Loose leash training; Suggestions only pls! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-21-2009, 04:07 PM Thread Starter
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Loose leash training; Suggestions only pls!

Hi all,

For the past 2 months, I've failed miserably trying to train my boy to walk nicely on loose leash. He does quite well when off leash sometimes since he is a velcro dog but would tend to weave in and out of my legs and at times his herding instincts kicks in and he'll weave left and right just barely in front of me making my daughters and I trip constantly.

***Before you go on posting telling me to give him a break because he's only a baby or cut him some slack. I thank you for reminding me but I've heard enough of those. I don't mean to sound harsh or rude but those same people might not have succeeded and I tend to read their problem posts all the time.. So please, no hard feeling! I'm here for training suggestions only and NOT some "Give him a break because he's a baby and needs time to learn" or "you are too hard on him and yourself". Nope! seriously, for consistenly 2 full month of twice daily walks, I've watched videos, paid for a dog trainer, read books and even took a vacation so I can spend more time studying, reading, bonding, playing and learning how to help my boy walk in a nicer manner. This is NOT about how I feel or should feel, this is about how I can utilize the training methods from other more experienced problemsolvers who can offer some sort of coaching..I'm sorry if this section offended you or I sound like an arrogant donkeyrear but I feel the need to express my honest feeling about some of the posters I've read in the past..****

Ok, so he is now 17 weeks (4 months) old and from 8 weeks I've been trying desperately to make him walk calmly and nicely alongside me. Again, I've failed!. I've watched different videos, consulted with trainers, patiently watched more videos, read books upon books. Still I failed.

Some of the things I've done in the training:

1. Lots of treats, make him focus, clicker, praise, toys. All in the privacy of the community housing during the day where there is hardly any distraction whatsoever.
2. Tried, tying the leash to my waist, walk 3 steps, click, praise and treat only to have him immediately pull before I can hand him the treats.
3. Same as above, tossing the treats 1 step back so he can turn around to pick it up, then he pulls again.
4. Again, same as above, he'd weave around my legs and end up on the right side of me and sits.
5. Above, pulling almost to a point of strangling him because he is pulling harder and harder. All this time I've tried not to put any pressure on the leash since it is tied to my waist.
5. Above with hand holding the leash instead, he sense my hand holding and pulls even harder. Totally ignoring me and trying to head to the next bush to the side.
5. Above, sniffing, playing, jumping and for some reasons, any and all treats are being disregarded because his attention is full on the bushes or grass area. And no, he's not wanting to sniff and pee or poop.
6. Above, when he pulls, I stand still, he continues to pull.
7. Above, when he pulls, I turn around and walk the other way, he pulls, fails, turns around run past me and pulls ahead.
8. Above, but pulls to the side ignoring my treat and me altogether.
9. Above, runs around in circle and keeps pulling.
10. Above, pulls, I make him sit 5 seconds so he can calm down, as soon as he sense I starting to walk, he'd pull ahead again and again..

I've resorted all my resourses and am thinking to just board him for loose leash training but then again, I kinda feel bad so asking for some last advices before making my decisions.

Lastly, I've used just about all types of collar except prong collar which may be hard on him at this age.
Dan
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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-21-2009, 04:16 PM
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Re: Loose leash training; Suggestions only pls!

I will state that I think you are expecting too much from a four month old puppy but that's just my opinion.

You say: 6. Above, when he pulls, I stand still, he continues to pull.

So, what happens when he continues to pull?

What should happen is NOTHING. You should not MOVE until there is slack in the leash.

YEa, that may mean you stand there for 5, 10 or even 20 minutes while he pulls and pulls and pulls. He has to LEARN that he only moves forward when there is slack in the leash.

So - he pulls, you stop, he finally gives some slack in the leash, you praise, say GO EASY (or whatever word you are going to use for telling him not to pull) and then move forward.

And he rushes forward and starts pulling again.

So - you stop, he finally gives some slack in the leash, you praise, say GO EASY (or whatever word you are going to use for telling him not to pull) and then move forward.

And he rushes forward and starts pulling again.

So - you stop, he finally gives some slack in the leash, you praise, say GO EASY (or whatever word you are going to use for telling him not to pull) and then move forward.

Get the idea?

