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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Well, I'm fully surrendering, and I will admit:

I cannot walk my dogs on leash. I just can't do it.

I am so beyond frustrated. I don't know if this is a rant, a plea for help, or a combination of the two. I am totally at the end of my rope with these two, mainly Levi. I would never use a prong collar, or a shock collar, but I seriously get people's frustration. I'm so....deflated.

We were just at the dog park, and there is a bit of a walk from the parking lot, so we leash him and Heidi (using a coupler, because walking them with two leashes is seriously asking for trouble), and he detected a dog across the field, seriously like a football field away, and he ran to the end of his leash, brutally hurting my shoulder (I felt a pop!) and flinging poor Heidi in the process (don't feel too bad, she was pulling too, not totally innocent). It really hurt, and he drug me about 15 feet before I was able to dig my heels in and grab a fence to stop the forward motion.

I work with them each individually for about an hour a day outside, and we also practice inside. I don't use a lure per se, although they know I have rewards in my pockets (I've gotten rid of the bait bag in hopes for them to not think if I don't have it, they don't have to walk nicely). I try to click and treat for walking nicely near my left side. They don't have to be watching, but they seem to.

HOWEVER

If there is anything, and I do mean anything, within ear/smell/sight they Do. Not. Hear. Me. They go to a 10/10, and nothing except a piece of steak will draw them back. Nothing gets Heidi back. No food, I basically have to drag her away, which I don't like doing.

I've tried Kikopup's methods, silky leash, be a tree, the go the opposite direction.

We've been working for two months, and if there is any sort of stimulus it's like they don't remember anything. Which is a shame, because if there is nothing, they walk beaaaautifully.

I'm open to suggestions from people that have nice walking dogs. I can also upload a video in the next few days if that will help.

Edit: I should also mention they are superstars in class with lots of other dogs around.
 

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First of all its not surrendering to ask for help. How long of a leash do you use? I wouldn't be using more than a 4ft lead and 3 would be my ideal. Also when Levi first sees another dog, does he immediately pull or does he first look and 'point' before pulling? If the latter, this is when you need to interrupt and bring his focus back to you.

You said you work with each individually for about an hour, during that time is he on a leash near other dogs? And if not, can you incorporate more of that? There is a bit of practice makes perfect with this.

I'm of the opinion that the click and treat is pretty much useless in situations like this. Cc is good for fear reactivity but that's not the only reasons dogs pull.
 

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Can you take them alone to the dog park? Do you have physical control (ie, dog not physically capable of dragging you if it's just one?) Could you attach the leash to your waist and have physical control? I would put safety first and make different choices, but if you can get physical control on a flat collar, take just Levi, and use the dog park as your reinforcement. Sounds like he REALLY wants in, so play the red light green light game, even walk backwards slowly if the leash is anything but slack, be prepared to spend most of your time just getting to the gate, and it would have to be one dog at time.and you would have to practice until the concept is rock solid before you could bring two dogs.
Would you consider a halti or gentle leader? Dogs hate them (at least mine all did) but they do save folks from dislocated shoulders by transferring the risk to the dog (something to keep in mind when using a halti).
 
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I use a head collar on my dane. She walks well most of the time, but she is young and strong. If she were to go on just a collar she could. She doesn't mind the head collar and took to it quickly. But most dogs need to work up to it. There are also the front hooking harnesses. They work on many dogs.

The dog park is a good stop to work, one at a time. I do it and Freyja is getting really good. If she pulls we turn around and walk away til she is walking with me. I'm lucky, she pick things up fast. But as long as he is pulling do not let him get to what he wants.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
First of all its not surrendering to ask for help. How long of a leash do you use? I wouldn't be using more than a 4ft lead and 3 would be my ideal. Also when Levi first sees another dog, does he immediately pull or does he first look and 'point' before pulling? If the latter, this is when you need to interrupt and bring his focus back to you.

You said you work with each individually for about an hour, during that time is he on a leash near other dogs? And if not, can you incorporate more of that? There is a bit of practice makes perfect with this.

I'm of the opinion that the click and treat is pretty much useless in situations like this. Cc is good for fear reactivity but that's not the only reasons dogs pull.
Hey thanks!

