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She isn't a Golden but she is a retriever and we are training without treats.
Big retrieve for a little girl, over 100 yards and mostly water. She can't see the bumper until she gets pretty close so it takes a lot of confidence to push all the way across. The first bumper drifted way to the right with the wind. Lily was being very good, not swimming toward the launcher, so I shot another one when she got close.
She was dropping the bumper at the end, not something to worry about too much in the field, we'll take care of that in the yard. At this stage building desire and having fun are the main goals.
This was cool to watch. She did great!
 

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And... for what it's worth, this is my boy Dover earning his first Rally Excellent leg. :) He was a very intense, high drive dog (he's almost 11 in this video) and the control needed for Rally was really hard for him (Agility is what he loved to do... he did Rally for me). He received a perfect 100 score for this run. Even at this point, he was getting a LOT of food rewards in class/training, but in competition no treats or food or toys are allowed in the ring (though we're allowed verbal reinforcement). So... what SRW does works for him and his dogs, what I do works for me and my dogs. Everyone needs to decide for themselves.

(PS - the dog you see at the end of the video is my boy Guinness. He had significant dog reactivity so competitions like this were hard for him and you can see he wasn't particularly comfortable in the ring. This was one of his first Advanced runs. BUT, using lots of treats and praise - in training - he was able to not only earn his Rally Advanced titles, but went on to earn a Rally Excellent title, Qing on all three runs with scores all in the high nineties).

And for the record, at some point early in their training, I also stop rewarding my dogs (other than the occasional "thank you" or life reward) for basic manners things they know well, like sit, down, stand, stay, wait, leave it, etc.
Nice work!
 

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The really ironic thing was, as well trained and impressive as Dover was in the Rally ring, he was absolutely atrocious as far as loose leash walking went. Walking him was like running the Iditarod! BUT, that was all on me. Where we lived was at the intersection of two busy country roads with no shoulder, and there was no where safe to just walk out the door and go for a walk. And, because I didn’t make the time to put him in the car and take him somewhere we could practice loose leash walking, he was a pain to walk his whole life. So word to the wise, regardless of how you choose to train loose leash walking… practice, practice, practice!!
 

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I use treats on a very limited basis in training for several reasons. Treats can work to keep a puppies attention and teach the meaning of a command. Puppies will learn very quickly and at a very young age to plant their butt when they hear 'Sit', then look at you anticipating a treat. That's good, it teaches the meaning of 'Sit' and to focus on the handler. it doesn't teach the whole concept of "Sit means Sit until told to do otherwise".
A dog that has to be bribed with a treat may know the meaning of a command but that isn't obedience. Your dog needs to sit, come, heel, whatever because you told her to, not because of a treat.



Cold turkey is my recommendation. I know you will be tempted to taper off with the treats but it sounds like they are a huge crutch and distraction right now. When you give her a treat she gobbles it down and wants another, am I right?

Don't think that your efforts so far were wasted, they are not. Your girl is heeling, just not for the right reason, at least not entirely. She needs to heel because it is what you told her to do. She will and with great pride if you keep working with her.

Retrievers are working dogs with a strong desire to please, treats can and do distract from that. Work with your pup in short sessions, whenever you have 5, 10 or 20 minutes. Be very conscious of your tone of voice, praise her for doing it right, no-no when she gets it wrong and don't overdo it with either. She will notice everything you do and say and how you say it, so be consistent and always maintain your standards.
I tend to agree with using limited treats for training because the focus seems to be more on the treat than the command. Do you have any books, guides or other resources that would be helpful in teaching this style of training? I'm thinking in terms of something documented to use as a basis and refer to as challenges come up. Thanks for your insight.
 

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The really ironic thing was, as well trained and impressive as Dover was in the Rally ring, he was absolutely atrocious as far as loose leash walking went. Walking him was like running the Iditarod! BUT, that was all on me. Where we lived was at the intersection of two busy country roads with no shoulder, and there was no where safe to just walk out the door and go for a walk. And, because I didn’t make the time to put him in the car and take him somewhere we could practice loose leash walking, he was a pain to walk his whole life. So word to the wise, regardless of how you choose to train loose leash walking… practice, practice, practice!!
My last Golden’s loose leash walking deteriorated during each summer because it got too hot to take walks and we would swim. Every fall, it took a little while for him to get it again.
 

