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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So my Pit/Bull Terrier is a couple months shy of 2. My wife has had dogs all her life (mostly German Shepherds or Labs), I however have not. So right off the bat I'm completely inexperienced and honestly don't know what too expect.

I have another thread on here asking about a harness. Something that I'm going back and forth on. My dog seems to prefer leading (us, anyway). He knows when either of us has the leash because we go at two different speeds and he DOES adjust. The goal of the harness would be to keep him from running or pulling (mostly with me, he isn't a bad offender with my wife). However I'm starting to wonder if, given his age, I'm expecting too much. I want him to be at my side while we are walking and for him to stop when I stop. I know I haven't put as much work into this training as I should to really be able to expect this, but is this behavior even possible out of a 2 year old Pit mix?

What I've decided to do is take him on walks with a short leash so he knows where I want him. This may or may not subvert the need to get a harness. From here, I have no idea how I'll be able to start running with him again and to keep it under control. When we run and he goes from running for enjoyment to running after a squirrel, I can't stop the behavior in time to successfully imprint that "no" response. While it is completely natural for a dog to want to go after a distraction, I think it is completely trainable to stop it. I also feel that it speaks to my ownership and training that he does that, like "sorry my dog isn't fully obedience trained yet". I've even tried putting the leash on him while he runs in the backyard to make the novelty go away and to work on some treat reward training. The training is seemingly gone when we get to the street.

In all honesty, there are times when he is great and I marvel at how well behaved he is for not even being 2. Other times, I just wish he was better...I just don't know if he is capable YET.

I imagine it is absolutely based on the dog, but are there just some behaviors that are better taught by me/grasped by him later on? Maybe starting points I should hit on first before I have him jump through a flaming hoop?
 

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No you are not expecting too much, while it might be a bit harder for him to learn certain things given his age and breed, he is more than capable of learning to walk at heel and stay there. I have trained everything from a two year old Pitbull mix, to a young Jack Russell, to a Jack Russell/Red Heeler mix, (a very badly mannered one at that) to walk were I want them to.. It took me only two days to get these dogs to understand and walk pretty much without pulling next to me, all it really takes it persistence on the person's part and any dog can be trained.

I am more than willing to explain to you how I went about training these dogs if you wish. :)http://www.dogforum.com//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/extension/
 

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Yes, keep in mind they weren't perfect in two days, and they would occasionally pull ahead but they were easily brought back to where they were supposed to be, all dogs are different and some may take longer but I have always had success with training them like I do.

Okay one question I have before I explain how, does your dog know any commands such as sit? it isn't necessary for the dog to know commands before hand but it can help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
"Sit" isn't too bad. Probably his best. At the very least, I can give a gentle push with my fingers and he sits. "Stay" is improving. "Come" he knows, doesn't always listen to (he sometimes runs and sometimes takes his sweet time). "Let's go", "Go get" (probably just "Go") he actually reacts to more from a seated position than standing.
 

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That is fine. As I said, it isn't necessary for commands to be known before hand.

Okay, so here is my system:

It's just basic and quite simple really, I start with the dogs in a familiar setting, (such as the backyard) then I get them to sit or down, (whichever they will do the easiest) on my left side, I have them hold that position for a few seconds then I will tell them, "heel" and start walking forward. Now if a dog is used to being allowed to walk in ahead of a person they will of course try and go ahead, what I like to do to help keep them from doing this is to shorten my hold on the leash to a point where the dog cannot get ahead of me and I just keep my hand right there, it's kind of a central point to hold them at so they will learn where I want them all the time. As soon as the dog puts pressure on the leash when they try to pull past my "hold point" I will tell them, "place" and give them a quick tug on the lead and pull them back to where I want them and I repeat this process every time they put pressure on the lead. At some point the dog will get distracted, start to not pay much attention to me or I have to stop for some reason and that is when I put the dog into sit or down, (for longer stops I prefer down over sit because it is more comfortable for the dog) It is very useful to get their focus back to me, or to calm them down if they get a bit too excited, then as soon as I am ready to move on I just tell the dog, "heel" and walk forward. Another thing, when training them heel it is good to just randomly stop and tell them to sit/down, ultimately you want the dog to sit or down EVERY time you stop without you having to do a thing.

Once the dog to understands these basics I start walking on the sidewalks and just keep doing the same thing so they never get the idea that it is just something that they only have to do at home. When getting back home, or whenever I am done working with them I just give the command, "okay!" and let them go about doing their own things, it is very important to make sure you have a word to let them known that they are free to leave your side. The command doesn't have to be the one I am using, it can be whatever you like.

