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My 10 month old altered Mini has become reactive when walking and he sees another dog. I can't get him to stop jumping and barking. He pulls on the leash and it is impossible to get his attention. He has been doing this off and on but recently it has gotten worse. It doesn't happen with all dogs but when he acts up there is nothing I can do. Help and hope appreciated!
 

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My 10 month old altered Mini has become reactive when walking and he sees another dog. I can't get him to stop jumping and barking. He pulls on the leash and it is impossible to get his attention. He has been doing this off and on but recently it has gotten worse. It doesn't happen with all dogs but when he acts up there is nothing I can do. Help and hope appreciated!
Have you noticed a pattern with the dogs he is reacting to? My dog is not reactive to most dogs, but he will bark and lunge if he encounters another young exuberant dog that is barking and lunging. It is the energy that he picks up on like it's contagious. One thing that I have found beneficial is practicing settling in a high traffic area. Like at a park where you know many dogs will be walking by. First you have to achieve a good settle in the absence of distraction, and then you work your way up to more distractions. Settling exercises increase a dog's ability to self regulate their energy and maintain a calm demeanor. Along with these exercises, I would work on keeping his focus on you when dogs are approaching on walks. Through treats, toys, the energy you put off... there are various ways to help keep your dog's focus.

But I would also say that when dogs become reactive, they are going way over threshold in terms of arousal. It's their response to having no idea what to do with their excitement. The leash makes them very frustrated. So try to approach his mindset with compassion and a gradual approach.
 

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This is such a common problem. It's pretty rare that I see two dogs pass each other on a sidewalk without at least one of them freaking out!

Like Raindrops said, compassion is key. Approaching another dog like that is very unnatural for your poodle. The leash creates tension, both physical and mental. They can't avoid each other. They're being expected to meet head-on, with no weaving or dancing or butt sniffing. Ack! Stressful!

And once that tension is defused even one time with hysterical barking, it becomes much more likely that your dog will return to that behaviour.

Passing from a distance is helpful: Cross the street. Step off the sidewalk onto the grass. Whatever you have to do to give your little guy some space. And keep the highest value treat you've got on-hand for these situations. For Peggy that's string cheese! We'll get her nibbling while the other dog is still far away, rewarding her for glancing at it and then returning her focus to us.

If the other dog seems anxious, over-excited, aggressive, or otherwise out of control, I say just turn around and walk away. You can practise this at home off-leash. Get some forward momentum going with your dog next to you, and then say a cheery "Let's go!" and do an abrupt 180, treating your dog for following without stopping. Turn it into a game! You'll probably find your poodle loves to follow your fast movements, especially when he's rewarded so generously. He might even decide you're more interesting than strange dogs!
 

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Have you noticed a pattern with the dogs he is reacting to? My dog is not reactive to most dogs, but he will bark and lunge if he encounters another young exuberant dog that is barking and lunging. It is the energy that he picks up on like it's contagious. One thing that I have found beneficial is practicing settling in a high traffic area. Like at a park where you know many dogs will be walking by. First you have to achieve a good settle in the absence of distraction, and then you work your way up to more distractions. Settling exercises increase a dog's ability to self regulate their energy and maintain a calm demeanor. Along with these exercises, I would work on keeping his focus on you when dogs are approaching on walks. Through treats, toys, the energy you put off... there are various ways to help keep your dog's focus.

But I would also say that when dogs become reactive, they are going way over threshold in terms of arousal. It's their response to having no idea what to do with their excitement. The leash makes them very frustrated. So try to approach his mindset with compassion and a gradual approach.
 

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Yep been there done that. What we have done is just as the dog is getting excited we click, dog looks at us for a moment and then the treats keep coming as the object of distraction passes by, then we continue. Its working. We now get a sit too and sometimes when someone stops to chat we do the same The other night someone walked right up to us, click, sit, treats flow. eE ran out of treats, dog just lied down in the street and waited until we were ready to go. I'm still learning new methods but I am quite sure as Peggy the parti mentioned, that the tension you put on the lead overtime someone passes is what increases your dog to become reactive, they learn by barking and lunging the scary object goes away and it becomes pattern. I recently read about the positive training of the treats and hopefully the outcome becomes oh stranger/dog that means I get goodies. (and they should be extra special good ones).
 

