Welcome to PetForums

Join thousands of other pet owners and pet lovers on the UK's most popular and friendly pet community and discussion forum.

Sign Up

2 Reactive labs, help!

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by TwoLabs, Aug 25, 2013.


  1. TwoLabs

    TwoLabs PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2013
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi All,

    Background info:
    Well I have two lovely Labradors, both males. One is 3 and a half and the other is 2. The 2 year old is actually my brothers but for personal reasons we now have him as they did not have the time for him so he is now ours. Both neutered.

    The problem:
    My 3 year old is reactive on lead with other dogs, will bark, lunge and is a massive pain! He is a very big Labrador and even with a gencon is really hard to control when he does this. The 2 year old also does this but is worse, however he is smaller so is easier to control, but he will also do this with just people aswell as dogs. Walking both of them is a nightmare! My 3 year old has got better as been doing "watch me" but still bad.
     
  2. PennyH

    PennyH PetForums Senior

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    673
    Likes Received:
    12
    Can you take them to training classes to do some socialisation?
     
  3. Dogless

    Dogless PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2010
    Messages:
    39,244
    Likes Received:
    713
    I would do separate walks so that you can train them one at a time if possible.
     
  4. Dubuss

    Dubuss PetForums Member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2012
    Messages:
    311
    Likes Received:
    16
    We also have a reactive lab. He loves other dogs but when we see one he used to twist, lunge and pull badly to get to other dogs! We've taught him a solid watch me and managed, with treats to get him to concentrate on us rather than the other dog. We started in the house, then the bak garden, then front garden, then on walks, then near dogs. We rehomed him at 2, 9 months later we are finally making progress. Our lab loves carrots, apples and cheese as a distraction and loves his tennis ball which he'd almost rather have than meet another dog. We're now at the stage where he does a sort of ' I know I should be good and pay mum attention but the other dog is just too exciting' rather than 'I don't care about anyone than the dog'. Also sometimes he is too busy watching me, the ball or the treat he doesn't notice the dog. Yes, this isn't necessarily treating the reactivity but makes it much easier to walk him!!

    Do you have anyone you can walk with? With our lab we found that by walking with the same person regularly it helped because he got to know that dog and tends to now get excited only when meeting new dogs and copied his behaviour. Ideally you want another dog that doesn't really care about other dogs and will just get on and walk.


    Hopefully 'owned by a yellow lab' will be along to give you some advice. I posted much earlier in the year and she gave great advice about this!
     
  5. Owned By A Yellow Lab

    Owned By A Yellow Lab PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    May 16, 2012
    Messages:
    6,437
    Likes Received:
    136
    My Lab was really reactive when I rehomed him at 14 months. The mere sight of another dog, way off in the distance, would result him in going CRAZY - leaping, lunging, barking, growling. He would actually go up on his hind legs, much to the amusement of my neighbours ;)

    I tried a few things but to be honest, the only things which have helped - and they have helped hugely, are:

    - a really good 'watch me', eventually combined with a 'sit'

    - Dogmatic headcollar paired with a double ended lead


    The headcollar and lead are simply to put YOU back in control - this makes YOU relax, and this in turn calms your dog a bit. Once you are in control, you can then begin to manage your dog's reactivity and, vitally, reward for calmer behaviour.


    Distance is usually key. You have to find the distance at which your dog remains calm - and then work at this distance for a while, LOTS of fuss and rewards and praise for calm behaviour.

    Practise the 'watch me' more - it has to be automatic! Practise it in quiet places for a while, then with a few low level distractions. Only try and use it around other dogs IF they are at a distance and IF your dog gives you a 'watch me' really reliably.

    I have found that after several months of this, my dog now rarely lunges or kicks off - instead he looks at me and then gets a treat or verbal praise etc. The only times he still lunges are if a dog is suddenly REALLY close.

    When the 'watch me' is solid, start incorporating a 'sit' because this really helps too.

    I agree with DOGLESS that you probably need to do some separate walks and training.

    Hope this helps a bit.




    DUBUSS thank you for your kind words :)
     
  6. Riff Raff

    Riff Raff PetForums Senior

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2013
    Messages:
    605
    Likes Received:
    62
    Two large reactive dogs together is a terrible combination. To be brutally honest, unless you have a LOT of time and energy to spend walking both dogs separately, and training both dogs separately, you might want to consider rehoming the younger dog.
     
  7. Hopeattheendofthetunnel

    Hopeattheendofthetunnel PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2013
    Messages:
    1,157
    Likes Received:
    60
    I absolutely loathe to say it - but I agree with Riff Raff.

    One reactive large dog is manageable. Two, kicking each other off and exacerbating each others behaviour, is an accident waiting to happen ( unless you are 6' 4 and have the strength of an ox).

    Maybe you could explore alternatives to the Gencon and see whether they might work better to control your dogs. And if you aren't able to utilise a trainer who works with all of you, all you can do is either walk the dogs separately or rehome one of them. It isn't a situation which will sort itself out on its own accord. It's dangerous for you and others.

    Have you considered muzzling them?
     
  8. Owned By A Yellow Lab

    Owned By A Yellow Lab PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    May 16, 2012
    Messages:
    6,437
    Likes Received:
    136
    It's all very well for folk to suggest rehoming, but it might not be that easy to find new homes for big, strong, reactive dogs.

    There are lots of Labs in rescue, so reactive ones won't be someone's first choice. And the current owner would *have* to disclose the reactivity as it would be so unethical not to.

    Personally, before thinking of rehoming, I would definitely find a good trainer - someone very experienced, who uses only positive methods. Run like mad from anyone who mentions 'dominance' or being 'alpha' or 'pack leader'!

