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Recall + Loose Leash

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Hi all, new around here and looking for some input on how to train my little gal. Shadow is 14 weeks old, and overall a great pup! She is extremely well behaved in many aspects: doesn't chase children or nip them, no more potty accidents, and never complains about her kennel (stays in it all night).

 

I live in an apartment, but do my part to make sure Shadow gets the attention and exercise she needs. She goes to doggy daycare at someones house on weekdays, and I take her out for good walks or playing fetch. Shadow has done very well with the basic training that I've done inside (sit, ground, up, stay, come). Outside is another story...

 

Shadow gets so excited when we go for a walk that she will choke herself the entire way to the park where she 'knows' she's going to play fetch. A trainer I know is highly suggesting using the pincher/prong collar. He uses it for most of his training and is quite successful. Shadow has used it 2 times, her last time she did extremely well and was loose leash the entire walk. Not sure I want to use this, but its currently an option with how stubborn she is. The PetSafe Gentle Leader (head halter) did not work at all with her; she would just pull out of it no matter how painful it was for her to slip it off her nose. She did okay yesterday with a strap harness hooked in front, but today she pulled quite a bit on it. She can be very good when coming back from the park playing fetch and loose leashed the entire way, but I can't seem to contain this eagerness to go play fetch when we start our walk.

 

She has come to love chasing her ball, but isn't too keen on bringing it back. She isn't possessive of it at all though. Children can even throw for her without any problems. The problem is she is unwilling to bring it back, or come to me when called. I can go over there and she'll leave the ball (she'll make sure there's distance between us), she'll sit and wait for it to be thrown again as told. If she does 'bring it back' it won't be close enough to where I can pet her. If I do try to pet her and tell her good job or reward her she jumps back out of my reach. Side note, since day one when I got her she did this whole jump backwards thing from me when I approached her (now it's only off leash playing fetch).

 

Because of this I got a long leash to try and help. This morning I tried throwing it for her, letting her get it, take her time to chew on it, then I'd call her back. She didn't come back a single time. I had to drag her back through the grass with her harness. I would even give her treats when she got to me, but at a certain point she wouldn't even take them anymore (so stubborn!). We had to leave the park early (only got ~15-20 mins in) and she was complaining as we left that she didn't get to 'work' enough!

 

Any suggestions on how to be able to correct this leash behavior, and help her with her recall would be greatly appreciated!!

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Your best bet is to find a qualified trainer who avoids the use of correctional collars, harnesses and training methods. All of these have been scientifically proven to have a negative affect, can cause fear aggression and a myriad of other problems.

 

Look up Karen Pryor Academy for a qualified trainer in your area. The Pet Professional Guild is also a good resource. Additionally, there are many other on-line resources and classes which can work very well if you are willing to try that venue. Denise Fenzi is very well regarded.

 

Best of luck to you!!! Your girl is super cute!

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I can't comment on the collar since Lucky has always been pretty good about not pulling on the leash. Though I do know what you mean when he KNOWS we're going to play fetch somewhere not in our backyard. When he starts pulling, I stop walking and wait for him to sit or come back to me. He usually sits since he thinks if I stop I'm going to throw the ball, but then I just start walking again until we get where we are going. I also hide the ball and thrower in my coat so he can't see it when we leave the house. If he thinks we're just going for a walk he is super happy when he finds out we're playing fetch.

 

With bringing the ball back, normally, he brings it back and drops it close enough for me to pick it up. But sometimes, he brings it about 10 feet away, sits and waits for me to get it. I tell him to bring it closer, he'll pick it up and bring it about 6 inches closer. I tell him to bring it closer. Then he puffs out his cheeks, then brings it 6 inches closer. I don't pick it up. I start walking away. Then he picks it up and brings it to me. He does the same thing as your dog when you try to pet him when he's playing fetch - moves away and waits for you to throw the ball. He doesn't even like treats when he's fetching, and he otherwise ALWAYS likes treats.

