Over stimulation on walks

Nimo

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#1
Hi,
I have 1 yr old mixed breed rescue dog. Not sure what all is in the mix but there is definitely beagle and I'd say jack russel. He's smart and pretty eager to please, but I'm having a serious issue with overstimulation on walks.

Basically, he gets over threshold really quickly, the primary triggers being other dogs and squirrels, but actually cats, birds or even an interesting smell can set him off. At home we train him a lot, are very clicker savy and can get him to do all sorts of obedience training and tricks etc. But all of that goes out the window after a few minutes outside. There are several other dogs on our street and even if they are not visible or audible, I can see him thinking "This is mindy's house...time to go MENTAL!".

So I'm looking for handy tips on what to do. I don't punish him and don't use any corrective stuff like shock or prong collars. Here's what I'm trying at the moment:
I walk him at night, just because he's calmer and so is our neighbourhood. So I tend to get further than I would in the day. Basically there are fewer distractions. Then I give him treats when he focusses on me and I try to avoid encounters or proximity with other dogs for now. IF I do see a dog, I try to associate it with something positive (treats, calm but happy voice tone) but also take him in the other direction. I also bring the leash out at random times in the day and then put it back again, just so that he stops associating it with "walkies" and (will hopefully) not get really pumped up each time he sees it.

These are the things I'm trying, but progress is VERY slow. He pulls a little bit less on the leash now but I'd say about 50% of the walk he is above threshold owing to one distraction or another. Am I wasting my time? Should I be easing him in more slowly? I'm not even sure how I'd do that.

FYI, he does have issues with other dogs. He will not attack them but if let off the leash will try to nip them relentlessly which obviously does not end well. If a dog goes past our fence he goes to full-blown crazy like I've never seen in another dog. Wild yelping, hackles up, hoarse breathing. It's insane. So we tend to keep him round the back now to avoid him making that a habit.

If anyone has suggestions, thanks.
 
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#2
Zen & LAT

Teach Zen at home and then take it on the road and generalize it so smells he wants to reach. Put "go sniff" on cue.

Teach "Look At That."

Have you read Control Unleashed by Lelsie McDevitt?
 
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#3
I had a similar situation with my mixed boxer, she kept pulling me to run. I tried the martingale collar and the no pull harness but nothing seemed to worked. My temporary solution was to exercise her in our yard before going on a walk, that helped a bit.
 
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#4
One of my dogs is similar! I've tried Rescue Remedy, Thundershirts, even the equivalent of prozac to reduce his anxiety and nothing has helped
 
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#5
It sounds like you are on the right track. You have a leash reactive dog and this takes time to get over. Because the walks are overstimulating you may not want to go every day. You may want to exercise with a ball in the backyard 2 days a week to give him a break from all of the stimulation. If he is taken over threshold too often he will regress. Make sure you are walking him on a no-pull halter.

The other thing is leash reactive dogs can sometimes become bite risks. My dog used to be extremely leash reactive and was a bite risk. It is so easy to train a dog to wear a muzzle and this actually takes some of the control away from them. Chop some hot dog and feed the dog the hot dog through the muzzle a few times. Then a few days later do up the muzzle and feed the dog hot dog and take it off. Then go for a short walk with the muzzle and bring hot dog. My dog will sit and point her face up for me to put her muzzle on, she associates it with walks and hot dogs and does not mind wearing it at all. I now just clip it on her leash and the rare time I see a trigger I can slip it on without trouble. I can even slip it on her mid bark, she doesn't fight it at all and she is easier to calm down when she has it on. I like a soft muzzle but dogs shouldn't wear them for more than 15-20 minutes because they can't pant with them on.
 

Rosy90

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#6
Have you had any luck or found anything that worked since you posted this? I rescued pitt mix who is highly reactive to other dogs on-leash and I have the same problem -- he's great at "Touch" and paying attention to me inside, but like you, 50% of our walks (if not more) is spent above threshold because I just can't avoid all the dogs/squirrels out there, nor can I exercise him sufficiently inside. I'd love to hear what you've been doing to work on it!!
 

TheDeena

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#7
Hi. A couple of questions, is your dog neutered? I know male dogs compared to female on the average are especially more hyper and remain so. Having your dog neutered is important for his health and should calm him a little. Have you ever tried running him on a bike. Maybe a once a day run on the bike would get his energy out. I have always done that with my young animals as long as it is at a cooler part of the day and go at a moderate pace. It takes a little practiced to teach and you need a short leash.
 

Rosy90

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#8
Hi again -- I don't know if those questions were meant for me, TheDeena, but I'll answer anyway and see if anyone has had similar experiences. My pitt is neutered. His reactivity comes from a lack of socialization with other dogs and some fearful experiences fighting with them (we found him very hungry and roaming on the streets). I don't take him biking because I think he would lose control if we saw another dog and make my position on the bike dangerous. We do run sometimes in an attempt to get his energy out, which has the positive benefit of us going fast enough that he sometimes doesn't see smaller dogs far away, but sometimes I can't always spot another dog in time either. Sigh. I've been thinking about possibly finding a way to narrow or limit his sight on walks because they are so reactive to the sight of the trigger and in my experience, when he doesn't see the dog, he isn't too bothered. All of this is while I'm doing counter-conditioning training but, like Nimo, the progress is slow and often feels ineffective and I can't avoid triggers completely.
 
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