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Hello,

I'm brand new here and simply joined to ask for owners thoughts on an issue I'm having with a new 10 month old rescue lurcher which has had limited training in his previous home.

He's quite calm indoors, very loving and gentle as you would expect from a lurcher. He has toys and gets walked at least twice a day, 30 - 50 minutes each time.

However when I take him for a walk he will at least have one episode of first biting his leash, then jumping up at me. I've tried folding my arms, standing like a statue and looking the other way so that I'm not taking part in 'tug' so he loses interest.
This doesn't work, he begins growing, barking and on some occasions biting my coat.

A 'drop' command does work but he quickly begins again. It's quite scary as he's almost the size of a greyhound and very powerful.

Today I took with me a tug, which seemed to work as soon as he bit the leash, but that was in a new stimulating place so he was very distracted so it wasn't the usual walk so his behaviour was actually ok.

Obviously, I'll take the tug again on his next walk and see how that goes. But right now it's making me anxious, so any advice of anyone who's experienced similar would be appreciated.

Thanks!
 

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Hi and welcome.

There are possibly three things going on here - one is perhaps overstimulation and excitement and I'd say you are doing the right things by redirecting him on to a tuggy toy, and folding your arms (i.e. engaging in the game only on your terms, with a toy rather than the leash).

The other thing may be something called extinction burst (when the folding your arms and turning away seems to cause an escalation in the behaviour). Extinction burst happens when a behaviour that used to get the dog attention no longer works for him, so he ups the behaviour and does whatever he is doing even harder, to try to get you to engage. This is actually a good thing because it means that what you are doing is working, even though he gets worse before he gets better.

The third thing is adolescence - he is just at the right age for his behaviour to be like a stroppy teenager!

I'll also tag @JudyN who I know has experience of (ahem) "challenging" lurchers .;)
 

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Hi and welcome.

There are possibly three things going on here - one is perhaps overstimulation and excitement and I'd say you are doing the right things by redirecting him on to a tuggy toy, and folding your arms (i.e. engaging in the game only on your terms, with a toy rather than the leash).

The other thing may be something called extinction burst (when the folding your arms and turning away seems to cause an escalation in the behaviour). Extinction burst happens when a behaviour that used to get the dog attention no longer works for him, so he ups the behaviour and does whatever he is doing even harder, to try to get you to engage. This is actually a good thing because it means that what you are doing is working, even though he gets worse before he gets better.

The third thing is adolescence - he is just at the right age for his behaviour to be like a stroppy teenager!

I'll also tag @JudyN who I know has experience of (ahem) "challenging" lurchers .;)
I play tug in the house with him. The drop command works quite well, I feel I can start and stop the game on my terms, without him 'winning' - he's not perfectly responsive to the command, there's clearly still work to do there.

With the leash, I feel the extinction burst theory is ringing true. I would say his behaviour has gotten worse in that situation over the 4 days we've had him.

Being a statue worked a few days ago, he'd stop - there was no game for him. He'd end up on all fours and I'd wait for a good 30 seconds of calm, then praise him, it might start again, but it wasn't a huge issue (and I frequently praise good leash behaviour throughout the walk).
It does feel like he's ramping it up and it's a bit too much to deal with. I'm 6'4", but my partner isn't! and it's a concern how he'd be with her walking him on her own.

And yes, he's like a stroppy teenager at times!, combined with limited training means he's having quite a confusing time right now with his new life and new rules.

I'll take the tug toy on his next regular walk as a diversion. I was also thinking of using a chain leash - I'd read (and I expect) they're not nearly as satisfying to bite?
 

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A chain leash would certainly be less pleasant for him but the risk is that you are addressing the symptom rather than the actual problem. Yes, it may get him out of the habit of biting the leash but why is he biting it and what will he direct his bite on to instead?
 

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Ah, yes, this sounds very familiar! My dog is larger than a greyhound, and I'm 5' tall so it was a fun time... He would grab our arms rather than the lead and we would end up covered with bruises.

What worked for us was turning away and ignoring him (I wore an old demim jacket and folded my arms in for protection), then praising when he was on all fours, so you're doing the right things. I see the behaviour as excitement/arousal levels ramping up to higher than he could tolerate, so shorter walks, but fitting an extra one in, can help. Open spaces like fields would set him off, so we clung to the edges of fields and aimed for narrow paths. This also made it much easier to ignore him as I could cling onto a fence or tree facing away from him. At one point I would attach his lead to the fence/tree and walk a way off, but that was probably a bad idea as it could have increased his anxiety and made him worse.

I didn't initially find that giving a command like 'off' helped as he was just too worked up to listen, though this works for some people. Later on it did work, but only when he'd almost dropped the behaviour and was just having a moment of madness.

