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I was wondering if I could get some advice and answers about walking JJ, my 5 month old Golden, on a leash off our property. For the most part, I think he does fairly well, however; there's a lot of room for improvement.

Let me start off by saying that we have not trained him to heel yet, mainly because I find it to be rather hard right now due to my height. I'm tall and JJ is still pretty small, so whenever I hold a treat out near my leg to teach him to heel, I pretty much have to stop to give it to him or he'll jump to get it. I was told by trainers that stopping to reward isn't good and that it will teach him to keep stopping instead of keeping his motion. Neither here nor there, back to my questions.

As we leave the property, he starts off good, staying by my side and keeping a loose leash. It's not long though before his nose starts going and he picks up a scent. He literally wants to sniff everything around him. Once he picks up a scent, he's locked on it and I lose him. He won't respond to any commands (come, leave it) which I know he knows. He knows I have treats too, and still won't respond. The scent is by far the most appealing thing to him at that time. My question is, should I just keep my pace and pull him along if it comes to that?

There's times when I can't let him just sniff it out cause it may be a piece of paper, which he'll eat, or something like a cigarette butt, which he may also eat. Should I just drag him past it? Should I tell him "leave it", drag him away and reward him as he starts to walk again? Or should I come to stop, tighten the leash, tell him "leave it" and wait until he turns and looks at me?

At random times during our walks, he'll come to a complete stop, as if he doesn't want to go anymore. It's not that he's acting scared or is afraid to go. He just stops and wants to turn around. I'm not quite sure if he wants to go back towards a scent he picked up or if he's just had enough. I wouldn't imagine it'd be the latter as sometimes we've only made it as far as a few houses when he does it. 50% of the time I can get him to "come" and continue walking, other times he just looks at me and I have to say it again or give him a pull to get him going again. When he does respond to "come" at this point, most of the time he takes the treats and once again, stops and doesn't want to go. Sometimes I'll have to do it 2-3 times to get him going again. What should I be doing at this point? Should I yank him along, give him to him and turn around and go the way he wants to go, or just stand there until he gives in and continues my way, no matter how long that may take?

One more thing. If we walk through town and we stop to meet them, I pretty much lose him after that for the rest of our walk. He gets overly excited around new people, to the point where he whimpers. I can walk past them with him without a problem usually, but if we stop to see them and they start giving him attention, he whimpers to get at them. As we start to walk again, he'll do nothing but pull. When he starts to pull I come to stop and say "no pull" and wait for him to go into a sit. Once he does, I start walking again. If he pulls again, which 10 out of 10 times he does, I stop and tell him "no pull" again. Sometimes I stop 20 times within 30-40 feet. Is this the right thing to do or is there something I can do better? He has a regular neck collar now but we've been thinking about getting a harness to try and stop this, or at least stop him from chocking himself. I try to hold the leash with both hands as to not allow him to pull, but he still tries and ends up chocking himself.

Any suggestions I could get on any of the scenarios would be helpful. I understand hes still a puppy and that we need to teach him heel as soon as possible, but for now, what can I do in these situations?
 

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All what you are describing is absolutely normal and par for the course. The constant stopping as if he does not want to continue the walk is often a case of catching a strange scent on the wind or a bit of uncertainty. When he stops I make sure I am ahead of him then stop myself, I don't look at him I just make sure I have an upright confident posture and look around as if the stopping is my idea. 9 times out of 10 if your patient and wait him out he will sudden break the spell and start moving, I call him to heel and praise him.

With these early walks, set very low expectations. Puppy is surrounded by an overwhelming mass of new and interesting smells, sights and sounds. The main object of these early walks should be to indulge him a bit, let him smell and follow his nose a bit to show that walks are fun and safe. Training him with all these many distractions is setting both him and yourself up for failure.

Try leash training in your home or backyard, understanding about remaining too heel. Then when you take him into the big wide world he will be much more receptive to commands like heel and 'no pull'. Of course do not expect him to behave like a show dog on the lead or even walk fluently, that will only come with a great deal of time, familiarity and confidence in the great outdoors.

Anyway, sounds like your doing great.
 

