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Discussion Starter #1
We had our third training class last night. It went
pretty well. Before class Abby got to beat up on
the male GSD thats in our class. Poor guy doesnt
have a clue what he is up against. Three different
times he tried to jump up on Abby and 3 times
she knocked his legs out from under him and down
he goes with a "thud".

The training session was mostly heeling practice
with turns thrown in. Hairpin 180 degree turns.
We did pretty good on those except when turning
to the left toward the dog. We got our feet tangled
up a few times. Something we need to work on.

The trainer also had us do the weaving in and out
around the other dogs again. We did better than
last week on this but it was still pretty ugly.

Lots of sit stay and down stay practice. We did
well on this.

The new thing for this week was starting on recall.
At first just recalling the length of the leash. A lot
of the dogs had trouble with this but Abby and I
were perfect. We had already been working on it
at home. We even got a "good job" from the trainer.

About midway through the class Abby went into
"butthead" mode and was refusing to do anything.
After trying unsuccessfully to even getting her to
sit I took her outside and walked around for a few
minutes. When we came back in we got in a different
spot away from the Yorkie that was driving her nuts.

She settled down after that but she was getting tired
and a little cranky.

On the way home she crashed out in the car almost
immediately and after getting home and feeding her
a small meal she lapsed into a coma.

We lost another in our class. Down to 9 now. Started
with 13 I think it was. Its the small dogs that are
dropping out. All the bigger dogs are still in the class.
A Spaniel/Pointer mix (a shelter dog) is doing the best
from what I can see. I dont think Abby and I will end
up best in class but we are going to try.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Abby seems to be developing new behavior in regards
to our training. Or more correctly she seems to be
developing alternate behavior.

When I take her out and put on the training collar
and put her in a sit and get into position beside her
she already knows what we are going to be doing.
And she gets excited when we start. At least initially.
No pulling. She walks perfectly with me. That is until
she gets bored after about 20 minutes or so.

When I take her out for a pee/potty run or just a quick
trip around the block I dont put on the training collar. I
just snap the leash on her normal flat collar. She acts
totally different. Wanders all over and pulls me like
a freight train.

I dont really want to put the training collar on her all
the time. I dont want her getting bored with it or
lose the enthusiasm she has shown for our practice sessions.

My question is...do the rest of you do normal everyday
walking with training equipment on? Or do you reserve
that equipment just for training sessions?
 

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Matty does the same thing with her training collar...I am the same as you and don't want her to be dependent on the training collar...

So I don't know if it is right or not, but I have started putting both on during walks. Actually connecting to the regular collar when we go for walks, but I put an 18" leash on the trainer and loop the other long leash through the handle...Than if she misbehaves i will do a quick correction with the trainer, but normally she just feels the regular collar....So far it seems to help...We'll see if it does in the long run

I am also going to Mattys (8 month) 3rd obedience class tonight....we will see how it goes...
 

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Well I would never have thought of that, it's a good idea. I've been varying up our training sessions with the prong collar sometimes, flat sometimes and off leash too. But it sounds as though Abby needs the training collar until she's reliable with her heel and recall, otherwise she'll continue to do her own thing when she's not on it. You might try holding a treat and luring her in the heel position with the flat collar and see if that helps keep her next to you.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hmm...both collars...never thought of that. Its worth
a try at least...

But it sounds as though Abby needs the training collar until she's reliable with her heel and recall, otherwise she'll continue to do her own thing when she's not on it. You might try holding a treat and luring her in the heel position with the flat collar and see if that helps keep her next to you.
I suppose she will get better as we go along. I mean...
look at the progress we have already made.

Ive tried the treat approach and while it does work
to some extent I would need to carry a 25 pound
bag of treats with us.

If I show her a treat but dont give it to her...using it
only as a lure...she will get frustrated after a minute
and start trying to anticipate what I want from her to
get the treat.
 

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I use string cheese as a lure- I close my hand around it and just let a little out for him to nibble as I walk along keeping his head where I want it. That might work for Abby for maybe, oh, 10 seconds but at least you'd get 10 seconds out of her where she knew she was where you want her
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I really fooled little Miss Abby while out on our morning
walk. She was pulling me along like we had just entered
the iditarod and I was the sled. We didnt have on the
training collar. Just the leash on her every day flat collar.

So I reversed directions and then stopped and put her
in a sit. I fooled around her neck like I was messing with
her collar (I wasnt) and then got her attention and said
"Abby...HEEL!"

She dropped right into a heel and followed along nicely
without any pulling. We went almost a whole block before
she realized she had been had. Then it was back
to wandering all over and pulling.