Is he always on lead? If so, frustration could be a factor - when my dog was around a year, if he had to stay on lead because of an injury he would turn into a vile demon within days. Assuming you can't let yours off lead yet because of lack of recall, is it possible you could find a secure field? There's a number of resources to help you find one, such as The Original Listings Site for Enclosed Dog Walking Fields in the UK Bear in mind that what many people might consider a safe fence could be easily cleared by some lurchers.

Your dog doesn't just need to learn what you don't want him to do, but also has to have the ability to control his impulses. I like this video for training general impulse control:

The metal lead might be worth a try, as long as he doesn't find it uncomfortable (which will increase stress and make him more likely to jump up), and as @JoanneF says, there's a chance he might choose to bite something else instead...

It took a long time with our dog, but we got there in the end (he might still have the odd wild moment if he's REALLY excited but he gets himself under control very quickly). Once we'd seen him think about jumping but then hesitating, it was much easier as we knew he was making progress... even if he then succumbed to the urge anyway. However, your lurcher is very new to you and has no doubt been affected by his recent changes. Hang on in there and hopefully he'll be keeping all those paws on the ground very soon.
 

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Ah, yes, this sounds very familiar! My dog is larger than a greyhound, and I'm 5' tall so it was a fun time... He would grab our arms rather than the lead and we would end up covered with bruises.

What worked for us was turning away and ignoring him (I wore an old demim jacket and folded my arms in for protection), then praising when he was on all fours, so you're doing the right things. I see the behaviour as excitement/arousal levels ramping up to higher than he could tolerate, so shorter walks, but fitting an extra one in, can help. Open spaces like fields would set him off, so we clung to the edges of fields and aimed for narrow paths. This also made it much easier to ignore him as I could cling onto a fence or tree facing away from him. At one point I would attach his lead to the fence/tree and walk a way off, but that was probably a bad idea as it could have increased his anxiety and made him worse.

I didn't initially find that giving a command like 'off' helped as he was just too worked up to listen, though this works for some people. Later on it did work, but only when he'd almost dropped the behaviour and was just having a moment of madness.

Is he always on lead? If so, frustration could be a factor - when my dog was around a year, if he had to stay on lead because of an injury he would turn into a vile demon within days. Assuming you can't let yours off lead yet because of lack of recall, is it possible you could find a secure field? There's a number of resources to help you find one, such as The Original Listings Site for Enclosed Dog Walking Fields in the UK Bear in mind that what many people might consider a safe fence could be easily cleared by some lurchers.

Your dog doesn't just need to learn what you don't want him to do, but also has to have the ability to control his impulses. I like this video for training general impulse control:

The metal lead might be worth a try, as long as he doesn't find it uncomfortable (which will increase stress and make him more likely to jump up), and as @JoanneF says, there's a chance he might choose to bite something else instead...

It took a long time with our dog, but we got there in the end (he might still have the odd wild moment if he's REALLY excited but he gets himself under control very quickly). Once we'd seen him think about jumping but then hesitating, it was much easier as we knew he was making progress... even if he then succumbed to the urge anyway. However, your lurcher is very new to you and has no doubt been affected by his recent changes. Hang on in there and hopefully he'll be keeping all those paws on the ground very soon.
Thank you, it's reassuring to hear a similar story.
He's always on the lead, it's actually a condition of the rehoming, he can come off in 2 weeks time, by which time, or shortly after, we'll have our garden secure with plenty of room for a run around. I do get the feeling, especially at his age, he's got more energy than he's currently able to burn off. I know lurchers like to have a quick sprint which he's unable to do right now. We have beaches nearby which are almost enclosed with cliffs, so recall training will begin asap.

I have been beginning to associate it with over-excitement and frustration, he spotted a rabbit the other day and the behaviour started a minute or so after it was out of sight. And just now, we met two other dogs, he did it as soon as they'd left. It may be that the restriction of the lead is a trigger.
Fortunately for us, or unfortunately for him, we're surrounded by fields! It's rabbit, hare and pheasant central.

I understand what's been said about the chain lead, I'll take that onboard.

Do you think it's wise to use a tug while on a walk? while it was successful at diverting him earlier today, is it not playing the game on his terms rather than me deciding?

Great video, I'll be trying that for sure. He's utterly obsessed with food, so it will be interesting...

Many thanks!
 

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Check the steepness of those cliffs, Jasper once climbed one 100-150 ft high and then chased rabbits at the top....:eek: In retrospect, they weren't as steep as I thought, but if you reckon a mountain goat could climb them... be careful!

