Stopping my lurcher jumping up & barking at me on walks

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NaomiH
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Stopping my lurcher jumping up & barking at me on walks

Post by NaomiH » Sun Feb 25, 2018 7:46 am

Can anyone help with another of Sparky's behaviour problems? He's a 19 month old saluki/ greyhound lurcher. If we're out for a walk & I stop to talk to someone with a dog, Sparky gets really impatient and barks a lot at me - it's very much directed at me rather than my other half (but he occasionally does it to OH if I am not there).

He also does it after getting excited by other dogs. He's a bit nervous of other dogs, especially if we meet a group of them. Straight afterwards he seems to take it out on me, letting rip with a volley of barking while staring at me. To be honest I find it intimidating and upsetting. Turning our backs and standing still only seems to whip him up into more of a frenzy, whereas just carrying on as if nothing's happened will get results but not for a couple of minutes. I am finding it a bit scary and it's really putting me off walking him. Help!!

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JudyN
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Re: Stopping my lurcher jumping up & barking at me on walks

Post by JudyN » Sun Feb 25, 2018 8:19 am

Been there, got the t shirt, got holes in the t shirt :lol:

I really need to concentrate on work at the mo but I'll come back to this this evening. Prod me if I forget!
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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JudyN
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Re: Stopping my lurcher jumping up & barking at me on walks

Post by JudyN » Sun Feb 25, 2018 1:21 pm

It sounds like typical frustration/overarousal/lack of impulse control. Have I mentioned the It's Yer Choice inpulse control video (if not, you can easily find it on Youtube)? It will help him actually control himself once he knows what you want him to do (and what's in it for him :wink: ).

For chatting to friends, I would feed him a stream of treats, but also don't feel afraid to explain to them that you have to keep going as Sparky isn't ready to cope with waiting longer yet. It's a pain, particularly as part of the joy of dog walks is meeting other people, but it's not for ever. You want Sparky to think that stopping while you talk to people is GOOD because he gets treats, which means it can't be long enough for him to get fed up because he's not having fun.

I tried various things to deal with J's jumping up when he got overaroused and what worked in the end was turning away from him and ignoring him until he stopped. Then I would sometimes ask for a sit and reward him ('sit' didn't work while he was boiling over), or just praise and reward him for getting all four feet on the ground. But do try the 'sit' if he's comfortable with sitting (or some other command), as you might have more success than me. I'd avoid 'down' as it leaves you looming over him and he might feel defensive.

J would kick off more in open spaces so I'd walk down narrow paths, beside fences and close to trees as much as possible. Then when he kicked off I'd wrap his lead round a fence/tree to stop him jumping up. Another advantage of this was that I could turn my back to him and face the fence/tree so he couldn't just come round the other side and jump up. If Sparky's main trigger is other dogs, then minimise contact with them - he might be fine with dogs he knows, or single dogs, or dogs of a particular breed, so hopefully this won't mean avoiding all interaction with other dogs.

He might also do it more towards the end of a walk, as he's had longer to get wound up - if so, then shorter walks might help, either walking more often or having a few games at home to make up.

It did take time, and some days it took ages to get home because I'd be turning my back and waiting for him to calm down again and again, only for him to start up again ten foot further along. But eventually, I saw him race towards me with that look in his eye and then turn away at the last moment, and I gave him a jackpot reward.

Try not to find it intimidating. It's like a toddler tantrum, or maybe like a teenager using you as a 'verbal' punchbag because he knows he can vent safely (boy did I go through that with DS2 - it was like sitting in a force 10 gale of pure anger and rude words, but it was absolutely what he needed).

I haven't mentioned the barking because J isn't a barky dog, but I'm sure the same applies - just think of it as an overflow of arousal, which will ease as he matures and is more able to deal with everything.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

NaomiH
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Re: Stopping my lurcher jumping up & barking at me on walks

Post by NaomiH » Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:39 pm

Thank you JudyN!

