I have a 4 month old female pup, AmStaff/Boxer (we think – she was a rescue). She responds well to all training, EXCEPT for walking and heeling.
We’ve practiced the loose-leash “turning on a dime” technique described in your book and audio tape at length, but she refuses to cooperate.
It’s not a matter of distraction – when I attempt to train her in this style, she pulls back with all her strength. When the loose leash is snapped, she sits, paws braced, or lays down on her back.
These responses are immediate.
I’ve tried instantly righting her, and continuing the training, but she responds as above just as quickly. This can go on indefinitely. I’ve tried correcting her with a low “No,” and praising her if she responds correctly for even an instant. I’ve tried using treats to get her to at least walk with me briefly…… all to no success.
What else should I try?
It’s a good question you’ve asked.
First, you DO NOT want to work the dog around distractions at this point in the game.
Second, you should not be telling the dog, “No!” and jerking the leash for this behavior. Instead, you need to simply glue the leash to your belt and keep walking.
Now here’s where your problem will arise: You’ve already inadvertently taught your dog that if she kicks and screams long enough (or rolls on her back and throws a tantrum)… that eventually you will stop walking and come to see what’s wrong.
The only problem is… NOTHING IS WRONG!
It’s like if I take you in a helicopter and drop you off in the middle of the desert and tell you that I’m going to leave you there, but will eventually come back and pick you up in half an hour (or 2 hours, or a whole day!!!) … you will simply sit there and not attempt to remedy your situation, as you know that I’m coming back to pick you up.
Eventually, this situation will end and I’ll come back and your problems will be over.
However, if I instead drop you off in the middle of the desert and tell you that I’m never coming back… then all of the sudden you’re in a position where you MUST START TRYING DIFFERENT THINGS TO BETTER YOUR SITUATION.
Maybe you start to look for some twigs you can start a smoke fire with, to draw the attention of an airplane overhead.
Or perhaps you climb on top of a rock, to look for a nearby highway so that you can hitch hike to a nearby pay phone.
But the point is… you start actively looking for a solution because you IMMEDIATELY REALIZE THAT YOUR SITUATION WILL NOT SIMPLY END BY ITSELF.
And this is the same thing you need to teach your dog. And it’s a lesson that will extend beyond this one exercise. Your dog must learn that just because she does not want to do something DOES NOT mean that you will give in and let her not do the exercise.
BECAUSE THIS CREATES A SPOILED DOG.
So… what should you do? The answer is really quite simple. Just keep walking. No matter how much the dog kicks and screams and throws a tantrum, remember: You’re not asking her to do anything she cannot do if she chooses. We’re asking her to SIMPLY WALK WITH YOU.
Now, in light of everything you’ve already taught her (remember, every action you do teaches your dog something)… you may have to keep walking a quarter of a mile before she finally realizes that you’re not stopping and that it’s easier to walk alongside you than it is to be
dragged on her rump.
Trust me… it won’t be a pretty scene for your neighbors to look out their window and see you dragging your dog on her rump down the street.
But when you will be able to take that same dog out for a casual stroll later that evening, your neighbors will wonder if you didn’t trade your dog in for a different one and will gasp at how well she walks alongside you on the leash.