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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,
I have a 15Kg+ Bouvier des Ardennes and as the training I am doing with him does not seem to be working I was wondering if the use of some sort of choke chain might help? I hate the idea but if this can be used to quicklily train the majority of the leash pulling out of him it might be helpful to us all.
any pointers to how to train the leash pulling out of the pupper would be great.
Off for a walk in the snow
=)
 

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A choke chain is inappropriate for teaching a dog not to pull because they have no limit to how much they tighten. If the dog pulls hard against it or hits the end of the lead at any speed, they could do severe damage to their trachea, thyroid, neck, etc. Some dogs have died from choke chains being used inappropriately. I personally avoid using corrective tools on my own dogs if at all possible, so I'm absolutely biased, but unlimited choke chains are among the most physically dangerous training tools when used incorrectly or by someone inexperienced.

What have you been doing so far to train him to walk on leash? It might help to know what has or hasn't been working for him and you so far.
 

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No, Do not use a choke chain. They don't do anything besides choke your dog out, which isn't safe.

Before you start any leash training, you need a strong focus on you. Use some treats, and every time your dog looks at you, say "yes" and give your dog a treat. Eventually, your dog will shift its focus from pull pull pull, to "watch my human and i'll get snacks"...

Furthermore, you can turn in a tight circle whenever your dog pulls, it should catch your dog off guard, hopefully he will look at you, if you condition the "look at me and I give you a treat" situation.

You could also stop, just stop walking. Wait until your dog gives up and goes to you for guidance, then, say "yes!" give a treat, and keep walking. Repeat if your dog pulls again. It will get the idea that its not going anywhere eventually.

You can use a martingale to try and help combat, it will tighten around your dog's neck and might cause enough discomfort for your dog to turn around and stop pulling. Harnesses that tighten in the back (NOT the front), are also helpful. Such as a sporn harness. It tightens and is uncomfortable, so the dog doesn't want to pull.

Just remember that anything you like from your dog, reward. It might be helpful to work on focus inside the house, before applying it outside. When you are outside, use a high value treat and work in an area that isn't super distracting. Your own backyard might be helpful if your dog is way too exited to even listen on the sidwalk.
 

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I agree with @Deacon.dog . When he pulls, stop, or turn around. He is pulling because he wants to get somewhere, or just because his gait is naturally faster than yours. He has learned, if you have even once gone for a walk where he pulls you along, that pulling gets him what he wants. A corrective tool may help, but stopping or turning around (you may end up just walking in circles ;) ) will show him that it doesn't get him what he wants, which will, once he fully understands that, stop the pulling. If you chose to use a corrective tool, do NOT use a choke chain. They have been known to cause permanent tracheal damage, passing out, and, in extreme cases, death.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
ok, thanks for the advice guys, I was far fro,n convinced to begin with but I wont be trying that.
I have been stopping each time he pulls and only moving on once the tension on the leash has dropped. I have also been trying for a month to get him to heel by having my left hand by my side and waiting for him to sit, then once sat down giving the "heel" commande and walking around whilst feeding him bits of treats and repeating the command. This has not worked at all. I have also notcied that he is not giving me eye contact and in "heel" training videos I notice that their dogs have near constant eye contact. This is where I might be failing I think, I amy also not be giving enough treats.... Not sure where to go from here though, will also read up on it and see what I can do to get a god heel and more importantly for me (as I want the dog to run free) a perfect recall. He is still young, 4 months old so maybe I am expecting too much also. In the house he comes whne called , sits, stays and goes down without any problem, it is when he is outside that he is wild!
Thanks again for the advice, it is appreciated.
=)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I think I will work on the eye contact and attention to the master thing first, then the circling and stopping and see where it goes. I also notice that he behaves much better with me than with my daughters.
anyhow, he is not happy munching on his bone and warming up again after a fun walk in the snow.
 

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A strict heel with eye contact is only meant for very brief periods - ie walking a dog past a bunch of kids running and screaming so that he behaves himself - and competitive obedience, not for entire walks. A dog will find this very mentally exhausting and physically strenuous (that neck position you see in really flashy heels isn't natural and will hurt if done for long periods). Heeling is great to work on and will help with leash manners, but full-on tight heel with eye contact isn't a realistic goal for everyday walking.

I've found that my younger dog never really figures out what I want by using passive techniques, like stopping when he's pulling and starting when he gives me slack. I have to also be really consistent about rewarding what I DO want. Otherwise it's like he just thinks going on a leash walk involves a lot of weird stopping and starting and going in circles. Depending on how he's doing any given day, I may spend a lot of time rewarding him just focusing on me, even if he's still spending a lot of time at the end of the leash. He's highly environmentally motivated so just reminding him that I exist at the end of the lead and it's rewarding to check in with what I'm doing is a big step. When he has better focus I do a lot of continuous praise for walking on a loose leash at a pace roughly matching mine. Praise is interspersed with food rewards, how many and how quickly depending on his focus and overall energy. Occasionally if we're passing a "doggie signpost" or other environmental distraction that I know is high value to him, I'll reward him by releasing him to that spot and jogging over with him to let him sniff and mark (if appropriate) to his heart's content.