One more thing I wanted to add, at first I don't keep them really close to me, I just make them stay even with me and not pull on the leash, I don't expect perfection right off and I don't want to make it too hard on them so I start close and get them closer to my side as the training progresses.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You know I've actually done similar stuff (walking back and forth, stopping/being a tree). While it never worked on getting him to stay by my side, it DID work in getting him to sit when he realized I wasn't moving. Thanks for the link though, I'll have to check out her other videos!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'll give that a try over the next couple of days and see what happens! It is not completely different from what I've been trying...just more disciplined. Thanks!
 

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Why do you want to your dog to walk at a heel? Typically, a formal heel is used only in competition or for short periods.

I'd recommend not using a collar correction in training. Choose to Heel is a nice method.
basic written description

Sitting when you stop can be trained in a similar way: Walk, stop, wait for the dog to sit, mark and reinforce.
 

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Just remember that it could take a bit longer with your dog as all dogs are different. Let me know how it goes if you are able, I always like to know whether or not my suggestions worked out for others.

Make sure to stay firm with him or it will not work, consistency and discipline are key. Let me know if you have any questions or need help with anything. You can send me a PM or post here, whichever.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So I went last night to try out that system. It is similar to what I had JUST started to use (a short leash). The problem I face though is his sheer excitement revolving around the leash. The first time I tried the short leash a few days ago in the backyard, he actually stopped a few times and I had to pull him with me. It wasn't him getting distracted, it was pure refusal. He also starts heading for the gate because he wants to go on a walk (or run).

Telling him to stop (place) was probably the one thing I didn't put into practice simply because I forgot the exact process. I did however tug on his leash (sometimes repeatedly) to get him back to my side. To that point, I want to clarify that we have a martingale collar and loop the leash around his ribs and through the collar loop to create a harness with a shortened leash. So when I tug, it squeezes and he will eventually slow to me.

He is showing improvement later in the walk. He still gets pretty excited over neighborhood dogs (and squirrels...and birds) though.

cookieface: I'll have to check out those videos and see if I can try them out! I never thought of implementing this without a leash. The reason I want him to walk at my side is simply personal preference. I feel like it portrays a well trained and obedient dog (not that different actions mean that it's not). It is just something I would like and gives me more confidence in being able to stop and have him stop too-without verbal cue-because he sees me stop.

Although my wife would NEVER allow it-and I'd probably be hesitant myself-the ultimate goal is to be able to walk almost anywhere with him at my side, no leash. Busy road, town fair, bike trail, etc. Okay, maybe not a busy road, but you get the idea.
 

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So I went last night to try out that system. It is similar to what I had JUST started to use (a short leash). The problem I face though is his sheer excitement revolving around the leash. The first time I tried the short leash a few days ago in the backyard, he actually stopped a few times and I had to pull him with me. It wasn't him getting distracted, it was pure refusal. He also starts heading for the gate because he wants to go on a walk (or run).

Telling him to stop (place) was probably the one thing I didn't put into practice simply because I forgot the exact process. I did however tug on his leash (sometimes repeatedly) to get him back to my side. To that point, I want to clarify that we have a martingale collar and loop the leash around his ribs and through the collar loop to create a harness with a shortened leash. So when I tug, it squeezes and he will eventually slow to me.

He is showing improvement later in the walk. He still gets pretty excited over neighborhood dogs (and squirrels...and birds) though.

Although my wife would NEVER allow it-and I'd probably be hesitant myself-the ultimate goal is to be able to walk almost anywhere with him at my side, no leash. Busy road, town fair, bike trail, etc. Okay, maybe not a busy road, but you get the idea.
It sounds to me like he is getting rewarded in some way for the excitement he is showing for the leash, how exactly does the process of putting his leash on to go out work, as in how do you get ready to take him out?

That does happen, I was actually just working with a friend's dog, she is a bit spoiled and at times and will openly refuse to walk along at my side, this is where the word, "place" comes in, the word is my way of telling the dog that they are not where I want them and that they either need to speed up a bit or slow down so they are even with my side again. When the dog is refusing to walk at my side then I just give them the command, "place" and tug on the leash to encourage them to come up next to me, just like I tug on the leash and say, "place" to let them know that they are too far ahead, after a bit of hearing, "place" they will start to move up or fall back and the tug will no longer be needed at all.

