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Discussion Starter #1
So here's my dilemma: Casey is a Lab/Boxer mix, about 70 lbs, and 1.5 years old. She's a very smart dog, and quick to learn just about everything but loose leash walking.

When we got her at 3-4 months old, it was quite obvious that she had experienced something not-so-good. Whether it actually was abuse, we are unsure. She was with siblings up until we got her, so she didn't miss out on prime socialization. However, she was incredibly timid (the vet even warned the potential for being a fear-biter). That said, we had to use tons of encouragement and excitement and praise in the beginning, especially with leash training. She needed a body harness at first because she would balk and/or refuse to walk. Once she started to come out of her shell, she went straight from balking to pulling. We tolerated this for a little while, attempting minor corrections and use of a martingale later on, not wanting to send her back into her timidity with too much correction or force.

At the same time, positive reinforcement is inneffective because she is so high energy. I have gotten her to understand the command "Here" as a heel-type action off leash with a electronic collar, but this same command does not work on-leash. I changed to a different command, "Back" to tell her to get behind me, hoping that being the leader would change things, to no avail. She understand these commands briefly, but then gets right back to pulling. Essentially, she is better off-leash than on-leash.

Ahh, "being a tree": Same result as "Here" and "Back". She will return to my side, and as soon as I start walking she will launch forward.

Starting slow: She becomes suspicious. She will walk robotically next to me for a few strides, then if she gets ahead, I stop, and she jumps backwards. After a few times she becomes incredibly wound up. She looks like her back end is attempting to run, while she is looking me in the eye intensely and holding herself back with her front end. Many times this escalates to spinning in circles or flying around me in circles like a horse on a lunge line.

The burnout: Exercise beforehand does little. Sure, she runs out of breath quickly after 20-30 minutes with a chuckit, but 5 minutes of walking later she is pulling again. The only time I have ever actually tired her out enough to get her to stop pulling on the leash involved: 10 minute walk, 20-30 minutes of fetch, 20-30 minute walk in AM, and then 60-80 minute (aproximately 3-4 miles) walk in PM...for 3 consecutive days. On the third day her PM walk was a breeze. I do not always have this time, and I have NO yard.

Also used clicker/reward...food is not a huge motivator outdoors. And trust me, I've used freeze-dried Salmon.

As I said, I have used a martingale, as well as a gentle leader...both of which she will slowly put more tension on until she is having a hard time breathing. I have considered an easy walk, but think the result would be the same as previous tools.

I'm not fond of them, but I wonder if she might be a candidate for a pinch/prong collar. Her previous timidity issues are no longer a problem and she is fairly outgoing (I wouldn't have used the electronic collar otherwise). Ideally I would have several acres for her to run on for several hours daily, and then the problem would take care of itself, but in the meantime I need another option.

If it matters, she has no particular goal in pulling. If she sees something like another dog or squirrel, she will really want to go see it up close and play, but otherwise, she just pulls forward along the sidewalk, and sometimes even tries to predict routes.

Is there any method I have missed? Each of these has been tried for 3-4 weeks minimum with no progress.
 

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I'm not fond of them, but I wonder if she might be a candidate for a pinch/prong collar. Her previous timidity issues are no longer a problem and she is fairly outgoing (I wouldn't have used the electronic collar otherwise). Ideally I would have several acres for her to run on for several hours daily, and then the problem would take care of itself, but in the meantime I need another option.
A prong collar would be excellent in this situation but please please please have someone who knows show you the proper way to use it. Almost everyone uses these incorrectly if not shown how. It isn't difficult to learn but it is not intuitive so chances are you won't just pick it up.

I wish I had a good video link but there doesn't seem to be one and trying to explain it in words is difficult for me. Maybe somebody else on the forum can give it a try.

Used properly, a prong collar is much less likely to damage your dog than any other training collar including a head halter. But don't get me started on that.

Keep in mind that a prong collar is only a tool. You also need to bring the proper attitude about controlled walking with you in control.

The usual term is "loose-leash walking" and that is exactly the point of this training, but if you'll also think of it as 'controlled walking' you'll understand why it is so important.

And by the way, even if you had a hundred acres for her to run in, you would still want to teach controlled walking.

