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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
eta... i just realized there's another thread super similar to mine that's very recent! whoops! I'll definitely be keeping an eye on that thread as well!

I have a 5 month old labrador retriever... I'm curious on how to work on certain situations, the last time I owned a puppy I was 11yrs old, I realize he's still a puppy, and everybody we meet out and about has told us he's extremely well tempered and behaved for a young lab.

He's got the basics, sit, down, stay, come, leave it, etc (and a couple tricks, like high five and spin, roll over is next i think! unless anybody else has some cute suggestions! hehe)... we're still working on sitting and laying down from a distance, he's starting to grasp sitting from a distance, but its definitely a work in progress.

Anyways my question is with on leash work... we bring him EVERYWHERE with us, so when we go into town we are confronted by many new people and dogs... And typical lab, he LOVES everybody and wants to go say hi and play and visit and wiggle and such haha. How should we be working on him passing (and greeting) new people and dogs without getting so excited (he doesn't jump on people, and he approaches dogs very respectfully... so that's good...)? We've started using treats in these situations to distract him and keep his attention on us, we'll ask him to sit if we're standing there, or give him a treat once he passes without saying hi... but his attention is definitely not anywhere near consistent... If it's a new person/dog, he might pay attention to us for a second, but then his mind is on this new exciting friend, and I'm not quite sure how to handle getting it back once it's gone?

Maybe it's just a question of finding tastier treats? I'm not sure... he is very food motivated, but he seems more "oooh new people! how exciting!" motivated haha.

With people and dogs he already knows, it's not a problem at all. It's also not much of a problem off leash at the dog park (even with new dogs and people, his recall is very good). It's on leash he's determined to meet and greet the world.

Suggestions on what we should be doing?

It's not a giant problem, I feel like it is getting a bit better with his age & consistency... but I want to make sure we're on the right track with this.

Yes, we're going to be going to obedience class... but right now the trainer we really want to work with is only available when both me and my bf are working, our schedules will be changing soon... but in the meantime, I'd love some tips.

Thanks!
 

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It sounds like you're on the right track, and that he's actually doing pretty well! :) He doesn't jump on people and he approaches other dogs respectively, right? It's just that he's excited?

He's a 5 month old puppy, lots of 5 month olds aren't doing as well as yours, so be grateful about that! One thing you can do is teach the "look" command. That way, when you see another dog/person, you can give the look command ahead of time, about the same as you're doing with sit. Except with look, the dog has to actually look at you instead of the other dog or person.

However, once he's got his attention on someone else, and he stops responding to you, the best way to deal with it is to move him far enough away so that you can get his attention and focus back on you. If he's super excited, and beyond listening to you, then he's really not in the frame of mind to learn anything, so move away, so you take that distraction out of the equation.

So, it's not necessarily a matter of finding tastier treats, although that might work, it's also about moving away from the person or dog if he's beyond responding, so you can regroup.
 

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Sometimes I wonder if this is how leash reactivity and leash aggression develops, innocent puppy behavior goes unchecked and becomes innocent but scary and/or nuisance adult behavior.
 

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I dunno...I never used treats to train any of my dogs.
I do correct their behavior with vocal commands and praise...
I would also let a 5 month old puppy act like a puppy and socialize them instead of making them avoid situations.
Then gently and firmly correct them for unsocial behavior such as jumping.
At 5 months old , puppies are very curious and need to explore, and thats a good thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yeah I realize he's a puppy, we definitely keep up on socialization ;) I guess maybe just keep up what we're doing and realize it's more puppy behavior than anything?

My main concern is when I lose his attention and he just has no regard for us and pulls on the leash, and he's strong! He's a sturdy 55lb guy. New friends are much more exciting than mommy, he see's me all day lol. And I don't want this behavior when he's 90lbs either! He doesn't jump on people at all, and he greets dogs very well (he's been around a TON of dogs, and thankfully has had big and small teach him to respect his elders!), but that doesn't stop him from wanting to meet and greet so badly that if we're within maybe 10ft of somebody new, I lose his attention in a flash, and he's trying to pull me to visit.

I do think he's a very good doggie citizen, I'm proud of my little man and what we've accomplished so far together (and I'm not biased or anything ;) hahaha).

I just want to make sure I'm headed in the right direction, and if not what steps I could or should be taking.

