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Distractions while walking on leash

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I have been using this forum for several months but this is my first post. I have a 9 month old female named Juno that I have had since she was 10 weeks. She has had 13 weeks of puppy school and I have been training her daily on various things. So far she has proven to be a good learner and she has a fair vocabulary. I have been using the relaxation protocol for several weeks now and I have been doing some of the games from the book Control Unleashed Puppy Program. Overall Juno is a wonderful dog with a friendly temperment. When we are training she is usually well focussed.

 

The one area that is giving me difficulty is distractions when I am walking her. I walk her on a four foot leash and I separate heeling from loosh leash walking (thanks to advice from this forum). When I see a car coming on the street I have her sit and target my hand for a treat. If I see the car soon enough this works but if the car approaches too quickly she lunges on the leash. When we approach people or dogs, nothing seems to work. She just starts to pull. I have her sit and look at me before I let her proceed but she gets so excited when we finally reach the person or dog that she jumps all over them when we reach them. Sometimes, I have to put my foot on the leash to control her. She pays no attention to me. I have started the beginning of the Look at Me game from Control Unleashed and I am hoping as I progress with this game that it will help.

 

I am looking for any advice but I am also wondering if at 9 months she should be more focussed. Should I be expecting more or should I just be patient and hope that maturity will help?

 

Bill

 

 

 

 

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Hi there!

The first thing to know is that you have done the right thing. You

have spotted a problem early on and asked for help. These tiny traits

will only grow into serious dominance issues if dismissed, and I guarantee that

there's always a way out of every dog issue, and this is a common one.

Firstly I highly recommend a retractable leash, as these can be made from two meters

long to 20.

Secondly it's good news that you're also doing dog training books. Alot of dog

owners solely rely on puppy classes. These dog trainers have not much time to be focusing on your dog alone, although they are great ways to exchange experience. As for many dog books(you many have also come across these)many dog books are very 'general' and often have few amount of actual content in them as well. Out of all the dog books I have come across the Border Collie Owners' guide is perfect. (search border collie advice .com and check out the book)

personally out of experience I will never have to get anther book again

It covers all nooks and corners of BC owning and in intricate detail.

good luck,

Laura

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I'm not sure what your experience level and background is with these dogs, Laura, but an awful lot of your advice here and on your other post seems rather contrary to what experienced handlers and trainers of both livestock working and active pet and performance Border Collies would suggest.

 

Not meaning to be mean but perhaps it would help if you were to give a little background about yourself before offering such definitive advice.

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I wouldn't use a retractable leash with a dog who lunges. Too much risk of someone getting hurt. Besides, it's just bad policy and bad manners to have a pulling dog on a long lead unless you're very sure you can keep it away from other people.

 

 

Someone else could advise you better on this but I have heard of people setting up a situation with a friend, where the dog will only actually get to greet your friend once they're being calm and not lunging. Because it sets up what the dog's really excited about (meeting people) as the reward it's supposed to be more motivating for them. Link here.

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The CU game is Look at That, not look at me. You want to mark when she looks at the stimulus and give her a treat. This will over time and worked at the appropriate threshold turn into her head bouncing back and forth between looking out and looking back at you for a treat.

 

I would be tempted to use a red light/green light sort of game for people. If she's pulling towards a person, you make a U-turn and start walking the other way. If she walks calmly she gets to approach the person. If she jumps you walk away, if she offers a calm behavior she gets to greet.

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Hi Bill, please don’t switch to a flexi-leash. The 4’ leash you are using now is just fine. It also sounds like you’re on the right track in regards to Juno’s training too. Continue doing the Look At That game. Juno is still a puppy so self control is still hard for her.

 

How do the people act when they are close to Juno? Are they encouraging her to act out? Simple eye contact can do that. If so, politely ask them to ignore her and keep walking.

 

When Juno starts acting up when she first notices people redirection her attention. Have you tried turning around and walking the opposite direction? One thing none of my dogs can ignore is a squeaky toy. Josie’s a nibbler so when she destroyed a couple of toys, I took the squeaker out and kept it. I gave one away but I keep the 2nd one in my pocket. (I used to keep a ball in my pocket. One day when I was trying to check out at the vets, JJ kept trying to go behind the counter. I pulled the ball out and bounced it one time…instant JJ attention. There was a lady behind me who apparently had never seen a very-focused-on-a-toy dog before because she started saying “OMG! Did you see that?”, “Look at him!” and “How did she teach him to do that??” I was in a hurry so I ignored her. Honestly, I wouldn’t even know how to begin explaining something like that anyway.) Any time I want one of my dog’s attention all I have to do is squeeze the squeaker once. Can you have a friend meet up with you guys out in public? When she starts acting up use the squeaker. Keep her attention until your friend walks up. When they do, your friend could totally ignore her until she calms down. Once she’s calm your friend could then reward her with a pat. If/when she gets excited again (and she probably will) your friend should stop instantly, take a step back and look away/ignore her again. When she calms down, reward with a pat again. Puppies have a short attention span so I would do this only 3-4 times before walking on. The more ‘meet up’ dates you can make the better but, if that’s not possible, redirect her attention with whatever works. Make yourself more fun than the people she’s looking at. Oh! And if/when you come across people who ignore your request to not pet her if she’s jumping up on them, walk away. Nobody has the right to undermine your training. I don’t care how nice they think they are being.

