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Advice For A Novice: taking Laddie for a walk


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Laddie (my border collie) is 2-3 years old and is very energetic. She is friendly and has a big heart, but we have been facing a few problems on our hour-long walks lately and I just wanted some advice on how to lower her aggression levels and how to over-all create a better atmosphere for the walk. I try to take her out as much as I can. It is mostly everyday, but sometimes it is eroded to every other day.

 

I do not have time to take her out in the mornings. That is absolute. I have tried the treadmill, but Laddie did not seem pleased with the idea, so that was scratched. I am usually out of the house for most of the day, and I get back at around 4:00. I immediately take Laddie, out, and for about 10-15 minutes I ride my bike around my large yard, with her following and running along beside. I do this so that on the walk she is tired and spent of any energy, but that does not work. Still, I start off with that, then when she seems tired I hook on her leash and doggy backpack filled with weighted knickknacks. We start our hour-long walk, but when we start getting into a rhythm Laddie plows ahead of me. I reign her back and keep the leash about a foot long so that she stays beside me (I have had blisters from this part because the leash is so taut it slices my fingers). It's hard to hold her back, and I try to keep my energy calm-assertive, but she seems oblivious to my inner struggle for control. Apart from pulling, Laddie is aggressive with other dogs on-leash. Off-leash she is okay, not overly friendly but not aggressive. When we are on our walk, however, she goes into attack mode. When a dog comes into view, I tug her to the other side of the road, so they are not walking towards eachother. But Laddie has her gaze set on the other dogs, and her hackles and shoulder-fur start to rise. Nervous at this point, I try and snap her out of whatever trance she is in- gently nudge her, click my tongue, call her name, clap my fingers, poke her ear, touch her hackles, whatever I can think of. I have even held a treat out in front of her, but usually she just ignores it and stares at the other dog, her muzzle going crinkly as she bares her teeth. Then when the other owner and dog are close enough, she goes into a flurry of barking and lunging and growling. She tugs so hard on the leash that when I pull her back, it makes her stand on her two back legs. At this point, I am thoroughly embarrassed and try and walk her forward, but she refuses to budge as she portrays aggressive behavior toward the other dog (One time, she was so excited that she accidentally tripped me). When the owner and dog walk quickly away, I am thoroughly irritated and hurry to finish the walk, and this whole process repeats over again.

 

Advice on how to correct this aggressive behavior would be appreciated. Thank you!

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I am probably not the best person to respond here as I have only had my Juno for a year now and we still have our difficult days .Nevertheless, we have tried a few things with some success. Firstly I separated loose leash walking from heeling.When loose leash walking I walk with her as long as she doesn't pull. If she pulls I stop until she pays attention and then we start again. In the early days we didn't get far. If she isn't paying attention on her own I have her do things to get focused. Things like sit, stay, touch my hand, give me a paw etc. I used to reverse my direction when she was pulling but I do this less now because she thinks we are still walking. When I just stop she is forced to stop and hopefully think. If I do reverse direction she usually walks really well so we go for a ways and then I praise her and treat her for a while before trying to go forward again.

 

Distractions have been an ongoing issue for me on walks but using The Look at That game from the Control Unleashed book has been really useful. Distance from the distraction is the determining factor here. If we are a good ways from the distraction, whether it be a dog or a car, the Look at That game always works. At close range, a few feet, it works with cars but not with other dogs or people so when we meet people or other dogs I either move away so that the Look at That game works or I try other strategies to deal with the situation. Many people have given me strategies to try and I am still working at this. There are many threads dealing with this issue. One thing I have had a little success with is to have Juno heel past the person or dog. Again the success depends on how close we are.

 

Good Luck and keep positive!

Bill

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I would recommend ditching the Cesar Millan approach and trying something like the "Look at That" game from Leslie McDevitt's Control Unleashed: The Puppy Program.

 

You're going to need to work with Laddie when she's below threshold; trying to give her a treat or do much of anything when she's already so worked up that she can't even hear you isn't going to get you anywhere.

 

You need to have her at a distance from other dogs where she can still react calmly to you. Then definitely give her high value treats so you can begin to change her emotional response to seeing the other dogs. Again, you can only do that when she's at a sufficient distance from the other dog that she's not reacting to them and you can engage her brain in an alternate mode, which is getting all the yummy treats.

 

It's not always easy. I have a dog like this and it takes some real dedication and consistency to do it. But each time she practices this unwanted behavior it's self rewarding and makes it even harder to get past.

 

Figure out a plan and then stick to it. If you have to get in the car and take her somewhere where you won't run into as many dog, do it.

 

Also consider adding other kids of things you can do at home that will engage her mentally as well as physically. Trick training, games (there's an active thread on this right now), etc. It's probably more important than physical exercise and should also help.

 

Good luck.

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