I read through some of the previous messages re: leash walking problems, but none seemed to fit my situation exactly.

I just adopted a one year old, sixty pound shepherd/rott mix. He is a sweetheart and is so well behaved normally. He sits, stays, drops-it, lays down, sleeps in his crate, is housetrained, and stays out of our upstairs bedrooms. He does really well at the off-leash dog parks and gets along with both people and dogs.
However, when we put his leash on him, he turns into a monster. Actually, he's okay until he sees people or other dogs. He pulls really hard and starts growling/barking. I can tell that he doesn't actually want to hurt the people or dogs at all. In the few times that he managed to reach a person or dog, he only rubbed up against them, wagged his tail and said hello. All the growling and barking stopped. Of course, it is very scary for strangers when they see this dog growling and pulling, and the last thing they want is for him to go over to them. It seems like the more restrictive I am with him, the wilder he gets.
I know that we are using the wrong leash and collar. Right now we have one of those flexi leashes and regular buckle collars. His foster told me that she had tried a choke collar and a six foot leash under the supervision of a dog trainer that came to her home, but that did not work. The foster's solution was to give up teaching him any leash skills at all.
We're signed up to take an obedience class, but it doesn't start for two weeks.
I am primarily writing to see if anyone has had a similar experience with a non-aggressive and normally obedient dog acting like a monster on the leash. I just don't understand why he would turn into such a different dog. I read about leash aggression and barrier-frustration, but that doesn't seem to fit his case so much since he does fine in his crate and is not an aggressive dog at all.
Thanks for any insight.
I am primarily writing to see if anyone has had a similar experience with a non-aggressive and normally obedient dog ... much since he does fine in his crate and is not an aggressive dog at all. Thanks for any insight.

I had almost the exact smae problem with Gus after our other dog passed away. Walking him became a nightmare. He was fine unless he saw something or someone and then he would bark and pull like crazy.

In the end, what worked for us was doing nothing but turn and walk in the other direction the second he started the crazy dog act. I never said a word, never yanked or pulled or corrected, just turned and started off in another direction.
For the first two weeks, we didn't make it off our own street, somedays didn't even get out of the driveway but it worked. Now when Gus sees something, he prances without pulling and lets out a soft bark or two but thats it. No more pulling, no crazy dog routine.
No fancy leashes or collars either. Just his buckle collar with my usual 6 foot leather lead.
However, when we put his leash on him, he turns into a monster. Actually, he's okay until he sees people ... all. We're signed up to take an obedience class, but it doesn't start for two weeks. Thanks for any insight.

If he has a favorite toy that he likes to play with (tug or ball on a rope), you might try distracting him with it. Put it in your pocket when you go for a walk. As you approach a dog or person that excites your dog, pull out the toy and begin playing with your dog. Of course if your dog has little interest in playing it wouldn't do a thing, but you can build that interest by playing with your dog in the back yard with a tug or...?

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Actually, he's okay until he sees people or other dogs. He pulls really hard and starts growling/barking.

I have had this problem with Zoe. Unfortunately I probably made it worse by forcing the issue in my defense, I was confused by the fact that she used to like every person and dog we met! It took me a while to realize that she didn't want to meet any new dogs so that was step one. I stopped trying to force her to say hello. She still says hello to dogs she knows and likes, of course.
I started carrying treats in my pocket and now I take one out when we see a dog up ahead if she stays focused on me and the treat and doesn't growl as we pass the dog, then I have her sit and give her the treat, praising to high heaven. If she starts to growl, I have her sit-stay immediately, still holding the treat over her nose. Then I give her the treat after the other dog passes. This technique is having a good effect thus far.
I also read that when they're having a hard time calming themselves, you can stroke their heads and ears in a soothing way I have used this a couple of times and it also has a good effect.
These are just some ideas I've been using I'm no expert, obviously.

Catherine
& Zoe the cockerchow
I am primarily writing to see if anyone has had a similar experience with a non-aggressive and normally obedient dog ... fit his case so much since he does fine in his crate and is not an aggressive dog at all.

Hard to tell without seeing it, but my guess would be that what you are interpreting as "aggression" is excitement as expressed by a vocal dog with a scary voice. :}
And this is not at all an unusual situation. Most dogs who haven't been trained to walk nicely on a leash will pull, and when they're 60 pounds it's a major problem.
His foster told me that she had tried a choke collar and a six foot leash under the supervision of ... home, but that did not work. The foster's solution was to give up teaching him any leash skills at all.

Argh. Used properly (as you'd assume it would be done under the supervision of a trainer), a choke collar can work very well in teaching leash manners. Used improperly, as most people do, it just makes them pull harder. But there are other methods that don't involve leash corrections at all.

