Walking on Lead - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-30-2017, 02:23 PM Thread Starter
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Walking on Lead

Hi There,

I've noticed one of Sitka's behaviours has been getting worse instead of better, so I'm hoping I can get some advice here. Before I go any further, I am going to a trainer The training will start September 19th, until then I am using knowledge I read in training books. I'm hoping some of you more experienced GSD owners can give some advice in the meantime.

Sitka is 6 months old and seems to be getting worse on a lead, especially when there are other dogs around.

For the first 1.5 months I had Sitka (he was 4-5.5 months old) he was quite timid and would walk close to me, rarely pulling the lead. Aside from sniffing the odd fire hydrant or telephone pole, he walked head up, following my stride.

Since I live alone in a new city, I was concerned about him not socializing enough (I don't know anyone here), so I started bringing him to the dog park. Sitka does great at the park and has never shown any aggression.

I've stopped going to the dog park because, since going frequently, he is no longer timid around other dogs while on lead, but overly excited.

Now, when we see another dog on our walk he pulls the leash very hard, jumping and straining to get to the other dog. On those occasions when I let me meet the other dog, he jumps straight into play mode, hardly giving the other dog time to sniff him (and often startling the other dog).

Also, he has started walking with his nose to teh ground sniffing nonstop, which I know is no-no when on lead.

To correct his behavior when jumping to other dogs is to pull the leash quickly and sharply away and say 'no' and then stop and make him sit. Although he'll sit quickly until I keep going, he is right back at jumping and pulling when we start again. If he continues I do the Cesar Milan 'claw grab' movement while he is sitting.

When he walks with his nose to the ground I pull up on the leash so that his head is up and facing forward and keep walking.

My concern is that he doesn't seem to be getting any better, and I'm getting more frustrated -- not to mention my shoulder/neck is killing me after walks!

Any advice would be great!

Thanks,

Ruth & Sitka
Walking on Lead-img_20170823_194919_483.jpg

Last edited by SitkatheGSD; 08-30-2017 at 02:25 PM.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-30-2017, 04:08 PM
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I noticed similar behavior with my now 8 month old pup. She seemed to learn heel well enough, though did not always stay in exactly the right position, it was pretty close most of the time. And I was thinking over time it would get better...but at around 5 or six months it got worse. So my first reaction was to go out and buy a plastic prong-like choke collar, thinking that would resolve the issue...it did improve initially, but never entirely. Very frustrating.

Then I was having a conversation with a k9 trainer friend, and she said, "you know, you can end that behavior in a day or two if you really want to."

It's pretty simple. Just put the dog in a heel, and stop or turn and go the other way whenever the puppy gets out of position or starts to pull. It takes patience, but once the dog learns that you mean business, they stop pulling and/or walking forward. To that, I added gently, or not so gently, repositioning the dog each time we'd stop. And WOW! I'm still amazed at how quickly my puppy caught on. Initially it took us about 10 minutes to go 30 ft. But after that, she's been perfect...so far
It is something you have to be willing to repeat as needed. But if you're up to it, try that and you should see an almost immediate change. Good luck!
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-30-2017, 04:17 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tim_s_adams View Post
I noticed similar behavior with my now 8 month old pup. She seemed to learn heel well enough, though did not always stay in exactly the right position, it was pretty close most of the time. And I was thinking over time it would get better...but at around 5 or six months it got worse. So my first reaction was to go out and buy a plastic prong-like choke collar, thinking that would resolve the issue...it did improve initially, but never entirely. Very frustrating.

Then I was having a conversation with a k9 trainer friend, and she said, "you know, you can end that behavior in a day or two if you really want to."

It's pretty simple. Just put the dog in a heel, and stop or turn and go the other way whenever the puppy gets out of position or starts to pull. It takes patience, but once the dog learns that you mean business, they stop pulling and/or walking forward. To that, I added gently, or not so gently, repositioning the dog each time we'd stop. And WOW! I'm still amazed at how quickly my puppy caught on. Initially it took us about 10 minutes to go 30 ft. But after that, she's been perfect...so far
It is something you have to be willing to repeat as needed. But if you're up to it, try that and you should see an almost immediate change. Good luck!

Thank you -- this advice is so clear and helpful; I'll try it tonight and get back to you!

I have one question for you though, and hopefully it doesn't sound too daft.

When you are walking and the dog gets out of position, you stop, and change directions, and You start walking back the way you came. Do you continue this way until the dog missteps again, and then turn back around: basically walking back and forth between missteps.

Or when you're pup breaks position, do you stop and turn around and walk back the way you came until the dog is properly walking in the heel position ( a few steps or minutes), and then turn back around into the initial direction of your walk?

Thanks!
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-30-2017, 04:48 PM
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I have done what Tim said at the same age pup and it works really well. Takes a bit of practice and consistency. Make sure the pup knows what the proper heel position is. I shaped it with food then gave it a name.

