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Discussion Starter #1
This is a really annoying thing that Kasper does, and we don't know how to work with it. It only happens occasionally (once every week or two) which is why I guess we haven't mentioned it sooner, but it's very frustrating when it does happen.

When on his lead, Kasper sometimes will turn around and grab it in his mouth, growling and pulling and essentially playing tuggy with it. He goes mental at these times and won't respond to commands, a toy or a treat. It's impossible to wrestle the lead from him, and if you try hold it behind his head where he can't get it he lays on the ground and tries to snap it in his mouth. He jumps up at these points, leash in mouth and pulling at it like crazy, trying to catch more of it.

This usually happens as a reaction to something else. If he's on a lead and a dog goes past, if we're taking him in a direction he doesn't want to go, if he's just going out to the toilet and not for a walk. He doesn't do it every time one of those things happens, just sometimes.

We've tried spraying the lead with some bitter stuff, to no effect. We've tried giving him commands (such as sit, wait) and rewarding him, this works sometimes (rarely) but most times he's too fired up to listen, or when we carry on walking he starts again. We can't just let him off the lead because that way it's rewarding his bad behaviour and he needs to know not all his walks (eg. toilet walk or if we're going somewhere) can be off-lead.

How can we avoid this, and what should we do when it happens? It's so hard to try remain calm whilst he is yanking on his lead, chewing it and flinging himself up at you! My arm's covered in scratches because he did it on his toilet break today and I wasn't wearing any sleeves. The amount of time it lasts varies; sometimes only a few minutes, others for as long as it takes to get back to the house.

Thanks for any advice :)

Red
 

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Hmmm. Sounds pretty frustrating.
I would say you have to make it so he doesn't want to react. He's reactive to dogs? Start counter conditioning him, change how he feels about dogs, before he starts reacting.
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-behavior/reactivity-leash-aggression-barrier-frustration-12538/

As for reacting when you have to change direction, make changing directions fun. Teach him in a low distraction area at first. Walk him, change direction saying something like "lets go" or "this way", and when he walks with you in that direction, reward. Practise this until he happily changes direction. When your out in the real world, do this and reward with an extra yummy treat. This would be helpful for out on potty breaks. He may not get to go for the walk, but he can get a food reward, and he can get to play a game when he gets back inside.

For when he does react. Well I'm not sure. The only time I've ever seen a dog tugging on a leash was my brothers puppy. Had to confine her to an area near me, but had no crate, so tied the leash up near me. She wanted to leave, so she kept biting the leash. I simply ignored her (After the first time this happened I started giving her some chewies she liked to keep her entertained). I'm not sure if just stopping, and waiting for the dog to stop would work in this case.

I'm sure the other members can offer some better advice.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Thanks for the reply :)

Sorry I didn't make it clearer, he's not reactive to other dogs (well, not aggressively so), he gets frustrated in this case because he's on a lead and he wants to say hello and play with the other dog! It's worse if the other dog's off-lead and he's on, it more often than not happens then. I've read the reactivity thread and it's helpful, thanks for pointing me to it! I'm still not sure how to make him focus on me when giving commands to make him stop, though. Once he's wired up he won't pay attention to me, treats, toys...

That's a good idea to start giving him treats as soon as he's been to the toilet, when on a lead for a toilet walk, before we start heading back to the house. That way maybe he'll be too focused on getting the treats to start biting the lead.

It does happen when he gets frustrated and is in the right mood to start attacking the lead...so if I take a turn to walk back to the house along the road and he wants to go to the field, he will start doing it...it's just that you can't tell when he's in the mood or what's going to set him off!

Red
 

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To be honest... I wouldnt do anything. Stop walking, dont look at him don't tug the lead, be a tree. If his goal is walking and going some place than stoping doesn't reward him. By engaging with him during these episodes your reenforcing it, much like sYing "no" to a puppy who jumps. Try the tree out and see if it helps any...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks all for the replies :D

The problem is that it's not always obvious what he's reacting to. Sometimes he will just do it totally out of the blue and we won't have a clue what sparked it. And with him lead chewing after he's seen other dogs when he's on his lead etc, it only happens 1 time in every 20 or so.

He's improving a lot with other dogs, greeting them calmer and less boisterous / rough playing. He's also more willing to walk away from them when called. When he's on a lead and sees another dog, will the LAT game not just make him focus more on them?

We will try being trees when he begins behaving like this out of the blue, I can see that me yanking the lead and trying to get it out his mouth will probably make it fun for him! I'll let you know how it goes, and we will begin treating him when walking back from a toilet break to try avoid the behaviour too.

Red
 

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It really doesn't sound like a traditional case of reactivity, the not knowing what's going to set him off or when would make lat training very difficult. I still stick by my suggestion of "being a tree"
 

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I think red can be a tree if the dog reacts, but lat is great to simply teach the dog to auto redirect his attention to the handler in sitiations he is unsure of. :)
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But if you don't know what or when the reactions going to occour you can go "just" out side the reactive area which is the foundation of lat
 

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Just a thought, you could always try walking him on a harness.
A rear connector will be harder for him to grab and pressure on his body will have a calming effect (versus pressure on the neck which tends to ramp dogs up even more).

Don't worry about increasing his arousal with LAT. What you are doing is counter-conditioning his emotional response (frustration it sounds like) to increase his self control and make him less frustrated, not rewarding his reaction.
 

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You don't specifically have to start with the trigger. You can play lat with everything & it gives the dog a foundation for redirecting to you in any unsure situatuon as well as giving the dog confidence & positive feelings about various things he'll come across on walks. Anywho, I just think it's a good practice for any insecure dog on walks. :)
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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the replies all!