These are TRAINING sessions - not pleasure walks. You need to TEACH him not to pull on leash before you can expect him to go for a walk without pulling.

Also, since he IS still young and full of energy, make sure you are walking at a brisk pace.
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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-21-2009, 04:33 PM
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Re: Loose leash training; Suggestions only pls!

I agree 100% with Lauri.

I know how you feel. I saw all these videos of amazing little puppies heeling perfectly on-leash, off-leash with focus on their owners faces. W/E!
I'm not saying you should cut him some slack, I am saying you're expecting too much Hmm.. Is there a difference? Prolly not...


Your puppy will tell you when he's ready to start doing that. I pretty much gave up on heel work with Denali (5 months old) and only expect loose leash.

Here's how I did it:
**Note- She still does NOT walk next to me all the time. Maybe for like 5 seconds at a time. She walks in front of me and behind me. When she DOES end up next to me on her own, I praise.**

She pulled on the leash- I turned and walked the other way.

She pulled in that direction- I turned the other way.
We walked in one big circle until she figured out that I was not going where she wanted to go at her pace. She was going where I wanted to go at my pace!

Sometimes - She pulled, I stopped. Slack on the leash = keep moving.

Tension on the leash - STOP again! It takes forever just to go around the block.

When people walk with me they get annoyed because Denali is still in training.
ALSO- DO NOT let other people walk your dog.

Most people that don't know your dog will either let them get away with their puppy behavior or correct them wayyyy too harshly.

Just my .02

ETA: I've also noticed that it took Denali much longer to learn how to walk on a lead with twice a day walks as her only leash training.
My advice would be take him outside 4-5 times and practice not pulling on the leash.
As in, walking in circles until he gets it and as soon as he shows a tiny bit of improvement end the training on a happy note and go back inside.

I've also completely eliminated treat training on walks for now.
She's too exuberant over getting her treat and it actually works AGAINST leash training for me.
Stopping or turning around when she pulls has done the best job.

Owned by Nini and McKinley.
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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-21-2009, 04:56 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Loose leash training; Suggestions only pls!

Thanks Lauri and Denali,

I've tried both methods.. I guess I should say I was a little discourage after failing so much for so long. He IS indeed a baby hence a good time to train him how pleasurable it is to walk nicely. I did cut him slacks.. maybe too much. LOL

It took me 1.2 hours today to walk from the yard to 5 houses away and back. That's estimated 250 yards max.. The reason was, he pulls, I stop.. he pulls I stop until he relax. But during all this time, we've had 3 water stops with me pouring water on a portable bowl just so he can sip some water from the exhaustions. I mean, he pulls and pulls, and I stop, sometimes as long as 20 minutes. During that 20 min, he pulls until he is exhausted so he lays on the ground.

I've also tried turning around many, many times.. I almost got a dizzy spell from turning around so much. LOL.. I did it with treats, without treats, with praise but never once did I scold him or raised my voice. I had to take deep breaths at times just to calm myself so I didn't translate my frustration over the leash.

hehe.. I don't mean I wanted him to become a schH pup nor prove that he's an obedience dog. I just wanted him to enjoy the walks but frustrations sometimes overshadows my intentions. I don't expect him to be "the perfect puppy". But I've seen and known puppies as young as 3 months old qualified and achieve CGC. Dogs I've known who does heeling patterns at 4 months. And that's not saying I expect that either.. I just really, really, really want him to enjoy some quality outside walk time together.. At this point, I'll take any and all advices and even jump thru hoops backward while wearing a snorkeling mask and fins just to get him to do that.. /cry
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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-21-2009, 05:01 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Loose leash training; Suggestions only pls!

Hmm, I just had a thought. Maybe he's too energetic and may have some pinned up energy during the walks. I'll drain him down some more with fetch and play or maybe a light tredmill run this afternoon before we walk again.

I'm also thinking custmizing some "blinkers" and letting him try it that way may help. My mind is still shooting around thinking of different methods to try.. I'm determined to help him walk correctly..
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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-21-2009, 05:03 PM
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Re: Loose leash training; Suggestions only pls!

You can also try heeling inside the house.
Put the leash on him and do some exercises inside. 4-5x a day.

Then do those exercises 4-5x a day again but outside until he gets it.

