Frustrated and running out of ideas....
Hello! This is my first post so I will give a little bit of the background going on in my home.
In March of this year my husband and I decided to adopt a rescue. Our first rescue is a male 2yr old german short hair pointer. After have had him (Bailey) for 2 months we decided to do another rescue adoption. We adopted our first german shepherd - 2 yr old female- Sasha. Bailey came with very little known commands...Sasha on the other hand came full of surprises. It seemed like her previous owner spent alot of time training her. From going to her crate at night, to tapping the door handle to be let out...she responded to everything we asked via commands.
So here comes the issue. Sasha took right to my husband (think her previous owner may have been a male due to how easy she adjusted to him) and our other dog took to me. We didnt think it would be much of an issue until we did out first walk. Neither one of them acted like they had ever been on a leash. Due to the pulling and lunging that Sasha did, our first walk was switching back and forth as to not have out arms pulled out of the sockets, but if I handled Sasha's leash, she would start this high pitch bark and tossing her self up in the air, even if my husband was right next to her.
We have tried everything from a harness to a pinch collar. We were very hesitant with the pinch collar, as we both feel that is a bit extreme, but we were desperate to be able to walk both dogs together and not have her barking and tossing herself around if we had to switch leases due to her pulling. One of the walks we were on, we had switched leashes...I had Sasha and you could tell she very upset at that fact..she had tossed her self so hard that she broke the choker collar. Luckily she ran right to my husband. That was an interesting walk home.
One of our friends who works for a major pet store company had mentioned we should try the gentle leader. So we bought one for each dog. Sasha absolutely went nuts with it on...barking, howling, whimpering, tossing herself around, (just like a 2yr old tantrum).
We live in a very small town and would have to travel quite a distance to be able to do an obedience school. I am really hoping that there is someone out there that has had a similar experience that might have some suggestions for me.
I know part of it anxiety due to my husband not controlling her leash, but there will be times when he will not be able to go with on walks, so i will be handling her and I need for her to learn this. Any suggestions would be much appreciated because at this point I am not sure what else to do beside just letting her have reign of the backyard ( which makes me feel so guilty that I would even consider leaving her home) but at the same point, i dont want anything bad to happen to her because of her anxiety.
Thank you in advance for any suggestions!
A lot of dogs take a while to get used to any kind of "Head collar" training tool.
Persevere Sasha will get used to it.
Also Have a look on You Tube for Loose leash walking there are a lot of good ideas out there that you might try to help them to walk better.
Have you tried taking each dog out separately..and alone? (You take Sasha, no other dogs---without your husband?) If so, how does she behave?
They need to understand what you expect if them on a walk. Right now, you're expecting something of them that isn't fair.
Teach both dogs to walk on loose leash separately. They will feed off each other until they can both be calm.
IMHO, ditch the head harness. They are terrible teaching tools, and can injure a dog's neck if they are really getting crazy on the leash. Things like no pull harnesses and head collars don't teach the dog anything.
I would suggest using leash pressure with the prong collar.
Here's a video:
I recommend you watch it several times and practice on each other before you start the training with the dogs. This will help you get the mechanics of the leash work down so you don't over correct the dogs.
Start small and work your way up? Walk to the end of the driveway and back.
Walk them separately, start small (short distances in low-distraction environments; I usually start with foster dogs by training them indoors), reinforce heavily for the behavior you do want (Dawn Jecs's Choose to Heel program is a good place to begin), start teaching loose-leash walking games (Google these or go to Kikopup's youtube channel for ideas), and work impulse control in the household to improve the dogs' self-control generally (NILIF, Dr. Overall's Relaxation Protocol, etc.). If you know what your dog is trying to reach -- if there is some clearly delineated goal to the pulling (a pigeon, a favorite "pee mail" tree, whatever), Premack it.
I'm going to disagree that no-pull harnesses and head collars don't teach the dog anything. They are, first and foremost, management tools to keep your shoulders in socket and create the opportunity for you to teach what you DO want the dog to do. But they also teach the dog that pulling doesn't work, and preventing that self-reinforcing behavior is crucial. (The head collars also seem to have a psychologically dampening effect on some dogs, who bark and lunge a lot less while the halter is on, but IME that's not universal.)
I strongly prefer no-pull harnesses because they are less aversive to most dogs than head collars and IMO are safer, and in this situation it doesn't sound like your dog is responding well to the head collar anyway.
I don't like prongs, and I have never needed or wanted to use one myself, but if you aren't making headway with the other options then it may be something to consider. My own personal preference is to use the most aversive options last, though.
My dogs also prefer the no pull harness to the head collar. They MUST be fitted properly though.
Where do you live? If you put your general location in the User CP section (up in the narrow black strip along the top of the page) then maybe someone know info about instructors and classes in your area. It's weird how when you are in the 'dog world' there is alot available but until you make the connections and meet the right people you can feel all alone.
BTW, have to drive over an hour to the best classes in my area. I just tend to combine hiking/walks or shopping to make the trip seem less of an ordeal and more just a part of my week. Since a well trained dog is such a great addition to our lives it's well worth the drive.
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