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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have a wonderful 3 month old, Ellie. Has done well with all training but…. She initially did well with leash training with a halter type configuration but lately has started sitting down, pulling backward on the leash and trying to get back home. We have tried multiple treats, lots of positive talking when she moves forward, but the problem seems to be getting worse instead of better
 

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Kristy
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Halters work because they put pressure on parts of her nose. It's uncomfortable. If she's done well up till now, try transitioning to a flat buckle regular collar. Continue treats and talking to her. If she pulls just stop dead in your tracks or immediately change directions.
 

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Just for clarification... do you think she's having a problem with the LEASH? Or is she suddenly resisting being too far away from home? Will she walk OK on the leash around your house or yard? Does she walk OK going back to the house? Have you tried her on a long line (in a safe area obviously) to determine if she does better if there is no pressure from the leash?

I'm just trying to figure out if you have a leash problem or a fear problem...
 

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I would suggest switching to a slip lead. I don’t really see a reason why a puppy that young would need a head halter. It’s best to train them without any tools like that so that you don’t become reliant on them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Just for clarification... do you think she's having a problem with the LEASH? Or is she suddenly resisting being too far away from home? Will she walk OK on the leash around your house or yard? Does she walk OK going back to the house? Have you tried her on a long line (in a safe area obviously) to determine if she does better if there is no pressure from the leash?

I'm just trying to figure out if you have a leash problem or a fear problem...
Could be a fear problem. She always wants to go back home. Don’t think that there was anything in particular that could have caused it. Just a path behind our home. She always makes a b-line for home when she’s close though
 

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I would suggest switching to a slip lead. I don’t really see a reason why a puppy that young would need a head halter. It’s best to train them without any tools like that so that you don’t become reliant on them.
Wasn’t a head halter. It was one that fit over her chest and snapped on back
 

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We have a wonderful 3 month old, Ellie. Has done well with all training but…. She initially did well with leash training with a halter type configuration but lately has started sitting down, pulling backward on the leash and trying to get back home. We have tried multiple treats, lots of positive talking when she moves forward, but the problem seems to be getting worse instead of better
It will continue to get worse unless you change your training methods.
Get rid of the harness and leave the treats home.
Ellie has to know that school has started and she is the student. You need to be positive but firm with her, she cannot be allowed to dictate if, when and where you walk.
I explained how I like to train heeling here; Leash walking issues

If she is intimidated by the surroundings when you leave home the first step will be helping her overcome that. Try to find a field, pond, river, etc. where you can allow her to walk of leash and explore. The world and all the new sights, smells and sound can be intimidating to a puppy. Walking with her and letting investigate things at her own pace will build her confidence.
Hopefully already she has, or you can build a desire to retrieve. You can use it to help her overcome fear and intimidation. Tossing a toy for her to retrieve can change new intimidating places into fun places.
 

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Could be a fear problem. She always wants to go back home. Don’t think that there was anything in particular that could have caused it. Just a path behind our home. She always makes a b-line for home when she’s close though
OK, I think you need to figure that one out before you start any training method. The techniques often used to teach a dog to walk nicely on a leash (which usually apply to dogs that are pulling or dragging you) may make a fear issue worse. How about you give that some thought and observation for a few days and then come back and tell us what you think is the issue. Then we'll be better able to advise how to address it (I don't mean that to sound like "don't bother us" - absolutely happy to try to help! It's just hard to know what to advise until we/you have a better understanding of the underlying problem...).
 
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Wasn’t a head halter. It was one that fit over her chest and snapped on back
Oh, my bad. I thought I saw someone say head halter somewhere. I still think switching to a slip lead for leash training is a good idea. My boy stops all the time in harnesses and won't walk any further. With a slip lead, we don't have that issue. Learn how to use it properly though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
OK, I think you need to figure that one out before you start any training method. The techniques often used to teach a dog to walk nicely on a leash (which usually apply to dogs that are pulling or dragging you) may make a fear issue worse. How about you give that some thought and observation for a few days and then come back and tell us what you think is the issue. Then we'll be better able to advise how to address it (I don't mean that to sound like "don't bother us" - absolutely happy to try to help! It's just hard to know what to advise until we/you have a better understanding of the underlying problem...).
Thank you! I believe it is a fear problem. She is fine on leash in the yard but when we get out on the path for a walk she goes about 100 ft and wants to go home. It’s a 10 minute walk back to our house and when she gets to the area where she knows she close to home she makes a beeline.
 

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Thank you! I believe it is a fear problem. She is fine on leash in the yard but when we get out on the path for a walk she goes about 100 ft and wants to go home. It’s a 10 minute walk back to our house and when she gets to the area where she knows she close to home she makes a beeline.
OK. That's good information for you then. The next thing for you to determine, obviously, is why. Is it that particular path? Did something happen there? Might she walk better somewhere else for awhile? At 3 months she's just coming out of a "fear period" so it's always possible that something happened a week or two ago on that walk (maybe something you weren't even aware of at the time) that made her feel that walking there isn't safe.

