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    1. #1
      lab2016's Avatar
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      Feb 2017
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      8 Month Old Puppy Issues - Walks are a Living Nightmare!

      I have a beautiful 8.5 month old male Lab. He is amazing in the house. No destruction, no accidents. He is very obedient. He's wonderful with our 8 year old son and he's very affectionate. However, over the last 2 months taking him on a walk just down the block has been physically and emotionally stressful for both of us. First, he pulls like crazy. I've literally been taking him on daily walks since he was 8 weeks old and have attempted to train him in loose leash walking (with the help of several trainers) with zero success. I have used positive reinforcement/clicker techniques. I have used a harness...no luck. Martingale collar...no luck. He is 69 lbs and the pulling and yearning desire to mark everything in his sight (not neutered yet) has become so intense that it was become a safety issue for me. He pulled me down a very steep hill a couple of weeks ago that terrified me. I'm now using a head halter over the past week which has been a nightmare. He spends most of the time rolling in the grass trying to rub it off or crying/whimpering the entire time its on. Or he will glue himself to the sidewalk and refuse to move despite trying to lure him with high value treats. We can only make it to our neighbor's house because he gets so frustrated. I've left the head halter on him in the house during the day for a few hours to try and get him used to it and he looks downright depressed with it on - to the point he won't play or take treats. His demeanor completely changes (in a negative way) when I put it on.

      His world has become much smaller over the last 3 weeks because I literally can't take him on walks because he his so strong and bolts to a tree or telephone pole with no warning. I have tried to have him sit, make eye contact and then do a "gentle sniff sniff" when he wants to get to something, but that only works about 20% of the time. He gets so aroused so quickly that any loose leash walking he could do in our backyard and driveway is completely gone once we are on the sidewalk. I've been doing this for months.

      The trainer I have now says I have done everything right as far as my clicker mechanics with loose leash walking, but she said he has a low arousal threshold and a low frustration threshold to the point where his brain can't grasp any training once we leave our property. She recommended medication (i.e. Prozac). I then went to my vet who said this was "normal adolescent lab behavior". She said he does not need meds because he is fine in the house and can settle down in public (for brief periods). She just said to use the head halter with a very short leash. I tried this and he cried/whimpered/froze the whole time. I fear he will become scared of going on a walk.

      So...is the normal adolescent lab, stubborn behavior? Am I doing something wrong? Is this a phase? Should I stop walks all together until he's older? He gets an hour of play in our yard (which he has been getting bored of lately no matter how exciting I try to make the play). We don't have dog parks nearby. Doggie Daycares I have investigated require him to be neutered. Vet doesn't want him neutered until he is @ 16 months old. Ugh!

      Any advice or insight would be appreciated. I feel bad for the little guy. I hope I'm not screwing him up!

    2. #2
      Senior Dog
      smartrock's Avatar
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      May 2014
      Carolina in my mind..
      Thanked: 2723
      My older dog despised the head halter and would do just what your pup sounds like he's doing. I'd tried a flat collar and a martingale as well. Our 2 most recent obedience trainers suggested folks use a prong or pinch collar in class to help train the dogs, the whole class used them which was 8-10 dogs. There are a fair number of folks on here who use prong collars on their labs, others who don't like them. Both of mine walk using a prong collar, both can sometimes still pull like sled dogs and they're 4 and 10 years old, but I know it can happen so I'm mentally prepared. See what your trainer's thoughts are on using a prong. Not all trainers like them and if yours doesn't and you really want to use one, you may need to find a different trainer. You could certainly stop in to a store where they sell prong collars and put one around your arm or leg to see what it would feel like on your dog. they do pinch but it's not like you're preparing them for the rotisserie.

      I don't use a clicker- I never worked on it consistently enough for my older dog to decide it was a reinforcement worth working for I guess. My dogs work best for food, including on walks. I let mine sniff a fair amount. I got pulled down twice by my older dog when he was under a year old, once down a flight of stairs and once on the beach, I did a complete face plant. He likewise doesn't care about playing fetch, running after a frisbee or things like you'd hope your dog might enjoy. He would play soccer with me, kind of, although his favorite position was goalie. I think I ran more than he did but we had fun. I'm sure others will chime in on techniques for walking, it's a weekend and we tend to get fewer people on here.

      I'd vote with your vet on the adolescent lab behavior and the use of prozac, although you have to decide what is best for you and your own safety. I'm not sure drugging him would accomplish the loose leash out on the neighborhood walk. They do reach an adolescent stage where all previous training seems to fly out the window. You have to keep at the training, trying to be consistent, and hoping this phase passes quickly.

      Someone posted a link to an article on exercise and dog reactivity which might be of interest Exercise s Your Sit?

    3. #3
      Senior Dog
      windycanyon's Avatar
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      Jun 2014
      C. WA
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      Sounds like a normal adolescent to me but no way would I want a pup owner using prozac! Can you find a different, perhaps more traditional trainer to work with? Honestly, I have a litter going out right now, and I told ALL of them to PLEASE not show up w/ harnesses etc. These pups will likely need puppy prong collars at ~4 mos to teach them some personal restraint while on leash and I am positive it won't harm their little psyches. Funny yesterday that one of my couples / families just started laughing thinking about their last lab who was put on a puppy prong immediately upon entering the class and all was well in NO time. As you may tell, I am not a fan of ignore the negative / reward the positive only. I am a balanced trainer and my labs DO love me!!!! All are house dogs, have the run of 5 acres when they choose, and willingly work (compete) w/ me as a teammate when asked. You don't mention where you live but maybe someone here is in your area and can give you a recommendation for a more appropriate trainer. Best of luck. Anne
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    5. #4
      Senior Dog
      Snowshoe's Avatar
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      May 2014
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      Have to agree, I favour your Vet's interpretation over your trainer's. What does the trainer think will happen after you pup stops taking Prozac? Will he miraculously be trained then?

