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Forgive me...this is long.

So, about a year and a half ago, a close friend bought a pure-breed Great Dane from a breeder. A few short weeks later, he was offered a job that moved him out of state and wasn't able to keep the dog. He knew I had wanted a dog for awhile and so I took over. He was about 3 months old I'd say at the time.

Fast forward to now. He's gotten quite large (as expected) and is hovering around 135 lbs. He's been neutered. Here's my issues though.

If I'm at home, I am able to get him to do basic commands like sit, lay down, shake, etc. I have a pretty large backyard so we spend a good hour or so playing outside after work. I hadn't really taken him out and about to parks, etc. We had dogs growing up but never really did parks, etc. Just local neighborhood walking and so I wasn't really aware of how much socialization a dog needs especially at the beginning. Now I'm paying the price.

He gets really excited when people come over and as he's gotten larger, I've noticed more and more the need for good obedience training. He doesn't jump on people (and thankfully never has) but he hops around people and it's pretty easy for him to bump into them. However, he hadn't been aggressive at any point and was more interested in playing with visitors. So, I enrolled him into obedience classes which started this past Monday.

I simply wasn't prepared for his first obedience class. He spent the entire hour pulling and jumping at the dogs within the class. It doesn't help that all of the dogs in his class are all small little puppies so I'm scared to death of him hurting them trying to play with them. I had treats with me but he simply was not interested in them whatsoever and literally spent the entire hour pulling. I have blisters and sores from the leash rubbing against my fingers so forcefully and often. However, his pulls were never accompanied with any sort of sounds.

Trainer suggested a prong collar so I wouldn't spend the whole class trying to restrain him. So, next day, I picked one up and decided to test it out by first having my roommate walk around the corner in the yard and then walking to a family member who lives a few blocks away and having her wait outside. He jumped the first time with the roommate but stopped and hesitated from that point on. Went to my sister's and he didn't pull during the walk (although I'm having the hardest time getting him to walk next to me instead of trying to walk in front of me) and was quite well behaved around a group of 5 or 6 kids that decided to run up while we were walking. So I felt like I had seen the light. I was mistaken.

Yesterday, I decided to take the plunge and walk him along one of the local trails. He tried to run towards every person that passed although still hesitated a bit at the end of the leash. However, any dog that passed, he jumped full force regardless of the prong collar and even growled (I had never even heard him growl until this happened) at the last 3 dogs. That was the point that I turned around and went home feeling frustrated and afraid that my dog would be relocated to being a private dog with only human interaction and even that is a bit offputting if he insists on running at people. I brought treats with me to the park (and even a different one in case he wasn't into the first treat) and he ignored them completely.

I was quite embarrassed at the first class and just have a feeling that next class is going to be another repeat with me walking away feeling frustrated and in pain. I really feel like I failed my dog by not doing obedience classes right off the bat. He's a great dog (doesn't every owner say that?) but can this be fixed? I'd never get rid of him and I want to be able to take him out and about without stress but is it too late?
 

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it isn't too late, it is just going to take a lot of time and PATIENCE (on your part). Consistancy is key. You can't just give up on walking, keep doing it, and everytime he does something good, even a little itty bitty thing praise and a treat! Don't give up just yet.... I think you might be expecting too much too soon. Rememebr that you just started training. Patience , lots of love!

You can get through this!
 

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You're not a bad owner...just lacking some of the training techniques. Here's a short list to work on:

Start teaching him that YOU get to meet and greet other people/dogs first...he has to wait...preferably by sitting politely for petting until you've said Hello.

You cut his access off to other people and dogs by stepping in front of him...make him sit/pay attention to you. You'll have to be quick...watch him for the first sign of arousal and get in front of him. Praise and treat for calmness and attention to you. At first he will want to try and look around you/get around you/not pay attention to you...that's normal...just keep at it
 

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You probably won't believe me for a few months, but his excitement at meeting people and dogs is actually a very good thing. For one thing, it's a lot harder to teach a fearful dog confidence than it is to teach an excited dog self control. Second, you can use that excitement itself as a training tool - people & dogs take replace food as the reward for good behavior.

You'll need help from others to do it right, but start by approaching another person/dog from a distance. The second he starts to get excited, turn him around. You don't have to physically push him around (and you might not be able to anyway, given his size), but you can body-block him into a different direction. A gentle leader can help redirect him, but given his size & temperament, I'd worry about damaging his neck. A no-pull harness (that clips at the chest instead of the back) does the same thing without hurting the neck, but remember that it's only a tool. You eventually want him to change direction because that's what you're telling him to do, not because you're pulling him there.

It's going to take a while, and your hands will hurt like heck, but eventually, he makes the connection - "If I stay calm, I get to meet people/dogs. If I get too excited, they go away."

The other thing you want to teach is good doggie manners. When introducing a new dog, introduce from the side. Be sure to avoid face-to-face contact - lead him directly to the other dog's butt (or vice-versa) from a 90-degree angle. Let them take turns sniffing each other out before letting them play. An infraction makes them go away - he only gets to greet a dog if he's polite.
 
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