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Hello there, and this is my first dog post so I hope I get it all right!

I had a Maltese Shih-Tzu for 15 years and it died 2 years ago. I recently decided to get a Border Collie. I love hiking and feel he'll make a great walking partner because of the type of breed. He's three months old now and constantly surprises me with his intelligence. Much different from the ol' Shih-Tzu and much more of a man-dog to go down the street with!!

The problem I have is with leash training. He had his injections only a few days ago that allows him outside. Before this I tried to leash train him in the back yard but there were too many distractions (other dogs, chickens, kids, bushes to hide in and look for buried stuff, etc).

When trying to leash train him in that environment he'd either (a) pull back on the lead and dance like he's plugged in to heavy metal, or (b) play dead.

I read numerous tricks and tips online and the vet said to keep doing what I'm doing, but that was many weeks ago. Most of what I read about are dogs that pull the owner forward. This isn't my problem.

So, I've been taking him out every day, a few times a day. He pulls back (not forward) on the lead and dances like a 1980's time traveller who likes Midnight Oil. Many times he bites the lead like he wants to play tug of war. He also hooks a paw on the lead and twist himself so he can't walk. By the way, he loves the park when we get there so I'm not sure whether he's got it in his head the walk is a bad thing - it never is.

A few sites I've found over the last few days gave advice like (a) step on the lead. Dogs won't like it when their muzzle is on the floor; (b) spray water in his face (c) let him carry his favourite toy.

I won't spray water in his face or do anything negative to affect his psychology. The stepping on the lead doesn't work and I don't like doing it, and he won't carry a favourite or any other toy. Even kicking a toy along the ground to remove his focus from the lead doesn't work, nor does positive reinforcement, whether verbally or dog treats.

To summarise, the goofy Border Collie (Rico by name) pulls back, sometimes with a tug of war action, and hooks the paw over the lead and tangles himself. He's also prone to leash chewing.

If anyone has experience with this and has some tips, it will be awesome of you if you could advise me. For now, I'll continue reinforcing the good behaviour and continue what I'm doing with the bad. Oh, when he does do these things, I stop (as I have to) and untangle him, he knows the word 'drop', and I get him to sit still for a few seconds before continuing.

Thanks for reading, hope I've given enough information
 

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Is he used to the collar? It might be him saying he's uncomfortable. It might work to try a harness instead, and/or have him wear the leash indoors, just dragging on the floor so that there's nothing to pull against and in a distraction free environment.

There's always the possibility of either boredom or stress from doing too much. Working breeds obviously need to do some kind of work, but they also might need to be taught how to rest and not be active, if they won't find their "off button" on their own. The only times mine's acted weird about the leash (different breed, adopted at 1 y.o but still) was when he was way too tired, but unable to relax due to stress.

So, is he generally tired, or has he rested when you try to leash train him? Does it make a difference?
 

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Hi, and thanks so much for your insights. I admit, sorry, I did try the harness as well as a collar. He's wore a collar since I got him and showed no problem with it. Well before leash training I attached the leash and let him drag it around under supervision. When I was picking up the leash (I suppose he'd feel significant resistance at this stage, eg me!), he'd act out.

I've found the best time for leash training is after we've thrown the ball around and been active. He's too stuffed to give me a good fight, but still acts out - not as much but still sufficient enough to be an issue. I thought I had a good balance of stress v boredom and am first to admit my own faults (after all, I also have to train myself as well as the dog). Perhaps you're going in the right direction for an answer and I should focus on leash training only after he's had a good workout and is more amenable (although not by much, but it's a start aye). It's my fault really. I should've tried harder to help him avoid distraction although in hindsight, not sure what I could've done. Thanks for the reply Eeore, anything will help presently.
 

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Have you tried working with him off-leash in your house or yard (assuming it's fenced)? Walk around giving him treats to build a positive association with staying by your side. Then move on to adding the leash, and then to new places. You mentioned that he's very distracted in your yard - unfortunately, other places (e.g., sidewalk, park) aren't going to be any less distracting.

How To Stop PUPPY BITING on a Leash! - you might find this helpful
Kikopup's leash videos - or something here

Just another comment - border collies are smart (as you've found). In addition to physical activity (e.g., hiking, tossing a ball), they need mental activity like training and dog jobs.
 

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Great addition, cookieface! You can mentally tire the dog by experiencing different environments and learning things, both fun tricks and everyday skills like walking on a leash. Letting the dog use its nose is an awesome way of making them calm and tired, running after a ball can create a lot of stress. Is he calm when you're not doing anything together?

It really doesn't have to be about you doing anything wrong, a friend of mine struggled for ages to get her kelpie pup to accept either collar or a harness. Sometimes a puppy just thinks something is uncomfortable and stupid, and do their best to get rid of it.

Maybe you could go back to letting the leash drag, and work as if he's off leash? And every now and then just pick the leash up and hold it, while rewarding him. Also, when you start walking, if he follows you you can reward by dropping the leash (if he prefers it that way).
 

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Discussion Starter #6
These sure are good suggestions. I watched YouTube til I went blue before I got the pup and any new resources are great. As for mental stimulation I'm teaching him all sorts of things. Very smart aren't they? I'm teaching him how to find the treat under three cups (you know, when you slide the cups around and if he picks the correct cup he gets the reward underneath like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnOvSBBWuCA?) Seems to enjoy it as do I. As for leash training I'll persevere and take all comments on board. I'm sure we'll both get there and have fun doing so. (Hope the link worked. I don't hit forums much!)
 

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If he lags behind just keep walking forward. Don't stop no matter what. Just keep walking. He'll eventually get the message that thrashing doesn't do anything or make you stop.
Then problem solved. Reward for walking peacefully next to you.
 
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