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Once he picks up a scent, he's locked on it and I lose him. He won't respond to any commands (come, leave it)
It's all in the timing, you have to use 'leave it' BEFORE he picks up a scent or object, whatever you don't want him to have focus on. Once his focus is on that, you have lost his focus on you. You want him to maintain his focus on you. You have to be a mind reader or get really good at reading the signs that his focus is moving towards another object or scent. Once you notice his nose moving down, gently tug the leash upwards to keep his head up and keep moving forward. Your puppy is young yet and it takes a lot of practice.

You say you are tall, how about using a bully stick just to keep his focus on moving forward. Or you could drop a treat ahead of him rather than trying to give it to him.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies. So basically, I shouldn't pull or drag him at all? Just waiting it out is the thing to do, right?

It's all in the timing, you have to use 'leave it' BEFORE he picks up a scent or object, whatever you don't want him to have focus on. Once his focus is on that, you have lost his focus on you. You want him to maintain his focus on you. You have to be a mind reader or get really good at reading the signs that his focus is moving towards another object or scent. Once you notice his nose moving down, gently tug the leash upwards to keep his head up and keep moving forward. Your puppy is young yet and it takes a lot of practice.

You say you are tall, how about using a bully stick just to keep his focus on moving forward. Or you could drop a treat ahead of him rather than trying to give it to him.
One of the problems I face is that his nose is down 75% of the time, so it's hard to predict when he'll suddenly stop.

I haven't tried a bully stick cause JJ's had a lot of problems with diarrhea. So we're a little cautious on what we give him. I suppose it's worth a try though.
 

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How old is he now? Depending on his age, you want to keep the walks short enough so that he doesn't get his brain fried with a lot of stimuli. When that happens, they just CAN'T listen and obey.

More pictures, please. :D
 

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polite walking 1


polite walking 2


polite walking 3

Here is a you tube video that takes an owner through the steps to get to polite walking.

Starting out with lots of repetition and reinforcement. First all the practice is with low distractions. The house/ the dogs own yard/ in front of the house. Eventually taking it to other places to practice as dogs do not generalize well.
Placement of the reinforcement is important. Especially when you get into the heel position. You feed the reinforcement where you want the nose as said in the video but also how you want that nose. In a really good heel position I like the dogs nose up and the dog actually looking at me so I would feed that reinforcement with that in mind.
Just like we may be driving somewhere that we do every day or so and one day we get there and don't remember the drive. Kind of on auto pilate because we do it so much. This happens to the dogs to. From all the correct repetition and reinforcement their body takes on an auto memory and puts them into doing what you want with out much thought. :)

Notice in the videos they make a point to mention practicing without the dog so that we have our mechanics down so that we mark at the correct time and reinforce at the correct time and in the correct space.

Dogs can read body language really well to help at first with the stopping each time to feed then in heel position always feed the dog with legs open as when walking as that is most likely to be where your legs will be on a walk. When feeding with your legs closed the dog will read it as a stop.
 

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Sounds like us

Sounds like us. I was worried that Casper (now 16 weeks) would pull me through all our walks, like my last golden, but our problem is actually the opposite. He's usually dagging me backwards to go check something. Once he starts that, it's so hard to get him back to me.

What's working best so far is walking briskly. Where briskly means he's trotting. He can go a whole house or two, then we have to stop and regroup. When he's moving that fast, he's paying a bit more attention to me than to the lawns next to him. It's also easier to do a small correction while he's moving. I hold a treat to his nose when we pass the spots I know he loves. For example, there is a squished slug on the sidewalk a couple of houses down that he wants to eat.

My training books say not to expect much at this stage of learning. The books are talking about 15-30 steps at a time. That's about as much attention on loose lead as I can expect. 30 steps hardly makes for a nice 20 minute walk.

I use OK to release him so that he knows he can go where he wants and I'll follow him (or rather, make sure the lead is loose). I release him every few houses so that he can go potty if he needs to.

At dog school, we work on getting the dogs attention while sitting. I've been trying to add that while walking. If he looks up at me, I treat him. I try to keep moving. I can manage it if I'm treating with kibble. If I use hotdogs, then he stops and savors the hot dog tidbit. So, fewer hot dogs for leash training, though they get his attention so much better.