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When Juno starts acting up when she first notices people redirection her attention. Have you tried turning around and walking the opposite direction? One thing none of my dogs can ignore is a squeaky toy. Josie’s a nibbler so when she destroyed a couple of toys, I took the squeaker out and kept it. I gave one away but I keep the 2nd one in my pocket. (I used to keep a ball in my pocket. One day when I was trying to check out at the vets, JJ kept trying to go behind the counter. I pulled the ball out and bounced it one time…instant JJ attention. There was a lady behind me who apparently had never seen a very-focused-on-a-toy dog before because she started saying “OMG! Did you see that?”, “Look at him!” and “How did she teach him to do that??” I was in a hurry so I ignored her. Honestly, I wouldn’t even know how to begin explaining something like that anyway.) Any time I want one of my dog’s attention all I have to do is squeeze the squeaker once. Can you have a friend meet up with you guys out in public? When she starts acting up use the squeaker. Keep her attention until your friend walks up. When they do, your friend could totally ignore her until she calms down. Once she’s calm your friend could then reward her with a pat. If/when she gets excited again (and she probably will) your friend should stop instantly, take a step back and look away/ignore her again. When she calms down, reward with a pat again. Puppies have a short attention span so I would do this only 3-4 times before walking on. The more ‘meet up’ dates you can make the better but, if that’s not possible, redirect her attention with whatever works. Make yourself more fun than the people she’s looking at. Oh! And if/when you come across people who ignore your request to not pet her if she’s jumping up on them, walk away. Nobody has the right to undermine your training. I don’t care how nice they think they are being.

 

While the squeaker may be an effective management technique, it's distraction rather than training the correct behavior, and will allow the friend to come in at a closer threshold than the pup can be successful at. The other advice is pretty spot on.

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You've gotten some great advice above. I just really wanted to agree that, IMO, a flexi-leash is just about the worst tool you could use with a dog who needs to be kept calm and under control. Not only can it be dangerous (literally the torque on the retractor, the nylon leash itself and the propensity to break all together can cause bodily harm) but it also gives you very little control over the dog. I think a good 4ft or 6ft leash works best for a dog in training. I've always liked the 6ft because it gives the dog enough room to make a mistake and then self correct before hitting the end of the lead, but that's just my experience. Either way, whatever tools you are using, I wish you and Juno luck going forward!

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Big NO to a retractable (flexi) leash!!!

 

And forget the dominance stuff. It's been pretty well debunked across the boards.

 

Otherwise you've gotten some good advice. Try your best to keep her under threshold -- i.e. not reacting -- when you're working with her. Every time she gets overly excited -- i.e. over threshold -- she can't really process what you're trying to do with her and it's self rewarding.

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While the squeaker may be an effective management technique, it's distraction rather than training the correct behavior, and will allow the friend to come in at a closer threshold than the pup can be successful at.

 

Maybe. Depends on how it’s used. If the OP and his pup are walking past a group of people, I see it as an I’m-more-fun-than-they-are tool. (I’m not saying constantly squeak it. I’m saying just squeeze it once and when he has Juno’s attention keep eye contact with her while talking to her and maybe giving her a treat until they’ve past.) If using it with the meet-up date, the friend can stop walking up to them when they see Juno getting excited. If the OP can’t get Juno to settle, he can squeak it once to get her attention again. Once she’s settled, the friend can start slowly walking up again. If she doesn't settle, the friend could start walking away. Rinse and repeat as often as it takes going slowly (baby steps). The friend could also try turning their back to Juno until she’s settled.

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I had a very accomplished Karen Pryor trainer (he's actually a KPA faculty member, teaching trainers) tell me to use the clicker as a distraction to get my crazy dog's attention in certain circumstances. Puzzled me, because it seemed to go against everything I understood about timing the clicks, but it worked fantastically!

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I had a very accomplished Karen Pryor trainer (he's actually a KPA faculty member, teaching trainers) tell me to use the clicker as a distraction to get my crazy dog's attention in certain circumstances. Puzzled me, because it seemed to go against everything I understood about timing the clicks, but it worked fantastically!

 

Recharging the clicker is a good way to switch a dog into work mode. From the dog's perspective, it's not that different than the start of a freeshaping exercise.

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Thanks for all the advice. It will take me a while to process it all.

 

I used walking the other direction a lot initially just for walking training and that worked, but for major distractions I landed up dragging her for a while. This does work eventually but it doesn't stop the lunging for the next distraction.

 

The Raised by Wolves suggestion with the long line looks promising but before I start I wasn't sure what they mean by a traditional slip on collar. The collar I have now is a regular collar that snaps together. Is this the wrong type of collar?

