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hi! recently adopted a 2 year old spitz mix... kind of looks like a jindo or akita mix but i am not sure. his name is bread and he is around 2 years old, about 35lbs (trying to get him to eat more!!) and he only has 1 eye.
bread is mostly a good dog with a great demeanor, he is very mellow, soooo loving to me, shy with new people but friendly, grows to like new people with time. good with dogs 1 on 1, especially female dogs, wary of new dogs at the dogpark (mostly, i think, because he is overwhelmed by the quantity of dogs and smells), not really aggressive (he will use warning growls and snaps w dogs at the dogpark if he is nervous, but he has never bit a dog, and never growls at humans). anyway, all around good boy, he may have been physically abused (once my very tall friend raised her arm to make the "sit" gesture, although dramatically high for some reason, and he cowered as though he had been hit before). he is very smart and learns quickly.

anyway, he is great except he barks at and lunges at cars when we are walking thru the city when he is on leash (i'm sure if i walked him off leash, which i would never do in the city, he would also lunge and bark). this makes walking him very stressful (obviously) for both of us.
he seems to lunge and bark because he is afraid and overwhelmed, and the more sensory inputs there are, the more undesirably he behaves (for example: rain, loud wind, multiple cars, more noise, NIGHTTIMe is especially bad because he only has one good eye and the headlights, im sure, are very alarming for him). he is especially bad with large vehicles with diesel engines, motorcycles, bicycles and (unfortunately) baby strollers. he is much better in the daytime then at night. his response worsens as he becomes more overwhelmed (i know this because when we first leave the house, he is calm and not pulling, and progressively pulls more and more). and once he gets going on barking and lunging at cars, it is hard to get him to stop unless we go home and try again later(but.... i have been able to postpone the barking and lunging til later in the walk at times).

anyway i haven't had him very long, but i have tried a couple of things:
walking him tight to my left (his good eye on the outside) with a cloth choke collar (i don't know what this is called, but it is flat cloth, not metal and no spikes). training him to "hold" and saying "good boy" when he doesn't pull, and keeping him moving when a car passes, saying "good boy" when it passes and he doesn't bark . he does pretty well like this but a lot of the time i think this is because he pulls and is unable to bark when the collar tightens, and also i was told that this may encourage a bad demeanor in dogs that have been abused, and i don't want to do that to him (or me).

the 2nd thing i tried was walking him with a harness tight to my left, this was worse, he pulls and doesn't respond well to cars, even in the daylight.

3rd thing i've tried is walking him w a harness but loosely, i find that if he is not feeling trapped by the leash and harness, and able to sniff and smell things along his walk he notices the cars less, but i am concerned because i was told spitz-type breeds need to be shown that you are the leader, and allowing them to walk in front of you is allowing them to assume leadership (although i wonder, if i am tight enough with his other training, i will still be leader in our relationship and i can forego the tight walking of him) and i am also concerned because this does not solve his fear problem and he may still lunge if he becomes distracted from his smells, or is with someone else, or god forbid gets out and just runs into the street lunging at stuff.

4th thing i've tried is stopping completely, making him sit (this is difficult in the day time, i have to push his butt down, and would be impossible in the nighttime, as he is so overstimulated he cannot hear my commands), sitting down next to but behind him so he can watch the road, rubbing is chest and back and telling him "its ok, its ok, good boy" and telling him "good boy" whenever a car passes and he doesn't bark. this has worked pretty well, but i don't know enough about dog body language to know if i am stressing him out SO much by touching and being near him in this way that he has completely shut down to the point where he won't bark at cars, or if my body language is OK and he is actually responding well. i guess if you guys give me the OK on this i will sit outside w him for a few hours a week (although it sounds insane, lol) and provide treats as cars pass, and hopefully overtime this will alleviate his fear .


any other suggestions are very, very welcome. i have only had him for about a week so i have not gone too, too deep in any of these methods, and i am sure that is completely confusing him, so i'd definitely like some advice in a good direction to solidly go in, for his sake and mine!!!!!
thanks so much!!!
here is a link to a pic of bread if you are curious: https://www.instagram.com/p/96rMsox7yq/?taken-by=spideretc
 

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Congrats on the new dog! He's very handsome!

Dominance training is outdated and debunked. Don't worry about him thinking he's "in charge" if he walks in front. It's totally ok to let your dog walk out in front of you if you want. Whatever works for you guys. Mostly I let my dogs walk in front and sniff as long as they aren't dragging me, but I also expect them to be able to walk right next to me if needed in a crowded area.

Is he food motivated? I always bring high value treats along when walking a new dog so I can reward when they are in the right position, and reward for calmness when a car or a bike or a person goes by.

One thing I do is mark (either with a clicker, or the word "yes") when the dog calmly looks at something they might react to. So see a dog in the distance, yes! and give a treat. The dog learns that these things appearing mean yummy treats from you and eventually they will look to you automatically.

Your last idea, to just sit with him quietly and give him treats as cars pass, is a great one! Sometimes dogs need to sit quietly and process things at their own speed to really relax about it.

A really good training resource is KikoPup on YouTube. I would also recommend an in person obedience class with an instructor who uses positive methods.
 

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i guess if you guys give me the OK on this i will sit outside w him for a few hours a week (although it sounds insane, lol) and provide treats as cars pass, and hopefully overtime this will alleviate his fear .
I think it sounds like you are going in the right direction with him. I quoted the above section because I think that's absolutely the direction you should take. Here's why:

Walking him where he can become overstimulated and self-reinforce those behaviors while ignoring you is most likely only going to escalate his issues. You can only train when the dog hasn't reached the point where their triggers have taken over their entire brain. So taking him repeatedly to areas where he seems overwhelmed isn't the best way to achieve what you want.

