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How to enjoy walks again

Discussion in 'Dog Training: Principle and Practice' started by Ollie'sMum, Jan 29, 2018.

  1. Ollie'sMum

    Ollie'sMum Registered Users

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    My 17 month old lab is very smart, has learnt lots of commands and is very eager to please me most of the time. He's at home with me all day, so we've developed a great bond, which I'm sure helps with training.
    We've just finished a puppy/bridging class and he did really well, and I even managed to get a handle on his reactivity to the other dogs in class and a reliable recall (in class).
    His, or should I say my biggest challenge with him is getting a nice lead walk that doesn't only involve staying in the middle of the road or bike path.
    I have worked on loose lead walking with him and he gets that being close to me often results in a treat. He's super greedy, so generally kibble and carrot work just as well as hotdog, so I don't think that is the issue.
    It's not that he pulls forward so much as sideways, or to any patch of grass, pole or hedge.
    I've tried the 'walk x paces, then click and treat', but I guess i need to mix it up a bit more because he kind of anticipates these moments, stays engaged for a few seconds longer in case i'm feeling super generous, then dives off to the side.
    It tends to go better if I jog with him now and again and of course I give him 'go sniff' breaks, but it's all just really unpleasant and I long to go back to the days where I could walk with him off lead, he could sniff to his hearts content and would just run back to me, if i got too far ahead or called.
    I stopped off leash walking in the forest because as he got older it got harder to call him away from other dogs and then he became obsessed with other dogs' scents and practically dragged me home one day, then ran 2 fields away from me to another dog, the next.
    Will we ever be able to walk calmly on or over grassland on a lead without me risking a sprained wrist? Food is not as exciting as animal scent at the moment. Is it just his age?
    Should I be working on recall with a long lead at the same time as loose lead walking? Just a bit confused which problem to work on first.
    Sorry for the long post!
     
  2. Joy

    Joy Registered Users

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    Yes, I would work on both recall and walking on lead. If you haven’t read Total Recall yet then do because it’s a really good program that works.

    I’ve been working at loose lead walking with an older dog (not mine) recently. I don’t try to get anywhere, I reward with food very frequently and I make it exciting. I don’t wait for him to pull but change direction every few steps, I run, zig-zag, come to a sudden halt etc. all while chirruping about what a good boy he is.
    I also kept the walk very short at first ( perhaps a minute), then said ‘Go sniff’ and threw a piece of kibble away from me, but within lead reach so that he didn’t have to pull to get it. He finds sniffing, especially hedges, very rewarding so I would sometimes let him go to them. Then I’d do another minute heeling and repeat the cycle.
    It doesn’t really matter what words you use, but when Molly was a puppy someone told me not to use ‘heel’ because it’s easy to make that sound gruff. So with Molly I used ‘walking’ said in a song-song voice and I’m doing the same for Whiskey.

    As your dog is young, I’d also suggest playing with him (while on a trailing line) while out -tug, catch etc. The more you can orient his attention towards you the better.
     
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  3. selina27

    selina27 Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    I so agree with this, I'm sure it's got a large amount to do with how much I disliked training it -- I tend to use all sorts of things, but mostly find I'm saying "come with me"!
     
  4. Ollie'sMum

    Ollie'sMum Registered Users

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    Ok, I'll give the short sessions (a few times a day?) a try.
    I do have the Total Recall book and although I've yet to do much of it, my dog understands that 'here' means 'go to mum immediately for something yummy' and the same with a whistle. At least in our large garden!
    One thing that worries me is how little exercise my dog gets since we stopped off lead. He only has a couple of 'crazy sessions' in the garden, on top of the rather useless (from an exercise viewpoint) 'walk'.
    When he's in mood he'll chase a ball, though he does like 'tug'. Otherwise he finds toys kind of 'meh', even if I act like a court jester, lol.
    His favourite things to do are sniffing the ground like there's no tomorrow, peeing on everything outside and eating.
    You know when you're out and you see dogs happily bounding along next to their jogging or cycling owner? I'm so in awe and wonder if they've been in my position, trying to unsuperglue their dog from every patch of grass.
     
  5. Joy

    Joy Registered Users

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    Hooray! If he likes tug you can build this into retrieving. When he releases the tug toy, throw it a couple of yards ( don’t expect him to wait at this stage) and as he chases it you run in the other direction -don’t call him but excited whoop-whoop sounds are good ;) . When he catches you, restart the tug game.
    This will give him exercise and build the sense of value in being with you.

    Have you seen flirt pole / whippit games too? These are fun, tiring and build control. Here’s one example:
     
  6. selina27

    selina27 Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    He's a Labrador! He's programmed to do so!
    Trick is, to make that work for us, guide them into to using their super power in ways that mean they interact with us. Something I've found really helpful with Cassie is playing "find it" games on walks. She sits and waits while I hide bits of frankfurter in the undergrowth or on fallen trees then she is released to search for them. This way she is using her inbuilt desire to use her nose in a way that means she stays closer to me. We are both happy!

    Also about turn walks help keep her focussed on where I am.
     
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  7. Ollie'sMum

    Ollie'sMum Registered Users

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    Thanks for the tips. I'll give them a try!
    One other question I have is about the use of a long lead.
    How long a line is sensible for a beginner? And to avoid being pulled over due to their enthusiasm to get to a new dog/person/bike in the distance, do you stay on high alert and rein them in a good distance before trouble?
    We've just finished some group classes which did help with his reactivity, but obviously not my specific issues. Plus the classes were in Dutch, which was challenging for me! :) I could have a few private sessions - the trainer was good - do you think it would help?
     
  8. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    I would always recommend a lesson on how to use a long line as they can be very dangerous for both dogs and people. It's easy to get them wrapped around a leg, plus there's the risk of friction burns, spiral fractures to your fingers etc. Whenever I use one, it's either trailing in such a way that I can stamp on it immediately without any jerk on the dog (that means it always maintains a straight line from the dog to me with no loops), or I hold it and constantly reel/unreel it. It's quite exhausting to use, you have to be on high alert the whole time and keeping it from going between their legs.
     
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  9. Karen

    Karen Registered Users

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    Another very important thing with a long line is you MUST use it with a harness, not a collar, it is just too dangerous for the dog's neck otherwise.
     
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  10. Ollie'sMum

    Ollie'sMum Registered Users

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    Thank you both. I'll enlist the trainer's help. I know she's experienced with this sort of thing.
    Ollie only has a harness, no collar, so we're good on that front. Will let you know how we get on! :)
     
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  11. Karen

    Karen Registered Users

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    Good luck!! :)
     
  12. capsmom

    capsmom Registered Users

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    I am having all these problems with my 12 month old boy. All these tips are so helpful. Thanks guys
     

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