I am lucky that Casper's go-to behavior is to sit. In most situations where anything unusual is coming along, he'll sit and watch. But, yes, once the a person gets too close, it's all wiggles.

This all sounds so organized and thought out, but it practice it can be pretty chaotic. But I see some progress, so I keep at it.
 

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Let me start off by saying that we have not trained him to heel yet, mainly because I find it to be rather hard right now due to my height. I'm tall and JJ is still pretty small, so whenever I hold a treat out near my leg to teach him to heel, I pretty much have to stop to give it to him or he'll jump to get it. I was told by trainers that stopping to reward isn't good and that it will teach him to keep stopping instead of keeping his motion. Neither here nor there, back to my questions.
Just a note here...

I would not ask for a specific heel position when you are out walking. My feeling is that walks are supposed to be relaxed and fun. Heeling is "work" for both you and the dog, and it is going to be hard to maintain for long periods of time.

I would definitely expect your dog to heel when in stores or in public places where you want your dog under complete control + show off your dog's training.

When you are out walking around the block or hiking at a park... I don't see the sense in obsessing about keeping your dog in heel position the entire time. It would be far better to get him to walk on a loose leash and in a basic area next to you, either side.

As we leave the property, he starts off good, staying by my side and keeping a loose leash. It's not long though before his nose starts going and he picks up a scent. He literally wants to sniff everything around him. Once he picks up a scent, he's locked on it and I lose him. He won't respond to any commands (come, leave it) which I know he knows. He knows I have treats too, and still won't respond. The scent is by far the most appealing thing to him at that time. My question is, should I just keep my pace and pull him along if it comes to that?
This all really depends.

I want my dog to use his nose and enjoy walks just as much as I do. By and by I may take hunt or tracking classes with him, so I want him to know how to use the schnauzz. :)

But at the same time, I would not want him yanking me into the bushes after a scent, so he has to learn to leave it and move on even though a scent is going off the other way.

"Leave it" training helps here. Also nudging the leash and telling your dog "let's go" helps. I wouldn't be yanking your puppy around, but there are times to be firm and detour around things that might go right into your dog's mouth.

When we walk around our neighborhood, there are usually dead squirrels and dead turtles in the road (there are ponds and woods all over). I totally did not want to be picking that out of my guy's mouth.


At random times during our walks, he'll come to a complete stop, as if he doesn't want to go anymore. It's not that he's acting scared or is afraid to go. He just stops and wants to turn around. I'm not quite sure if he wants to go back towards a scent he picked up or if he's just had enough. I wouldn't imagine it'd be the latter as sometimes we've only made it as far as a few houses when he does it. 50% of the time I can get him to "come" and continue walking, other times he just looks at me and I have to say it again or give him a pull to get him going again. When he does respond to "come" at this point, most of the time he takes the treats and once again, stops and doesn't want to go. Sometimes I'll have to do it 2-3 times to get him going again. What should I be doing at this point? Should I yank him along, give him to him and turn around and go the way he wants to go, or just stand there until he gives in and continues my way, no matter how long that may take?
It probably depends on how long/far you go on your walks.


One more thing. If we walk through town and we stop to meet them, I pretty much lose him after that for the rest of our walk. He gets overly excited around new people, to the point where he whimpers. I can walk past them with him without a problem usually, but if we stop to see them and they start giving him attention, he whimpers to get at them. As we start to walk again, he'll do nothing but pull. When he starts to pull I come to stop and say "no pull" and wait for him to go into a sit. Once he does, I start walking again. If he pulls again, which 10 out of 10 times he does, I stop and tell him "no pull" again. Sometimes I stop 20 times within 30-40 feet. Is this the right thing to do or is there something I can do better? He has a regular neck collar now but we've been thinking about getting a harness to try and stop this, or at least stop him from chocking himself. I try to hold the leash with both hands as to not allow him to pull, but he still tries and ends up chocking himself.
Two thoughts here...

One -Harnesses don't stop dogs from pulling. They just can pull more comfortably because the pressure is distributed along their chests vs around their necks.