I suggest that when he gets too excited by things, (dogs, people, etc) that you just simply stop and have him sit or lie next to you, this is a very good way for him to calm down and give you all his attention again.

That is a very good goal to have, but remember that to get a dog to that level of training will most likely take years, and some dogs may never to able to be trusted off leash in such environments.
 

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So I went last night to try out that system. It is similar to what I had JUST started to use (a short leash). The problem I face though is his sheer excitement revolving around the leash. The first time I tried the short leash a few days ago in the backyard, he actually stopped a few times and I had to pull him with me. It wasn't him getting distracted, it was pure refusal. He also starts heading for the gate because he wants to go on a walk (or run).

Telling him to stop (place) was probably the one thing I didn't put into practice simply because I forgot the exact process. I did however tug on his leash (sometimes repeatedly) to get him back to my side. To that point, I want to clarify that we have a martingale collar and loop the leash around his ribs and through the collar loop to create a harness with a shortened leash. So when I tug, it squeezes and he will eventually slow to me.

He is showing improvement later in the walk. He still gets pretty excited over neighborhood dogs (and squirrels...and birds) though.

cookieface: I'll have to check out those videos and see if I can try them out! I never thought of implementing this without a leash. The reason I want him to walk at my side is simply personal preference. I feel like it portrays a well trained and obedient dog (not that different actions mean that it's not). It is just something I would like and gives me more confidence in being able to stop and have him stop too-without verbal cue-because he sees me stop.

Although my wife would NEVER allow it-and I'd probably be hesitant myself-the ultimate goal is to be able to walk almost anywhere with him at my side, no leash. Busy road, town fair, bike trail, etc. Okay, maybe not a busy road, but you get the idea.
The thing to remember with training is that dogs do what works to get them what they want. That's why rewarding them for obeying is so important. You are giving them a reason for doing what you want. Now you could use discipline and corrections, simply make them afraid to disobey, but I for one do not like to have my dog obey me out of fear, corrections include leash pops, dragging back in place, hand bites, etc basically whatever the dog finds unpleasant and will work to avoid.

You are not going to have to constantly reward the dog if you use treats or rewards correctly. Keep them out of site, in your pocket, treat pouch, hand, etc. so that the dog does not need to see them to obey. At first you need to reward every time the dog obeys, but once it understands and is reliable at the cue, you can start randomly rewarding him, at first frequently but then less frequently. Just like you don't expect to be paid every time you show up for work, once the dog knows the job you don't need to reward it every time if obeys.

So pick a high value treat to reward him for walking at heel, then pick a location that has minimum distractions, you want him to pay attention to you, not to the smell, sounds, and sights. Once he's good at heeling in at that place, then move to one that has slightly more distractions and start over with the training. The reason you are starting over is that dogs are not good at generalizing, they may learn that heel means walk at your side inside, but when you move outside they don't get that heel still means walk at your side. So you need to practice commands all everywhere. If you add distractions to fast then you run the risk of the dog not being able to pay attention to you.

Cookieface, liked to two great videos. Here's one more that shows a different method and starts out with a leash https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYmRaGyqsJs I'd watch all 3 and pick the method that will be easiest for you to stick to. Use that method to train your dog, but don't jump from method to method or you'll just confuse him.

I'd desensitize him to the leash. To do that randomly pick up his leash, handle it, then put it down. Make sure to occasionally go to the door with it. Put it on him then just walk away, let him drag it around for a few minutes then take it off of him. That should lessen the excitement of the leash. When you do put it on him to take him out be prepared to wait him out. Do not let him out if he's excited, just stand there and ignore him till he settles down. If he gets excited when you reach for the gate, or start to open it then shut it and go back to waiting. The first few times you do that exercise it'll take quite a bit of time to actually get out the gate or door that's because he's learned that acting excited gets him out the gate and he does not understand why it's not working, but once he starts to understand that being calm gets him out it'll go much quicker, and once he fully understands you'll be able to get out the gate with him without the crazy dog act.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
It sounds to me like he is getting rewarded in some way for the excitement he is showing for the leash, how exactly does the process of putting his leash on to go out work, as in how do you get ready to take him out?

That does happen, I was actually just working with a friend's dog, she is a bit spoiled and at times and will openly refuse to walk along at my side, this is where the word, "place" comes in, the word is my way of telling the dog that they are not where I want them and that they either need to speed up a bit or slow down so they are even with my side again. When the dog is refusing to walk at my side then I just give them the command, "place" and tug on the leash to encourage them to come up next to me, just like I tug on the leash and say, "place" to let them know that they are too far ahead, after a bit of hearing, "place" they will start to move up or fall back and the tug will no longer be needed at all.

