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Any tips to to turn walks into walks...instead of a race?

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Hi Everybody,

 

I am certain the issues I am having with Jet are typical, and I am wondering if anyone has a fix for them?

 

First, pulling on the leash. It is out of control! No matter where we are going Jet has to be first and it always has to be a race to get there. We just bought a shorter leash that is made like a bungy cord, that seems to take the strain off him as well as our shoulders, but still he won't stop pulling. Jet is a quick learner, are there some tips to use to train him not to pull that have worked for any of you?

 

Second, barking while staying at home. Medellin is an extremely dog friendly city. We probably leave him at home by himself no more than once or twice a month. When we do, we leave him outside on the deck with all his toys and food. However, as we found out by setting up a camera (and from the neighbors) he spends his time alone standing barking into space. The thing is, we never hear him bark aside from when he leave him alone. Obviously he is telling us he doesn't like to be alone...but is there something to do to get him better at not barking when he is alone?

 

 

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You could try crating him indoors when you have to leave him alone. You could give him a stuffed frozen Kong when you first leave and have some soft music playing to encourage sleep while in the crate.

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Root Beer has a good suggestion with the frozen Kong. My German Shepherd, Cola, is not one to sit calmly while my wife and I leave the house. Give her a frozen kong, and DO crate her, and you should notice an improvement. Hope I'm not overstepping here, but is your deck inaccessible from outside? I'd worry someone could get up there, or my dogs could escape.

 

On walking, I'm having the same problem. Cola is pulling something awful... we have regressed in this endeavor, and I need to fix it, in order to have lots and lots of NICE and CALM enjoyable walks this summer.

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I too would be worried about the balcony. I'm not sure how high it is or if it's got some measures to keep him from jumping out. If not I would suggest you read this thread:

http://www.bordercollie.org/boards/index.php?showtopic=35312&hl=balcony


Although I agree that keeping him inside and even in his crate is probably the best bet to stop the barking, if you do choose to keep him on the balcony there is some excellent advice about how to ensure his safety. It seems like you've been fine in that respect so far, but it's not the kind of risk I'd want to take.

Sorry I can't offer more on topic advice, good luck with him though!

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Someone might have better advice but this is just what I've been doing with Ziggy when he pulls. I'll bring a treat bag and clicker and when he pulls I stop dead in my tracks and don't move. As soon as he looks back at me to figure out what's going on, click and treat. He realizes that paying attention to me gets him a treat and pulling means we go nowhere. We're also in obedience and I bring the treat bag and clicker to practice heeling, focus on me, etc. We learned "watch", which means make eye contact with me and "touch" which is just hand targeting and every now and then I'll give one of these commands while we walk and that helps him pay attention to where I'm going and not focus too much on the world around us.

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My Ruby was a terrible leash puller, and I tried every recommended method over time, none of which worked. Then I discovered a completely new method from Pam Dennison, an excellent trainer, in her book, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dog Training". She devised this method when nothing else worked for her rescue Border Collie! You put your dog on a long line at least 15 feet long. Do not use a retractable leash. Begin in a no or low distraction area and gradually work your way up to higher distractions. Have your clicker and treats ready. Your arm will be straight down at your side. When the leash is loose, click and throw your dog a treat. The longer leash gives you more time to do this before there is tension on the leash. The dog does NOT return to you for the treat. In loose lead walking, the dog does not have to be in heel position. What Pam realized, and what I realized when I read this, is that we were training our dogs to think that the proper way to get a treat is to pull on the leash and run back to us to get it. Not all dogs think this way, but it turned out to be the perfect method for Ruby. After 6 years of struggling with this, she finally became manageable on walks. She will always have the tendency to go out, but all I have to do now is remind her "easy" and she lets up on the speed. She is now 10 years old. Pam also suggests that if your dog is "trained" to pull when wearing a collar, change to a harness for walks. Ruby's harness is a regular one, not a "no Pull" style. Good luck. Not all dogs learn behaviors in the same way.

 

I can't help with the barking, as I have never left a dog outside the house when gone. They don't like to be alone, but if you leave Jet inside in a crate with things to do, as has been suggested, he would at least have the security of being in his home.

 

Kathy Robbins

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I have had this issue with my dogs, particularly my older dog Lyka.

 

We have had many suggestions by our trainer. One thing we tried was to train Lyka that she had to come back and sit beside me whenever she pulled, this actually worked really well for the pit bull in our class.