We use a 6 ft leash, with a "Traffic handle". Although, with the coupler is probably closer to 8 or 9 feet, which could explain the amount of force by the time he gets to the end.

He does look and stare for a minute, I think I should be trying to interrupt there. We don't have too many dogs in our neighborhood, but I'm sure we could drive somewhere to find some.
 

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Can you take them alone to the dog park? Do you have physical control (ie, dog not physically capable of dragging you if it's just one?) Could you attach the leash to your waist and have physical control? I would put safety first and make different choices, but if you can get physical control on a flat collar, take just Levi, and use the dog park as your reinforcement. Sounds like he REALLY wants in, so play the red light green light game, even walk backwards slowly if the leash is anything but slack, be prepared to spend most of your time just getting to the gate, and it would have to be one dog at time.and you would have to practice until the concept is rock solid before you could bring two dogs.
Would you consider a halti or gentle leader? Dogs hate them (at least mine all did) but they do save folks from dislocated shoulders by transferring the risk to the dog (something to keep in mind when using a halti).
I could take them alone, Levi enjoys it much more than Heidi. Levi could definitely drag me if he wanted, even if it's just the two of us. Squirrels make him go crazy. I might be able to use my waist, but I still think he could drag me that way. We use the Ruffwear Front Range harness, but the front clip does next to nothing for his pulling.

We used to do the red light green light to get to the dog park, but it's hard with the two of them.

We tried the Halti/gentle leader, and it's fine in the house, but as soon as we tried to walk him on a leash, he flipped out. Like reeling in a 300 pound tuna, it was awful.
 

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I could take them alone, Levi enjoys it much more than Heidi. Levi could definitely drag me if he wanted, even if it's just the two of us. Squirrels make him go crazy. I might be able to use my waist, but I still think he could drag me that way. We use the Ruffwear Front Range harness, but the front clip does next to nothing for his pulling.

We used to do the red light green light to get to the dog park, but it's hard with the two of them.

We tried the Halti/gentle leader, and it's fine in the house, but as soon as we tried to walk him on a leash, he flipped out. Like reeling in a 300 pound tuna, it was awful.
If he flips around like a tuna, definitely not good. Dynamo got mild whiplash on a halti, hence the warning. Attaching two leashes, on to halti and one to flat collar or harness might mitigate the risk to the dog, but that's too much wrangling in my opinion.

Red light green light only works one dog at a time, and only if you are in complete control of the reinforcement, which you would have at the dog park, but not if he can still drag you forward.

If you're ever in a real pickle, sled dog folks lift their huskies off their front feet by hoisting up by the harness. I doubt it does anything for your training or relationship with the dog, but at least you won't get dragged into traffic. Hopefully you'll find the solution you want and need.
 

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You might consider getting a harness that is designed to be no pull. I have tried many different ones and I have to say the most effective, is the Larz harness, it does what @Artdog mentions above that sled dog people do and lifts the dog off his front feet, so they can't get traction, 60% of a dog's weight is carried on the front legs. The harness is best used in conjunction with their bungee leashes, and if you want to walk two dogs at once, they sell multi-dog versions of the leash. You don't need to have both dogs on the harness for the system to work.

Here are a couple of photos of my dog wearing the Larz harness:





http://larzdogproducts.com/store/super-harness/

Of course, tools like no-pull harness and head halters are just that tools, and nothing can replace training, and as I have said many times on this board, what worked for my boy had nothing specifically to do with loose leash walking or management tools.
 

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I'd start some serious impulse control training in your backyard so the dogs learn the drill. Once completed in that setting, I'd up the ante and start proofing the training with added distractions and then moving the location to the dog park perhaps at a distance from the entrance where you can guarantee they will stay under threshold. Since I have never trained more than one dog at a time, I have no idea if training separately or both together would be best.