      Your pup is exactly the same age mine was when I bought a prong. I was reluctant but he could pull me down the road too. I bought it from our trainer who showed me how to fit it and use it. I only needed it going in and out of training class, with dogs in close contact, and out walking about our village. I didn't need it forever (like you probably would the prozac) and right now I honestly don't even know where it is. ONe thing I did as well at this stage is we were still taking classes. We got our CGN (at 9 months old ) after taking classes just for it and continued on into competitive obedience classes. I really was not that keen on competing in obedience but my dog needed the thinking work it provided. 8.5 months is a tough age.

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    7. #5
      Senior Dog
      Annette47's Avatar
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      May 2014
      Central NJ
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      Another satisfied prong user here, too.

      Cookie (Jamrah’s Legally Blonde, BN) 6/4/2015
      Sassy (Jamrah’s Blonde Ambition, BN) 6/4/2015

      Chloe (HIT HC Windsong’s Femme Fatale, UDX4, OM5) 6/7/2009

      Scully (Coventry's Truth Is Out There, UD, RN) 4/4/1996 - 6/30/2011
      Our foster Jolie (UCh Windsong’s Genuine Risk, CDX, WC) 5/26/1999 - 3/2/2014
      and Mulder (Coventry’s I Want to Believe, UD, VER, WC, RN) 5/26/1999 - 4/20/2015

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    8. #6
      Chief Pooper Scooper
      JenC's Avatar
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      May 2014
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      Prong collar and new trainer...and NO PROZAC! You have a young male lab. There are no brains in that head.

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    10. #7
      Best Friend Retriever
      annkie's Avatar
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      May 2014
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      From my personal experience... When I got Jules he was 25 lbs. I was a personal trainer at the time. He was pulling like a mad dog on walks. He was pulling so hard that I literally changed my training at the gym and started lifting heavier weights just so I can handle him! I kid you not! So, I completely understand you in that regard. My shoulders and back were killing me. I tried every collar on the market and ended up using the Halti. Jules chewed up the first one. I got another one. He was not a happy camper putting it on. I had to chase him around the house for the first few weeks just to get it on his head. Then he did the same thing as your dog where he would rub his face trying to get it off. I just got on with the show of walking. Distracted him with high pitch voice and running back and forth. Once he got use to it, that collar saved us. It was the only thing that worked. However, clearly your dog is not taking it so well.

      The other thing I tried is, I got a 25 foot retractable leash. Jules knew not to go on the road so it worked for us. If your dog doesn't stay on a path then I wouldn't recommend it unless you're on a field. But the retractable leash allowed Jules to walk ahead and sniff and mark every blade of grass he wanted without pulling on me. He did learn that a tug and a "let's go" meant just that, move it along. Jules got neutered at 8 months and he still marked everything and humped my sofa until he passed at 12.8 yrs. I wouldn't medicaid your dog over this though.

    11. #8
      Senior Dog
      kimbersmom's Avatar
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      May 2014
      Williamsburg, Virginia
      Thanked: 1514
      Prong. They look evil, but they really don't hurt the dog. We called it Kimber's "bling" and when I took it out of the drawer she got so excited because she knew it meant Adventures! I did find it helpful to have our trainer (who had good experience with prongs) to size it right and show me how to correct with it.
      Miss Kimber, CGC, 6/15/2005-1/26/18

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    13. #9
      Senior Dog
      Shelley's Avatar
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      May 2014
      United States
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      Omg I hate head collars and harnesses! They DON'T work! Harnesses are for sled dogs, where they are supposed to Pull, head collars can cause neck injuries.

      A properly fitted and and instructions on how to use a prong collar will help you and keep you safe while training your puppy not to pull while walking. I have a prong, and use it when I need to, and it is a great training tool when needed, I think you need it right now.

      I want to ask too, does your puppy get lots of free running around and playing time? He is an adolescent, and this time is the worst for puppies, but he needs to "get the wiggles" out too sometimes. This age is when people start taking their puppies to the shelter or rehoming them, because they think they are naughty, when they are just growing babies, testing their boundaries. He will come back around in a couple months with consistent and fair training and a lot of patience. Keep walking him, it's the only way to teach him what you expect of him, on walks and make him into a good dog.

      My favorite article on prong collars
      Leerburg Dog Training | How to Fit a Prong Collar

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    15. #10
      barry581's Avatar
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      May 2014
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      I concur with the prong collar. A harness will only reinforce pulling and head halters have their own set of issues. I have a 9.5 month on male, and as soon as he walks ahead of me, I stop and say at-ah. There were days I would stop 30 times on a 20 minute walk. Now all I have to do is say at-ah and he comes right back

      Your dog is self rewarding with his behavior, and it's up to you to correct the behavior.

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