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Hello, I have a 6 1/2 month old Border Collie mix (perhaps with Labrador) who heels fine when we're practicing heel in an 8 formation at the park, but then cannot stop pulling forward and lunging to the side to sniff/track the ground when we go around the block. It's like everything we've worked on at the park goes completely out the window when we're out in the real world. Instead of his heel being slightly lagging behind (patience) like at the park, it's instead slightly ahead (excited).

When we walk I try to predict when he's going to lunge to the side so I can correct him before he does it but he doesn't seem to get the idea. When he puts his head down to track I correct him and say NO, HEEL, but he doesn't seem to get the idea. If he pulls I often stop and make him sit or I change directions. But it's never as good as in at the park. He does have a potty command ("hurry hurry") that is also used as a go sniff command.

Is this just him going through his rebellious adolescence?

I've gotten this far without using treats, so if you guys have any solutions that don't involve any, that would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.
 

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you do realise that border collies are very active dogs used for herding its instinct to get out there and herd stuff up they're not supposed to lag behind .as for not wanting to use treats you mean you don't believe in positive reinforcement... exactly how are you correcting this 6 and 1/2 month old puppy?

dogs need time to be dogs and that means they sniff they go off into the bushes they explore things and they explore the real world your dog isn't just there to train train train and train it's not a robot its a living breathing animal. maybe giving him some time off from training would actually help him concentrate when he does need to be at your side.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
you do realise that border collies are very active dogs used for herding its instinct to get out there and herd stuff up they're not supposed to lag behind .as for not wanting to use treats you mean you don't believe in positive reinforcement... exactly how are you correcting this 6 and 1/2 month old puppy?

dogs need time to be dogs and that means they sniff they go off into the bushes they explore things and they explore the real world your dog isn't just there to train train train and train it's not a robot its a living breathing animal. maybe giving him some time off from training would actually help him concentrate when he does need to be at your side.
We train using play time, opening doors, getting in the car, things he likes doing as positive reinforcement. He needs to comply in order for me to open the door so we can go out. If we're at the park he needs to be able to be patient and heeling before I unleash him, etc. And we don't train train train. There have been several weekends where we just go to the river and he has a blast, with the only training being that he needs to be compliant on the walk from the car to the water.
 

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We train using play time, opening doors, getting in the car, things he likes doing as positive reinforcement. He needs to comply in order for me to open the door so we can go out.

Those techniques can be very effective when training select behaviours. But for others, not so much. Frankly they probably won't work very well when teaching a dog not to pull and lunge during a walk, and to remain engaged with you.

I would highly suggest the use food treats in this particular instance, mostly because of their convenience and effectiveness. They too, can also be very powerful motivators. And they typically work well for combating lunging, pulling, unwanted or excessive sniffing, and to enhance engagement.

Simplicity is the name of the game here. The basic premise is .. head up + loose leash + at your side = reward. However, first you'll have to gain a thorough understanding of "reinforcement schedules" and their proper application, in order to reap the full benefit and avoid what some people perceive as 'dependence'.
 

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You might learn some things watching Zak George's Dog Training on YouTube with his own Border Collie puppy. He is a professional trainer.
 

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He's still a puppy, and going into adolescence. Even the most perfectly behaved dog would be trying the boundaries over the next 6-8 months. I consider dogs to be in adolescence until 3 years old. Until then they will all do things that make you wonder what the heck they are thinking.
I've had a border collie. They are working herding dogs. If you do not give them a job every single minute, they will find jobs and the outcome is not always good. They are one of the most intelligent breeds so you have to strive to outsmart them constantly. Read a book called Chaser for more insight and ideas.
Lastly, there are distractions in the outside world while on walks. This is what training is all about. Eventually your dog will be reliable enough to ignore the distractions. Our border collie was still a handful at 3 years old but really settled down by 5 years old. All that time she was an obedient herding dog for the livestock we owned, but household obedience had its moments. She would rather work the animals than pay attention to proper household manners at all times. But at 6 months old everything is new and interesting, his brain is not fully developed to stay focused. Let him be a kid for a while. I didn't say let him run wild, but be patient.
 

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Sniffing, hunting, tracking, herding......are all in the nature of the dog.

I suggest to allow the dog the first 20 minutes or so of the walk to sniff and do doggy things. Then, after the initial potty tasks are completed, you can begin training for a behaved walk on leash.

I don't believe you will ever overcome the natural instincts of the dog.
 

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Dogs explore the world with their nose. Walking in a heeling position for an entire walk is not natural to a dog and it's not real exercise. IMO, walks are for the dog. Both of my dogs like to stop and sniff, pull ahead and sniff stuff. As long as they're not bolting toward things, I don't much care. The walk is for THEM, not ME.

I always figure taking a dog out for a walk and not letting them sniff is like taking a person to a beautiful overlook and blindfolding them.
 

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I suggest taking a look at positive reinforcement training and using treats and toys. It will be much more effective in the long run, and you won't need to use treats forever. If your corrections aren't working, there is a reason why. It is easy to get stuck in habits. Consciously or subconsciously, you are probably still correcting because sometimes it does make your dog walk better, even if for a moment, right? If so, you're brain's telling you to keep doing it because of those 'sometimes'. But look at the big picture, and if your dog still isn't getting it the problem is with your technique, not with your dog.

Also, I hope the photo you shared is just an 'in the moment' expression. Your dog's really gorgeous but if he looks like that while walking then his body language is telling you the other half of the problem. I don't want to make assumptions though, so am fully aware that sometimes dogs just look awkward or uncomfortable the moment a photo is taken.
 
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