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Teaching good leash manners. Stories, advice?

Got a new, young, furry love in your life? This is the place for you to ask all of your questions-big or small! Just remember that you are receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a vet or behaviorist! Most important is to remember to have fun with your new fur baby.

  
Sputnik

It moves? Love- it!
 
 
Barked: Thu Jan 3, '13 10:07am PST 
My 9 week old pup and I go out for mini walks to burn off some energy and out to the bathroom alot. We have two other friendly dogs and a friendly cat outside, and tons of countryside distractions that make our outdoor outings more difficult. Being a puppy, he loves jumping on and messing with the other animals, and its hard to get him off of them, even when they show they aren't too enthused about being jumped all over. He also loves to watch anything that moves, loves trying to eat leaves and rocks, and loves trying to run in the opposite direction that I'm walking. I understand he's a puppy, but I'd like to break bad habits when he's young so he'll have good leash manners later on. Any advice? Personal experiences?
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UCH Onyx TT,- CGC

Do you even- lift?
 
 
Barked: Thu Jan 3, '13 3:34pm PST 
I wouldn't be too worried about leash manners at 9 weeks. He's very much a baby and still exploring the world around him. Trying to stop him from taking in all the new sights, sounds, and smells would not only be fighting a losing battle, but would also hinder a critical part of the socialization process.

If you have lots of open countryside where you can walk a good distance from roads, I'd say ditch the leash altogether for the time being (or if you're not comfortable doing that, get a 30 ft cotton long line for him to drag). He's at an age where if you walk away from him, chances are very good that he'll follow; it's really a prime time to teach good off lead walking habits. It'll give him the opportunity to explore, while at the same time teaching him to be aware of where you are.

If the other dogs are friendly, I wouldn't worry much about him bothering them a bit. Well socialized dogs will issue an appropriate correction to let him know when they've had enough. Same thing with chewing rocks and leaves. Puppies are like babies in that they do a lot of exploring with their mouths. As long as he's not actually swallowing anything harmful, let him play. What you're seeing aren't bad habits, just normal puppy inquisitiveness.

When you do want his attention in a distracting environment, bring along something interesting like food or a toy he loves, and reward behaviors you want, like him giving you attention. Just remember that at this age, his attention span will be that of a gnat, and the whole world is a new, exciting place that he's hardwired to investigate. Keep all training sessions short (like 2-3 minutes), fun, and rewarding. At this age, new experiences are more important than most training. He's still very young and there will be plenty of time for formal obedience later.
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Sputnik

It moves? Love- it!
 
 
Barked: Thu Jan 3, '13 3:52pm PST 
So when should I be worried about leash manners? Because I don't want him being a dog and trying to pull me and trying to jump on other animals. I understand he's just a puppy, but I don't what those habits continued on to when hes older. I've always been told to start training early so they'll get it sooner and easier
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UCH Onyx TT,- CGC

Do you even- lift?
 
 
Barked: Sat Jan 5, '13 12:29pm PST 
It's true it's better to start training sooner than later, but 9 weeks is very young to expect a puppy to have good leash manners. At 9 weeks, the leash is still a complete novelty. You certainly can and should start training at this age, but I wouldn't make it your main focus. Like I said, do short, fun, 2-3 minute training sessions a few times a day. As he gets older, gradually increase the length of your sessions. You want to end a session before he gets bored and checks out.

For loose lead walking, have you tried the "tree method"? Anytime he puts any tension on the leash, you stop moving completely. When he comes back toward you and makes the lead slack again, reward with praise/food, and keep walking. This does take time, and he won't get it right away, but as with any training, consistency is key. If you aren't already, I'd recommend clicker/marker training, as it will make it much clearer to him what you're rewarding him for, and your training will progress more quickly. Start in a low distraction area, like in the house. Set him up for success by making yourself the most interesting thing available, then gradually add distractions. But again, walks at his age should mostly be about exploring, not perfect loose lead walking.

