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Hi all,


Our Lilli is now 14 months old and every time I call her to go for a walk she comes but stands three feet away from me and won't let me put the leash on her - she runs off in the opposite direction. I got so mad with her this morning we didn't get to go on our walk.


Any tips?? Tried treats but they don't work.


Secondly, when I finally manage to get the leash on her she pulls like a freight train. It is at the point where I stop right on the spot and she end up on her back legs with her front legs up in the air. I am sure this is not good for her neck.


I have tried the sporn front latching harness which has two connection points that come from behind her front legs to the loops on her collar at the front. This doesn't work either because she pulls like crazy and looks very uncomfortable.


I am at a loss as to what to do, I really love our walks together but the bigger she is getting the stronger she is getting and it has almost reverted back to when she was a little puppy when we were leash training.


At our weekly obedience her heeling is almost there to the point where we will be promoted to level 3 but at home, totally different story.


Any suggestions??



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I would back it up several steps. Training dogs is a journey as much as a destination. Some things come easy to them and other behaviors take a lot of effort and repetition on your part for them to retain. It would be nice if we only had to train behaviors once, but often we need to do refreshers and increase repetitions and be sure that we are consistent in reinforcing the behaviors we want/not allowing the behaviors we don’t like so that there isn’t backsliding. But expect backsliding. It is normal for dogs (and humans) to revert back to doing things they prefer or are easier for them


It sounds like Lilli is not liking something about the walks if she is reluctant to let you leash her up. From what you are describing, I would put aside “going for a nice walk” and concentrate instead on teaching her to walk nicely on a leash in places other than obedience class. This may mean you don’t go very far, maybe not leave your property at first but your goal is training her to walk nicely. You probably want different criteria for how she walks on a leash for your strolls. Obedience heeling isn’t fun for the dog for long periods and if you are thinking of going into competition, asking for ring heeling on a walk is a sure-fire way to lose the precision you want in the ring. There are a bunch of threads on Loose Leash Walking and ways to achieve it. If you do a search, I am sure you will find a lot of great suggestions. The harness does not sound effective and may be why Lilli is reluctant for you to leash her, so I would use something else.


Since she is not coming all the way to you when you call her for a walk, I would also work on her recall separately with lots and lots of rewards (praise, treats, a toy, making her work for her dinner). And I would not call her if I thought she was going to stop out of my reach. That is a bad, even dangerous habit to get into. A useful thing to teach any dog is collar grabs are a good thing. Just make it playful and again, lots of rewards every time you grab their collar. But work your way up to it if she doesn’t like you taking her collar and also train this separate from going on walks or training loose leash walking. Start with reach towards her collar, then touching the collar, then taking hold of the collar, then grabbing the collar, then grabbing and giving a small pull towards yourself. Make it a goofy game and very fun/rewarding for her.


In fact, make as much of your interactions with her fun and rewarding as possible. I like adolescent dogs more than puppies because you can do so much more with them. They can be challenging at times, but the best way to approach their independence or willfulness or air headed moments is to be fun and exciting. In other words, to be someone they want to do things with. When I find myself getting frustrated (as a youngster, Quinn had what I referred to as Irish Setter Moments where he acted as if he never met me before) and I can’t get my irritation under control, that is my cue I need to stop trying to train until I am feeling more patient. By that point, the dog is usually also in a different space (Quinn’s brain would always eventually return) and we could give what we were working on another try.


Good luck!

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Great advice above. ^^^


Another suggestion about recall (i.e. getting her to come all the way to you): Exploit the dog's chase instinct - which makes it more fun for them. If you are standing and calling them to you, you are BORING. [Admittedly, they will eventually come to you when you stand, but you have to start at square one.] Make it a game - as Liz recommends above.


Hopefully Lilli likes toys, if she doesn't like treats?? In any case, use the most high-value article - for Lilli - that you can think of. If you have a friend to help you, that would be helpful.


To start: The helper should be holding Lilli (not necessarily by the collar, usually with two hands holding the chest if Lilli doesn't mind that) and trying to rev her up. For example, saying "Ready, ready, ready..." in a really excited voice. Meanwhile you should stand 10-20 feet away while shaking the high-value article. Hopefully, both will get her really excited. When you say "Lilli, come" or "Lilli, here" , you start running away shaking the toy/treat and your friend releases Lilli to chase you. In most cases, the dog will blast towards you. Throw toy on ground when Lilli gets to you and have a party. Lilli should get the idea pretty quickly that running [fast] towards you is pretty d@mn fun. Gradually increase the distance that Lilli has to run to get to you. Then try it with you hiding around the side of the building, or behind a tree. Mix it up. After a while, you will be able to do this exercise by yourself -- wait until Lilli is some distance away (start closer, then extend the distance if she is successful at the shorter distances), then call her and run away while waving the toy.


