Walking, too many distractions!

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Walking, too many distractions!

This is a discussion on Walking, too many distractions! within the Puppy Help forums, part of the Dog Training and Behavior category; Cobber and I have great walks in the morning partly because he and i are both happy to be out and partly because few people ...

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Old 09-15-2013, 09:07 PM
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Walking, too many distractions!

Cobber and I have great walks in the morning partly because he and i are both happy to be out and partly because few people are usually up in our neighborhood. Like today, we took a long walk around 8am, no problem. If there's a distraction Cobber wants to pull to, I stop and turn around and he goes back to trotting alongside.

The problem is evenings. Everyone is out, kids are yelling, dogs are barking, people are jogging, and any semblance of the loose-leash training we've done goes out the window. It gets really tough when there's literally nowhere to turn. I turn away from one thing only to have Cobber lunge at the thing that's in the new direction. Tonight was awful, even cutting across lots we were flushing out dogs and kids everywhere, and the more frustrated I get, the worse behavior Cobber exhibits. I would stop and stand still, and he'd just pull, standing almost straight up. Eventually he'd sit, so I would mark and reward then take a step and he'd lunge again. Then I'd turn around and he'd just run and lunge in a different direction, like some crazed pinball. Finally, I got him to walk next to me, loose leash, by reverting to putting the treat right in front of him to lure him along, back to the very basics. It worked for the last few yards back to our driveway. It's not easy for me since I'm 6' tall and he's about 15" tall.

I'm just wondering if it's always going to be like this. I feel awful afterward that I get so frustrated. I wish there were some way to avoid evening walks altogether but Cobber's much more inclined to piddle and poop on walks than in the fenced-in back yard...

Is this part of the "teenage" phase that people have warned about, where Cobber seems to forget everything he used to know and gets somewhat rebellious? He's just 6 mos old today.


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Old 09-15-2013, 09:17 PM
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Is this part of the "teenage" phase that people have warned about, where Cobber seems to forget everything he used to know and gets somewhat rebellious? He's just 6 mos old today.
It sounds more to me like he just isn't proofed to the level of distraction present in his evening walks. Which isn't a criticism, I'd be surprised if he was at his age. Unfortunately when we go out of our way to walk dogs during quiet times, it also takes away a lot of opportunities to practice around distractions - but at the same time, you don't want to overwhelm him with too many distractions before he's ready.

Loose leash walking is just something that takes tons of practice, repetition, repetition, practice, practice with increasing distractions; then more practice. And some more practice after that and some more repetition. It's really hard for dogs. Keep in mind that I do not leash walk my dogs as regularly as other people because we do so much scootering and skijoring, but Squash will be 3 in November and just this summer I feel like he has finally become really pleasant and easy to leash walk with a loose leash in public.

If you need a management tool for those times when you just want to get him walked (lord knows I grew weary at times of every walk needing to be a training session and just wanted to walk the dang dog), there are plenty of harnesses, etc meant to prevent pulling on walks while you use other walks to practice your training.
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Old 09-16-2013, 08:41 AM
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If you need a management tool for those times when you just want to get him walked (lord knows I grew weary at times of every walk needing to be a training session and just wanted to walk the dang dog), there are plenty of harnesses, etc meant to prevent pulling on walks while you use other walks to practice your training.
Thank you! I admit that, yes, by the end of the day, I'm ready for a simple walk vs. another training opportunity, but of course that's when things get worse I have a simple step-in halter from Petco, but while it definitely saves his neck from the pulling, it doesn't stop the pulling/lunging. What would be another harness-type option that would actually help with the lunging/pulling stuff?

I appreciate the help, and we're back in obedience class starting tomorrow night, so I'm guessing we'll be working a lot more on this in the coming weeks, which will get me back on track as well as the pup.
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Old 09-16-2013, 09:29 AM
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not sure where you live, but can you take him to a quieter part of town during this time? With fewer distractions? We have to do the opposite. Other than neighbor dogs, our neighborhood is quiet so we drive into town for more people/car/noise practice.

Hooley is the same, doing great with the loose leash until he sees a dog or person or God forbid a bike! Then it takes a refresher to get him back on track. I try not to get frustrated remembering he's only 5 months. My in-laws took him for a walk and remarked on how well he was doing with the no pulling. Made me feel good, so just remember that. I see a lot of old dogs out there still pulling their owners along the sidewalk so good job on him behaving most of the time!!

