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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all!

I have a 19th month old Labrador cross Hound called Bruno, whom I've had for about a month now. He's a very curious dog and loves sniffing at everything, especially when walking. He's almost constantly pulling on the lead or completely ignoring me and sniffing around with his nose to the ground.

I'm currently trying to stop EVERY time he pulls and get his attention to come to my side and then reward with a treat when he walks for that split second next to me. The problem is, within 2 or 3 seconds he's got his nose to the ground and completely oblivious to me, or somethings caught his eye and he's fixed on it. I've been doing this method for about 2 weeks now and not really noticing any significant improvement, although some days are better than others. Am I doing something wrong or is this normal? Must I stop all sniffing during walking? I'm using a normal clip-on lead, I've tried a slip lead but it made no difference and personally I'm not a fan of them. Also tried a Halti, which worked better, but I find this a lazy solution as I want to be able to just use a normal lead.

Please help!

Thanks.
 

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I think you've got the right idea. You might need to find a higher value treat for him and dole it out more frequently, but he doesn't need to have his attention 100% on you all the time unless you really are training heeling. It's okay if he wants to sniff but you need to be setting the pace so he can't pull to get ahead and he can't fall behind but it's okay if he walks in a few feet radius around you (on whatever side you're holding the leash). If he pulls ahead, stop and wait for the leash to go slack. He doesn't go anywhere if he pulls. If he falls behind sniffing just call him to come with you and reward for keeping pace. That's what has worked best for me. If it's a matter of him being too strong and pulling you could try a front clip harness while you train him to walk loose leash.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFgtqgiAKoQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHwu...DvjVQa1PpcFORisFDwDzm9nQDjx62L3uyDr2izF_kiXw=
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voW2...DvjVQa1PpcFORisFDwDzm9hJKJeHXx0bHBtkkaZBiZ04=

It can take a lot of practice for dogs to understand what you want from them as far as walking on the leash. Don't give up :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hey, thanks for your advice!

It's just so frustrating as after I stop he still just ignores me. Should I call him to my side and reward then? Maybe I'm also running too fast and should slow the pace a little. If I used the Halti, and sucessfully made him walk loose leash, would he then resort to pulling again when the normal lead is used? How long generally (I know all dogs are different) shouyld this training take? Are we talking months? years?

Thanks.
 

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A couple of other things you can try:
- a back away: when he pulls, you stop, then back up, walking backwards a few paces yourself. That should get him to come back toward you enough to get the leash slack, praise, and continue walking forward. That way, you don't have to stand there while he sniffs at whatever he's sniffing at.
- turn around and walk five or so steps in the opposite direction. This will likely do the same thing, get him to follow you, and therefore the leash slackens. When you have a loose leash you can turn back and go in the original direction.

Another thing to think of is that it might help to find another way to burn of some of his energy for the time being, because training loose leash walking often takes lots of stopping and waiting for him to let the leash slacken again, and that means the walks don't burn much energy. So, if you can take him to a large fenced in area, and let him run and play fetch, etc, that can help make up for the energy his walks aren't burning.

When he gets the loose leash walking down, then the walks will start being more productive.
 

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Most people won't like this reply, but most people don't have hounds. I use leash corrections. Hounds are very different from other breeds. Most of the time you shouldn't discriminate but with hounds you must. It doesn't matter how high value the treat is or how many times you stop. Unfortunately a hound's nose cannot be conquered. I use a harness with hallie on a regular walk because we walk on a 25 ft leash.. this kind walk is for burning energy. However, after she explores and sniffs to her heart's content I break out the choke chain and the 6ft leash and we spend finish the walk with her by my side on a loose leash. If leash corrections are ever used they must be executed properly and at the appropriate time.
 

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I have two hounds and totally agree with Hallie. Our older girl has a Halti and since we've been using it she is pretty good on a regular collar & lead, sometimes needs a refresher with it. Our 5 month old is a whole different story. He's coming into his nose and there is no stopping him once he's on a scent, treating and stopping only work for that second your doing it. We've tried the Halti on him but he fights it and makes the walk worse so we are now considering a choke chain for our in town walks. We take them out to the 'farms' (both our parents have lots of property) to run and track, our older girl is very good off leash and we are working with our young guy (he gets a long lead and harness). I'm also considering the Halti thats on their chests (as Mason, the puppy, freaks with the Halti on his face), so we'll see. Our biggest problem is we live on a busy road with no proper sidewalks (but lucky enough to have a fully fenced big backyard) so them respecting the leash is a big thing for us.

