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So I have an Norwegian Elkhound pup with a very dominant, brat-like attitude. I love him to death (and he obsesses over me) and 99% of the time he respects my rule. This of course means that he does not respect many other people, unfortunately, being that he only lives with me. He carries some respect for my boyfriend, who he has known from infancy, but he still can get out of control with him, such as barking at him incessantly when he enters the home or nipping at his hands when he wants something (like to be taken outside or fed). He does not do any of those things with me.

Of the many issues we have trained out of this strong willed dog, a new one has recently popped up. This one is far more disturbing to me due to his strength and fierce aggressiveness that seems to come out of nowhere, turning him into Cujo. Onyx was always a bear to walk (I don't have a yard, but I have a very nice neighborhood in which to walk him multiple times per day, usually 20 min each walk at a very brisk pace) and lately we have gotten him to stop pulling and darting around on the leash. Sometimes he walks like a model dog.

...but sometimes he doesn't. In fact, sometimes, for apparently no reason, he will turn around, look at me, and snarl, grabbing the leash and pulling as hard as he can, growling and snapping like he is in a fierce dog fight. I have tried all the usual, stand still, don't acknowledge the bad behavior, etc. It does NOT work. I'm roughly 100 lbs. He is strong enough to use me as a kite even though he is only 43 lbs. I have had to use severe force against him to try and fight him to the ground to subdue him. I speak as calmly as I can and try to stay calm. Anger only feeds him.

What is going on? The only thing I can think of is that he is trying to bully me into staying outside as long as possible. My boyfriend finds his behavior very dangerous, as he has experienced it more than me and has used far more physical force to try and get Onyx to back off. I honestly don't know what to do. I feel fear taking him on walks now without the pinch collar in case he turns on me suddenly (I can only imagine what the neighbors think is going on, it sounds like a rabid wolf attack).

I have considered sending him to a boarding trainer....but I also wonder if he won't show this behavior to them. Has anyone seen this behavior before??? It's terrifying. I have raised Dobermans and Rotts and neither ever behaved in such a manner!

I'm at my wits end. I know he has bullying/dominance issues, but usually he does not try to force his paw with me. Any suggestions? Or is it time to ship him off with a ridiculous price tag to a place where they will board and train him day and night?

Thanks!!
 

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Can you tell us a little more about how you've been training him?

Can you think back to anything in the environment that precedes the episodes of growling and pulling? It could be almost anything: something in the environment - even something seemingly innocuous, or timing, duration, or location of the walk. Can you predict his growling and pulling? Is there anything in his body language that precedes the behavior?

If you can identify a trigger or predict his behavior, that will be useful information for changing his behavior.

It's possible that he's simply a youngster who doesn't have complete control of his emotions and behaviors yet. You might find the exercises in this sticky helpful: Impulse Control and Calmnesshttp://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/impulse-control-calmness-168218/

In general, dogs aren't dominant, bratty, or manipulative. They do what they do to get what they want; repeated behaviors have been rewarded in some way. You might approach the issue from the perspective of what reinforcement is he getting for his behavior?

You may be interested in these stickies, as well:
Biting, Mouthing, and Nipping
Calming Signals
Reactivity, On Leash Aggression, and Barrier Frustration
Dominance in dogs
Choke and Prong Collars
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Can you tell us a little more about how you've been training him?

Can you think back to anything in the environment that precedes the episodes of growling and pulling? It could be almost anything: something in the environment - even something seemingly innocuous, or timing, duration, or location of the walk. Can you predict his growling and pulling? Is there anything in his body language that precedes the behavior?

If you can identify a trigger or predict his behavior, that will be useful information for changing his behavior.

It's possible that he's simply a youngster who doesn't have complete control of his emotions and behaviors yet. You might find the exercises in this sticky helpful: Impulse Control and Calmnesshttp://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/impulse-control-calmness-168218/

In general, dogs aren't dominant, bratty, or manipulative. They do what they do to get what they want; repeated behaviors have been rewarded in some way. You might approach the issue from the perspective of what reinforcement is he getting for his behavior?

You may be interested in these stickies, as well:
Biting, Mouthing, and Nipping
Calming Signals
Reactivity, On Leash Aggression, and Barrier Frustration
Dominance in dogs
Choke and Prong Collars
Hmm...it started happening when it got cold out. As in, very cold. A certain few days it got to the point where even if I or my BF were bundled up head to toe appropriately, we would be in pain within 8-10 minutes of being outside. It made it hard to take Onyx for 20 minute walks. Being a breed of Norwary, he simply gives no cares about the ice cold (suspiciously, he only fears rain and baths).

I noticed that we gave him shorter walks or less walks because it was simply too brutally cold out. It got to the point that when we started to turn to walk back towards home, he would suddenly attack the leash and go Cujo. I figure he does this because he absolutely does not want to go home.

