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Discussion Starter #1
Hello....again... I swear one day I won't be a newbie....

I'm trying to teach Belka to walk on a leash. We are trying the loose leash walking technique which while in an enclosed space with no distractions he does AMAZING. I mean even the trainer complimented him as he looked like he'd been doing it for months.

The issue is when out in public. There's no control until he's worn out. I've tried distracting him and grabbing his attention with a treat, I've tried tugging the leash until he's beside me and repeating the command "heel" over and over and over again. Nothing is working so far. I even bought a Martingale collar (not on my trainer's suggestion - she hasn't agreed with it or disagreed but she seemed a little uncomfortable with him wearing it) in hopes it would deter pulling but it's not and I'm not comfortable with it, to be entirely honest.

When he gets excited out in public I make him sit until he calms but as soon as I give the "ok" release command he immediately pulls, even on a short leash. He's a few weeks shy of 4 months.

My question is - is this something I should work on now or just wait a few more weeks? Eventually I want to teach him to not to be reactive to anything while walking but I also know he needs to realize people are good and to experience other situations (we've been taking him to a lot of dog friendly festivals yay Fall!). I just don't know when a good time that is and how to go about it now that he's getting that people = attention when it comes to crowds.

I've also noted some of his fears: men with beards and statues. The weirdo.
 

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I would work on it now, because it gets harder when they're bigger and stronger!

There really are countless ways to teach loose leash walking. If you want the pup to be in heel position at all times while walking, I would lure the pup into the position and reward him for being there. When he breaks out of that position, stop moving, lure him back, reward him, then continue, rewarding frequently when he remains in position. At festivals and whatnot, it may be too much for him to be learning. He's so overwhelmed with the excitement that he's simply over threshold and beyond paying attention to you. I would start in more quiet parks with minimal distractions to work on it, then move up to more crowded areas. Look up Kikopup or Zak George, I liked their versions of teaching LLW.

It's also common for dogs to be able to perform in one environment, and not in another, because they don't generalize well. At home or at the training facility the dog has been heavily rewarded for performing correctly. Out in public is a different matter, and the distractions are real and random, so its important to reward well when you do encounter a distraction!

I would not repeat "heel" over and over and over again. You're poisoning the word. Or perhaps he doesn't really know what it means, so you're just teaching him that heel means PULL ALL THE PLACES THEN GET TREATS.

As for greeting people, you can teach a "default ignore," meaning the dog just ignores people on walks, or you can teach him that he has to do something for the person to greet him, like sit and be calm. If he can't, then the person goes away. It's up to you, it's your dog. I think you're pup will probably be fine if he doesn't greet people while out and about, just settle for people you invite to your house, or at class.
 

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What does your trainer suggest you do?

I'd work on it now, but only from a suitable distance so he doesn't react. Reinforce abundantly for non-reactions. Or even better yet, for solid attention to you. Over time you can gradually get closer while adding more and more challenges.

And I'd stop releasing him to pull. A release should signify his 'freedom' or liberty, but shouldn't permit him to practice unwanted behaviours. Maybe try going from a sit / pay attention directly into a very short time heeling, moving in a direction away from the distraction. Then release and immediately do some brief interactive play, etc
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I was worried I was overusing "Heel". Festivals I understand are very overwhelming for a puppy so I didn't really expect perfect behavior but the places we are going now are simply parks and walks around main street with minimal people other than cars. Our main street is super small and there's only the occasional person walking or coming out of a bar etc.

I'm actually a bit of an introvert so I don't have many people coming to my home. ^^; I'm only getting out in public and even joining classes for my pup. It's WAY out of my comfort zone!

If I teach him a "Sit and calm" command to get attention how would I go about correcting if he jumps on someone? Would I just tug on him, go "no", and walk away from them? I want to use a gentle technique but I feel the tugs on his leash are not good? Are they? OR does he not really care?




My trainer suggested using the treats out in public and that it will take time for him to get it. But my issue is mainly that he just doesn't want anything to do with the treats/toys/etc when we are out in public. It's almost like I don't exist until I touch his head or shoulder to get his attention. I get it for five seconds and then he's off to look at something else.

I've noticed that when we are out walking with our other dog (who walks amazingly well and precise on a leash) he gets very antsy if the other party (dog and leash holder) moves ahead of him.
 

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Put the puppy on some manner of no pull harness right now, when you're walking him in exciting places and places you want him to have fun. Continue to SLOWLY up the distraction and excitement level of your loose leash training, as you go, and to work on it when he is tired.

Only in leash walking do we go 'okay, now do it in the most exciting place possible' and frankly that's not fair to trainer or dog. Work on it now, but also MANAGE IT so you can still have im out and having fun without developing the terrible habit of yanking your arm out of socket and choking while you train.

And expect, seriously, it to be a year or more before you're able to walk in a super exciting place without any management in place. It's a long haul, but hte more you can prevent pulling becoming a habit, the better off you will be and the shorter the time frame will be.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I went out a bought a no pull harness this weekend. He actually responded better to the harness than just a collar. He would pull, it would tighten and he would slow down and walk beside me. He didn't seem in any type of distress and was genuinely enjoying the little festival we went to. He even listened when I told him to sit so a child could pet him. I don't know if he was just having a good weekend or if he enjoyed the non-choking so much that he was able to focus. I've always hated not letting him enjoy the festivals/walks and trying to get him to loose leash walk but this was different entirely and I think we both had fun. We also didn't stay long at the festival as there was very little grass and I'm wary about walking him long on hard surfaces. I ended up carrying him halfway back (which he didn't mind, just a big lap dog really).

Thank y'all for your help yet again!
 
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