    The Gencon is good BUT it does tighten - I guess one might argue that this could *increase* reactivity in some dogs...? Have you tried a Dogmatic headcollar paired WITH a double ended Ezydog lead, the Vario 6?

    This is the combination I use with my Lab, he's 35kg and reactive; it's taken time but I've managed to greatly reduce the lunging and help him be calmer around things which seem 'strange' or 'scary' to him.

    So you CAN help your dogs to be calmer - but I think you need the help of a good trainer, since you have two dogs. I would also try the Dogmatic and Vario 6, it's a MUCH stronger lead than either the Gencon All In One or anything you would pair with a Gencon headcollar.

    Hope that helps a bit.
     
  9. Dogless

    Dogless PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2010
    Messages:
    39,244
    Likes Received:
    713
    Agree that headcollars (just in my limited experience) can make a dog's reaction more intense because of the feeling of being restrained by the head i would guess. Couple that with one that tightens like the Gencon and you add discomfort into the equation. See dog = lunge = pain = dog causes pain = lunge harder.

    I do like the Dogmatic when I have to use a head collar. I use these harnesses https://mekuti.co.uk/harness_shop.htm on both of my dogs, one of whom can be reactive in some instances, one who (touch wood!) is not. They are both powerful, strong, fairly big dogs and I feel confident and safe walking both at once.

    I still do a lot of separate walks - always if I think there may be something to cause the older one to react - to train each dog separately and so that my confident dog does not learn unwanted behaviours from my eldest dog.
     
  10. Hopeattheendofthetunnel

    Hopeattheendofthetunnel PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2013
    Messages:
    1,157
    Likes Received:
    60
    I 10000000% occur with you.

    Except....if a trainer was feasible to the OP....I would have thought they would have employed one by now. Rather than muddling through with two lunging strong dogs. Can't be any fun for the OP to go for walks.

    I know quite a few people who deal with this very situation. And it isn't someone you want to meet when you take your own dogs out. If they loose grip on their leash....good night, Vienna. Its gonna be nasty. And bloody.
     
  11. TwoLabs

    TwoLabs PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2013
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thank you for all the messages.

    We wasnt planning on having the other dog but he could not stay with my brother as he was never getting walked at all. I also wouldnt consider rehoming as i dont think there is a big need too.

    I wouldnt muzzle as its not aggression they are displaying at all, i think part of the younger ones problem is excitability to get to the other dog paired with "im not really sure what to do" so rehoming is not an option here just because of his behaviour. I usually walk with someone else who takes one of the dogs so im not struggling with 2. I will have a look at the dogmantic but when i look at it its not really that different from the gencon, its still applying pressure?

    They are fine together in the house, and on walks when we do not meet anyone, and are fine with going past people. Its just people with dogs. Also they hate people walkin behind them, its like they are paranoid and will sit and not move and just watch them an i have to drag them away!
     
  12. Hopeattheendofthetunnel

    Hopeattheendofthetunnel PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2013
    Messages:
    1,157
    Likes Received:
    60
    Oh, my mistake....I took the description "reactive to dogs" and "lunging" as you saying they were aggressive. Different situation entirely if they just want to go say "Hello".

    A MUCH more hopeful and positive place to start! Are your Labbies food orientated? In which case teaching " watch me" should be a breeze.
     
  13. Owned By A Yellow Lab

    Owned By A Yellow Lab PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    May 16, 2012
    Messages:
    6,437
    Likes Received:
    136



    The Dogmatic does work differently - it doesn't tighten like the Gencon. I have used both, and I do prefer the Dogmatic. Also if you use it with a really good double ended lead, you have two points of control.

    My Lab also dislikes anyone being close behind him. He's better than he used to be but it still makes him uneasy.

    You need to keep your dogs below threshold which means not letting them get close to whatever troubles them - difficult, I know. Find the distance at which they are calm, and then reward for calmer behaviour.
     
  14. ouesi

    ouesi Guest

    Just be careful with this line of thinking. Exictability and aggression are on a continuum and with two dogs feeding off each other and getting repeatedly worked up together, there is most definitely a risk of one re-directing on to the other, or both, or the whole thing veering in to aggression in general.
    In other words, the more you allow these guys to work themselves up and work each other up, the better they will get at getting worked up, the more they will do it, and the more they do it the more worked up they will get, and the more worked up they get the more likely they are to become aggressive instead of "just" excited. Man... I think *I* got worked up typing that out! :D

    Anyway, really there is no solving this unless you walk and train them separately - at least until one is manageable. If you can't manage the one dog alone, no way is adding another dog in to the mix going to make things any better.

    I'd also look in to a body harness instead of the head collars. Some dogs seem to get more reactive with a head collar restricting them than they do on a harness. There are designs out there that give you excellent control, you may even find that you feel more in control on a harness than a head halter.

    I'd second (third?) the suggestion for a trainer. They see this sort of thing all the time, and it's very solveable, just some tweaks and tricks, and of course lots of practice :)
     
  15. Owned By A Yellow Lab

    Owned By A Yellow Lab PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    May 16, 2012
    Messages:
    6,437
    Likes Received:
    136
    Just to pick up on what OUESI said, there are front attaching harnesses that can work well. Halti does a pretty decent one and again, with a double ended lead, you can either attach both lead clips to two harness points OR one clip to the harness and the other to the collar.

    I have this harness and was impressed with it. That said, it does not offer as much control as a properly fitted headcollar, in my personal experience.

    Do your Labs get over excited when off lead, too? If yes, I would not let them off lead any more until a trainer has helped you.

    Maybe the family member who originally owned one of the Labs would help towards any training costs, given that you have kindly taken on their dog?
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice