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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Thanked: 0

    7 year old-too late for loose leash training?

    Our 7 year old lab is a wonderful, relaxed, friendly addition to our family. He has a great temperament and enjoys people and other dogs. He has never walked very well on a leash, often pulling and sniffing. We hired a trainer years ago, but he wanted us to use the shock collar (we used it on vibrate) to teach him to walk nice, but we didn't love that and as such, we have a dog that pulls and sniffs and does not walk nicely beside us for the most parts of his daily walk. I've had enough but i'm worried it's too late. He can be stubborn on walks at times, lies down when he wants to meet another dog or wants to go left, not right. We have created this, so I take the blame but I am wondering if I can still train him to walk nicely beside us. I can live with the lying down, we wait it out usually but the pulling and sniffing isn't giving him a solid exercise walk, just an exploratory experience outside.

  2. #2
    Senior Dog
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Upstate New York
    Thanked: 787
    I don't think it's too late to teach your dog to walk nicely on a leash. I think you need to go back to the basics. When walking your dog, you want him to focus on YOU, rather than everything else around you.

    I would go back to basic obedience training with your dog. Keep repeating the basic commands like "sit" "down" "Come" "stay" etc. Help your dog to focus on you. Use treats. I would do several training sessions a day. When walking your dog, if he starts to lose focus, tell him to "look" at you, when he does, give him a treat and say "yes"! It will take work on your part...your goal is to have your dog walking loosely on a leash while giving his attention to you rather than pulling and sniffing.

    Hope others will chime in with more advice here.

  3. #3
    Senior Dog smartrock's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Carolina in my mind..
    Thanked: 4183
    I'd say that since he's been walking wildly on his walk for 7 years, it's not going to be a quick fix. Plus, being able to sniff and find out what's happening in his surroundings is what makes the walk enjoyable for him and actually provides a fair amount of mental exercise for him. Here's something I recently read:

    "Exercise options with dogs The majority of pet owners choose to exercise their dogs through walking. For some dogs, especially overweight or geriatric pups, this can be a great form of exercise and can meet their daily needs. However, simply walking for 10 minutes a couple times a day is not enough for other dogs, especially young and/or active dogs and breeds. However, walking can provide a great form of mental exercise by allowing your dog to explore new places and smells along the way. That’s often what makes dogs tired after a walk—the mental exercise! Walking is a great base for your dog’s physical exercise plan, but know that something more will likely need to be added unless you’re walking several miles per day (and even then, walking sometimes is not enough)."

    Bender,Allie. Canine Enrichment for the Real World (p. 49). Dogwise Publishing. Kindle Edition.

    Maybe this is just my excuse for not making my dogs walk by my side the entire time but they enjoy checking out the latest "pee-mail" and aren't the best behaved when they see other dogs.

    So first I'd advise taking some really good treats on the walks with you to use as lures or as rewards for the behavior you want. Second, I'd suggest starting your walk allowing him to do plenty of sniffing, peeing, more sniffing, more peeing, then at some point, OK, that's enough, let's walk. That way he's gotten some of his exploring done right off the bat.

    If you see another dog and you know he'll want to lie down, which is his way of telling the other dog he's not a threat, bring out the treats and try to avoid letting him lie down to start with but rather to walk past the other dog, using treats as lures and rewards for doing what you ask. If you don't want him to lie down, you have to catch him before it happens and let him know what behavior you want of him instead (e.g. keep walking, Buddy). And reward him for doing it. At first it may take a lot of treats to get that behavior. I try to use treats they especially like or that they don't get for just coming in the back door or practicing sit, stay, go to your crate, minor stuff.

    I don't make my dogs walk right beside me as long as they aren't pulling. I will say their name and if they look at me and as soon as they give any indication that their attention has been diverted to you, give them a treat and a verbal signal like, Yes! Once mine know I have their special treats on me, they will circle around to me to get their treat and start out again. If I forget their treats, I still will say their name and give a verbal reward for looking toward me, but the treats really help us.

    I hope this will help. Mine pull at the start of walks but after they've gotten some of their energy out, they stop pulling and are better behaved. I still need treats to help with other dogs coming along. My younger dog actually does better than the 7 year old, who learned from our last dog who barked like Cujo at other dogs on walks. Lark (7) is better than Chase was, Henry (2) is better than Lark. Maybe my next dog will really act like a professional dog!

    Chase 9/29/2006- 6/30/2017 Always in our hearts
    Lark 12/25/2012- 2/2/22
    Henry 7/14/18
    Joey 5/14/2022

    “Because of the dog's joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?”

    Mary Oliver, Hidden Content

  4. #4
    Senior Dog smartrock's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Carolina in my mind..
    Thanked: 4183
    I hadn't seen what lovemylabby wrote before I sent mine- I was out on a walk with my own beasts, with a pocket full of beef jerky!

    I'm glad to see we were on the same wavelength!

  5. #5
    Senior Dog Snowshoe's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Ontario, Canada
    Thanked: 5114
    I read somewhere that it takes one week to make a habit and three weeks to break it. So seven years times three may take some doing to get the kind of walking you want. I really think professional help, would, well, help. Find out ahead of time what a dog trainer's methods are and what tools they use. Ask if you can observe a class. Some trainers specialize in fixing bad habits, probably one of those would be best. Your Vet or boarding facility might give you some good leads (pun intended) on trainers.

    My ideas - I make sure to allow some sniffing. After all, dogs need to check their peemail. While most of our walks are off leash there is a route we must be leashed and I allow sniffs on a certain section of it. And I find walking briskly really helps the rest of the time.
    Hidden Content

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    Oct. 15, 2007 - June 13, 2021
    Oxtongue Rapids Park. Oct. 2019 Hidden Content

  6. #6
    Best Friend Retriever silverfz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Land of Holes
    Thanked: 182
    I been working on leash walking from 8 weeks and my dog is 4 yrs old and she drags me for the first half mile and does her poop. i use prong collar only during walk, chest harness and front loop thing and she is ok. put her on a flat corner then hold for a ride.

  7. #7
    Puppy SullyBear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2023
    Thanked: 5
    This is one of Sully's issues that is internment at times. We have to keep him on the ball because he looses his mind somewhere from the bus to the doctor's! Lol. Yesterday he had alot of energy - after being off leash and doing some whistle recalls [since his pads are healing - he's doing well with the boots on not off]. He suddenly remembered how to heel and loose leash the entire day after that. Out of all things I struggle with various times [it's that]. He's great 90% - 10% is where we struggle.

    We used a head halter on him throughout but I wanted to try a martingale and he's been doing well. I always reward on the side of my wheelchair and not infront of his face ahead. We stop if he goes ahead and he corrects himself to align back to my wheelchair. It's a constant training. Yesterday we were able to just heel with a training tab/no leash. I try to give him alot of paychecks [using his environment, toy, treats, chase, off leash etc]. In public access he's phenomenal offleash. We do a round of "go sniff" all the way home and recall after working all day. Most importantly if you let them pull, get to where they want to sniff - they are self gratifying. Their paycheck is better and bigger than yours. You have to up the ante. Sully gets about 4-5 hours of walking in a day. In-between that he's taking breaks, off vest to be off leash to go sniff and various of other things. Use yummy treats, or a ball, or a stuffy [I just give him his ball to carry then ask for it back and he enjoys just having it in his mouth or he carries his lambchop for a while].

    Sun was in my eyes [above photo]

    I find environment and generalized is so important. Just because he does it well in one area - we have to constantly be training in other areas [never stops]. Dogs don't generalize well. I have to always keep that in mind.

  8. The Following User Says Thank You to SullyBear For This Useful Post:

    SunDance (07-13-2023)


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