His bad behaviors are getting worse... :(

For the past few months now, Odie has taken interest in cars, motorcycles, other dogs, etc. while we are on our walks (he gets 2 walks per day). It has gotten to the point where we have to drive him somewhere, where we know there will be no cars driving by and no other distractions... because he barks LOUDLY and pulls HARD on his leash. I have a harness that I use, for my own peace of mind, to pull him out of harms way... I have tried just about everything I have read about... but there is absolutely NO distracting Odie when he focuses in on a car, motorcycle, etc. I've tried turning him around, offering him treats, teaching him "leave it". My husband says that maybe he's just going to be this way... does that mean I have to get used to this? I've checked into local trainers here on the coast, but they charge an arm and a leg (and not sure how good they'd be) and I can't start him up on a program with PetSmart in Portland, because once the winter weather really hits, I won't be able to drive there on the black ice!

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

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Comment by Lisa and Odie on September 23, 2010 at 9:28pm
This has all been good advice... I want to thank you all very much for your input! I think, for now, I'm just going to work harder on the "look" or "watch me" command until I feel comfortable enough to get him closer to walking near cars again... Until I can find a good trainer (I may have found a more "local" trainer, waiting for some information...)
Comment by Sarah C. on September 23, 2010 at 6:45pm
have you considered a head harness kind of collar, like a gentle leader?
Comment by Bax & Zigs & Rosie on September 23, 2010 at 1:24pm
Jane's 180 walk away is what I would try. Keep him on a really short lead and stand in between him and the car. His head turning and barking while walking away will stop eventually. If there is an area you can practice this where there is a spot where you can walk him over to that would take him out of sight of the cars might be helpful too. My dog pulls when there is something he wants, but I still just pull his leash in close and drag him away. As we are walking I usually say something like "Pay attention" to try to get him to keep his eyes forward. If it's really really bad, I would say just pick him up and walk away until you can lessen the behavior enough to try it with him walking on the leash. Although I know my dog hates to be picked up, so he sees that as a punishment. I think whatever you decide, it has to be consistent for him to really understand. It will also take a lot of work if he's been doing this for a long time. Just be patient and I'm sure you'll both do great!

As bad as this sounds, I encouraged bad "car reaction" behavior in Baxter: every time he saw a car, he loved to run as fast as he could after it (staying on the sidewalk of course and always leashed.) Usually at the point in our walk where he would see cars was near the end when he'd be dragging butt. So we'd chase the car together. Eventually this got to be him wanting to run after every car he saw. If the street was busy, this meant me running with him after cars over and over. Thankfully he responded well to my, "No, don't even think about it" command meaning just let that car drive by. Now when a car comes by and he's in front of me, he just looks back at me to see what I'm thinking about the situation.
Comment by Beth on September 23, 2010 at 10:25am
You need to work on getting him to look at you EVERY time you say his name, or a command like "look".. You do this by starting at home with no distractions. Say "Odie!" in a cheerful voice and then say "yes" and treat. Do this multiple times a day til he looks at you reliably, then move on to outside with no distractions. Then you start introducing the distraction from far enough away to not trigger a response. Say his name, "yes" when he looks and treat (you will need to reduce his food and use small high-value treats).

Gradually decrease the distance between you and the trigger over time, and say his name and get him to look at you BEFORE he reacts. Release him with "ok" and then get him to look at you again.

The goal is that you get this behavior ingrained and gradually reduce the distance to the distraction. It's easier to prevent the reaction than bring down escalation that's already started.

If need be, after spending LOTS of time on this, you can carry a squirt gun and squirt him in the face to distract him, then say "Odie!" or "look" and reward, praise, treat when he does.

Good luck! Remember, you train AT HOME and gradually move to introducing the problems; you don't train where the problem is.
Comment by Bev Levy on September 23, 2010 at 7:59am
The "look" or "watch" me command needs to be learned before you attempt cars etc. I taught our crazy doberman (we got her as an untrained adult) by using it at feeding time and just randomly during the day and believe me she is not the sharpest tool in the shed! Try googling dog training in your area. Maybe there is something closer to you. When walking if you persistently do this when you see a car etc before he reacts you should be able to change his focus. Try chicken or hot dog pieces, they are very tasty! Corgis require patience because they usually think they know better...Lol!
Comment by Renee Kovacs on September 23, 2010 at 7:56am
The interest in cars is a definite deal-breaker with a potentially horrific end-result, if not corrected. I also had this problem - would seem an obvious influence of the herding instinct. Rather than avoiding the issue, I took to walking along the nearest busy road - and didn't allow so much as a twitch of the ear to go un-corrected. I fortunately had a good 'leadership' role already going, and all I had to do was a slight tug to the leash and my "eh!" sound to refocus my dog back to me, and OFF the car(s). I set my expectation in MY head first, then assumed that expectation of him - that he would ignore his instinct to chase them, respect their space, and stay in 'migration' mode with me leading.

Since there are no sidewalks where I live, I walk on the edge of the road and move to the far edge when a car approaches. In no time, I had Ed doing the same - rather than just stopping one behavior, I managed to replace it (instinct to chase converted to moving AWAY to the edge of the road).
Comment by Jane Christensen on September 22, 2010 at 11:32pm
I believe the prong collar may make a big difference in his behavior but with having it fitted to him and learning how to put it on. I have only seen this 2 x's once a German shorthair and once a rescue...there were immediate results with the walking....he will not be pulling you with this but it won't stop the barking.
Comment by Lisa and Odie on September 22, 2010 at 11:03pm
Thank you Christy!!! I will put these on my Amazon wish list for sure!!
Comment by christy fry on September 22, 2010 at 10:51pm
I have 2 books through DOGWISE.COM these are there publications are are very good books =)
1. Chill Out Fido...How To Calm Your Dog this book covers..Author- Nan Kene Arthur
A. The Interrelated factors that can cause your dog's over-active behaviors
B. The impact that diet can have on your dogs inability to relax
C.The Basics of modern positive training
D. How to reward your dog for relaxed behaviors
E. Step by step exercises that deal with the most common situations where dogs have trouble staying calm.
2. Fiesty Fido...Author- Patricia McConnell and Karen London
This book covers leashe reactive behaviors and includes tips for preventing trouble, and evective methods for handling emergency situations.
Maybe one of these books can help!! =0
Comment by Lisa and Odie on September 22, 2010 at 10:11pm
I bought a choke collar, but only used it once because it made me feel so bad! He's not very "food" motivated, so treats don't grab his attention. I've tried the "watch me" and "look" commands, but believe me, when he focuses on a car, he does NOT lose that concentration... there isn't anything I can do. I have tried standing between him and the car, he just moves around me. I've tried turning and walking the other way, his head, neck, and eyes still follow the car (and he barks). I don't let him get way in front of me when we walk, but he is just a little ahead and to the side. I've thought about getting a squirt bottle, or sitting on a street corner while cars go by to "desensitize" him, and really, these are the only 2 things I haven't tried yet... I will try PetSmart again if he doesn't start to get any better...

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