???I have a one year old female yellow lab. We also have a male black lab who is 12 years old. The two dogs get along very well. The one year old (Star) has really brought out the puppy in the 12 year old (Beau). So, for a year all has been well. We were living in Texas on 2.5 fenced acres and they have both had lots of room to run. Then, we accepted a job in Florida and moved to a very small apartment. We, obviously, spend much time walking these dogs who are used to having much more room. However, now that we spend so much time walking, we run across many other dogs doing the same thing. Everybody is on a leash, Star is on a harness. Most of the other dogs we pass are apparently used to doing this and don't even show any interest in Star. Beau also doesn't care much about the other dogs we see. Star, however, goes crazy. She barks, growls, SPITS?!, and pulls so hard (even with the harness) that I feel that I may lose control of her. So far, I haven't. I think that harness really helps with that. Anyway, I have tried distracting her with treats when other dogs are around, I have tried just turning and walking the other way, I have tried just sitting and making her endure watching the other dog walk by. We have been going to training at Pet Smart and the trainer has been trying hard to get her to quit this also, but we just are not having any luck. Star will be spayed in another week. I hope this helps, but if anyone has any other ideas of what to do, I would really appreciate it.
Oh, just a little more information. We have now bought a house and will be moving next week. We do have a fenced yard, although not 2.5 acres again. It is privacy fenced so she won't be able to see out. Maybe this will make a difference, but I still want to be able to walk her without this being such an issue. I can't even begin to let my kids hold the leash when we walk, and I just can't have that. The kids really want to work with her, too.
Thanks for any advice.
May I pose a clarifying question?
Other than your older dog, was Star ever exposed/socialized with other dogs in the past year since you got her?
Did Star get regular walks when you lived at your old house? likewise, did she ever get to interact with other dogs?
The barking and growling on the leash could be a fear reaction especially if she hasn't been around strange dogs much. Have you tried letting her OFF leash around other dogs? dogs that are leash aggressive usually react totally differently when they are off leash. Of course, I would not recommend letting her off leash until you can be sure of the cause of her behavior.
In the mean time, what kind of harness are you using? you might want to try another training collar/harness if you are having problems controlling her.
If you do try to let her offleash around other dogs, PLEASE do this with her wearing a basket muzzle, and in the presence of your trainer, using dogs that she has screened first.
Some petsmart trainers are great, some are nothing more than clerks that have gone through their training programme, and have little experience. You may want to look at other trainers who have experience rehabbing problem dogs - some schools even offer "feisty fido" or "growl classes' that provide you with skills to manage your dog safely as you work on her issues.
O.K., you have all brought up good points. I also received an email from another website I had posted this question to regarding many of your concerns.
No, Star was not walked on a leash in Texas. We did a lot of playing fetch in our backyard. Of course, being a lab, she can fetch 'til the cows come home. She has not been able to do that here yet. Her interaction with other dogs was probably more limited than I realized. I had a friend who brought her Weimeraners over every now and then, and that was never a problem. Star did have a problem with my very old (15 years old) half lab/half bassett (yes, very strange combination I know, but good dog). My husband and I sort of thought she was trying to pick off the weak dog to make herself the Alpha. Tilly was really too tired to care much and would just stay away from her. The first time I really noticed that we were having a problem with this was when I had a friend bring her collie puppy over. It was the day the movers were at my house, and I was very stressed out. Star was just going nuts about this puppy. I really didn't have time to deal with it, so we quickly removed the puppy from the situation. I chalked it up to Star sensing my stress and reacting to it.
I have heard that using a muzzle might help. I have been opposed to this in the past, but at the moment I am ready to try anything. We have two more sessions with the PetSmart trainer. She has been very helpful, but nobody else signed up for the class at the time we are in, so we have had our own private lessons for the past 6 weeks. My vet has someone they are associated with who trains dogs, and I think I will call him next. I think I would like to have some backup if I were to let her off the leash. Hopefully it is the leash that is bothering her, and all this will go away. I do realize it won't be that easy.
In the meantime I also picked up the book Cesar's Way today and started reading it.
Thanks for all the advice. I feel like there is hope for her yet.
I think the private trainer is the way to go. Given the fact she has not been properly socialized with other dogs, I agree with kaytris about NOT letting her off leash in an uncontrolled environment.
I'd try a pinch collar and corrections before off-leash and a muzzle.
I would not try correcting a dog with fear/aggression issues until you know what you are dealing with. The dog in question has not been properly socialzed with other dogs and correcting her could do more harm than good. Most dogs are oblivious to corrections when they are in a fearful state of mind --it can make the fear worse. Not only that, but what kind of message does that send to the dog? strange dog = correction coming.I'd try a pinch collar and corrections before off-leash and a muzzle
Strange dog + verbal NO VISIT + ignoring the command once its taught = correction.
I appreciate what you are saying, and I believe this would work for dogs that have been properly socialized, but the dog in question has not been. Avoiding other dogs will make the problem worse. If management is the only solution for this dog (and, IMO, this is certainly not the case), in practice what you are saying should work. If the original poster arranges a session with a private trainer or behaviorist and they think the dog can be helped gradual introduction to other dogs in a controlled environment WITH a professional could be the way forward.Strange dog + verbal NO VISIT + ignoring the command once its taught = correction.