Help - loose lead training!

(7 Posts)
inappropriatelyemployed Sun 12-Aug-18 12:47:52

I've posted before looking for some guidance on how to build up loose lead training but think I need some more wisdom sharing!

We have a 6 m old GR puppy.

Presently, we have been doing heel work in the garden and outside, using the method set out in the Happy Puppy Handbook, ie walking in circle at leg, treat thrown with marker word, then he returns. We have got to introducing the word 'heel' as he is walking alongside.

In addition, when walking, if he pulls, we stop, get his attention and then when he turns, we take a few steps back so he follows returns to heel (and treat). Treat as we walk too.

I am wondering how best to build this up effectively in the 'real world'. We went out today and there were so many distractions and lots of people, so he was instantly pulling, although he had great periods of walking.

We tried to keep the period short but walking back to the car was difficult as he was pulling all the time on a narrow path by a road with people walking past.

Is it best to limit the places you go and the period you go out for?

Do you always, whatever you are doing, stick to the 'no pulling' rule? This would mean taking very short walks for us in busy places but perhaps this is best while the training is being done?

Just trying to find a strategy to build this up effectively.

OP’s posts: |
TooOldForThisWhoCares Sun 12-Aug-18 16:20:29

I'll watch this with interest as i'm in exactly same position with 7month old. She walks like a dream sometimes and then pulls like a steam engine in others. Definitely depends on how distracted she is in a situation but then we we're also trying to get her used to different situations (she's a rescue). It's a bit catch22. But I think we are generally seeing an improvement with some inevitable steps back at times. I plan to carry on giving her the opportunity to 'get it right' in quieter/familiar places but also trying to reward for even a few good paces when she's distracted and pulling in new places.

We have a lead we put on to only use when we want her to walk beside us etc which I think has helped. She goes on a long line to run free and we have an extendable for walks when we can't let her be as free as the long line.

Not sure if any of this will help you particularly but I feel your pain with the practicalities of lead training sometimes!

ladyface69 Sun 12-Aug-18 16:49:21

Ah, the loose lead walk, a holy grail of dog training in my mind!
Mine's 20 months and only just getting the hang of it in some situations, in others, (i.e. a walk in the countryside) she's got her nose down and pulls, once for an 8 mile walk! I had rope burn from the lead afterwards.

You could adopt either of these methods:
1) only walk him whilst he is able to focus on you. If he can't manage it, no 'formal' walks on the lead. I.e. Walk 5-10 yards, however far he can do it for, then if he loses his focus do some sit/stay/recall/fetch/trick OR turn around and go back to where he is able to focus on you. Its REALLY HARD (or I am finding it hard) but the one breakthrough was teaching her that eye contact was a 'good thing'. Now, if she isn't giving me any eye contact, but looking around all trembly at the smells and sights of the big wide world, we sit there, still, until she looks at me. Then she has done the 'good thing' and we can walk forward again.
Training and keeping the dog's focus on you will tire him out just as much as a long walk and you will end up with a Dog that is well trained and thinks you are the center of his universe, which is great for keeping them responsive to you.
- I am still working on this with mine, she can and will walk to heel 10 feet down the street but I am working on her not pulling me out of the gate. When she pulls I put her back behind the gate and we repeat exiting the property until she doesn't pull.

2) Obviously part of the reason anyone gets a dog is to enjoy walking them, so put up with the pulling when you take him out but really focus on heel walking as often as possible in training sessions, stopping when he pulls, click and treat on return to heel, practicing on the street outside your house wherever he can focus on you and eventually he will start to find heeling a rewarding behaviour and offer it more regularly.
- This is basically what has happened with mine, we can do our 'morning route' now with minimal pulling, and I have also incorporated heeling when we are out training in fields with rabbity-scented ground where she would usually be streaking off into the distance. Now she knows what's expected she is offering the behaviour more and more.

also - keep them hungry when training, it will make them more responsive. Mine won't have her breakfast or dinner until training has been done so she's really wanting to earn her treats
I also use a slip lead for 'formal heel' i.e. very close to my ankle and then she gets instant feedback if she pulls ahead as I stop and the lead tightens, and I use a harness for loose lead walking. She knows the difference now.

Sorry for the long post but I feel your pain, am finally getting somewhere now so the above is 20 months of frustration!

missbattenburg Sun 12-Aug-18 16:53:18

Is it best to limit the places you go and the period you go out for?

Seperate the trimes you are walking to train from those times when you know you don't want/cannot spend time training but need to take the dog somewhere.

Use equipment so the dog knows the difference. e.g. Flat lead and collar is used when you are on a training walk. Harness and lead used when the dog is going to pull and you are not going to train, for whatever reason. Eventually the lead and collar will be the default for all walks but until your loose lead training is much further down the line then using a harness protects the dog's neck during walks when there will be lot of pulling - including where the distractions are too great for the dog to apply the training (yet).

Pigletpoglet Sun 12-Aug-18 20:41:39

I would second finding another way to walk when you have to just get somewhere and don't have time/energy to train the lead walking. We got a Dogmatic for our 'pulls like a train' boy and it worked wonders. It's not his favourite thing in the world, but we introduced it with lots of treats and he tolerates it well. It makes walking him on the lead an absolute pleasure instead of a chore. We still put in the time to do loose lead training in a flat collar and lead, but it's when we choose to do it and so much less frustrating than trying to get somewhere in a rush with a dog that is hauling away at the end of the lead!

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 12-Aug-18 21:14:50

Thanks alot. Lots of great ideas here. What do people do about sniffing when loose lead training?

OP’s posts: |
geekone Sun 12-Aug-18 22:08:03

I have a 5.5 month old and he is doing ok at loose lead training he gets pulls but only on the way home because he knows he will get fed soon lol. What I have been doing is getting his attention and keeping a treat in my hand (opposite to the side he is walking at) so he naturally falls back and looks up at he. I then say heel a lot so he gets the association. Good luck though it is difficult.

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