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Puppy lead training not going well!

Discussion in 'Dog Chat' started by Chris Lisi, Aug 14, 2020.


  1. Chris Lisi

    Chris Lisi PetForums Newbie

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    I have a 4 and a half month old working cocker spaniel puppy, ever since we were first able to take him on walks he has pulled constantly on the lead and lunged to pick up random items (stones, sticks, slugs etc) as he is now getting bigger and stronger it is becoming more of a battle.
    We took him to puppy training classes and they tried to help but his excitement levels were way up there so he just wouldn’t do anything they tried.
    When in the house or garden his training is going really well, he can sit, lay down, drop it, leave it, go to bed, and stay, but when on a walk if he tries to pick something up and I say leave it he ignores me.
    I found a good article on tails.com that suggested using a collar rather than a harness while training a puppy, I always thought a harness was better as a collar can do damage to a pups neck?

    https://tails.com/blog/2018/11/27/how-to-stop-your-dog-pulling-on-the-lead/


    The main issue is he is a VERY excitable puppy at the best of times and out on a walk he is so excited and focused on what is going on around him he will simply not listen to any commands.

    Does anyone have any tips or suggestions on how to get him walking nicely? I don’t expect perfect heel but the lead slack and no darting across me to get to something he wants to pick up would be ideal!

    We’ve been aiming for the 5 minutes per month of life rule for his walks so at the moment it’s about 20 minutes twice a day, as the walks become longer my arm ache becomes worse!

    I have watched so many YouTube videos all with different techniques but none of them seem to work. I have tried in the house and garden walking and using food to keep him by my side, this works until the food runs out then before I’ve had chance to reach into my pouch for more he’s darted off ahead. I also tried food on a walk but he wasn’t interested as he was more focused on the sights, sounds and smells of his surroundings.
     
    #1 Chris Lisi, Aug 14, 2020
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
  2. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel PetForums VIP

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    Well, i am always going to say gentle leader is your answer here. (And now watch this thread get into a debate about why you should use kikipup giving into leash pressure method)

    I havent changed my mind. Im still a gentle leader fan - it does work by putting pressure on your pup and your pup will absolutely hate it. But you will have a pup that walks to heel. Instantly.

    It is just a tool to aid you whilst you do heelwork training (and the kikopup method could help you there)

    What GL does though is stop your pup learning that it is ok to be out ahead. In the short term.


    Then you build a reinforcement zone all around your heel areas long term.


    I would never use a harness to teach heel. Flat collar and lead to teach heel. Harness great with flexi leads out on country walks. Gentle leader when walking to heel and you need to get somewhere.


    I have just started doing a susan garratt course for my older dog and she is a gentle leader fan too - im actually thinking of putting a leader back on one of mine to get nice calm walking in high distraction areas.
     
  3. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel PetForums VIP

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    #3 tabelmabel, Aug 14, 2020
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2020
  4. StormyThai

    StormyThai Moderator
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    Well at 4 just over 4 months old it sounds like you have tried a lot when it comes to trying to teach a LLW and that will be part of your problem because constantly switching methods just leads to confusion and frustration for everyone. Pulling is a self rewarding behaviour so it can be a hard one to crack for many people.

    And yes I will be posting the clip of giving to leash pressure (because it works ;)) and would say that I probably wouldn't be putting a head collar on a 4 month old pup (everyone has their own ideas).


    Along with giving to leash pressure I would use "Green light, Red light" which is simply if the leash is loose we walk, if the leash is tight we stop and do not continue until the leash is loose...it will take time to really see the difference so stick to it.
    And finally I would also practice "Drunk walking" which is just walking a step or two and then changing direction, keeping things upbeat and unpredictable so pup learns to keep an eye on you more :)
    You want to practice all this at home, in the garden and out and about

    This dog used to pull like a steam train and was an over reactive monster...using all of the above we now have this:
     
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  5. Sairy

    Sairy PetForums VIP

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    Do you walk your pup offlead at all? Personally, I would be aiming for most exercise to be offlead allowing your pup to explore all the sniffs (which dogs should be able to do on walks anyway) and give your arm a break. Keep lead walking for training sessions only and just practise in your driveway or up and down your street. If your pup pulls then just stop and encourage him back to you, rewarding when he does. It takes a lot of work and effort, and spaniels like to have their noses to the ground which makes them more likely to pull when they get a scent, but is well worth the work in the end.

    Another thing is have you actually thoroughly taught and proofed the "leave" command? I suspect that you haven't. Your pup is ignoring the command because either he doesn't know what it means, he doesn't know that it means the same thing outside as it does inside or he has learnt that it is more rewarding to not obey the command than it is to obey it. Either way, you need to teach it, and teach it thoroughly.