I'll be checking back on that No lunge harness. I could use one too!
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Old 09-16-2013, 10:41 AM
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For a no-pull harness, Wiggles, Wags, and Whisker's Freedom harness is my favorite.

I feel your pain CM. LOL
Dexter was a beast on leash and LLW is like my least favorite thing to train!
It's still a work in progress!

For your evening walks maybe try out breaking it up into multiple short training sessions with breaks between when Cobber can just be a dog (sniff and explore a bit just as long as he isn't pulling hard) between each session.

I find that to be really helpful with my own dogs. Lot's of nice LLW which is enjoyable for me. And the dogs are rewarded for their efforts by being allowed to "go sniff" which is what they enjoy. It can be difficult for people to understand and incorporate, but tuning distractions into rewards really helps behaviors like LLW become super solid!
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Old 09-16-2013, 12:07 PM
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I don't have any specific harness recommendations. Some people like the Easy Walk, hopefully others will chime in with ones they like.

Also, I agree with kmes. I will work on LLW for, say, a block. Then just walk for a couple of blocks, and continue alternating.

I know I'm like a broken record with this, but my favorite method for teaching LLW on walks (eg not heeling but just walking pleasantly) is the "penalty yards" method. When they say it takes 3-4 tries in any given encounter I think that is really spot on. (Use the No-Pull Recipe also known as Penalty Yards to teach your leash puller to walk calmly at your side or anywhere within his leash length using clicker training)
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Old 09-16-2013, 12:16 PM
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Thanks, everyone!

I do actually let him stop and sniff anywhere he likes, especially now that he's marking. I know that's the doggy community way of keeping track of everyone But those aren't the problem moments. It's the things he lunges at -- dogs, people, kids, and yes also bikes -- where any sort of training or even listening to me at all goes flying out the window. He's a little 15-lb dog hellbent on dragging me (the Tree) along because he HAS to get to that person or that dog or that child.

I had originally thought when I moved into this neighborhood that having so many other dogs around was a good thing, because it meant the people here are tolerant of dogs (and thankfully, Cobber is not one of the constant barker dogs that we have around here!). But in actuality, what it means is that we are all in a very small development bordered by highway, so all the dog owners walk their dogs when they get home in the evening. I've tried waiting a bit, hoping most people will be eating dinner when we go out but there are too many folks who think like I do, I guess

Anyway, I will work more on short training sessions, and maybe I really can utilize our yard more in the evening. We can always put on the leash and train around the inside of the fence and work our way up from there.

And I will look into that harness, Kmes. Thanks to everyone for all the tips!
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Old 09-16-2013, 12:17 PM
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I've tried to retrain myself to view distractions as training opportunities instead of something to be anxious about, and it does help. But LLW is overall my absolute least favorite thing to train.
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Old 09-16-2013, 12:34 PM
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For lunging (due to excitement NOT fear) at dog, kids, and people, I like this method to teach a polite greeting.
Teach your puppy appropriate greetings on leash | Dogmantics Dog Training

You may also have luck with bread crumb trail greetings. Use something incredibly high value and reward rapidly at first so that you can keep him with you.

When walking past people it can also be helpful to teach a "keep going" cue. I just use the same "Let's go" cue from the article I linked to above. But when training moving past a big distraction I gently toss a series of larger treats one at a time (I toss a new treat each time the dog eats the last) so the treat rolls out a few feet in front of my dog. Just helps to teach them to move quickly past distractions, plus makes it a bit more fun for the dog.

If at any time he does lunge (watch for the muscle movement in his rear right before) and immediately turn and walk him away. He will will figure out that to get to what he wants, he has to walk nicely and if he pulls or lunges he looses out on being able to greet.

For bikes (could also do it for people, kids, and dogs), I would play the Look at That game. You'll of course have to start out at a distance and then close in over time/sessions. But if you put in the time to train it correctly, bikes will become the cue to look at you rather than lunge.
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Last edited by kmes; 09-17-2013 at 12:08 PM.
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Old 09-16-2013, 12:45 PM
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I didn't see anyone else mention, but I play fetch with my dog before walking him. It seems to calm him down and make him more manageable on walk. Then, the whole time spent is a little more rewarding for both of us.
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