How to structure and teach the Family (pack) walk? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 36 (permalink) Old 09-29-2017, 04:49 PM Thread Starter
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How to structure and teach the Family (pack) walk?

I have a challenge that I would really appreciate some input on.

I take our pup Apex away from home often to train/expose him to the world, when I do itís just him and I, meaning I leave the family at home. This is going great he will heel when asked, when told ok he will break heel for loose leash walk. That said he is not so good that I could give my kids the leash. I figure it can only get better if we keep working at it. He is 2 weeks shy of 9 months old.

I noticed the start of this in June, it is something we just donít do a lot ofÖ.yet. We went to the beach the other day as a Family - husband, 2 kids, and me. Upon getting out of the car pup on 6í leash he wanted to be in the front of all of us, he would not heel pulling hard. I donít know if it is that he wanted to be in front or he just wanted to run like the wind to where ever we were going, he was really excited. Had I let him off leash he would run in front of us, but I know he would only go so far, turn and wait, rinse repeat. Anyhow I kept the leash on; my kids are about as patient as the dog so they ran up ahead and my husband followed. The pup and I stayed behind waiting for him to get under threshold to walk normally. Apparently I was asking too much of him lol. I thought I owned a Husky with the amount of whining howling yipping and barking going on, I didnít even know he could make all of those sounds. Apex was not happy to be away from the pack, it was a really long walk to the beachÖ..

Once done at the beach he and I left first and he walked fine on the leash.

I am wondering if this is something I should start working on now or could he be too immature?
Is this pack drive related?
Are humans considered part of the pack to a dog (sorry maybe stupid?)?
Should I start by taking one kid with me to train, and then add a kid, and then add a husband?
How should we arrange our positions for a family walk, where should the dog be?

That is all the questions I can think of to ask. I am sure I am missing something.
I had no idea pack walks would be harder than just a walk. :/
Thank you in advance for any input.
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post #2 of 36 (permalink) Old 09-29-2017, 05:25 PM
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With regard to pack structure and walking, I've read on this site that it can be a challenge. I haven't really had any issues with it though.

But, I am VERY familiar with taking a 9 month old (now 10) GSD to the beach. My pup will be asleep in the back seat and as we get close (2-3 blocks) she SMELLS the beach. Instantly a spazz, crying, wimpering, more excited than my kids on Christmas morning... Parking, gathering the towels and such all of the awesome obedience training is gone. "SIT" aint happening

She's young, absolutely loves the beach, and is pretty darned good 99% of the time. I let it slide at the beach, for now.
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post #3 of 36 (permalink) Old 09-29-2017, 06:03 PM
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My puppy is now 9 months, and - of course - we've had similar experiences😉 She is also well behaved, does loose leash walking and heels well etc., but there is a certain threshold beyond which her youth and excitement gets the better of her and she just cannot contain herself! On the bright side, I have noticed that the threshold has risen considerably over the past few months, so I'm pretty confident that she'll be just fine in the end without psychiatric intervention LOL.

I loved the Husky comparison, it was so appropriate! On a recent outing I did the same thing, waited and let others go ahead thinking Nyx would calm shortly...boy, was I wrong! She made noises that sounded like I was beating her! It got many a strange look from people nearby...and in the end, I waited for a small window of good behavior so as to end the torture on a positive note. And like Solamar, I just chalked it up to yourh and let it go. Nyx has been really good on walks since then, so it's all good.

Can't really speak to the pack walk question though, I've never had to deal with that one. But your suggestion seems right, add one person at a time and build on each success! Good Luck!

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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post #4 of 36 (permalink) Old 09-29-2017, 07:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solamar View Post
With regard to pack structure and walking, I've read on this site that it can be a challenge. I haven't really had any issues with it though.

But, I am VERY familiar with taking a 9 month old (now 10) GSD to the beach. My pup will be asleep in the back seat and as we get close (2-3 blocks) she SMELLS the beach. Instantly a spazz, crying, wimpering, more excited than my kids on Christmas morning... Parking, gathering the towels and such all of the awesome obedience training is gone. "SIT" aint happening

She's young, absolutely loves the beach, and is pretty darned good 99% of the time. I let it slide at the beach, for now.

