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When I was about 15, my brother decided to get a golden retriever. It was his first dog and he was very inconsistent with her training. I never had a dog myself, my family always liked cats instead, but nonetheless I did some homework and taught the dog a few things when it was still young. I've always liked animals but I was not able to train the dog given I was not always around her. I house trained her and taught her a few things such as how to sit, stay, lie down, shake hands, high five and crawl. What I could not teach her were things that demanded more serious consistency.

Long story short, my brother has now left for college and I have become the dog's owner. She turned six this September. I love Roxy and she seems to favor me out of the three people who live with me (including my older brother when he comes home!) but I am having a hard time getting her to listen consistently--especially in certain situations. As you can imagine, once I add a leash everything gets worse. This doggy was used to pulling herself through a walk. In fact, I can get her to do certain things without a leash but with one it is clear she rather take me on a tugging spree than anything else. I've recently tried to "become a tree" when she tugs and while she does stop pulling--especially as she gets tired-- I can tell she gets frustrated. I really want to correct her behavior. I love walking her, but I would love our walks to be more enjoyable for both of us.

Roxy is not an aggressive dog. She's really playful and loves to be around other dogs, as well as people. She does come in contact with other dogs, she's never barked or growled at any other animal and even has a doggy friend she regularly plays with. In fact, I was very surprised the day a friend of mine brought her toddler. I was freaking out because I thought Roxy would hurt the child by accident but lo and behold, Roxy was as calm as I had ever seen her. She went over, smelled the little girl and sat down--letting the two year old pet her. Of course, I was praising both the child and the dog for their good behavior, but I was nonetheless surprised. It gave me some confidence that Roxy can be a good dog if she is well trained.

Anyway, recently bought a clicker. When she was a puppy that's what I had used on her and when I reintroduced it she seemed to remember that the click always preceded a treat. What can you recommend? She's a beautiful dog and I'm willing to be extra patient with her. How can I get her to come toward me when the leash is on her because she doesn't seem to pay attention, even when I have her favorite treats in hand. Is it possible for me to get her to relax on the leash? Is it possible for me to get her to greet humans nicely? Do you think it's possible for me to eventually walk her without a leash? She is really intelligent but I've never attempted to train an older dog. I've never owned a dog myself and while I have helped friends with their puppies, am at a loss with Roxy. How can I begin correcting her behavior?
 

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Congrats on the Golden. Sounds like you have a good start. Goldens are easy to train and gentle, as you've written.

1. If you can afford a professional trainer, I'd recommend a few weeks of one-on-one positive leash training. You want a trainer to teach you, not to train the dog for you. You might ask the Vet, SPCA, Humane Society, etc. for suggestions. I don't really suggest PetsMart for your specific needs. Obedience training might help.
2. If you can't afford training, download the free books from Ian Dunbar: http://dogstardaily.com/free-downloads
3. You've asked about lots of behaviors. You must teach her a "perfect" recall, before you can let her off leash. She WILL run away when you let her off leash. She will not get lost, she will just go exploring.... every person, animal, leaf, etc. And she may also explore the front bumper of a moving car. If she ever gets loose before you've trained her, one emergency procedure to try is to call her name and to immediately run in the opposite direction.
4. Teach her to sit in many different places and with many different types of distractions.
5. Loose Leash Walking - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsUcD1Ebfzw and others. Turid Rugaas has an inexpensive book called "My Dog Pulls..." With lots of patience, you can teach most dogs to walk a loose leash after 30 days.... But you have to be persistent for the full 30 days.
 

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Thank you for your tips! I will take a look at the suggested readings you posted and am looking into obedience training. I am glad to say Roxy is doing better after a few tips I've taken from this forum. Thanks again!
 

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I recommend putting the leash on her while you're around to supervise and just let her drag it around. Ignore her, she'll probably be going nuts, right?

She'll learn the leash is no big deal and produces nothing out of the ordinary. When she calms down, you can click/treat. Gradually move this on to you picking up the leash and her being calm, you c/ting.

I used this video/method to teach my GSD not to pull and to walk nicely next to me. I have had him since a puppy and NOTHING else worked. I clicker trained this and he picked it up within a month and is walking like a champ.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZarFGdcj8s
 
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