Loose leash walking

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Dog_lover
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Loose leash walking

Post by Dog_lover » Wed Mar 16, 2016 10:46 pm

My 1 year old Maltese, Mickey is terrible at walking on a leash. I have tried reverse direction technique as well as being still. Nothing works. He pulls and pulls until he is choking. They say to get him to focus on me is to bring a treat from his nose to my eye & also treat him when he looks at me. I've tried those but they don't seem to work. Once a leash is on, he is super hard to control.

To make things worst, my sisters husband who lives with us walks him every time I ask MY SISTER to & he pulls the leash to get him to listen. I try talking to him about it, but he gets defensive and says "I walk him however I want and u walk him however you want". On some days he has shown improvement and her husband claims its because of him. My mom & sister don't take this seriously. My sister never walks him. She always asks him to. I walk him, train him, and am in general home with him 90% of my time. But when I do have school or volunteering, he walks him. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed from doing everything myself (I'm 17) but I can't ask them to help out in fear of his leash constantly being pulled. Can't have a conversation without a fight. How can I make everyone understand that I will not let this happen to him? I understand my mom & my sister paid for him but at the same time, I literally do everything for him. So I should get to have a say in his training.

Oh, and my dog has bit him multiple times and has shown multiple signs of aggression towards him. When I say it could be because he's too rough with him, he gets mad.
What do you think can be done?

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Nettle
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Re: Loose leash walking

Post by Nettle » Thu Mar 17, 2016 2:59 am

We here can only tell you how to train the dog - training people you live with who have no incentive to be helpful is way outside our - or anyone's - remit. I know it sucks. But you won't be 17 for ever, and one day you will have your own dog in your own home and do everything YOUR way so hang onto that thought and don't feel so overwhelmed.

Meanwhile read our pinned thread on loose leash walking, and take the steps one at a time. It does work, but not at once, particularly if other factors are involved with other people, such as now.

I would strongly recommend you get a harness such as Perfect Fit where the lead attachment is at the front chest, and use two leads or a double-ended lead with one at the harness front and the other off the collar. When he pulls, keep your feel on the harness lead so he automatically turns towards you. At least when using the harness, your dog will not be at so much risk of damaging his neck.

Does he pull on the way home?

Meanwhile we could help more if we have a full rundown on your dog's average day, especially with regard to feeding (what, when) and other things you do with him apart from walking him, what other animals are in the household and so on. You'd be amazed how some small tweaks can give great results in training.

EDITED TO ADD Having caught up with your other thread, I see you have a very stressed little dog and not much control over his circumstances. How would your Mom be about giving him a better diet? Diet can have a massive effect on stress. As for training treats - tiny tiny bits of sausage or cheese are enjoyed by most dogs. Check the ingredients of the treats you use when you go out and make sure they are not full of colouring or sugars.
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Dog_lover
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Re: Loose leash walking

Post by Dog_lover » Thu Mar 17, 2016 3:47 am

Thanks,
Yeah it's very difficult when other people in the household don't see where I am coming from. He does wear a harness but I've been told that the one he has (just a back clip) can encourage pulling. Ive contacted many trainers a few months ago and without even meeting my dog, they said they can help but it will require an E/prong collar. I've never used force on him and I'm never planning on doing that. I am going to get him a perfect fit harness. I know petsmart sells easy walk harnesses but I didn't know if it will work or not. How does the back clip work when he pulls? I'm just trying to make sure it does not hurt him in any way. Especially because we did not buy him from a good place at all. I don't think he's had any walks at all until we got him. On the way home, sometimes he has no problem and will walk normally without pulling. Other times, he just starts biting on his leash and pulling. As for feeding, we just free feed his kibbles. He won't even finish half of it in a day. I tried picking up his food after 20 minutes and keep doing this, but he went many many days without eating (I think up to a week) and that worried us. We tried energels but all that did was make him pickier. Even then, he wouldn't eat much of his food. A year later, we changed his food to Acana (Cobb chicken and greens). He showed more interest in this but still does not eat as much as we would like him to. He had a dental cleaning done yesterday & before that his vet decided to do a blood test since he's never done it before. The only thing that was a bit low was his protein. The vet suggested we give him canned/wet food as well as his kibbles. He said even if he eats canned food at least 2/3 times a week, that's fine. For the next 3/4 days, he has to eat the vet canned food to help his recovery but after that, I don't know what brand of canned food would be best for him. Vets usually promote the food they have but I'm not sure that's the best for him. Is there any thing else you think we can do to improve his diet?

