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Hello friends,

Jenny will be a year in a few days so I guess this is still the best place to post this problem. She is the third golden we've had over 20 years and never have we experienced this issue. I hope someone can shed some light on what the issue is.

For your info, we are a family of three adults and Jenny is closest to our adult son who gets the brunt of the problem. My husband doesn't have much of a problem and I cannot walk her at all due to the behavior. In the following description I am using the experience my son has with her even though some of it is in first person. Thank you for wading through this!

The problem: Jenny has bouts of leash reactivity while out on walks. The issue has evolved a little bit over the past 6 weeks. It started with her snapping at the leash about 75% through our walks (between 1-2 miles on average). She'd snap, bite, and growl at the leash and would NOT give it up. It's almost as if she became possessed, complete with a crazed look. Generally, she would do this for about 2 minutes and then drop it and continue walking normally, as if nothing happened.

A trainer went on a walk with us and taught us a move to STOP the behavior when it occurs, which is to hold Jenny between our knees and then hold the collar behind her head so she can't get to it. No pain or force. It does stop the behavior but it hasn't done much to PREVENT it.

Things we've tried:

1) She used to walk on a Halti. She would still have her freak-outs but they would be limited and only last 2 minutes. If she were to walk on her flat collar they'd be much longer and more intense.

2) She's currently on a Martingale. When we switched her, the problem initially got MUCH worse, but it has ALLEVIATED over time. The issue is I don't feel she's anywhere near the point where we can say "oh, she's getting it!"
3) Standing still and letting her have it out

4) A squirt bottle with vinegar water

5) Dousing the leash in Bitter Apple

6) Using a chain leash. She quickly discovered that she can just go for the nylon handle and bypass the links. Then she discovered that if she can't go for the leash she can just go for our clothes. This is currently where we are.

7) Tons of mental stimulation. One theory is that she's either bored on the walk or needs more interaction from us to keep her busy. I'm giving her more commands on the walk (sit, stay, wait, come, leave it, look) as well as at home. While this has led to great improvements in her all around behavior, it hasn't done anything for the reactivity.

8) Letting her carry a tennis ball home. If she's in the mood to carry one this works fine. But she's not always in the mood to carry one.

9) Clicker training. Again, this worked great for her all around manners but hasn't worked as well on the reactivity.

10) Solidifying a "leave it" command. She knows "leave it" and knows it well. While I'm trying to establish it even more so she'll leave the leash/my clothes alone, it seems that if she wants to go for my jacket, she's going to do it. Thus far it's had minimal effect.

If I catch her looking up to me with mischief in her eyes, I can work to diffuse the behavior before it happens with commands and keeping her busy. But sometimes she just loses it and goes into her shtick. Her behavior around the house has greatly improved and some of these methods we've tried have done wonders for Jenny and we've seen good things out of her across the board, but this is still an issue. She's not as intense as she once was with it, but it's a problem.

Any thoughts would be much appreciated.
 

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hahaha mine does this as well... Usually, if I'm not going fast enough or stop to chat to someone and he wants to get going.

To stop it: I make him sit, drop etc. Give him a treat and then continue.

I use a harness when I walk him (as I personally hate the gasping sounds he sometime makes when he pulls). The Harness works very well IMO, giving greater control. He walks better on the harness then he ever has when connected to the collar
 

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My girl used to do this. Mainly, she outgrew it.
I did have some success with the following:
When it starts have her do some basic obedience (I did puppy push ups-sit down sit down) to reset her. Then when we start walking again I would do some different paces-walk fast for 10 steps, walk normal for 5 steps, walk in slow motion for a few steps.
 
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She's being a bratty teenager. If the trainer you used wasn't really helpful, I would really find a different trainer to work with that can come observe and give you some help. If you don't have her in a training class, I really encourage you to get in one, it's amazing what basic training can do for general behavior.

I agree with the suggestions of going into training mode and asking her for sits, downs, or other commands she knows when she starts this.
 

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Is she hurting the person?

This was such a problem with my first dog - the leash tugging and biting stressed me out so much and i used a lot of the same things you've done. Ultimately it got worse and worse and happened for longer periods and with greater intensity. When I finally gave up and stopped caring it got a lot better.