I suggest that when he gets too excited by things, (dogs, people, etc) that you just simply stop and have him sit or lie next to you, this is a very good way for him to calm down and give you all his attention again.

That is a very good goal to have, but remember that to get a dog to that level of training will most likely take years, and some dogs may never to able to be trusted off leash in such environments.
He almost always sees me handling the leash. I can be ready to let him into the backyard and pick up the leash. He'll barely be able to contain himself. He sits impatiently for a few seconds, tail wagging so fast that it's a blur and he gets this very excited squeak...like when a dog whines for attention or the ball to be thrown. If I take too long, he might jump at the door handle or the leash. If we're outside, I can put it so the side and he forgets. Once I pick it up, it is more of that same behavior and it is constant "sit"s and "stay"s because I want him sitting and still when I hook on the leash. Then he darts to the gate and pulls the length of the driveway (the pulling lessens a bit once we start going).

I had been using "this side" where you put "place" when I was giving this thing a first attempt, so I'll try doing that again.


The thing to remember with training is that dogs do what works to get them what they want. That's why rewarding them for obeying is so important. You are giving them a reason for doing what you want. Now you could use discipline and corrections, simply make them afraid to disobey, but I for one do not like to have my dog obey me out of fear, corrections include leash pops, dragging back in place, hand bites, etc basically whatever the dog finds unpleasant and will work to avoid.

You are not going to have to constantly reward the dog if you use treats or rewards correctly. Keep them out of site, in your pocket, treat pouch, hand, etc. so that the dog does not need to see them to obey. At first you need to reward every time the dog obeys, but once it understands and is reliable at the cue, you can start randomly rewarding him, at first frequently but then less frequently. Just like you don't expect to be paid every time you show up for work, once the dog knows the job you don't need to reward it every time if obeys.

So pick a high value treat to reward him for walking at heel, then pick a location that has minimum distractions, you want him to pay attention to you, not to the smell, sounds, and sights. Once he's good at heeling in at that place, then move to one that has slightly more distractions and start over with the training. The reason you are starting over is that dogs are not good at generalizing, they may learn that heel means walk at your side inside, but when you move outside they don't get that heel still means walk at your side. So you need to practice commands all everywhere. If you add distractions to fast then you run the risk of the dog not being able to pay attention to you.

Cookieface, liked to two great videos. Here's one more that shows a different method and starts out with a leash https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYmRaGyqsJs I'd watch all 3 and pick the method that will be easiest for you to stick to. Use that method to train your dog, but don't jump from method to method or you'll just confuse him.

I'd desensitize him to the leash. To do that randomly pick up his leash, handle it, then put it down. Make sure to occasionally go to the door with it. Put it on him then just walk away, let him drag it around for a few minutes then take it off of him. That should lessen the excitement of the leash. When you do put it on him to take him out be prepared to wait him out. Do not let him out if he's excited, just stand there and ignore him till he settles down. If he gets excited when you reach for the gate, or start to open it then shut it and go back to waiting. The first few times you do that exercise it'll take quite a bit of time to actually get out the gate or door that's because he's learned that acting excited gets him out the gate and he does not understand why it's not working, but once he starts to understand that being calm gets him out it'll go much quicker, and once he fully understands you'll be able to get out the gate with him without the crazy dog act.
I agree, I just find it difficult to figure out when to and when not to treat while training. How long do I keep the instant treats going? When do I wean him off? Sometimes he will do something before the command which throws me off because, yes, he did what I want, but not after a prompt, so I don't feel like he is getting rewarded for responding to the command.

I've tried desensitizing. I'll put it on him in the house and he just gets depressed when he realizes we're not going anywhere. In the yard, he's great going one way, but when I take one step in the direction of the gate, he makes a beeline.

I'll go check out the videos...if there are no replies, I'll just edit this post with my thoughts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Maybe I won't edit my post...

I just checked out all three videos. Certainly possible! I think, definitely with age it can happen. A couple of hurdles on my end though, are space available and environment. I don't have a big enough indoor area that I can work in to get him ready for behavior outside. Obviously, I use my yard for heel training now and distractions happen.

I think a large part of my leash preference is because he is going to be on a leash whenever we take him out for the foreseeable future. Get him used to it, get him trained on it. Though I will say, the leashless stuff didn't look as bad as I envisioned. I just don't think I'm their yet...perhaps once a loose leash happens!
 

