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Our Border Collie puppy is called Ben. He’s 7 months old and a gentle, very affectionate boy. 

 

He’s never shown any aggression to any people, or to other dogs and just wants to say hello to everyone he sees. 

We probably made the mistake of letting him off his lead too early, before he was ready. This seems to now be manifesting itself in poor behaviour when he’s on his lead. It’s autumn now here in the UK, so during the week it’s dark in the morning and going dark by about 4pm in the afternoon. So my options are more limited, and I’ve got to take him on walks using his lead on the local roads in the week. 

The problem over the last few weeks is as soon as he sees another person, or another dog he becomes excited, wants to stand there and watch them. He starts jumping up, biting his lead and biting my arm (doesn’t hurt, but then I’ve got a big coat on), even when they are out of sight this behaviour continues. But the trigger is him seeing them in the first place. 

We had a dog trainer for him, and she suggested I pull on his lead and tell him no, but all this does it makes him angry and he growls a bit and bites the lead and my arm more. The only time Ben seems to get the slightest bit angry is when we tell him off! 

So shouting at him and pulling his lead clearly doesn’t work. I’ve found that when he starts biting the lead if I stop the walk and stand on the lead eventually he stops and we can continue the walk. But he still does it a few times on every walk. Any advice to stop this behaviour? 

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He's gorgeous!

I'm finding there isn't really any quick fixes, things like 'pull on the lead and say no'  sound like they should almost instantly change a behaviour but they don't. There seem to be a lot of variation on 'show them whose boss'.

Do you use treats to train? If so, could you start rewarding him for good behaviour as soon as you see a person coming? Our boy is also 7 months and does backflips on the lead at traffic.  To start with we had to ask him to go down, and stand on the lead, and rapid fire treats as each car went past. Now we're improving on that by walking and dropping a treat every few steps when there's traffic so he's focussed on us and the treat rather than the traffic. I've also started to do more lead walking on our off lead jaunts, so after a few throws of the ball he goes on the lead but as he gets so bored quickly I walk a few steps, ask for a down, tell him to walk on, change direction, ask for a sit/wait, walk away from him, return, walk on together, drop a treat every few steps which he has to snuffle for, ask for a down, let him off again. I think this is helping when we walk near the traffic because if he starts looking tense at the traffic and is losing interest in treats I can ask him to do those things. I also carry a ball in my pocket, if I'm struggling to keep his focus I pull it out and it's suddenly like the rest of the world around us just melts away, reserved for when nothing else is working.

We're also in the UK and got a fantastic light up ball from PetsAtHome which glows really bright in the dark, we also got a small keyring light which we clip to his harness and it means armed with a torch for ourselves we can still take him for off lead time in the dark because we can see him and his ball glowing. He's just not able to do sensible lead walking for more than about ten minutes on the roads yet. Maybe we'll be ready for that next winter, when I got him I really believed I'd be gently walking round the block twice a day with a sensible dog pottering by my side :lol:

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We have a nearly seven month old and we haven’t let him off leash much yet he still does this. Very similar situations too. He’s fine on quiet trails but every time we turn round to come home or if we meet too many people or if we are on a busier road he does this. I call it his anxiety biting and this is what I do. 

I crouch down next to him, hold his scruff firmly (like a firm control) and have a little calming conversation with him. Then I clip the leash onto the front of his harness and get him walking really close to me in a calming mind of way and then once he is calm again and we are free of distractions I clip the leash to the harness point on his back and let him loose leash or be on the flexi if we are on a trail. 

If this follows the leash biting that he does when we turn round on the walk then it usually takes just the one calming session. If he’s really wound up I might have to repeat a couple of times. 

Interestingly if we do a ‘round trip’ walk (as opposed to a ‘there and back’ walk) he still sometimes reacts when we are half way round, even if he hasn’t been on the walk before haha! 

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Very similar looks to my six month old but mine has freckles. Also in UK and the dark nights are here. I never really had a problem with leash biting as I think he quickly learned the leash meant walks. My wife has a problem with him pulling at the moment and has asked me to buy him a Halti collar with the bit that drops down under the chin. He seems to have different behaviour for my wife and I. When I walk him he tends to start off pulling slightly but after a few times of stopping and asking for better behaviour he tends to stop pulling me. I ask him to stay with me if he starts to creep ahead and he rarely will get beyond the end of his leash.