 

We've also had to take a break from playing fetch since he injured his foot 4 weeks ago. We've started playing fetch again this week, but only every other day and only for short periods (5-10 minutes). I've found that he's WAY more willing to bring it back since he hasn't been playing fetch regularly (he delivers the frisbee directly to my hand rather than dropping it on the ground). I think we were really using fetch as an easy way to tire him out since it was a reliable way to get him exercise and he loves it. In retrospect, I think it's good to take a break and give him other exercise - a long walk - which takes way more time, but features more opportunities for training (meeting people, cars going by, going up on objects, etc.)

 

Some people object to teaching dogs to play tug, but I've found that playing tug with a rope for a short period of time teaches them to bring things to you to play with them. After playing tug with him for a few weeks, he often comes to me with toys in his mouth and wants to play. So maybe try playing some tug games with her so she starts to associate that she has to come in contact with you to actually play with you.

 

Just some thoughts - hope it helps!

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One thing to keep in mind is that your young puppy isn't being stubborn. She just does not know what you want from her.

She hasn't been taught impulse control in order to walk on a leash and it isn't clear yet that you want her to bring the ball back. Use the long line to reel her in like you're fishing. When she gets back to you, reward her by throwing the ball again. Only throw it when she gives it back to you. If not, game is over. Once she eventually understands you can put a cue to it (we say "bring").

 

She doesn't take the treat because she values the toy more. Not due to stubbornness.

 

I too recommend spending your money on in-person training (group or private lessons) so you can better learn how to effectively communicate and train her. It's a better use of money than daycare, in my opinion anyways.

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Things to consider regarding Loose Leash walking.

 

1. Your dog is only trying to get somewhere. If pulling hard gets her there, shes going to pull hard. The more she ulls, the less sensitive to pressure on the neck she will get. Eventually she will ignore it and it will have no effect.

 

2. Pulling is a natural consequence of reflex opposition. She pulls, you pull back and she reflexively leans harder into the leash. Stop pulling back. Pat your leg, kiss kiss noise, whistle, whatever to get her attention, but don't do it by pulling back.

 

Teach her to not pull on the leash by putting it on in a boring area. When she hits the end, don't yank back. Get her attention with movement, leg pats, calling her name etc. As soon as she releases the tension, praise and give a treat. I often drop the treat on the ground next to me. Start moving around, and she will start moving to the end of the leash. When it gets tight as she gets to the end and pulls, get her attention praise and treat for it getting loose. If you want to move the leash, wiggle it in your hand so she can feel it jiggling, but don't pull. If you want to challenge yourself, put a slip loop in the leash and make it YOUR responsibility to not let it slip out. You wil be surprised how putting the onus on you to not pull back will affect the leash.

 

Now you are showing her that a light leash means something, and she needs to feel it and respond.

 

Work slowly to more exciting and challenging areas.

 

In your situation, I would drive her to the park or use a front hook harness to get her to the park until shes better at it when not excited. Then, you can use it as the reward for keeping her leash loose.

 

At her age she has like 4 active brain cells :P, shes going to be easily excitable and shes got the attention span of a gnat. You will have to just calmly, gently work with her and through her training. As she matures she will get better and better.

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All good advice above.

 

I'd really caution against defining her as "stubborn." Chances are good that she really doesn't understand what you want from her because you haven't found a way yet to communicate that to her in a way she understands. Thinking of her as "stubborn" sets the two of you up for an adversarial relationship, and I'm guessing that's really not what you want.

 

Focusing on what you want her to do and rewarding for those behaviors rather than trying to correct away the behaviors you don't want will probably yield better results.

 

I wholeheartedly agree with ditching the prong collar in favor of using reward based training. Look for a positive reinforcement trainer who doesn't use corrections. Karen Pryor trainers are a good place to start, but there are others who use only positive reinforcement if there's no KPA trainer in your area.

 

Wishing you the best.

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Okay, first of all, 14 weeks? :blink: I have two 13 week old pups and I count myself lucky if they don't trip over the leash in their excitement to go somewhere.

Do not - do NOT - put a prong, pinch, choke or any other punitive collar on a 14 week old puppy. Ever. Forever. If anyone suggests that again, about face and walk away. :huh: That's just stupid. A 14 week old puppy's attention span is about 60 seconds before something shiny gets their attention. Whoever suggested that to you doesn't know a damn thing about border collies. We're not talking some lead-brained, stone-headed Labrador, we're talking about one of the most intelligent and sensitive dogs on the planet.

