Problems with excitable dogs

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Problems with excitable dogs

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Old 10-28-2017, 02:43 AM
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Problems with excitable dogs

So its been a while since I have been on here but I am after some advice. Recently my dog who usually gets on superbly with other dogs has been showing some troubling behaviour to other excitable dogs. She is totally fine as long as all the other dogs around are relatively relaxed, but as soon as one of the dogs gets too excited, she will chase them and growl until they stop. And then as soon as they calm down, she is fine again. She has never actually bitten a dog, but she does sound scary.

All my googling on how to get her to stop this behaviour points to how to stop your dog from being too excited, but I cant really seem to find anything on what to do when your dog is the one trying to stop the excitement. If I can see another dog coming that is very obviously hyper, I can control her and make sure she doesnt go near them, but sometimes you dont see it coming. I also dont take her anywhere where I can see someone else is playing fetch with their dog, as that is one predictable situation that will set her off.

It seems to me like she is just trying to keep everyone in the park at an acceptable energy level (to her), but that is not ok. She is not the boss of the park and she doesnt get to tell other dogs off for simply enjoying themselves.

What I have been doing is once I call her back, she goes on the lead and we leave. I am not really sure what else I can do, I want her to be able to socialise nicely, but not ruin the other dogs fun, hopefully you all have some advice?
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Old 10-28-2017, 09:42 AM
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So its been a while since I have been on here but I am after some advice. Recently my dog who usually gets on superbly with other dogs has been showing some troubling behaviour to other excitable dogs. She is totally fine as long as all the other dogs around are relatively relaxed, but as soon as one of the dogs gets too excited, she will chase them and growl until they stop. And then as soon as they calm down, she is fine again. She has never actually bitten a dog, but she does sound scary.

All my googling on how to get her to stop this behaviour points to how to stop your dog from being too excited, but I cant really seem to find anything on what to do when your dog is the one trying to stop the excitement. If I can see another dog coming that is very obviously hyper, I can control her and make sure she doesnt go near them, but sometimes you dont see it coming. I also dont take her anywhere where I can see someone else is playing fetch with their dog, as that is one predictable situation that will set her off.

It seems to me like she is just trying to keep everyone in the park at an acceptable energy level (to her), but that is not ok. She is not the boss of the park and she doesnt get to tell other dogs off for simply enjoying themselves.

What I have been doing is once I call her back, she goes on the lead and we leave. I am not really sure what else I can do, I want her to be able to socialise nicely, but not ruin the other dogs fun, hopefully you all have some advice?
She sounds like she is being the fun police and I agree with you that she is trying to control the energy at the dog park.

I would not "call her back" and then leash her up and leave- that will create a negative association with recall. Otherwise, giving her a break is a good idea.

At the daycare I work at, we would attach a long lead to dogs that are doing this and let them play as long as they are being appropriate. As soon as they start becoming worked up or controlling, we reel them in and make them take a break, do some leash work with them, calm them down. Once they are calm we can give them another chance at playing.

I'm not sure how safe or realistic it would be to have her on a long lead at the dog park where there are a number of variables you can't control.

Does she play appropriately at all anymore, or is she controlling and reacting to energy constantly? If she is not able to handle energy at all, she shouldn't go to the dog park. If she is able to handle energy for a little bit, does her behavior seem to change at a certain point? Look for warning signs that she is becoming anxious, stressed, overstimulated, or too rowdy and either give her a break or end the visit before she gets to the point where she's trying to control other dogs. End on a good note.

Another thing you can try doing is working with her outside of the dog park and teaching her to remain calm and focus on you in the presence of other dogs, especially if the dogs inside the park are experiencing an energy spike.

The controlling behavior can result in corrections from dogs who don't appreciate rude behavior, could even cause a fight.
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Old 10-28-2017, 10:41 AM
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Talking harness & drag-line to get her outta Dodge



I'm presuming [U don't mention breed, but there's a GSD in yer avatar] that this is a GSD who's decided to be the Fun-Police at the local dog-park? - that's not an uncommon role for shepherds, unfortunately.
How old is she? -- how old was she when she began frequenting dog-parks?

I ask b/c older pups & dogs usually teach young dogs manners, if their humans don't step in, starting when puppy-license expires - around 4-MO / 16-WO, when pubertal hormones start to rise, but B4 true puberty. The immediate feedback from dogs they'd like to play with is startling, but very very effective & clear to the pup - if she wants to have playmates, she must play nicely. Anything we humans do, is not quite as clear, nor - for dog-social dogs - as effective.