Honestly, apart from walking him, he just wants to sleep. I try to get him up and exercise at home and mentally stimulate him but that's very difficult. I mean, sometimes he will play fetch but that's only for 5 minutes or so. If he's not sleeping, he just wants to be pet or chew on his bone. How can I mentally stimulate him if he doesn't show interest in anything? We've tried kongs, treat balls, which hand, hide & seek. No luck. Other family members in other households say there dog just sleeps to and its normal but I don't think he's sleeping from just being tired. I feel like he should be doing something at home as well as his walking. I also do 5 minutes or so of training him (we are practicing recall). More than 5 minutes, and he loses interest. There are no other animals in the household. I see many people give there dog a piece of cheese or chicken as a "treat" and my family says that chicken will have protein in it to help bring his protein level up. My only fear of feeding him human food, is for him to turn out like my cousins dog. They started feeding him human food such as chicken, etc and now he has developed some kind of allergies that he starts biting his fur and needs to eat this specific kind of vet food. He also constantly whines and cries at the table. My dog does not care much when we are eating and I want it to stay like that. Much easier when guests come over for dinner and vice versa! How much of "human food/high value treats" would be best for him do you think? Mom was thinking of boiling chicken/letting it cool and feeding him that but I do not want him to become more pickier than he is now. Yes he is a very stressful dog. He always growls and snaps at people and that's because everyone fails to read his signs that he is uncomfortable. So I've made it clear for family members from other households that no one is to approach him unless he goes to them. And when he does go to them, only place that can be pet is under his chin or on his sides because he HATES his head and even his back being pet. I think his stress increased the second week we brought him home. Everyone's house we went to, they would keep taking away his bone that he was in love with. He started snapping & resource guarding everything, including me. Now Ive become more firm on telling people to leave him alone.
The last bit may have been unnecessary information but I feel like this has to do with why he's stressed 24/7.

Shalista
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Re: Loose leash walking

Post by Shalista » Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:17 am

Dog_lover wrote:Thanks,
Other times, he just starts biting on his leash and pulling.
My dog does this :lol:

@Nettle, I couldn't find a pinned loose leash walking thread. Maybe i'm being blind could you link?
Baxter (AKA Bax, Chuckles, Chuckster) Rat Terrier, born 01/16/13

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Nettle
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Re: Loose leash walking

Post by Nettle » Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:53 am

Pinned in the 'articles' section, Shalista :) Along with the 'exercise the mind' in the Health section which you might find useful, Doglover.

Ditch the free feeding. It makes a lot of dogs very stressed because they feel their food is always under threat. Feed about an hour after exercise, and once he has had what he wants, remove the bowl when he has walked away from it. This improves treat training too because he will not have just filled up with food before you work with him. Is he actually underweight? He's a small dog and won't need much food.

You could try your Mom's idea and see how it goes. Not too much though or he might get an upset stomach. He is your dog not your cousin's dog so it's unlikely real food will give him allergies but if it does, well, we move on to the next option. Feeding real food does not make dogs beg: feeding them at table does. I am sorry you and he had to endure his bone being taken away - why DO people play these power games?! No wonder the poor little chap was upset.

Most of all to hold in your mind is that he does not do any of these things in order to annoy you. He does them because he has not been shown other options yet. He doesn't leave his food because he is being awkward, he leaves it because he doesn't like it. Giving dogs food they like is not giving in to them or spoiling them - we don't eat what we don't like either. If he has just had a dental, maybe the kibble was uncomfortable for him to eat.