In the past with one of my dogs, I had a similar problem and the dog would lose it from the car to the entrance gate of the dog park, all her proper leash behavior was nonexistent, just a pulling crazy animal determined to listen to herself. I trained in the driveway with her in the car and with the door open she had to stay until released, I then added distractions to tempt her and continued the training until she stayed put regardless of the distractions. Then we continued the training when the car was in the dog park lot and went from there. Granted this was just one segment of what needed to be done as we still needed to walk civilly to the entrance gate and this was another drawn out process. Every time she forged, we started anew from the car. I'm guessing she never made it into the dog park for close to 2 weeks during this training period. Oh, I continued with the impulse training drills in the parking lots all along the way in attempts to focus her attention on me.

On a side note, I have always been a huge fan of harnessing the dog's anticipation as a positive training tool and always remember wondering how I could utilize the incredible amount of anticipation and desire she had to gain access to the dog park.
 

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Impulse training by desensitization is well and good but it will and can breakdown, if the attraction is so great, instinct will override it every single time. What stops this is building a higher attraction to the handler so that a dog is able to go by feel rather than instinct during a critical moment. This is why I keep banging on about dogs and feelings.

I agree with @DriveDog, harnessing anticipation is a great training method, its what trainers of police dogs do. This can be done by getting a dog really worked up by playing tug. This is building attraction to handler.
 

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Have you ever tried the 300 peck method? A shorter lead, possibly connected to a walking belt so it's easier to control him if he pulls (and to save your shoulder). Also id try and harness attached to a d-ring at the front. This is a trainer near me demonstrating the method. It does need you to have your bait bag but I find that helps with keeping the dogs attention and for quick rewards.

https://youtu.be/EyG0oF5-d0w

EDIT: The purpose of the method is that by the time you've successfully taught with the method that you should be able to take 300 consecutive steps with the dog at heel. Buster used to pull terribly but this is how I taught him and it was awesome.
 
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@DriveDog - I'm struggling because they are so great at home! Even at the dog park, they won't get out of the car until their release cue, even if dogs are walking by the car, although as I type this, I am standing right there, which probably acts are a pretty serious reminder not to get out. As soon as they get out of the car, it's game on. I wonder if I should just drive to the dog park, and practice walking to the gate and then back to the car.

It's depressing, they are so good in every other aspect (in fact, if Levi is off-leash, he will heel perfectly). It's hard trying to talk to people about being a dog trainer when your dogs are dragging you down the street. :(
 

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Have you ever tried the 300 peck method? A shorter lead, possibly connected to a walking belt so it's easier to control him if he pulls (and to save your shoulder). Also id try and harness attached to a d-ring at the front. This is a trainer near me demonstrating the method. It does need you to have your bait bag but I find that helps with keeping the dogs attention and for quick rewards.

https://youtu.be/EyG0oF5-d0w

EDIT: The purpose of the method is that by the time you've successfully taught with the method that you should be able to take 300 consecutive steps with the dog at heel. Buster used to pull terribly but this is how I taught him and it was awesome.
I haven't tried this method. It looks interesting. Do you find Buster is looking up at you the whole time waiting for the reward, or does he check out his surroundings. I don't want them to be so crazy focused on me that they miss out on the enjoyment of the walk.
 

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I haven't tried this method. It looks interesting. Do you find Buster is looking up at you the whole time waiting for the reward, or does he check out his surroundings. I don't want them to be so crazy focused on me that they miss out on the enjoyment of the walk.
During actual training he looked up most of the time, but just in actual sessions which I didn't really mind, he's only really on lead before we go off lead so it's never for long. Now that he's heeling all the time I'll just randomly reward and he'll look up occasionally but the rest of the time he just looks ahead :)
 
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I used a similar method with Roxie when I trained her, except I was using a Gentle Leader (she HATES body harnesses). I found that, while they do focus a lot of you in the beginning, it eventually fades and they learn that is just where you walk now. Although I am a fan of the alert focus.
 

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I agree with jclark, the focus is good when moving through crowd and walking along a road, I know he's always paying attention to where I'm moving not just walking at my side. So like if I was walking pretty fast and abruptly stopped, he would stop with me rather than keep moving, which is very helpful
 

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Impulse training by desensitization is well and good but it will and can breakdown, if the attraction is so great, instinct will override it every single time.
You have my curiosity regarding "Impulse training by desensitization". I wonder if my version is considered this?