 

I will try the arranged meetings. I have been doing this informally with a good neighbour but I will try to do it more often.

 

I am inferring from some of the posts that 9 months is still early. I see other breeds of dogs walking nicely well before 9 months. Are border collies slower to mature in this area.

 

Thanks again

Bill

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The Raised by Wolves suggestion with the long line looks promising but before I start I wasn't sure what they mean by a traditional slip on collar. The collar I have now is a regular collar that snaps together. Is this the wrong type of collar?

 

My disclaimer here: I would not use this method. It relies on a self-inflicted leash correction when the dog hits the end, which can be pretty hearty if the dog has 15' to build up steam.

 

If you try it with a flat collar (the buckle style you have), it's likely to slip off. The 'slip collar' she references is otherwise known as a choke chain. If you insist on trying this, get a martingale-style collar (or limited slip) so that it will tighten around the dog's neck and they can't back out, but it won't choke them.

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Hi Bill, welcome to the forum!

You've gotten some good advice here so I'm just going to second a warning and a bit of advise. Please do NOT use a flexi-lead. The trouble with expandable leashes is once they zip out ... you have no way to get the dog back.

For a dog that lunges, this is a recipe for disaster because they have 6 to 10 feet to hit full speed and pop the handle right out of your grasp. Also, if the dog happens to step over the flex lead and then lunge, those things have been known to cut right to the bone. Or if you try to grab it or get a leg tangled in it ... well, let's just say I've seen some pretty gruesome photos of injuries to both humans and dogs, resulting from flexi-lead accidents.

In my opinion, a flexi-lead is NOT a training tool. I use them only for fully trained, reliable dogs when I'm traveling and need to walk my dogs someplace where off-leash pottying isn't possible.

I'd also say maybe it's not time for a long line at this point. If you have a dog that's prone to lunging when excited, the last thing you want is to give her more room to get started. The short leash is perfect for impulse control and keeping her focused on you.

And finally, border collies can vary tremendously as to how early they learn focus and maturity. There is no "typical" age. My boy, Nick, acted like an adult dog at 1 year old, while his younger sister was just a silly goose until she reached age 2. Actually, she's still pretty silly, but at age 5 I can at least get her back on task. :P

Hope this helps!

~ Gloria

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Out of all the dog books I have come across the Border Collie Owners' guide is perfect. (search border collie advice .com and check out the book)

personally out of experience I will never have to get anther book again

It covers all nooks and corners of BC owning and in intricate detail.

 

 

This looks like another one of those books with an infomercial-like web page promising to cure all the training issues you'll ever have but is probably no more breed specific than any other training guide.

 

We just had a similar discussion about another book of this type. http://www.bordercollie.org/boards/index.php?showtopic=36766&page=4 Pertinent part starts in post #77.

 

Books like this are often a one size fits all format that a particular breed name and maybe a tiny bit of relevant information may have been added.

 

But they're usually not worth the paper they're printed on beyond some (often outdated) basics applicable to any breed.

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I didn't see the bit about the long line and the slip collar, the part I took from it was just the bit about how when the dog walks nicely, you get to approach the other person.

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Thanks again. I definitely won't use a flexi leash. I had one for my last dog (a husky) and I decided long ago not to get one this time round for many of the reasons listed. As for the long line, I have been using it in a modified way already for training her to come but I haven't been allowing her to choke herself. It is interesting how these forums work with much of the advice being controversial. I am also on a motorcycling forum and the same thing happens. You have to really sift through the advice given. All that said, it gives you a lot to think about and a lot of options to consider.

 

I have a neigbour who knows what I am up to so this morning he just waited until Juno calmed down before I let Juno approach him. I will try to do more of this. Thanks Gloria for the maturity note. I am hoping Juno will mature sooner rather than later but I see her getting better every day so I will be happy either way. So far I have been using only positive reinforcement and I seem to have a very happy dog so I will keep working with her in the same manner.

 

Thanks

Bill

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After a few comments I decided not to use the long line as suggested in Raised by Wolves but I still liked the idea so I modified it a bit. The other day Juno was just hopeless walking so I used the technique but on the four foot leash.

 

Here's what I did on my normal walking route.

1. Held the leash with both hands at my stomach.

2. Walked forward not looking at Juno and not speaking.

3. When I felt the leash pull I turned and walked 4 steps back

4. Then I turned forward again and kept walking until she pulled again..

4. I repeated this for about 10 minutes of my walk until she started to walk properly.

 

This was pretty tedious and at first we didn't get far but soon I could sense an improvement. She learned the limits of the leash and soon stayed within them. Because the leash was short, there was no suffering involved. Since then I have used this technique during our walks for short durations when she is not walking properly. It hasn't solved all the problems but it has made a huge difference. By not looking and not talking and just going by feel, Juno basically taught herself to walk within the limits of the leash. I wish I had known this earlier as I think it would really have made loose leash walking much easier to learn.

 

Cheers

Bill

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