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15 months old GS/SH mix is overexcited and uncontrollable on walks

1053 Views 11 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Fidelis
Hello guys,

it's been a while since I posted something on this forum, because our young female dog is lovely, kind, joyful and understands all needed basics of training. But this is a big one, and I am getting depressed about it.

The problem is, that she is so perfectly good behaved at home, or in the garden. But me myself, as a small and tiny woman can't walk her outside anymore. She is pulling so hard, I get exhausted in 15 minutes. The dog is acting, I would say sometimes psychotic, overjoyed, about the stimuli all around - smells, people, children, other dogs. She walks zig-zag, panting and apparently not knowing herself what to do about the feelings.

The weird thing is, she was kinda like this before, but when the spring came this year, it's like she got new power, got stronger and more determined. Even my tall, strong and big boyfriend has problems with her now on walks, often ending up with sore muscles and being drained while trying to go for walk with her.

I ask and please for any advice. Just not the one "bring tasty treats on walks and teach her to walk at your feet", because she is not "treats driven" dog and while walking outside, ANYTHING is more important than whatever you would try to say to her, or however you would try to make her pay attention to you and stop pulling forward.

I belive this is not about excessive energy, because she is acting the same tired, or in days she gets only one go-for-walk and two one hour sessions in the garden.

Thanks a lot in advance, I would really appreciate anything.馃槦
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Welcome back, Aliza!

There really is no better solution than to teach her to walk nicely on a leash. It takes some time, patience and a good plan, but it is absolutely possible and soooo worth it. Even if she has a hard time taking treats out in the world.

The thing with easily overstimulated dogs (I have one of those!) is that they can really benefit from learning exactly what to do and learning to stay calm, focused and collected even in challenging environments. Leash training is so much more than walking without pulling, it's about building the dog's focus, resilience, good habits, and a connection with you.

My 14 month old is like that too and we also juuuust started working on really nice leash walking. In our case, we were fortunate enough to do most of our walks off leash, and when she needed a leash, she didn't pull too much. But now she is a distractible teenager, and we would like to take her in urban environments more, so it is important that she learns. We're working on focus, connection (both of us staying tuned in with each other), and leash skills. Happy to exchange tips and moral support! I use training games, so it's really not that burdensome, it's actually quite fun. We don't get very far yet, but she gets plenty of mental and physical exercise.

What equipment are you using? I use a back clip on a harness when she is more free to do her own thing, and when I don't care if she pulls a little. Then I switch to a collar and short leash (or front clip on the harness) when I'm asking (teaching) her to walk nicely. I started with just a wide collar (at first she didn't like harnesses).
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Maybe something here might help.

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DogRun:
Hello and thank you so much for your kind response. It's relieving to see that we are not the only ones in this matter. :)

I know it is the only solution to teach her some manners. But she is also extremely manipulative and attention seeking velcro dog (both me and BF are working from home, so our dog still have one of us in sight and any things that make her busy are kong toys, sticks to bite or bones).

I think that the majority of her excitement are about the whole "pack" going outside to enjoy anything. I tried to take toy outside to get her attention, but the only outcome was, that she got even more excited and started to clown around even more. She tries to run after cars, bicycles, motorcycles. She wants to greet anyone we come across.

I am heartbroken, when I see other people walking their big dogs, who just go fluently on the leash and don't have the desire to befriend anyone and anything they meet, and act NORMAL. I miss going outside with my dog and it is even more painful knowing, that the main problem still remains in the fact that I just can't manage her, and she gets frustrated. The vicious circle.

What breed is your dog, is it also a big one?

About your question: We tried anti-pulling harness, but it was too big for her, so useless. We tried anti-pulling muzzle, but she just keeps to pawing it while we walk, and two times she managed to chew it completely, so it went to the trash.

Now we have another normal harness with a clip on her back, because with walking with leash on her collar, she would choke. I think that the harness is also the problem here, because she just do what she wants. Maybe the husky blood in her also do it's thing, that she has the natural instinct to pull.
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Maybe something here might help.

Thank you Joanne, I will read it.
Sounds like yours and mine read the same "How to walk your human...all your way" guide.

Unfortunately, mine is still very much a work-in-progress so I don't have much to offer by way of help other than the usual techniques:
  • Stop forward motion when they pull until they look back at you and there's slack in the leash,
  • Practice rapidly switching directions so they have to pay attention to follow you,
...and to reiterate that it takes time - lots of it - so be patient with yourself and with your dog. It will come, eventually.

It may also help to practice walking in an environment with as few distractions as possible, and to have them sit quietly and watch the world go by so they get used to distractions not equating to reactions.

