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This is long, but the gist is that I have a high prey driven dog that's easily distracted and overstimulated. Every time we move to a new place, it's like starting at square one with the training. I'm at my wit's end and don't know what to do.

I have a Border Collie/Australian Shepard/Munsterlander mix, so there's a lot of strong herding/hunting instincts in there. He's anxious and has a high prey drive. He gets overstimulated easily. He can't be off leash because he doesn't come back, and he can't go to dog parks because as he got older he formed a distaste for other large dogs. I don't have the money for private training (we did some a while back, and it was useful until we hit a wall) or agility. So without a consistent back yard (we move a bit) his options for energy exertion really only are the walks. However, I'm beginning to hate our walks, and am even brought to tears of frustration on an almost daily basis at this point. He KNOWS the commands, I've seen him do wonderfully, but he just gets distracted and doesn't hear/see a thing I say. No food/toy/praise appeals to him more than whatever he's preoccupied with. I can literally put the treats (which we use JUST for walks) in front of his nose and he turns away, like I'm just in the way of what he's looking for.

Let me first say he's always been a nightmare when it comes to lunging at squirrels and occasionally at other dogs when we walk by them. The dog lunging seems to be more if he's already overstimulated/certain breeds, but the squirrel/rabbit/etc lunging is constant. I've tried a front lead harness and a regular harness, and neither has worked for him as far as stopping it. If anything, I felt like the regular harness made him pull more.

We've moved a lot in the last year, and as an anxious dog, I don't think that's helped. But we've always moved a fair amount since he was a puppy, and while I expect some adjustment period, I feel like this isn't normal.

However, before this last move we had heal/look on walks down really well (mostly by jogging instead of walking) and save for a few squirrel instances, things were good. With this new move, it's like we're back at square one, and it's like this with EVERY move. And it doesn't just take a few days or a week for him to adjust it takes MONTHS. So every time we relocate, it's months of re-training over and over as he gets distracted by all his surroundings all over again, and won't just focus on me. Like I said, no amount of high value treat/praise/toy/harness seems to help. I'm at my wit's end here, to the point I don't even want to walk him because it's just miserable, and I feel like when we move, we're just back at square one anyway. Please help?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, that was an interesting video! I'll have to try out some of these techniques. The only problem is my dog usually isn't at all interested in treats in these situations (so it seems I would have to back up to as far as he begins to be interested) and that it seems EVERYTHING is a distraction. This is why the turning and walking on the opposite direction method doesn't usually work for him, is he just find something interesting in the other direction to be distracted by. But I'm eager for new tools to try, and this video definitely provided some.
 

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I totally feel your pain! My dog is the same way. I started a thread a little while back that might help you:
http://www.dogforums.com/dog-training-forum/323546-totally-overstimulated-outside.html

Basically what I have discovered is that I have to require polite behavior and not accept anything less on a walk. If that means we don't get more than 20ft from the car, then oh well. The walk needs to be calm and in control from the moment he gets out of the car.

The foundation work I did was working on "penalty yards" in the house with treats. I spent a couple days teaching him that he could only get the treat on the floor if he kept the leash loose. I thought he understood this, but not nearly as well as I assumed. Trying to do penalty yards outside with distractions was a mess and just made us both frustrated, but it helped immensely to really review this at home so he had the skills. Then when we took it outside he had something to fall back on instead of just getting more and more frustrated.

I do use treats on walks, but much less than I did and much more appropriately. Now he only gets treats if he's already being polite and calm and paying attention. I'm not trying to bribe him anymore with "look! I have treats! will you walk nicely!" because then he could choose to ignore the treats and choose acting like an idiot. Now he has no choice. If he wants to go anywhere and see anything he must do it on my terms, and only once he is engaged with me do the treats come out.

It has worked wonders for us. He's not perfect, not by any means, but our relationship has improved so much. Now he begs me to practice precision heeling outside, when previously I couldn't get him to heel outdoors ever. We have also done walks on a harness and flexi and he didn't pull at all and responded to me when I called him. He still flipped out when he saw a deer, but he didn't flip out the entire rest of the walk so I'll call that progress.

I just chose to stop fighting with him, and got serious about removing him from the situation and not letting him have access to the environment if he wasn't behaved. I thought this would mean he got less exercise, but 30-60min of hard brain work tired him out, even if we only made it 20ft from the car those first few sessions. And it only took a week or two to see a huge shift in his behavior that enabled us to take longer walks and allow more freedom occasionally. And honestly, he seems so much happier on walks now. Instead of frantic obsessive hyperactive quartering and sniffing, he trots along next to me with a smile on his face, and when I do allow sniffing he is relaxed about it and still responsive to me.
 
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