If it matters, she has no particular goal in pulling. If she sees something like another dog or squirrel, she will really want to go see it up close and play, but otherwise, she just pulls forward along the sidewalk, and sometimes even tries to predict routes.

Is there any method I have missed? Each of these has been tried for 3-4 weeks minimum with no progress.
Oh no ... she most definitely has a goal in pulling you. And thinking that she doesn't have one is going to get you in trouble with her training.

Her goal is to get out from under your control. Once you understand that, you'll be more likely to apply the correction at the proper time, which is before she actually pulls. I know this sounds impossible (how can you know something before it happens?) but believe me it is not. However, you do have to work at it and watch the body language - yours and hers.

It would be better to work on this in a controlled situation like in the house or the yard at first before taking it on the road.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I suppose the reason I say I am not fond of prong collars is because of the lack of control I have over my fiance's actions. See, his interest is in having her pull LESS, as opposed to me wanting her to STOP altogether. He expects the Gentle Leader or Martingale to work on their own, hence the reason that the Gentle Leader is not as effective 8 months after the first times we were using it. But I don't want to get too deep into how guys don't like to participate in the training. Let's just say that he has inadvertently encouraged pulling, jumping, and biting during play with her. Oh, and potty training took 2 months (finished at 6 months old). Funny how all these behaviors make him mad now too...

As for the wish for acreage...I'm saying that it is obvious that the pulling would desist if she had several hours of exercise daily. I find it funny that she just seems to like putting in the extra energy pulling. The only time that "checking" the leash usually works is if we are running and she doesn't like me interrupting her already increased breathing. Off leash with the electronic collar, she cannot pull against anything, and will instead hold at my side while walking or hiking. Yet, if I combine that effective electronic collar with the leash/collar (not recommended, but done for comparison), I am losing again.

Anyways, I'm glad for the encouragement. I have taken some basic dog training classes before, however I have never had the ideal dog for trying a prong collar. I think one of the main reasons it will be more effective is that it will actually sit properly (the martingale will not stay high on her long neck).

The question is: How would I go about this training (once I learn the method)? Should I be the only one using the prong collar until she understands it, and have my fiance use a normal collar when he takes her out? Should I restrict him from walking her at all until the training is complete, so there is little confusion? I know he would need to learn how to use it eventually, but I don't want him to make the tool useless or harmful when she hasn't even learned how to respond to it properly.
 

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Just some quick notes 100 acres of running will not stop the pulling. When I finish a dog I tell clients 1 member of family works dog in a controlled quiet environment for 1st 30 days then 2nd member of family starts 30 days work same area while 1st member starts to branch out and works in different areas. This is by no means the only way to approach this, it's just what I do with my customers. If boyfriend isn't serious about work get a new one. Just kidding, you will have to work something out. If you keep working dog on a consistent basis what boyfriend does is not going to ruin your work unless he interferes while you are working your dog. Then back to my 1st recommendation minus the kidding.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Just some quick notes 100 acres of running will not stop the pulling.
Then explain to me why 2.5 hours of exercise 3 days in a row resulted in a final walk on the third day that was 30 minutes of no pulling whatsoever without me really doing anything? I definitely feel that energy is a key ingredient in this, and less of it unspent would do more than help. But, either way, I no longer live on a 5 acre horse ranch and have no yard currently. Walking and fetch in an empty field are what I have to work with, and sometimes are not as much as she needs.

Thank you for the approach tips though. I will discuss this with the anti-trainer.



On the feeding thing, the clicker attempts were done during a time period where she was being fed 1x/day in the afternoon, while training was in the morning. In addition, she was on a reduced feeding amount to firm up stool, but also lost weight at that time. Prime condition weight for her (ie:show condition for a purebred) is about 70lbs. She dropped to 66lbs with ribs and some spine showing before I switched to grain free which eliminated soft stools while allowing proper calorie intake. She's always responded well to traditional clicker training for simple commands, but not in this instance...even though she obviously should have been hungry.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
She takes the treats for about three minutes, but because of the rate I have to dispense them to keep her in position (I like her at my left side), she gets bored quickly and starts pulling again while ignoring those treats. Not to mention, the treats tend to give her diarrhea in these quantities.