We do our best work when he has a chance to get unstructured physical activity as well as more structured leash walking, so when we can we stop at a nearby sheep field (when it's not being used for sheep of course) or head to wooded walking trail and let him do some free running or long-line exploration. If I work him too long with just walking and no opportunity to sniff, explore, and blow off steam on his own, I risk losing his focus and engagement entirely. I'm working on playing with him outside so that we can use play breaks to relieve tension and blow off steam when I'm not able to give him enough unstructured running and exploring time. He loves play indoors but often finds the outdoors too stimulating to engage well, so it's something I actually have to work on and teach - some dogs will play anywhere.

Practicing giving into leash pressure indoors has been very helpful as well, and this is something I can do at home and in other relatively boring places. Essentially it's putting gentle pressure on the lead and rewarding when the dog gives into it. At first this may require verbally encouraging the dog to move in the direction the pressure is pulling, but many dogs get it very quickly. The trick is to practice it so much that their automatic response to the leash tightening is giving into the pressure and letting the leash go slack.

I'm not as consistent at working on leash manners as I should be, but I've gotten a lot of improvement with these methods. He does still hit the end of the leash more than I'd like, but he's very good about quickly releasing that tension. My goal is just "responsive when I ask for his attention" and "does not haul me onto my butt/into traffic/etc" - I actually prefer that my dogs do a lot of sniffing and exploring on our walks because I believe it's more natural and mentally stimulating for them that way. I'm usually happy to stop and hang out if they want to take an extra-long sniff at something. So this might not be as formal a result as you're looking for, but it's some tricks that I've found work for me.
 

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A constant focused heel isn't the goal, the goal is a dog who will check in with you while you are walking (look behind to make sure you are there, basically awareness of your presence).... Instead of heel training, google "loose leash heel" You will end up with videos like this :

(just don't use tools if you don't want to, still good videos!)




And here is some information about engagement, aka your dogs focus. You want to be the most interesting thing in the area.



Do these inside, outside, everywhere. Do it everywhere. This is the first step in ANY training with your dog
 

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I have also been trying for a month to get him to heel
Make sure you're giving him plenty of sniff time too! The mental exercise is just as important (it actually tires dogs out more than the actual walking), and if he knows you will let him sniff later, he's less likely to go crazy trying to pull and smell during the rest of your walk. With my dog, she isn't allowed to sniff for the first half of the walk, but she is on the second half. Other people just tell their dog "ok, go sniff" when its okay for them to smell. Some have no set rule, and just tell their dog "let's go" if they don't want them to sniff that time. You could choose to do something different, it's up to you.

In regards to teaching him to heel,
1. try luring him into the position first. With him in front: lure him just behind you on your left side, then lure him to turn around while still behind you, and walk him up to the heel position. Don't say "heel" until he reaches that position, then say "yes! heel!" (or whatever marker you use) and reward.
2. Just keep doing that, progress to luring him with just your hand and no treat, then just to the hand signal, when he's catching on, say heel before luring him through the motion. When he reaches your left side, reward and say "heel"
3. Eventually, when you say "heel" he will immediately go to your left side. Then, and only then, can you start to phase in movement.
4. Start with just one step at a time. (and don't worry about the "automatic sit" every time you stop yet) Say "heel", pat your leg (he should already be in position) and walk one step. If he stays at your side, say "Yes! Heel!" (or click and say heel, or say good heel, whatever your marker is.)
5. Gradually progress to more and more steps before rewarding.
6. When he's pretty much got that down, you can add in turns.
7. Now you can add in the automatic sit.
8. Don't rush the process :)
Don't try to add in a watch me command, that could be confusing. Watching you should be a natural part of heel, it will come in time. He may even be watching you out of the corner of his eye. As you start to add in turns, and become more unpredictable, he will naturally begin to watch you more. Practicing heel is actually one of my favorite things I do with Z. A practice session might look something like this: to walk for a bit, stop, then spin 3-5 times to my left, then suddenly switch to spinning to the right, then walk backwards, then run forwards, and suddenly stop. At the end, she gets rewarded: often treats and a game of tug.
Generally heel is best taught off leash (in a quiet space like your hallway), and then is progressed to on leash.

In regards to a perfect recall, (I just bought a few books on this for Z :))
1. "slot-machine psychology" Make sure your rewards are high-value and varied. For instance, switch between a couple pieces of chicken or hotdog, or, another time, a game of tug/fetch/wrestle, whatever game your dog likes, a game of find the treats (scatter them in the grass), a game of chase, or maybe (rarely) just a few "boring" regular treats or a belly rub. As he gets better, you can start to phase out the chicken and other rewards like that, but don't rush it. And for the rest of his life always reward, even if it's just an ear scratch or quick game of chase or tug, and sometimes, surprise him with a high-value treat of game. Keep him on a long-line so he can't self reward for ignoring you, at least until recall becomes muscle-memory.
2. If you're calling him off prey, give him a prey-like reward, like a game of chase or fetch, even tug. Food rewards probably won't be too motivating for a dog in "prey-mode".
3. Be careful not to bribe him. Don't show the treat/toy until after he comes.
4. Don't "poison" your cue by using it when you can't enforce it or for bad things.
5. if he comes, even if it took him a while, still praise. If he makes a habit of delaying, when he comes, praise him, but show him the piece of cheese he would have gotten and eat it yourself.
6. Make sure to use the release as a reward, if coming back means leaving the fun place, he'll stop coming back very quickly.

