- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


Leash training is regressing...

April 15th, 2005, 12:49 PM
Ok, I've been trying to teach Bowser to walk nice on a leash. I have been walking with her almost every day for a couple of weeks and a few days ago I was finally to the point where she wouldn't pull under normal conditions and if she would, I would slow down and then she would get the hint and stop pulling. But yesterday and today it's back to a different story again. She's pulling like a maniac! And it's hard to correct because she's pulling SIDEWAYS most of the time. Like not actually facing sideways, but walking so far away from me to the left that the leash is taut. Slowing down doesn't help because she'll just stop and still be pulling. Plus she's pulling forward more again. So today I decided to put the prong collar on again after a very short walk when I realized she wasn't going to listen. She totally freaked out when I put it on (and I know it didn't hurt her because I put all the prongs facing out). She backed up and faced me like she desperately wanted to get away as soon as I clicked the leash on it. But after that initial bit of panic or whatever it was, we started walking and she did much better (with little actual correction from the collar as I didn't even have it on choke setting or have any prongs facing in). It was like just the idea of it being on made her obey nicer. What's up with that? How can I get her to obey with her regular collar again?

April 15th, 2005, 01:01 PM
If you put a devise in me (prongs in or out) I would smarten rightup aswell. Not because I loved, trusted or respected you but because you had resorted to forcing me to behave.
Put the regular collar back on and start over. Begin your leash training in the house - everywhere you go he follows - no pulling allowed. If he does pull then you go in the opposite direction he wants to go. He has to learn that it is not where he wants to go it is where you want to go.
Heeling is a matter of the dog not leading the way - you are the leader. He should not be in front of you at all. When he takes 1 step past your toe line then you can turn into him and go the other can go quickly backwards 5-10 steps until he is by your side again and then progress forward with a loose leash, or you simply go in the opposite direction he wants to. It is not where he wants to go it is where you want to go - and for now you always want to go in the opposite direction he does. Then as soon as he figures it out you will continue to walk in one direction for longer and longer periods of time as long as he is being good.
There is a great drill we do called the 2-step dance, which we use a prerequisite to heeling. Have your dog on a loose leash beside you (in the house to start), and you are going to take 1, 2, or 3 (no more) steps away from him, giving him a cue with your leash and your words inviting him to join you. Then make an abrupt stop (you can even stomp your foot a bit), and see if he stops with you at your side or does he blow past you? If he stops with you then whisper - 'good job' and count to 10 slowly before you do it again. If he blows past you then IMMEDIATELY turn a 180 and go 1,2 or 3 steps in the opposite direction he wants to go - and start again. For awhile you might be darting all over the room as you attempt to get him to understand the rules of the game. But then a light will go off for him and he will stop and look up to you. PRAISE! *If he looks at you and creeps to sit in front of you that's okay so long as he is looking at you. The object of the game is to get him to care where you are going and to watch you and not cross your toe line. He is going to think "what is this crazy lady doing?" - changing directions every few seconds? Then he's going to realize that it is related to his actions. If his brain is everywhere else but on you then he gets to keep moving and moving and moving (the pressure) in a thousand different directions, but if he is paying attention and doing well then he gets to relax by your side (the release).
When you are successful in different rooms of your house then take it to the back yard and then the front yard and then down the driveway. Working until you are successful at different more challenging locations.
From there heeling should become a breeze.

April 15th, 2005, 05:05 PM
Well I braved the bitter cold and tried out these suggestions. There's a treacherous mixture of snow and ice in the back yard but I managed to avoid some of it to try this out. (Hopefully it will all melt soon...) At first she was totally confused because to her, leash = going for a walk outside the yard. So every time I would pass a gate she would want to go to it, and if I walked towards the gate she would run ahead of me to get there. Then when I would turn around she would think I was going to the other gate and try to run there. Then of course I would have to turn around again. Anyway after a little while she did seem to be paying more attention to me. I don't know if it matters, but sometimes when I would turn around if she ran ahead she would take a few seconds to start going the other way. I couldn't just instantly walk in the other direction because of the 60 lb bundle of muscle at the other end of the leash. But only once did she stubbornly defy me by sitting and digging in with her feet where she was, and she gave that up pretty fast anyway. I made sure to praise her if she would stop when I would stop, at one point she was almost behind me watching me. (Until she noticed her toy at the other end of the yard, that is.) I think it will work eventually when I get a chance to practice more. Although walking with distractions will be hard to deal with. Not because her attention span is not good but because she has a lot of guarding instincts - well more like patrolling instincts. Anything out of the ordinary triggers an alarm in her mind and if there's nothing out of the ordinary she's always watching for something especially in unfamiliar territory. She's hyperaware all the time like she expects something amazing or terrifying to happen at any moment. The problem is that that comes ahead of being aware of or heeding my direction at the times that something out of the ordinary does happen. I don't know how I'm ever going to get her over that.

April 15th, 2005, 07:13 PM
Sounds like your are moving in the right direction (literally and figuratively), Remember that its best to practice inside with no distractions and as you are successfull move outside and then up the distraction level. Distractions are still college level for you two.
It is important that Bowser gets that it is your walk and your job to be on the lookout - not his. As his respect for you increases he will not be focused on the world as much as he will be forcused on you.

April 15th, 2005, 07:54 PM
Oh yeah I forgot to mention, I live in a small apartment so doing these exercises inside is impossible without running into things really fast, especially with a big dog. That's why I had to start with the back yard. It's interesting to me that there is a difference between respect and submission - I would have thought that a dog who is submissive to you would also respect you, but I'm learning that that's not entirely true. I wonder if it makes a difference that I'm not the pack leader - my husband is. But I'm the one doing the training with her on this. She is sometimes overly submissive or overly something - like for instance when she gets fed she has to wait for the "ok" to start eating. Then it started that everyone in the room had to say "ok" before she would eat (usually myself and my husband). Today I said "ok" and she walked partway to the bowl, then froze in position for no apparent reason and watched me for about 30 seconds until I said "ok" again, then she finally finished walking to her dish. Sometimes it takes multiple "ok's" before she'll eat, and she'll be there drooling all over the floor the whole time. Anyway it's kind of weird. I've been teaching her "stay" in the yard now since she does good in the house most of the time, but today I threw her toy and she broke her stay - I immediately went after her and said "no!" and it was so funny, she was almost at the point of picking up her toy in a very rambunctious fashion, and stopped dead and sat rather than touch her toy when I said no. I was shocked that she took me seriously!

The picture is from when she was quite a bit younger - she's bigger and stronger now! But still just as cute!

April 16th, 2005, 05:07 PM
She is adorable!!!!
You would be surprised how little space you need to do the 2-step dance. We do our first training in the livingroom and maybe use up a 15 X 10 foot space.
It does not matter that your hubby is the ultimate leader - you are both her leaders. She will have one person that she listens to better than the other and that will be the person she respects the most - but it doesn't mean that she doesn't respect you both. It's like when you were a kid - if both of yor parents called you into two different rooms you would have to choose - doesn't mean you love one more than the other but you would respect one more.