My advice... if you can take him somewhere to let him use his natural talent (his nose!) and to expell some of that engery. Our guys are much more willing to walk 'nicely' if they have had a good run/track in before hand. Also, how often are you walking him? Our 5 month old goes twice a day 40 mins each time (most days when we can fit two in) and will also get a at least once a week at the farm (he's out almost all day).
 

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Most people won't like this reply, but most people don't have hounds. I use leash corrections. Hounds are very different from other breeds. Most of the time you shouldn't discriminate but with hounds you must. It doesn't matter how high value the treat is or how many times you stop. Unfortunately a hound's nose cannot be conquered. I use a harness with hallie on a regular walk because we walk on a 25 ft leash.. this kind walk is for burning energy. However, after she explores and sniffs to her heart's content I break out the choke chain and the 6ft leash and we spend finish the walk with her by my side on a loose leash. If leash corrections are ever used they must be executed properly and at the appropriate time.

In my experience, there have always been alternative methods to leash corrections. It just requires more creativity, ingenuity, setup, and forethought. Just an idea, but if the hound is fixated on scent, you don't need treats, because the scent is the reward.
 

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Google "Loose Leash" and "Silky Leash" for some Youtube videos.

I agree that a Lab x Hound might always have his nose in the ground. Maybe you could distract him away from that distraction with something smelly like liver treats or boiled chicken. If so, then you can use a modified 'clicker' training suggested by Turid Rugaas:
1. In a boring area, click your tongue (or make a small noise with your mouth).
2. When he looks at you, let him sniff a tiny treat (size of a dime or smaller), then give it to him. Repeat for 10 min. Do this for about 3 days.
3. When you walk and you see his attention drift, click your tongue, and treat. Continue as needed.
4. Occasionally give him 5 - 10 min. of free time to sniff.

You don't use a conventional clicker, because you purposely don't want to be precise, and because your clicker in the distraction in this case, not a marker or secondary reinforcer.
 

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In my experience, there have always been alternative methods to leash corrections. It just requires more creativity, ingenuity, setup, and forethought. Just an idea, but if the hound is fixated on scent, you don't need treats, because the scent is the reward.
If you use scent as a reward it will make it all worse. When using treats as a reward the dog will be fixated on the treat anticipating getting the treat as a reward. If the dog does this with scent it will be bad. I ask Hallie to do a sit stay while walking and once she sits I say my release word, at which point her reward becomes the scent because she is free to pull and sniff to her heart's delight.
 

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If you use scent as a reward it will make it all worse. When using treats as a reward the dog will be fixated on the treat anticipating getting the treat as a reward. If the dog does this with scent it will be bad. I ask Hallie to do a sit stay while walking and once she sits I say my release word, at which point her reward becomes the scent because she is free to pull and sniff to her heart's delight.

I mean this respectfully - just because you personally have not found a way to solve the issue using reward methods does not mean that no reward based solution exists. I'm not saying I can do it easily or anything, just saying that you can't assume you have exhausted all possible solutions.
 

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If you use scent as a reward it will make it all worse.
How?

Wally pulls ahead - I stop, preventing him from getting the scent. When he comes back to heel, I praise and move to the scent. Once there and if he's still in heel, I praise and let him sniff.

That didn't create a dog that pulls more. That created a dog that stays next to me because that's when I let him go sniff. Breaking heel makes me stop. Staying in heel gets to the scent. If I'm consistent in that and he wants to sniff, he's not going to choose the option that denies him getting to the scent.
 

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If you ever want to walk off leash or be able to drop a leash to do a sit stay or whatever, you can't use scent as a reward *for hounds* because once they figure out - which won't take long because they are cunning - that dropped leash or no leash means unending reward, you are SOL. Correction in some manner, High quality treats (deer steak cut up into tiny pieces works great for my dogs), and Respect for owner are the only ways to win out over the nose IME.

