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A question about leash and off-leash training

March 7th, 2005, 07:45 AM
I was wondering how to go about training my dog to watch me when on a leash rather than lunging after anything else that's interesting. Yesterday when she got scent of another dog she almost took me skating across the ice that's in our front yard. I have tried using food to keep her attention, and it works for a short while, but the problem is that she's not a very food motivated dog, and especially if she sees a person or another animal that takes priority over everything. A prong collar works wonders but doesn't correct the problem, just treats the symptoms. It's the same thing with calling her if she's out in the fenced yard, usually she'll come, but if there's a person or dog holding her attention it's like she's deaf. If she ever got out in that situation I know she wouldn't respond to any commands, which is an even worse problem because she's a pit and people are scared of her appearance. I know she wouldn't hurt any people (at least intentionally), I'm not so sure about other dogs though.

March 7th, 2005, 08:08 AM
Do not attempt to try off leash training until this og is able to follow command on leash.

Formal obedience training is a must, if you haven't completed it so far!

March 7th, 2005, 08:33 AM
No I would never attempt off leash right now. There are no obedience classes here so I'm kind of on my own to do the training.

March 7th, 2005, 09:32 AM
Where are you located?

March 7th, 2005, 10:29 AM
We start off-leash training right away by engaging their mind and heart to work for you out of love and respect. She is not likely to come away from a great distraction for a bit of cookie, but she will come to the most wonderful person in her life. But you must teach on a leash in order to be effective off-leash.
You already understand that gimmicks like prong collars, treats etc. are ineffective in the long run because you are forcing or bribing her to perform and that is only a short term fix. Relationship is the most important thing you can work on with her. She needs to spend lots of time with you and doing lots of jobs.
The key is that when she has a decision to make she should look to you, the leader, first and ask for permission. So instead of bolting after a squirrel, she should look to you and ask "I really want that squirrel, what do you want me to do?" We have drills that we do to ensure this.
Right now she knows that she is faster than you/can ignore you and can get away with what she wants. She is control of the situation - not you.
It is even more important that you get control of this situation because she is a pit and you have even more responsibility to raise a very well mannered dog - because puplic opinion is already stacked against you and it is your job to show the world how great pits can be.

March 7th, 2005, 11:54 AM
I'm in Central Newfoundland.

I already have trained her to do basic commands, and she does sit/stay for her food (she will stay even if I leave the room and come back) and lately I've been making her stay when I throw her toy and she is not allowed to go after it until I tell her ok. I haven't been doing much with her outside lately because of the bad weather and icy conditions underfoot. But as the weather warms up in the next couple of months I can do more.

So what specifically can I do with her to get her to pay more attention to me in more distracting situations? Like for instance, I go outside with her on a leash. She sees something and is trying to pull me across the yard. At that point what do I do? She doesn't always pull, I think she does have the idea that she's leashed to me and she doesn't have free rein when the leash is on, and I control her at that point. It's just when she's really anxious to get somewhere for some reason that she pulls, and let me tell you, she is strong!!