With my dogs since then - I've had great instructors who taught me how to play with my dogs and how to use the excitement and naughtiness for good behaviors. I now -love- when my dogs do this tugging on the leash (as long as it's not more than one at a time!). I'll encourage it, and then ask for an out/drop it, signal him to bite the leash again, tug tug tug, ask for a down, then cue him to bite it again...tug tug tug. And usually he's ready to stop before I am.

I think that by learning how to play and use the enthusiasm it wasn't as concerning to me as with my first dog. And I think with my first dog I made it worse by creating conflict (dog biting the leash initially out of wanting to play - but then it kept turning into a 'fight' and I was unpredictable to him!).

It lasts for such a short period - 1-3 minutes like you said - that instead of fighting my dog for it, I find appropriate ways to encourage it.

When I meet with people who are not strong enough to handle the dog when this tugging starts then we come up with other plans -but in the comfort of their homes (and safety!) or backyards we do learn about playing together - many dogs will learn to adapt to playing tug gently with the humans who aren't up for the roughest variations.

One of my favorite memories is from a few months ago when I went with a friend and our dogs to Central Park - at one point one of the dogs asked to play this game and then the other one wanted to as well. So both of us were there, in the park, on a horribly cold and windy evening, playing tug-the-leash with our so, very, very happy dogs for a few minutes. And then we were back to walking in the bitter cold, enjoying our adventure with the dogs. We probably looked so silly and foolish. Both dogs enjoyed the same game, and I can't stop smiling every time I think about those few minutes!
 

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Henry used to do the leash biting and even take a jump at the back of me at around the same age. Then I read here in the forum somewhere of someone giving the advice of then walking fast as if you had to catch a bus but still in a calm way, which more or less ignores the behaviour and focuses the dog on walking fast with you. I don't know if it will help you, but it helped us and within a few months the teenager antics stop anyway.
 

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For what it's worth, our Sasha was the same way from about 8 months or so. Similar behaviors: grabbing the leash, jumping at us, growling, barking, biting at our clothes. Sometimes there were triggers, sometimes nothing. We worked with a trainer on it, who suggested she might be bored with the same old walk every day, recommended the usual: treating good behaviors, trying not to get angry or tense, standing still and ignoring her. We finally just cut back on walks and switched to playtime in the yard (fetch, working on recalls, playing puppy ping-pong) in the late fall when she was almost a year old. When we picked up walking again (after the intervening winter), it was like night and day. Relaxed walking, loose leash. She still gets jumpy on rare occasions, but we can get her sitting in a matter of seconds, and the walk continues.

This probably isn't much help, but they DO grow out of it.
 

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Is she only biting at the leash? Then in that case, I might let her have at it.

I'm in the minority about upping the commands, because I think the behavior is a stress reaction. She's probably tired of all the commands or the neighborhood is too stimulating. Some dogs might scratch, some might check out. Others go bananas.

Casper very occasionally wants to play tug of war with the leash. Sometimes I play back and sometimes I drop the leash and ignore him. He gets the message pretty quickly. However, he's also 3 years old, so we have a lot more training behind us.
 

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My puppy is 5 months old, in his sweet, obedient puppy phase, so I can't be sure how he will be when he's Jenny's age, but he does this all the time. I think I would just let her "have it out" as you mention in #3. It doesn't PREVENT IT as you are asking about, but it works for me stop it pretty quickly.

My puppy always does it when we're on the way home from a walk, and within a few steps of our door. I used to try a lot of tactics that you mentioned but ultimately what works best for me is to turn my back, and completely ignore him like he's not there. I don't allow the leash to have any give. He quickly gets bored of it. Sometimes he starts it up again as soon as I turn around, and then I repeat the ignore. If he's really amped up and has a crazy look in his eye and starts growling, I give him a firm, strict "NO" right in his face. Whenever I do that, he stops immediately and looks depressed, LOL. Then I comfort him and it rarely happens again for that walk.

In addition, a lot of times after I ignore him, he will stop the tug of war, but then he'll trot forward carrying the leash in his mouth. He does this a lot. He seems to enjoy just carrying it around. I just let him, haha.

In the beginning when he was very young, I was really upset about this and tried everything to stop him from doing it. It seemed to amp him up more, so now I find that just ignoring him and then proceeding like no big deal is the easiest and calms him down the fastest.
 
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