Sorry, this is a very sore point with me. A 14 week old is a TODDLER. They are not supposed to be obedience trained. They're supposed to be learning the basics of behavior and how to be a civilized creature and how to sleep 8 hours, and that's about it. Let her be a puppy!

If you're concerned she'll choke herself, use an adjustable harness and let her wear that for now. When I'm ready to teach my pups to walk on a loose leash, I just start walking with a stick and gently swing it like a pendulum in front of me. After they bump their noses on the stick enough times, they start to realize that the word I'm using - whether it's "heel" or "behind" or whatever - actually means something.

Also, she's unwilling to come when called at a busy park? Of course she is! She's a puppy. Every last thing she sees is more interesting than you. Slowwww down. In my humble opinion, you're asking way too much, way too soon. Since their second set of shots, my guys have been over to one of my sheep dog friends a few times and to two local sheepdog trials, and that's about it. They are just now learning about the bigger world. If you want to teach your girl to fetch, do it somewhere without a billion shiny distractions. That's just not fair to ask of a pup that young. My guys would be lucky to remember their own names in a situation like that. And remember to keep the fetch games super low impact - roll the ball, don't throw it.

My advice? Slow down. Back up. Take smaller steps. Work in quieter places. And bribe the livin' heck out of her with treats. Also, when you do call her, don't catch her. Instead, invite her to go somewhere ELSE with you. My guys don't have a solid recall, but most times when I call them, I'm not trying to touch or catch them, I'm just walking somewhere else and inviting them to come. And did I mention bribing with treats? Lots and lots of treats.

Your little girl a baby. She's a toddler. She has a whole world ahead of her and that is a LOT for a little dog to take in. Let her be a puppy, for goodness sakes. You've got months and months ahead of you. She'll do just fine. Remember, she's liable to go through a lot of changing stages in weeks to come, from fear periods to stubborn streaks. Don't fight her. Just let some things go and be patient. It will all come in due time.

You're not late for anything.

~ Gloria

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P.S.
I apologize if I came on too strong. When I read that someone actually recommended a prong collar for your baby girl, I kind of went postal in my imagination ... :P

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Thanks for your time and all the great advice! Yes, my dog is stubborn! I agree that it's not smart to try and fight the stubbornness, just as with a child; better to get her to do what I want by taking another approach. I can do a bit better here, and glad you pointed it out. She is extremely intelligent. A few weeks ago she learned to vertically scale a small fence and jump over it (I have the video, may try and post it later)!. She knows what I mean when I tell her to go potty, when I'm telling her no, drop it, etc...

 

I don't think she needs a prong collar, but at the same time its not a torture tool if used correctly. Don't want to get in a discussion over this though... I'm not wanting to or planning on using it. But I know that its a lot more humane to have loose leash with this all the time then let her choke herself to death on a regular collar. She would literally run in place as I walked holding the leash! I think she's hurt herself a little from it, hence me switching to a harness. The front hook harness has worked mostly well, and I think with more practice, and using suggestions here, we can have some progress.

 

Maybe reducing the amount of times she gets to play fetch is a good idea. I'm going to try and work with her at the park on commands a bit before we try again. Shadow is not extremely distracted while at the park, she is focused. Focused on the ball! She can play fetch (without reliably bringing it back) while other dogs are there and children are running with her throwing the ball for her! Yesterday when I had to drag her back to me each time on the leash there were no distractions.

 

Can someone clarify the 'reel em in' a bit? I'm guessing this is assuming your dog is still standing and walks back to you while you pull the leash in? What do I do if she refuses to even stand while I'm 'reeling her in'? Drag her to me on her back/side?

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Dear Doggers,

 

14 weeks is too young for choke or prong collar training. It's also too young to be reliably housebroken. As others have said: Its a puppy!

 

That said, properly used (and yes thy can be properly used) both these collars and the ecollar are employed as corrections, not preventatives.

 

Since Karen Pryor's own dog can't be trusted to recall off lead I don't know why anyone would recommend her or her disciples.

 

Oh, and there is no "scientific" evidence that correction based training methods or tools have a negative effect on dogs. That's a marketing ploy.