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What you are saying makes sense. He doesn't do it with all dogs and they don't have to be barking at him, but you are making me think there has to be some "message" he is picking up. We are usually at a distance from across the street because I move away when I see that he has spotted another dog. First of all he sits and then he goes berserk, and at that time he is way over the threshold. I will work on him settling from a distance....do you recommend him sitting or lying down? Thanks for the help.
 

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This is such a common problem. It's pretty rare that I see two dogs pass each other on a sidewalk without at least one of them freaking out!

Like Raindrops said, compassion is key. Approaching another dog like that is very unnatural for your poodle. The leash creates tension, both physical and mental. They can't avoid each other. They're being expected to meet head-on, with no weaving or dancing or butt sniffing. Ack! Stressful!

And once that tension is defused even one time with hysterical barking, it becomes much more likely that your dog will return to that behaviour.

Passing from a distance is helpful: Cross the street. Step off the sidewalk onto the grass. Whatever you have to do to give your little guy some space. And keep the highest value treat you've got on-hand for these situations. For Peggy that's string cheese! We'll get her nibbling while the other dog is still far away, rewarding her for glancing at it and then returning her focus to us.

If the other dog seems anxious, over-excited, aggressive, or otherwise out of control, I say just turn around and walk away. You can practise this at home off-leash. Get some forward momentum going with your dog next to you, and then say a cheery "Let's go!" and do an abrupt 180, treating your dog for following without stopping. Turn it into a game! You'll probably find your poodle loves to follow your fast movements, especially when he's rewarded so generously. He might even decide you're more interesting than strange dogs!
This is such a common problem. It's pretty rare that I see two dogs pass each other on a sidewalk without at least one of them freaking out!

Like Raindrops said, compassion is key. Approaching another dog like that is very unnatural for your poodle. The leash creates tension, both physical and mental. They can't avoid each other. They're being expected to meet head-on, with no weaving or dancing or butt sniffing. Ack! Stressful!

And once that tension is defused even one time with hysterical barking, it becomes much more likely that your dog will return to that behaviour.

Passing from a distance is helpful: Cross the street. Step off the sidewalk onto the grass. Whatever you have to do to give your little guy some space. And keep the highest value treat you've got on-hand for these situations. For Peggy that's string cheese! We'll get her nibbling while the other dog is still far away, rewarding her for glancing at it and then returning her focus to us.

If the other dog seems anxious, over-excited, aggressive, or otherwise out of control, I say just turn around and walk away. You can practise this at home off-leash. Get some forward momentum going with your dog next to you, and then say a cheery "Let's go!" and do an abrupt 180, treating your dog for following without stopping. Turn it into a game! You'll probably find your poodle loves to follow your fast movements, especially when he's rewarded so generously. He might even decide you're more interesting than strange dogs!
I will start turnnig and getting away fast. Thanks!
 

