Hi everyone!! First of all, apologies for being offline for quite some time- I have a new job which is proving to be quite demanding!!
I have a problem and this is always my first port of call for dog related problems so here goes...
Some of you might remember that my Newfoundland, George and I moved from the country to the city about 6 months ago and both of us have been making some adjustments to fit into this new lifestyle.
George is about to turn two (so he was 18 months when we moved). He did puppy school and obedience training, but since we moved I haven't enrolled him into a new obedience school due to time/money issues. George is walked twice a day (really- I'm not just saying that!!), usually for about 45 minutes at a time. This is a mixture of on lead heeling along main roads and off leash running at the park (usually within a fenced in oval). Once or twice a week I also drive him to a local dedicated off leash fenced in dog park where he plays with anywhere between 20 to 50 dogs at a time of varying sizes. Also about once a month he goes to the off leash dog beach and again socialises with other dogs.
In the last three weeks, George has developed a walking issue that is turning into a BIG problem. If we're out walking on the lead (if he's on the lead he's heeling) and we approach another dog he completely ignores me and is lunging towards the other dog, wagging his tail wanting to play. He NEVER did this before, has always heeled, and if we passed another dog and he looked like his attention was waiving, I would make a 'kissing' noise of say his name a give a jerk check on the lead to get his attention back on me. He does not normally pull on the lead at all.
He has always worn a halti (more for safety, so that if something did scare him and he took off I could have more control of him- he weighs a considerable amount more than me) however has been trained to heel with a slack lead and is consistent with it. At dog school we did the usual routines passing other dogs and keeping your dog's attention on you etc. Now, I try to get his attention and he ignores me, and not only that, he literally drags me when he's going for the other dog, even with the halti and a short lead.
Obviously for the other dog and it's owner it would be quite intimidating having such a big dog lunging at you, and they would not know that he doesn't have an aggressive bone in his body, but is just trying to play.
I tried to assess if he is not getting enough contact time with other dogs, but he is getting far more socialisation since we've moved than when we were in the country. Similarly, I was wondering if me starting this new job (which I have now been in for three months) has contributed as I am not seeing him as many hours as I used to. But like I said, I walk him twice a day for a reasonable amount of time, then we hang out at nights and my house mate has him inside with her during the day, so he's getting plenty of attention.
I really need to get to the bottom of this because I'm losing confidence in him: I am not enjoying going out walking with him because I'm afraid of him scaring people and me looking like I'm not in control. I want him to be at ease in our new surrounds and to be able to include him in all aspects of my life, but the more he does things like this the more reluctant I am to take him into situations where he might do the wrong thing, and the more I deprive him of these situations the less he will learn and the less confidence I feel in him, and so it goes on!!
Any suggestions would be much appreciated!!