I understand the LAT game more now and we'll start working with it.

militant, he has a rear fastening harness and, even when he had his Bite Not collar on, he still managed to get the lead in his mouth!!! He jumps and turns, really quickly, and continues to spin and fall on his back until he has it in his mouth >__<

So yesterday Kasper cut his foot and had to have a horrible time with a vet fussing and hurting him, and then on the walk home he was bandaged and not allowed to go for a walk = frustrated biting lead time! It started first as soon as we came out of the vets (we made like trees and it worked as he got distracted by other people) and again as we were walking past the field where his walk usually starts, so when he realised we were going back to the house.

This time he was serious about it. We were there for about 25 minutes before he realised we weren't just going to let him off-lead. We tried to be a tree, but it was hard because he was getting himself all tangled and managed to make his harness backwards...there's going to be a LOT of frustration these next few days seeing as we're not allowed to walk him! :(

Red
 

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I have came across this quite a few times...lead 'ragging' is a common occurrence in rescue centres where dogs are very under-stimulated and frustrated. It can dangerous- I've had a couple of 'bites' from dogs jumping up to bite the lead, but mis-judging it and getting me in the process.

A few things to try:

1) Re-direct onto a toy (although I know you said it doesn't work). Try using a super-new tug toy. Buy it, show him the toy for a few days without allowing him to interact, play with yourself, then when he lead rags, offer him the toy and make a controlled game of it.

2) A chain lead. Many dogs don't like to bite a chain lead and will stop as soon as they do. However, there are obvious problems with this, like if your dog decides he does like to bite it!

3) Strengthen the 'drop' and 'leave' commands- make them fun and game-like

4) As others have said, the LAT game. At the times he usually does it, reward (or c/t) for all the time he doesn't do it.
 

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Hmm, ok, 2 more suggestions.
First, if he is building up to this level of frustration on walks, maybe some more intense exercise before a walk would be in order. How is he off leash? How's his recall? Are there any fenced parks or sports fields in your area that you could just drive him to and work for a while with a game like fetch or frisbee? Where I live, the bi-laws allow dogs access to sports field when they are not in use in the morning and evening . . . that is, if someone doesn't padlock them in the off hours :p. Do you ride a bicycle? Have you ever tried running a dog with one? How about trails?
One of our dogs is a crazypants (well, two really, but the boy's too young yet to be as energetic). A leashed walk, for her is just an obedience behavior. It's nowhere sufficient to tire her out. :)

My other suggestion would be a head halter. I'm not a fan of them in all situations (especially for fearful or aggressive dogs) but if this is just frustration behavior it might be a good way to make it impossible for Red to get his mouth on the lead and it will give you a lot more control.
Because the head halter is more restrictive, I always recommend conditioning the dog to it first before you use it on walk.

 

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Discussion Starter #16
militant, yeah, it usually happens very rarely because he gets A LOT of exercise. He has at least 2.5 hours off-lead exercise a day, in different locations, and usually much more than that.

However the other day he injured his paw & ankle (since I started this thread) and has been restricted from walks. We were told not to let him move much at all, keep him lying calm in the house (ahaha what?!) but thankfully at today's vet appt they said he can walk and be let out to the toilet etc but still no actual walks.

So he's restricted to a few 15 minute walks a day. We let him off-lead for about 5 - 10 minutes, the rest is on lead...the result? A very frustrated dog. Today he chewed the lead about 8 times (bearing in mind this usually happens once every few weeks). We ignored him and, if we sensed it could be about to happen, we praised his good behaviour and gave him treats.

For the most part the ignoring worked really well. About 6 times it stopped him doing it within a minute, which was great. The other two times he was really not happy (not only was he on lead in a place he's usually off, but he also saw some dogs he didn't get to play with) and one bout of tugging and chewing lasted for about 20 minutes. A walk that should have taken 15 minutes took us 45 :mad:

But hey ho, if his foot continues healing well, we'll be able to take him on longer walks soon, building him up to his usual. When that happens hopefully it will go back to being a rare occurrence, and then the ignoring / tree tactic will work very well.

Rottiefan, we're going to look into getting a chain lead. I'm not sure how well the tug toy would work as he may start tugging on the lead just to get the tug toy! There was a dead magpie at the side of the footpath once, and he learnt that whenever he went to the right in that spot (he wasn't even interested in the bird) we distracted him by throwing his tennis balls...he was doing it weeks after the bird had gone and we'd stopped chucking the balls :p

Not sure if it would work like that, we could definitely try it if all else fails!

It's been a loooong day today! :eyeroll:

Red
 

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So I called Kasper "Red" in my last post and now I am full of "the shame." :(

I know they mean well, but I have to laugh when vets say "no exercise."
It's like really? Have you ever actually tried this? Did you still have a house after?
:eyeroll:

Rottiefan had some great suggestions.
In order to prevent him from learning a chain of behavior that means biting the leash = a tug toy, just watch his body language (you're already doing this well) and get him on the tug before he starts going for the leash. At the same time, give him the tug for lots of other random good behavior on the walk. Then he'll never build an association of the tug meaning something specific.

I'm glad Kasper is healing well. :)
 

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I would honestly suggest a head harness for him. They do not hurt the dog but then he can't bite the lead either. Don't know if you all are familiar w/ the show 'It's me or the dog" but the chick on that show did something w/ a dog like that...might try looking her up on youtube or something.
 

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I didn't read the whole thread, but has anyone suggested putting the behavior on cue? and then only ask for the cue occasionally or never? Or doing extinction through reinforcement where you reinforce heavy for a while and then stop and the dog goes on strike?

I do this with alot of the self reinforcing annoying behaviors that I don't want...its outside the box.



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