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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello all!

I've been lurking on this forum for a while but haven't posted. I have a teenage standard poodle - 10 months old now. Since about 7 months, he's been doing this thing on walks where he "attacks" us. It's fairly clear it's rough play and not really angry/aggressive. But something will set him off - seeing another dog, a person running, a bike, etc. - and then he will get over-excited and turn on us and start growling, jumping, and biting. It usually takes a good 15-20 minutes to calm him down, meanwhile all the people walking by are staring at me while I'm mauled by my dog. Since he's now 26 kg (57 lbs) and uses the full force of his jaw, it really hurts. I'm covered in bruises. Ignoring him isn't an option because of course he's actually doing damage.

This is my first dog ever... has anyone ever experienced this? Will it go away with age? Is there some training method I can use with him to get him to stop? In general, he has no chill when he sees other dogs or something exciting. I'm so jealous of other people with 10 month old dogs who can just calmly pass by a bike or a child without going crazy.

Any advice appreciated - we're at our wits end with him!

EDIT: should have mentioned here are things we have tried -- we took him to two obedience courses where he was hyped up and couldn't focus the whole time bc other dogs were there. We did one on one with a trainer who gave mental stimulation exercises (some of which, like dog parkour actual set him off sometimes). We also took him to puppy preschool where they tried to work at desensitizing him to other dogs (they said he's exceptionally difficult compared to other dogs), but he now goes to regular dog daycare once a week and is kept in a separate room and walked separately bc he has no chill. And I'm now trying the pigs fly training method because he's not very motivated by treats or toys.
 

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I think, as this is your first dog and the habit has grown over several months, the best thing to do would be to find a good trainer to work with. I am not sure what the qualifications to look for would be in Sweden, but I would avoid anyone who uses force or punishment. Even just one or two sessions with a really good trainer, who can observe both you and the dog, can be enough to set you on the right path - a training class might also help enormously.

As a very basic approach in the meantime you need to avoid letting him practice the behaviour - that will just reinforce the habit. Search here or online for LAT (Look at That) training, and for relaxation protocols. Consider having him carry a toy on walks, or carry a tug toy with you and redirect his frustrated energy to that. Find some friendly dogs and people to work with whom he can greet, so that he learns how to meet and greet politely and not get so worked up about it.

I am sure others will have more specific ideas for you, but do look into getting some professional help locally.
 

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Everything fjm said :)

I had an issue with this with Annie at 6-7 ish months. Ow those teeth hurt! For us, it was while playing soccer ball, and I had to institute a ton of sit and stay work to keep her from jumping and nipping. Age helps but you also don't want him rehearsing it and learning it's appropriate.

In addition to what fjm said, I have been finding Sophia Yins "asking with sitting" stuff really helpful with Annie and reacting to things, even her archnemesis, squirrels.

From here :

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I think, as this is your first dog and the habit has grown over several months, the best thing to do would be to find a good trainer to work with. I am not sure what the qualifications to look for would be in Sweden, but I would avoid anyone who uses force or punishment. Even just one or two sessions with a really good trainer, who can observe both you and the dog, can be enough to set you on the right path - a training class might also help enormously.

As a very basic approach in the meantime you need to avoid letting him practice the behaviour - that will just reinforce the habit. Search here or online for LAT (Look at That) training, and for relaxation protocols. Consider having him carry a toy on walks, or carry a tug toy with you and redirect his frustrated energy to that. Find some friendly dogs and people to work with whom he can greet, so that he learns how to meet and greet politely and not get so worked up about it.

I am sure others will have more specific ideas for you, but do look into getting some professional help locally.
Thanks so much for your reply. We've actually seen two different dog trainers who weren't much help unfortunately. The first one told us that he would "be a good dog when he's 2 years old" and that it's typical for poodles to have lots of energy as puppies. Basically she said we needed to wait it out and there wasn't anything we can do.

The second trainer took us through some stimulation exercises which we do - things like dog parkour. Though the dog parkour tends to excite him so much sometimes it triggers jumping/biting episodes. She also told us to just completely avoid other dogs and children and things that over-excite him. So, if I see a dog in the distance I take him across the road. If I break into anything faster than a slow walk, though, he gets excited and starts jumping.

It seems to be a symptom of over-excitement which means that when he's hyped up like that he won't really listen to any commands. Otherwise, he's pretty reliable at basic commands. We were taking a toy with us for a while on walks, though he would rather chomp into our arms it seems most of the time.

