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I've been working on Olivia's pulling for around 5 - 6 months now and I feel I have made little to no progress.


I've been doing various versions of the treat training but all she seems to do is eat the treat and pull even harder.

I've used normal collars but she has a tendency to slip out so I no longer walk her on them. (She is not a dog I can off leash walk)

I've used martingales but she ends up pulling so hard she chokes herself, even when loose.

I've used a head halter (?) and we both discovered it wasn't a good fit, despite treat training and conditioning.

We've tried the walking in different directions as well as stopping when she pulls.

I've tried having her stay at my side with a very short leash and I just ended up with a burn from the force of her pulling.


So right now we've just been using a harness with a front ring and that has worked decent. However she's gotten so big that she still manages to yank me around.


Are there any other methods I should be exploring?

She loves eating the treats but I can't get her to focus enough that she slows down. She knows the focus command and will do her tricks on walks but can't seem to slow down for whatever reason.

She slows down when sniffing things which she does whenever flowers are nearby (yes she sniffs flowers, no clue why.) When there is no plants to sniff she just trucks along.


All of these methods were tried for several weeks daily with consistency.

No prong or shock collar suggestions please, I know they work for some but I would rather not.


Any advice, other ways to treat train, etc?

Please be specific in each step you do, that way I don't miss anything that could help.

Thanks!
 

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The only way to stop a behavior is to make it uncomfortable to do it. In your case it means no moving at all no matter how long it takes if the dog isn't in position. Although this technique works I personally found it took too long and was more frustrating for me than for my dog! The idea of turning around and walking the other way had it's limits as my dogs thought it was part of a game. It worked until there was a competing motivator, like a critter or another dog or a really interesting scent, that made it worth it to them to leash pressure me (tugging) to get to the thing that was more interesting than me.



Treats are to encourage a good behavior but you've seen the good behavior ends after the treat is eaten. To be fair, many of us use the treat as a release. When we ask for something like a "sit" once the treat is given the sit is released. Like a game of tug, the reward marks the end of the asked for behavior. If you want the behavior to continue you need to ask for it again. If you want to use rewards only you'll have to give your command, take a few good steps, reward, give your command and take a few more good steps, reward, repeat. It will work but you won't be taking any long walks for awhile. Not everyone has that kind of patience.

This is why we went with a prong collar. Yes, dogs can be trained without them but using the prong made the process faster and we could enjoy long walks together much sooner. No yank and crank with the prong, just a natural discomfort from pulling. If motivated enough, a dog will still pull wearing a prong. But they won't choke themselves like they will with a martingale or flat collar.

For sniffing plants, bushes and grass trap scent very well. Walks are be all about smelling everything. We look around, they sniff around. For a stubborn sniffer I give the collar a quick tug and a move along command. If my dog ignores me I walk into their head, pushing it aside from the smell with my lower leg...slowly but firmly. I then give the move along command and reward when they catch up with me. If they come with me right away even if they really really like the scent, I might praise them and let them return to the smell as the reward.

Also bring a toy! You have to be interesting during a walk. Imagine yourself walking with a human friend. If your friend doesn't say anything and is boring, how long will you pay attention to them before you start looking around or thinking about heading home? Same with your dog. If you are boring they'll start looking around for something more fun to do. You don't have to be a circus clown. Sometimes your dog has to behave "just because" but over all they should enjoy the process of being with you.
 

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Stand still with dog at your side in a sit position. Only give a short lose leash and as soon as she pulls the leash tight you walk RIGHT THROUGH her to the left and swing back to the right and stop. Start again and in my experience 3-5 times of walking into her head they start to look at your face. Everyone I showed this to got great results right in front of my eyes. Don't walk until a sit and take off looking ahead and confident. If she pulls ahead take that sharp left for 2-3 steps and swing back by calling her to heal and when she catches up stop. REPEAT.
 