If he doesn't pull on the lead on the way back, your problem is halved :) on the way out he is excited. So on the way back, go PAST your home and do another circuit. We people can be so linear but with dogs we often have to alter that and use our imaginations.
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Re: Loose leash walking

Post by JudyN » Thu Mar 17, 2016 4:01 pm

There's a good dog food review site here: http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/ But I agree with Nettle, giving him 'people' food is absolutely fine. Another approach to consider is raw feeding - it's not for everyone, but many on this forum are fans and we can give you all the advice you need if you're interested.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Dog_lover
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Re: Loose leash walking

Post by Dog_lover » Thu Mar 17, 2016 8:41 pm

I'm going to try these suggestions. I just hate how as soon as friends & family find out the way we are training him, they go on and give their negative opinions making me feel guilty. We were not free feeding him for quite a while. Then the comments started rolling. "You're going to make him starve", "he never finishes his food anyways so let him eat", "this is abusing him". HOWEVER WAY I train him I get the comment "it's abuse". I'm sorry, but I can easily do what some trainers even suggested and use physical force on him. Or yell. But no way in the world do I do that or allow that. How is this considered abuse but punishing harshly doesn't matter? I say using force is abuse. Or I'll tell people to CALMLY say hi to him and that's it. Or to try and keep him calm indoors. Apparently that's "abuse" too.
I'm sorry, I know it's a DOG forum but people play a big role in his behaviours.

I agree. I don't know why people think it's funny to bug him and take away his stuff. What's the point of that? He was only 5 months old at that time and still had the cone on and had just gotten neutered. Thinking about it, I seriously regret not sticking up for him. Not only that, but people would yell at him for growling. This makes me hate myself for not saying much about it. Then they call him crazy and "he's too attached" to me. I feel like a reason why he is so attached to me, is also MAYBE because I was the only one in my family who never took anything away or bothered him. Everyone would come near me and pretend to hit me to get a reaction out of him. Knowing that he may have been abused in the past. But enough about a enough. If people will do that when we go to their house, then I am fully okay with staying home with him to make sure they don't drive him crazy.

Another question. I've heard a lot about freedom harness and easy walk. Does anyone know if these are good or not? Since harnesses are something I still don't know much about. I've also heard good about perfect fit. Should I just stick with that? I just want something that won't in any way hurt him/make him uncomfortable.

Does anyone know a good way on teaching him to focus on me? I think if he knows this, it'll be easier on controlling him outside. But to help him with loose leash walking, I first need to keep myself cool. I know he never does this to annoy us. But sometimes I over react outside whether I see a loose dog charging towards us or he gets into garbage he's not supposed to. I have to first learn to keep the leash loose.
he seems to love canned food more than his kibbles, is it a good idea to add canned to his diet as well? We are going to start feeding him a bit of chicken once in a while to see how his stomach reacts to it.
I appreciate everyone's suggestions

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Re: Loose leash walking

Post by Dog_lover » Fri Mar 18, 2016 2:31 am

Oh and to answer your question Nettle, he does not look underweight to me. The vet did not say anything either. He has lost a pound or so but that's about it. Right now, he weighs at around 6.5lb. I do think that that's underweight for a Maltese at 1 year old but I'm not so sure. Ever since having his dental 2/3 days ago, he's been eating the food the vet suggested. He's eating canned food plus the vets kibble soaked in water. That's only for this week as his gums right now are really sore. Even before his dental, sometimes he'd go days and days without eating his kibbles. We changed his kibbles to acana 2 or 3 months ago since he was not eating his old kibbles and his old kibbles were for puppies. At first, he loved his new kibbles but now, he either won't eat it much or sometimes I'll have to throw them around for him. That's when he will sometimes eat them. I think once he went over a week without eating. I thought there was a medical problem but after taking him for his check up, and the vet doing a blood test 3 days ago, he said that Mickey's health is pretty good. That's why I'm not sure if this is because he does not like the kibbles or what. Because he used to love them.

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Re: Loose leash walking

Post by Fundog » Fri Mar 18, 2016 7:09 am

Since he will eat if you throw a bit of food around for him, he might enjoy some of those food dispensing puzzles. You can buy them, or make some yourself. Check the Exercise the Mind thread, or even look at the expensive kind for ideas to mimic.
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Re: Loose leash walking

Post by Erica » Fri Mar 18, 2016 8:05 am

Is it possible he would just eat a little bit when people weren't around? Our neighbor's little 20lb terrier is an "easy keeper" and is slightly overweight on 1/4 cup food a day - so 2 tablespoons in the morning and evening. It looks like so little food but it's an appropriate amount!

