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I am really struggling with loose leash walking with Marley, my 8 mo. old lab mix. We are doing an obedience class and they suggest doing sneak aways, meaning if Marley is not walking at my side and she starts to pull ahead that I should turn and walk the other direction and in the process Marley gets a little leash correction. The other suggestion they had was to use treats to lure Marley to my side. I have been practicing the sneak aways as well as the treats for a very long time (months; my second try at the class) and I don't feel that we have made any progress. Marley is completely oblivious to the sneak aways. She doesn't mind getting a yank on the collar and just starts pulling wildly in the new direction. As far as treats, she is interested in staying by me long enough to get the treat but goes back to her pulling right away. I even use a bridge word, "yes", when I treat her for being at my side. Does anyone have suggestions for how to get Marley to walk loosely? She is a very energetic dog. I do take her to a dog park or doggy daycare about 4 days of the week to run and we walk her several times a day as well. I also should add that I have tried a Gentle Leader headcollar and Marley will not tolerate it. I used one for about 2 months and she'd stop every couple of steps and rub her face on the ground. I have also tried the Easy Walk harness and that had no effect on her.
 

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I use a trick that I picked up from a popular dog TV show. Slide the collar up the neck and under the dogs chin. Then lift slightly and lift the head up like the dog is at a dog show. It gives nearly complete control over the dog as you control the dogs head. I've had dogs that will fight this for a block or two, but eventually, they calm down and walk quietly at my side.
 

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I don't really do a "sneak away", it's more of a "I'm leading here, not you and we're now going this way" and do a 180. If he pulls in the new direction I do it again... No treat, no words, I just do it. They generally get it pretty fast, but an 8 month old might not if he's full of energy. Maybe wear him out with fetch or something before walking?

People might think I'm nuts watching this guy reversing back and forth and back and forth every 10 feet or 20 feet but it seems to work for me.
 

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You're on the right track...it sounds like it just needs a little fine tuning. When you give the treat you're trying to reinforce a very specific spot or focal point for the dog. For the larger dogs that might be your hip....for the smaller dogs, it might be your knee cap. The treat is placed/given on those areas...you don't deliver it randomly out to your side.
The 180 turn is done the second the dogs head forges out of position and then you treat for returning to heel position.....it doesn't have to be exact heel...just the general area.
Add crazy walking. Don't walk in a straight line.....make him pay attention. Do more left turns....cut him off when he tries to get ahead of you. Be careful with doing too many left turns though as that can teach the dog to lag behind you.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the responses. The weather is finally getting nice here so we'll have lots of opportunities to practice.
 

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Don't do a 180. When he moves so that his shoulder is ahead of your knee, he will no longer see you with his peripheral vision. Turn 90 degrees into him and basically walk with your knee/shin through his body, causing him to stumble etc. Then tell him to heel and continue on. He won't like it at all and he will quickly learn to back up and keep you in his vision. Dogs can get very used to and tolerant of being pulled at their neck with a collar but they don't like having their body walked into. Also works when walking without a leash.
 

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You are right about Marley not minding being pulled around by her collar. In obedience class that seems to bother other dogs but not Marley at all. I think she is SO energetic and curious that tugs on her collar don't phase her.

I just responded to another post about focus and I had an idea. Do you think I could use "touch" to get Marley to stay by my hip or would that be too confusing? Right now if I say touch, Marley will touch my hand with her nose and then I treat her. Could I use that targeting concept to get Marley to stay by my side or would that be confusing?
 

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Could I use that targeting concept to get Marley to stay by my side or would that be confusing?
That's a common tactic for getting precise focus on where the dog should be. Some obedience competitors use a finger or two at their hip while others (including me) use the whole hand held parallel to the ground (touch).
 

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I just responded to another post about focus and I had an idea. Do you think I could use "touch" to get Marley to stay by my hip or would that be too confusing? Right now if I say touch, Marley will touch my hand with her nose and then I treat her. Could I use that targeting concept to get Marley to stay by my side or would that be confusing?
Definitely worth a try. Some people also use a toy instead of a treat. Idea is to keep their attention focused on you. And then phase out the treat / toy over time. Some dogs though will get so excited by their environment during a walk that it doesn't work so well. Try different things and see what works for you and your dog.
 

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Maybe the thing to do here is take a step back and work ONLY on focus. This is looking at your face. To get started I used a clicker and would treat when the dog looked at my face.. eye to eye contact.

I improved this tremendously by getting Spam (hot dogs and string cheese can work too) and actually spitting the food at the dog (yeah.. it sounds disgusting, but when the dog figures out where the food comes from, they watch for it and that means looking at your face).

After getting the dog to look at my face waiting for a random bit of food, I added a cue for this. When the dog "got" the cue, I then started proofing it (went from in the house to outside got it there.. then to in front of the grocery store, got it there.. then to the park.. etc etc.). When I got the dog generalized on the cue I went back to training heel with the dog looking at my face, not the environment.

When walking the dog on leash w/o the dog at heel if she pulls, you stop. She stops and looks at you and you reward this IMMEDIATELY. Then move on. "Be a Tree" if she pulls at all. Reward any time she stops and looks at your face.

This is an alternative to the 180 degree thing (which also works and which I have also used).
 

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I ordered Don Sullivan's "The Perfect Dog" Training Kit (DVD, correction collar, training lines) after reading about how it worked for people.

Our puppy is small, but he was always trying to lead, or be a "sack of potatoes" and not want to walk anywhere. The first thing we trained him was on loose lease walking. Within 10 minutes (no exaggeration) it wasn't a problem. He stays at our pace and looks up to check to see where we are. At first he howled in protest with the correction collar because he had been so used to being the boss. He got used to it though shortly after. After the 1 day of training he seemed to mature a lot, but still kept his happy "puppyness".

I was skeptical because it was on a paid for TV ad, but it's been great so far.
 
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