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He almost always sees me handling the leash. I can be ready to let him into the backyard and pick up the leash. He'll barely be able to contain himself. He sits impatiently for a few seconds, tail wagging so fast that it's a blur and he gets this very excited squeak...like when a dog whines for attention or the ball to be thrown. If I take too long, he might jump at the door handle or the leash. If we're outside, I can put it so the side and he forgets. Once I pick it up, it is more of that same behavior and it is constant "sit"s and "stay"s because I want him sitting and still when I hook on the leash. Then he darts to the gate and pulls the length of the driveway (the pulling lessens a bit once we start going).

I had been using "this side" where you put "place" when I was giving this thing a first attempt, so I'll try doing that again.
You need to teach him to wait and stay put until the leash goes on, with the dogs I work with as soon as that leash goes on they need to be quiet and at heel. Also with that jumping up at the door or leash, that cannot continue as it is causing part of the problem with him not being calm.. Give him the sit command once, then wait, if he starts to get up as you come to put the leash on, correct him(I usually do it with a simple no, not in a raised voice or anything, and don't act angry or frustrated, saying no in a even tone is just to let the dog know that it has done something that wasn't correct) and tell him to sit again then try to leash him again, it won't take him long to get to figure out that being calm gets him outside a lot faster than being excited. As soon as he sits still and doesn't get excited you can give him praise in an even tone, (no excited tones or he may just get excited again).

That's fine, doesn't matter what word you use as long as it is consistent.
 

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He almost always sees me handling the leash. I can be ready to let him into the backyard and pick up the leash. He'll barely be able to contain himself. He sits impatiently for a few seconds, tail wagging so fast that it's a blur and he gets this very excited squeak...like when a dog whines for attention or the ball to be thrown. If I take too long, he might jump at the door handle or the leash. If we're outside, I can put it so the side and he forgets. Once I pick it up, it is more of that same behavior and it is constant "sit"s and "stay"s because I want him sitting and still when I hook on the leash. Then he darts to the gate and pulls the length of the driveway (the pulling lessens a bit once we start going).

I had been using "this side" where you put "place" when I was giving this thing a first attempt, so I'll try doing that again.




I agree, I just find it difficult to figure out when to and when not to treat while training. How long do I keep the instant treats going? When do I wean him off? Sometimes he will do something before the command which throws me off because, yes, he did what I want, but not after a prompt, so I don't feel like he is getting rewarded for responding to the command.

I've tried desensitizing. I'll put it on him in the house and he just gets depressed when he realizes we're not going anywhere. In the yard, he's great going one way, but when I take one step in the direction of the gate, he makes a beeline.

I'll go check out the videos...if there are no replies, I'll just edit this post with my thoughts.

There's a two ways to use treats, one is for a reward for obeying the cue. When it's used like that you only give the reward if the dog has obeyed the command. If the dog is throwing behaviors, before you give the cue, to see what works then he does not get the reward. Wait for him to stop then give whatever cue you want and reward him for obeying.

The other way is if you were capturing a behavior, that's when you wait for the dog to do the behavior you want then you click it right when it does it and give it the treat. That's good if you are trying to do something like teach the dog to scratch itself on cue.

It sounds like your dog is doing the first and throwing behaviors to see what will get the treat.

You'd give him treats every time he's right until he is consistently obeying 95% of the time, then you'd either move to a new location that's a bit more distracting and start over, or you'd start to vary how often he gets the treats.

Stick it out with the distractions, and ignore the poor pitiful dog act. You can also try redirecting him onto something else, like play or training after you put down the leash.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
You need to teach him to wait and stay put until the leash goes on, with the dogs I work with as soon as that leash goes on they need to be quiet and at heel. Also with that jumping up at the door or leash, that cannot continue as it is causing part of the problem with him not being calm.. Give him the sit command once, then wait, if he starts to get up as you come to put the leash on, correct him(I usually do it with a simple no, not in a raised voice or anything, and don't act angry or frustrated, saying no in a even tone is just to let the dog know that it has done something that wasn't correct) and tell him to sit again then try to leash him again, it won't take him long to get to figure out that being calm gets him outside a lot faster than being excited. As soon as he sits still and doesn't get excited you can give him praise in an even tone, (no excited tones or he may just get excited again).