 

Another method was when walking the dog make sure that your dog never passes your toes and stop as soon as they do and make them return to your side (Regardless of whether or not there is tension) If they take a few steps while staying in the right spot they get a treat make the time between treats longer and longer as the dog catches on, it took someone watching me a few times before I was able to properly notice whenever Lyka stepped too far ahead or was in the right place. The concept being that if she was in the right place she would get a treat randomly and would get to keep walking.

 

The method that we were told to use with my new puppy is to pick a length of leash that you feel comfortable with make sure that it is not too long, as to let the dog get really far ahead of you, because it is important during loose leash walking that they know to pay attention to what you are doing. Then hold the leash at the desired length and put your hand with the leash in your pocket, so it is more difficult to get more leash from you by charging ahead. Then start the walk, if there is any tension at all on the leash stop in your tracks and do not move until the tension is gone, but make sure that you start moving again as soon as the pulling stops. It is difficult, but once you stop you cannot say anything to the dog. They will eventually realize that they are what is stopping the walk and make a conscious decision to walk by your side, so they get to wherever they are going without all the stops.

 

We have been working with Lily on that technique for about 2 weeks and have noticed a serious improvement in her walking. It does take a lot of patience to wait until the dog willingly returns, but the payout once they make that connection lasts longer then the correction and reward methods that I've used.

 

I have to admit that I did have my trainer show me how to use a pinch collar for walks, because Lyka struggles even after learning loose leash with not charging to play with every dog she meets. She walks fine until she sees another dog and then tears my arm off lunging at the new friend she had spotted. The pinch collar was an instant fix for us AFTER being taught to use it properly, but it is a correction method which had no lasting effect without the pinch collar on her. Just FYI I did try it on myself first and it is not nearly as painful as it looks. I know that some people look down on the use of pinch collars, but it is far better than a choke chain or shock collar and does not hurt the dog unless they pull too far ahead. I would not recommend a pinch collar if you do not have someone to help your properly size it and show you how to use it.

 

Honestly, without meeting your dog it is hard to help, but if all else fails you may want to see a professional trainer who can help you make adjustments to your technique or recommend something for your individual dog easier than we can. I don't know where exactly you live or what is available, but our local Petco offers free loose leash walking classes where a professional trainer will show you different techniques to walk your dog without the pulling. You may look into something like that in your area.

 

As far as not barking while you are gone I would invest in a crate if possible it is great for containing the dogs during the day in a safe contained area. While in the crate give the dog something to do, frozen kongs work well, as do nylabones, and safe chew/puzzle toys. My dogs love their crates so much that they even go lay in them when they need a little downtime while I have company or if something loud is going on elsewhere and they are not comfortable with it.

 

Every dog me or my parents ever owned has had a crate for both potty training and keeping them out of trouble when they are home alone. They all grew to love the crate.

 

I hope I was able to help at least a little.

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My Ruby was a terrible leash puller, and I tried every recommended method over time, none of which worked. Then I discovered a completely new method from Pam Dennison, an excellent trainer, in her book, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dog Training". She devised this method when nothing else worked for her rescue Border Collie! You put your dog on a long line at least 15 feet long. Do not use a retractable leash. Begin in a no or low distraction area and gradually work your way up to higher distractions. Have your clicker and treats ready. Your arm will be straight down at your side. When the leash is loose, click and throw your dog a treat. The longer leash gives you more time to do this before there is tension on the leash. The dog does NOT return to you for the treat. In loose lead walking, the dog does not have to be in heel position. What Pam realized, and what I realized when I read this, is that we were training our dogs to think that the proper way to get a treat is to pull on the leash and run back to us to get it. Not all dogs think this way, but it turned out to be the perfect method for Ruby. After 6 years of struggling with this, she finally became manageable on walks. She will always have the tendency to go out, but all I have to do now is remind her "easy" and she lets up on the speed. She is now 10 years old. Pam also suggests that if your dog is "trained" to pull when wearing a collar, change to a harness for walks. Ruby's harness is a regular one, not a "no Pull" style. Good luck. Not all dogs learn behaviors in the same way.

This sounds similar to what I did with Georgia, inadvertently. She didn't pull, she wanted to sniff every blade of grass. I put her on a very long line and off we went. She was able to sniff, I was able to walk. Her reward for keeping the leash loose was being able to sniff. She easily made the transition from long lines to a leash. She may tap the end of the leash, but then she slacks off until it's loose.

