Author Topic: Pulling puppy  (Read 482 times)

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Offline Swinston

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Pulling puppy
« on: March 15, 2020, 10:07:08 AM »
Hi all I’m after some advice I have a 4 month old English show cocker spaniel who is an absolute pleasure.

Struggling on his walks as soon as we are out his nose is down and he’s pulling me like mad. I go to a class and they have advised to hold the lead short to keep him to my left hand side and keep checking him in to my leg giving him praise when he does well.

I’ve tried the walk and stop still when he pull and also turning around, this works for a few metres then he pulls again. How long should this method take as a week in and still no better really. Using a harness at the minute. Will this be better if I use just his neck collar.

Offline Mari

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Re: Pulling puppy
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2020, 10:39:25 AM »
Personally I'm not a big fan of that method for cockers. They are so eager to investigate the world and do not normally enjoy walking heel. At least my cocker did not understand and we both got frustrated. My preferred method is to use the cockers natural behaviour. They are dogs that love to interact with their owners and they are extremely food motivated, this can be used to our advantage and is a lot more fun than stopping a million times on every walk.

What I did with my girl was that I let her pull on walks (in the beginning, the pulling slowly got better as training started to sink in). But on every walk once she had gotten out some of her energy I found a place to practice. Pocket full of treats. Walked a few steps and changed direction before she reached the end of the leash, rewarding when she followed me. Changing direction every a few steps, turning before the leash tightens and always rewarding when the dog is following and leash is loose. It is enjoyable and a cocker will quickly see the value of paying attention to your movements and following without being prompted or pulled. It's not a big deal if the leash gets tight a few times, they will still get the point.

We did this in short sessions in places with no interruptions (empty parking lots, football fields). When she got better at it I walked more and more steps before changing direction. With time we gradually started working in more challenging environments and eventually did it on walks, just changing directions randomly and rewarding the dog for following without having to pull them or call them. It took some time training a few minutes on every walk. Training sessions getting longer as she got better at following me.

On regular walks I will still reward her randomly for giving me eye contact or walking with a loose lead. Just once in a while to remind her that this is how I want her to walk on the leash. This type of training was so much less frustrating and my cocker eventually got really good at keeping an eye on me and following my movements. When I trained regularly she did not pull at all on walks. I haven't trained in years so she has started to pull on occasion but she will still come and walk next to me wagging her tail and offering eye contact a few times on every walk.

I know you didn't ask for a long-winded advice, but I just remember the frustration of trying the stop and wait method and how much more enjoyable walks became after starting to train this way so I had to share my experience  :angel:

Offline Swinston

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Re: Pulling puppy
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2020, 11:25:59 AM »
That’s great information a long answer with your experience is what I needed really as I’m coming home from every walk at the minute feeling so deflated and not enjoying it atall. Also not feeling like my puppy is getting the walk he needs.

Can I ask what harness you use or did you just use collar?

Offline Mari

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Re: Pulling puppy
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2020, 12:21:33 PM »
I know some people swap between harness and collar, normal walks in harness and collar for training. I did that at first. But I found that the with the training she got better on normal walks too so I started to only use a normal H-harness all the time. This training is more about shifting the dogs focus towards you and developing contact between you as a team, so I feel like it does not really matter what equipment you use. I'm not a dog trainer or anything, but I read about this method in a book and found it suited me and my dog better than other things we tried. My goal was never to have my dog at a perfect heel, that would probably require more advanced methods, but to be able to walk comfortably with her on the lead without pulling my arm off my shoulder  :lol2:

Offline bizzylizzy

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Re: Pulling puppy
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2020, 01:53:42 PM »
Good advice from Mari.
Don‘t wish to sound discouraging in any way and ofcourse there are always exceptions, but on the whole, cockers are pullers and, although with patience and lots of practice you can often get the behaviour to a manageable level, I think most people on here would agree that its rare for them to walk happily to heel in all circumstances.
In our case, its worse when Humphrey‘s excited, somewhere new or if we‘re in a group (he‘s far easier if its just him and me). He‘s nearly 5 now and I think the turning point for me was, as Mari says, finally accepting that that is the way they are. Looking back, I feel sorry that I was working against him and aiming for perfection all the time (shouting „heel“ every few minutes) instead of just relaxing, giving him chance to sniff and then jollying him along while praising and treating and keeping him focused. You can even stop and give a sit or down command in between, - it’ll all help to keep him focused and motivated. Try and vary the places you go aswell, they‘ll walk perfectly in one place where you‘ve practised a lot and as soon as you go somewhere else its all forgotten.
There are lots of methods shown on line and in books and I‘ve tried most of them at various stages but again, agree with Mari‘s approach as that worked best for us. Attitude has a lot to do with sucesss, try and stay as relaxed as possible (Not always easy, I know), be consistent and positive and above all, keep praising when he gets its right.
Best of luck!

Offline Swinston

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Re: Pulling puppy
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2020, 04:50:07 PM »
Thanks for your replies I will try to be more relaxed and let him enjoy his walks a bit more having a good sniff and wonder. He was always okays at first but more pulling in certain areas. I didn’t want to let him get used to this and become stronger and stronger with age.

Since I started the training he got worse (I’m guessing this is due to feeling more restricted)

Il let him enjoy his walks but train him when we get further into the walk.

Offline Barry H

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Re: Pulling puppy
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2020, 11:45:52 AM »
Excellent advice above.  As has been said, Cockers are notorious pullers.  Puppies naturally just want to get on with it - and why not.  Everything is fantastic!  It's (almost) impossible to get them to walk to heel no matter what you do without it becoming a battle of wills.  Don't want to rain on your parade but I tried all the methods but Jack was still about two before he settled down!  Best just to have a bit more patience and let him have some freedom till he quietens down once he gets a bit older.  For me, a long tracking line was the answer as best of both worlds.  I don't mean an extendable lead but a proper 15 foot line.  Gives pup some freedom, but keeps you in control as you can have it as short or as long as you like.  You'll probably find that pup wants to sniff just out of reach of a 'normal' lead.  As he gets to the full extent, stop (always) and encourage him to come back with your favourite method.  Much easier on you, too, as it takes the strain out of him taking you for a walk instead of the other way round.  Works on the same principle as if you keep a horse in a small space he'll kick the fence down.  Put him in a large paddock and he'll stay put!

Offline Swinston

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Re: Pulling puppy
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2020, 06:23:09 PM »
Thanks Barry il have a look for a longer lead and let him have a good sniff and wonder off without restricting him. I’ve spoken to people at the puppy class and they have said as he’s a puppy he will be so excited to get out and explore, aswell as calming down from two onwards. I just didn’t want him to get any worse the bigger and stronger he gets. Thanks again for the advice

Offline Teddy2019

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Re: Pulling puppy
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2020, 11:58:25 AM »
Hi all, newbie here. We have a 10month old male cocker pup (Teddy) and since we got him at 2months I practcied heel with him in the garden so he has a good idea of what it is and from previous experience of having a cocker (who didnt like heel) I wanted Teddy to be nice to walk.  Although on walks he is a nightmare and wants to pull even when tired out. He has done his bronze award and was good at heeling with a high value treat during the course. He knows what heel is as I sometimes stop and say heel and he walks backwards however he won’t walk at heel for long. Any idea of how I can get him more focussed on me and heeling so he’s not pulling. I have tried the stop method and that doesn’t work as well as the change direction method which does initially then he tries to pull again.