The experiment did show that there is some progress
being made and we wont always need the training collar.

Which brings me to my question for today...When I first
started leash training with Abby I had lots of problems.
She lost interest very quickly. So I kept sessions very
short. 10 minutes. Right now we can usually go 15-20
minutes. At class she is good for about 30 minutes
before she starts getting cranky. Am I correct in
assuming that this will get better as we go along? So
far...over the 3 weeks we have been in class...it hasnt
improved.

Should I be trying to keep her going for longer? Or just
stay with the short sessions?

The reason I ask this is because we take a couple
rather long walks every day. Multiple miles. I would
sure like her to not pull me the entire way.
 

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Going the other direction is good, every times she pulls I'd switch direction on her. And if you want to go straight, as soon as she pulls just stop- if you take one or two steps and she pulls again, stop again. She has to know that pulling won't get her anywhere. You may got 20 ft in half an hour but she'll figure it out soon enough- she needs to be by your side, following your lead with a loose leash or she's not going anywhere. That Abby is going to make you work for everything- you should make her work for what she wants too! She's something
 

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Discussion Starter #9
And if you want to go straight, as soon as she pulls just stop- if you take one or two steps and she pulls again, stop again.
Well...we have already done this. Several hundred times.
And she most certainly learned something from it.
Although not quite what I intended. Instead of learning
that pulling means stop and loose leash means go she
has learned that tight leash means Im lagging behind
and when I stop she will sit down and wait for me to
catch up.

So the reversing directions is the better approach.
And we do that...dozens of times a day.


She IS getting better. But she is making ME work for it...
 

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When I take her out and put on the training collar
and put her in a sit and get into position beside her
she already knows what we are going to be doing.
And she gets excited when we start. At least initially.
No pulling. She walks perfectly with me. That is until
she gets bored after about 20 minutes or so.

When I take her out for a pee/potty run or just a quick
trip around the block I dont put on the training collar. I
just snap the leash on her normal flat collar. She acts
totally different. Wanders all over and pulls me like
a freight train.
It sounds like she's collar smart - she knows that you have more control over her with the training collar than when she's on a flat collar. What *I* would personally do in that case is go back to basics without the training collar.

When Halo was in the CGC class at 7 months old I knew that the test at the end was going to be on a flat collar. I could have used a front hook harness in class (training collars were not allowed in the class), but I knew that if I did use the harness or a training collar outside of class I was going to have to wean her off of them at some point before the test. So rather than do that, I spent all 7 weeks of training with her on a flat collar. Yes, it was frustrating at first. Yes, many days we walked back and forth over the same short section of sidewalk over and over and over again. But eventually, with patience and persistence, she learned to walk nicely on leash.

If you're okay with using a training collar to control her forever that's a perfectly valid choice, a choice that you get to make. Many people do just that. But if you really don't want to have to rely on a training collar and intend to wean her off it at some point, why not start teaching her to walk nicely on leash without one now? The earlier you start, the easier it's going to be.
 

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train every day. train
several times a day.
i had to be careful when
circling left not to step
on my dog and when going right
not to seperate. during the week
i always invited family, friends, neighbors and
anybody with a dog to come over with their
dog to help with our training.
 

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What are your goals with Abby? Do you plan to compete in obedience with her? If so using "heel" as a regular walking exercise is going to cause you problems down the road.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
It sounds like she's collar smart - she knows that you have more control over her with the training collar than when she's on a flat collar. What *I* would personally do in that case is go back to basics without the training collar.

If you're okay with using a training collar to control her forever that's a perfectly valid choice, a choice that you get to make. Many people do just that. But if you really don't want to have to rely on a training collar and intend to wean her off it at some point, why not start teaching her to walk nicely on leash without one now? The earlier you start, the easier it's going to be.
I accept full responsibility for creating this monster.
When I first got Abby she wouldnt walk with me at
all. She would lay down and refuse to get up.

After a couple of weeks of that she started to show
more interest in our walks. And at that point she
began to pull on the leash. I let her. I should of
corrected it then and there but I didnt. I didnt want
her to lose the new found enthusiasm she had developed.

Its true that we are teaching our dogs 24/7 and a
lot of that inadvertent instruction is not too helpful.

Im not sure that doing instruction now on the flat
collar would be a good idea since we are right in the
middle of a training class that relies heavily on the
training collar. I dont want to get her (or me) too confused...
 