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Yes, try what Malibu suggests! That is a somewhat like I did with my Sting who also wore a front ring harness. But what I did was when he pulled was to walk into him and nudge his ribs with my knee- he was a big gsd, so that got his attention :) I would also suddenly zig zag . I would give Sting sniffing breaks and let the leash loose to the full length. To get his attention back to me I would shorten the leash. At the start this didn't work, so I would say in a happy voice "what a good nose you have! My, aren't you smart". That would break his focus and he would look at me and then we moved on. Since you are using a harness, you may want to take a look at the video on this site - it is the harness and walking method I used with Sting. You can use the walking method with any front ring harness: https://www.dogwalkinsync.com/
 

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I've been working on Olivia's pulling for around 5 - 6 months now and I feel I have made little to no progress.


I've been doing various versions of the treat training but all she seems to do is eat the treat and pull even harder.

I've used normal collars but she has a tendency to slip out so I no longer walk her on them. (She is not a dog I can off leash walk)

I've used martingales but she ends up pulling so hard she chokes herself, even when loose.

I've used a head halter (?) and we both discovered it wasn't a good fit, despite treat training and conditioning.

We've tried the walking in different directions as well as stopping when she pulls.

I've tried having her stay at my side with a very short leash and I just ended up with a burn from the force of her pulling.


So right now we've just been using a harness with a front ring and that has worked decent. However she's gotten so big that she still manages to yank me around.


Are there any other methods I should be exploring?

She loves eating the treats but I can't get her to focus enough that she slows down. She knows the focus command and will do her tricks on walks but can't seem to slow down for whatever reason.

She slows down when sniffing things which she does whenever flowers are nearby (yes she sniffs flowers, no clue why.) When there is no plants to sniff she just trucks along.


All of these methods were tried for several weeks daily with consistency.

No prong or shock collar suggestions please, I know they work for some but I would rather not.


Any advice, other ways to treat train, etc?

Please be specific in each step you do, that way I don't miss anything that could help.

Thanks!
The rabbitgoo harness has worked wonders me.
 

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Maybe a harness works great I don't know. I like a choker collar because moving up closer to the ears seems to get the dogs attention much better. Corrections seem to work without sound if you have a leash I feel anyway.
 

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To be fair, many of us use the treat as a release. When we ask for something like a "sit" once the treat is given the sit is released. Like a game of tug, the reward marks the end of the asked for behavior. If you want the behavior to continue you need to ask for it again. If you want to use rewards only you'll have to give your command, take a few good steps, reward, give your command and take a few more good steps, reward, repeat. It will work but you won't be taking any long walks for awhile. Not everyone has that kind of patience.
The treat only becomes a release if you train it this way. Dogs know what we teach them or allow. It’s not hard at all to build duration through food rewards. Using a tug as a release is a bit different - generally used at the end of an exercise or sequence...not a command where a dog needs to hold a position.
 
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Discussion Starter #10
The only way to stop a behavior is to make it uncomfortable to do it. In your case it means no moving at all no matter how long it takes if the dog isn't in position. Although this technique works I personally found it took too long and was more frustrating for me than for my dog! The idea of turning around and walking the other way had it's limits as my dogs thought it was part of a game. It worked until there was a competing motivator, like a critter or another dog or a really interesting scent, that made it worth it to them to leash pressure me (tugging) to get to the thing that was more interesting than me.



Treats are to encourage a good behavior but you've seen the good behavior ends after the treat is eaten. To be fair, many of us use the treat as a release. When we ask for something like a "sit" once the treat is given the sit is released. Like a game of tug, the reward marks the end of the asked for behavior. If you want the behavior to continue you need to ask for it again. If you want to use rewards only you'll have to give your command, take a few good steps, reward, give your command and take a few more good steps, reward, repeat. It will work but you won't be taking any long walks for awhile. Not everyone has that kind of patience.

This is why we went with a prong collar. Yes, dogs can be trained without them but using the prong made the process faster and we could enjoy long walks together much sooner. No yank and crank with the prong, just a natural discomfort from pulling. If motivated enough, a dog will still pull wearing a prong. But they won't choke themselves like they will with a martingale or flat collar.