That's fine, doesn't matter what word you use as long as it is consistent.
It's like an up and down game he plays because he'll do it on the walk too! If he sees a dog, bird, etc I'll stop him with a leash tug as soon he starts moving toward the target and have him sit. Then I have to give him "stay" because his butt starts to rise and he'll inch forward (and this happens when putting the leash on, as well. He'll start pacing and I feel that I should be able to gingerly hook him up without motion). Every time he breaks, I give him a firm sit and then stay.

Yesterday's walk wasn't too bad. He didn't seem interested in pre walk playing though. He just kept migrating to the gate. So I took him and he wasn't bad early on. Better than I expected, really. Our neighborhood is hilly though. Down hill, I have to give him a lot of tugs. My wife has attributed it to balance. Even us humans have to lean back going down hill. Since he can't his speed just increases until restrained. The middle of the walk is largely flat or uphill. The end is also uphill for the most part. He starts behaving towards the end. I think he tries to speed up a little more to be ahead, but mostly hangs right where I want him and I try to praise him every few steps when he is where I want him.

Today I might try a different path-same area though. See how that effects him. He also remembers where dogs are and especially pulls when he knows we're coming up on them and doesn't stop until we pass.

There's a two ways to use treats, one is for a reward for obeying the cue. When it's used like that you only give the reward if the dog has obeyed the command. If the dog is throwing behaviors, before you give the cue, to see what works then he does not get the reward. Wait for him to stop then give whatever cue you want and reward him for obeying.

The other way is if you were capturing a behavior, that's when you wait for the dog to do the behavior you want then you click it right when it does it and give it the treat. That's good if you are trying to do something like teach the dog to scratch itself on cue.

It sounds like your dog is doing the first and throwing behaviors to see what will get the treat.

You'd give him treats every time he's right until he is consistently obeying 95% of the time, then you'd either move to a new location that's a bit more distracting and start over, or you'd start to vary how often he gets the treats.

Stick it out with the distractions, and ignore the poor pitiful dog act. You can also try redirecting him onto something else, like play or training after you put down the leash.
So if he does what I want before the command, I don't do anything. I just find a way to reset so I can give the command and have him obey?
 

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It's like an up and down game he plays because he'll do it on the walk too! If he sees a dog, bird, etc I'll stop him with a leash tug as soon he starts moving toward the target and have him sit. Then I have to give him "stay" because his butt starts to rise and he'll inch forward (and this happens when putting the leash on, as well. He'll start pacing and I feel that I should be able to gingerly hook him up without motion). Every time he breaks, I give him a firm sit and then stay.

Yesterday's walk wasn't too bad. He didn't seem interested in pre walk playing though. He just kept migrating to the gate. So I took him and he wasn't bad early on. Better than I expected, really. Our neighborhood is hilly though. Down hill, I have to give him a lot of tugs. My wife has attributed it to balance. Even us humans have to lean back going down hill. Since he can't his speed just increases until restrained. The middle of the walk is largely flat or uphill. The end is also uphill for the most part. He starts behaving towards the end. I think he tries to speed up a little more to be ahead, but mostly hangs right where I want him and I try to praise him every few steps when he is where I want him.

Today I might try a different path-same area though. See how that effects him. He also remembers where dogs are and especially pulls when he knows we're coming up on them and doesn't stop until we pass.



So if he does what I want before the command, I don't do anything. I just find a way to reset so I can give the command and have him obey?

Just want to caution you about the leash tugs, it's nagging him and just like a human he'll learn to ignore the nagging. I've seen my own dog do so back when I used that type of communication. He was a terrier mix and like your dog he'd remember where he had spotted something (for him it'd be a cat) and become so fixated on finding the long gone cat that he would be deaf to me and anything I wanted. When that happened I'd just have to drag him away since no treat or correction broke through the fixation.

Reward him for the sit and stay, and praise is not a high enough reward. The trick with terriers is that you need to convince them that doing what you want gets them what they want. My terrier would run up to street corners and sit, that's because he learned it's the only way he got what he wanted. He wanted to continue the walk and he quickly figured out that sitting was the only way he would. Find out what your boy loves and use that to get him to reliably heel.

Yep, you never reward them for throwing random tricks unless you are trying to capture a behavior. You can either wait the dog out and once he stops give a command and reward it, or you can give a command that you know he does reliably, give it while he's still throwing behaviors, then reward him when he does it. Either is liable to get his focus back on you. With all my dogs I found that they most often started throwing cues if I paused to long in a training session, for them it's sort of a way of saying, "Hey! What's do you want me to do next? How about this, or this, or this!".
 
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