Firstly, since you've only had him for a week, if you can find a low stress area to walk him (a field or park nearby) without foot or auto traffic, I think you should go there for now. Give him time to settle down, get used to you and his new environment. You can also use this time to practice basic commands "sit/lay down" in an outdoor setting where there are minor distractions.

After you've had him for a little while, at least a few weeks, and he has made some progress on your outdoor basic commands, I think you should enlist the help of a friend who will drive slowly up and down your street, or find a spot on a bench near a low speed limit area without a ton of traffic. Work on sit, lay down. When you see a car coming (or when your friend drives by), ask your dog to sit and hold up a tasty, high value treat to keep his attention. If he doesn't react to the car, reward with praise and the treat. If he does react, get up and move away from the road, then ask him to sit again when he calms down and reward.

You don't need to show any dog that you are the "leader". You need to reinforce good behaviors. I personally don't like my dogs walking in front of me, but it has nothing to do with "showing them I'm the leader" and everything to do with being able to walk them in a controlled fashion.

I don't like the idea of crouching next to a an anxious dog and doing comforting chest/back rubbing in order to keep them calm. I personally think that enforces "you're nervous, I'm comforting you and acting differently than I normally would, therefore there's a reason to be nervous and keep doing what you're doing". Other people might have a different perspective on that calming technique, however.
 

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I admit, I didn't read all the previous posts carefully... but I have to ask exactly what "kind" of harness are you using? As I've never owned a back clip harness, I won't say they definitively encourage pulling. I will however say I have only ever used front clip harnesses, and they definitively discourage pulling ahead and lunging. With a front clip harness, when the dog pulls forward he effectively ends up spinning themselves around to face you, not very reinforcing as they aren't getting what they want (to move forward), in fact they get the exact opposite and end up facing you! (Just bc I'm silly, I always say "well howdy" to my dogs when they have spun themselves around, lol) The BRILLIANCE of the front clip harness lies in the fact that the dog is correcting himself, so no bad feelings involved!

Another possible solution is teaching a "watch" command as outlined in Feisty Fido, by Patricia McConnell and Karen London (I think). Instead of other dogs being the problem area, insert cars.

If you are suspicious, heck if you have any kind of compassion for animals, I recommend starting on the positive end of the training spectrum and only move into the aversive end if the behavior/situation demand it! If you get stuck, and I mean REALLY stuck (like you've tried all the positive techniques for at least 6 weeks, consistently), Ted Kerasote outlines RESPONSIBLE use of aversive training methods in life and death situations in his books, Merle's Door & Pukka's Promise (ie. dogs chasing very large, very wild animals).

Note: generally, I do not advocate aversive training methods. With the exception of situations where a) the owner has made good faith efforts to manage the behavior in line with positive training methods and b) there is genuine potential for the dog to lose it's due to a behavior.
 

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Harnesses don't encourage pulling, they just make it safer for the dog. Consistent pulling, or even one really good lunge, can damage delicate structures in the neck, including the thyroid, hyoid and spinal cord. So for safety's sake, I recommend harnesses. What type you use- front clip, back clip, H, step in, etc.- is really what works for you and your dog. Pet Smart has a great return policy, so if you have a new dog and need to try out a few different harnesses, I'd recommend at least starting there.

I'll second checking out kikopup (and zak george) on youtube/facebook. They have great videos for all sorts of situations. I'd also look into BAT/LAT training, it's designed for reactive dogs like yours, OP. Above all, stay patient. He's been through a lot, he's new, he's overwhelmed and as you say, he's otherwise a wonderful dog. Give it time.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
i wrote a huge reply yesterday but it got deleted! anyway:

thanks so much everyone for the advice! me and bread have been training very hard! i got the no-pull harness yesterday, and that has been a huge help. thank you!
so far, our routine is to see how far we can get without barking and lunging using the no-pull harness and the "look at that" treat technique. things have definitely improved since i first got him, a lot i'm sure because he is becoming relaxed in his new home and city... but also, bread is very smart and learns very quickly.
today we sat outside at the taco place which is along a busy street, but behind a chain link fence. bread sat with me and we watched cars go by and he didn't bark at all! it is much easier for him to not bark when we are sitting, as opposed to walking. i think something about walking along side a moving car bothers him. i still can't really pinpoint what it is about cars that upsets him (besides some being noisy in a certain way). anyway, he has really improved, i can barely believe it! sometimes he will even just give a woof and not lunge at all, which is fine by me, i just don't want him jumping into traffic!!! mostly for his sake!!!!
he is also getting better at listening to me outside the house! i can't believe it. he is really a incredible dog.
anyway, let me outline our routine and if you guys see anything that needs adjusting please let me know:

walking with bread, if a car/bike/whatever passes in the distance and he notices it i mark it by saying "it's ok" or "yes" or "look at that" and give him a treat if i am quick enough, or just say "goodboy,goodboy" if i am too slow on the treat
if a car passes and he does lunge, he twirls around cuz of the harness, i make him sit, and we wait as more cars pass, marking the cars and giving him treats for not barking (i am concerned that this process might reinforce the initial bark/lunge... as in, he may think, "if i bark and lunge, she will make me sit and then i can get many treats" ---is this a possibility? or does he just associate the treats with cars passing and not barking, and not the whole segment?)
then when we get home i give him a good pet!
and i guess that's it!
thanks everyone so much for your advice. it has been very helpful!
 
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