 

Donald McCaig

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Can someone clarify the 'reel em in' a bit? I'm guessing this is assuming your dog is still standing and walks back to you while you pull the leash in? What do I do if she refuses to even stand while I'm 'reeling her in'? Drag her to me on her back/side?

Gosh no, do not drag the puppy. If you are referring to my suggestion to reel her in while teaching fetch, you want to do it gently. If you have a 15 ft long line on her and you throw the ball, you want to gently put pressure on the leash to get her to come in your direction. It should not take much, use your voice to praise her. You may have to keep pulling the leash through your hand to keep a bit of pressure on her to guide her in. When she drops the ball for you at your feet or hand, then reward her with throwing it. Remember, everything with dog training and puppy training takes time and repetition before their brains create the connection.

 

I agree too, to drop the word stubborn with referring to a young puppy. She truly does not know that you want her to walk nice on a leash because she hasn't been taught (again, this is a behavior that usually takes many months or more to master for a dog).

 

Stubborn sounds like the puppy is intentionally not doing what is asked, but that is not true for any 3 month old puppy. There is no intention to ignore the command because there is no understanding of the command. I have never heard of any dog trainer I respect describing a puppy as stubborn. Think in the positive and work with her in a way that you both enjoy.

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Thanks Donald, I agree and think she's too young for this.

 

waffles (now I'm hungry!), dragging her is exactly what I want to avoid. My dog is intentionally ignoring me. Shadow knows what come means, and will obey if it agrees with her. She will not stand up at all if I try to reel her in, so I'm going to see what I can do to approach this differently. I am getting a 50ft lead today, was using a 25. Planning to just do training for a bit before we go back to playing, as she becomes unwilling to listen to anything I say when we do play fetch (except for sit when she anticipates me throwing the ball for her).

 

Another few notes... Shadow likes to be drug around on the carpet playing tug of war. She'll go limp noodle and roll over on her back, its pretty funny and cute but we're probably going to have to stop this... I need her to get rid of the idea that being dragged on the carpet or grass is okay.

 

I am using positive reinforcement as training in as much as she will let me. Like mentioned before, I can't praise, give her treats, reward her or anything if she does bring the ball back to me. All I can do is throw it for her again, but she hardly brings it back so this makes it hard.

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It sounds to me like you may be doing too much exciting activity with her for her age. Lots of fetch and ball chasing, and tugging, is hard on growing joints. Limited leash-walking and free play (in other words, puppy sets the pace, not you throwing a ball or playing tug) are better at a young age. Too much impact and too much revving her up will just really stress her still-growing body and condition her to expect and demand too much activity.

 

Rather than so much physical activity, try engaging her mind with games and training. Mental activity (again within reason able limits - think short and sweet sessions) is just as important and tiring.

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You're expecting way too much from a 14 week old puppy!

 

I don't mean to be rude but this doesn't seem to be sinking in so I'm going to say it again: You're expecting way too much from a 14 week old puppy!

 

Would you reasonably expect a kindergarten human to be perfectly behaved all the time no matter what's going on around her or him? No. It's unrealistic. Your puppy's no different; she's just a little kid.

 

Regardless of what you think, Shadow doesn't know that come means come each and every time you ask her to do it yet. It takes practice and repetition, just like learning the alphabet takes practice and repetition, or learning how to play an instrument or a sport takes practice and repetition.

 

If you're so upset by her being "stubborn" or "willful" now, I shudder to think how you're going to react when she hits adolescence and begins testing her boundaries. Dogs, like human teenagers, go thru this stage. It's frustrating to their owners and parents, but it's a normal healthy part of growing up. How you choose to deal with it can make all the difference in the world for the kid of relationship you'll end up having with her in the end.

 

I really think you'd benefit from enrolling your pup in a training class (and yes, I still recommend a positive reinforcement trainer despite some people's disdain for them), who can help you to learn how to set realistic expectations and to effectively train your puppy (again, your methods so far have not been effective).

 

Very best wishes for you and Shadow.

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My dog is intentionally ignoring me. Shadow knows what come means, and will obey if it agrees her.

.

Practically no 3 month old pup has a solid reliable bomb proof recall in all situations. Not even in the hands of the most skilled dog trainers.