One of my primary impulse exercises with my current dog is the use of the tug toy and ensuing tug engagement which only happens if she exhibits the proper behavior. I can have her in a sit while I dangle the ball and rope in front of her face, move it around quickly, drop it in front of her or throw it. I will walk around her or walk away from her, basically do whatever I choose and she will remain frozen. The anticipation of being released and latching on to the ball and having a good spirited tug ( which I usually let her win, if she doesn't on her own) is the reward obviously. Teaching this with no distractions was easy but building the behavior and then proofing it with other dogs around her ( her weakness) was where the benefit came into play. Do you consider this a form of DS? My goal has been to capitalize off her anticipation to play tug with me and in doing so has hopefully made me a higher priority to indulge her drive instincts rather than the other barking dogs running around. I somewhat believe my dog views the tug toy as lifeless by itself and of little interest unless I bring it to life through our combined engagement.

I also wanted to mention, your comment " What stops this is building a higher attraction to the handler so that a dog is able to go by feel rather than instinct during a critical moment. This is why I keep banging on about dogs and feelings." This really makes me think a bit more about my relationship with my dog and perhaps trying to see it through my dog's eyes, more than I thought I was. Great comment!
 

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Ouch! Your poor shoulder! I've sustained a few nasty injuries from dogs too-preoccupied to even notice...I like to wave the injury in their face a day or two later and (in a cheerful, friendly tone of voice, so I don't actually scare them) detail in horrifically graphic terms all the things I might like to do back. Not that I would do those things, but it's nice to get my feelings out, and my dog has no idea what phrases like "staple your ears to an iceberg" actually mean. Hope whatever popped heals quickly!

Everyone has their own approach. Personally, I would stop treating this as an obedience issue, where you're constantly competing with the environment for your dog's attention. Constantly fighting for a dog's attention just doesn't work for me...drives me crazy, and usually frustrates the dog to the point where the environmental distraction becomes utterly irresistible. Instead, I like to eliminate the conflict. To give one example, I don't interrupt my dog for looking at potential triggers UNLESS her arousal is escalating (in which case I interrupt because (a) I want to avoid a rehearsal and (b) I've made a mistake in gauging distance and need to reset...to me, this is management, not training). Interrupting sets up a conflict between what my dog wants (staring at the trigger) and what I want (attention on me). Instead, I choose distances from triggers where my dog is able to practice looking at them, and then choosing to disengage on her own...now I am able to reinforce my dog for wanting to do the same thing I want her to do (disengage). Once disengaging from triggers is easy for my dog, THEN I can start training a behavior like heeling.

If you don't already have it, I highly (HIGHLY!!!) recommend Leslie McDevitt's Control Unleashed -- either book, though most people find the Puppy Program one to be better-organized. I also like BAT 2.0 as a means for helping move us, as owners/handlers, away from feeling constantly in competition/conflict with our environments...I think the new book hasn't come out yet, but the brief handout is here (http://empoweredanimals.com/BAT-basics.pdf). Both are sort of aimed at "reactive dogs" (a label I find increasingly useless), but the training is good for all dogs, at all places on the 'reactive' spectrum (AKA dogs who are alive and responsive to stimuli)...and the two programs entwine very nicely.

Definitely walk each dog separately for now. Personally, I'd prioritize changing their emotional reactions to triggers over other concerns on those walks. CU and BAT are both good for this, or the Care for Reactive Dogs website has good tips on how to troubleshoot your mechanics to make sure your dog is learning what you want when you're counter-conditioning. When you describe using steak (or other amazing food) as a competing distraction to try to lure your dog's attention away from other dogs/triggers, it makes me think you might want to brush up on counter-conditioning...popping the steak into the dog's mouth, in a steady stream as long as the distraction/trigger is nearby, might be more effective in the long term. I also like the Watch the World game (https://paws4udogs.wordpress.com/201...or-reactivity/), which is another classical-conditioning exercise.

