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  1. I have a rescue BC, 5-7 years old, who I adopted 4 months ago. She was with a foster family for 3 mos. immediately before adoption. They gave her no training, and did not allow her in the house except for few hours at night. She had a large fenced farm to wander during the days. I knew she had shown no herding instinct and that was OK with me. The foster family believed her temperament was very low key and easy going. She is very sweet with people and dogs, has learned basic obedience (come/sit/down/stay) and can do them all indoors/outdoors, but pulls constantly on leash. She also has a very hard mouth, which seems to have gotten worse as we have done more training. One of my trainers suggested her impulsivity is being redirected this way. I am afraid that she is either obtuse or totally "unbiddable." Or perhaps both. I am an experienced BC owner (had one raised from puppyhood, bred from working stock), so I know what traits she should have at least to some degree, and she seems to have none of them. She has no play or chase instincts for balls, etc. and cannot be rewarded with anything but treats. She has no initiative to offer new behaviors or build on existing ones. She has no retrieval instinct. She has no desire to please for its own sake, or "work" in any sense I can detect. She has no instinct to circle back and "check in" (using a 30 ft lead to test this at various times in the last 4 months). She has no interest in squeaky toys or tugging games. She listens and obeys indoors but cannot walk on a loose leash despite gradually practicing a variety of methods and "proofing" indoors/backyard, quiet driveway, quiet neighborhood streets and parks. Her training treats are all high value like hot dogs, cheese, chicken, and very smelly "pupperoni". I have 2 bad shoulders and cannot really deal with a dog constantly pulling and give the dog enough exercise, as she also has not developed a reliable recall, although it is much,much better than 4 months ago. It will quickly become dangerous for me when winter comes. She can't go off leash anywhere near where I live because of the bad recall issue. She also has severe hip dysplasia and all the treats are making her gain weight, which my vet has already warned against. Nothing has worked. I am feeling pretty desperate, and thinking she may not be able to adapt to suburban life at all if she cannot stop the pulling. She started out pulling massively and hard and zigzagging constantly and unpredictably, and lunging constantly at cars/bikes/ people. I have gotten her past the lunging with massive counter conditioning. She can now sit and "watch me" although she still alerts to moving objects. But she cannot walk on a loose leash, much less follow me versus always going to the end of the leash ahead of me. Here are the failed methods I've tried so far (with 3 positive only trainers), including lots of praise and treats. (1) walking and stopping cold or changing direction at the least leash tension. It feels like I have done this 1000 times without results. (2) walking 5-10-15 steps and unpredictably changing direction sharply BEFORE she gets to the end of the leash. Again, 1000 times it seems like. Varying speeds, going in circles, etc. (3) the traditional Jean Donaldson method -- get the dog to follow you walking backwards with treats every step held at pants seam/then gradually increase to 20 steps backward/then pivot and get dog gradually to walk with you stepping up gradually and fading treats. She only responds until the treats are used up for the day. Maybe one block in my neighborhood. (4) playing chase games and throwing treats behind and to the left at unpredictable intervals on walks. (5) practicing watch me and also treating for watching me on walks when she does it without prompting or luring. (6) no pull harness with chest and back attachments, which doesn't actually stop the pulling, just reduces how hard she can pull. (7) head halter. Did a lot of shaping to get her used to wearing it. But when trying to walk, she scrapes it constantly versus walking. (8) hand feeding to teach "lick" and "easy" while gradually increasing treat value. She immediately reverts to hard mouth and painful mouth with higher value training treats. The longer a training session lasts (only up to 15 minutes, but usually twice a day) the worse the hard mouth.
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