Thanks everybody! I appreciate all the replies :)
 

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Yeah I realize he's a puppy, we definitely keep up on socialization ;) I guess maybe just keep up what we're doing and realize it's more puppy behavior than anything?
Him growing out of it is contingent on whether or not he's rewarded for pulling. If he gets to meet & greet everytime he starts pulling, he will continue doing this his entire life. Normally my approach is to teach the dog that dogs & people are no big deal, so that they're nothing to react to. I don't need dogs running up to each other on leash, I don't see much to gain out of that interaction, but I do see more issues that can arise - such as your issue you're having now, with leash aggression being the ultimate bad result. Also, you never know how the other dog will react. It's not natural for dogs to meet on leash, they're body language gets forced unnaturally by the leash restriction. Typically polite dogs greet sideways, on leash dogs greet face to face, and it's easy to incite excited behavior this way. By excited, I don't mean happy, I mean anything that can result from an elevated state of mind, including growling and barking.

The good news is that it seems your dog has a good sense of what to do once he gets there. It's up to you, if you want him to continue meeting other dogs on leash, you'll probably want to teach him that they only way he can get there is by paying attention to you and walking calmly. This kind of method usually falls under the category of impulse control training.




My main concern is when I lose his attention and he just has no regard for us and pulls on the leash, and he's strong! He's a sturdy 55lb guy. New friends are much more exciting than mommy, he see's me all day lol. And I don't want this behavior when he's 90lbs either! He doesn't jump on people at all, and he greets dogs very well (he's been around a TON of dogs, and thankfully has had big and small teach him to respect his elders!), but that doesn't stop him from wanting to meet and greet so badly that if we're within maybe 10ft of somebody new, I lose his attention in a flash, and he's trying to pull me to visit.

I do think he's a very good doggie citizen, I'm proud of my little man and what we've accomplished so far together (and I'm not biased or anything ;) hahaha).
You're kind of putting a humanized interpretation on his behavior, just to let you know. If he pulls to get to something, a trainer interprets that as "certain triggers cause pulling" where your interpretation is, "new friends are exciting". Whether or not you think he's a good citizen is irrelevant. If you want the behavior to stop, you can do something about it. In my view, I see over excitement as anti-social. Over excitement creates a nuisance, and if someone is a nuisance, they lose their privileges because nobody can stand them. I think you have a pretty simple case, your dog is good at interactions, he just needs to learn impulse control.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you, your post was very informative, I appreciate the time you took.

Typically we don't end up going up to these people or dogs that we pass that he's pulling to get to. Unless we're specifically headed towards them anyways to talk to them or something. These are just people/dogs in passing, and I typically don't stop or let them greet. But attention is lost quickly, and pulling starts if they're close (think like opposite sides of a path or sidewalk). So he's not getting rewarded in that way.

You mention how this behavior could escalate or we don't know how other dogs will react, which is definitely why I want to work on this now... but how should I be working on it exactly?

Is using treats to reward him when he goes by/sits calmly if we're standing there the right way to go? I wonder because most the time he doesn't walk by calmly or sit calmly for more than a second, and I don't want to reward him for the pulling. Maybe I should be giving him treats at each second that he walks by as we're walking? Decrease the time between grabbing his attention and receiving the treat? Which would result in tons of treats with his attention span at those moments... lol.
 

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I dunno...I never used treats to train any of my dogs.
I do correct their behavior with vocal commands and praise...
I would also let a 5 month old puppy act like a puppy and socialize them instead of making them avoid situations.

The thing is, as qingcong stated, greeting on a leash isn't usually a natural thing, as it puts them head on, PLUS, many dogs feel restricted by a leash, as if they can't protect themselves if needed, and develop a bit of leash reactivity. And, even if they don't have a serious issue of leash reactivity, many dogs don't behave normally when they meet on leashes. There are many instances on DF of people who have said their dogs are way more polite when greeting dogs when they are not on leash, and many say they don't even let their dogs greet other dogs while on a leash.
So, I wouldn't say not letting this puppy greet other dogs while on leash is avoiding situations.
And, bottom line, if this dog gets so excited that he isn't responding at all to his owner, he isn't learning, so back up a bit so that he can get his focus back. You don't have to remove him from the area completely, just move away a bit.


Then gently and firmly correct them for unsocial behavior such as jumping.
At 5 months old , puppies are very curious and need to explore, and thats a good thing.
I agree much of this is puppy behavior. But, moving away from other dogs isn't avoiding, especially if you do some redirection when you do move away, such as ask the pup for a "look" and then have him watch the other dog from a few feet or so away, maybe more. Also, you can always move him away, get his focus, and then try to get closer. You don't have to just avoid it completely.
 

