Author Topic: Walking on the lead - or rather not walking but pulling!  (Read 207 times)

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Offline FranklynTheDog

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Walking on the lead - or rather not walking but pulling!
« on: November 03, 2020, 02:46:06 PM »
We have a beautiful working cocker pup, now 13 weeks old. An absolute delight, easy to train, happy as can be. Eats ok, sleeps well, adores children and adults and he is a very much loved part of the family!

but walks are a complete disaster. We live rurally so are lucky enough to have some big, wide open spaces where he can walk/run off lead.

But on his lead he just hates it. If we are in an urban environment, he won't walk to heel, he nose is to the ground zig zagging across following scents. He will try and run and greet anyone who dares show a tiny bit of interest in him. And when we turn around to go home and he knows he's on the home run, he will pull so hard at the lead, we've had to get a halti type harness to stop him throttling himself (so the lead attaches to a front ring).

the problem is all the normal lead walking training simply doesn't work with him. He is not a food obsessed dog so treats only work for a short time, like seconds, and after that, you could be a giant sausage slathered in liver paste and he'd run past you to greet a 4 yr old who has bent down to say hello. I've tried stopping when he pulls and he simply sits down and looks at you as if to say 'well get on with it' and the minute I step forward again, he just pulls again. I can tell that he is so over excited that to not pull is almost, mentally, impossible for him. He has a serious fear of missing out of smelling something or saying hello to someone.

Is this an age thing? I'm just wondering if it's typical puppy exuberance and he'll get better the older he gets or should i think about getting more training help to sort this out at a young age.

I was also wondering whether walking with another (better behaved) dog would help him - I have quite a few friends with older, calmer dogs who would happily have him along for walkies but not sure if it would make matters worse rather than better!

off lead he is far better - will turn around and engage constantly, looking up to make sure you're still there, recall good - weirdly having the lead attached to him and walking on a pavement seems to be a cue for ignoring the person with the lead and  sticking his nose down

Offline bizzylizzy

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Re: Walking on the lead - or rather not walking but pulling!
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2020, 04:31:03 PM »
Hi and welcome to COL (and also to the wonderful world of cockers.  :lol2:)
Since I‘ve been owned by a cocker and a member on here,  (5 years) I think probably the most  common topic  has been  about good lead walking, so rest assures you are not on your own and the vast majority of us have battled with the problem.
Basically cockers are gun dogs and are ruled by their noses, the zig zagging and scent following are what they‘ve been bred for and ambling along on the lead next to their humans isn‘t something they do naturally so be prepared to put in a bit of work, be consistant and above all (try to) stay patient.
There are lots of youtube vidoes, training books etc on the subject (albeit very few featuring cockers!  :shades:) using all sorts of different methods, I would advise having a look at a few, pick one that appeals to you and stick to it for a a few months before you try something else. I personally found I had the most success with stopping every time he pulled and only moving forward again when the lead was loose but I‘m sure there‘ll be others on here with suggestions. It IS laborious but the time you put in now will pay off, once pulling becomes a habit, its very hard to break, I speak from experience, my dog has got a lot better but new, exciting or busy places are still a challenge.
One of the major turning points for me (and it was a long time before the penny dropped) was learning to relax, to stop barking „heel“ every few minutes and to abandon the expectation that I‘d ever get a perfect walking to heel in all situations. Also realizing that the dog isn‘t being defiant but just reacting on impulse will hopefully help with any frustration. Please don‘t let  anyone tell you to yank on the lead, it really doesn‘t help and can potentially cause injury.
If I was starting all over again, I would try and include a loose lead session on every walk, preferably somewhere not too distracting, its hard work for him so keep the sessions short and  if your dog isn‘t particularly bothered with treats, reward with a game and off lead walk afterwards.
Your pup is still very young, so don‘t expect results too quickly BUT celebrate every little success and you‘ll notice the improvements every week.
Best of luck!

Offline FranklynTheDog

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Re: Walking on the lead - or rather not walking but pulling!
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2020, 08:58:45 PM »
Thank you so much for such a comprehensive reply! Yes I did notice the lack of cockers in training on lead walking in the videos  :005:

In a way I think lockdown might be quite good for this because we will have a lot of time for short little walks where we can specifically practice this. I also think stopping might be the answer for him because he does actually stop, he just needs to realise how consistent I will be with that and I can see that will take time!

 Last week I was getting frustrated but I can see this is an issue that will take a fair amount of time and dedication on my part and I need to ditch the frustration and load up the patience for now! As you say, he’s still a baby and still learning and now is probably the best time for that! He’s big for his age and getting strong so I’d like to deal with it before he’s starting to pull me over and he’s not far from that already

Thanks for the encouragement!