UPDATE - Teaching a puppy to heel...

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Laura's picture
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Joined: 2015-05-25

...has got to be one of the most frustrating things on the freaking planet.  At almost 5 months old Zeus is big enough now that leash pulling is not only irritating, it's a real issue because he's getting big.  I've been working with a trainer and when we're in a false reality (like just on our street) he's pretty good but as soon as I try to take him on a real walk he's a nightmare.  He had a couple days where he was doing well and then it all fall apart.  I started to lose my temper on our walk tonight (never got physical with him except in a legit leash correction) and actually about halfway through (a 2.5 mile route) wished I could call someone at home to come get us because I was so fed up!  Since I am working with a trainer that I am paying a ridiculou amount of money I guess this post is more just me needing to vent!  

karie's picture
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Joined: 2014-10-10

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laura i have used prong collars , martingales , no pull harness , regular harness and not one of them has worked like the easy walk harness ! it is a combo of a harness a martingale and a quick release collar all in one . sunna would pull me all over especialy if she saw a rabbit or something . she walks much better now .good luck let us know how it goes !

Sgourle's picture
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Hi! I also wanted to suggest doing some pre-walk exercises that really helped June and I (he had some kind of pano or slipped disc scare so I avoided neck collars like the plague while training just in case). One really good one for us was walking slowly in a big oval prior to starting a walk anywhere. I started this just at home with no distractions, but now we do it before I let him off-leash anywhere fun like the beach or the park also. Just gather the leash in your hands at a length that you find acceptable for a loose leash walk and hold your hands up to your chest. Give your loose leash command and start walking in your oval. No corrections or praise, and if he tries to go sniff something just keep your hands planted and keep walking at a steady pace. This is just so he learns that you're leading the walls and you're not stopping, so no matter what else he sees/smells/hears he has to have one eye on you. This has done wonders for our recall with distraction also. 

AresMyDobie's picture
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I have walking rules and pulling is absolutely not tolerated. 

Rule one: no pulling. How I achieve this is the heel command is given if I don't receive my result he get a correction then reward then I want him to look at me so I say look he does and treat. I've had to completely stop at one point on a walk it's simple you pull we aren't going anywhere stops pulling reward and move on. I like my dog to look like he knows what he's  doing. 

Rule two: must stay by my side one step behind me at all times. This is a walk it has a purpose and I'm the leader no need for any dog to walk infront of their person unless it's tracking. I achieve this with simple corrections and rewards always reward. 

Rule three: no sniffing no marking. He is not allowed to put nose down or leg up of he tries correction reward behavior. 

When I walk either of my dogs big or small they must look forward ears alert and follow the rules. I use the leave it command when they see something they might want to go after and correct the behavior before it happens is the key. They don't get to dictate what speed we go I do, what and when to hunt I do. I direct everything on the walk and I always walk with a purpose and bring a presence of confidence and calmness at all time. How you feel is how they react. If you are anticipating a terrible walk that's the outcome you will receive. You come at it in a different way where you step up as leader with confidence you'll have a better experience. My dog almost 7 months doesn't not pull, lunge, chase, or break from the walk he knows its for a purpose what that purpose is that is for me to know him to follow. 

AresMyDobie's picture
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If you are planning on using a prong herm sprenger is where we get ours it's online they are pinch collars and don't get the large get two small sizes so you use links from one and put it on the other then also get a medium for when he gets the concept of it the larges are useless

Laura's picture
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Joined: 2015-05-25

Thank you everyone!  I have to keep reminding myself he's so young too.  It's hard to remember he's not even 5 months old when he's already getting big so I do need to temper my expectations with him in some regard.  Like I said, I just needed to vent :-)  It doesn't help that I've had a stressful week in general.  

Karie - I LOVE the easy walk harness!  I haven't used it on the baby yet but it made a world of difference and made walking so much more enjoyable when I started using it on my older dobie/pit mix.  I now use martingales and plan to stick with those or that harness. 

 

karie's picture
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Joined: 2014-10-10

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the easy walk is a martingale just for the chest instead of the neck .

Laura's picture
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Zeus and I just got back from a walk and I am so happy and relaxed.  It was a complete 180 difference from the nightmare he was last week.  He's obviously still learning to heel completely properly but was such a good boy tonight.  We walked almost 2 miles and only about 3 times did he get "wild" on the leash and all 3 times it was because he got scared (group of baby lizards running past, loud car, and a bike riding by) but as soon as I did the counterturn he came right back to attention and was good.  There are a few things I did differently tonight that really helped:

First, instead of trying to walk both dogs I took Lizzy (my older dobie/pit) out first for her 2.5 miles.  This helped because I was already more zen from my nice walk with her and since I already had my minimum mileage in I was prepared to walk him a much shorter route if he was frustrating.  Plus, it's always easier to focus on just one even though my girl is good.  This did mean though that Zeus was extra crazy before his walk because he hates when he's separated from Lizzy.  But...

Second, I followed Sgourle's great advce!  Instead of just heading off and trying to walk I got his crazy butt in the front yard and then spent a couple mintues just walking back and forth in front of the house while he calmed down.  I did give some corrections because he was all over the map but after just a few corrective turns he realized he started to calm down and heel like a gentleman. Thank you Sgourle!

It's definitely way more time consuming to walk the pups separately but hopefully in the next few weeks he'll be better on point and I can move towards walking them together.  I'm just so happy with how good Zeus was tonight. He even started catching on to sitting every time we stopped; though there was always a doberlean against me with each sit :-) 

karie's picture
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 hang in there laura it does get better ! i can remember coming in from a walk with sunna around the same age so frustrated and cryng that i had made a big mistake getting such a high energy dog that i might not ever be able to control but i stuck with it and now at 14 months she is so good and i'm glad i did'nt give up on her !hang in there and keep us updated on her progress .