Good luck!
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What breed is your dog, is it also a big one?
Mine is big as well, a bird dog (Weimaraner), around 35 kg. But my previous dog was a huge GSD/lab/draft horse mix, so he taught me a thing or two about pulling and nice leash walking. I might be a smart*ss now, but used to be exactly where you are now. I got discouraged so many times, but I learned a lot, and this time around with a new dog is so much easier. My steps for my boy were:

1. I stopped walking him out (because the environment was too stimulating for him) for a few weeks.
2. I just exercised him in the back yard for a while.
3. I taught him to pull things and canicross, so that he could get some energy out constructively (and have an activity where pulling was not just allowed, but even a good thing).
4. At the same time, we practised a lot of leash skills in the house and in the yard.
5. We started practising in harder environments, but I always exercised him in the yard first, so that he was pleasantly tired. Then I gave him a chew so that he relaxed. When he was calm and relaxed, we started a leash walk. Initially, our walks were super, super short. We would do a minute or two, take a break, do another minute or two. I thought, "Is this it? Are we just going to be walking back and forth in front of the house for the rest of my life?" But then it suddenly clicked, and then it went fast from there.

The main thing for me was to not walk him in overstimulating environments until he was ready. It set us back each time. But when I finally had enough and stopped putting him in situations he wasn't ready for, and actually taught him the skills and added difficulty gradually, it worked.

I am heartbroken, when I see other people walking their big dogs, who just go fluently on the leash and don't have the desire to befriend anyone and anything they meet, and act NORMAL.
If it makes you feel any better, I think what your dog is doing is pretty normal. Fluency on a leash comes naturally to only a handful of dogs, everyone else has to work hard for it. Many handlers just give up. But again, it is so, so worth it.


Maybe the husky blood in her also do it's thing, that she has the natural instinct to pull.
That's a great, wonderful thing! I firmly believe that dogs need constructive outlets for their instincts. Plus, if they get some energy out through things that feel natural to them, it's also easier for them to focus during more boring activities, like leash walking.

There are many activities that can allow her to express this instinct, while getting her physically exercised and mentally stimulated. You can teach her to pull you while walking on hikes (dog hiking), while running (canicross), on a bike (bikejoring), skis (skijoring) or pull a load behind her, slowly graduating to pulling a sled or a cart, and a number of other things.

My huge boy ended being so, so helpful with carrying and pulling our gear, me and sometimes even carts with neighbourhood` kids (I had him on a leash for that, of course). I really recommend it!

Keep in mind that you need to teach a dog how to pull, very slowly, in little steps. A lot of dogs can get overexcited when they run, and you don't want a dog that will be yanking you around at high speeds. But if you start really slow and with very short distances (for example, 10 m at first, and at the end your boyfriend is waiting with her toy; then slowly build up to 12, 15, 20m, then start adding some easy distractions, and before you know it, she will understand. )

Your country has a few great canicross competitors, and you guys have the DogEpic Race, so my sense is that you should even be able to find a community to train with if you wanted to have some company and encouragement. I did it solo, and it was still super fun.
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Hello guys,

it's been a while since I posted something on this forum, because our young female dog is lovely, kind, joyful and understands all needed basics of training. But this is a big one, and I am getting depressed about it.

The problem is, that she is so perfectly good behaved at home, or in the garden. But me myself, as a small and tiny woman can't walk her outside anymore. She is pulling so hard, I get exhausted in 15 minutes. The dog is acting, I would say sometimes psychotic, overjoyed, about the stimuli all around - smells, people, children, other dogs. She walks zig-zag, panting and apparently not knowing herself what to do about the feelings.

The weird thing is, she was kinda like this before, but when the spring came this year, it's like she got new power, got stronger and more determined. Even my tall, strong and big boyfriend has problems with her now on walks, often ending up with sore muscles and being drained while trying to go for walk with her.

I ask and please for any advice. Just not the one "bring tasty treats on walks and teach her to walk at your feet", because she is not "treats driven" dog and while walking outside, ANYTHING is more important than whatever you would try to say to her, or however you would try to make her pay attention to you and stop pulling forward.

I belive this is not about excessive energy, because she is acting the same tired, or in days she gets only one go-for-walk and two one hour sessions in the garden.

Thanks a lot in advance, I would really appreciate anything.馃槦
From something I've noticed about German shepherds, malinois, dogs of that sort, they tend to be more toy than treat motivated.

Start by practicing walking nicely on the leash in your home and yard, first off. Use her favorite toy to reward her with a few seconds of playing when she does well. One of my favorite dog trainers likes to say "you need to teach them what the lead means" before you can actually really walk with them. Basically use the toy and give lots of praise when she is looking at you when she walks, and start by walking around in circles, figure eights, etc. in your yard. If she is pulling, you need to stop where you are. When dogs pull and you allow them to pull, it is reinforcing that pulling gets them where they want to go. When they learn "pull" means "stop" and loose leash means "go" and rewards, they learn how to walk nicely. Once your dog can walk nicely in your yard and home you can try in the front yard. Then on an actual walk for a brief distance. Then a longer distance. Etc.