When I make my 180 turn I try to make sure the leash and collar are to the proper side or under the chin if at possible, drop the leash a little lower and make the turn with a gentle pull. IMO the dog should be paying attention to you therefore after your 180 turn you can turn again when ever you want. I would not only turn when out of position, but make turns and stop randomly so the dog learns to pay attention to you. You could add a noise or a word pat or your leg.

When we are just loose leash walking and my pups pulls hard towards something I will take several steps back away from where is he pulling to and not move until the leash is loose. He has discovered that I will at times follow his nose he just is not allowed to drag me along.

TBH we are still working under low distractions. We sometimes have to do some directional changes at the start of the walk as a warm up or a reminder, but it is becoming less and less.

Good luck hope it works for you.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-30-2017, 05:04 PM
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Great questions! You don't have to change direction unless that really is something the dog doesn't want to do😉 Almost my first thought when I heard these instructions was that my dog is smart enough that she'd figure that out quickly...pull, change direction, pull again change again...

Your job here is basically to let her know that you're in charge. So I did this first as we were going to the park to play. She REALLY wanted to get there, and she would typically walk ahead of me and than really lose it when we got close.
So I didn't change direction at all. Just stopped each time she pulled or got out of position, then I grabbed her collar, and without saying anything, pulled her back into position...and stood there for another minute. At first we were only going one or two steps at a time before stopping. It took us well over 10 minutes to go the 35ft from the car to the park. But by the time we reached the gate you could see her looking at me and regulating her own position very carefully - to make sure we didn't have to stop again!

Honestly, for me that was this morning's walk. And after leaving you the previous message went just now for the second walk of the day. Hardly had to stop at all!

Sort of makes me wonder if I haven't been being conned by her on other commands as well👿

Let us know how it goes for you and Sitka!
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-30-2017, 05:38 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for the advice!

I'm glad to hear you do go for loose leash walking as well -- Sitka's just a pup and so I want to let him explore, but I also don't want him leading me when he's no longer a pup but a 90lb dog!

From what I've read here, I'm not sure I've established the heal position well enough up to this point.

After dinner I'll load my pockets with bison liver (always a favorite treat), and walk around the neighbourhood focusing on the heal position. I'll let him sniff, without leading for one block, then direct him to heel and walk in the heel position. As per these comments, I'll stop and sit if he pulls too hard towards distractions, and turn around immediately. And of course, reward with treats when he walks nicely.

Thanks so much -- I'll update in a few hours!
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-30-2017, 07:58 PM Thread Starter
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Amazing!! Until....

All I can say is Wow!

After about 10 minutes walking around the field at the park practicing heel, stop, heel, heel, stop, we went off on one of our usual routes. Every time I said Heel Sitka would come into (or close to) position and look at me for a treat. I may be a bit optomistic, but I really felt like he was getting it after only 15-20ish minutes of training!

I walked for a block with him on heel, then let him walk with a loose leash and leisurely sniff and guide the way, then back to heel for a block, sitting and stopping throughout, and so on. Breaking the walk up into heel and loose-leash made it more enjoyable for him because he could sniff out all pee and pizza crust he wanted. For me, it meant I didn't have to be pulling up on him the whole time, and could very blatantly reward him for the correct actions like heel and sit.

Everything was golden and I thought my pooch was a prodigy superstore ..until the last block... during the last block home we saw a cat, a beagle, a great dane, 2 bicycles, and a kid in a wagon all on a fairly busy street. A little too much distraction for 1 days training!! haha

Honestly though, this was great advice. Our walk was about half the distance it usually is, but it took the same amount of time with 100times less frustration and strain.

Thanks!! I'll be heeding this advice for all our walks to come!
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-30-2017, 09:17 PM
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That is great! I can relate to the relief of having a nice pleasant walk. Focus on your victory. My pup and I still struggle with distractions. If you are familiar with the proper use of a prong collar it can help. If not familiar watch some videos on introducing it at home and using leash pressure. It can be a tool used for training then the flat collar put back on. Thanks for update.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-30-2017, 10:48 PM
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Great news, congratulations! Don't be surprised if this stellar behavior erodes once in a while. To make it work you have to be very consistent in your commitment to stopping whenever it's needed.

For me, I took my dog this evening to the dog park to play...and she really likes that. But I made her heel from the car to the park, with other dogs going in and out while she remained in position.

It was almost comical! By the time we reached the gate into the park she was literally trembling with anticipation...but she stayed in position beautifully! And it's even more impressive because my pup Nyx had some serious leash agression, barking and snapping and jumping like a maniac anytime she was within sight of another dog. Now? Other dogs on leashes no longer phase her at all, and in just one day she's heeling very well. Again, congratulations on your progress!
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It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. Mark Twain

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Last edited by tim_s_adams; 08-30-2017 at 10:49 PM. Reason: Missed a word...
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