Walking and frustration - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-05-2016, 12:31 PM Thread Starter
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Walking and frustration

I have experience with leash training and helped my brother train his stubborn 7 yr old husky/elk-hound mix to walk loose leash on a harness. Mind you my brother did not walk him regularly enough for it to be re-enforced so it was like re-training him every week when I would go to walk him. But within a street length he was walking nice for me again. I largely used leash corrections with a firm "sssttt".

Well to start I really struggled to get my GSD pup to even walk, he would lay down and refuse to budge, I was able to get him to walk nicely with a front lead harness, and we had been doing so well for a time. He's 17 weeks now and for the last two every time we go out the walk starts nice and ends in me being dragged even with leash corrections like I would do with my brother's dog. I've tried stopping every time he pulls, walking in opposite directions, and he completely ignores treats when we are outside. I'm getting so frustrated I pick him up and I walk home (not that we even get that far anymore).

He is so obedient and well behaved at home. Everyone is so impressed with how much I've worked with him and trained him to do. We've been working on heel and he can do that so well, but he won't replicate these behaviors in our own yard. I'm so embarrassed and frustrated that I'm failing at this, especially because I love walking and used to take my brother's dog for 5+ mile walks and would really like to do this with my own pup.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-05-2016, 12:55 PM
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Couple of things to try....a collar instead of the harness,a martingale or slip lead.And instead of a long,straight walk practice lots of twists and turns until he gets the point that he must keep that leash loose in order to go anywhere.There are so many videos on loose leash walking!Check them out and find the methods that seem sensible.
Harnesses often encourage a dog to pull harder.Also with a collar if the pressure is straight back it encourages pulling.Best you direct him from the side.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-05-2016, 01:57 PM
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Rather than telling a dog what I don't want it to do, (which is certainly appropriate at other times) when I'm trying to train a specific behavior I'd rather show my dog what I DO want him to do. Leash corrections aren't really doing that for you. Reinforcing the dog for walking calmly on a loose leash next to me works much better, IMO.

I start training my pups to walk next to me around the house, off leash at first. Hand targeting is great for this, and I'll also lure with a treat. A hallway works well because you can use the wall as a guide to proper positioning. I also use the dog run, which is a narrow concrete side yard with a wood fence along one side and the house on the opposite side. Not much in the way of distractions, so it's a good next step.

I start out very slowly, working up to several steps in a row. Three steps is basically the beginning, middle and end of the behavior of loose leash walking, but one method I used with Halo was referred to as the wedding march - take one step, stop. Take another step, stop. Rinse, repeat. When I stop, I want the dog to automatically sit at my side, so I'll lure that with a treat, then mark (with a clicker or a verbal marker - "yes!"), and give the treat. My loose leash walking cue is "let's go". When we're out on a walk I do like to give my dogs permission to check stuff out, so I put that on cue. If they start to pull towards something they want to smell, I make them sit and give me eye contact, then I release to "go sniff". I take them for long leashed hikes (3-10 miles at a time), so I don't require a perfect heel with the dog's head aligned with my let, but I do have specific criteria that I train for and expect.

I used several methods on this link: How to Train a Dog to Stop Pulling on the Leash | Grisha Stewart

I really like the "silky leash" method, which used to be described in detail on Grisha's website along with videos, but now that she has a book out there's not much information there anymore. What it does is train the dog to yield to light pressure of the leash rather than pulling against it, and you begin training it in a very low distraction environment. Here's a video I found, his timing is a bit slow, but you can see the general idea:


I also used #2 from her site - reward for eye contact, #3 - reward for being in the sweet spot, and #4 - the canine cha-cha, which works well for penalty yards. The more the dog pulls towards something, the further away he gets. Walk nicely, we go forward, pull and we go backwards. You can practice this around the house with a bowl and some dog treats as bait, or a favored toy. When you get close to the bowl or toy and he will sit and look at you, you can pick up whatever the thing is and give it to him. This is also an exercise in impulse control. Obviously, you would do this on leash, to prevent him from getting at the bait.

I also like and have used Helix Fairweather's shaping method. There are 3 steps. I found the first step too rudimentary after the work I'd already put in with Halo, but I think it's worth looking at if you've never seen it before - it even features a GSD! I think it works particularly well if the dog already understands the concept of leash pressure, which Halo did due to silky leash, but the beginning of the first video shows the dog excited and pulling at first:


I skipped right to this step:


As you'll see, after taking a step backwards and pivoting, the dog is at her side in heel position. I actually jumped ahead at this point and rather than stopping after the pivot I took several steps with Halo at my side.

Step 3:


This is what it looks like after the foundation work is done. The rate of reinforcement is still high, and you can see how engaged the dog is with her. One note about not being interested in treats outdoors, they may not be high value enough, and you may be starting in too distracting of an environment. What are you using for treats?

-Debbie-
Cava 1/6/18
Keefer 8/25/05-4/24/19 ~ The sweetest boy
Halo 11/9/08-6/17/18 ~ You left pawprints on our hearts
Dena 9/12/04-10/4/08 ~ Forever would have been too short
Cassidy 6/8/00-10/4/04
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-05-2016, 03:33 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassidy's Mom View Post
This is what it looks like after the foundation work is done. The rate of reinforcement is still high, and you can see how engaged the dog is with her. One note about not being interested in treats outdoors, they may not be high value enough, and you may be starting in too distracting of an environment. What are you using for treats?
I think that I'm just having unrealistic expectations of him, a lot of the things I've taught him was done in steps, so I'm not sure why I thought walking should be anything different. I like the polite walking videos you posted and we will work on that for now. I'm just assuming he should like walking and it should be it's own reward. We have three different types of treats we have a lower, mid range, and higher value treats, he loves the soft treats (mid value) but I mix them up with the crunchy lower calorie (low value) ones so he isn't over fed- his high value treats are only given intermittently and he knows he has to do more work to earn them.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-05-2016, 04:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TiaMarie View Post
I think that I'm just having unrealistic expectations of him, a lot of the things I've taught him was done in steps, so I'm not sure why I thought walking should be anything different.
It IS different - it's actually much harder! All those interesting sights, sounds and smells make it difficult enough to focus and obey, and that's even when the dog knows what's expected of him. You're competing with the environment, so keep that in mind. That's why I think it's good to establish a foundation of training before attempting it in public.

-Debbie-
Cava 1/6/18
Keefer 8/25/05-4/24/19 ~ The sweetest boy
Halo 11/9/08-6/17/18 ~ You left pawprints on our hearts
Dena 9/12/04-10/4/08 ~ Forever would have been too short
Cassidy 6/8/00-10/4/04
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-06-2016, 09:35 PM Thread Starter
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It IS different - it's actually much harder! All those interesting sights, sounds and smells make it difficult enough to focus and obey, and that's even when the dog knows what's expected of him. You're competing with the environment, so keep that in mind. That's why I think it's good to establish a foundation of training before attempting it in public.
So we've been doing a lot of off and on leash focused heeling in the house, and I've been keeping him to walking around the yard- we do circles around our perimeter a few times each time he has to go out. He's been doing better unless a pesky rabbit finds his way into the yard. SO is set on taking him hiking with us tomorrow, I told him he has to walk him. I can only imagine all the distractions.
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