Not that there isn't another way out there, but I've tried many ONLY positive methods without much success for hounds.

OP: You can try teaching a 'look' command. Basically hold out a treat and as soon as the dog looks at you instead of the treat, give it to him. Repeat often and randomly. Move on to distractions for example, throw a toy or drop something. Once you have it down pat, use it for your walks. When he starts getting distracted, ask him for the look -try to ask for it before he gets ahead of you-. Refocusing him on you is the goal. Once he starts paying closer attention to you in hopes of more treats, change directions more. I teach my dogs 'left' and 'here' for turns so I don't have to yank on them or step on them to turn sharply.
Eventually you can start weaning him off the treats.
 

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If you ever want to walk off leash or be able to drop a leash to do a sit stay or whatever, you can't use scent as a reward *for hounds* because once they figure out - which won't take long because they are cunning - that dropped leash or no leash means unending reward, you are SOL.

I don't get it, that sounds like most dogs who have not been specifically trained in off-leash.

Most of what you guys describe as hound behaviors is stuff my dog does as well, only he's not called a hound.
 

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Hounds are driven by their nose first and foremost. Many breeds are bred to work with and for humans. Hounds were bred specifically to follow their nose. Yes, they love people, but the nose is first. If you don't correct, you will never get the nose off the ground. If you let the nose be on the ground when they do what you want, they will forget that you exist.
Yes, most dogs will run off when not trained for being off leash, but most will return or not go very far before wondering where their people are *if they have a relationship with their person or people*. Hounds will not wonder until they find the origin or are tired of the scent and have been known to get lost or worse.
 

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If you don't correct, you will never get the nose off the ground. If you let the nose be on the ground when they do what you want, they will forget that you exist.
I could say the same about huskies being let off the lead and allowed to run. I could say the same about sighthounds seeing a rabbit from meters away and chasing it down. You are dealing with a dog's innate instincts and yet people have managed to teach sighthounds very reliable recalls and teach Sibes to preform off leash. These feats were accomplished with a lot of hard work because training a less biddable breed (like a hound) requires a lot more ingenuity and creativity than training a border collie (in general). Saying "it's a hound, you have to correct them to get them to obey" is painting a lot of dogs with the same brush. Not only that, but saying "you can't use smelling as a reward for a hound" completely goes against what positive reinforcement is kind of about (giving dogs something they find pleasurable in order to increase the chances of a behavior occurring). What's more pleasurable to a hound than smelling? Right there you have a strong reinforcer and when you have something the dog wants or wants access to, you control the dog.

Maybe I am missing something though?
 

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Aren't all dogs driven by scent? What difference does it make that it's a hound dog?
I have already explained this.

I could say the same about huskies being let off the lead and allowed to run. I could say the same about sighthounds seeing a rabbit from meters away and chasing it down. You are dealing with a dog's innate instincts and yet people have managed to teach sighthounds very reliable recalls and teach Sibes to preform off leash. These feats were accomplished with a lot of hard work because training a less biddable breed (like a hound) requires a lot more ingenuity and creativity than training a border collie (in general). Saying "it's a hound, you have to correct them to get them to obey" is painting a lot of dogs with the same brush. Not only that, but saying "you can't use smelling as a reward for a hound" completely goes against what positive reinforcement is kind of about (giving dogs something they find pleasurable in order to increase the chances of a behavior occurring). What's more pleasurable to a hound than smelling? Right there you have a strong reinforcer and when you have something the dog wants or wants access to, you control the dog.

Maybe I am missing something though?
Yes, I am generalizing because I was replying to generalizations based on a specific breed, not a specific incident within the breed or dog breeds in general. I live and train in rural areas, so perhaps that makes a difference as there are many deer and rabbits, etc for hounds to catch the scent of and follow. I already explained why scent was not a suitable reward for hounds when teaching off leash. Yes, with a lot of work you can get reliable off leash responses, but I have never heard of a successful hound recall without using corrections of some sort to accomplish it. If you have, then that is wonderful and I would love to know how it was done.
 
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