Teaching heel in CRAZY neighborhood - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-24-2009, 10:06 PM Thread Starter
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Teaching heel in CRAZY neighborhood

I wonder if I am being unrealistic. My boys, both six months will do great on stretches of the street where it's nice and quiet but when I go past a house with barking dogs (which is about 8 houses in one trip around the block) they pull so hard it makes my arms hurt. I just wonder if I expect too much. The houses we walk past have some very aggressive dogs, growling, barking, hitting their chain link fence just a few feet from the street so we pass these dogs pretty close. I'm using prong collars now and don't want to correct my dogs too hard for something that would freak me out if I were in their place.

Also I should explain that I've been walking them separately some and together some. My submissive guy does almost perfect when it's just him even with distractions, he pulls but not too bad. My dominant dog gets very excited and tries to go for the other dogs. I have a hard time just getting past those problem houses with him. When they are together, well, it's surprising my arms are in their sockets because the submissive dog seems to get a little more nerve when his brother is along for the walk.

Should I just find another area to practice with them in and wait until they do better with distractions or keep it up in my own neighborhood and correct/reward more? And should I always walk them separately until I get the dominant one under control?

I work with them every day and would hate to be doing something counter productive to what I'm trying to accomplish.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-24-2009, 10:18 PM
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Re: Teaching heel in CRAZY neighborhood

Did a trainer help you fit the prong collar and give a correction?

LOL I"m a fine one to talk. Otto walks with my son to school. He pulls the whole way to get there. No matter how many times I stop (he sits like a perfect little boy), he pulls. I reverse direction, doesn't work becuase the dog knows where the boy is going when that back pack is on. Get my son to school, Otto walks in perfect formation as soon as my son gets in the building. It's like 'Oh the boy is here, I'll behave like an idiot and embarrass him!'

Right now, I'm using 2 leashes on Otto - a traffic lead attached to his prong collar so I can give him a correction if need be and a leather lead attached to his regular collar. That prong is in full use all the way to school. Get the boy in the school, he's loose on his leather lead. Go figure!

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-24-2009, 10:22 PM
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Re: Teaching heel in CRAZY neighborhood

While I would love to manage to walk my dogs together someday, I know that realistically it is not going to be any time soon. So instead of dwelling on that, I walk them individually and relish the one on one time with them. My boy does great on his walk while my girl likes to pull; before I got the prong collars, it was the opposite.

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-24-2009, 10:25 PM
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Re: Teaching heel in CRAZY neighborhood

I walk by loud barking dogs and both my dogs pull me fast past the house to get away, LOL. They do this on the walk home in a hurry to get back, my ob trainers recommended GL and I was thinking of getting a gentle leader head halter.

Jenn, should the prong stop Otto from pulling to school? He puts up with the pinches?

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-24-2009, 10:29 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Teaching heel in CRAZY neighborhood

I didn't have a trainer this time around but I've worked with a trainer in the past. Had my 1st gsd when I was a teen (was the only way my dad would let me walk anywhere alone lol). I still remember everything the trainer taught me about the fit and how to give corrections, it just makes me feel bad correcting my dogs when I feel like the neighborhood dogs are being insane. Some of the dogs we walk past are huge, and lunge at their fences. I think my dogs are just being protective but I would love for them to ignore and keep on walkin'. Instead they try and drag me to the other dogs as I manage to drag them past the problem houses lol. It's sad too because when there are no distractions, they heel perfectly. My boys are getting VERY big for six months, their father weighed 117 lbs. I worry that if I don't get these two under perfect control soon that it's just gonna get harder.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-24-2009, 10:34 PM
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Re: Teaching heel in CRAZY neighborhood

Quote:
Originally Posted By: Heidi WJenn, should the prong stop Otto from pulling to school? He puts up with the pinches?
He pulls right through the pinching.

Otto has been a problem child since day one with pulling! If I give him a prong correction for something else, he gets it right away. Give him a correction for pulling, he's right back at it 5 steps away. Drives me NUTS becuase he knows how to walk nicely. It's 2 blocks to school, he pulls, drop off DS#1, he'll walk 10 blocks in perfect formation and even get complements from random neighbors out gardening on how nicely he's walking now. It's just when the kids are involved, they break his concentration.

Sorry for the hi-jack, Otto's heeling issue needs it's own thread, possibly a blog

-Jenn

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-24-2009, 10:39 PM
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Re: Teaching heel in CRAZY neighborhood

Quote:
Originally Posted By: michel33It just makes me feel bad correcting my dogs when I feel like the neighborhood dogs are being insane. Some of the dogs we walk past are huge, and lunge at their fences. I think my dogs are just being protective but I would love for them to ignore and keep on walkin'.
'Leave it leave it' - good boy! Insert roast beef in dogs mouth. LOL, I have totally mastered nevermind the insane dog pounding on the fence.

They're not being protective at 6 months old.

-Jenn

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-24-2009, 10:48 PM
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Re: Teaching heel in CRAZY neighborhood

I would walk the two separately. 6 months old, right? They're just puppies. They're still just learning leash manner right now and you need to work with each one individually.

With the dominant dog you're going to have to work hard on the "leave it". Start slow and set him up for success. If possible, find another route to walk him for awhile. Get him away from the crazy dogs. Like Jenn said, at 6 months he is not barking because he is being protective of you, he is barking and lunging because the other dogs are FREAKING him out and he doesn't know how to handle the stress.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-24-2009, 11:17 PM
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Re: Teaching heel in CRAZY neighborhood

I have a puppy (well, 10 months) and a reactive adult dog. I tried prong collars for both of them, but it would take a VERY hard correction on my adult dog to snap him out of anything. At this point I believe prong collars are not the way to go for an excited/reactive dog.

What has worked well for us is head harnesses, specifically the Halti which has that backup connection incase the harness comes off.

Now, it is easy to control the dogs, I can just grab up the leash close to the collar, and make the dogs walk with me. If my big dog tries to turn towards the distraction (thereby trying to overpower me as I hold on to the leash), I just pull harder on it and I always win which is easy to do with a Halti. Then, I do some figure 8s with the dogs at my side, and do not let them fixate on the distraction (cats/dogs). Because I am doing figure 8s, and could "cut them off" at any time, their focus changes to walking nicely, instead of the distraction.

When we leave the scene, they are in a fairly calm state, realizing that they are going where I go, period. I had to learn to read their body language; it's OK for the dogs to look at the distraction, but they are not going to do it by pulling away from me and/or with their ears up.

It's become a great exercise for us though; if it seems as if the distraction is going to be a challenge, I do the figure 8s before we get close. Then perhaps throw some figure 8s in right near the distraction, then walk away nicely. It is MUCH more satisfying to do figure 8s/yielding and redirecting attention so they stay calm -- and praising them -- then trying to give 2 dogs prong collar corrections which tended to rile them up more.

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-25-2009, 12:11 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Teaching heel in CRAZY neighborhood

Thanks so much for all the advice. I like the roast beef idea. I used that to teach them both to sit still in the tub for a bath and it wonders, maybe it will distract them on the walk. I hate to think of the other dogs freaking them out, so I think I'll change my route as well. I live close to a park with paths in the woods, haven't tried that yet as it's a much longer walk for me. Think I'll give it a go tomorrow.
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