Dog Forum banner
Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We got our lab/boxer/pitbull, Stella, about 9 months ago and we've been struggling with walking her ever since. We started with just a simple leash and collar, but we quickly realized we needed something more to help control her. We first tried the gentle leader, then reluctantly moved on to the prong collar (which I hated using), then the EasyWalk. We have tried the "tree" method of just standing there. We have tried making her come sit next to us before we move forward. We have tried changing direction when she pulls. We have tried treating. We have tried hotdogs. Nothing works. When Stella is outside on the leash she is so distracted that she really just doesn't care about anything. If I simply stop walking she is perfectly happy to sit there and look around for hours. If I give the prong collar a yank, she doesn't care. She actually doesn't respond to the prong collar at all. It could be digging into her flesh and she would be totally unphased. I have finally gotten to the point with the EasyWalk where if I stop, within 5 minutes she will sit down and look at me. However, the moment we start walking again, she pulls.

I realize these things take time, but I really don't see this getting any better. I don't see her "understanding" what the issue is. With other training things, I see the process of her beginning to understand what is expected of her, she learns, and things improve. However, with walking it's like trying to train a rock. It's gotten to the point where I dread our daily walks and more than once I've gotten so frustrated I cry or, even worse, I get angry with Stella. This situation isn't good for anyone and I am in desperate need of help. Does anyone have any suggestions?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,480 Posts
Stop with the prong collar. It's not going to work.

I would work on building a focus with your dog. If you have a dog who is looking all over, it would be nice to have a focus command so you can draw her attention back to you when needed. I use the command "Look"
You can learn this from Kikopup

Building your dog's attention can certainly help.

Besides the walks how much exercise does your dog get a day? If the dog is lacking exercise physically and mentally it can lead to a dog who is just wanting to go go go. I suggest increasing daily activity if it is low, you can try with mental stimulation puzzles and a flirt pole exercise. This may decrease the high energy and will slow her down on walks.

Use a high value treat, if she is used to hot dogs move on to another treat she hasn't had before or often. Like cheese or lunch meat.

Then Kikopup has many ways to learn loose leash walking. For now due to your frustration I would keep the walks short, increasing it every time she accomplishes it.


You're right it will take some time but it's worth it seeing progress! Good luck
 
  • Like
Reactions: crock

·
Banned
Joined
·
6,281 Posts
This is one of the most frustrating things for me, too. It took three months of solid work on this EVERY time we left the apartment. What ended up grabbing her focus the first time was tiny pieces of steak. Yes, steak. It worked. It smelled and I had fat all over my hands when I was done but she could focus on steak, even if she got distracted.

Start in smaller pieces-short walks nearby only, with good treats. Then you can start rewarding mixed with good treats and the regular kibble or treats you use and start going farther and gaining more focus. The main thing isn't just that it takes time-it takes a LOT of time, and the shorter the training sessions the better-you want LOTS of them, rather than one LONG session where your dog's brain is tired.

What worked best for me was teaching the heel first rather than loose-leash. Shoving treats in your dogs face with a clicker when it's steak sounds easy. It's not always easy, when there's that many distractions. Be more fun, try and find a quieter place to work. Use toys, treats, whatever to get your dog's attention. Then click for being beside you. Every 3 seconds, even if your dog hasn't taken a step. Reward CONSTANTLY for good behavior, until it stops. Then instead of just idly standing like a tree, we had to regain focus another way-by walking in the opposite direction. This means a LOT of pacing. A lot. Wear good shoes. Careful to not turn an ankle, because the pacing can be annoying. But it does get better if you're very consistent! Try using better treats, something smelly and meaty, and see if that helps at all. You can start inside and work your way up to going outside, too. If you're frustrated, take the day off from doing lots of training and work on something else instead-being frustrated means paying less attention and implying the activity is boring. It's not, you want your dog to ENJOY staying by your side-who knows, they might get treats! Long run, that's the ideal mentality.

There's also lots of stickies on loose-leash walking and kikopup has some great videos, too.

Good luck! I hope that helps!
 

·
Registered
Delilah- Jack Russell x Rat Terrier; Marshmellow- Netherland Dwarf Rabbit
Joined
·
2,841 Posts
I walk a dog who is very overstimulated outside. With her, it's prey drive mixed with fear and on leash reactivity. Her owners were at the same point you were when I met them a few months ago.