1.2 hours is way too long!
He's getting bored AND frustrated just as much as you are.

Quick sessions work best.

Snap his leash on, go outside. When he pulls turn around or stop, wait, wait, wait, walk, stop, walk, stop, walk.
15 mins go by? Go back inside.

Go back outside in 1 hr and do it all over again.

Owned by Nini and McKinley.
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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-21-2009, 05:03 PM
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Re: Loose leash training; Suggestions only pls!

Breathe. You sound very frustrated and I'm guessing you're getting this frustrated on your "walks" with what you consider (at the time) a demon puppy from [heck].

I found the walks where I went out EXPECTING Anna to walk perfect or to "get it" was when she did her worst. And then I'd get worked up and mad and p'od and I know this transferred down the leash, making her less willing to try to be a good girl. Now the walks where I just throw on the leash and go out with little or no expectations are the ones she does wonderfully on...BUT it did take us a while to get to this point...she's 11 months today and still has bad walk days. I had to train myself to be of low expectations. She also does better when it's just me...not with DH or with Duncan, just the two of us.

We also stop in places to do some basic OB that she KNOWS inside and out...like sits. We'll stop in a quiet area, I ask her to sit and when she does she gets a big "GOOD GIRL!!!" a treat if I have one and some lovin. Then an upbeat "Good girl! Let's go!" this tends to have her focus on me for a while, I think she bathes in the ego boost.

Have you tried tiring him out before a walk? Like a big fetch/tug session? Change up your path so he wants to slow down and sniff? The month I thought I was going to kill Anna I took her to new parks and places other than the hood. Not only did she see new stuff which often made her look to me for approval, but she was taking in so much she hardly had time to pull around.

Basically, she walks in front of me on a mostly loose leash. I'm hoping by Jan. the OB class will help me with heel. I talk to her on the walks and keep a good upbeat attitude and tone and try to enjoy it. Days I feel like I want to kill her, we cut it short and head home, a p'od walk is not beneficial to either of us.



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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-21-2009, 05:05 PM
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Re: Loose leash training; Suggestions only pls!

Quote:
Originally Posted By: TechnostormHmm, I just had a thought. Maybe he's too energetic and may have some pinned up energy during the walks. I'll drain him down some more with fetch and play or maybe a light tredmill run this afternoon before we walk again.

I'm also thinking custmizing some "blinkers" and letting him try it that way may help. My mind is still shooting around thinking of different methods to try.. I'm determined to help him walk correctly..
Fetch is good because he can stop when he gets tired but I don't think the treadmill is good for a 4 month old puppy.
You can't really know when he's ready to stop so you're forcing him to exercise. Running on the hard surface isn't good for his joints.

Owned by Nini and McKinley.
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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-21-2009, 05:07 PM
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Re: Loose leash training; Suggestions only pls!

Well I would say if YOU are having trouble getting the results you want.

Then YOU need the training and not the puppy.

So where are you training? Who are you training with? What do they suggest/recommend? And if you are going somewhere and not happy with them, go somewhere else who has a perfectly trained 4 month old puppy and use their method instead.

How many puppies have you trained so you know to have the high expectation you do, rather then lowering them like the rest of us are suggesting.

Cause frankly, I have one of the top agility GSD's in the USA right now and I would never expect what you do from a 4 month old as far as obedience. What I want from a 4 month old is excitement and enthusiasm to learn. LOVING and wanting to be with me and learn from me. THAT is what I work on with a young puppy. And then what I get is an older dog that does well in whatever venue (obedience/agility) that I choose.

What I get when I cut a puppy some slack by 5 months old:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kro4NqlaA24

And what this gets me a few years later

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ks87zxLP3DE

You want to have a great adult dog, you work on getting a great puppy. Not an OBEDIENT puppy. But a happy, confident and loving puppy. Though I think you may be impressed by this 6 month old puppy heeling
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v559F522jV8 if you were using her methods I bet you'd be further along and less frustrated.

http://www.clickerdogs.com/




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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-21-2009, 05:09 PM
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Re: Loose leash training; Suggestions only pls!

I feel ANY puppy training is best with a semi tired puppy. Play times before, during and after training sessions.

What else have you has success in training him to do and what methods worked to train them?


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