I will watch the YouTube clip you suggest and I have also just ordered some tubes of liver paste for dogs so maybe when I stop to chat I can keep squeezing it into his mouth!

He's ok with dogs he knows but I think groups of unknown dogs definitely raise his stress levels and I always seem to bear the brunt of it! I worry that he will get so over-excited that he will start nipping me. Also tbh his bark is quite scary. He's my first dog and it's taken me quite a long time to learn not to be nervous of him (I know that sounds silly but it's the truth). I now know how to get him calm in the house but outdoors is another matter. Is it partly his age?

The barking today was after meeting a big group of dogs and then a little terrier would not leave me alone & kept jumping up at me (I had good treats in my pocket!) Then it wanted to play with Sparky and it all got way too exciting for S, who just barked and barked at me. When I have tried turning away he just gets worse unfortunately. How do I know he won't get so excited he might start biting me?

Thank you for all your support!

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JudyN
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Re: Stopping my lurcher jumping up & barking at me on walks

Post by JudyN » Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:48 pm

It's possible he could nip if he gets too worked up. It's possible he might mouthe hard enough to leave bruises. I always worry I come over as 'You think that's bad? You should have seen Jasper!' in a funny one-upmanship sort of way :oops: But when he jumped up he mouthed hard enough to cover our arms with bruises. I wore a thick denim jacket all through summer, partly to protect my arms and partly so people didn't think OH had been beating me :lol:

But the point is - this isn't aggression, it's overarousal. There's no malice and though it's not pleasant, it's not something to worry about happening. And I'm sure the barking is just 'sound'. Has he ever played 'lurcher style' with another lurcher? They can sound (and look) like they're killing each other even when they're best mates! You need an attitude of 'Meh... this is where we are today, but it'll get better.' And yes, I'm sure his age is a big factor! Do try to avoid groups of dogs for now if you think they might set him off.

When you turn your back and he gets more wound up, you might have to stick it out longer. He's being ignored, he's not getting the response he wants, so he tries harder, it still doesn't work so he gets more annoyed, which makes him intensify.... But eventually, he'll realise that it just isn't happening and you're going to keep your face planted into that tree until he tries something else. So he puts all four paws on the floor and thinks 'Huh?' and then you turn round and say 'Good boy!' At which point he might jump straight back up again, but you rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat...

I'm just mulling over that when a dog does this, he really wants you to match his energy levels - imagine you're throwing a tantrum at your OH, and he's just being quiet and calm, not rising to the bait. There's almost a sense of relief/release if he does actually yell back at you - so if you did yell at Sparky (I'm not saying you would) it would be rewarding. But nothing happening at all... it's infuriating, but in the end he'll realise he's not going to get that release, you're not going to match his emotions. So he might just as well stand down and go 'humph'.

It's EASY for me to say all this that it's no big deal, because we're several years on now. And it's a bit like looking back on the first time your heart is broken, having a baby who never sleeps... actually maybe it's a bit like saying 'Yeah, childbirth is the worst pain EVER but meh, you'll be fine' :lol: But I do remember what it feels like at the time. But it will get better and it will pass. Honest!
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

NaomiH
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Re: Stopping my lurcher jumping up & barking at me on walks

Post by NaomiH » Sun Feb 25, 2018 5:05 pm

Ok, I will try to keep going with the back-turning. He's just so embarrassing sometimes (well, a lot of the time, actually!!) I am seeing my lovely-sounding (haven't actually met her yet) new dog trainer this Thursday about his recall and to meet some horses, so I will ask her about this issue too.

Had a lovely afternoon with the ball-thrower at a local beauty spot - he has (temporarily) redeemed himself! Why did it never occur to me the whole rescue lurcher thing would be so hard?!!

Many thanks for your continued support!

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JudyN
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Re: Stopping my lurcher jumping up & barking at me on walks

Post by JudyN » Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:42 am

If you look calm enough while he's throwing a wobbly - check your phone, study the clouds, say 'Morning, lovely day' to people passing by - you'll look to others like you know exactly what you're doing and have the situation all under control :wink:
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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