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Agree with all the above. Great advice.
I feel for you. Loose leash walking with so much distraction isn’t easy. Keep working at it, keep learning, don’t give up and it will get better. The teen months are hard for walking, it was for us anyway.
It’s easy for us have visions and expectations of us calmly and closely passing every dog we see, or even having all those “meet and greets” with every dog we see. It seems to be expected by so many. The reality for most...nope!
We still have to have a pretty big “Bubble” around us when we pass other dogs. We adjust that bubble depending on what’s going on. The more distraction the bigger the bubble. We are very aware of the dogs we see and there are many in our neighborhood. While I can relax I have to always be aware. Sometimes we can just sit and wait as another dog passes. Some dogs, depending on their energy we have to do “focus on me” with treats. Some dogs we can pass but we make a wide curve as we pass. Some dogs we cross the street and then there are some we will turn onto another block. I have gotten much better with “reading” other dogs and handlers. Some people are thinking just like us and some are clueless.
As hard as it sometimes is, we do what we have to do to maintain the leash loose because once it tightens, especially if the handler anticipates that the situation will be stressful, the dog feels that. Our emotions definitely transfer through the leash. Not always easy, I know by experience.
I know this book has been referenced many times but it really is a great little book; “On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals,” by Turid Rugass.
There’s a section in there about “curving,” which basically means, passing with a curve rather than straight on. For dogs, passing at a curve is calming while passing straight on is not. This made a huge difference for us. Sometimes that curve has to be really big and sometimes just the other side. I highly recommend this book. It’s a short read but so helpful in learning about dog communication. Learning to read my dog but also other dogs is helpful and important. If I “read”
another dog as playful or just interested, I generally just pass with a nice sized curve unless the owner is allowing the dog to pull toward us. If I “read” a dog that looks reactive, or possibly aggressive, we will just turn onto another street. I also taught Bobby the words, “No Stare.” We generally don’t allow Bobby to stare at other dogs on our walks because it can amp things up. He can look but staring we try to avoid.
We don’t always get it right but as Bobby and I have worked hard at walking we are getting to be a pretty good team and most walks are pretty enjoyable. I hear you though, for many months we dealt with a lot of crazy walks! 😉 Hang in there! Hope this helps.
PS...our magic treat is a hotdog. I carry a whole hotdog sometimes, depending on what we are doing or where we are going and let him nibble. He will follow that hotdog anywhere! The hotdog is magical.😂😉
 

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For us, at first we did nothing but click n treat just to get his focus away from what why disturbing to him. I didn't make him sit or lie down .My biggest problem when this first happened is I couldn't keep him focused on me, I'd walk away put distance in but so quickly he escalated into barking and being on high alert mode, he didn't care how far away they went and he pretty much stayed amped up. Now I think the noise of the click made him think "whats that" and he looked at me and got treated and treated and treated. He didn't get the opportunity to get overly excited about the disturbing thing. After the first treat I later added the sit in to give him more to think about while continuing to treat. I think he got so many treats I should cut his food back. You can work in what Peggythe parti said too, making distance adding a quick maneuver all make your dog think and gets his attention of the scary thing. At least thats how I am understanding it. Last night my neighbor walked past with his extra large golden who is well behaved, and my dog just kept on walking while doing at me, he got treats too, lol. Now we haven't come upon an overly exuberate passer by dog yet so we shall see how that goes. I don't think we are quite ready and I would put lots of distance in.
 

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Yep been there done that. What we have done is just as the dog is getting excited we click, dog looks at us for a moment and then the treats keep coming as the object of distraction passes by, then we continue. Its working. We now get a sit too and sometimes when someone stops to chat we do the same The other night someone walked right up to us, click, sit, treats flow. eE ran out of treats, dog just lied down in the street and waited until we were ready to go. I'm still learning new methods but I am quite sure as Peggy the parti mentioned, that the tension you put on the lead overtime someone passes is what increases your dog to become reactive, they learn by barking and lunging the scary object goes away and it becomes pattern. I recently read about the positive training of the treats and hopefully the outcome becomes oh stranger/dog that means I get goodies. (and they should be extra special good ones).
Agree with all the above. Great advice.
I feel for you. Loose leash walking with so much distraction isn’t easy. Keep working at it, keep learning, don’t give up and it will get better. The teen months are hard for walking, it was for us anyway.
It’s easy for us have visions and expectations of us calmly and closely passing every dog we see, or even having all those “meet and greets” with every dog we see. It seems to be expected by so many. The reality for most...nope!
We still have to have a pretty big “Bubble” around us when we pass other dogs. We adjust that bubble depending on what’s going on. The more distraction the bigger the bubble. We are very aware of the dogs we see and there are many in our neighborhood. While I can relax I have to always be aware. Sometimes we can just sit and wait as another dog passes. Some dogs, depending on their energy we have to do “focus on me” with treats. Some dogs we can pass but we make a wide curve as we pass. Some dogs we cross the street and then there are some we will turn onto another block. I have gotten much better with “reading” other dogs and handlers. Some people are thinking just like us and some are clueless.
As hard as it sometimes is, we do what we have to do to maintain the leash loose because once it tightens, especially if the handler anticipates that the situation will be stressful, the dog feels that. Our emotions definitely transfer through the leash. Not always easy, I know by experience.
I know this book has been referenced many times but it really is a great little book; “On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals,” by Turid Rugass.
There’s a section in there about “curving,” which basically means, passing with a curve rather than straight on. For dogs, passing at a curve is calming while passing straight on is not. This made a huge difference for us. Sometimes that curve has to be really big and sometimes just the other side. I highly recommend this book. It’s a short read but so helpful in learning about dog communication. Learning to read my dog but also other dogs is helpful and important. If I “read”
another dog as playful or just interested, I generally just pass with a nice sized curve unless the owner is allowing the dog to pull toward us. If I “read” a dog that looks reactive, or possibly aggressive, we will just turn onto another street. I also taught Bobby the words, “No Stare.” We generally don’t allow Bobby to stare at other dogs on our walks because it can amp things up. He can look but staring we try to avoid.
We don’t always get it right but as Bobby and I have worked hard at walking we are getting to be a pretty good team and most walks are pretty enjoyable. I hear you though, for many months we dealt with a lot of crazy walks! 😉 Hang in there! Hope this helps.
PS...our magic treat is a hotdog. I carry a whole hotdog sometimes, depending on what we are doing or where we are going and let him nibble. He will follow that hotdog anywhere! The hotdog is magical.😂😉
 