For sniffing plants, bushes and grass trap scent very well. Walks are be all about smelling everything. We look around, they sniff around. For a stubborn sniffer I give the collar a quick tug and a move along command. If my dog ignores me I walk into their head, pushing it aside from the smell with my lower leg...slowly but firmly. I then give the move along command and reward when they catch up with me. If they come with me right away even if they really really like the scent, I might praise them and let them return to the smell as the reward.

Also bring a toy! You have to be interesting during a walk. Imagine yourself walking with a human friend. If your friend doesn't say anything and is boring, how long will you pay attention to them before you start looking around or thinking about heading home? Same with your dog. If you are boring they'll start looking around for something more fun to do. You don't have to be a circus clown. Sometimes your dog has to behave "just because" but over all they should enjoy the process of being with you.
When we did do the stopping and going she just stopped and waited for me. Which was great until I praised her took a step and off she went.

I did to do short walks with constant praise every time she listened but it never seemed to keep her attention even when doing it every few seconds.

I'm not against prong collars but when I asked about them it seemed most agreed that it likely wouldn't be a good fit for my dog since she is fearful. I would rather explore more options before taking my chance with that, in case she does become more fearful or frustrated with it.

Perhaps I will bring a toy then. That isn't something I've tried so I will give that a shot!

Thanks!
 

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Stand still with dog at your side in a sit position. Only give a short lose leash and as soon as she pulls the leash tight you walk RIGHT THROUGH her to the left and swing back to the right and stop. Start again and in my experience 3-5 times of walking into her head they start to look at your face. Everyone I showed this to got great results right in front of my eyes. Don't walk until a sit and take off looking ahead and confident. If she pulls ahead take that sharp left for 2-3 steps and swing back by calling her to heal and when she catches up stop. REPEAT.
Very interesting. I think I will definitely try this as I have not tried this exact method before. She has great recall (top of her puppy class, and when outdoors) so I could see this working. She's a smart dog so we will have to see if this method works :)

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Yes, try what Malibu suggests! That is a somewhat like I did with my Sting who also wore a front ring harness. But what I did was when he pulled was to walk into him and nudge his ribs with my knee- he was a big gsd, so that got his attention :) I would also suddenly zig zag . I would give Sting sniffing breaks and let the leash loose to the full length. To get his attention back to me I would shorten the leash. At the start this didn't work, so I would say in a happy voice "what a good nose you have! My, aren't you smart". That would break his focus and he would look at me and then we moved on. Since you are using a harness, you may want to take a look at the video on this site - it is the harness and walking method I used with Sting. You can use the walking method with any front ring harness: https://www.dogwalkinsync.com/
Thanks so much for adding! I will definitely be trying the method as I think she would learn with consistency with this one.

Let's see how this goes tonight!

Thanks!
 

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The following is what I am doing.
I use a 15' leash and a soft food reward. Most food is high value to my dog, but I would chose moderate value at home and high away. In training I started by walking big sweeping circles, with my focus at the side/spot I wanted the dog. My dog was on a 100' long line with the 15' leash dragging. When the dog figures it out I mark YES, reward and as long as the dog stays I keep marking then rewarding. If I want to reset I say YUP and toss a treat away. Let the dog figure it out again. Do this as long as it takes(days, weeks) for the dog to consistently come and walk with you in your training space. You are saying nothing, not guiding. The training space should be free from all distractions. Once the dog is consistent add turns, change of pace, build some duration through reward, walk to different parts of the yard. Then add distractions that have no value, doesn't move, doesn't make noise. Something non rewarding if the dog wants to check it out, let them check it out. Things just kind of evolve naturally as the language and behavior develops.
Once the dog is responding to the Yes expecting a treat because I always treat and the same for Yup. I started saying Yup and then tossing treats on the ground as we walk, near me. This is the reward for staying with me, being with me. The dog should be checking in with you wanting a treat say Yup toss a treat. Once the dog ignores all no value distractions then add no value moving, then add value not moving (this is when I picked up the leash) then add value, moving. Slowly leveling up as the dog is successful. It takes the time it takes. Be creative. Do this in your house, in your back yard, in your front yard, the side yard, in your street. If you practice away from home make sure the distraction level of the environment you choose is one your dog can be successful at(same level of distraction at home). More of a quick training session then a walk, those will come. If you can't get engagement away from home then the environment is more than what the dog is ready for find an easier place. An empty parking lot is a good place to start.
Notice no verbal cue was added. I'm not saying anything to the dog. I won't add a verbal or hand cue until I feel the behavior is super soild around a high enough level of distraction. The more enjoyable the experience the more the dog will offer you the behavior from what I can see.
Another thing I am working on in conjunction is teaching the dog to back up to rear leash pressure. So eventually I can say back up BEFORE he hits the end of the leash.
Once you get really good you can start to fade rewards systematically. Watch the dog and you should be able to see. Every 10 steps then 20 than 50 and so on. I can't see myself ever completely removing rewards, but the amount of food used in training for me is alot. I'm motivated to build duration to reduce food rewards not remove.
I would be curious how other people have taught.
I tried the things you did, never worked for me. This is working, it's just slow. It takes a lot of patience, time, treats and setting up the dog for success.
I recently posted about adding a verbal cue. If you can teach a behavior from luring all the way through verbal cue. I found it really helpful in understanding how my dog learns and what I want to see in the process and understanding when my dog is ready for the verbal cue. HTH brief as it is
 