See if this works to help Lilli realize that you are a fun person, and that she should be happy to come when called - since she gets treats, rewards, play, praise, etc.


Good Luck.

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OK, I just re-read your post and realized that you are doing obedience. Personally, I think that upper level obedience is boring (and so do a lot of dogs :) ). I do know trainers can make obedience fun for their dogs, and I bow to them. They are much better trainers than I.


I was thinking that the recall I described (i.e. running fast to you) may not be "appreciated" in upper level obedience. You will just have to make that decision for yourself.

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I have tried the sporn front latching harness which has two connection points that come from behind her front legs to the loops on her collar at the front. This doesn't work either because she pulls like crazy and looks very uncomfortable.


The point of that harness is for it to be uncomfortable for the dog to pull, in the hope of reducing the pulling.


I have to wonder, though, if you're using the harness correctly. From your description, it sounds like you may be putting it on backwards. The leash should be attaching behind her neck, not at the front. Here's a picture of the one I think you're using:



There are a couple other Sporn harnesses, but all (AFAIK) have the leash attachment in the back:




The first thing I'd do is make sure you're fitting the harness correctly.


I also have to wonder if your frustration with her is having a negative impact on her perception of her walks. Dogs are usually over-the-moon delighted to go for a walk. Something's making her not want to go, and I'd guess it's either a real chore trying to do what you want her to do, uncomfortable and/or frustrating for her, or she senses your emotions and doesn't enjoy it. Quite possibly, it's a combination of all three.


If it were me, I'd take a step back and try to assess what's going on and start over, trying to make the walks less stressful for both of you.


Do you clicker train? If so, you could also try clicking and treating whenever she's in the position you'd like her to be in. Since she's pulling so hard now, you may have to shape her getting to where you'd like her to be, clicking for even the slightest release of tension on the leash. You could just stop dead in your tracks and when she gives in just a bit to see why you've stopped, click.


Squeeze tubes are a great way to have really yummy treats at the ready in the position where you want the dog to be. You can load the refillable ones with watered down peanut butter or liverwurst and only squeeze enough for the dog to get a little lick as she's waling where you ant her to. Cans of spray cheese are also useful for this.


You've already gotten some great tips for recall training, so I won't repeat them.


Best wishes.

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I was thinking that the recall I described (i.e. running fast to you) may not be "appreciated" in upper level obedience. You will just have to make that decision for yourself.


Many obedience people love fast recalls though they do want straight fronts. One of my instructors would periodically hold just for fun contests in class to see whose dog had the fastest recall. And if a dog had a pokey recall, we used all kinds of incentives to speed him up -- toys, treats, and running to spur the dog on. If the OP is training for competition, it is pretty easy to have two types of recalls -- one for the ring where you are acting in a very formal and precise manner yourself and one for everyday where you are encouraging fast “get over here” not worried about the straight front stuff. You could use two different commands, but really you act so different in the ring that is plenty enough cue to the dog what you are wanting. Back when I showed in obedience, I never saw the need to use a second command for a non competition recall.

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Dogs understand more than we believe, and they can read minds. Humor is only funny, when everybody thinks it's funny, including your dog. In my dog's presence, I wouldn't refer to her as a ratbag or any other offensive name, and I would try to not think it. You are frustrated.


Lots of good suggestions above. Try to make seeing the leash a good thing, something Lilli gets excited about. I believe it was mentioned above to let-up on the obedience-type leash walking at home for the time being, so that Lilli begins to enjoy leash walks again. In the real world there are many more distractions than at a training center. It's hard for a young dog. Later, you can always get back to train walking on your left side with a perfectly loose leash.


Keep her attention while walking. Some instructors suggest continually talking to your dog in a pleasant voice as you go on your way. Describe what you see. Lilli might enjoy learning a moving sit and down as you walk. Teach her on command to swing behind you to walk on your right, and then back to the left. Anything to keep her mind active and on you while moving. Jog a little and then walk. Mix it up.


What did your obedience instructor suggest? He/she is right there to see your interaction, and will no doubt have advice based on more detailed facts. -- TEC

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For the recall instead of turning and running away you might also just try running backwards a little ways. That way you can keep your eyes on her, and you can squeak a toy that she can see. I will still do that if mine isn't coming in for a straight front sit. Have also done this for her drop on recall. We train for obedience, but don't compete.

Kian doesn't usually pull unless we are in Rural King where most everything is out to get her. We are working on with me, but I found a Sporn stop-pulling harness at wal-mart for I think about $10.00. A friend has a pup that really likes to pull and she got one also. Really made a difference with both of them.


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