Leash-Training Puppy

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dshermett's picture
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Joined: 2010-10-16

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Hi,

I'm new to your website and it has been extremely helpful. I have a 12 week old female dobe that I have had for about four weeks now. She is the first doberman that I have ever owned, and I want to make sure that I train her properly. She is extremely bright, but I have a question about how to leash train her. I saw on this site, that I should not attempt to teach her to "heel" until she is six months old and that I should not use a choke collar until she is at least that old.  Does that mean, however, that I should not take her out on a leash at all until six months? I have attempted to take her out a couple of times, but she pulls terribly on the leash. I know that I won't be able to control her when she gets bigger, so I don't want her to get into that habit. So, should I avoid taking her out on the leash until she is older so that she doesn't learn bad leash behavior? Or, is there something else I can do so that I can take her out on the least now and start socializing her? She has already shown a distrust of strangers in our house so I want to make sure she is properly socialized and the best way to do that is to take her out in the neighborhood on walks. Not to mention the need to burn off her excess energy!

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!!

DJ's Dad's picture
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Joined: 2010-10-04

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Hi, dishermett, and welcome to you and your pup. By all means, your dobie pup needs to learn to walk on a leash before she reaches 6 months old.  Social skills are one of the basics a dobie needs to learn.  Choke chains are NOT adviseable for such young puppies---they can damage their trachea very easliy.  There are a lot of ways to teach "no pull" to a young pup, one being to turn 180 degrees as soon as she starts pulling and make her go the opposite direction each time she pulls and PRAISE HER LAVISHLY when she stops pulling.  You can also use treats to keep her attention on YOU and walk close beside you, remembering to praise her when she does.  Some people use the method of stopping dead in your tracks when she pulls and not taking another step forward until she stops, turns to look at you, and slacks up on the leash.  There is also the option of a body harness to keep from hurting their throats, but I've found that a harness almost initiates pulling.  There are "no pull harnesses" that tighten up when the dog pulls, also.  So many different training tools to use, and still, some dobies just have a very hard time learning NOT to pull on the leash.  Mine was one of them.  She is a year old now, and we still have days when I have to stop dead in my tracks until she slacks up on the leash, but persistance pays off eventually.  Good luck.  Just be sure to make any and all training sessions short and especially fun for yourself and the puppy.

KevinK's picture
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Joined: 2010-07-15

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I think waiting till 6 months is asking for trouble...  Dakota knew how to heel about a week after we got her, we started training immediately.  What worked for us, at the advice of this forum, was every time she pulled, I would say "easy", turn around, and go the other way.  Then she would pull again, and I would say easy, turn around and go the other way.  After a while your pup will learn that there's no benefit to pulling, because all that does is make you spin in circles.  If your dog can not outrun you now, it's not long before she can.  I would also give it about 3-4 months before if your dog wants to run, she will be strong enough to drag you around, so I would get it under control now instead of waiting until your dog is crazy strong.  At about 30 pounds, Dakota (she's a mix, with what we don't know.  she's somewhere around 5 months or so) can yank a tug toy out of my hands if i'm not really trying to hold on.  They get strong quick, and will surprise you one day.

Keep in mind that a young pup needs plenty of play time, and time to explore everything, but that doesn't mean you can't do short training sessions.  We started 2 times a day, very quickly, for just a few minutes at a time.  We now use play to motivate more for training, and I wish I would have done that from the beginning.  We train, and as a reward for good behavior, we either play fetch, or tug.  If you can find something that your dog loves to do, and use it as a reward, your training will be much easier.  When Dakota listens, we play a round of tug, and tug is her most favoritist thing in the world.  When she doesn't listen, we don't play.  Better believe after one or 2 times taking the toy away, she knows to try her best.

Understanding what kind of dog you have will help with the training as well.  Dakota has a super high prey drive...  ANYTHING that moves she has to go after.  Doesn't matter if it's a falling leaf, a spider, squirrel, acorn, something moves, she needs to go after it.  So I use that to my advantage and we play fetch during training.  I know she's highly motivated by something that moves... So when she listens, I throw a ball, or her tire toy around.  It may take some time, but if you can find what motivates your pup, it will make your life much, much easier.  Dakota is my first Dobe as well, and she threw me for quite a few loops, she had me asking rookie questions that I felt silly asking.  But getting advice from other owners has most definitely helped, so ask away!

Mindy's picture
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Joined: 2010-10-19

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I am new to this site.I would first like to say "thank you" to everyone involved! I'm learning so much from reading all your topics and personal experiences.And this is our 3 rd Dobie .Sasha is 17 weeks now.Every day she does leash training in our yard.Short time periods,but at least 6X a day.We use treats and I have a can  I shake, when she would start jumping up(see my post on jumping and biting).Finally we are making some progress.We started at 11 weeks and it was awful .Walking off property is another story.She is a little nervous about all the noise and distractions.We are taking this part very slowly.I will report that I have taken a harder line with Sasha.She is behaving much better with me.

DJ's Dad's picture
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Joined: 2010-10-04

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Welcome, Mindy & Sasha. (I used to have a dobie years ago named Sasha, too) Sounds like you are making some good progress with Sasha's leash training and corrections for jumping up.  I'm a firm believer that you should stop bad behaviors when they first begin, because it's sometimes hard to un-do something that your puppy has been doing for a while when it's little, and isn't so cute anymore when it's 50 pounds of muscle.  LOL  Keep up the good work.