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Hi all, I'm new to this thread and I have several issues with my dog that I suspect are inter-related so I though I would start a thread in order to present the whole picture and hopefully address these issues both effectively and efficiently.

My wife Pim and I got our first dog together in December of 2011. I've lived with dogs before with my family but my dad was always the master. Our dog Winston is a 4 year old Poodle/Bichon Frise (turns 4 on July 10). He came from a loving home where the daughter who was the main care giver was off to university and the parents were not able to give him the attention they felt he deserved. He had one previous owner as a puppy but we don't know anything about that relationship.

Now that we have had Winston fore half a year now we are in need of some help. Winston is a very smart dog and is able to be taught new skills/tricks very quickly and easily. I suspect he is so smart that he is in fact training us.

For the first couple of months my wife was at home with Winston all day. The two of them became very closely attached almost instantly. He is also close to me but certainly more so with Pim. Then, after two months, Pim had to go to her home country for 6 weeks. When she came back he became even more attached to her.

Before and while she was away he was very easy to walk. He seemed to enjoy it and walked nicely with a loose leash most often. Even still he always seemed to have issues with some other dogs and some humans which is an ongoing issue I will address later. It never seemed to be a problem that wasn't manageable when he was happy to just walk away.

Since Pim's return when I take him out he just wants to do his business and then return to the house. He resists any idea of a walk by sitting and "putting on the breaks". I have tried to pull him to no avail and I have tried to lure/reward him with only brief success. At the same time his propensity to bark and lunge at some other dogs (not all and usually bigger dogs) and a few humans for that matter has increased.

We feel that the root of these issues is the leadership role as he sees it combined with the large amount of affection he receives from both of us. We try to establish leadership by making him wait for things like food and going out or coming in the door. He is good at this but it doesn't seem to affect the other issues. Also, with the walking when we all walk together he is great. When we do this he does pull on the leash occasionally and when he does this we try to train him by stopping when he does and wait for a loose leash before going back to the walk.

All of the things we have tried have done little to change our two big issues of refusing to walk when it is just one of us and bark or lunging at some other dogs and a few humans.

Any advice on this will be greatly appreciated. We are considering getting a head halter like the gentle leader but we are not sure if this is the way to go.
 

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This isn't a leadership issue. That's called dominance theory and it's long debunked. Your dog isn't trying to show you who's boss by not walking, he may be ill, and he sounds quite fearful.

So, first a visit to the vet. Any change in behavior requires a vet visit. He could have thyroid issues or painful joints.

The lunging sounds like fear. He's scared of people and other dogs, so he acts threatening to make them go away. You deal with this by desensitization and counter conditioning. Go to YouTube and search "kikopup look at that". It's a great way to help a dog like yours.

But first, the vet.
 

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Thanks for the thoughts Amaryllis. It is interesting to learn that dominance theory has been debunked. I wasn't aware of that. The only reason we haven't gotten to the point where we have gone to the vet is because Winston is more than happy to take nice long walks when it is both Pim and I with him. We have had him off leash as well in secluded areas (no other dogs around) where he has run to his hearts content.

I went to kikopup's youtube channel and searched for "look at that" but couldn't find a video with that title. Am I missing it or is there another video title I should look for? There certainly seems to be a lot of useful videos on that channel.
 

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The three of us went for a nice walk last night. We found an open area where Winston was very actively playing in a way that did not indicate joint pain. The only time it looked like he might have some discomfort is when we were walking at a normal pace and he was pulling against the leash. He is only 18 pounds so the pulling is very manageable for us but this discussion made me think that it might have a very big effect on him. I also began to wonder if the stress he is causing himself by pulling on the leash is causing him to want to avoid the walks.

As for thyroid issues, would there be any symptoms of this I could look for?
 

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You might try a different kind of lead/collar to help with the pulling. They have some great "gentle " leads on the market . I havent had to use them but know people that had good results.

Oh and I also have a bichon/poodle mix ( poochon) and she is a very odd little dog !!! Definitly has an attitude and has me trained very well !!
 
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