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SRW - that video is so cool! So nice to see a pup so young doing what she was bred to do! :)💕 Is it normal for a pup that young to be able to swim so well? I mean, the rest of it was really impressive too, but just the speed at which she was swimming was amazing! 😯
Thanks, Lily is a good swimmer. It isn't uncommon for a retriever her age to swim well. She was born in March which helps, she could start swimming right away at 9 or 10 weeks. The speed is because she is on a mission to retrieve.
 
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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Amazing. I love this community so much. So much information to unpack and it’s really great to hear different opinions and methods, and things that did/didn’t work. And so much awe from both of those videos!! I am thinking that I’ll give the martingale a try, or at least a purchase, so that I have it for class. I’ll hold off on the Herm Springer for now until I can find a trainer who can really show me how it’s used correctly—I’m not a huge fan of my current teacher and while I’m sure she could show me, im not sure I’ll want to continue with her after this class, and I would want a lot of guidance using it. I also am thinking (hoping, really) that if I dedicate more time to the flat collar, and maybe go back to basics and start over, that the prong may not be needed. We’ll see if I want to rethink that in a month or so when Beckett is bigger/stronger-it‘ll depend on how much practice we can do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
. I prefer to use a slip leash and a riding crop, wiffle bat or piece of 1 inch plastic pipe with foam insulation taped to it. Before you panic, none of the above are for beating the dog. Start by teaching the heeling position when you are standing still. Next you turn away from the dog and command 'Here' and give a tug on the lead to reposition him. Turn toward the dog and command 'Heel' with a tap on the butt to encourage him to turn with you. Lots of short positive sessions with fun stuff before and after. Next start walking the dog on a path or sidewalk and keeping him in proper heeling position, if he lunges ahead command heel, give a tug on the lead and tap his front legs with the crop. Praise the dog for being in proper position and No No, tug or tap when out of position. NO TREATS, a dog walking nicely beside you in anticipation of a treat is just begging, not heeling.
I did see your response this morning before work got busy so Beckett and I were able to try this, less the riding crop/bat since I have neither - and the broom handle was too bulky to carry LOL. We had two 5-min, mini sessions today in the backyard with his slip lead, no treats. He did better than I was expecting, be it because he didn’t have food to distract him, I used his slip lead instead of his flat collar, or he woke up really wanting to please, but it was nice to see. I think the small sessions helped as well - he does well with tricks in short bursts so I will have to keep that in mind.

Big retrieve for a little girl, over 100 yards and mostly water. She can't see the bumper until she gets pretty close so it takes a lot of confidence to push all the way across. The first bumper drifted way to the right with the wind. Lily was being very good, not swimming toward the launcher, so I shot another one when she got close.
She was dropping the bumper at the end, not something to worry about too much in the field, we'll take care of that in the yard. At this stage building desire and having fun are the main goals.
truly, truly amazing. I do hope you keep us all updated as Lily grows, even though she’s not a Golden.
 

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I tend to agree with using limited treats for training because the focus seems to be more on the treat than the command. Do you have any books, guides or other resources that would be helpful in teaching this style of training? I'm thinking in terms of something documented to use as a basis and refer to as challenges come up. Thanks for your insight.
Here are a couple;
Training with Mike Lardy - V1

Total Retriever Training - 2nd Edition

Bill Hillmann's puppy training DVD is good also.

Better than all of the above are dedicated, knowledgeable field trial people to train with.
 
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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
I'm not a fan of prong collars (or anything that uses discomfort to control a dog) but they do have a place in particular situations (e.g., large powerful dog and weak/elderly owner), especially if they are only used short-term while working on training the behavior using more positive methods. I don't mind martingales at all, especially if they are sized to not close tighter than the snug circumference of the dogs neck (i.e., not being used as a "choke" collar). I like the chain ones like you pictured because I think the sound of the chain works as a signal not to pull even before the collar tightens.

There are many effective and positive ways to train loose leash walking. The key is consistency (another reason I don't like pinch collars - it seems unfair to "punish" the dog when we've failed to really put in the work to train the behavior in a more positive way). You may find it worthwhile to buy this webinar from Fenzi Dog Sports Academy and see if any of these methods work for you: Fenzi Dog Sports Academy - LS140: Stop Leash Pulling: Multiple Methods to Loose Leash Walking
Thank you for posting the webinar, I look forward to watching it. It’s funny that you mention the sound of the chain, his first instructor was able to snap it fairly loudly, but I could never replicate it. I did wonder if the noise had startled him into complying when she was using him as the class example.