BUT what I haven't tried yet to deter the diarrhea aspect is using an alternate grain-free kibble (as a treat) from what she is currently eating for food. She eats Acana and Orijen...like 5 formula options total. That'd probably disturb her diet less.
 

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Is anything stressing her, just out of curiosity? I know Wally will refuse treats if he's too stressed by something. I can't say I know what to do with a dog that gets bored of food since mine is anything but. Sometimes Wally will take treats, but then stop - just as you mentioned. For him, though, it's not boredom, but he's too worried about something he's seeing/hearing/or whatever.

I don't have experienced in the use of training collars, but I would use it only until she does understand what you want and let her other handlers walk her on a normal leesh and collar. Hopefully, it would help her understand she needs to walk loosely even when the training collar isn't on her.
 

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I would just feed her kibble on the walk everyday. You can vary, 5 steps kibble, 5 more steps sit kibble, 10 steps kibble, 3 steps sit kibble etc. If she doesn't pay attention to you she won't eat and after awhile she'll have to start paying attention to you or she won't be fed.
 

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I agree with Wvasko. Your problem isn't your dog, it's your boyfriend. If you stop and think about it, it is impossible for two people to teach a dog something using different methods and working for different results. Wvasko has the right idea on that. Go back and reread his post.

You are also negating the benefits of positive reinforcement training by using aversives. To reap the full rewards of positive training the dog must know that no matter what he does, no harm will come to him from you. It not difficult to teach loose leash walking by using positive methods.

I think it would also be more productive to teach the dog to calm down and give you complete attention before putting him in the position that he can run wild at the end of a leash.

A Gentle Leader head harness would be helpful in teaching your dog to stay calm while walking. The Gentle Leader is not a perminant device. It should be used as a training tool until your dog has learned the basics. After he has walked nicely for a few weeks, you would gradually wean him off the GL onto a regular collar/leash. You do this by using both, using the GL less and less until you don't need it at all. Get him walking nicely on the GL and then come back and ask how to wean him to a normal collar/leash.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
In response to not using a prong collar because it is an "aversive"...so is that gentle leader you were speaking of. It grabs a dog's mouth like a pack leader would, and limits their breathing to a degree until the dog stops doing what it's doing (in the case of pulling, they release themselves by stopping, while other corrections are more manual for the human). I tried the gentle leader, and it just wasn't effective for her.


All that aside, I have chosen a combination of things, and after a 20 minute session this morning (her minimum morning walk), I think I'm making progress.

I picked up a prong collar last night. Although she would be considered a large dog, I found that she was in-between links on the large collar (one setup was too snug, the next link added would slide down). We switched to the medium collar and found a perfect length. Glad I took her in to find that out.

Once fitted, we did a brief 5 minutes around the store. At first she looked a bit bewildered, like when I first used the electronic collar, but she settled in pretty well and started to test the waters after a bit. Overall, a completely different experience than any other tool.

Once home, the weather was kinda wonky outside, so I chose not to try it then because it would probably accentuate her spookiness in the dark so early on. I know this from working with horses. If they don't understand a correction yet, they will freak out if it technically wasn't their fault that the correction was needed, like when the wind blows through trees and it's scary. But, once they understand the correction associated with their choices, it often becomes a comfort in such scary situations, because it reminds them that you are in control and are going to take care of them.

So, on to this morning. Casey and I skipped breakfast, geared up (six foot leash, prong collar properly fitted with prongs on left side of neck, and a treat bag with a half cup kibble). Full attention on the way to the door, then BAM, the first test. The Garbage Truck was outside. Considering how much she hates these things, I let her have the full leash, but she did not pull to escape it. She reached the end, stopped and watched the truck. Very good.

After a few different tests (a schoolbus, children, a dog, a kid with a big scary instrument case, etc) I compiled a good method for her.

She understands "Here" from off-leash. She understands "Look" from early clicker training. I chose to grant her certain permissions, but keep things consistent. We do not start walking until she is at my left side and looking at me. I want her walking at my left side, whether she is looking at me or not, as long as she is not letting her nose get distracted. Nose distractions warrant a check because they always get worse. Treats are dispensed intermittently (started today with every 3-5 strides, ended with every 5-20 strides). Most of the time she is looking straight in my eye.

