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Lily was doing fantastic on the leash until she turned 5 months. It was like a light switch. She is trying to run ahead of me, pulling to the side and back. Stopping when she wants. Trying to chase birds. I'm at my wits end. I leave the house determined, but by the time I get back, I am so frustrated. I had been doing the "tug" on the leash and it worked before, but now it seems like that is all I am doing. I want to be able to enjoy my walks with her again, any advice? Also, is it normal for a 5 month old to have a shift in behavior? Its like she is trying to become the pack leader or feels like she already is one. Thanks in advance!
 

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I don't believe it's the pack leader thing. Dogs know that you hold the resources, not them. BUT, they do go through several developmental fear stages where they start responding differently to things that they were fine with. AND, they also go through a puppy adolescence.

When they do the challenging bit, the thing to do, in my opinion, is be even more firm and consistent. Not sure what you mean by the tug on the leash thing. Have you searched this site for "loose leash walking (LLW)? In general, I'd recommend a few things:
- when she pulls, "be a tree". Just stop and don't move or speak. The goal is for her to turn to see what's up with you, and when she does that, the leash should get a little bit loose, at that point, you can move on.
- do a "back away". Just take some backwards steps, about 4-5. She, again, should wonder what's up, and come back to your side. Then, you can proceed forward again.
- turn and go 4-5 steps in the opposite direction. This usually results in her coming towards your side, to follow the opposite direction (as in "what? we're going THIS way now?) and it usually refocuses her. Then, turn around and go in your original direction.
Good luck! :)
 

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Hmm I always make sure my dogs have off leash time to romp smell explore and play at the dog beach! Hopefiully you are doing this not just putting your teenager pup on the leash and expecting her to forgoe the above (everybody on the planet needs Playtime!) ...
 

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doxiemommy: Thank you for the suggestions! I have read about being a tree. Which I have tried in the past. But she would just she would just keep pulling to smell the ground, was never sure what to do after that. So the suggestions you gave are greatly appreciated!

Candydb: Yes. We give her lots of playtime outside as well.
 

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Hi LilyBean,

Just keep doing what you know, and don't be discouraged because loose leash walking is one of the harder things to train a dog - it's like telling a kid to be still when they're in a playground. Butters took 8 months to be "decent", which means most of the time not pulling, but when she's excited, there's no hope. The absolute best method I found for my dog, is rather than corrections, I would do what doxiemommy says, PLUS, treat her every time she is on loose leash, or treat her every time she's in or around your knee around (1 sq foot either direction), so she knows it's rewarding to stay near you. If you are more interesting than the environment, you will know you are, because your dog will be looking up at you, and sort of romping around you, hoping to get your attention. You also want to watch for the signs when she's getting excited (ears pricked, etc), and call her to you before she "explodes" into the pulling, ask her for a sit, and treat her. Do this every time right before you think she's going to pull (And believe me, every dog has triggers - Butters will do it if she sees another dog or person coming our way so I call her over to the grass/curb, ask her for a sit, then treat)

REALLY important: before you set out on your walk (leave the door), ask your dog for a series of behaviours (A sit, stay, down, paw), and just get into that "training" mode. He will know that you are armed and ready to reward him for showing you good behaviours, and will likely be a bit more attentive to you on your walk. ALso practise your recall, so what I do, is at the very beginning of the walk, when Butters sort of leads astray to sniff something, I call out to her, "Come!" and the minute she turns around to return to me, I treat handsomly. After that, she's putty in my hands, and just stares at me the entire walk.

It's not necessary teaching a solid 'heel', it's just getting them to start to enjoy walking next to you (even if it's not a solid heel), rather than pulling. Again, you can ask yourself what you want your dog to do, and what would make your life easier/happier.
 
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