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Discussion Starter #14
What are your goals with Abby? Do you plan to compete in obedience with her? If so using "heel" as a regular walking exercise is going to cause you problems down the road.
A worthwhile question...I dont intend on competing with
her. But you never know. I do have a dog now that can
do that and probably would do well.

My short term goal is the strengthen our bond and get
her to the point that she can enjoy the freedom of being
off leash without worry.

We have lots of space here for a dog to really stretch
out and run. My old GSD Mikey was almost never on
leash. I never worried about him.

Long term goal? Not sure...
 

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A worthwhile question...I dont intend on competing with
her. But you never know. I do have a dog now that can
do that and probably would do well.
If you think there is a possibility of wanting to compete with her, I would suggest not calling what you are doing right now "heeling". A lot of dogs who could be nice competition dogs are ruined by this sort of class early on. Walking around in circles, telling a beginner dog "heel" while using collar corrections when they are out of place and expecting them to "heel" while out on a walk are counter productive to having a nice heeling dog. What you should be working on in a beginner level class (and what in actuality you are teaching) is polite walking skills. I don't personally use a command for that - it's just expected. I also don't require a sit when I stop for every day walking because there is no reason for it.

This is what heeling in a beginner dog should look like:

Short segments, lots of attention and keeping them focused and "up".

Same dog at a year old:

You don't generally get this sort of heeling by walking your dog around in a group setting and using collar corrections before the behavior is ever trained. I would suggest using class time to practice Abby's walking skills and start practicing heeling on your own at home. Of course, you can continue to call the walking practice heel and just come up with a different cue for competition style heeling (some people use "Strut" and the German "Fuss" is popular with GSD people). Even if you never compete, I think you'll probably enjoy teaching a "fancy heel". While it isn't practical for walks, teaching this sort of heeling helps encourage your dog to be focused on you and work with you without the use of force.


My short term goal is the strengthen our bond and get
her to the point that she can enjoy the freedom of being
off leash without worry.

We have lots of space here for a dog to really stretch
out and run. My old GSD Mikey was almost never on
leash. I never worried about him.

Long term goal? Not sure...
A lot of people start off training unsure about how far they want to go. But often people start off just wanting manners but they enjoy it, their dogs enjoy it and they decide to go onto competition. That is why it's always a bit disappointing for me to see trainers holding onto the traditional model of beginner obedience classes, starting competition style exercises (heel, formal recalls, ect) week one of the beginner class.

Group heeling, formal recalls and the such won't help you much with off leash control at home but attending class can be a great bonding experience. For off leash work I would suggest following this training protocol at home: Lesson 6
 

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How about exercising her some before you go out for that walk? tire her out some?

I do kind of a mish mash of what others have suggested. With a young dog, I'm not working on a formal heel, just a pleasant walk would be nice:) I do let them do some exploring sniffing around. I keep my sessions short.

When I start training for a formal heel, I use the 'change direction' method. I say absolutely NOTHING, if the dog pulls or lags, I am immediately changing direction and when the dog gets into the position I want, PRAISE REWARD,,(usually I say something like GOOD PLACE!!) I only 'speak' when the dog is in the position I want.

And yeppie, it can be dizzying changing directions all that time:)

My dogs are pretty darn collar smart to, they know if I have a prong collar on them or not..I have used two collars, my end goal is to use either a martingale or flat collar, and that comes with maturity.

Also, a leisurely walk most times doesn't cut it with my dogs, I try to walk like I"m on a mission, to keep their interest perked..(like "whoa where is mom going?")

Just my 2cents;)
 

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Im not sure that doing instruction now on the flat
collar would be a good idea since we are right in the
middle of a training class that relies heavily on the
training collar. I dont want to get her (or me) too confused...
I've created that monster before too - not by relying on a training collar, but by not spending enough time and effort on leash walks from an early age, a mistake I vowed to correct when I got Halo. And I did, she walks better on leash than any other dog I've ever had. It's a joy to be able to take her out for a couple of hours on a nice walk at the lake not far from our house and have her walk beautifully next to me.

There's really no reason you can't be working on teaching polite leash skills at home with a flat collar, even if you're committed to sticking it out in this class using a training collar. Ideally, she'll walk nicely with you no matter what collar she's wearing, so it shouldn't confuse her to train leash skills on more than one kind of collar, or to even teach off leash heeling around the house with no collar at all.

I agree with Agile about the difference between loose leash walking and a formal heel command. I do have a name for it though, I use "let's go" for LLW, and I require an automatic sit when I stop. I have a different set of standards for LLW and heel, and I don't want to poison my heel command by using it for everyday walking.
 
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