Young/growing dogs sometimes just stay on the light side no matter what. This is fairly common in herding breeds, where an adolescent dog may have their hips and ribs visible no matter how much food they eat. (Having a couple ribs visible is a good body weight for most short- or smooth-coated breeds. If you can feel ribs but not so much spine, your dog is probably at a good weight.)

I prefer the Perfect Fit to the Freedom, and the Freedom to the Easy Walk. Personally, I don't care for the Easy Walk at all - it tends to shift about while you're using it, it rubs dogs' armpits raw, and I've seen several dogs just hop out of it in a matter of seconds! The shape can also press into the dog's neck and cause choking, which is what a harness tries to prevent in the first place. Not a fan!

The Freedom is a bit better. The belly strap is softer so less likely to rub armpits raw, the harness stays in place better, and it tends to sit such that it doesn't press into the neck as much. The martingale on the back bugs me, but the harness that Victoria Stilwell sells in her online store is the same design as the Freedom but without the martingale loop. :)

The Perfect Fit tends to be my favorite. It's soft and fleecy, so you'll have to make sure to brush your pup after each walk if he's got longer fur or it will mat (but that tends to happen with any harness in my experience). Because it's handmade, there is some varience from piece to piece that is noticeable in the small dog sizes, so be aware of that. The harness is well-designed to keep free of the neck, and does best with a double-ended leash or two leashes if you want to use the front clip.

Another option if budget is a convern is just a standard roman or H harness, if they have a ring connecting the straps at the chest. They're in most dog stores, and if you use a double ended leash or two leashes, with one clip on the chest ring and one on the back, they function like a fromt-clip harness. :)

My sympathies about dealing with your family. Humans can be terribly rude and difficult. :(
Delta, standard poodle, born 6/30/14

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Re: Loose leash walking

Post by JudyN » Fri Mar 18, 2016 11:33 am

Dog_lover wrote:Does anyone know a good way on teaching him to focus on me? I think if he knows this, it'll be easier on controlling him outside. But to help him with loose leash walking, I first need to keep myself cool. I know he never does this to annoy us. But sometimes I over react outside whether I see a loose dog charging towards us or he gets into garbage he's not supposed to. I have to first learn to keep the leash loose.
he seems to love canned food more than his kibbles, is it a good idea to add canned to his diet as well? We are going to start feeding him a bit of chicken once in a while to see how his stomach reacts to it.
I appreciate everyone's suggestions
I've found that it's not really possible for my dog to focus on me if he's too aroused by his surroundings. If, say, he spots a cat, or a dog he doesn't like the look of, to make him then look at me can actually increase his stress because he NEEDS to check out the cat/dog.

I've done a fair bit of work on impulse control - see, for instance, the 'It's Yer Choice' video linked to in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=11503 Now, if he sees a cat, I let him watch it but hang on to the lead and wait - eventually he realises that nothing's going to happen and he'll make the decision to ignore the cat and carry on walking (and then he gets a reward).

Another technique I've used is for him to see making eye contact as a good thing. I'll hold a treat in my fist, he stares at my hand (having learnt as a pup that trying to eat my hand didn't work), nothing happens and eventually he looks up at my face to make eye contact - then he gets a 'yes!' and the treat. When he's got the hang of this, you could pair the eye contact with a word such as 'Watch'.

For getting him thinking in general, you could look at clicker training, particularly '101 uses for a box' (there's links for clicker training in the thread linked to above, and plenty of videos for 101 uses for a box online).

But I wouldn't push him too hard with any of these. If he's really not into these mental games, pushing him could increase his anxiety.

It's possible he finds eating kibble uncomfortable if he has poor teeth. But then again, he might just find kibble boring (I would!). If he'll eat it scattered around, then do that, but if putting some chicken or wet dog food on it that's fine too. And if his weight's fine, don't worry while you're working out what's best for him.