Suggestion:
get a sturdy Y-harness that fits her well, preferably with a ring to join the 3 straps together on the chest. [If there's no ring, don't panic - a locking carabiner is an easy work-around. Durable & WELL-fitting are more important than a ring.]
This harness is to be worn when she's loose in the park - U clip a light strong line or cord to her chest, at least 10 & preferably 15-ft long, as a drag-line, & immediately when she so much as looks disapprovingly at another dog or dogs, U start toward the end of that drag-line. If U bend over to pick it up, she'll quickly learn that she's about to be interrupted, & she'll learn even faster to twitch the cord away, & play a merry game of Keep-Away leading U all over... so pre-empt that.
TREAD ON the trailing end, put the other foot also on the cord shoulder-width apart, & only then, bend over to pick up the cord nearest the dog. That avoids the "oh-oh, gotta go!", & the chasing game.

Ur well-braced feet & body-wt are still holding her in place; pick up the cord "before" Ur feet, & start briskly reeling her in, hand over hand. Don't say a word, don't act mad or threatening - this is just a consequence: she's rude & overbearing to playmates? --- her fun ends.
If she resists strongly, U may need leather gloves to protect Ur fingers & palms from rope-burns, which are very painful & slow to heal; any sturdy working gloves should do fine, or leather mittens - leather dress-gloves are too thin, they'll rip, & so will the skin under them.

Once U get her to U, slip the leash over her head as a back-up - U can hold it with the clip run-thru the wrist-loop as a running loop, while U monitor her, B4 she picks her victims. Or, if she's wearing a limited-slip martingale, hold the shoulder-strap of the harness firmly with one hand, & single-handedly snap the leash onto the martingale ring.
[U'll probly want to practice that at home, B4 the rodeo. ]

Now, just turn, announce "Let's go!" cheerfully, & exit the dog-park.

There are 2 options, at this point:
A - give her 20-seconds to reflect on her sins, outside the park, far-enuf away that she's not lunging or barking, but close-enuf to see, or at least hear, the fun.
Then give her an immediate opp to Re-Offend by re-entering the dog-park, & turning her loose with the drag.
If she eyeballs another dog with disapproval, repeat the whole sequence - walk up on the drag, tread on it, reel her in, exit, 20-seconds to listen & wish, re-enter, turn her loose... Repeat as long as U have time to do it.
B - Her fun is over for the day;
provide other forms of exercise, so she's not bubbling with pent-up energy - play fetch on a carpeted flight of stairs or brick / stone steps for traction, get her nutz over a flirt-pole with a tied toy, play brief, intense games of Tug, etc.
Go to the dog-park next day, & as soon as she thinks about policing someone's fun, walk up, tread on the drag, exit - work her out; come back next day.

The advantage of option A is immediate feedback, & the penny quickly drops - but not everyone has time to spend 90-mins or 2-hours or more, turning their dog loose, watching her like a hawk, & intervening EVERY time she starts to mess with another dog's joy.
The advantage of option B is that she sleeps on it; she'll consolidate that memory of attempting / thinking of attempting to interfere with another dog, & losing her own fun.
Both work - which U choose depends on how much time & patience U have, on a given day; U can mix & match them on subsequent days, that won't hurt a thing.

Does that sound do-able?
- terry

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Old 10-28-2017, 10:49 AM
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Talking Too late!



LOL, no fair, @revolutionrocknroll ! - I had my reply half-composed in draft, when i went to bed last night, just finished it... & posted, to find ya beat me to the punch.

I've used long-lines with clients' dogs at dog-parks for specifically this issue -
i don't go on Sat afternoons when the dog-park is as busy as an anthill, i choose times when traffic is reasonable, or even off-times with a few dog-buddies [1 or 2] that the client's dog knows well, but has been known to police. We pre-arrange this with the other dog's / dogs' owner/s.

cheers,
- terry

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Old 10-28-2017, 09:12 PM
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Thanks for your replies,
She is a rottie, and has just turned three, having gone to dog parks/beaches since she was a pup.

I will try the long line idea, the only thing I would maybe be concerned about would be that when trying to reel her in it could get caught amongst the dogs? Is this likely or am I just imagining something that is unlikely to happen?

She does also play appropriately with other dogs most of the time, it is really only the very hyper dogs that just sprint and dont stop for a sniff that she gets grumpy at. Saying that she is more of a wrestler than a chaser - but she does love being chased, which is a bit weird.