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You mention how this behavior could escalate or we don't know how other dogs will react, which is definitely why I want to work on this now... but how should I be working on it exactly?
Here's a link describing how to teach your dog to greet people politely, it's a sticky right here on top of the this forum. For greeting other dogs, it's kind of a similar concept. Note that you can't try to pull off this training procedure in real life. You need to practice with a friend first and get your dog up to speed, so that you can actually do it in real life. Then if you are able to do it in real life, you can maintain the behavior if the dog is fluent enough to do it in all situations. It's just like how you don't teach someone to play piano by handing them a sheet of music and throwing them in a recital. You have to practice first before you can perform it.
http://www.dogforums.com/dog-training-forum/5291-training-dog-greet-politely.html




Is using treats to reward him when he goes by/sits calmly if we're standing there the right way to go? I wonder because most the time he doesn't walk by calmly or sit calmly for more than a second, and I don't want to reward him for the pulling. Maybe I should be giving him treats at each second that he walks by as we're walking? Decrease the time between grabbing his attention and receiving the treat? Which would result in tons of treats with his attention span at those moments... lol.
Yes this is correct, if you do this method, in the beginning you'll want to use a high rate of reinforcement. The thing with this method is, it's a management technique, it's not actively teaching the dog to politely greet people. So if your dog is not fluent yet at greetings, you can use this kind of management method to keep excited behavior from escalating.

The other thing I do is, with my dog, if he starts staring for more than a second, he becomes fixated. When he's fixated, all bets are off. So instead of allowing him to fixate on a target, I teach an alternate behavior of "look at target-then look up at me". It's a kind of "leave it" I guess, but he's doing something more specific than simply "leaving it". You can consider teaching an alternate behavior in the presence of a trigger so that your dog is not excited by the trigger, rather he looks to do something when he sees that trigger.

As you can see, it takes a bit of forethought to undertake a behavior mod program.
 

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It sounds like you have gotten some really good advice here, but I would like to add or emphasize a few things about training many dogs and had 2 Labs. Labs are people friendly. So, that is something that may not change. As any puppy, they are very curious of everything in the world.

Walking around and seeing all these people is really exciting and stimulating for them. It is only natural for them to want to approach the thing, so you want to change a little bit on the behavior to get the dog to stop pulling. I would do is ether do a "sit" or a "look" command to draw the dogs attention to you. That way YOU give the approval to approach people or dogs and not the other way around. If the dog does approach, then keep on walking and not let the dog approach.

You may even want to want to do what I call power walking. This means walking. No sniffing, No watching, No peeing, No pooping, etc unless you say it is time. Just go and don't stop, until you want to stop. This says to the dog, that you are the boss here and when I say you can do something, I will let you know when it is time to do it.

You can also, when your dog starts to pull, because you caught the behavior late, start walking in a different direction. You want to get your dog to start looking at you again, so that you can then issue a command to "sit" or "look".

I have done this before on a busy side walk, is to make the dog sit and stay there. Try and keep their attention on you while all this is motion is going on around you. When the dog turns to look at someone else, say "look" to bring the attention back to you. When they do, treat or praise. When they start to just watch you and ignore everyone, then let your dog approach people. I even made a sign that I put out saying, we are in training, please do not approach or touch dog or me without asking.

The one thing to always remember with training a puppy, is there attention span is about 2 seconds and training should only last no more than 2 minutes long and then progress longer as they get older. Go do something else and then go back to the training. With Labs, when they turn 2, watch out. The fun really begins. They don't mature until at least 3.

I don't want to scare you, but behavior, like this can escalate into bad behavior if it is not corrected while young. I commend you for trying to fix this now and not later. I have seen that and it it not fun to fix.
Some people are going to say that this is cruel to the dog and not good advice, but dogs are pack animals and you, spouse and the dog are a pack. In my opinion, in ANYTHING you are doing with your dog, YOU want to be the BOSS or the LEADER and what the BOSS or LEADER does, so does the pack. They naturally understand that. I still have to be reminded of that from time to time. I have been very successful with this method of training.
 

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This was posted in another thread. Kikopup goes over some basic concepts on rewiring your dog to be calm in the presence of triggers. Skip to the 2:20 mark.

 

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Discussion Starter #12
All these responses are wonderful, thank you!

We've begun working using some of the methods mentioned above, and i can already see an improvement in his reactions. I think it'll be a little while until we've got this down pat, but the consistensy and me being more sure of what I'm doing and why is getting us there :)

Thanks again! I'll try and update in a couple weeks with progress :)
 
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