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We have two dogs, one is a german shepherd mix and the other is a lab mix. The shepherd is around 8 years old and she's a dream come true when it comes to most behaviour.

Jack is our lab mix, he's nearly two years old and we only just got him from the shelter last September. For the most part he's great and we're certain he's fairly intelligent since we managed to housebreak him in two days versus the weeks it took our shepherd to be housebroken when we first got her.

Unfortunately the issue with Jack is that while he can usually learn things quickly if he gets excited it's like nothing gets through to him.

The biggest issues we're having right now with him are his barking when people come in and with walking. Whenever someone comes over he goes completely nuts and will start barking, something that's not helped by our other dog who has started barking too so it's like they feed off of each other. We try to get him to stop but he's so focused it's like there's no one else in the room.

Then there's walking and this is the one that always makes me nervous. Whenever we walk him he will pull so hard at the leash he will actually start choking himself. He will cough, gag, the whole nine yards. You would think that his self-preservation instincts would kick in when this happens but he just keeps pulling.

We have been stopping whenever he does this to try and allow him time to calm down but when we start moving he will inevitably start doing it again. We've gotten a "halti" which goes over his muzzle and while he's gotten a bit better with it he'll still pull until he starts choking, the halti will get up into his eyes, etc. Much like the above, he gets so focused that any attempt to correct him just doesn't get through.

I've only had three dogs in my life (including the current two) so I would deeply appreciate any advice about this.
 

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Look up "loose leash walking." That didn't work for my girl who pulls like a freight train after working on it consistently for months, but it works for many dogs and might work for your boy. You could try a gentle leader or a front attach harness, or I personally use a pinch collar on my girl(and she does not pull much at all in it), having tried everything mentioned above and it not working at all. However I will NOT recommend you use a pinch collar, for one as I believe it's against the rules, and for two it should really only be used as an option of last resort.
So, spend a few months working on loose leash walking and see if he gets any better, it takes consistency, but most dogs improve. If not, try a gentle leader or front attach harness, I've heard those can work wonders for many dogs.
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Thank you very much for the advice, I'll be sure to look it up. I'll have to enlist one of my siblings to help as well since we also need to work on his separation anxiety. He goes into a near panic if my mother or my other dog don't come along.
 

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SA is always difficult ...if his separation anxiety is bad, have you considered talking to your vet about fluoxetine(prozac)? It helped my old dog w extremely severe separation anxiety quite a bit. Might be something to look into.
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I wonder if you could get through to your lab with food rather than correction? Clicker training could help you with the pulling on the lead.
There's the 300 peck approach using a clicker
The 300 Peck Approach to Building Duration and Distance

I walk two small dogs and found it helped to practise walking nicely in the garden first and then back and forward on the pavement outside, they were less excited when they weren't going anywhere and it gave them the chance to get into the habit of heeling.

If visitors let you know when they are coming, have a filled kong ready for both dogs to keep them occupied until the visitors are settled. I have dogs gates and pop my two in another room with treats and them bring them in , I put Pip on a lead as he tends to try to snog visitors. i usually find that after five minutes attention they lose interest and settle down.
 

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Unfortunately the issue with Jack is that while he can usually learn things quickly if he gets excited it's like nothing gets through to him.

The biggest issues we're having right now with him are his barking when people come in and with walking. Whenever someone comes over he goes completely nuts and will start barking, something that's not helped by our other dog who has started barking too so it's like they feed off of each other. We try to get him to stop but he's so focused it's like there's no one else in the room.

Then there's walking and this is the one that always makes me nervous. Whenever we walk him he will pull so hard at the leash he will actually start choking himself. He will cough, gag, the whole nine yards. You would think that his self-preservation instincts would kick in when this happens but he just keeps pulling.
I feel your pain. When my Newfoundland, Murphy, was a year old he went out of his mind when someone came over. This was odd, because he has always been very good in public. However, when someone arrived at our house for a visit, he'd lose his mind for at least 10-15 minutes. Since he weighs in at around 130 pounds, this was problematic. For the barking when someone comes over, I recommend getting help from a friend. Have them come over, and if your dogs are usually able to come up and greet people immediately, you can try confining them to another room with a gate or something, and not allow them to greet a visitor until they calm down. If your dog is highly motivated by treats, try having your friend give them treats to interrupt the barking. If the excitement is too much for even this, then you can have your friend turn around and leave when the barking starts, and try coming back once they've quieted down. Dogs want your attention, so denying them access to the visitor will usually communicate that they're doing something wrong. If neither of these approaches helps, I'd seek help from a trainer. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to get a handle on a problem.

For the pulling, I'd suggest two things - get a vest, and get some smelly treats your dog loves. The vest is to keep the pressure off of your dog's throat. Pulling is motivated by the desire to move unrestricted, and persistence is usually driven by the push/pull reflex. If someone pulls on you, you tend to pull in the opposite direction. Once you've clipped the leash to the vest, put some yummy, smelly treats in the hand on the side you want your dog to walk on, and let him know they're in your hand. Give him a treat every 20 to 50 feet of walking. Pretty soon he'll want to be right at your side, because that's where the treats come from. After this behavior is fairly reliable, you can start varying the treat frequency. You might give two treats at once, or wait 100 feet before giving a treat. Make it as random as possible during this phase. Random reinforcement is very effective, as is shown by the popularity of slot machines. Once the behavior is dependable, you can start phasing the treats out.

At first he might get overly fixated on the treats. If this happens, wait for him to stop fixating before giving any treats. And be patient. It'll come.
 
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