    I'm not a massive fan of headcollars personally as I've seen so many people just slap one on and so many dogs disliking them and doing everything they can to get them off, which can in turn make walks stressful. However, if you are having real issues with control and you introduce one properly, making it a source of something nice then it may give you that extra bit of control you need whilst you teach your dog to walk to heel. It will not, though, solve the issue. There is rarely a quick fix to this scenario.
     
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  6. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel PetForums VIP

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    Ha ha @StormyThai !! As i do have this rather combative nature, im almost tempted to go back into to the boxing ring and fight out this 'debate' again:p


    Not going to though. All the info to let OP make his own mind up is contained within that linked thread (which is a pretty interesting read)
     
    #6 tabelmabel, Aug 14, 2020
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
  7. StormyThai

    StormyThai Moderator
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    No debate needed :)
    I have no issue with head collars, I've used one plenty of times when I've needed more control for management. I'd probably go for a harness with front attachment so you reduce the risk of neck injury and it's something that can be used straight away without any conditioning.
    I just wouldn't recommend one for a growing pup and like you, I put out what works for me and others that I teach. It's up to the OP what they choose to put in place :)
     
  8. Chris Lisi

    Chris Lisi PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you all for the great suggestions, some really interesting ideas there.
    He is very good at leaving food if I place it in front of him with my hand hovering over it ready to stop him if he tries to snatch it, I am now at the point I can move away and he’ll still wait to be told before he eats it - when on a walk though if he sees something he wants he’ll lunge and dart to it no matter how many times I say ‘leave it’ so there is definitely more work to be done there.

    He currently has a nice soft padded collar, we tried walking him using that and not a harness and although he wasn’t pulling as hard he was still pulling and just constantly making a wheezing sound. We went back to his harness as I didn’t want him to injure himself and do any long term damage.

    We have let him off the lead in safe enclosed areas and he loves it but his recall goes out the window because he’s so excited! We are lucky to have a good sized garden so we do a lot of chasing balls and running around with him there.

    This is him :)
    [​IMG]
     
  9. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel PetForums VIP

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    What an excellent comment - love that and agree wholeheartedly. The giving in to leash pressure method for me resulted in a dog that yo yoed back and forth constantly. The lead stayed slack but i didnt have heel.

    The clicker helped a lot with that but, even now, im still working on having a very solid reinforcement zone right at my side to cut out ALL of this back and forth movement.

    Anyway, you are soooooo right. We can only say what worked for us and leave it at that. Which will be my final comment on this thread:)
     
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  10. Boxer123

    Boxer123 PetForums VIP

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    Thai is so gorgeous.
     
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  11. Boxer123

    Boxer123 PetForums VIP

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    He is gorgeous but I don’t think he will ever walk on the lead nicely stick a stamp on his butt and send him to me :D

    Seriously though I have a mad boxer 20 months. One think that has really helped has been using the clicker. My trainer recommended practicing somewhere quiet first so he can’t fail. I take my clicker and treat pouch most places now so we can practice, it really has made a difference. Simply click and treat when they are doing what you want.
     
    Jason25 likes this.
  12. MontyMaude

    MontyMaude PetForums VIP

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    I walked round and round my garden teaching mine how to walk on the lead. I used the peanut butter on wooden spoon trick that someone on here recommended to teach to walk to heel, once they got it we then practised out on a walk also using the pressure technique above.
     
  13. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    Absolutely the right thing. If he's pulling hard enough to wheeze it's definitely not good on all those delicate structures in his neck, and he absolutely could be doing damage to himself.
    Please don't feel pressured in to getting his LLW perfect and using short-cut tools to get there. He's still very much in the 'puppy stupids' stage and it's going to be challenging for him to remember not to pull no matter how well you train.
    Much better to have him in equipment that will *not* do any damage while he's growing some neuron connections :) Body harness is an excellent choice. You may also want to look at bungee leashes. I recently got one for free from some company and finally had the opportunity to try it on an untrained dog, and it was so much nicer.

    This.
    I think sometimes our expectations with young dogs to be rather unachievable. I don't know any 4.5 month old youngster who can manage not to be distracted on a walk. And whatever the breed's default behaviors will happen. A 4.5 month old spaniel is going to follow his nose zig zagging around all over the place. Totally normal.
    If at all possible, try to have as much off leash or long line time as you can with small sessions of LLW when they make sense to incorporate.
    One, this will ease a lot of frustration on both ends of the leash. Two, you're not inadvertently teaching/allowing bad leash manners while pup grows a brain. Three, you can really focus on recall while he's young and much more impressionable when it's more likely to stick. (Though don't be discouraged if recall goes out the window at about 11 - 14 months, that's normal too, it will come back.)