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If you want to train a calm behavior, it can be good to start with a dog who is already somewhat tired. What are you doing for exercise for this dog? Try tiring her out before a walk.

I am not sure what all the praise and treats are about on the walk but I suspect you are inadvertently reinforcing behaviors you do not want. I have used the stop and not moving method very successfully with big, strong, unruly dogs. I would not give up on this method too easily. It does work if you are consistent and patient.
 

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When we did do the stopping and going she just stopped and waited for me. Which was great until I praised her took a step and off she went.

I did to do short walks with constant praise every time she listened but it never seemed to keep her attention even when doing it every few seconds.

I'm not against prong collars but when I asked about them it seemed most agreed that it likely wouldn't be a good fit for my dog since she is fearful. I would rather explore more options before taking my chance with that, in case she does become more fearful or frustrated with it.

Perhaps I will bring a toy then. That isn't something I've tried so I will give that a shot!

Thanks!
To be honest, what works really well for one dog might not work well for another. It is good to get many ideas and keep trying things until something clicks. The trickiest part is to figure out how long to try a technique until you know it won't or will work, because consistency is important. I know the stopping and starting was frustrating for me. Might have worked for the dog if I could handle it myself.

Apex has a good idea, too. Now that my dogs are more mature (and yes, maturity is important in dogs as much as humans for making good choices) I can put my dogs in a harness (not the no-pull kind) with a long line and give them more autonomy. I still keep them from running into the street or making messes on lawns but I do let them go ahead and hang back. The important thing is to have really nice treats in tiny pieces. Each time my dog checks back with me I praise them. If they come and heel I give them a treat. I found my dogs coming back to me often with a pretty little focused heel to get a quick snack. It is a nice change of pace for all of us when we have quiet streets or trails or are in a park and I don't need them next to my leg the whole time.

In full disclosure, when on a standard 6 ft leash my dogs still pull a bit. It is usually if they are in a hurry to find the perfect potting spot or in a hurry to get back to the yard so they can run free for awhile. In the first situation I might jog with them a bit since they aren't "being bad", they just have to go! In the second situation I will do the stop and start since it is usually only for a short distance and the reward of getting into the yard is highly motivating.

Continue to let us know what you've tried and what has worked and what hasn't. There are many people dealing with pulling and not all will post. Thanks for sharing.
 

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I don't stop. I back up until they turn to look at me which releases the pressure on the collar. Once they do that, I lure them back to the position I want them and always keep my reward line near me.

OR I will over exaggerate the swing of my arm (learned that on the Naughty Dog blog). If you swing harder, the dog is like "what the what are you doing lady?" and will stop pulling.
 

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Did you take her for small walks off leash when she was 8-12 weeks old? This is usually the best way to get her to want to follow you. Because at a young age she will only want to follow the leader of the pack.
 
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