 

Your pup may know how to recall in low to no distraction environments (in your house or yard) but she isn't going to know how to recall reliably in all situations for a year or longer, with even the best training everyday.

 

If your dog isn't doing what you ask then you need to look within yourself to see what you need to change.

 

Re-frame it in your mind- my dog isn't doing what I want so what can I do better? Not, what is wrong with my dog or blame them for being stubborn.

 

Dogs are great teachers if you let them in. Every time my dogs fail to do something I can always find fault within myself. I can change what I am doing, what my approach is or tweek my method to get a better outcome.

 

A good group class will probably help you see what some of us are trying to convey via the internet. A good trainer will help you to help her. In the mean time I suggest google searching or on YouTube "recall games" to get a better idea of how to build that foundation for a good recall.

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Also, if she will not stand up, just wait her out. She will eventually stand up. Even if you're waiting there for 5 min in the beginning.

 

Patience and more patience. The second she stands up, release the leash pressure. If she starts coming towards you release the leash pressure. Starting recalls with just a few feet then increasing the distance. Then go outside and increase the distractions. Patience is king with puppies.

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Thanks for your time and all the great advice! Yes, my dog is stubborn!

 

Please, please, please rid yourself of the idea that your baby dog is "stubborn".

PLEASE.

You are only going to harm her and your relationship with her if you persist in thinking that way!

 

You have had excellent advice here.

 

Please re-read it and listen to what people are saying and take it in.

 

Especially remember that at 14 weeks your puppy is only a baby, about like a three year old human child. You would not expect a three year old to behave well all the time, and you would not punish a three year old for getting distracted or over excited (at least, one would hope you wouldn't).

 

Please go easy on this puppy. If you continue to think of her as "stubborn" you will get into a power struggle with her, and that is pointless, dangerous, and very damaging to the dog and to your relationship. Please remember that she is only a baby. A calm, gentle approach with positive reinforcement will work wonders with her. But only if you first get rid of this negative concept and throw away the choke collar and all ideas about punishment.

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I'm familiar with the growing joint issues that can arise in dogs... I'm making sure we don't have that problem, and already doing things you've suggested...

 

I'm not expecting too much from her, I've raised pups before. I just don't want her to kill herself on the leash, and am wanting to find ways to work on her recall.

 

Other pups I've had learned more sooner than Shadow has, but they weren't as smart as she is. This is partially because she is stubborn. Do I blame her, am I mad at her?? No. I love my dog, she's the best, and I wouldn't trade her for any other. I'm looking for alternative ideas on how to help her learn good behaviors on a few key things. If I keep trying the things that aren't working, it would become a power struggle... Lots of good ideas have been shared. Thank you to those who have contributed so far!

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Thanks Donald, I agree and think she's too young for this.

 

waffles (now I'm hungry!), dragging her is exactly what I want to avoid. My dog is intentionally ignoring me. Shadow knows what come means, and will obey if it agrees with her. She will not stand up at all if I try to reel her in, so I'm going to see what I can do to approach this differently. I am getting a 50ft lead today, was using a 25. Planning to just do training for a bit before we go back to playing, as she becomes unwilling to listen to anything I say when we do play fetch (except for sit when she anticipates me throwing the ball for her).

 

Another few notes... Shadow likes to be drug around on the carpet playing tug of war. She'll go limp noodle and roll over on her back, its pretty funny and cute but we're probably going to have to stop this... I need her to get rid of the idea that being dragged on the carpet or grass is okay.

 

I am using positive reinforcement as training in as much as she will let me. Like mentioned before, I can't praise, give her treats, reward her or anything if she does bring the ball back to me. All I can do is throw it for her again, but she hardly brings it back so this makes it hard.

 

 

Okay, please stop calling her stubborn. You've raised puppies before, good. But have you raised border collies before?

 

They are not like other dogs. And she is NOT intentionally ignoring you. She can't help it! She is 14 weeks old! That's the equivalent of a 2 year old child. Of course she's not going to listen to you and be obedient when you play fetch. She can't. The whole world is more interesting to her than us boring ol' humans. Right now, my two13 week olds know how to come, sit, lay down, be quiet in the crate, kennel or truck, and I'm just teaching the boy to "give me the paw." We're not in any hurry to do much more than that, as the rest will come in time.