Basically - it's about controlling his frustrated or excited bursts of energy. Some day I would love to be able to run with him but right now any fast movement just sets him off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Everything fjm said :)

I had an issue with this with Annie at 6-7 ish months. Ow those teeth hurt! For us, it was while playing soccer ball, and I had to institute a ton of sit and stay work to keep her from jumping and nipping. Age helps but you also don't want him rehearsing it and learning it's appropriate.

In addition to what fjm said, I have been finding Sophia Yins "asking with sitting" stuff really helpful with Annie and reacting to things, even her archnemesis, squirrels.

From here :

Thanks for your reply - good to know that it's not unique to him! My issue is, when he's calm in the house, he listens and behaves so well. He reliably sits to ask for everything - I trained that one early. However, he won't look at me, sit, listen, do anything when he's hyped up. I've just been trying to avoid things that over-excite him when we're outside, but that's A LOT of things.

I'm really wracking my brain how to try to teach him that it's not appropriate behavior! Sometimes I can get him to sit and take a treat but then he's back to jumping and biting. I can't get him to just stay sitting unless I'm feeding him a constant stream of treats. He's also not super motivated by food so he gets bored of treats pretty quickly. I try to stand still and not engage as much as possible, sit down with him, just hold him. But as soon as I stand up again he's back to jumping and biting. I've had to just hold his head really tight so he can't move, which I would imagine he doesn't like -- but it doesn't seem to change the behavior at all.
 

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I agree with fjm. Frustrated energy is a great way to describe it. There may also be a bit of fear or anxiety contributing to the issue. I wish I had known about the Dr Yin videos when I got Pogo and Snarky.

My boy Pogo would have meltdowns when he saw another dog or when a delivery van passed us. He was worse in winter, as the cold air would leave him feeling energetic. The reactivity got worse, not better, with age. The reactivity also got worse when my husband walked him, as my husband has a lot of anxious mannerisms. My husband would tighten the leash, step off the path, or do something else to signal nervousness. These actions would tell Pogo that something was wrong, and he would get excited. I was able to somewhat manage the reactivity by letting Pogo bring a toy along on our walks. He couldn't chew, and the barking was muffled, when he had a toy in his mouth. Pogo also had a strong work ethic, so he found it comforting to have a task. Carrying his toy was a suitable task for him.

What didn't work was to ask him for a sit or to try to distract him with a treat after he had already started his meltdown.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I agree with fjm. Frustrated energy is a great way to describe it. There may also be a bit of fear or anxiety contributing to the issue. I wish I had known about the Dr Yin videos when I got Pogo and Snarky.

My boy Pogo would have meltdowns when he saw another dog or when a delivery van passed us. He was worse in winter, as the cold air would leave him feeling energetic. The reactivity got worse, not better, with age. The reactivity also got worse when my husband walked him, as my husband has a lot of anxious mannerisms. My husband would tighten the leash, step off the path, or do something else to signal nervousness. These actions would tell Pogo that something was wrong, and he would get excited. I was able to somewhat manage the reactivity by letting Pogo bring a toy along on our walks. He couldn't chew, and the barking was muffled, when he had a toy in his mouth. Pogo also had a strong work ethic, so he found it comforting to have a task. Carrying his toy was a suitable task for him.

What didn't work was to ask him for a sit or to try to distract him with a treat after he had already started his meltdown.
Interesting! I can see if I can get Mephi to carry a toy with him. Sometimes he will bring a toy or a bone outside but then just drop it a million times along the way so I have to keep picking it up 😒haha
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Interesting! I can see if I can get Mephi to carry a toy with him. Sometimes he will bring a toy or a bone outside but then just drop it a million times along the way so I have to keep picking it up 😒haha
I agree with fjm. Frustrated energy is a great way to describe it. There may also be a bit of fear or anxiety contributing to the issue. I wish I had known about the Dr Yin videos when I got Pogo and Snarky.

My boy Pogo would have meltdowns when he saw another dog or when a delivery van passed us. He was worse in winter, as the cold air would leave him feeling energetic. The reactivity got worse, not better, with age. The reactivity also got worse when my husband walked him, as my husband has a lot of anxious mannerisms. My husband would tighten the leash, step off the path, or do something else to signal nervousness. These actions would tell Pogo that something was wrong, and he would get excited. I was able to somewhat manage the reactivity by letting Pogo bring a toy along on our walks. He couldn't chew, and the barking was muffled, when he had a toy in his mouth. Pogo also had a strong work ethic, so he found it comforting to have a task. Carrying his toy was a suitable task for him.