If your dog comes from 20 feet while sniffing your kitchen floor, Don't assume he'll come from even 10 feet while just standing outside. When proofing, start at the very beginning, as if reteaching it from scratch.

Okay, sorry for writing a whole book on this, I can ramble on sometimes.
 
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I do the same thing, I usually give my dog mental breaks.. I say "Okay break!" and he's allowed to do whatever he wants, as long as he isn't pulling me. He usually gives himself some sniffing and returns back to a heel (guess my neighborhood isn't super interesting...) The sniffing itself could also be a reward! once your dog isn't pulling, instead of treats you can incorporate sniff breaks as I reward for heeling .. (if that's something your dog values, my dog.. doesn't)

Once you have nailed the heeling in your neighborhood, bringing your dog out into other places is vital! its called proofing a command, it needs to be done in 5-10 different places, before your dog learns "I do this always, not just in my moms kitchen"

@Kensi what does eating the "cheese" yourself do? Normally I just snap the leash on and reel em' in as a way to say "if you wont come here fast, I'll make you! haha" I don't think my dog would understand the loss of me eating the treat...
 

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What does eating the "cheese" yourself do? Normally I just snap the leash on and reel em' in as a way to say "if you wont come here fast, I'll make you! haha" I don't think my dog would understand the loss of me eating the treat...
Yeah, it might not work for all dogs. But my dog somehow understood that if she was across the field sniffing, I'd be back where I was eating her reward. She would come fast to avoid that. It could just be my quirky dog though lol.
But yeah, I do reel her in if she doesn't come. That's probably the easiest and most effective way to enforce the command.
 

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gotcha, my dog would look up at me as if he where saying "do you think I care??"

His biggest reinforcer is probably me pretending he doesn't exist and walking away. He says "oh shi* shes serious!!"
 

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gotcha, my dog would look up at me as if he where saying "do you think I care??"

His biggest reinforcer is probably me pretending he doesn't exist and walking away. He says "oh shi* shes serious!!"
😂😂

Yeah, that's another one with my dog-pretending to leave.

Also, do you make a distinction between loose-leash walking and loose-leash heel? Or are those just two terms for the same thing?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
guys, thank you so much for all the wonderful answers. This gives me hope that things will get better.

In fact, I swear, after posting here the puppy started to noticably behave, especially on a very short leash (is he reading my posts?!). He stayed close without pulling. It was really great as when we passed a school he resisted going to play with the kids. That is huge progress as playing with kids and getting petted by them is his most loved thing.
I give him a lot of sniffing time, probably too much. This is why I started adding a more controlled and much closer to me session on the walks. This has worked wonders. It is so much more comfotable and so much less stressful not being worried about whet he might spontainiusly do and potentialy get hurt. Now, well so far, when I need more control I hold him on a very short leash and I think he gets the message. Once the more controled area / time has passed I let him run free on the leash.

I found some enclosed football (soccer) pitches where I plan to see if I cant get in and let him run free off the leash for a while. I am looking forward to seeing how he enjoys that as now there is a lot of leash biting and I want to feel safe letting him run free in a bigger space than the garden.

Again, thank you very much for all the suggestions, I will read through this again and take notes.
On a side note, it is also reasuring to have found a forum that is so freindly and helpful and thank you also for this, I feel reasured and less stressed at having this huracanne in my life!
=)
 

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guys, thank you so much for all the wonderful answers. This gives me hope that things will get better.

In fact, I swear, after posting here the puppy started to noticably behave, especially on a very short leash (is he reading my posts?!). He stayed close without pulling. It was really great as when we passed a school he resisted going to play with the kids. That is huge progress as playing with kids and getting petted by them is his most loved thing.
I give him a lot of sniffing time, probably too much. This is why I started adding a more controlled and much closer to me session on the walks. This has worked wonders. It is so much more comfotable and so much less stressful not being worried about whet he might spontainiusly do and potentialy get hurt. Now, well so far, when I need more control I hold him on a very short leash and I think he gets the message. Once the more controled area / time has passed I let him run free on the leash.

I found some enclosed football (soccer) pitches where I plan to see if I cant get in and let him run free off the leash for a while. I am looking forward to seeing how he enjoys that as now there is a lot of leash biting and I want to feel safe letting him run free in a bigger space than the garden.

Again, thank you very much for all the suggestions, I will read through this again and take notes.
On a side note, it is also reasuring to have found a forum that is so freindly and helpful and thank you also for this, I feel reasured and less stressed at having this huracanne in my life!
=)
Glad to hear about the progress, that's great! And good luck as you continue training your pup :)
 
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