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All this information has been helpful I will arm myself with my clicker and treats and work hard at getting his attention! All of you have given me hope and I will be working hard. Thank you!
 

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For settling exercises, I mean they are helpful to work on separately from normal walks. I don't make a dog settle when walking. But practicing having them maintain a calm composure in the face of distraction is a good exercise for a dog that cannot control excitement. I tend to enforce a down for settling.
 

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Remember... dogs have a sense that we humans never, or rarely take into account. Their sense of smell. And you can bet they'll act on it. It's fun to play with and easy to get used to on a regular walk pattern. Just start to make yourself aware of wind direction every once in a while.
He might not care about certain dogs, and you would have no way of telling, but THAT ONE he knows as the one who overpees HIS spot! He knows by the scent. Grrrrr!
Who knows, eh? Dogs are an interesting study in Social Psychology. :)
 

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I'm starting to think we create a lot of problems with our cultural obsession with making our dogs sit. It couldn't be less natural for them. And Peggy does exactly what you describe:

1. Sit.

2. Freak out!

And then she'll abruptly sit again....and then freak out.....and on it goes, back and forth. She's trying so hard to do what she's been taught, but what she's been taught isn't doing anything to help her through that situation.

Engaging the nose is much better. It genuinely calms them down instead of increasing the tension with an unnatural behaviour like sitting.

The only time Peggy chooses to sit when interacting with another dog off-leash is when that dog is being rude and she doesn't want it to sniff her bum anymore. It's not a relaxed position at all. It's usually abrupt and visibly tense, maybe with a little whale eye thrown in, or, for some dogs, maybe even a lip curl.

If you can create ample distance, scattering treats on the ground is a good way to encourage relaxation. Pair it with a "Get it" or "Go sniff" command.

Or use your high value treat to encourage sniffing and interaction. If your dog is gulping it with one eye on the other dog, it's not working. Give it a wiggle. Back up a few encouraging steps. Make it interesting. Create more space. Engage the nose.

All this is easier said than done, of course. It takes a lot of time and concentration. I personally don't enjoy it at all, which is why my husband is usually the one on walk duty. He's much better at staying relaxed and just doing what we learned in class without all the angst I tend to feel. Lol. I just get sooooo embarrassed when Peggy barks, whereas he isn't emotionally affected at all. He just accepts it as part of life with a young dog.

I'm currently reading a book called "Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out" which you might enjoy. It's all about keeping your dog under threshold.
 

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I have waved a treat in front of his nose, but if is at his threshold of craziness it is too late. I will have to find some really stinky treats and see how that works. I hope this is something that will improve with age. Will have to read that book. Thanks.
 
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