First, I'd suggest that you get him fitted with a gentle leader: http://www.sitstay.com/store/equip/collars2.shtml (and by the way, there's a gorgeous Belgian modeling it!). This will prevent him from being able to pull you around while you're training him. And with a big dog, prevention is mandatory.
What type of class are you going to? Do you know what methods are being used?

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I read through some of the previous messages re: leash walking problems, but none seemed to fit my situation exactly. ... fit his case so much since he does fine in his crate and is not an aggressive dog at all.

He is feeling frustrated that he can't go visit the dog and the people, and his frustration looks like aggression. I have one who did this. Our treatment plan was to never ever let doggie visit anyone while acting like a freak. Instead, I try and distract him with a treat, and if he sits nicely and quietly, THEN he can go visit the doggie or the person. He quickly learned that freak behavior got him nowhere but sitting nicely got him a visit. He now sits and looks at me expectantly if we come across a dog he would like to visit with.
I read through some of the previous messages re: leash walking problems, but none seemed to fit my situation exactly. I know that we are using the wrong leash and collar. Right now we have one of those flexi leashes and regular buckle collars.

OHMYGAWD... Please - LOSE the flexi lead! You have NO control over the dog with one of these, and if he's barking and lunging - well, I wouldn't want to be walking down the street with you guys coming at me! Get a good, stout 3/4-in leather (not nylon - it cuts and burns!) obedience lead. Hold the lead by putting the loop over your right thumb, then reach about halfway down the lead with your left hand, pick it up so it folds where your left hand is and place the folded up part in your left hand. That way you have a short lead, a lot of control and if the dog bolts, you have a quick release and won't be dragged down the street by the wrist.
His foster told me that she had tried a choke collar and a six foot leash under the supervision of ... home, but that did not work. The foster's solution was to give up teaching him any leash skills at all.[/nq]Lovely. It sounds to me like the foster person didn't know how to use the collar properly. I find it rather odd that their rescue organization let the dog be placed without having come to grips with his issues... oh, well. Let your obedience instructor help you with fitting a proper collar on the dog and show you how to use it correctly. And by the way, I would recommend some sort of slip collar (either a standard training collar, a martingale or a prong collar) for control and to prevent escapes - I've seen dogs back out of too many buckle collars to be comfortable using one to deal with an aggression issue.

If you choose to try the Gentle Leader (I don't like them, personally), you have to make sure that it is fitted properly, which is TIGHT, and always couple it with a clip to his buckle collar so he can't slip out of it.
We're signed up to take an obedience class, but it doesn't start for two weeks.[/nq]You may want to keep your leash walking to a minimum until you start classes. Since you don't know what to do to calm him down when he gets feisty, you are in a dangerous situation with him. A mistake could result in a bite or worse. But even if it doesn't, an angry-looking rottie coming down the street can be very scary to people. As a pit bull owner, the last thing I want is for my "jaws of death" breed dog to scare anybody and inspire the natives to light torches and start screaming "BAN THEM ALL!" It may not be a bad idea to call your future obedience instructor and ask if you can see him/her privately once or twice before class starts - he's probably going to be a real handful the first night or two of class.

If they can show you what to do and you can start working on it NOW, you'll be that much better off when class starts.(I teach, and I'm always glad to meet outside of class with people whose dogs have issues to help them prepare.)
I am primarily writing to see if anyone has had a similar experience with a non-aggressive and normally obedient dog ... fit his case so much since he does fine in his crate and is not an aggressive dog at all.

That's why they call it "leash aggression." ;-) You have to learn how to control the dog calmly and not to "telegraph" tension down the leash. Whoever has handled him in the past has helped him learn this behavior. You will have to help him unlearn it, and to learn new rules (like focusing on you instead of other people and dogs). I'm glad you're going to a class where someone can help you with this. It's not that hard, but it is a skill that you have to learn.
Thanks for any insight.

Hope this helps! And keep us posted on your progress!

Regards,
Tracy
If you choose to try the Gentle Leader (I don't like them, personally), you have to make sure that it is fitted properly, which is TIGHT, and always couple it with a clip to his buckle collar so he can't slip out of it.

Tight around the back of the head, comfortably snug on the nose. A dog can slip out of a halti, but not a gentle leader. If he gets his nose out of it, he still has a collar around his neck.
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SNIP
Hi Jemo
I had a simular problem with my lab Benson, he is fine in all aspects apart from lead walking where he pulls teribley and puts blisters on my hands or should I say used to. I used one of those haltie trainers that goes on his nose like a muzzle does but it is NOT a muzzle. It puts slight pressure on dogs noses when they are about to pull and really worked with Benson and all other dogs I know have used them. Benson is now using a normal chock chain and lead and is getting better each day, the only time he pulls now is in windy weather or when he get spooked.