Want to become a better (more patient) trainer
This has become quite longer than I wanted it to be. I apologize for some questions that might have very straightforward answers. I am doing obedience class, but thats 45min a week with (almost) no time to ask questions.
I have become a bit frustrated over the last couple of weeks about the progression, or better said, lack thereof, in training my currently six month old pup.
After reading numerous threads on this website and articles on Leerburg, I've realized I am doing a lot of things wrong, or simply not well enough. My main problem, which I guess is the most important quality for any kind of teacher/trainer, is 'patience'. Stress has gotten the best of me lately and I can be quite impatient at times. I don't want that to ruin the little progress I have made over the last couple of months though, I want to change things so that it works better for the both of us.
1. I stopped walking my dog off-leash, because he likes to run away with stuff for me to chase him (which I unfortunately did when he was little). I got a few 'bad looks' when I told the people I normally encountered while walking off-leash that I wouldn't be doing that anymore until my pup masters the "leave it" command.
Is it "bad" for the development of my pup to never walk off-leash with him? People here seem to think so.
2. I try to avoid any contact with humans and dogs during our walks (only not with the very few I enjoy talking to, which probably happens less than once a week). My pup is super friendly and people seem to think it's normal to just go to their knees and pet my dog, or tell my pup to sit.....
Is it bad for the socialization of the pup to avoid all contact with others during our walks? Ideally I'd reach a point where my pup has zero interest in all people but me, but that's probably far more difficult than it sounds.
3. One of the things that drives me nuts is the constant interest in the surroundings. I understand there is a lot going on, with all the cars, birds, people (on bicycles), etc, but I can't leave the neighborhood without having to drag my pup along. Outside of my neighborhood (which is less then a five minute walk from my house, but can easily become ten minutes) he'll still be distracted, but less. He'll almost constantly pull sideways to go onto the grass and sniff, and then that pulling back and forth happens between us while we walk.
I walk with a treat bag and I try to incorporate a 70-30 rule, where 70% of the time we walk, and 30% is his pleasure/sniffing time. I keep the leash short and walk for about 5 minutes, where he gets treats for walking next to me, and then give him 1/1.5 minute of sniffing time. I walk with a 2m (6.5ft) leash and still he never sniffs by my side, but walks/runs until the leash is tight and hangs in it to sniff around. Forcing me to, or go with him on the grass, or pull him back. This makes me frustrated and results in me pulling him back and discontinuing his sniffing time. The thing is, this happens all the time, which proofs my way isn't working.
Is my 70-30 rule wrong? Must I keep walking with him, correcting him, until he understands he needs to walk alongside me until I give him the "go sniff" command?
4. I am not interesting enough for my pup and I have no idea how to change that. He seems to have zero interest in playing with his toys outside of the house. I can bring his favorite one to a secluded area and play with him, but he'll still have more interest in sniffing around or jumping on me when he's expecting treats (which is also something he does when we walk). He'll bite his toy very softly and then look at me happily.
I maybe haven't taught him tug in the correct manner. Could that be the issue?
5. Lungeing/barking to dogs and cats. This one is horrible. Not only because it is super tiresome (and the main reason I avoid all moving life during our walks), but also because he always chokes because of the hanging in the collar and ends up coughing afterwards. I try and divert his attention with treats, walking the other way, giving him lots of threats when he spots a dog but doesn't bark immediately, etc. But, like this morning, I was stuck. Behind me there were people with dogs coming, and in front me a man with a Malinois. I had to go to that direction so I just waited until he passed me (less than 1m (3ft) wide path, the only place with shades). The Malinois didn't even look, the man looked with a disgusted face to my pup, and my boy was pulling full force, standing on his back feet and barking as loud as he could.
Is this simply a case of consistency in focus and training him to ignore dogs at a great distance, and just make that distance smaller when he gets better?
"Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come, and when death has come, we are not."