I have been practicing this with my also very hyper and excitable chokes himself to death on the leash trying to get everywhere pug and he has made amazing progress. It takes a lot of patience and persistence but you will see results if you stick with it!!

(PS If your shepherd is not motivated by her favorite toy it could be because you give unrestricted access to toys, which lessens their value and the dog's interest in them. Make sure whatever you use as your dog's reward comes only from you, when they earn it.)
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From something I've noticed about German shepherds, malinois, dogs of that sort, they tend to be more toy than treat motivated.

Start by practicing walking nicely on the leash in your home and yard, first off. Use her favorite toy to reward her with a few seconds of playing when she does well. One of my favorite dog trainers likes to say "you need to teach them what the lead means" before you can actually really walk with them. Basically use the toy and give lots of praise when she is looking at you when she walks, and start by walking around in circles, figure eights, etc. in your yard. If she is pulling, you need to stop where you are. When dogs pull and you allow them to pull, it is reinforcing that pulling gets them where they want to go. When they learn "pull" means "stop" and loose leash means "go" and rewards, they learn how to walk nicely. Once your dog can walk nicely in your yard and home you can try in the front yard. Then on an actual walk for a brief distance. Then a longer distance. Etc.

I have been practicing this with my also very hyper and excitable chokes himself to death on the leash trying to get everywhere pug and he has made amazing progress. It takes a lot of patience and persistence but you will see results if you stick with it!!

(PS If your shepherd is not motivated by her favorite toy it could be because you give unrestricted access to toys, which lessens their value and the dog's interest in them. Make sure whatever you use as your dog's reward comes only from you, when they earn it.)
best advice yet. I would add that sometimes my first walk with a new excited dog ends up only getting the dog to learn to walk in big circle around me, which is fine- just no pulling allowed at all. Short, frequent mini walking sessions also speed things along.
Aliza--first of all, your girl is gorgeous (in your photo)! How old is she? I assume that's the dog we're talking about

I sympathize with you--her behavior sounds similar to what I've gone through with my dog, who is 17 months now and about 40% Malinois and GSD. I got her at 4 months and around 7 months she became much more energetic and enthusiastic (as well as of course continuing to grow, which made her a real handful). I'd been leash-training her and training her to heel using clicker training, and it was going really well, but once she hit 7-8 months she completely ignored attempts at training on the leash and pulled like mad. Again, like your dog, she's generally very well-behaved.

I can't offer much advice as until recently I'd actually given up on the training. (One of the reasons I could be lazy and do this is that we do our walks every morning on the beach and her recall is great, which means she's actually off-leash 90% of the time.) But it also really helped to get a front-clipping harness, which I did when she was 10 months and had already managed to break my finger pulling on the leash, not to mention pulling me off my feet a number of times. I don't find that this harness reduces her urge to pull, but it does take a lot of the strength out of the pulling, which makes it just manageable. It's allowed me to survive the last few months (probably literally--she weighs 75 lbs now).

So that could be something to help until you can get your dog trained. I know some people also use halters, though I've heard they can be harmful. Of course, she'll probably calm down some of her own accord. My dog has--she's stronger than ever and can certainly be enthusiastic, but a lot of that mad puppy edge is gone.

I like the training suggestions posted above. Never mind why it's taken me so long, but right now I'm trying to get some one-on-one sessions booked with a professional trainer to help us. Despite having calmed down significantly in the past few months, I'm still unable to make any progress with the leash manners--she just ignores me when she's on the leash. I will let you know if we make progress and get anything especially helpful from our trainer!
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PS Sorry--obviously you posted her age in the thread title!
Good morning! I had and still have a similar problem for the last few months with my young big dog but is getting much better.
What worked for me: train him basic obedience and repeat commands frequently. Walk him with the leash inside the house/yard and repeat basic obedience while on leash before going for a walk. I never allow him go outside the front door and start the walk while being super excited.So i try to burn some fuel by playing with him and rehearsing the above. If he tries to run out i stop firm and return him a few steps back , no matter how many repetitions it takes, until he goes out of the door on my command and with loose leash. While on walks i am extra vigilant about other cats, dogs or other stimuli and i hold him on short leash when passing by, not to give him leverage to pull hard. I also use a relativey narrow collar in order not to give him a big surface area to pull, i used to have him an a 2 inch one and now i use an 1 inch. In the beginning of the training i was choosing times of the day that there was not much traffic/people etc so i could have his attention more easily. When he pulls, cause he is still doing it from time to time i stand still like a wall/tree and change direction and pull him back a few steps. then stand still and when he sits down calmly and in stay position we start walking again. On all of the above i give him treats sometimes specifically in the obedience training but try not to much.
It took me 2-3 moths to see really good results that i believe will get even better with maturity. We could have had better progress and faster If i could repeat the above routine every single time in a nice structured way.It is all about commitment and of course...time.
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