Pongo's Remedial Log (or, "here goes nuffin...")

Discussion in 'Your Training Logs' started by Rosie, May 5, 2017.

  1. Rosie

    Rosie Registered Users

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    Well, I never thought I'd be starting a thread in the "Training Logs" section. But here we go. This is more for my benefit than Pongo's, because I am sure the main problem with our training is my lack of stick-to-it-ness.....and maybe the fact that I have to write something every now and then will give me the discipline to keep going!

    So...background and training aims.

    Pongo is nearly three and a half years old. He is a Big Boy (42kg) and very strong. He is a happy, confident lad with (I believe) no behavioural issues but I have failed in two big training places - his recall and his ability to walk on-lead without pulling my arms off. I'll come to recall later - I'm going to get some help from a local trainer on that, I don't want to risk getting it wrong yet again! But the "stop pulling on the lead" is something I think I can tackle myself, with the advice on that other thread. So here we go.

    What I'd like to achieve is being able to take Pongo to places where he needs to be on a lead (e.g. walking down our country roads) without him pulling out of control. Ideally I'd like to have some confidence that he won't lunge off after exciting things like other dogs, but at the moment that feels unachievable....so I'll set an initial aim of "being able to walk for half a mile down a quiet road on loose-lead"; plus as a stretch goal "being able to walk through the village without going into the water-ski position".

    We started yesterday with two 10 minutes sessions to find out where we are starting from, and here is what I discovered.
    In the garden he will walk beautifully on loose-lead for several minutes on end, as long as I have treats in my hand and am treating him every 20-30 steps.
    Down the farm track he will walk with me, but will be trotting along in front of me (still loose lead); so will tend to drift forwards til the lead is taut. When that happened I stopped, waited til he looked at me, then turned around and treated him for joining me at heel and walked the other way for a few paces, then turned round and carried on in the original direction. Doing this, he will walk with me nicely loose-lead for maybe 20 paces (getting frequent treats) before doing the drift forwards and reaching the end of the lead.

    Yesterday we did a couple of bits of walking on lead as part of his normal walk (down that same farm track). Same as yesterday, but I figured out that I need to keep him in the heel position rather than letting him be ahead, so that I can keep treating him. Later on we practiced on the road past our house. He was pretty good while walking towards the house (i.e. a boring direction) - we were getting about 15 paces between treats. Walking in the other direction (towards the interesting fields) was much harder, we got the "drift forward" again pretty continuously so spent most of that session walking in small circles in the road as I did constant about-turns. Embarrassingly I didn't notice the landrover that had pulled up to watch us as we were blocking the road.....:rolleyes:

    So that is our starting point! I'm going to come back here and update regularly, it will be good for me to see (hopefully) some progress <crosses fingers and paws>. Any advice very very gratefully received!

    Rosie and Pongo
    xxx
     
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  2. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    You are actually training a sort of heel, rather than loose lead alone - which is fine, but it's good to be clear what you are doing and that your expectation is something more than just loose lead.

    I'd say that if he is drifting forward you are not giving him enough treats - your rate of reinforcement is too slow for the level of distractions you have - or he is not finding the food motivating enough, or you are working for too long.

    15 paces is quite a lot between treats when you are starting out. There is a name for this way of building duration (I forget what it is) but I like it (not because I think there is some magic in it particularly but because I find it easy to remember!).

    You could try one step treat, two steps treat, three steps treat, four steps treat...15 steps treat - and stop, give him a break. So you only ask for 15 steps between a treat once, but all together you get 120 steps for 15 treats. After he has had a break, you start again back at one step but try get to 16 steps. Try to stop before he fails so if you can only get to 8 steps (36 steps in total) then that's where you are and that's all he can do so extending from 8 is your starting point.
     
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  3. Saba's Boss

    Saba's Boss Registered Users

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    I suffer from this! When we go to training, I am focused, and so for the most part is Saba. We have a brilliant time, he works hard and comes home exhausted from the effort. On the drive home, I'm busy planning what I'll do over the next week, what routes we'll walk, when we'll work on consolidating the latest lesson...ha-ha-di-ha-ha! :rolleyes:
    Saba is twenty-one months now, and weighs 29kg. He's short, muscly and powerful. I've had the broken fingers, pulled elbows and yanked shoulders, and shed lakes of tears in frustration. We are making progress; Saba will now give me thirty off-lead perfect heel paces and a perfect sit when I stop walking. Lead walking is still a work-in-progress. We leave the house, and for the first few houses, he's a sniff monster! I give him that time. Then it's 'what's this' and he starts to focus on me and the treats make an appearance. Head up, not quite at heel, but reduced pulling, and off we go. The return journey is usually better, as by then he's had a good run and he's a bit tired, but other dogs are THE biggest distraction, and I really need to have my dog radar finely tuned!
    Pongo sounds absolutely delightful, and I love the way you write about your journey with him :heart:. I can't offer any advice 'cos I'm well-meaning but clueless, and I will follow your exploits with interest!
    :pull:
     
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  4. Rosie

    Rosie Registered Users

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    That is a very interesting point, and I hadn't thought of it. I don't particularly want to train a heel - my (probably overly-romantic) vision is of the two of us bimbling along happily together on a fairly long lead (say 6 foot), Pongo able to look around and have a bit of a sniff at times rather than trotting precisely beside me. But in these early stages I'm assuming that rapid-fire treats for walking nicely are important....and I can't rapid fire them at him if he is ahead of me. So I'm ending up training a heel even though I don't particularly need or want one.

    Also....when he "drifts ahead" to the end of the lead, he isn't really pulling, he's just going to the point where the lead is taut. Again I don't have a major problem with that, but one step further and it would become a "pull" and I'd be struggling again. So I'm assuming that at this stage I ought to interpret "moving to the end of the lead" as a "pull" so that he learns never to get to that stage....