He is a young fool, it is true, and he does get SUPER excited about snow. I try to let him jump around as much as he can and toss snow to him to shake and play with, but sometimes he gets so excited that he turns his attention on me in a not so playful way. I had almost trained this behavior out of him, such as not walking forward or back until he had dropped the leash and stopped snarling. I can often stop him quickly by grabbing him and squatting down to talk calmly to him, but he will still start up again as soon as I start walking in the same direction.

He has good food impulse control- he won't go near his food until I give him the signal that he can eat. In other things, perhaps not so well. He does have temper tantrums for unknown reasons when I do something he doesn't agree with (such as me walking out the door to get the mail when he sees another dog is outside).

I feel that I know why he is doing the bad behavior...I just don't know how to fix it since he can't always have ridiculously long walks in snow storms!
 

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Dogs tend to get a little more active in cooler weather, that combined with less exercise could certainly result in more rambunctious behavior.

How much training to you do with him? You might want to increase mental activity during times when you need to decrease physical exercise.

Dogs don't always generalize well, so impulse control around food doesn't necessarily translate to impulse control in other situations. Try some of the exercises in the sticky, work on impulse control in every day life. You might look at Sophia Yin's Learn to Earn or Grisha Stewart's Say Please protocols. They offer a nice framework for building training and impulse control exercises into normal routines.

One simple thing you might be able to try is taking different routes for walking or walking in different locations. That way he won't necessarily know the typical routine of walking to X spot, turning around, and going home.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Dogs tend to get a little more active in cooler weather, that combined with less exercise could certainly result in more rambunctious behavior.

How much training to you do with him? You might want to increase mental activity during times when you need to decrease physical exercise.

Dogs don't always generalize well, so impulse control around food doesn't necessarily translate to impulse control in other situations. Try some of the exercises in the sticky, work on impulse control in every day life. You might look at Sophia Yin's Learn to Earn or Grisha Stewart's Say Please protocols. They offer a nice framework for building training and impulse control exercises into normal routines.

One simple thing you might be able to try is taking different routes for walking or walking in different locations. That way he won't necessarily know the typical routine of walking to X spot, turning around, and going home.
I thought I was making headway with this for awhile, but then the snow came again :(

I took a look at the Say Please framework....he has been trained in that manner since he was little. He excels in sitting for the leash to be put on, sitting at the door until I ask him to walk out after me, sitting before following me into the house, waiting to be told when he can eat even if the food is in front of him. The Dr. Yin method may be the next stages of learning perhaps...

I try playing with him in the house, but generally he just gets bored of play and wants to go lay down. I'm not sure what to train him in during the day...he already knows all the tricks, but could definitely improve on the "Stay" command on first ask.

I made an effort to run around with him in certain designated areas to try and burn energy. I made an effort to go out with him more...unfortunately it does not seem to be helping. Even mixing up the walk route or play areas.

He actually full on bit my hand today when I tried to calm him down on the walk. There are welts on my hand. This was his third full walk of the day, even after we ran around in the snow an hour before. I am beginning to dread going outside with him when there is snow now. Literally, it causes me so much dread.

I've started a new method now between the harness and the choker collar. I used to use the prong collar, but his hair is so thick that it just doesn't work well and he dislodges its position easily. I walk him and let him goof off a bit in the harness...but the moment he goes wild on me, I pull the choker out, show him and then put it on him in the proper position that does not choke/prevent breathing (directly behind the ears high up behind the skull). I walk him home instantly and he walks perfectly without pulling because 'crazed' movement is intensely uncomfortable if the choker collar is in the right position.

I don't want to use the choker collar for walks. It is not only uncomfortable for him, but for me due to the nature of having to hold the collar straight up for it to stay in place (otherwise he just pulls and gags himself once it falls lower on the neck). I feel like I'm running out of options for controlling him. I work full time during the week and don't have many walking routes to choose from since his behavior starts within the first 10minutes of the walk.

I'm not even completing full walks now just because the behavior is getting so violent. I just put the choker on and march him straight home. I'm at a loss. I'm starting to think my only option is to take him somewhere where they can set a good baseline of leash manners with him so I can just continue training off the base knowledge he gains.
 

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I would absolutely not use a choke chain or "take him somewhere where they can set a good baseline of leash manners." I'd find a positive reinforcement-based trainer to work with you on this issue.

Some additional resources for you:
Finding a Trainer, Behavior Consultant, or Behaviorist
relaxation protocol (audio)
Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out

Control Unleashed: The Puppy Program

I'd also suggest enrolling him in a training class where his energy can be directed towards a specific goal (e.g., rally, agility, nose work).
Nosework and Scent Tracking (DIY NW)
 

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Hmm...it started happening when it got cold out. As in, very cold.
I noticed that we gave him shorter walks or less walks because it was simply too brutally cold out. It got to the point that when we started to turn to walk back towards home, he would suddenly attack the leash and go Cujo.
Extreme cold on a dog's pads can cause frostbite and severe discomfort/pain. Unless the dog has been acclimated and even then it can still be a problem. Hearty cold weather dogs have more fat in their pads which allows for more exposure via warmed blood exchange in the pads but not to the degree of many wild canids.