He will sometimes freak out at simple things, a plastic bag in a tree last night, but he will calm down fairly quickly. As for traffic I spent a great deal of time walking him along roads and getting him used to traffic. Cars no longer seem to bother him. I am very reluctant to let him off lead as we still have a lot of work to do on recall.

Hope everything works out well for you.

Brian

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First, run don't walk away from that "trainer". That person knows nothing and will only give you bad advice. 

Second, I would very much recommend to you a book called "Control Unleashed". If you follow some of the protocols in that book you will see good results. You can also look up online "Look At That Game", which is from that book, and find posts describing how it works.

I would work with the dog a great deal in places where you will not see other people at all, until you have spent several weeks working on holding his attention and getting good leash manners in your own yard or another place you can have in private, if at all possible.  You can then start the "Look at that" game with the help of only one other person, not a bunch of them as in a park or sidewalk. As the dog learns, you can make it two people, and build up from there. It's not a good idea to start to train better behavior in an area where there are a lot of people, because it is too distracting and can overwhelm the dog, making it impossible for him to pay attention to you. Always start small, and take little steps so that the dog can have success.

I do not recommend making him go down and stepping on the leash, or holding him down by the scruff of the neck. That will likely result in the same violent reaction and attempt to bite through the leash. You need to train the dog to control himself, not to control the dog by overpowering him.

Using a halti harness or similar device with a puppy is in my opinion not the best way to train the dog to have nice leash manners. These dogs are very smart, and he will know when the harness is not on him and may act up then. It is far better to train the dog, carefully and persistently, to walk nicely on a loose leash. This training will last a lifetime if it is consistently reinforced, and you will have a dog who simply knows how to behave, rather than a dog who must always be managed with a device.  

Remember that what you want is a good working relationship with your dog, not a "I'm the boss/alpha, and you must obey" kind of relationship. The former may produce a dog who will do as you command out of fear of the consequences if he does not, but the latter will produce a dog who sees you as a benevolent leader who provides protection and enjoyment, and will obey because good things come to dogs who obey. I know which relationship I would rather have.

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Hi, thanks for all of your replies. 

In response to the last post, yes I feel that the dog trainer wanted Ben to fear me, and I don’t want that. 

I’ve stopped shouting at Ben, or doing any of the techniques she advised. He’s only been doing this behaviour for two or three weeks anyway. I will try lead training in the garden too  

When I stop and stand on the lead he doesnt bite it, presumably as he doesn’t see it as being attached to me in the same way. He just stands there. But often with that technique as soon as we start walking again the lead biting starts. 

One of the replies suggested going down to his level, holding him gently by the collar, not in an aggressive manner and having a quiet chat with him! Oddly, this worked the best. He seems to stop quickly and starts wagging his tail. We can then move on quickly with the walk. 

He he had an off the lead walk on the farm yesterday mostly in the dark, which we enjoyed. This morning he had a road walk on his lead. We had two incidences where he saw people he wanted to say hello to, but couldn’t as they were dressed smart for work. I did the ‘quiet chat’ trick with him and we moved on from it. 

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I’m glad the ‘little chat’ worked haha!

And yes it doesn’t have to be a harsh hold. I liken it to having a firm touch on a child’s shoulder when you are telling them that you’ve had enough of their silliness for one day :) 

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Someone recommended people do this when their cats acted out when they came home after their holiday (I don't remember who, she was a cat expert). Just explain to them why you had to go away and how much you have missed them. She explained why she thought it worked so well. It is not that the cat (or dog) understands your words, but when we talk we use much clearer body language than when we use body language without speaking.

I thought this was a really interesting idea.

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I have had experience with this with my terrier. On more than one occasion a talk in a reasonable voice has changed his behavior permanently or for several months.

I always explain things to my animals. I don't think they understand what I am saying but I believe they get a sense of it in some way and it definitely helps enough of the time that I keep doing it. At the least, it cannot hurt.

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