Just remember that while training is important, and it is good to start young, before he hits his bratty adolescent phase, you don't want to burn him out on obedience. Make sure all training at this age is fun, fun, fun, with no corrections. When teaching anything new, he doesn't know what you want yet, so it's unfair to correct him for getting it wrong. Clicker training is great for teaching new behaviors because it doesn't punish mistakes, and it encourages the dog to think and figure out what you're asking for.
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Member Since
07/21/2012
 
 
Barked: Mon Jan 7, '13 6:04am PST 
Haha! I remember having the exact same worries. I'm a first time owner and my pup is now 7 months old (probably belgian shepherd/collie cross or something like that). I think I always treated her as way older than she was (and still do) because I was worried that the behaviour she displayed would last on into adulthood (stopping, sniffing everything, pulling, etc. etc.). For a part, it DOES get better automatically with age. She doesn't want to explore everything on a molecular level anymore.

My experiences:
I would always let her stop and sniff everywhere she wanted. Being a shelter dog she is relatively insecure and nervous and I found that this made her relaxed: knowing that she could explore the things she wanted to explore. I still let her now for the most part, unless it's really every two seconds (stopping and sniffing whenever she wants), but really she has gotten more and more interested in moving over the past months and has also figured out she can sniff and move at the same time. I'll let her do this for a while, at a certain point when I'll feel she's ready I will teach her to walk with her head up and only stop to sniff on command.

I never let her pull - I'm someone who gets extremely annoyed by having someone pulling at them and I don't want her to have to deal with me constantly being irritated by her pulling. My girl isn't an extreme puller, however when she would be leashed in the forest, she'd pull very very hard. Due to her being in a complete chasing phase at the moment I can't let her off leash at this point until we have successfully trained this behavior to go away. The upside is that because I have to keep her on leash in the forest at all times, I was forced to teach her not to pull at all. I tried several things: stopping and waiting until she would stop pulling, sit and look at me/go back a few paces, walking back in the other direction as soon as she'd pull, walk very fast, use lots of distractions/toys, give food rewards every time the line is slack. None of these really worked for me: the stopping and waiting made us both impatient, and the turning around made me tired and her nervous. Then I read a section in a training guide for service dogs (to aid the blind) that uses positive reinforcement. It said that whenever your dog pulls, you stop in your tracks immediately (don't let them be able to move closer to where they want to go), stand firmly in your place without moving, then gently pull your dog back towards you until there is slack in the leash. No yanking or anything, just a smooth, relaxed motion. Then when the line is slack you can continue moving. I also used a bit of food rewards whenever the line would be slack. This worked PERFECT. After about 2 walks she wasn't pulling at all and I like this method because it allows me to correct her quickly and then move on instead of having to wait with her growing more and more impatient. The leash drags on the floor for the most time now and when she feels a bit of pressure she'll slow down (unless she sees a bird hehe). In the future I would like her to be in a heel position at all time during on leash walks, but for now I don't feel like that's something I can demand of her at this age.

Things that will still take a lot of work is eating off the ground during walks. Where I live there's a lot of food on the streets, and her having been hungry in the shelter has turned her into a dog that will eat anything she finds.
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D'artagnan

I'm not lazy,- I'm just waiting- to play..
 
 
Barked: Fri Jan 11, '13 8:56am PST 
One of the best way to start leash training a puppy I heard is actually by teaching them to pay attention to you in general by using there natural inclination to follow you, like Onyx mentioned. Have Sputnik off leash in the backyard (or long line in a field ) and walk away from him. If he follows to the point of running past you, turn and walk in another direction but don't call him to you. Eventually with all turning he will start to follow behind you or next to you waiting for you to turn again... And when he gets to that point he gets a treat smile its like a game for him and will help him focus on you on walks because he never knows when your going to turn AND he gets a treat for being next to you.
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Member Since
12/02/2012
 
 
Barked: Wed Jan 16, '13 11:06pm PST 
A puppy who is 9 weeks old is still a young pup, and the behavior you described is natural for a pup his age. However, you do want to make him listen to you so that you can start training him soon. You may want to get him used to playing with the leash for starters. Make sure that you wouldn't be scaring him away. Place the leash in his view when he is experiencing a positive moment in his daily routine like when he is eating. That way, he'll associate the leash to something good.
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