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Hello!


I'm having a working line GSD "puppy" that is now 15 months old and everything is great except the walk! I have trained him to heel and not to pull. However living in the city and constantly being bombarded with distraction he gets over-aroused and distracted very easily. This leads to him constantly forging while we walking.

I have tried many methods. The best success I had is to reward frequently and tug with his ball on a string to keep him engaged. Problem is that his in a working state of mind and if i loose engagement he's very hyper and starts forging instantly.

I just came across some Cesar Millan youtube videos and wanted to revisit if i could create a walk where he is not in working mind and is more in a follower state of mind while we just walking.

Having failed this before because he was just too hard to keep back I didn’t have high expectations. However I figured since he instantly started to forge ahead of me and I try to intervene with my body / touch I was just late on the ball all the time.

So I started walking backwards on the sidewalk.. Blocking his every move and attempt to pass my body, with my body and body-language he started to get into a much calmer state of mind. I continued this for 10 minutes and now he was in a much calmer state of mind!

Now i could start to walk sideways and he started try pass me again and i answered by turning my body facing him while walking backwards and when he backed off slowly going sideways again.


When he started to respect the sideways walk I transitioned to walking facing forward again and he tried again to forge but I just reverted back 1 step every time he tried and eventually after 45 minutes we could walk fairly normal with him staying behind me.


I'm shocked how good it worked.. Just wondering if someone else has any stories with similar technique!
 

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Creative idea! I'm glad it worked. I've never seen anyone do that.
I've heard that if you turn and walk in the opposite direction when a dog pulls that works really well as an alternative for corrections such as prong collars. That's the only other way I've heard of addressing a problem like that.
 

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I do that with my reactive dog when we are passing distractions. We have been working a lot on loose leash walking at my side.

In an area below Oles threshold (where he is calm), he does a pretty well and he can walk at my side.

If we come across a distraction I don't think we can handle yet, (excited dog or playful group of children) we do the U-turn. No sense setting him up for failure.

If we come across a distraction that I think might push him to his threshold, but that he can successfully navigate, I do much as you do.

Just outside of the thresh hold I have him sit. This gives him a chance to look at the distractor from a safe distance.
I turn around so my back is to the distraction. I hope it signals that I couldn't care less about the distraction.
I start walking backward with Ole walking just in front of me. I try to keep him directly engaged with me. IE direct eye contact as we pass by the distraction or the distraction passes by us. Sometimes verbal interaction is enough. Sometimes I need a treat in my hand. Sometimes I have to lure him past the distraction with the treat directly in front of his nose. If things start going sideways, I keep a squeaky toy which I squeeze and toss behind me to completely distract him.
One the distraction has passed, we return to a normal walk.

I don't know if experienced trainers would recommend the technique :( I think that because of their experience, they can watch their dog effectively out of the corner of their eye so that they can engage and administer rewards and corrections as needed. I don't have the level of skill yet. So, we do face to face interaction during potentially explosive times. I figure nice long walks among mild distractions... with a few uses of crutches to get by the hard distractions are better than avoiding distractions altogether.

I also use multiple collars for walking, flat collar, a gentle leader, and a prong collar. When we just used the flat collar he got used to the tension and actually seemed to enjoy it. Same with the gentle leader.

FWIW, I have used the prong collar on myself and let my dog tug on the other end of the leash. Fair is fair. For full disclosure I was wearing a fleece jacket with the collar turned up at the time. Gentle pressure felt weird, moderate pressure felt uncomfortable. and I definitely encouraged him not to tug hard. I have never had to give a correction with the prong collar. Though conditioning with 'follow me, yield to me' drills he has figured out how to self-correct before the tension escalates.
 

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This seems like an interesting idea!
But there is the Human Safety aspect to consider...

A lot of people (like me) are not good at walking backwards, I'd probably trip off the curb or smack my head on a street sign. (Actually I smacked my head on a sign walking forwards the other day - Rumo went right by next to the pole, I was watching him, and whomp! got hit in face with a One Way sign. He didn't seem very concerned...)

I taught Rumo with a combo of turning when he pulls / stopping when he pulls. But we are usually on quiet suburban streets or quiet wood trails, where there isn't so much going on. And he's not a Structured Walk dog, he's more of a "sniffing bushes" dog, he just learned to be more restrained/polite on leash now.
 

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I like to use this method for loose leash walking:

 

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Actually I smacked my head on a sign walking forwards the other day
Yes, walking a dog is dangerous for those of us who are clumsy. All of our attention is on the dog, the leash, potential distractions... that we miss signs, potholes, and snowbanks.:)
 
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