Motivating 4 m/o to walk on a leash - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-07-2017, 04:42 AM Thread Starter
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Motivating 4 m/o to walk on a leash


My 4 month old working line GSD is amazing off leash, we go on an hour long hike each day and she always stays within 20 or 30 ft of me, comes when called, etc. however, it's almost impossible to get her motivated to walk on the leash. I took puppy classes with her and the trainer taught us a way to tie the leash under their belly (photo below) as a more gentle method of teaching loose leash walking. I try to employ this method, but the only time she wont roll around wrestling with/biting the leash is when there's other people/dogs ahead, and in that case, she'll usually just power forward and keep trying to pull (which is strange to me because she'll stay close to me when the leash isn't on with people around)

Anyone have any suggestions? Should I just take her to a pretty busy area and keep trying, or switch to a prong/pinch collar, or..?

Photo of another dog with the belly leash wrap:

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-07-2017, 01:37 PM
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I moved this post to the puppy training forum, so hopefully you get more responses.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-07-2017, 03:58 PM
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Have you tried letting her drag a short line( with no loop) around the house?Step two would be walking her in the yard on leash for short periods.Then in front of house,and so on.Some owners have had success with leash biting by using a chain leash temporarily so the pup finds biting uncomfortable and corrects herself.
Do you think the leash is uncomfortable for her,restraining her is frustrating to her, or finally does she see it as a toy?BTW I think it's great she's getting lots of off leash time
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-07-2017, 04:28 PM
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Try using a collar, a flat collar if you wish. My dogs have been trained since small puppies with collar and leash.
flat collar when very small and prong when walking from about 4 months on.
I can tell you that either one would not like or have liked anthing touching their belly like that.
Might try a different trainer also.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-07-2017, 08:14 PM
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What type of trainer are you working with currently? IMO a 'positive only' trainer is not the way to go with this breed.

The leash wrap is more aversive than a prong, I would try a nylon martingale collar or MICRO prong and see how your dog does. Micro prongs usually need to be purchased with extra prongs for bigger dogs.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-07-2017, 09:22 PM
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To me, looping the leash under the belly like that is not training the dog to walk nicely on leash, it's simply management. I see people do it all the time at flyball tournaments, where they're needing to get very excited high drive dogs in and out of the ring. I don't see anything wrong with in that kind of situation, where using a flat collar and leash might be difficult, (not to mention hard on the dog's neck), and corrective collars are not allowed per the rules of the sport.

Training polite leash skills is a process that can take some time and patience. I started seriously training a loose leash walk with Halo when she was about 7 months old. At first around the house, then outside our house, then onto more challenging places such as all the strip malls in town, along busy streets with lots of traffic, then finally a regional park with heavily used walking paths. I spent several months working on it, 100% with a flat nylon collar.

Especially in the beginning, I had to pretty much abandon the idea of "going for a walk". Sometimes we walked back and forth along the same stretch of sidewalk over and over and over again. I used many of the techniques on this link: How to Train a Dog to Stop Pulling on the Leash | Grisha Stewart

I especially like Grisha's Silky Leash method, which teaches the dog to yield to gentle leash pressure. Because she now has an e-book for sale, there are no descriptions or videos about it on her site, but this blog describes it: Loose Leash Walking Fundamentals - Smart Animal Training Systems...
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-11-2017, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Dracovich View Post
What type of trainer are you working with currently? IMO a 'positive only' trainer is not the way to go with this breed.

The leash wrap is more aversive than a prong, I would try a nylon martingale collar or MICRO prong and see how your dog does. Micro prongs usually need to be purchased with extra prongs for bigger dogs.
Definitely. We started out consulting with a "positive only" trainer for a few issues we couldn't work out with Minka. We thought our dog hated us, thought we were doing everything wrong and made a huge mistake adopting her. We felt like doing any kind of punitive measures would break her spirit and make her hate us. This forum has been a wealth of information in general but we had been scared to ask here because every search just turned up "positive only or else you hate your dog/you're doing everything wrong" type responses followed by one or two people piping in to say "Positive only is ideal, but don't be afraid to do what you need to. They're all different" followed by a gang assault on those people by the others.

Some dogs need different things. Minka doesn't care one way or the other about ANY (we've tried it all) food item. It's not a motivator and it doesn't really work as a reward. She just isn't into it. She'll eat if she's hungry but outside that, not bothered. If you withhold food for training sessions, she just won't eat. Not interested. Toys, heh, they're the only things she ISN'T interested in playing with. Not a reward. She doesn't care. Praise is nice, she loves attention, but it doesn't override what she's doing if she is misbehaving. If she was a human, she'd be the type of kid that you can't send to bed without dessert or take away a favorite toy and just needs a good pop on the ass every now and then.

Positive is ideal, but sometimes for some dogs it just doesn't cut it. There are a lot of snobs at the dog clubs and on the internet that will look down on you if it doesn't work for your dog, but who cares. Those who say a dog is a dog is a dog and all methods work the same for all of them don't know what they're talking about. Otherwise Minka would dance for cheese and I'd have been able to get her to stop trying to kill our Chihuahua by offering her all the toys she can't be bothered to play with She's figured out she'll do what I said when I say it because I said it and I'm the boss and that drawing blood from humans or getting too rough with our other dog results in serious consequences, not just more pleading for her to "pretty please stop it or I'll ignore you while the other dog dies or you shred the **** out of our legs and clothes". Our relationship didn't suffer. She loves to play more now than ever. She is amazingly gentle with our Chihuahua now and they are inseparable. She greets me every time I come home like she hasn't seen me in weeks where before, she was indifferent. She eats better, she walks better, she listens no matter what the distraction. We'd still be fighting on everything if I'd listened to that nonsense in her case. Again, works for some I'm sure, but not for her. She needed (and apparently wanted) an actual authority figure that didn't just toss out pleading and idle/passive "punishments". Now, no punishment is necessary. She's the happiest little thing and we're the happiest puppy parents.

On the topic at hand though...

For her, walking with a flat buckle collar just wouldn't work. She'd pull until she was about to pass out (literally wobbling). If you stopped, changed direction, whatever - she'd just keep doing it. She'd just do it harder if you did those things. Her opposition reflex is insane. It even shocked the local GSD expert we finally located in our area. We went to a Martingale fit snug high on her neck and after a few hard pulls from her, she stopped doing it. She now walks fine. Had she not though, I wouldn't have been afraid to move to a prong collar. Everyone's opinion and experience is valid in their case. It doesn't apply for everyone. Dogs are not all the same, can't be handled the same and don't react the same. Just like people. And just like people, sometimes you have to just do what works before someone gets seriously hurt or before the relationship becomes so strained no one is happy and every interaction is miserable for both sides.
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Correct bad behavior, don't redirect. Redirecting is rewarding, not resolving.

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-13-2017, 02:07 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the very detailed replies!

The trainer definitely isn't a "positive only" trainer. She said her philosophy is "if it works its good" but she tries to push us to employ as much positive training as possible while they're still very young and motivated. She has trained several working shepherds/malinois, and actively lives with some that are still in duty, so I'm not doubting her training abilities at all.

I'll definitely pick up a martingale collar. The belly cinch was actually making a little bit of progress, she would walk very nicely on leash when she was tired and no distractions; however, when there were people she wanted to visit with it on, she would keep pulling, she'd even back up to get a running start to try to fight the leash.
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