And... for what it's worth, this is my boy Dover earning his first Rally Excellent leg. :) He was a very intense, high drive dog (he's almost 11 in this video) and the control needed for Rally was really hard for him (Agility is what he loved to do... he did Rally for me). He received a perfect 100 score for this run. Even at this point, he was getting a LOT of food rewards in class/training, but in competition no treats or food or toys are allowed in the ring (though we're allowed verbal reinforcement). So... what SRW does works for him and his dogs, what I do works for me and my dogs. Everyone needs to decide for themselves.

(PS - the dog you see at the end of the video is my boy Guinness. He had significant dog reactivity so competitions like this were hard for him and you can see he wasn't particularly comfortable in the ring. This was one of his first Advanced runs. BUT, using lots of treats and praise - in training - he was able to not only earn his Rally Advanced titles, but went on to earn a Rally Excellent title, Qing on all three runs with scores all in the high nineties).

And for the record, at some point early in their training, I also stop rewarding my dogs (other than the occasional "thank you" or life reward) for basic manners things they know well, like sit, down, stand, stay, wait, leave it, etc.
This was so fun to watch! I’ve never seen a rally competition before. It’s great to see that he can get a perfect score without relying on treats, even if he’s practicing with them. I have slowly started to stop rewarding B for some of his basic commands (especially for leave it because if I treated him every time he left something he would be fat lol) during the day, but I do enjoy doing tricks and commands and hand feeding for meals. Maybe I’ll save mealtime for just the fun tricks
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
I prefer balanced training. I got nowhere doing circle methods and such. Made me dizzy. Lol You may want to do some research as to which age is best to use a Herm Sprenger as a tool. (I’d stick with that brand.)I don’t know if six months is too young. I’ve used one and they are excellent training tools. Whether they are abusive or not depends on the person holding the leash. I think damage can occur with a dog straining on a flat collar.

You will move along more quickly if your dog receives a clear message as to what is and isn’t allowed rather than him repeating the same inappropriate behavior over and over.

People aren’t born expert dog trainers. I think you are doing great and putting in work that will pay off. You’ll get all sorts of different opinions and every dog is different.

I like Obedience Road/Connie Cleveland, Robert Cabral has good videos on proper use of a prong collar, and Leerburg has some good videos.

Oh, and I prefer a 2.25 size prong, but you’ll need extra links to fit that to a Golden.

Edit: Count me in the group who dislikes haltis.
Thanks, Diane. I’ll have to look into those videos, and find a trainer that I like and trust to help me with a prong collar. The ones Beckett has had so far are just meh, in my opinion. Maybe that’s me being stubborn again, lol, but I would like to make sure that I am comfortable with the person that‘s going to show me how to use a tool that could easily be misused. I don’t want to make a bad situation worse!
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
How old is your pup? And what does he/she weigh?

I strongly agree with the Fenzi course listed above, however if your dog is a pulling machine that you need to take safe control of, a prong or martingale collar may be needed. It does not have to be a forever collar - that is a flat collar can be switched to once your dog understands.

My Wren's instructor for her 1st 2 classes (started at 8 weeks and at 5 months she graduated her 2nd class and is ready to start more formal training) recommends martingales, mostly to prevent your dog pulling out of the collar and worse, running away with no collar - I actually did purchase one but have never put it on her.

I guess what I am saying is if you are having an issue, and it sounds like you are, use the tool that will keep you and your dog safest with the least amount of force. If that is a prong, so be it. A martingale? Same. Just remember that if you are using a training collar, it must be removed whenever you are not actively training and/or out and about with your dog.

I am not a fan of the so called choke collars for everyday purposes (Disclaimer: I do use one of my dogs if needed to perfect heeling once they are about 98% but again, I have experience and do not take this type of collar lightly). A light tug and immediate release can be workable in a dog that mostly understands but is potentially very dangerous if your dog pulls.

FWIW: I train 99.99% on a flat collar with reward based training; I come from a more 'traditional' method of training however, as in I started back in the 80s LOL Use the tool you need, rewards are a powerful tool and you can absolutely pair a prong or martingale with praise, play or treats. But 1st you need to be able to control your dog -- so use the collar that gives you that control as you work through his understanding.