If you let it slide for now .....when do you not let it slide?

Bad Behavior should never be rewarded, period.

The first time unwanted behavior occurs it needs to be squashed, if you allow it to continue you will (at some point) try and correct it.

And because you have allowed to slide, it will be more difficult to correct it.


Kim
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post #5 of 36 (permalink) Old 09-29-2017, 08:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Pirates Lair View Post
And because you have allowed to slide, it will be more difficult to correct it.

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Difficult for you, unfair for the dog.

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post #6 of 36 (permalink) Old 09-29-2017, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Apex1 View Post
I have a challenge that I would really appreciate some input on.

I take our pup Apex away from home often to train/expose him to the world, when I do itís just him and I, meaning I leave the family at home. This is going great he will heel when asked, when told ok he will break heel for loose leash walk. That said he is not so good that I could give my kids the leash. I figure it can only get better if we keep working at it. He is 2 weeks shy of 9 months old.

I noticed the start of this in June, it is something we just donít do a lot ofÖ.yet. We went to the beach the other day as a Family - husband, 2 kids, and me. Upon getting out of the car pup on 6í leash he wanted to be in the front of all of us, he would not heel pulling hard. I donít know if it is that he wanted to be in front or he just wanted to run like the wind to where ever we were going, he was really excited. Had I let him off leash he would run in front of us, but I know he would only go so far, turn and wait, rinse repeat. Anyhow I kept the leash on; my kids are about as patient as the dog so they ran up ahead and my husband followed. The pup and I stayed behind waiting for him to get under threshold to walk normally. Apparently I was asking too much of him lol. I thought I owned a Husky with the amount of whining howling yipping and barking going on, I didnít even know he could make all of those sounds. Apex was not happy to be away from the pack, it was a really long walk to the beachÖ..

Once done at the beach he and I left first and he walked fine on the leash.

I am wondering if this is something I should start working on now or could he be too immature?
Is this pack drive related?
Are humans considered part of the pack to a dog (sorry maybe stupid?)?
Should I start by taking one kid with me to train, and then add a kid, and then add a husband?
How should we arrange our positions for a family walk, where should the dog be?

That is all the questions I can think of to ask. I am sure I am missing something.
I had no idea pack walks would be harder than just a walk. :/
Thank you in advance for any input.
Hmm interesting, while I don't have kids ... I do recall once on a walk "Rocky" was off leash with Marilyn and I and group of folks approached us and one of them came forward and asked if she could pet him, while he was off leash. As by now I'd not any untoward aggression towards anyone??? And he had met many strangers by now ...but it was "always just he and I. This time how ever were his pack. And based on previous experience ... I said yes! I did not actually what happened ...but I did see the "stranger turn pale???

Marilyn reported that Rocky had snapped at her??? As I did not actually see it ... I can't say but clearly something happened and it was only because ... we now his pack! So there is that.

But still ... back to basics as we usually don't all walk together ...no big deal. But to your point yes "Pack Dynamics" can apparently make a difference??

So now you know. But back to basics ... since he already "apparently" knows how to walk "properly on leash" you just have to allocate a bit more time. I'm thinking ... let the family go ahead and you do this.:

He already apparently "knows" how to walk properly so he simply does not get to follow the "family" until he chills the heck the out! You need say "nothing!" Let him do "whatever" he will figure it out and when he does ... he will stop, stand, and then most likely Sit and look up at you for direction at that point you say "OK" and if you go! Most likely that will take less than 5 minuets or so??

