to this, but he can easily escape regular collars. I want to get a harness so that he doesn't hurt his neck, preferably a non-pull harness that will decrease his pulling strenght. It that a good idea? I realise, of couse, that he'll need time to get used to his surroundings, but I'm afraid that his reactivity will get worse.

    So, does anyone have any tips on how to deal with this?

    My first thought is (like I mentioned) that I should get a new harness that doesn't cause him further discomfort in his reactive episodes, and train with him in the garden only until he can deal with dogs passing our house before we try longer walks.

    I hope you can help!
     
  2. Michael A Brooks

    Michael A Brooks Supporting Member Forum Supporter

    Joined:
    May 26, 2018
    Messages:
    1,508
    Location:
    Blackmans Bay, Australia
    Hi @siljenora

    A Freedom harness will give you more control over a dog that lunges and pulls. Attach the lead that has snap hooks at both ends to the front and back rings of the harness. Reward the dog when he does not pull.

    I think you need to better describe the dog when he sees other dogs. Please describe your dog's tail, mouth, ears, and eyes. I don't know from your description whether his is frustrated, or aggressive. Some video of an encounter would be ideal.
     
  3. siljenora

    siljenora Registered Users

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2019
    Messages:
    3
    Thank you! I will look into the Freedom harness.

    I will try to give a clearer picture of his reaction. I see three different behaviour patterns:

    1: He sees a dog and, without warning, darts towards it to greet. He does not "puff up" or bark.
    2: He sees a dog and immidiately stiffens up, leans/lunges forward, tail up (but wagging), ears up (i think) and barks loudly in a high-pitched manner. As soon as the dog is out of sight, he settles down. Does not respond to his name or commands that we practice to help him redirect his focus. He behaved this way one time when he saw to strangers (people, not dogs) approaching on the road. They calmly approached as i held him in place, and when they came close enough he stopped barking and greeted them.
    3: He sees a dog, tail goes up, the hair on his back rises and barkes loudly in a lower-pitched manner. This happens especially when he is surprised by other dogs, like if we turn the corner and a dog is very close.
     
  4. Michael A Brooks

    Michael A Brooks Supporting Member Forum Supporter

    Joined:
    May 26, 2018
    Messages:
    1,508
    Location:
    Blackmans Bay, Australia
    Hi @siljenora

    Although we don't have the opportunity to view your dog, scenarios 1 and 2 appear to be just manifestations of a dog that wants to play. Scenario 3 sounds like it is fear aggression.

    My recommendation is to teach your dog Look at That--a protocol that is useful for the behaviours you describe. There is a folder on this site that contains an excellent teaching video. Train at home before trying when you are away from home with your dog. Use distance to keep your dog under threshold.

    https://thelabradorforum.com/threads/look-at-that.22184/

    Let us know if you have any questions.
     
  5. siljenora

    siljenora Registered Users

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2019
    Messages:
    3
    Thank you! I will look into LAT and start training asap :)
     
  6. Eva A

    Eva A Registered Users

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2018
    Messages:
    7
    My Labrador is 2 in October and 1 and 2 sound a lot like him and he barks at people in the distance and sometimes runs towards them in a field ...I use a whistle to distract him and when he focuses back on me and comes back I treat him.It works fairly well.
     

Share This Page