I also agree with the advice to increase games like tug at home (if tug is a game you and your dogs like, anyway). Not necessarily for the same reasons, but because I think incorporating high-arousal play, or "rile & recovery" play, is a terrific way to build engagement and increase a dog's overall self-control & recovery skills. For me, I don't always have to be the most important thing in my dog's world, I just want my dog to have the emotional coping skills to handle regular life. I think it puts a ton of nasty pressure on dog owners to tell them that they have to be the center of their dog's world, or always their dog's first priority, or that being distracted is a sign of a poor relationship...drives me crazy! But high-arousal, high-engagement play (tug, chase, food games) can be massively reinforcing for dogs, and that reinforcement comes from engaging with us. That makes "engaging with us" a choice that is increasingly easy for dogs to make. And again, I like to do my training when the choices involved are easy for my dog...by making disengaging from triggers easy, making engaging with me easy, and then fine-tuning the specifics while we're both having a good time.

Navigating through a complicated world while tethered to a six foot leash and nose-dumb human is HARD for dogs. "Loose leash walking" is probably the hardest thing most of us ask of our dogs. And while the end-result -- a dog who can walk through the world with confidence, responsiveness, and a level head -- is a very nice thing, it's really the journey we take to get there that makes any of us a better trainer. Personally, I don't go to trainers who claim to be naturally amazing at making dogs do whatever they want...I go to trainers who can talk honestly about their own struggles, and what they've learned, and why it made them a better friend to their dogs.
 

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@SnackRat - I told my friend who met us at the dog park that I was dropping by the Humane Society on the way home. :p

I have both of those books! I've just finished reading them, and love the exercises she suggests, so I think I will start incorporating those elements (like the Whiplash turn, and LAT stuff). I find it hard because it they are just SO desperate to get to the people/dogs, and it is pure friendliness, but it's just too much, way too overzealous. I'm hoping part of it is age (Levi turned 1 in September, and Heidi is 5 months as of today!), but I really want to nip it in the bud, because I really am interested in Rally/Trial Obedience/Agility, so I want them not only to walk nice, but to not be stressed out.

Work in progress.
 

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Hey thanks!

We use a 6 ft leash, with a "Traffic handle". Although, with the coupler is probably closer to 8 or 9 feet, which could explain the amount of force by the time he gets to the end.

He does look and stare for a minute, I think I should be trying to interrupt there. We don't have too many dogs in our neighborhood, but I'm sure we could drive somewhere to find some.
Part of it is age. They do mellow out a bit as they get older.

I would really strongly suggest getting a shorter leash. Long leashes are for dogs that already know how to walk well on a leash. A shorter leash means that if they do decide to pull 1) you're not going to get your shoulder dislocated 2) They're not going to get a giant correction from the collar. You said you don't want to use a prong but getting a running start up to a dead stop with a flat collar is probably just as aversive as slight pressure from a prong collar 3) When they are pulling they're next to you which opens up a whole range of new responses on your part.

When you interrupt him and he refocuses his attention on you, thats when you should click and treat. Don't use the clicker as an interruption.

In my case I have a very physical relationship with my dogs, I touch them a lot, we wrestle, we cuddle, etc and they're used to it. I'm putting out that context because other dogs could find physical contact aversive and you definitely don't want a dog to generalize a correction with seeing other dogs. For those dogs who don't find it aversive though though, I think physical contact is un matched as an interruption tool. Calling the dogs name accompanied with a light tap with your foot to the side of theirs, grabbing their jowls and cooing, even muzzle grabs.

Get their attention back on you, and when they look you in the eye, mark and treat.

Then comes your next best tool, the sit. Sitting is easy to train and to reinforce. You can literally practice it all day all the time. Once you have your dogs attention back tell them to sit. Don't do this before you have their attention because they'll likely ignore you and you'll weaken the command.

When they're sitting, treat them, and keep them sitting until they calm. Then you can move again. With simba I'd always body block and he'd try and look around me at the other dog, but I'd keep myself between him and the target and he'd eventually just settle on me and that was when I would move on.

If you can, walk each dog separately, if you are with both dogs though, choose one to work with and ignore the other, let him pull. When you get the first dog under control, then turn your attention to the other.


If nothing else though, try a 3ft leash. I think you'll be a fan.
 
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