 

Tex has always been a puller, no matter what collar or harness or reward based training or correction based training. Operator error, I'm sure. But take him off leash and he stays within five feet of me. Poor leash manners is his only true vice, so I am guilty of just letting him get his way. He doesn't pull quite as hard as he used to, but it's still pretty noticeable. I have used a pich collar on him. I was shown how to use it correctly. But with the forty pounds of fur around his neck, it's no more noticeable than a regular martingale. That or he'd just rather GO.

 

I may try the above Pam Dennison method with Faith. She's a bit of a nervous walker, pulling hard when she startles. I had been using the method of when she would hit the end of the leash, her walking back to me, getting the treat and moving on.

 

Thanks!

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Great to see all the replies, thank you for all the advice.

 

Definitely going to try some the the ideas suggested with treats and stopping. I have watched some videos online that suggest you change direction as soon as the dog reaches the end of the leash, but with Jet, this turns into more of a fun game than anything, he ends up running back and forth. I know on walks in the past when I do stop dead in my tracks, Jet thinks he did something wrong and puts his ears down and stops, he is very nervous that way...always looking to impress, so I do think there is potential there.

 

As far as barking goes, the crate idea seems like the way to go. I have never really gone that route before, but if it gives peace of mind to him as well as me, then it would be a win win for both.

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Get an EasyWalk harness. It will not harm the dog but makes it impossible for the dog to pull.

Not that you should not train the dog to walk nicely on a leash....that is imperative. But with the EasyWalk you will have something to use when you just need to get the dog out for a quick potty walk and do not want to do a training session, yet you don't want to reinforce pulling by letting her do as she wants.

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As far as barking goes, the crate idea seems like the way to go. I have never really gone that route before, but if it gives peace of mind to him as well as me, then it would be a win win for both.

 

For whatever it's worth there's no reason you couldn't also put him in an isolated room (bedroom or bathroom) with a stuffed Kong, so long as he's reliably house trained.

 

I'm a huge fan of crates and highly recommend using one, however he may take some time getting used to it. Putting him in a room behind a closed door could be a temporary option while you are crate training him.

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I have worked with a lot of dogs who have issues walking through fostering. One thing that always work (will make your walk twice as long in time and you may only get down the street) is to just stop and walk a little bit the other direction. You can also just stop and ask the dog to circle back around you till they are by your side. You are not teaching heel but loose leash walking. If your dog looks up at you give a "good" for showing you that they do in fact remember you are walking them ;) It does not need to be a super exciting task and I tend to stay calm as most of the dogs that need this are excited or nervous. When they realize they walk longer the less tension on the leash they tend to learn quick. Now if they are really having trouble and you stop and they just sit at the end of the walk without coming back you can turn around and walk the other way. If your dog doesn't pull except when seeing something then a prong collar (used Properly!) has helped me also for excited dogs.

 

I also use this when I start off leash walking near me. Once they walk well I do the same thing without a leash. I usually teach a "free" command or something if I want them to run off and play. It's super cute too if they are walking along off leash by your side and you say free. I've had dogs just sprint away and stop and look back like come on. Then "with me" or whatever to come back and Heel if you want them to actually heel.

 

Just some fun words I've put to things lol

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Oh the crate would be a great idea also. It may make him feel more safe while your away. Outside he's kind of looking for you the whole time. Also practice leaving. It's great you only leave him once a month etc but practice does make perfect. ;) If you put a command to the crate they learn to go in freely and always make sure he is calm before shutting the door. Think about it this way. If you are put into something and you are fighting to get out (physically or mentally) your mind is still fighting to get out once the door is shut, but if you lay down and relax your mind isn't in escape mood anymore. This has really helped dogs love their crate here.

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Another thing to remember when you're using treats to reinforce the proper position is to treat in the position you want the dog to be. IOW, if you want the dog to be in a strict heel position, you have to drop you hand so that the treat is delivered when the dog's mouth is right where you want it. while you're walking. This may involve your having to reach slightly backwards, but if the dog has to move ever so slightly forward to get the treat, then you're just undermining the proper position.

 

If you're not worried so much about a strict heeling position and it's OK for the dog to be slightly forward, then you may have to lean forward a bit to deliver the treat. I don't think the dog's coming back (or slowing down) a bit to get the treat wold be counterproductive in this case like it would if the dog has to move forward.

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