Good luck, it might be a struggle at first and you may need private lessons but the results will definitel be worth it. BTW Fenzi has a new round of courses starting up on the 1st

You did not ask but:
A head halter is not a good training choice since it does not train but can be a choice to simply get your dog from here to there while you train loose lead walking, a harness can actually teach a dog to lean into the harness and really pull (think sled dogs).
Beckett is 6 months, and 40-50 pounds (haven’t weighed him in 5 weeks but he was 34 at the vet then). I would say that he’s definitely not dragging me down the street, as I am decently (IMO) strong enough to control him, but I won’t pretend that he couldn’t jerk my arm out of the socket if I was distracted and he saw a rabbit, and obviously I don’t want it to get to that - or worse. It’s great hearing what types of training and collars everyone is using, and that it really is not a one size fits all, and that all dogs are different, and can still achieve great results from their respective training tools/methods. I’ll take a look at the Fenzi course, it sounds like it a good one, thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Oh boy, I think we're like a couple months older than you, and I can tell you now, if you don't nip it in the bud now, it's going to get worse.

Windsor's pulling is very situational. In new settings or excited settings (e.g., groomers, class), he pulls like crazy, and he's so, so strong that if we're not 100% paying attention, we would fall. In areas where he knows (the park, our block, other people's homes), he can loose leash walk like the best of them. So we switch between a flat leash collar, slip lead (it's just so easy to put on and gives a great correction without too much of a pinch..), and for the "excitable events," we use a gentle leader. Make sure that you don't get one that fits too tight because I've seen it leave marks on other goldens' faces. When he goes to shows, we put the gentle leader on him right when he exits the car. The gentle leader lets him know that he's working, and he cooperates beautifully. When he tries to jump or pull, it just brings his head down. We're also trying the new 3-1 harness that allows you to clip the leash to his front and we'll see how that goes.

While he's getting better, we still have to come to the realization that he's still a puppy, and when he sees a new dog friend or is in an excitable environment, he's going to want to go after the thing. Good thing is that his recall is getting better and better and half the time I can call him off his pulling, but other times, he honestly can't even hear us....
Thanks for the warning! Not what I want to hear, but definitely what I need to hear LOL. I have heard that the front clip harnesses make the pulling uncomfortable (vs making it easier for them to pull), so I would be interested to hear how that works with Windsor! Beckett’s Kurgo car harness has a front clip, actually, but it’s a tad big on him so if he pulls with that it just moves to the side and he’s still able to keep going.
 

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Getting off subject a bit, here is a simple and fun ‘swim by/handling drill with Jake
At what point would a treat be given and do you think Jake would even want it?😎
 

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How about some "Treat Training"?
 

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Getting off subject a bit, here is a simple and fun ‘swim by/handling drill with Jake
At what point would a treat be given and do you think Jake would even want it?😎
So fun! For a dog who loves to swim, that's heaven. His treat is being outdoors, jumping into the water and retrieving. Plus, pleasing you I'm sure. Is that your place? Is sure is pretty. It looks like what I've asked for for my 60th birthday, but my husband says I'm shooting too high. :ROFLMAO:

Love the treats video also. I can get Logan to balance it on his nose, but he just drops it when I let him release it instead of catching it in the air. I wonder if I use a bigger treat like a milkbone size if that would give him a better visual...
 

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Is that your place? Is sure is pretty. It looks like what I've asked for for my 60th birthday, but my husband says I'm shooting too high. :ROFLMAO:
It is my place, thank you.

Love the treats video also. I can get Logan to balance it on his nose, but he just drops it when I let him release it instead of catching it in the air. I wonder if I use a bigger treat like a milkbone size if that would give him a better visual...
Some dogs catch on to it quick and some don't. Lily caught on faster than any dog I have ever had, 3 or 4 days I think. Not sure the size of the treat matters, sometimes I use a single cheerio.
Having more than one dog helps because they worry that the other might get it.
 
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Jake is obviously having fun doing the swim by drill, it is everything a retriever loves.
With boring stuff like sitting, heeling, recall, etc. it is up to you to make it fun. Short sessions, especially for pups. If you act and sound like you are having fun, your dog will have fun too.
 
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