If she should step a little ahead of me (by about a foot or so) but still be looking at me, this is permissable. If she steps farther ahead and is looking at me, I will do a half-halt by slowing down and she will generally return to my side on her own so we can resume normal pace. If she breaks eye contact AND steps ahead, I stop. The collar might check her sometimes, but usually she will stop before the end of the leash and return to a "here" position. If she does not return on her own I will command "Here" alternated with collar checks until she responds.

Now, here's the whopper...I do not reward her for just returning to my side. 90% of the time, this results in her taking the treat and walking ahead again...the "boredom" I spoke of before. We will start as usual, with eye contact, and she will then get a treat after about 5 to 10 strides. If I feel that what distracted her is too much to handle while learning new commands, I put her in a sit-stay until it passes. If we still have to pass it, I walk more slowly and dispense treats more often.

The dog ruiner (aka my fiance) will not be able to use the prong collar until I feel Casey is ready and he has a good grip on the method while I'm watching him use it.


Thanks for the tips everyone. Tell me if you see any faults in this method. I love learning this stuff (it's what I've always liked about working with horses and dogs).
 

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I think you are doing fine!!!:)

why not be a tad more proactive in administering a light leash flick and prevent the infraction in its earlier stage? Do you think that would help in preventing the dog from forging ahead and conditioning a tighter heeling position? This adjustment in the process possibly could help teach the dog to learn to self adjust/regulate his/her pace according to your (set standard)position rather than relying on repeated information for proper positioning under variations. For example as the dogs shoulder begins to move past the plain of your body this would be the point in which to provide feedback.

just a thought
cheers
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I've thought about it, but really what's important is that I know she is aware of where I am compared to her. She really seems to be checking herself much of the time now that she can't get away with all-out ignoring me. And when she does blast forward now, it is because of a really challenging distraction. I'm of the mind that you have to let them make a mistake in order to correct it, unless it truly is preventable in some other manner -at all times-. You can tell a kid that the stove is hot a thousand times, but most children have to see for themselves at least once.

If I were to use the collar-check in that instance, she may become confused/numb to it because the mistake she made is so minute. That would also encourage me and especially a less experienced handler to rein in the leash, instead of leaving it long and relaxed. She is one of those dogs that senses tension from your body through the leash and reacts accordingly.

ETA:
Just reread your post. My standard for her placement is to have her head in line with my legs. I will permit her to go as far forward as her shoulder being in line with my legs (about a 1 foot difference), but only if she is focused on me. Without that focus on me, she is usually attempting to eek forward and blow me off, hence a correction in that instance. If I were to count how many times she hit the end of the leash when I stopped because of a distraction and how many times I manually checked the leash because she would not pay attention to verbal commands, the numbers would be around 4 and 8 times respectively within that 20-30 minute walk.
 

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I normally don't get into this training stuff with people as it loses a lot in the translation on the internet. I'll give it a shot, in my opinion one mistake is the term "long and relaxed" leash work. 2 things come to mind that may help (or not) all your lead has to have is just a short loop in the lead. As if a correction is needed by the time the dog gets the correction with a long relaxed lead it is too late. The timing is off and he may be getting the correction for something entirely different. Now as long as there is a small loop the dog is actually walking on a loose lead. If the correction is needed with short loop the timing is much better. Now the best weapon for heeling is something called an about turn. This is different than the turn around and walk the opposite direction as this is a tight military spin and correction given as you do the spin. It also does not have to be a correction it can be talking excitedly slapping your left leg down low on right about to give a little luring technique to the turn. Just something to confuse your training a little more but it may help a bit.

If I were to use the collar-check in that instance, she may become confused/numb to it because the mistake she made is so minute. That would also encourage me and especially a less experienced handler to rein in the leash, instead of leaving it long and relaxed. She is one of those dogs that senses tension from your body through the leash and reacts accordingly.
 

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I believe the key factor in your issue if you are attempting to use a correction based approach is that you are in fact not administering a "TRUE" correction but rather rerpeated attempts at getting to that level. HUGE DIFFERENCE in my opinion..