If you go the harness route, you still have to work on your dog learning to walk nicely in public.

The other thought is simply that it takes time for dogs to mature. My guy was going to 2 classes a week and I was teaching him to heel off leash (perfectly I must say) at class, but when we saw dogs and people when out walking he was bounding in the air and clowning around out of joy.

My excuse every time was my dog was very young. And it was something he grew out of over time. This is one of those things that may take 2 years.


**** The only other thing I can say is even while it's frustrating and difficult right now, enjoy all of this. They grow up very fast. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
How old is he now? Depending on his age, you want to keep the walks short enough so that he doesn't get his brain fried with a lot of stimuli. When that happens, they just CAN'T listen and obey.

More pictures, please. :D
He'll be 6-months next Monday, December 5th.

I figured the walks should be short until he can adapt, but the thing is, sometimes we haven't even been out of the house 2 minutes and he's already stopped listening to me, acting more interested in the smells on the ground. I could have his favorite treats too and it does nothing.
 

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Somebody here had mention that I use try and use a bully stick due to my height and the fact it's rather had to reward JJ on the go.

I picked up some bully sticks yesterday. Now my question is, what exactly should I do with them? Should I just hold it by my side and let him lick it and try and get it as we walk? I would think that doing this will cause him to try and rip the stick out my hand....?
 

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BTW, thanks to the other members who responded with some tips and videos. I'll be sure to watch the videos tonight and take everybody's suggestion into consideration.
 

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My little guy is almost the same age (he is going to be 6 month on Dec4th).
I usually pack up the dogs and take them to an off leash trail. We take a nice walk together and the dogs can read the paper.
Sometimes I put Cooper (little guy) on the leash and we practice lose leash walking.
In obedience class they tought us the touch comand which means he touches my hand with his nose, I don't use a clicker I have a marker word (tag) so I can move my hand around and the dog follows with his nose my hand. I tag him for "touching" and when he is close my side I tell him good with me. If he gets ahead of me (before he starts putting tention on the leash) I stop get his attention have him target my hand and he gets a treat from me. It is working out great for us he is doing very well with it and as long as he doesn't put tention on the leash he can walk next to me, behind me a little ahead of me. He can enjoy his walk (it's his time after all) and I do too.
I walk both my dogs usually on one side in one hand. My older Golden is special he never liked pulling and will stop on his own and itch his neck when he does pull a little.
Maybe get into a training class with your pup so he learns to focus on you. He also learned to watch me when he is off leash because I change directions when my dogs don't pay attention to me. If they go off doing their own thing I hide behind a bush (they always find me) they learn to look back for me and if little tike things he can goof off and runs the other way I keep on going he has come running like a little choochoo train LOL.
 

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We are in training class, but unfortunately they aren't going over leash walking. I think that's in the next class.

Another problem is, he won't stay on one side of me. First he's on my right, then he's on my left, then back on the right. Last night in class, they were teaching us how to "target" where the dog touches the palm of your hand with his nose. They wanted us to do it while we walked around the training room. The trainer said if he's on your right side, have the leash in your left hand and the treats in your right, and vice versa if he's on your left. Every couple of steps he would change sides, which of course made things difficult since I had to keep transferring the treats and leash from hand-to-hand. The trainer told us to go up against the wall to try and avoid him changing sides, but when we tried that, all he wanted to do was look and smell the wall as we walked, once again pulling or dragging behind.

He can walk with a loose leash, when he wants to. He can do basically just about anything if he wants to. I know he's not dumb cause when I teach him new tricks, he picks them up in a matter of a few hours.
 

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Kodasmomma
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Boy, this sounds just like my Koda (7 months). For the stopping, she does that too sometimes even a couple houses down. I don't get why she does it. I usually do as another poster said and stop ahead of her and wait..it usually only takes a few seconds and we keep going.

Koda has always been a puller no matter what we do. We practice a lot and she just can't resist the urge to go for a leaf blowing or a scent in someones yard...so much that she started weezing when she pulled. That's when we decided a harness was what was needed. We didn't want to chance her hurting herself. It has worked great. Whenever she tugs with the harness she comes back to us and looks up so it seems to be working.