I'm sure if your problem only existed on very cold days you would have already connected the dots and solved the problem but I find it interesting that this behavior started in a specific environmental condition.

Maybe the discomfort your dog may have experienced while leashed on a bitter cold day and the resulting behavior speaks loudly of an association which could have been created.

I might leash the dog indoors and have the dog walk with you throughout the house for quite a duration. At some point during this approach, take the dog outside for a very short bit ( minute or less ) and then go back inside and continue. If the dog reacted with the Cujo attitude while on leash in the house, I might drop the leash and continue walking and see if there is any change in the dog's behavior as well as requesting the dog continues to heel without holding the leash.

Dogs certainly associate a negative experience with certain items and situations going forward and dogs are very good at speaking their minds when they are feeling the same trepidation/anxiety/discomfort etc. and at times it's easy for humans to see this but at other times rather difficult.

Walking a dog especially ones which exhibit leash reactivity/aggression is unfortunately common place especially with younger dogs. Finding the source of what causes this leash reactivity is the name of the game so you can go forward with modifying the phobia or frustration.
 

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Extreme cold on a dog's pads can cause frostbite and severe discomfort/pain. Unless the dog has been acclimated and even then it can still be a problem. Hearty cold weather dogs have more fat in their pads which allows for more exposure via warmed blood exchange in the pads but not to the degree of many wild canids.

I'm sure if your problem only existed on very cold days you would have already connected the dots and solved the problem but I find it interesting that this behavior started in a specific environmental condition.

Maybe the discomfort your dog may have experienced while leashed on a bitter cold day and the resulting behavior speaks loudly of an association which could have been created.

I might leash the dog indoors and have the dog walk with you throughout the house for quite a duration. At some point during this approach, take the dog outside for a very short bit ( minute or less ) and then go back inside and continue. If the dog reacted with the Cujo attitude while on leash in the house, I might drop the leash and continue walking and see if there is any change in the dog's behavior as well as requesting the dog continues to heel without holding the leash.

Dogs certainly associate a negative experience with certain items and situations going forward and dogs are very good at speaking their minds when they are feeling the same trepidation/anxiety/discomfort etc. and at times it's easy for humans to see this but at other times rather difficult.

Walking a dog especially ones which exhibit leash reactivity/aggression is unfortunately common place especially with younger dogs. Finding the source of what causes this leash reactivity is the name of the game so you can go forward with modifying the phobia or frustration.
With Onyx being a native breed of Norway, the cold is most likely not hurting him since the breed is used to independently hunt through 5 degrees Fahrenheit weather. That being said...I am starting to think this is a true "Over Stimulated" situation with him because this is his first winter and snow makes him go literally mad. I don't think he can even think or see straight when there is snow on the ground. He lays spread eagle in the snow as if it were 80 degrees out!

I did try walking him in the house today on leash, he did not attack the leash or me, but he did hop around and jump bit. He would sit calmly when I stood still and would wait for a command, but do to his imperfect leash walking (he loves to pull) he would bolt forward in whatever direction I started walking towards. It was unfortunate :(

For the over stimulation situation...I did try tug-of-war in a different manner. I would say "Play" and he could tug all he wanted (very similar, but less vicious as his leash attacks) until I said "No" firmly. When I said "No" as I would on a walk, he dropped the rope into my hand and stopped. I treated him the moment he dropped it with a high value treat.

I took him in the back field to run around on leash with me when I got back from work (I can't trust him off leash at this point, he's too easily distracted and has selective hearing) and he did grab the leash 4 times....but dropped it instantly when I made my displeased noise "AHH"...never even had to say No to him.

Granted....I have not taken him for the walk yet...so I will do another round with the tug rope to remind him what Play is and when No is stated Play stops. Hopefully it helps alleviate this.

Otherwise, any thoughts on Muzzles? I'm starting to worry about my own safety on these walks. They are starting to reduce me to tears ever day.
 

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Update:

Tonight Onyx and I did great. I continued doing the tug-of-war and release game with him for a few minutes in the middle of the day. After his dinner, we calmly went outside. I refrained from excitedly praising him for going 'poo poo' and all that jazz.

If I talked to him at all it was in very soft tones, but mainly not at all. We had no issue and only went on a short walk. When we came home, he went straight to his rope and we played some vigorous 'tug-of-war and release' until he was done. I hope this is a sign that he is understanding when tug of war is appropriate and that walking is not tug of war time :)
 
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