She is really good outside the dog park though - but this is something i have worked on as there are a few houses we walk past frequently with dogs running up and down and barking at us. She is still alert walking past these places, but she doesnt pull or lunge at them or anything.

And the main reason I really want her to stop is more that I am worried that shell do it to the wrong dog one day and get into a fight. So far there has only been one dog that has turned around and snapped at her, and after that she left that dog alone.
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Old 10-29-2017, 08:12 AM
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Thanks for your replies,

I will try the long line idea, the only thing I would maybe be concerned about would be that when trying to reel her in it could get caught amongst the dogs? Is this likely or am I just imagining something that is unlikely to happen?
The only time that has been a problem is when the handler isn't paying attention and lets the two dogs get wrapped in the lead while they're playing. You have to be actively supervising and readjusting the lead so no one gets tangled. But it hasn't really been a problem otherwise. Just be aware of what's going on around you and around her.

Quote:
She does also play appropriately with other dogs most of the time, it is really only the very hyper dogs that just sprint and dont stop for a sniff that she gets grumpy at. Saying that she is more of a wrestler than a chaser - but she does love being chased, which is a bit weird.
She only does that to dogs that sprint around like a lunatic? That's pretty normal behavior for dogs to chase and bark at sprinters, even nip and dive bomb them. At daycare, we don't allow dogs to sprint in playgroups: pack mentality or predatory drift or something kicks in in most of the other dogs and they'll chase the sprinter as a pack trying to "catch" them- they'll corner them, start diving in to nip at them, posture over them, etc. It's pretty unsafe to let a dog just sprint around in a group of multiple dogs because of that. I'd still try to manage or discourage your dog from doing that, but now that you say it's the sprinters she's after I'm not nearly as concerned, I see A LOT of dogs react inappropriately to sprinters.
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Old 10-29-2017, 09:05 AM
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I will try the long line idea, the only thing I would maybe be concerned about would be that when trying to reel her in it could get caught amongst the dogs? Is this likely or am I just imagining something that is unlikely to happen?

.
Long lines are great but as you mentioned can get tangled and make things worse at times. rev makes a good point about being staying vigilant and taking in any excess slack and paying out line to keep minimum leash pressure while avoiding any tangling with other dogs as well as your own. You'll learn the "dance" of using a long line in the scenario you describe pretty quickly I am guessing

One other consideration, it sounds like you have done a wonderful job with your rottie "She is really good outside the dog park though - but this is something i have worked on as there are a few houses we walk past frequently with dogs running up and down and barking at us. She is still alert walking past these places, but she doesnt pull or lunge at them or anything." and it would be a shame to compromise all your efforts. What I am getting at is; it doesn't sound like your rottie has any barrier/leash reactivity and you certainly don't want to develop any by physically restricting your dog with a line in an environment where she no longer has her usual maneuvering room while the rest of the dogs do, it will change the dynamics and the dog will figure it out in short order. Adding an opposing force to a dog's desired course can make things worse at times. Hopefully, her recall is good enough so when you recall her and give her a slight turning pressure on the long line she will obey.

I'd be curious to hear how your experiment works at the dog park, hopefully it goes well. Obviously, the best answer to cure the issue is just training a bulletproof recall, easier said than done.
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Old 10-29-2017, 05:21 PM
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Thanks for your advice guys!

Yes it really is only the dogs that properly sprint that she has a problem with, which is why we dont go in if anyone is playing fetch. Dogs running at a normal speed (eg. relaxed canter) she is fine with.

She has a pretty good recall - I can call her away from chasing birds and kangaroos, but not sprinting dogs which hopefully will not always be the case.

I will give the long line a try next time I am at the park though
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Old 10-29-2017, 06:07 PM
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Arrow Not sure about this - outside my experience.



I've never used a long-line in the midst of a bunch of off-leash dogs *while* the dog whose oversized-leash i was handling, was expected to / was actively playing with, a bunch of off-leash dogs.
????...

I don't know how that would work; i've used drag-lines, yes, but i haven't tried to maintain physical control of a dog who's running among, and in & out of interactions with, other dogs.
When i've used drag-lines on individual dogs, the dog on the line was not romping with the other dogs - running, yes, but not trying to play freely with off-leash dogs. I can easily see other dogs getting fouled in the long-line.

A drag-line is on the ground, out of the way. The dog wearing it might step on it, but that's about all.
Other dogs might try to grab it - but they don't usually repeat the action.

