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We have a 5 month old golden who is exceptionally smart. She learned simple commands, sit, stay come, down, spin, up, and her name pretty early on, but sometimes has ZERO impulse control.

In our backyard she does amazing with commands and is extremely attentive, but when we try and go for walks she sometimes completely looses all focus, has this blank stare, doesn't want treats (we use her kibble) and just pulls in every direction or digs her feet in the ground and doesn't want to move.

Has anyone else had any behavior problems like this? TIA
 

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Kristy
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100% normal puppy behavior. She just needs your time and patience. The best way to head this crazy behavior off is to make sure you build in training time, aerobic exercise - 30 minute minimum, and work on teaching that impulse control every single day. Get creative in taking her places to work with her. Practice obedience in the front yard, or at a garden center or Tractor Supply Store. Sign up for a group training class, plan on staying enrolled for the next year or two, best way to stay honest about practice and get her out and about. Teach her a formal retrieve, Sound Beginnings is a DVD by Jackie Mertens or use Bill Hilllman puppy training to get started. Go to Kikopup on Youtube and look at her videos to teach some Impulse Control exercises that will help. We have these sporting dogs that need a job and when we try to make them live an urban or suburban lifestyle without enough mental or physical work for their needs, it often makes them act up when energy is overflowing. Think about what a 4 year old little boy would be like if he didn't get enough time on the playground and time to run outdoors - our dogs need the activity just as much as children.
 

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Also- perhaps try highter value treats on those walks- something with the same protein as what she is fed. I use a dehydrated single ingredient meat treat- available in chicken, turkey, salmon and beef.
 

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Hello,

I realize this post is from a while ago, but maybe this will help future golden owners.

I have a 4mo golden puppy who comes from field lines so he has lots of puppy energy and LOVES being outside. Sometimes too much! I've found that the best way to get him to focus on me while on walks (we do a lot of wandering/sniffing walks with a 10ft leash) is to match his energy. I energetically yell his name, stomp my feed, clap, and act like I'm going to run in the opposite direction of where he's pulling (then I do actually run a bit when he catches me). Then it becomes a game of distraction --> sprint back to mom --> distraction --> sprint back to mom. His recall and pulling gets a little bit better every time we do this. I also bring string cheese along on these walks and give him little pieces of it when he's not so overstimulated. My only warning is that it takes quite a bit of energy and fitness to do this! Luckily I'm a runner so it's good training for me too! By the end of our walks he has gotten a fair number of mini sprints in, he's happily exhausted, and his tongue is hanging out of his mouth. After a drink he goes into the crate with a kong for a long nap!
 

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Also- perhaps try highter value treats on those walks
I also bring string cheese along on these walks and give him little pieces of it when he's not so overstimulated.
Everytime you bribe a dog with treats to comply to a command you are teaching him to ignore you when you don't have treats or he finds something he likes better.
 

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Everytime you bribe a dog with treats to comply to a command you are teaching him to ignore you when you don't have treats or he finds something he likes better.
Respectfully, that hasn't been my experience at all and every training class we've taken at multiple facilities has incorporated treats. We've already been able to phase them out for many of his commands now that they're cemented in and he's only 4 months old.
 

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Everytime you bribe a dog with treats to comply to a command you are teaching him to ignore you when you don't have treats or he finds something he likes better.
There is a difference between a bribe and a reward. Your statement may be true if the food is used as a bribe (or a lure), but a correctly timed reward (positive reinforcement) is Operant Conditioning 101. Behaviors that are rewarded are more likely to be repeated. Behaviors that are rewarded intermittently 9once learned) are particularly strong and resistant to extinction. If your dog does not find verbal praise or petting rewarding, then things like food or toys/play are the best way to reinforce a behavior. If you only use punishment to convey that your dog has made the wrong choice, you eventually have a dog who is unwilling to offer a behavior unless they are very confident it is the correct behavior at that time. On the other hand, if there isn't a clear connection between performing the desired behavior and getting the reward, then you just have a confused dog who knows you give him food now and then (that's why a lot of people have success with clicker training - the marker (click) makes it much clearer for the dog what exact behavior has earned him a reward).

I don't want to derail this thread into a discussion of the pros and cons of the various methods for training a behavior, but for anyone who is interested, a Google for "operant conditioning" or "dog training four quadrants of learning" should bring up a large number of articles and videos on the topic (though to be honest, not all of them get the definitions correct. I saw several who did not correctly distinguish between negative reinforcement and and negative punishment).
 
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Hopefully the OP has addressed the problems as the dog will now be over a year old now.

FWIW, the way I handled leash walking with our now 4 month old puppy started at 8 weeks by having her follow me close with a treat at my side. That morphed into very short walks in the street with the same tactic and a leash on a flat collar. Any time she pulled out ahead or off to the side, I changed directions. With much patience and much praise, that turned into a 4 month old pup that will walk on a loose lead almost at a heel position. I also introduced the "leave it" command so the dog walks and I don't allow random sniffing. When we're walking, we walk. She goes before we start our walk at the house (hurry up command was used since 8 weeks for doing her business). When I eventually introduce heel soon, it will be a piece of cake. I started heavily with treats, and have weaned them off for most of this other than using them periodically for the watch me command while we're walking. That gets her back where I want her by my knee.

That's not to say she doesn't have her moments of lack of control and lack of attention to me. That varies so much with conditions and distractions. We started only on the road as grass has too many smells. Even a wet road changes the picture completely as there are many more smells. Then we worked toward sidewalks, then grassy areas. Then we worked going by adults, kids, other dogs, cars, trucks etc.

It's now time to introduce a choke collar as she is getting big enough, and needs to know there are consequences for not paying attention. Eventually we'll work to off lead stuff and things will get fun.

The OP's dog was already 5 months so much of this early opportunity might have been lost. I've also trained dogs around that age or older, but we started with a choke collar and some treats, and a prong collar, if necessary. Having a dog that doesn't pull (regardless of the collar choice) is way more humane than having one pulling you all over the place. I'm also not a harness fan.
 
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