It's just an unexpected, new behavior that you have not seen ... no need to freak out ... back to basics.
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post #7 of 36 (permalink) Old 09-30-2017, 12:54 AM Thread Starter
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I let it slide at the beach, for now.
I see you know the excitement level. Do you think in time the novelty wears off? What signs would you watch for to know now is the time to not let it slide? If the behavior persist what where would you start?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tim_s_adams View Post
My puppy is now 9 months, and - of course - we've had similar experiences? but there is a certain threshold beyond which her youth and excitement gets the better of her and she just cannot contain herself! On the bright side, I have noticed that the threshold has risen considerably over the past few months, so I'm pretty confident that she'll be just fine in the end without psychiatric intervention LOL.
On a recent outing I did the same thing, waited and let others go ahead thinking Nyx would calm shortly...boy, was I wrong! I waited for a small window of good behavior so as to end the torture on a positive note.
HA! I see you know that excitement as well. May I ask how long you waited? In the window did you go home and end the outing? I certainly see many good things coming with maturity so I have no issue avoiding certain situations until we work through more impulse control focus. Do you think it's a matter of time?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pirates Lair View Post
If you let it slide for now .....when do you not let it slide?

Bad Behavior should never be rewarded, period.

The first time unwanted behavior occurs it needs to be squashed, if you allow it to continue you will (at some point) try and correct it.

And because you have allowed to slide, it will be more difficult to correct it.


Kim
Are you saying we should have gotten back in the car and went home? Not sure how I would have squashed the behavior? I can see how it was rewarded....may be it eventually.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chip18 View Post
Hmm interesting, while I don't have kids ... I do recall once on a walk "Rocky" was off leash with Marilyn and I and group of folks approached us and one of them came forward and asked if she could pet him, while he was off leash. As by now I'd not any untoward aggression towards anyone??? And he had met many strangers by now ...but it was "always just he and I. This time how ever were his pack. And based on previous experience ... I said yes! I did not actually what happened ...but I did see the "stranger turn pale???

Marilyn reported that Rocky had snapped at her??? As I did not actually see it ... I can't say but clearly something happened and it was only because ... we now his pack! So there is that.

But still ... back to basics as we usually don't all walk together ...no big deal. But to your point yes "Pack Dynamics" can apparently make a difference??

So now you know. But back to basics ... since he already "apparently" knows how to walk "properly on leash" you just have to allocate a bit more time. I'm thinking ... let the family go ahead and you do this.:

He already apparently "knows" how to walk properly so he simply does not get to follow the "family" until he chills the heck the out! You need say "nothing!" Let him do "whatever" he will figure it out and when he does ... he will stop, stand, and then most likely Sit and look up at you for direction at that point you say "OK" and if you go! Most likely that will take less than 5 minuets or so??

It's just an unexpected, new behavior that you have not seen ... no need to freak out ... back to basics.
That is interesting Chip. Was this the first hint of people aggression?
We certainly have a different dynamic going in the family walk. Pack drive, herding, crazy puppy? He really tries hard with his exuberance, I trust he will be a patient gentle adult. I think he will surprise me with behaviors I do not see coming.... I suppose like most things i can fumble my way with some advice along the way. I don't want to be unfair. If there is an efffective way to get it done id rather it pointed out. Your advice is what was in my head we waited a good 10 minutes LOL he SAT next me howling, yipping and barking while LOOKING at me! LOL begging to just be free I guess. Poor pup and the dreaded leash. I see your point and even if it took 30 minutes I should have just kept at waiting? I suppose I was to eager to get to the beach as well. We didn't take it slow enough? I will try again. I don't know if I freaked out I mean I am a mom we have to be cool under pressure. I just kinda looked at the dog and laughed like what the heck do I do with this?! My husband was like what the heck was that all about once we finally reached the beach! It was 2 steps stop position 2 steps stop position.


Thank you for all the input everyone. Hopefully all the quotes work. Appreciate everyone's time.
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post #8 of 36 (permalink) Old 09-30-2017, 09:50 AM
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Quote "Are you saying we should have gotten back in the car and went home? Not sure how I would have squashed the behavior? I can see how it was rewarded....may be it eventually."



How you interpreted that post as getting back in the car and going home I'm not sure? , I'm saying you should have corrected your dogs behavior then and there, make it walk/heel beside you until you decided it could run around excited.

Believe or not, dogs....like children enjoy discipline, and discipline does not mean pain. Discipline is guidelines, rules in life, consequences to one's actions or lack thereof. It shows them you care enough to take the time to teach them.


If bad behavior is corrected immediately (squashed) it is not a big deal to the dog, you just taught it something new. If you allow the behavior to go on and on and then one day correct it the dog is confused and probably will not comply, why would it since you have allowed it in the past?