I've almost perfected the art of staying cool as a cucumber when the 3rd World War is breaking out at the other end of the lead. It comes with time.... :wink:
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Shalista
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Re: Loose leash walking

Post by Shalista » Fri Mar 18, 2016 2:26 pm

mmm i swear by It's Yer Choice training. It worked miracles with Bax
Baxter (AKA Bax, Chuckles, Chuckster) Rat Terrier, born 01/16/13

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Re: Loose leash walking

Post by Dog_lover » Sun Mar 20, 2016 1:21 am

Yeah sometimes I'll see him just throwing his food around so once in a while when we see he's not eating, we throw it around as a game & then he'll chase the food and eat it. That's about it. I can't get him more food puzzles since he won't even look at it. His kibbles are pretty small but I've found out that he eats more when I cut the kibbles in pieces. I think the best luck I have with getting him to eat is put wet food on his kibbles. I've found that he likes wet food more. I was at pet smart with my sister looking at canned food and I saw blue Buffalo. I also saw natures variety. Does anyone know if those are good? What are things we should make sure the canned food doesn't have? So far he's been eating the vet food for recovery for his dental and he seems to love wet food. Sounds weird but it makes us so happy to actually finish his food since with kibbles, he only will MAYBE eat 4 to 5 kibbles a day.

Thanks for the detailed information Erica. I just have one question about the front clip harnesses. You know how you can get a double lead and connect to the back also? I heard that when the dog pulls, it puts pressure on the dog. Wouldn't that make him uncomfortable/hurt him? That question has been on my mind for so long. If that's how the easy walk harness is, I'm glad I didn't buy it because that's the only one I found at petsmart and I was tempted to buy it as I had no idea how they are, but I'm glad I didn't.
I'm looking for perfect fit harnesses in Canada. So for, he's wearing a step in harness.

Thanks JudyN, I just have to put more time in training him and make training more fun. He seems to absolutely love when we do recall training, which is good. I will try your suggestions on focus.
I'm gonna do some 'exercise the mind' with him.
My main goal for his trainings are for it to be fun so I'm doing anything to make it fun. At the same time, he needs consistency.
He used to be way more fearful and would snap because my family would pick him up (last time they accidentally dropped him). I've made sure that when we are out, no one approaches him because I can see he gets stressed very easily.
Also, when he bites, what's the best thing to do? My family tells me to yell at him saying "no" but honestly I don't think I can yell at him. All I do is go increase the space between him and whoever he bites.
He used to bite anyone who would come near me but he's gotten a little better. People think I spoil him when I don't "get mad" at him but I just don't have it in me. He just hasn't been taught not to do that so how is it his fault?
What's the best thing to do when he bites/snaps? I hate using the word "punish".
Thanks everyone!

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Nettle
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Re: Loose leash walking

Post by Nettle » Sun Mar 20, 2016 3:19 am

Tell us a precise scenario or two that have resulted in a bite/snap and then we can give more precise help. :)

For instance: woman wanted to pet him, I said no he doesn't like it, she said all dogs like her, bent forward and touched him and he bit her hand.

Change to: woman wanted to pet him, I said sorry he doesn't like it, put him behind me where she couldn't reach him and when she bent down and tried to reach round me I took him right away from her before she could touch him and smiled at her and said you wouldn't like a stranger touching you either, then I took him further away and when he was calm I gave him a treat.


You are QUITE RIGHT not to yell at him - that would just make him feel more insecure and more likely to bite.
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Re: Loose leash walking

Post by Erica » Sun Mar 20, 2016 7:01 am

A well-designed harness shouldn't hurt the dog when they pull. If it's pushing into the neck, or has thin straps or even cords that tighten when the dog pulls, it could very well be painful. But if the pressure is spread along the shoulders and chest, I imagine it's more like a seatbelt - it has pressure to it, but that doesn't make it automatically painful. Some people might find seatbelts very uncomfortable, just as some dogs are sensitive to some aspect or another of a harness. Most dogs find the shape of a roman harness inoffensive.

I would not recommend Blue Buffalo, personally. There's a lot of speculation that something about the food was causing kidney failure, though I don't think any proof has been found yet.

This website evaluates dog foods. I personally would aim for 4 stars or higher, which the Nature's Variety Instinct gets. Most of the flavors are 5 star, with a few 4.5 and one 4. :)
Delta, standard poodle, born 6/30/14

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