What didn't work was to ask him for a sit or to try to distract him with a treat after he had already started his meltdown.
oh I just realized I have Sophia Lin's puppy training book. I definitely had mixed success... but I'll look at her videos too
 

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I feel for you. I have the exact same problem with Beckie. Except... she’s only 8 pounds, which makes it easier but still an embarrassment. Like your dog, she screams and barks in a high pitch like she is being butchered and will jump in the air and do 360’s while doing it.

She is three and has been doing it for at least 2 years. I’ve been working on it on my own all summer but nothing seems to work. So I’ve started just picking her up as soon as she does it, and letting her back down to walk when she calms down. So far it’s my best option, it fixes 98% of the non-sense. I think she is doing it because she is scared and trying to protect me. I have generalized anxiety disorder, and I believe she is sensing it and reacting to my own fears (even though I can’t feel it myself). She will also attack other dogs that come near me, which reinforces my belief. She’s also not the first dog to be protective of me against other dogs, so there is a pattern.

I’m sorry this is not a solution for you, as your dog is much too big, but I wanted to share my story, in case there are similarities with yours that maybe can guide you.

I wish you the best.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I feel for you. I have the exact same problem with Beckie. Except... she’s only 8 pounds, which makes it easier but still an embarrassment. Like your dog, she screams and barks in a high pitch like she is being butchered and will jump in the air and do 360’s while doing it.

She is three and has been doing it for at least 2 years. I’ve been working on it on my own all summer but nothing seems to work. So I’ve started just picking her up as soon as she does it, and letting her back down to walk when she calms down. So far it’s my best option, it fixes 98% of the non-sense. I think she is doing it because she is scared and trying to protect me. I have generalized anxiety disorder, and I believe she is sensing it and reacting to my own fears (even though I can’t feel it myself). She will also attack other dogs that come near me, which reinforces my belief. She’s also not the first dog to be protective of me against other dogs, so there is a pattern.

I’m sorry this is not a solution for you, as your dog is much too big, but I wanted to share my story, in case there are similarities with yours that maybe can guide you.

I wish you the best.
Thanks! :) That sounds really hard! Good thing you can pick her up at least though! :LOL:
 

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One thing I had to learn with Annie was to watch for signs she was getting over excited, BEFORE she got to the try and bite stage.

So I would ask for a sit and focus, a down, a stand, a stay, and then as she calmed down, we could continue. If it got too bad, we went inside again. We still do a lot of pausing during Play on/off stuff. So we play play play - I ask for a sit, when she is calm we return to play play play. Slowly working on self control when overexcited. At the start, it might be a 1s sit. Now? Might be a 30 s or one min sit. Her reward is returning to play, not a treat.
 

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I'm mauled by my dog. Since he's now 26 kg (57 lbs) and uses the full force of his jaw, it really hurts. I'm covered in bruises. Ignoring him isn't an option because of course he's actually doing damage.
If the kinder, gentler suggestions given to you so far don't work, an e-collar could be the solution.
 

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Long-time lurker finally creating an account mostly to commiserate. My 1.5 year old standard does this as well and it’s annoying and embarrassing. Usually it’s biting the leash when she sees another dog she really wants to play with (we live in busy NYC, so unfortunately that is at least once per walk).

Things that have not worked for us: Dropping the leash and trying to ignore the behavior, drenching the leash in bitter apple spray (she’s so unfazed that I’ve wondered if she LIKES the taste).

Things that will work occasionally: Sit & stay, walking 20 steps or so holding her by her harness instead of her leash, subduing her by picking her up off the ground for a moment (Dechi's solution above).

Longer-term solutions that I hope will help: Rewarding her with treats for walking nicely, making sure she gets some off-leash playtime/socialization almost every day.

We have a soft mesh muzzle originally acquired because she kept eating garbage off the ground and I’m thinking of bringing that a long on a few walks. She knows what it is, and while it doesn’t seem to be uncomfortable, she definitely doesn’t like it. I think after one or two incidents the mere sight of it may subdue her. Bad idea?

I’ll check out the links others have posted here as well - this forum is such a great resource. Thanks, all!
 

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So, I'm in the same boat. I feel with you. The internet never told us that poodles jump like kangaroos and how come my furbaby doesn't behave like Siba (2020 Westminster Best in Show, Standard Poodle). What gives?!