    Am I over-thinking this?
     
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  5. selina27

    selina27 Registered Users

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    I get where you coming from with this, I'm currently in a similar situation with Cass -- the whole short lead / heel thing bores me totally. I have found though that working on it even for short times is paying dividends and she is beginning to walk better of her own accord. It's her off lead heel I want to improve.
    Not sure that's any help :)
     
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  6. edzbird

    edzbird Registered Users

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    This is how I work with Coco. No taut leads allowed. We're not after a close heel, just a loose lead.
     
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  7. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    I don't think you are over-thinking it at all, I think it's important for you to be clear about what you want. I'm not sure that what you want will be all that clear to Pongo though, which will mean that it will take longer for him to 'get it'. Personally, training lead walking is such a boring thing to do, I can't bear to do anything that will make the process longer than it already is! And, seriously, people can spend YEARS on it - that's just a depressing thought. (I've been there though, it took ages with Charlie).

    If your single criteria is loose lead, I'd only think about that. Only think about loose lead and nothing else, not his position, or whether he is sniffing etc. I find this one hard to train with treats in practice (although I've seen some videos of people clicking for a U shape in the lead etc) because the dog can be doing so very many things that are ok so giving him treats isn't an effective way to communicate (which is what treats are, in a way). So I train this only by a total focus on the single criteria of loose lead.

    I set the length of the lead I'm going to use then put my hand very loosely on my hip and walk forwards. As soon as there is any tension on the lead that moves my hand from my hip, I stop. That's it. Just one single criteria - I stop if there is enough tension on the lead to move my hand. I ignore everything else. I don't think this is a good way to train if the dog is in a frantic state of pulling and you are stopping every other step - in that case, I'd do something else. I'd change something, usually the place I was training.
     
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  8. lucky_dog

    lucky_dog Registered Users

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    I live in a city where there are very few off lead areas, so I trained loose leash walking, and use the heel cue if I need Lucky to walk next to me for a bit.

    I found that teaching him to slow down and speed up helped a lot with walking on a loose lead. I say "sloooow" in a deepish voice and "quick quick" in a higher voice. So, when he gets near to the end of the lead I would use the slow cue, and if he's lagging behind the speed up cue. Now he does it automatically, and I only have to use the cue as a reminder if there's something exciting going on.

    I find that to walk on a loose leash they need to learn that when they get to the end of the lead they should walk slower. And stopping and making them come back to you or changing direction isn't really showing them the behaviour you want, I found this just made Lucky really frustrated.

    I didn't use any treats to train it as I found the reward of getting to move forwards was a stronger reinforcer for him than food.

    Good luck with the training!
     
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  9. Emily_BabbelHund

    Emily_BabbelHund Longest on the Forum without an actual dog

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    No advice, just a bit of "Rah, rah! Go Pongo and Rosie!" cheerleading. I'll look forward to following your progress. :pull:


    Also...gosh, he IS big! I need to find a Lab where they grow them like that! ;)
     
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  10. edzbird

    edzbird Registered Users

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    From the contributions to this thread (and the other one) it is becoming obvious that different things work for different dogs. You will soon find what works for Pongo.
     
  11. Rosie

    Rosie Registered Users

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    There are many days when I would happily post Pongo to you...
     
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  12. Beanwood

    Beanwood Registered Users

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    We fostered a huge lab called Dougal a couple of years ago. He was quite an intimidating lad, and more than once we are asked does he have any rottie in him? He went to a super family, mainly for the father, who had come out of the army and was struggling. These two are inseparable now.

    Here are some photos...
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/121553523@N07/sets/72157655022292956
     
  13. Emily_BabbelHund

    Emily_BabbelHund Longest on the Forum without an actual dog

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    Wow, he is absolutely gorgeous and I love his name to boot. Looking at him, I'd say he is almost certainly a large percentage of Rottie. His head, chest and especially the eyes all look very Rottie to me. Wonderful pictures of all the dogs!
     
  14. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    He's a huge boy! To dwarf Benson that way!
     
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  15. Hollysdad

    Hollysdad Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    I have this strange vision of you trying to get Pongo into a postbox.
     
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  16. Beanwood

    Beanwood Registered Users

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    Sorry @Rosie didn't mean to derail your thread..but there are some BIG labradors out there! Dougal was actually all labrador :) Brambles dad and brothers are giants too :)
     
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  17. Emily_BabbelHund

    Emily_BabbelHund Longest on the Forum without an actual dog

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    I guess I'm just seeing Rotties where I want to. ;) OK, I'm definitely taking my puppy search to the land of big black beastie Labs! :D
     
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  18. Jyssica

    Jyssica Registered Users

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    Good luck Rosie & Pongo! Ill be checking this regularly. Im on this journey myself with rolo who is 9 months and 33kg....He may well walk(or lunge on the lead) in Cousin Pongos footsteps. :pull:
     
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  19. JenBainbridge

    JenBainbridge Registered Users

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    Good luck, Rosie! I'm sure you & Pongo will be brill!

    I haven't got any advice - I'm quite lucky that Mr Stanley seems to walk quite nicely on his lead with minimal training. If he doesn't get a treat after a good while he nudges my hand for one mind :D

    But I did want to say I don't know how you all cope with these monster dogs. Stanleys 24kg and that's more than strong enough to me - 30kg+ and I'd definitely be doing some faceplanting! :eek:
     
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  20. 20180815

    20180815 Guest

    Good luck!
    I'm also currently training my lab to walk nicely on lead, he's 10 months and 33kg, and here I was thinking 33kg was big! My story sounds very similar to yours thus far :)
     
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