I tried everything too. She's an independent dog though, with little to no interest in food, toys, or praise outside of her house. And she gets overstimulated fairly easily.

What ended up working is just walking her in front of her house, back and forth. As soon as she pulls, I turn around and walk in the other direction. Eventually she gets the idea and also becomes comfortable walking in that small area. Gradually we increase the distance and as soon as she starts pulling, I turn and walk in another direction. I also bring treats and treat and praise her when she's walking by my side. Sometimes that helps and sometimes she's not interested at all. I only walk her once a week and we work on this every time. Her owners also do a lot of work with her. She still pulls and is still reactive, but is MUCH better than she was when I met her 3 months ago. It's a slow process, and I only get her once a week. I think it would go more quickly if EVERY walk she did was a focused training session, but sometimes she just has to go out to the bathroom or for exercise and they don't have time for all of that training. But she's coming along.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you so much for all of the advice! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who deal with this. A little bit more information:
- I completely forgot to mention in my first post that Stella does have high prey drive. She is completely obsessed with squirrels (3 have sadly lost their lives to her) and when she sees one I could be holding filet minon and it wouldn't make any difference. She gets total tunnel squirrel vision. Unfortunately, I live in a neighborhood with lots of squirrels and so we inevitably encounter at least one on our walks. She knows "Leave it" quite well and we were advised to use that same phrase with the squirrels and then give her a very high quality treat when she switches focus back to us. However, as I said, this never really happens because squirrels are much more desirable than anything I can offer.
- I do use the word "watch" to get her attention back on me. Again, she will sometimes do this out on walks, but the moment we start moving again, it's back to pulling and total loss of focus.
- She is a VERY high energy dog. We walk her everyday and she goes to doggy daycare once a week and to the dog park 1-2 times a week. Even so, every time we let her out in the backyard she sprints around like a maniac, literally jumping up and bouncing off the trees and fence. Unfortunately, both my boyfriend and I work outside the home and since Stella is still a bit too chewy to be left roaming free in the house, we do have to crate her during the day. I am sure it makes her more crazy when it's walk time, but I'm not sure what else we can do. If I could afford to send her to doggy daycare everyday I most certainly would!

Another question: Do people prefer the EasyWalk of the Gentle Leader? Which one do people finds gives them the most control over their dog?
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
6,281 Posts
I have a freedom harness and a gentle leader halter. I prefer using the harness because it's easy to attach to a long line and is in general safer-very versatile. The gentle leader really helped us when we first started-it gives you more control, but you have to be more careful about the neck because it's easy for a dog to lunge at something and then end up hurting themselves as well. It really only suppresses the behavior enough to start training and allows you to grab your dog's attention a bit more forcefully, without you having to exert any force at all. Neither should be used over training but I can see why you would go this way, and it did help us.

On the other hand, even though harnesses are safer in general, front clip ones can cause injury to shoulders if not combined with training as well. Ideally, you want the dog to be under threshold the entire time and practicing that good habit of NOT pulling-so most of the time, you'll end up pacing or going in weird circles just so your dog doesn't pull. You want to reward THAT inside and outside the house enough so that the more time passes, the easier it is to have your dog on a loose leash without the constant rewards. I wouldn't want to use either of these tools long term (though the freedom harness has an attachment at the back as well that would be fine to use like a normal harness). The idea is to help you start off, and be careful of injuries, until you are able to communicate better, rather than to use them to suppress the behavior forever.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,480 Posts
You can work on prey drive a bit with the using the Premack Principle. This thread is a go to to learn more about it http://www.dogforum.com/dog-training-behavior/squirrel-dilema-zoe-wants-eat-them-24096/
It allows the best of both worlds for you and your dog. I have used it myself to allow my dog to be an off leash dog and to call her off squirrel chasing.

It sounds like she needs more exercise, if she is high energy it may not be cutting it for her. You can make a quick flirt pole that can burn up quite some energy and buy a puzzle toy to work with her when you are home.

I have an EasyWalk harness but I don't really care for it. It gave me no more control than a regular harness and just was a pain for me in my experience.
 