JME / YMMV,
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Old 10-31-2017, 11:49 PM
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Keeping any leash or line on a dog who's loose in a park is dangerous. I used to do it with my current dog when I first got him because the shelter strongly advised me to as he was a confirmed talented runaway and escape artist and had no recall. It used to take me an hour to catch him in the dog park every day even with him dragging a standard leash.
One day he was playing and wrestling with another dog and they suddenly got up and started running and chasing each other and his leash got caught on a root or something and he fell hard crashing his ribs against a nearby tree. Unlucky timing and location. He didn't get right up and keep playing so I knew he was stunned or hurt. Straight to the ER we went. Once I got us away from all the other owners yelling at me for risking his life leaving his leash on in the first pkace. Never mind that the shelter staff and behaviorist had advised me to do so and they had done it the month he was there. I was afraid he'd be taken away from me for neglect or abuse or something, thankfully the hospital wasn't as judgmental. He had some bruised ribs and cuts but luckily nothing more serious.

Couldn't run or play for a few weeks and keeping a young active dog quiet and restricted was a challenge. As he felt better he was very difficult to walk anywhere on the leash because he was so hyper.

But it was very scary to see him fall and not get right up and then stand quietly looking dazed. Don't leave a long line on in the dog park. Lots of dogs at the parks I've gone to try to police other dogs who are wrestling or running or doing some behavior they deem inappropriate.

Their owners either have a solid leave it command which their dogs respect and listen to and stay with them or can be distracted playing with other dogs or they physically remove the dog and hold them for a timeout until they can be distracted.

That's how I trained my dog to stop jumping into other dogs fighting or scuffling, and to completely avoid two other dogs he doesn't like and had fights with over a year ago. He used to race into any type of fight or skirmish that other dogs were in and be tough to get out of as he'd deliberately dodge and avoid people and run back in. Kind of an adolescent boy in the schoolyard yelling fight fight who has to jump into the action. He also had repeated fights with 2 particular other male dogs. None were hurt he just did not like them and felt the need to protect other dogs from them and jump in and scuffle if they were playing with dogs he considered his buddies. Especially if his buddies growled or yelped and he thought they needed defending.
Both situations I and the other owners kept the dogs on leashes next to each other with lots of petting, praise and favorite treats that we fed close together, I fed other dog then mine as did other owner with tons of praise so they'd associate good things with being near each other. Whenever those dogs are there I remind him good boy and say other dogs name with lots of treats and call him to me a lot more. If he starts to go near other dog in challenging way I say leave it and call and tons of treats and praise if he comes back. Same thing if any dogs start any scuffle and he looks like he wants to jump on. I say leave it and call him lots of praise and treats for coming over.
If he ignores me and goes to fight or bother either forbidden dog I call again if he ignores me I grab him put leash on say no and he stays with me in lie down for a while. Then let him loose again. I don't leave because he needs his exercise play time and he won't play with me and I don't think he'll associate leaving with the behavior as well as he'll associate a definite leashed lie down timeout that has an end. I try to spend 1 to 2 hours at the park with him every day so he has plenty of fun time so he can have as many timeouts as needed.
People can approve or criticize as much as they want. It's worked for him. Today I had a day off and spent a whole day with him and went to 2 different parks and a large unfenced place. He's had no freedom or social time in a few days because ive been busy and we've had lots of cold rain so parks have been pretty empty. He avoided all scuffles, came back to me pretty well and at our local favorite park spent an hour each peacefully coexisting with both of his former sworn enemies, no issues. Avoided them both. Ran to me when one of them started getting too rough with another dog. And hasn't ran into a fight or been in any kind of fight in almost a year now. Runs to me looking for treats whenever there's any signs of one. So it works for me with him. And I'm never leaving any lines attached to him again.

Just my experience but it's worked for me with him and I also trained my last dog who didn't like other dogs and was very protective and had resource guarding issues to be able to coexist and not fight so he could be loose and tolerate other loose dogs to be at the stable with me for hours every day and go out in state parks loose while I rode my horse and run along and stay with us and never leave our sides or bother other loose dogs we encountered.

I did let him help us chase off coyotes though. The horse and I would charge at them if they tried to follow or stalk us and I'd raise the whip I carried high in the air waving it and screaming like a crazy person. My old horse hates all dogs so loved to gallop at them with murder in her eye and my old dog loved to race along to help threaten. But he'd stay with us and not really go after that. It was the one time I let him threaten anything. Some of them were pretty fearless. Fun days.
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