March 7th, 2005, 12:52 PM
There are 4 levels to training: inside - outside - outside w/ distractions & distance w/ distractions. If she is good a one level then you have to work towards the next level but NOT jump ahead to a level she is not ready for. Right now things are pretty good in the house, but you can't expect her to be great outside unless you take the steps to help her.
Within each level there are also levels of distraction - you upgrade the distraction until she can do it with the ultimate distraction that she currently fails with. Does that make sense?
Level 1 - in-house. Work with her inside and get her to be able to do her commands with no distractions and then with increasingly tougher distractions. i.e. - do a 'stay' without distractions, but with you moving at different speeds around her and a different distance from her. Then do a 'stay' dropping toys/treats all around her. Do a 'stay' with someone calling her to them. Do a 'stay' with someone calling her and offering a great treat. Each time she will be tempted to break the stay - you have to watch her and correct even the blink of an eye that tells you she is thinking of breaking. When she is able to have self control - not flinch, or flinch and then not break, reward her with soft praise and a smile. She should naturally start to look to you when she is being tempted. She will look at the temptation and then glance to you and then submit by either licking her lips, sitting, laying down, readjusting her sit, taking a deep breath - all signals that she understands and is not going to challenge.
You need to guide her through her decisions through out the day. When you go out of any door or gate, she should sit and stay and look into your eyes to be released. Before she eats she needs to look into your eyes before she in released towards the bowl. Have her drop things to you all day - tell her to drop the bone and you pick it up and examine it and then give it back to her. Have her move out of your way (for no good reason at all) - respecting your space. Invite her on your lap for some love, love on her and then have her get off and stay off. Work on her 'come' - ask her to come and the 'stop' her 1/2 way to you, then have her finish the 'come'. This sharpens the 'come' and gets her to watch you instead of getting distracted by life. Do everything through out the day to reinforce your leadership role and to get her to start checking in with you for the answers.
We have very specific drills to do that can change the leadership role and gets your dog to look to you quickly - I tried to write them down for another thread but found out that was why we did the video - it's easier to show someone what to do than to put it in to words. I was on page 6 when I finally gave up.
Pulling on the leash is another issue. I know she is strong, but you see people being pulled down the street by their Chihuahua, it's really not about strength, it's about engaging the brain.
Stand still like a post in the ground. Have her on a leash and flat/wide collar. Do not let her pull. When she gets to almost pulling then irritate her with little snappy, dinks on the collar and say 'close' at the same time - until you see her step towards you, lean towards you or look at you - then softly praise her good choice The leash 'dinks ' empower your words. You want to get to the point where there are no leash corrections but just your voice. As she is able to stay with you without pulling (in minutes) then toss a distraction outside of your perimeter. She will be tempted to go after it, but keep playing the same 'no pulling' game. She should give you one of the calming (understanding) signals mentioned earlier and submit. If she is being really tempted and actually pulling then you can stomp your foot or slap your hand on your leg to startle her and say 'close' in a firmer tone. This should get her attention and cause her to stop pulling - then reward her with soft praise.
You must do this drill at all four levels & with distractions to ensure she has it down for future challenges.
I hope I have spelled this out a bit better for you, please let me know if you have questions.

March 7th, 2005, 01:43 PM
Thank you, that's wonderful. I'll try the stay indoors with distractions to start. I was trying her outside, making her stay when I threw her toy, at first she didn't want to respond at all, but by the end of it I could let go of her collar and she would still stay, until I said ok to go get it. She just needs some practice under more difficult circumstances.

March 7th, 2005, 03:02 PM
I tried some distractions inside and she did very well. The only time she would try to move if I made her stay is if I left the room behind her back, then she would get up to move so that she could see me or where I went. I put food down all around her, went up and knocked on the door, and made strange noises in another room, and she would still stay. I went outside and tried her on leash, she did pretty good and every time she started pulling I would tell her "easy" and stop, and give the leash a tug. She would stop then, but as soon as she would start walking again it's like she only has one speed, faster than me. Stop, and go. Stop, and go. But at least she was learning to watch me.

March 7th, 2005, 07:44 PM
Another good thing to practice is what we call the 2-step dance. Start inside and then take it outside - same rules.
This is a leader/follower game. Have her at your side on a loose leash. Take 2 steps in the opposite direction she is looking and stop abruptly. If she keeps walking past your toes (leading the way) then turn on your heels and take 2 steps in the opposite direction again. Continue this game until she stops herself at your side and doesn't go past your toes. Ideally she will look up and check in with you to see where YOU want to go next - praise her softly. When she stays at your side then stay still for the count of 10 as the reward for being good. It could take several tries to get her to stop and look at you but it will happen be consistent and patient.
This is the beginning to healing and a reminder that you lead the way not her!