You squash bad behavior immediately, as soon as the dog complies you praise the **** out it.


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post #9 of 36 (permalink) Old 09-30-2017, 03:39 PM
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Please excuse the long winded reply, but it's difficult to really explain briefly.

Apex1, perhaps if I explain the situation I found myself in with my puppy it will help you to understand what myself and others are saying. Folks feel free to correct me if you see that I'm wrong!

I have the greatest respect for Kim @Pirates Lair as he is a professional breeder and trainer and has an amazing program (if you haven't seen any of his videos, check out prior posts!).

Not sure of the appropriate percentage, but I'd guess somewhere around 95% of the issues pet owners or novice trainers have with their dogs/puppies stem from trainer error. And that's why it's really good advice to consult a professional trainer if when you have issues with your dog or puppy. I'm not saying you, or anyone else, can't persevere and EVENTUALLY resolve a given issue, but a good balanced trainer can help you get there quicker and easier, typically with much less stress.

Okay, so in the situation I mentioned in my previous post, I had unintentionally set my puppy up for failure - again, trainer error! My sister had just gotten a new dog, and knowing I frequently exercise my dog at our local dog park (because it's one of the few areas I have access to where she can be offleash), my sister asked if she could ride along. This was the first time my dog had had to share "her" car with another dog. And though she handled it well, when we arrived she was definitely in an unusually agitated state. In hindsight I should not have chosen that particular time for a training session, it was unfair of me. And letting my sister and her new dog go first while I made my puppy wait, added to the unfairness and frustration for her.

But once started, as @Pirates Lair mentioned, you HAVE to follow through and not reward the bad behavior. I found myself in the same 2 steps forward, stop, move her back into position, 2 steps forward scene that you mentioned, with the dog howling and whining each time we'd stop. I'm not trying here to speak for others, but @Pirates statement below is important, I took the liberty of adding the bold highlight to emphasize my point.


Quote:
I'm saying you should have corrected your dogs behavior then and there, make it walk/heel beside you until you decided it could run around excited.
I waited until my puppy quieted completely in the correct position for a bit, and then praised and released her - before we got all the way to the entrance. It was a mistake on my part to set her up for failure like that, so I chose to end the session, but only after she quieted - the window of good behavior I mentioned. It only took her a couple minutes, but it's really important for you to also remain calm too, because if you're tense it will definitely take the dog much longer to settle. And it wasn't easy with all the people looking my way and muttering😊.

In your situation, I think your pup's reaction had little to do with any pack issues, and more to do with the introduction of multiple things at once. If Apex is used to walking with you only, and now he's walking with multiple people, of course it's exciting! I don't think you mentioned whether this was his first trip to the beach or not, but the added excitement that comes from investigating a new place, or going to a place that's fun but only visited rarely, is also bound to put your puppy in an agitated and excited state.

Like any training, you build on incremental improvements. Introducing multiple, big changes at once is a recipe for failure. But I understand, life happens. I don't believe a single outing is going to have any lasting consequences. I would suggest asking other family members to accompany you on your regular walks, in your usual spots, to get him used to that. And you might consider taking him to the beach yourself, to practice behaving appropriately. I would even suggest considering going to the beach and walking only halfway, then turning around, going back to the car and leaving. As I noticed with my puppy they learn to expect a given outcome from a series of events, so it's always good to mix things up so that the ONE constant in everything you do requires the dog to focus on you for direction.

I saw early on that I needed to make a conscious effort to vary the order of commands we practiced. At about 5 months of age, I noticed her not paying close attention to me, and just trying to cycle through all of the commands she knew to get the treat quicker! So it really taught me to mix things up.

As this relates to walking and heeling, I try to always vary the order of things. Sometimes I make her heel for a few blocks before releasing her to sniff and pee. Other times I release her at the beginning. Sometimes I make her go for six blocks without a break, other times only a block or two....then I walk really slow for a bit, so that she never knows what to expect!

