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Dog Training/Dog walking troubles


Hi.  We recently got an 11 week old puppy.  The first week we had her, she walked like a champ!  We weren't even expecting much, the very night we got her we mostly just took her out on a "mini walk" so she could burn up some energy and to get her used to walking (we definitely want her to be a good walker!).  We've walked her every night since we got her, even to dinner one night at a neighborhood restaurant.  She did great!  Suddenly, the last few days she's been refusing to walk.  She'll whine, pull back on her leash, even lay down.  My husband will end up carrying her the rest of the way home, which I don't want her to get used to (she'll be too big soon, for one!) We're not sure what changed her mind about walking, and we don't want to create any bad habits.  Any insight into what we could do to get her back on track would be a big help!


Hello Stacey:

AT 11 weeks, walking in public can be taxing, especially long walks, as it's often too much for a very young dog.  They are still in the Fear learning stage and this could result in them getting frighten by something and then developing a fear of the Walk.  Could she have been scared by something on the last good walk before she started the reaction/behaviour.

Another consideration is collar fit and handling technique, sometimes puppies develop a fear of the leash or collar.

Dependant on her breed, is she suffering from Pano (growing Pains), walking can be painful while they are going through this.

If you can cancel out all medical or any Fear issue, then I would suggest, practising walking in the back garden/yard and see if you get the same result.

Using treats and plenty of encouragement, do not pull on the leash, but give gentle little tugs.
A dog will pull back and sometimes shut down if constantly pulled forward.

Here is my way of teaching a puppy as loose leash walk - it may help to try this method if you are not already.

Loose Leash Walking – For Dogs under 6 Months
The most important part of Leash Walking is the POSITION of the COLLAR.
Ensure the Collar is at the very top of your dog’s neck, (you should see the collar, sitting just behind his/her ears).  To keep a Collar there it needs to be TIGHT (you should only be able to fit 1 finger between collar and dog’s skin).
Here is WHY:-    1) You will have better control
     2) The Collar is not on the Neck/Throat area and your dog will not Choke or Gag also there
will be no risk of your dogs trachea collapsing.
     3) Safety, on nearly all breeds a properly fitted collar prevents a dog from slipping that collar.

The next most important thing is how you hold that Leash.  The Handle/Leash Loop is designed for safety, it should be over your right hand, around your wrist.  Your dog should be on your LEFT, your Left hand is for scooping only, that’s scooping the leash to your left which is where you want him/her to be, on your left
DO NOT WRAP the leash around either hand and do not DEATH GRIP it either.  This causes tension and tension will make a dog pull/react to that tension.  Also watch your body language, you should be relaxed, with shoulders back, walking with confidence.  You will be amazed at how these minor details affect your dogs walking.
Keep an eye on that Collar, if it has slipped down, have you dog Sit and re-adjust.

Always start with your dog in a Sit on your Left, always step off with your Left Leg (Body Language, this will become very evident when working stays and waits).  Say Let’s Go, and walk at a descent pace for your dog.  Remember they are learning, so if you walk too slow, they will get distracted by other scents, things around them, if you walk too fast they will begin to run.  Finding that perfect speed, takes a bit of practise.

Start walking, if your dog swings to the right use your left hand to scoop that leash and bring him/her back to your left side, always keep moving forward, do not stop, slow down or speed up to accommodate your puppies wandering, you are leading this walk, not your puppy.  Only if your puppy surges ahead of you and hits the end of the Leash will you stop.  Make sure you stop dead the second he/she hits the pull, now you wait for some slack in the leash, the second you get that slack say “Yessss” and start moving forward again, scooping when needed to get your puppy back to your left side.

Puppies love to wander and investigate, everything around them is new, what they need to learn is not too Pull You.  As Puppies are so easily distracted (like a small child), Loose Leash Walking – Not Pulling – is what we want them to learn.  To Follow along with you at a reasonable distance, giving them the opportunity to do some investigation of scents, sights and sounds, but to learn to stick with-in a Leash length of you.

Your constant movement in the direction you chose only stopping if they Pull you forward teaches them this.  Here the crucial method is Timing – The Timing of your Stopping (immediately they hit a pull forward) and Marking – Saying “Yesss” the second they give you slack and that you then start to move forward again.  

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