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In response to not using a prong collar because it is an "aversive"...so is that gentle leader you were speaking of. It grabs a dog's mouth like a pack leader would, and limits their breathing to a degree until the dog stops doing what it's doing (in the case of pulling, they release themselves by stopping, while other corrections are more manual for the human). I tried the gentle leader, and it just wasn't effective for her.
I don't know what you are describing but it is not a Gentle Leader. Not even close. Gentle Leader is gentle. Hence the name Gentle Leader. It does not grab the dogs mouth it has absolutely no effect on the dog's breathing in any shape form or fashon. The Gentle Leader is not for corrections, it is a tool used to teach the dog how to walk without pulling and nothing more. It is more akin to a horse head halter than whatever that object you are describing. I have never seen or heard of a device like you are talking about.

But, once they understand the correction associated with their choices, it often becomes a comfort in such scary situations, because it reminds them that you are in control and are going to take care of them.
Yes I would really be confident that someone jerking me and pressing nails into my neck will actually take care of me. Dogs are not stupid.

I let her have the full leash, but she did not pull to escape it. She reached the end, stopped and watched the truck. Very good.
If you are like most with the experience you have, you are going to find that the pinch collar is going to loose its power in a week or two. Then what are you going to do?

I chose to grant her certain permissions, but keep things consistent. We do not start walking until she is at my left side and looking at me. I want her walking at my left side, whether she is looking at me or not, as long as she is not letting her nose get distracted. Nose distractions warrant a check because they always get worse. Treats are dispensed intermittently (started today with every 3-5 strides, ended with every 5-20 strides). Most of the time she is looking straight in my eye.
Loosen up some. Even while you are training, it's not necessary to be so regimental all the time. Let the poor dog have some freedom sometimes. It's good that you are giving him some positive reinforcement.

If she should step a little ahead of me (by about a foot or so) but still be looking at me, this is permissable. If she steps farther ahead and is looking at me, I will do a half-halt by slowing down and she will generally return to my side on her own so we can resume normal pace. If she breaks eye contact AND steps ahead, I stop. The collar might check her sometimes, but usually she will stop before the end of the leash and return to a "here" position. If she does not return on her own I will command "Here" alternated with collar checks until she responds.
You really need to hire a trainer to teach you about dog training. Do you expect the dog to walk with you like that forever? He always has to be exactly in position 100% of the time? If so, your expectations are way too high.

Now, here's the whopper...I do not reward her for just returning to my side. 90% of the time, this results in her taking the treat and walking ahead again...the "boredom" I spoke of before. We will start as usual, with eye contact, and she will then get a treat after about 5 to 10 strides. If I feel that what distracted her is too much to handle while learning new commands, I put her in a sit-stay until it passes. If we still have to pass it, I walk more slowly and dispense treats more often.
Don't you two ever just walk and hang out together? Why is everything so regimented?

Thanks for the tips everyone. Tell me if you see any faults in this method. I love learning this stuff (it's what I've always liked about working with horses and dogs).
You are a long way from learning it yet. I can always recognize a good trainer because he never uses corrections. A good trainer knows how to teach a dog proper behavior without finding it necessary to correct. The secret is to change your mindset to "teach" rather than "train". Dogs are very open to be taught by people they respect.

When you were in school, did the teachers give you physical corrections when you made a mistake? No of course not. They taught you what you needed to know and understood you would make mistakes along the way and they let them go.

Physical corrections don't teach proper behavior. Physical corrections upset the dogs and that impairs learning.

Reading back over this post, it sounds more harsh than I meant it. Don't take it the wrong way. At one time I was in the place you are now. I made all the mistakes you are now making. I'm just trying to speed up your learning process. I eventually had to hire a trainer to show me how to teach my dog certain things. Unfortunately there were no Gentle Leaders in those days.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I'll be sure to tell my dog to, if and when I get another dog, give it treats and praise in order to teach it to not roughhouse too much or bite too hard or take her bones and so on. And when I have horses, my lead mare sure as heck won't be allowed to bite the gelding if he chooses not to move out of her path to the hay.

I've seen a lead mare kick the living daylights out of another horse one moment because it didn't respect her ranking and move when warned, and 5 minutes later they are peacefully grazing next to each other. There is structure, and there are warnings.