 

Please listen to us. We are not trying to talk down to you, we are just concerned that you are not familiar with border collies and it definitely sounds like you are asking too much, too soon.

 

With intelligence comes an extremely busy brain. Border collies are bred to respond to their environment and with that sometimes comes a susceptibility to distraction. Time and maturity are the best cures for all of that.

 

My advice to you is, again, please slow down. If she's not doing what you want while playing fetch, then stop. Let her grow up. Let her mind mature. Give her time. Be patient. If something is not working, don't do that thing for a while. Come back to it later.

 

This is exactly what we do when training border collies on livestock. If they're not ready for something, we don't do that thing. If they're not ready for lessons, we put them aside and let them grow up a little more.

 

Take time. Slow down. Be patient. If something isn't working now, don't do it now. Put it off until she's older and has greater focus. You're not late for anything. She can learn to fetch properly later.

 

And seriously, do not use a pinch or prong collar on a 12 week old puppy. She's not a hunting dog or a hound dog or a boxer or whatever. Please. It's not fair to her. It's not fair for her breed. If she's not ready, wait. Let her grow up. Let her mind mature.

 

You are not late for anything. There is no timetable unless you create one.

Sincerely,

 

Gloria

 

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Everything that they have said!

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Shadow and I had a great time today at the park today. I drove her there to avoid her pulling on the harness for most of the way. The family that watches her during the day tell me she doesn't pull on the harness for them, and my guess is its because they don't throw the ball for her.

 

When we got to the park she was ready for me to throw her the ball, just as she is whenever we come up to an open field (whether I've brought the ball or not). With my new 50' lead it was great to be able to throw the ball for her and still have her safe. She wasn't interested in returning it to me as usual, and a few times I was able to successfully reel her in. The praise and treats were of no interest as usual (but she still gets the praise), the only reward she wants is the ball thrown. As she has a mind of her own she began flopping herself on her side or back when I started a recall and began to reel. So I needed another strategy as she was going to refuse to come as usual... I don't care much if she's bringing me the ball back at this point, but I do need to make headway on the recall.

 

I began to go out to where she was laying chewing on her ball and picking it up (she doesn't mind as she's not possessive at all). I'd tell her to 'stay' as that's kind of what she wanted to do in the first place (so now she's obeying me even though that wasn't her plan). I'd walk back the full 50' length of the lead and then tell her to 'come', also adding a whistle. As her focus is on getting the ball thrown I was successful in getting her to come all the way to me, sometimes a little reel was needed but not much at all! She did awesome! She understands and knows what this command means; that doesn't mean she knows to obey yet as she's just a pup... Of course I'm giving her praise the entire time she does obey as I do use positive reinforcement in my training. I then would put some pressure on the lead and tell her to stay before I threw the ball again, shortly after letting her loose and telling her to go get it. She even started to wait for me to tell her to go before she ran.

 

Love my super smart pup; I'm always amazed at the things she understands and how well behaved she is!

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I believe its pretty normal for dogs to resist the gentle leader at first. My 3.5 month old pup still messes with his sometimes but is getting much better. I never walk him on it (yet), I do not plan to until he fully is comfortable wearing it just around the house. I basically put it on for very short sessions and only when I can distract him so for training such as practicing sits and I tempt him to put his nose through the muzzle part himself by offering treats. Another good way to distract him while it is on is a really nice bone, bully stick, or a stuffed kong. I figure he puts it on and something positive always happens after.

 

As far as treats go, I would try some different ones if she isn't overly excited about them. For instance, my pup likes dogs treats but he LOVES boiled chicken. For my Golden retrievers, it was cheese.

 

I just started puppy classes and they use positive reinforcement only, I'm not even allowed to say 'no'. It is definitely something I find difficult to get used to but I think it will be very rewarding in the end. They do not allow any sort of choke/pinch collar in their facility. Its very different than how I was taught many years ago for obedience. It is why I chose them though. Its a great way to socialize and learn new approaches, I would definitely recommend finding a positive class in your area, it is not just for new dog owners. It is great fun and gets the pup around other dogs their age and new people.

 

Your pup is beautiful, keep it positive and fun and she will reward you with lots of love.

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