  • Like
Reactions: crock

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
3,952 Posts
It looks like loose leash walking might be one of the next skills to work on with Maru. Sometimes he'll walk with me rather easily. Other times, he's pulling and sniffing away. Last night, as we were walking after dark, I saw an animal on the sidewalk about twenty feet ahead us. At first, I thought it might be a cat, but then it started waddling towards us. In a flash, I noticed its coloring - black with a distinctive white strip. Thankfully Maru cooperated as I quickly headed across the street!

Thanks to all of you for the videos and tips. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,236 Posts
Yep, more exercise! Walks, especially when you are still trying to train the loose leash walk, should not be the primary form of exercise. You're fighting an uphill battle trying to slow her down to a loose leash when she wants/needs to GO get her energy out. (Humans are slow and don't travel far!) Try exercising her with a flirt pole or play fetch first to take the edge off and don't try training her the LLW when she is not exercised.

Aside from the great videos above, here's our sticky with more videos and more info: http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/loose-leash-walking-1683/
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
35 Posts
Our Plott is known to pull. She also has fear and anxiety due to being a new rescue.
Exercise her out, play, mental stimulation then work on walking exercises. She is less likely to focus on you when she is wound up with energy.

Our Plott was trained using a 8 minute exercise and we have followed up with it.
Take the dog in the yard with collar and a 6-12' leash. Don't talk, look, touch or speak to the dog. The goal is to walk with the dog at your side for up to 100 yards.
You only do the exercise for 8 minutes whether it works out or not. You walk the dog with slack on the leash. Walk one direction then turn direction if she stops or pulls give a light pull if the dog does not follow you turn and walk past the dog to get their attention and continue to walk. Do it back and forth.

We got our Plott up to 50 yards straight, figure eights, turn left, turn right. She is doing great with distractions and all during the exercise.

Give it a shot
 

·
Premium Member
Zoe, Phoenix, Alice - ACDx
Joined
·
4,325 Posts
It sounds like she is just too distracted outside to learn anything right now. I would start training her to walk on a leash inside your house. I would also do the building attention games that one of the previous posters mentioned. A lot of people have good luck with the "Silky Leash Method".

For my dog I had to teach her what the heel position was, basically to target my leg and when she pulls I cue her to back up into that position and then as we take a bunch of steps then she gets rewarded in the position. I will also cue them when they are getting close to the end of the leash and I usually say "easy".

She doesn't know she's pulling you. In her mind you are pulling her. You just have to teach her where you want her to be and build on it.

I would also recommend that when you do walk her (outside) to use the highest value treat for walking on a loose leash. Think real meat like chicken or beef. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,513 Posts
Along with all of this wonderful advice, I'd like to second the suggestion of a Freedom harness. The EasyWalk is just no comparison, and many (including myself) have had no luck with it. The Freedom harness has a different design/mechanism, and works far better than many of the other no-pull harnesses. It would help you gain much more control over her while you are teaching LLW/heel. Apparently Victoria Stilwell just came out with her own version of the Freedom, and some say the design looks like it will function better:

Victoria Stilwell Positively Training Tools | Positively No-Pull Harness | Shop the Victoria Stilwell Positively Official Store
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I just wanted to give a quick update on my progress with Stella. We've been following as much of the advice as possible and I've seen a big difference in my own frustration level at the very least. We have tried to increase her exercise time with more trips to the dog park and doggy day care. I'm going to make a flirt pole today. I also try to spend more time with her in the backyard. She loves chasing her deflated soccer ball around so we have turned that into a chance to work on "wait", "take it", and "drop it". We have been using her wobble Kong more in the house and she loves pushing it around the room with her nose. I also ordered a different puzzle toy which should arrive any day.

As for walks themselves, we haven't done much other than walk back and forth in front of the house. I mix hotdog pieces with cat food and she seems to think it's the greatest thing ever. I switched back to the Gentle Leader as it seems to give me the best control. I think she also notices more when it tightens compared to the prong collar or EasyWalk. In general, she stays next to me and I tell her "good girl" and treat her every time she looks up at me. The moment I feel the slightest tightening of the leash I say "uh uh" and turn around and walk in the opposite direction (I think my neighbors think I'm nuts just walking back and forth). I'm still not sure she gets why we're turning around, but I'm hoping she'll start to figure it out with time.

Thank you again for all your advice and encouragement!
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top