Everyone here seems to think I am tugging on this collar at all times. In my opinion, by giving her the whole leash and rewarding her for only using so much of it gives her all the opportunity in the world to avoid a check. She should be able to learn that being next to me is a choice and pleasant. Not that she'll get physically scolded for one step out of line. In addition to treats, the walk itself is a reward. Essentially I bring that fun walk and nummy treats to a halt when necessary to regain her attention. She has six feet to realize I have stopped and return to continue the walk that she wants. Most of the time she comes back within 4 or 5 feet. When she reaches the 6th foot it's the end of the line. and then she gets a negative feeling for being there, followed by a positive reward for returning.

Even in the comparison of herd/prey and pack/predator, I can see many crossovers. In horse training, you cannot force a horse to collect. Collection is a choice. If I handed you reins and asked you what you would do to prepare for a canter, most would say they'd tighten up the reins to make sure the horse didn't get going to fast. I'm of the belief that there should be NO tension when initially training a horse for gait. Similar to loose-leash, I practice loose rein on all horses I work with. It teaches them to carry themselves and not lean on your rein pressure. In collection, a horse should carry the bit or rest it's head in the hackamore, not lean on it.

But I am getting long winded. I need to go "torture" my dog now. It's too bad she looked so happy this morning.
 

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I'll be sure to tell my dog to, if and when I get another dog, give it treats and praise in order to teach it to not roughhouse too much or bite too hard or take her bones and so on.
Great! I do that every day with numerous client dogs.

And when I have horses, my lead mare sure as heck won't be allowed to bite the gelding if he chooses not to move out of her path to the hay.
I don't know anything about horses so I can't comment on that.

I've seen a lead mare kick the living daylights out of another horse one moment because it didn't respect her ranking and move when warned, and 5 minutes later they are peacefully grazing next to each other. There is structure, and there are warnings.
If she was the lead mare like you think she is, she wouldn't have had to kick him to get his respect. A leader has respect simply by attitude and doesn't have to take it by force. At least thats the way it is in the dog world. I'm not sure about horses but I suspect it's the same.

Everyone here seems to think I am tugging on this collar at all times.
That would be a fair assesment by reading your posts.

In my opinion, by giving her the whole leash and rewarding her for only using so much of it gives her all the opportunity in the world to avoid a check.
You just won't listen. A leash correction (I guess thats what you are calling a check) doesn't teach her the correct behavior. It teaches her what the wrong behavior is but doesn't teach the correct behavior.

She should be able to learn that being next to me is a choice and pleasant.
Thats just not the way a dog's mind works. It would be much easier to train if it was. Will she learn it eventually if you jerk her enough? Yeah she will learn it someday but not anytime soon. Of course it will take you a while to learn that. You already realize you are having a problem teaching her to walk on a loose leash and you also realize what you are doing now isn't working. Thats the reason for this post. So why do you keep arguing with people who have success teaching this every day?

Not that she'll get physically scolded for one step out of line. In addition to treats, the walk itself is a reward. Essentially I bring that fun walk and nummy treats to a halt when necessary to regain her attention.
Frankly unless I am missing something, your walks don't sound very fun for the dog. Even if she walks exactly perfect in your eyes, there is no way such a regimentated walk is fun. Getting and holding attention is not that difficult. Its pretty easily learned.

She has six feet to realize I have stopped and return to continue the walk that she wants. Most of the time she comes back within 4 or 5 feet. When she reaches the 6th foot it's the end of the line. and then she gets a negative feeling for being there, followed by a positive reward for returning.
When you use negative and positive, they cancel each other out. Many people mistakenly believe that a dog should be rewarded when they do good and punished if they do bad. Sounds good on paper but it doesn't work that way in the real world.

Even in the comparison of herd/prey and pack/predator, I can see many crossovers.
Again, I am not a horse trainer so I can't comment on that.

But I am getting long winded. I need to go "torture" my dog now. It's too bad she looked so happy this morning.
I think the best thing you can do is find a positive reinforcement trainer and teach you how to train. You can't use coersion to motivate. Once you learn to motivate your dog, teaching her anything will be a snap.
 
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