We aren't even working on heeling yet. She knows when we say heel to come back to our side but she doesn't understand to stay there..and that's okay. We are concerned about teaching her to walk nicely with us...those goldens love to explore so I dont know if our walks will ever be a constant heel!
 

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JJ starts wheezing as well from pulling so much. We're considering a harness as well. We don't expect it to stop the pulling, but more or less want it so he stops chocking himself. The only thing I don't like about a harness is that I won't be able to tug the leash for him to raise his head.

We practice a lot of as well, inside the house and around the yard outside, and no matter how much we practice, he just doesn't seem to understand that pulling is going to get him nowhere. We don't expect him to stay in a heel for the entire walk, but at the same time, we don't want him pulling where our arms are extended infront of us. Just keeping a loose leash would be nice. As it stands now, the leash always has tension on it.

I tried using a Bully Stick today and boy was that a disaster, which I kind of figured it would be. Maybe I just wasn't doing it the right way. I held the stick in my hand near my leg where I would like him to be and all he did was try and yank it out of my hand. If he wasn't grabbing it and yanking it, he was jumping up and trying to rip it out of my hand. He would even run out infront of me, turn around, and try and get the bully stick that way.

We try and treat him when he's doing well on the leash, but he'll take the treat and bolt away, even though we have several treats in our hand ready to give him to try and keep him near us. He'll take the treat, look down as he chews and then go his own way, not even looking back up for another treat. When he's on the leash and we're out and about, food is the least of his interest. When inside the house, say when people come over. We keep him on the leash to try and avoid him from jumping on people and all he does and whimper and try and lunge towards them. I have never heard a dog whimper as much towards people as JJ does. He won't respond to us, won't look at us, and could care less if we have treats or not. Sometimes he'll even sniff the treat and look away as if he's saying "i don't want that crap, there's a person here, I want to play with them instead". If he does take the treat, he usually ends up chocking on it because he's so excited and doesn't chew it.

Today, when his walker came, I tried to hold him on the leash until he calmed down. I told the walker just to stand there and no approach him until he went into a sit. The moment he went into a sit, she bent down to pet him and he tried to jump up on her. So she bounced back up and stopped giving his attention. We waited for him to sit again, and then she bent down to pet him, again. He was able to keep his sit at this point, but mainly only cause I had my hand on his collar and he knew he couldn't go anywhere. The whole time he's whimpering, extremely loud, too. After about a minute of the walker giving him attention, he tried jump up on her again, and again, and again. It's like he's not satisfied until he can jump up on you and bite the sleeve of your shirt or jacket. It doesn't matter how long we wait either, whether it be 2 minutes or 10minutes. If he hasn't jumped on that person yet, he's gonna try the moment he gets a chance.
 

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Kodasmomma
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OMG again...these are our exact problems...the jumping! my goodness lol! I am not sure of any advice for that but if anyone else has it I am all ears as well.

Koda still seems to respond to us pulling the harness and her head pops up. Otherwise we stop the walk and put her in a sit to regain her attention and try again without the nose to the ground.

I would imagine the bully stick being difficult for us too. My husband is tall too and he always had complained abuot the same thing..being too tall to hold the treat. I guess he just walked like a doof to make it work. He would hold the treat in front of her nose for a few steps and tell her whatever command he was looking for. We work on recalls as well out there. Bring a high value treat...we can't get those with her ordinary treats. We give her one at the start of the walk and then she knows we have those yummy treats that she never gets so when we call her name 99% of the time she comes back. Worth a shot I guess...
 

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Wyatt Earp
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JJ starts wheezing as well from pulling so much. We're considering a harness as well. We don't expect it to stop the pulling, but more or less want it so he stops chocking himself. .

I would recommend the easy walk harness. It worked wonders on my Wyatt at that age. You will be surprised the less pulling they do with this harness. It was like night and day. But it has to be fitted correctly in order to work properly.
 

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Kodasmomma
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That is what we have. Did you eventually stop using it and he continued to behave properly on a normal leash or do you still use it?

 
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