Otherwise, you can use a combination of accommodation, counter conditioning, and training. Some ideas to try:
  • Maybe for a few weeks you exercise her in the yard and then try her on the path again when she's got another month's maturity and confidence.
  • If she is still small enough to pick up and carry, maybe try picking her up just short of where she usually stops, carrying her a ways beyond that spot, and then putting her down and either continuing the walk (if she seems willing to do that) or "rewarding" her by heading back home. (If you do this, watch to see if there is a particular spot on the walk that seems to worry her... and try to figure out why).
  • Use fabulous treats or a squeeze tube filled with peanut butter or cream cheese or cat food or something equally yummy and when she stops, use it to entice and reward her to take a few more steps forward. If she's happy, keep going. If she's too anxious to take the treat, then get a step or two forward, reward, and then turn around and go back.
  • If you know that it's just a particular spot that worries her (and she's OK once she gets beyond it). Start with treats or a fun game a bit before that spot and try to keep her engaged as you quickly move by that spot (something like that is ideal as it both changes her association with that spot, which will now predict GOOD things, and helps to show her that she can safely get through that spot on her own four feet)
  • You can try the "circle method" of leash walking. It's usually used for dogs that pull or are reactive, but it may work in this situation as well. Basically, as she starts to slow down, heel her around in a circle (lots of praise and happy voices - make it a game) and then try to walk forward again. If she slows again, circle again. Continue until you've worked your way beyond the point that worries her. I think this may work since initially it will feel to her as if you are turning her around and heading back where she wants to go.
  • Google "build puppy confidence" and see if there are some easy exercises or games you can play at home that will help her feel more confident.
I also found this article that may help (there are probably others if you Google "puppy scared walk"): Fearful Fido: 13 Tips For When Your Dog is Anxious on Walks

If your attempts to improve the situation don't seem to be getting the results you want, then it might be worth having a visit from an in-house trainer. Just be sure they are clear that you are working on a fear issue, not a leash issue (since the somewhat aversive ways commonly used to deal with a dog who resists the leash could just make a fear issue worse).
 

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Building confidence is a huge part of raising and preparing a puppy for future training.
Treats will not get you there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
OK. That's good information for you then. The next thing for you to determine, obviously, is why. Is it that particular path? Did something happen there? Might she walk better somewhere else for awhile? At 3 months she's just coming out of a "fear period" so it's always possible that something happened a week or two ago on that walk (maybe something you weren't even aware of at the time) that made her feel that walking there isn't safe.

Otherwise, you can use a combination of accommodation, counter conditioning, and training. Some ideas to try:
  • Maybe for a few weeks you exercise her in the yard and then try her on the path again when she's got another month's maturity and confidence.
  • If she is still small enough to pick up and carry, maybe try picking her up just short of where she usually stops, carrying her a ways beyond that spot, and then putting her down and either continuing the walk (if she seems willing to do that) or "rewarding" her by heading back home. (If you do this, watch to see if there is a particular spot on the walk that seems to worry her... and try to figure out why).
  • Use fabulous treats or a squeeze tube filled with peanut butter or cream cheese or cat food or something equally yummy and when she stops, use it to entice and reward her to take a few more steps forward. If she's happy, keep going. If she's too anxious to take the treat, then get a step or two forward, reward, and then turn around and go back.
  • If you know that it's just a particular spot that worries her (and she's OK once she gets beyond it). Start with treats or a fun game a bit before that spot and try to keep her engaged as you quickly move by that spot (something like that is ideal as it both changes her association with that spot, which will now predict GOOD things, and helps to show her that she can safely get through that spot on her own four feet)
  • You can try the "circle method" of leash walking. It's usually used for dogs that pull or are reactive, but it may work in this situation as well. Basically, as she starts to slow down, heel her around in a circle (lots of praise and happy voices - make it a game) and then try to walk forward again. If she slows again, circle again. Continue until you've worked your way beyond the point that worries her. I think this may work since initially it will feel to her as if you are turning her around and heading back where she wants to go.
  • Google "build puppy confidence" and see if there are some easy exercises or games you can play at home that will help her feel more confident.
I also found this article that may help (there are probably others if you Google "puppy scared walk"): Fearful Fido: 13 Tips For When Your Dog is Anxious on Walks

If your attempts to improve the situation don't seem to be getting the results you want, then it might be worth having a visit from an in-house trainer. Just be sure they are clear that you are working on a fear issue, not a leash issue (since the somewhat aversive ways commonly used to deal with a dog who resists the leash could just make a fear issue worse).
Very helpful. Thank you!
 
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