Also bear in mind that if he's off lead round rabbits, hares and pheasants, he's probably more than capable of catching one (I think there are legal implications around hares, too). You might want to muzzle train him - make sure to use a proper lurcher muzzle which allows him to open his mouth wide to pant and drink and allows plenty of airflow. But also bear in mind that some lurchers, mentioning no names, Jasper, have managed to catch and dispatch rabbits while wearing a muzzle....:mad:

I don't think there's a problem with with playing games on his terms, as long as you can overrule on occasion (don't worry about not overruling if he's too excited to listen). Dogs really don't use games of tug to make decisions about leadership, they just find it fun! The idea that you have to control everything to show that you are in charge is misfounded. In fact my theory is that because I let Jasper make his own choices most of the time (where to go on walks, what game we'll play, and so on), he's more prepared to accept what I ask for the rest of the time because he knows that I have actually listened to him and considered his request. OK, so in his younger days this involved a fair amount of time standing at opposite ends of the lead facing different directions as I waited for him to agree that my way was best...
 

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Check the steepness of those cliffs, Jasper once climbed one 100-150 ft high and then chased rabbits at the top....:eek: In retrospect, they weren't as steep as I thought, but if you reckon a mountain goat could climb them... be careful!

Also bear in mind that if he's off lead round rabbits, hares and pheasants, he's probably more than capable of catching one (I think there are legal implications around hares, too). You might want to muzzle train him - make sure to use a proper lurcher muzzle which allows him to open his mouth wide to pant and drink and allows plenty of airflow. But also bear in mind that some lurchers, mentioning no names, Jasper, have managed to catch and dispatch rabbits while wearing a muzzle....:mad:

I don't think there's a problem with with playing games on his terms, as long as you can overrule on occasion (don't worry about not overruling if he's too excited to listen). Dogs really don't use games of tug to make decisions about leadership, they just find it fun! The idea that you have to control everything to show that you are in charge is misfounded. In fact my theory is that because I let Jasper make his own choices most of the time (where to go on walks, what game we'll play, and so on), he's more prepared to accept what I ask for the rest of the time because he knows that I have actually listened to him and considered his request. OK, so in his younger days this involved a fair amount of time standing at opposite ends of the lead facing different directions as I waited for him to agree that my way was best...
Thanks for the replies, very useful and reassuring. We've just got in touch with a recommended local trainer so we'll be getting some further help and advice in the coming weeks and hopefully make walks less traumatic!
 

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Just make sure that the trainer uses force-free methods - any talk of status or you needing to be pack leader and you should walk away. Also, check that they are familiar with sighthounds. Sighthounds can be quite different to 'normal' dogs and if you use methods that might work on a 'normal' dog you can easily break their fragile brains.... (Apologies if you already know this - but one trainer once insisted I keep my dog in a situation where he was waaaaaaaay over threshold and doing his best impersonation of a bucking bronco, and I really regret doing that now. I would also walk out of a standard training class once Jasper showed signs that he was beginning to lose it.)
 

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Just make sure that the trainer uses force-free methods - any talk of status or you needing to be pack leader and you should walk away. Also, check that they are familiar with sighthounds. Sighthounds can be quite different to 'normal' dogs and if you use methods that might work on a 'normal' dog you can easily break their fragile brains.... (Apologies if you already know this - but one trainer once insisted I keep my dog in a situation where he was waaaaaaaay over threshold and doing his best impersonation of a bucking bronco, and I really regret doing that now. I would also walk out of a standard training class once Jasper showed signs that he was beginning to lose it.)
Ok good to know, thanks
 

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I had a dog years ago that did the same thing, I found that allowing her to carry a stick kept her concentrating on that rather than jumping at me.
Thanks for that, it's a good tip. I don't think my pup is too obsessed with toys / sticks, but I will try that out.
On the last leg of a walk yesterday I could sense his attention fading, so I played a game, every few minutes I threw individual pieces of his food into the long grass verges for him to search for. It distracted him enough not to have an incident, just a temporary fix out of desperation until the trainer can witness it next week!
 

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Hey, if it worked it worked, don't knock it!
I was quite pleased, actually!
I'm just aware it can't really be a long term solution, slightly concerned he'll think he gets fed on all walks forever!!.
Ideally I'd like him to see the difference between a tug toy and the lead. But he's just 10 months and still very playful - so maybe it could be a temporary tactic until he (hopefully!) settles and gets out of his stroppy teen phase.
 

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Sounds like an over excited teenage dog wanting to play. I'd know because I have one. Mine can get quite physical when he's over excited (or over tired).

Does he enjoy training? Mine is quite food motivated and LOVES to work with me. I've also found the ONLY way to tire out my crazy teen is mentally. He will wear me out physically before he even bats an eye.

If he likes training, I might suggest incorporating it into your walk. Maybe some heel training, or some "sit", "let's go", "sit", "down" "let's go" and so on. It will get his mind focused on something other than "OMG A WALK!" plus it's a chance to reward him and make it positive, rather than getting in the habit of "on walks, I bite the leash and jump on my humans" after a bit of this, you can throw a treat in the grass and say "go find". He'll need to sniff for it, again using his brain and focusing on something else. As he gets tired, he'll likely start walking better on his own, at which point you can just periodically treat him for good behavior.
 
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