Dogs live in the moment, delayed correction does not work for anything! So turning around and going home wouldn't teach him anything. Making him sit quietly before releasing him will. And again, not trying to speak for anyone else, but IMHO squashing bad behavior takes on many forms. My puppy became leash reactive toward other dogs shortly after I got her home. To squash that behavior I chose to desensitize her incrementally, by just sitting in the park on the grass watching other dogs walk by at a distance, and then slowly over time reducing the distance until she was able to control herself right next to the path. She now walks by MOST dogs without any reaction at all. But every once in awhile, she for some reason she will still react a bit with specific dogs. Since she's fully aware of the behavior I want to see, when that happens I sternly correct her immediately, and done, we walk on.

I do think that age makes a huge difference in a dog's ability to remain composed in new situations. But I also actively teach her patience all the time. For example, she does not leave either the house or the car until released, and we practice this daily. I also place treats in front of her and even on her paws and make her "leave it" until released. It's good practice.

Again, sorry for being so long winded here, but hopefully you'll find at least some of this helpful! Good Luck!
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post #10 of 36 (permalink) Old 09-30-2017, 09:03 PM
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That is interesting Chip. Was this the first hint of people aggression?
We certainly have a different dynamic going in the family walk. Pack drive, herding, crazy puppy? He really tries hard with his exuberance, I trust he will be a patient gentle adult. I think he will surprise me with behaviors I do not see coming.... I suppose like most things i can fumble my way with some advice along the way. I don't want to be unfair. If there is an efffective way to get it done id rather it pointed out. Your advice is what was in my head we waited a good 10 minutes LOL he SAT next me howling, yipping and barking while LOOKING at me! LOL begging to just be free I guess. Poor pup and the dreaded leash. I see your point and even if it took 30 minutes I should have just kept at waiting? I suppose I was to eager to get to the beach as well. We didn't take it slow enough? I will try again. I don't know if I freaked out I mean I am a mom we have to be cool under pressure. I just kinda looked at the dog and laughed like what the heck do I do with this?! My husband was like what the heck was that all about once we finally reached the beach! It was 2 steps stop position 2 steps stop position.


Thank you for all the input everyone. Hopefully all the quotes work. Appreciate everyone's time.
No that's nothing to do with Rocky and myself. That's Larry Krhon, and his first time out with a new client's dog. I like it because it exemplifies, the point I was trying to make in my SLL thread on BoxerFroum! Except ... in my "experienced opinion" Larry is doing to much work.

But I digress ... soooo ...back on pointe, Apex1 did nothing wrong??? It was a trip to the beach ... it was not "suppose to be a "training/proofing" exercise??? But she got, unexpected behavior from her dog, in a new situation???

Crap happens no harm no foul and I will say that under most circumstances for me, ... it it takes more than five minuets to get a dog just to walk ... I'm in for a challenge! I've only two out of several, that took that much time to go on a loose leash walk. And to actually go on a "Loose Leash walk!" And to actually "Sit" well acting like a "tool???"
Well I will say ... I've not seen that???

And most likely sure ... a "Pro" could have gotten her dog over this "crap behavior" quicker and faster???? But near as I can tell ... most "Pet People" don't really care about time??? It takes what it takes ... "I don't care" least ways that's my take on the time thing??

Now I will say, a properly used "SLL" with the little tabby snugged up high ... actually becomes the dogs focus! I'm not even there, they screw around trying to get free and then "most" give up and "Stop" then "Sit???" And look up and await further instructions?? I look down and say "OK" and that is ... the end of discussion. And if further correction are needed ... it's just a slight tug "sideways." And an onlooker would observe "nothing" untoward happening!

So the dog/puppy actually "Siting" and still, acting like a "tool??" Is kinda new to me?? I've not seen that before??? Most likely a "slight tug" sideways and a "Ptssss" would have stopped it?? And yesss, unlike some ... I have found Cesar's Ptsss, extremely effective,
but maybe it's just me???

At any rate ... the term "Correction" tends to freak people out?? It is subject to interpretation??? And people seem to "assume" it means ... "I need to yank the crap out of my dog/puppy??" But ... "NO" an effective "Correction" depends on the dog and the circumstances ... hence ... the "Pet Convincer" a tool not subject to owner "interpretation" ... just saying.

Carry on all.
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