    When you do work on LLW, I absolutely love the give in to pressure method as posted by @StormyThai
    IMO the biggest problem with teaching leash manners is that we focus on the 'don't' which is very confusing to a dog (or any trainee). If you walk in a room and I say "don't sit there" you'll likely be a little confused for a few minutes at least while you consider what your other options are. But if you walk in a room and I say "please sit here" it's extremely easy to comply with that isn't it?
    No different when we tell our dogs "don't pull" there's a behavior vacuum here and the dog is left wondering what to do. But if you tell the dog "when you feel the leash tighten, do *this*" it becomes so much easier to reward the correct behavior and the dog understands much easier too.

    You don't have to teach the dog to come back to you if you don't want to (avoiding the 'yo yo' thing tabelmabel refers to), you can teach innumerable other options. But the key is that the leash tightening is a cue for that behavior.
    For example you could just have the tight leash be a cue to turn his head and look at you (and get further instructions).

    However, the huge benefit of actually giving in to leash pressure is to counteract oppositional reflex. So there is merit in teaching the 'give in' part for sure.
     
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  14. StormyThai

    StormyThai Moderator
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    I just want to add for anyone reading this.
    Personally I don't use the giving to leash pressure to teach a heel, for me heeling is a different behaviour to loose leash walking.
    For me a heel is focused on me in the heel position on the right or the left (on or off a leash) and loose leash walking is just that, so long as the leash is loose jobs a good un (and because I don't expect the dog to come back to me, just loosen up that contact I don't tend to get the yo yo effect) so I teach both differently.

    LLW I use all three methods that I described above but when I am working a heeling I break the behaviour right down so I will work on tiny increments and then build them all together.

    I'm not picking up a debate, or telling you that your experience is wrong or anything (it's taken a while to write this because I don't want you to think I'm picking at you or anything) I just wanted to clarify that when I talk about LLW I am not expecting the dog to heel.


    OP, I can attest to bungee leads being extremely useful with a puller, it takes out the jarring on both ends...they are awesome attached to a harness and then a walking belt - saves your arms for certain :p
     
  15. Blitz

    Blitz PetForums VIP

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    I would not be so keen to put a headcollar on a pup but with an older dog they do work like magic. My dogs from years ago learned to walk on a loose lead from day 1 of going out for a walk. I would often have 3 or 4 dogs walking beside me and the pup had to conform. In later years with farm dogs they seldom went on the lead but when they did they behaved. Current dogs have a mixed life so do have to behave on the lead. Toffee is the first natural puller I have ever owned so on went a headcollar and pulling stopped. She wears a harness now and does not pull at all.
     
  16. Sairy

    Sairy PetForums VIP

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    OK so a few things:

    Re. the "leave it" command, as you are still in the process of teaching it indoors you cannot realistically expect your pup to do it outdoors yet. Also, add to that the fact that you are teaching it as an "exercise" at the moment with the same sequence of events so your pup knows what to expect. This is very different to coming across a surprise "treat" whilst out on walks so you will need to build up to this. Because your pup doesn't yet understand "leave it" on walks there is absolutely no point in saying it. In fact, it could actually be detrimental to the training of this command so I would stop saying it for now - just distract him away with something else such as a treat or toy. Another thing that is worth pointing out with this command is that you are currently teaching the dog that "leave it" means "wait a few seconds and then you can have it". What I would be doing is once your dog has left the treat on the floor he gets one from your pocket instead, thus teaching that "leave it" means "you can't have that, but I've got something better for you instead". You can remove the treat from the floor whilst he is eating the one you have given him.

    Re. walking offlead, so if recall is currently in need of work then put him on a long line with a harness. Allow him to explore and sniff. You can even put a command to this such as "go sniff" or "run on" or whatever. Then you can practise recall as part of the walk.

    Finally, just a note regarding ball throwing. Dogs love it and a high ball drive can be extremely useful in training, however it is not a good way of exercising a dog (particularly a puppy) as the way they move to chase a ball puts a huge amount of strain on joints and can cause injury. My advice would be to let your pup "warm up" thoroughly before doing any kind of ball throwing, and when you do throw it for such a young pup just throw a short way and just a few times before putting it away again. As you are having issues with recall, I would be inclined to only throw the ball as a reward for recall. That should build a lot of value into your recall command.
     
    Lurcherlad likes this.
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