I would echo FMJ's look-at-me training. This has helped overall with Basil's leash manners. It's gone from like a grade F to a D. She still is too over-stimulated for the pet store, but walking around semi-residentual neighborhoods is more pleasent. We take plenty of time "warming up" on quiet streets prior to any busy human foot traffic. Even though she still has a lot of puppy "play play play" energy and mindset, so she needs grace (6-3/4 months old). I think the eye contact aspect will help create an even tighter and heart melting bond with your curly hair kangaroo furbaby.
 

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I would avoid an e-collar - there is a very high risk of turning frustration into outright aggression towards dogs or people if they are associated with the pain. I would think about reducing the frustration - why are other dogs/humans/etc so incredibly exciting? Meet enough of them close to and they become ho-hum, so that may be a starting point. As some may not appreciate the overwhelming excitement starting with dogs and people you know well, or who are in the same training group, would avoid upset.

When mine were young and silly we would begin to approach, they would pull and yap, I turned and walked away until we were far enough for them to cope, then approach again, and repeat (not being too picky at first) until they got the message that reasonably polite behaviour got them what they wanted. Parallel walking with another compatible dog is extremely useful - walking and sniffing and learning with another dog is a relaxed behaviour, rather than mad playtime. Which is not to say that a few sessions of mad playtime with another dog, with judicious use of time outs, may not be just what is needed. We don't expect small children to sit in rows listening to the teacher all day without regular breaks to run around playing together and letting off steam (and learning a huge amount about social interaction in the process).
 

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I feel with you. The internet never told us that poodles jump like kangaroos and how come my furbaby doesn't behave like Siba (2020 Westminster Best in Show, Standard Poodle). What gives?!
Ha ha ha ha ha! 😂

Maybe Siba's owner/handler @peppersb will see this thread and offer tips.
 

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Yes to a trainer to help you break these behavioral antics safely and effectively. You might be able to find a good trainer near you either through CCPDT.org or through APDT.org. Both organizations are global in nature although I am not sure how strong their presence is in all areas. DO NOT use an ecollar to deal with this. Only very experienced handlers should use ecollars and even for an experienced handler this isn't the right situation to use one (and I do have ecollars and can use them correctly, but use them very rarely). In the meantime you need to help your adolescent learn not to react to everything encountered on a walk. Stay close to home and use counter conditioning types of exercises meant to keep him from getting to the point of reacting to whatever triggers his over the top behaviors. Be aware that counter conditioning goes slowly and you have to make sure the dog stays under threshold at all times or you will undo your progress and end up reinforcing the undesired behavior all over again. I worked with a family a number of years ago who had a basically nice but severely socially deprived rescued dog for about 9 months to get her from the point where she would amp up at the sight of Lily a block away and across the street to be able to be on the same side of the street and two houses apart. In other words, this takes a ton of patience.
 

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Some very good advice here. :) I wish you had a trainer like @lily cd re nearby.

Does your poodle have a chance to blow off steam? For example, run around a safe grassy space at full-speed? If walks are his primary form of exercise, even the best training methods are going to be a struggle.
 

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I agree that something like an ecollar would be the wrong tool for this job. Pogo's histrionics were fueled by a mixture of frustration (wanting to meet the other dog, chase the cargo van) and a touch of anxiety (too little exposure to children and bikes, plus the need to be Snarky's protector.) An ecollar or any aversive would have made him more angry and fearful, not less.

I like the suggestions about ways to capture and manage the dog's attention before the dog loses his mind, along with suggestions about desensitization. It is so very hard to find kindly people who are willing to volunteer their time with their dog, their child, or their bicycle - but they are immensely helpful.
 

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I meant to address this in my earlier post here since anger was mentioned by the OP, but I don't think dogs really get "angry" in the same ways people do. I would describe these kinds of reactions as arising more from frustration and or anxiety than anger. I think the responses to those emotional states should be different than a response to anger.. If I am having an anger based interaction with a person I want to reason with that person. If I am experiencing a person )or dog's) frustration or anxiety reasoning doesn't do much to change things. Instead I want to bring a feeling of safety to the other (don't worry I have your back) and show the other I can serve as an anchoring presence. cowpony you are right it can be hard to find help from others to train these things.

PtP I think if walks are made thinking walks they can be even better at burning energy than wild running. The brain uses huge amounts of glucose energy and making the dog think can be a great way to take care of whatever equivalent dogs have to a "sugar high." My dogs don't care much for random crazy running but really enjoy walks that are thoughtful with sniffing breaks included.
 
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