Author Topic: Puppy pulling on lead  (Read 1236 times)

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Offline Firestorm

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Puppy pulling on lead
« on: February 11, 2022, 11:16:03 AM »
As this is our first cocker spaniel we keep coming up with issues we have not experienced with other breeds we have had so here is our next dilemma. When taking our 4 month puppy out for walks he would constantly pull on the lead zig zagging all over the place. Rearing up wanting to play with everyone and dog who passes walking him was a nightmare. We decided to take him to puppy training classes and after 8 weeks he will walk to heel in the house, garden and on the quiet road outside the house. But as soon as we venture out of his comfort zone he reverts back to pulling and wanting to play with everyone and everything. We have tried all the training techniques when out but he just ignores all the cues and treats. Far too interested in smells, what’s going on around him and what he can pick up and eat. Are we expecting too much from him at 6 months, or have we got an over boisterous puppy. Even at puppy classes he was the most vocal and boisterous puppy in the class but picked up all the training very quick.  Anyone had similar experience with their puppy.

Offline vixen

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Re: Puppy pulling on lead
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2022, 11:28:43 AM »
You have got a typical cocker spaniel puppy.    :005: :005:
The zig zagging is a characteristic trait.
I tried to get my puppy to walk to heel and used to get exasperated and frustrated.  Now, I am starting to relax a little and not expect her to walk glued to my knee.  She IS a 7 month old working cocker and the world is so exciting for her.  She is still only a baby and there are so many interesting things out there for her.
I have priorized what is really important to me and that is recall.  When out off lead she has very good recall and she is good with other dogs as she comes away when called.
She still jumps up when people approach her and I try to get her to sit before they pass but whilst she is on the lead that is difficult, even with treats. Strangely enough, when off lead and I see people approach, I can call her to me and she stays focused on me until they pass ( treats help this time  ;) )
My Maisie has been a very challenging puppy but I know she will settle down in time.
There are numerous threads on pulling and puppy biting on COL so they may reassure you that you don’t have a over boisterous puppy - just a happy curious friendly boy.   :luv:
Max (GSP)  always in my heart

Offline sophie.ivy

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Re: Puppy pulling on lead
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2022, 08:14:19 AM »
You could be describing my puppy!! She knows how to walk to heel and also knows I don't like her pulling, but as soon as she's on to a scent or there's something more interesting than me in the distance (usually a pigeon) - it's all out of the window.

We're also doing training classes and she's an absolute nightmare in the waiting room choking herself trying to get to other dogs, jumping up, and generally being a pest. When we get into the hall, she's an obedient angel picking up everything quickly and even being used as a demonstration dog (much to everyone who saw her in the waiting room's astonishment).

Our gundog trainer said that teaching heel should be one of the first things a lab learns, but one of the last things for a spaniel. I'm hoping this means walking to heel (or at least not pulling) will get easier as they get older and are less easily distracted / over-stimulated. I think at this age, the world is just too exciting as Vixen says.

Offline Firestorm

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Re: Puppy pulling on lead
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2022, 10:02:40 AM »
Thanks for your replies it’s nice to know there are others experiencing the same problem with walking on a lead. We have now started another training class which is outdoors on a secure field and the trainer has said cocker spaniels take more time and to keep practicing.

Offline vixen

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Re: Puppy pulling on lead
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2022, 11:43:31 AM »
. When we get into the hall, she's an obedient angel picking up everything quickly and even being used as a demonstration dog

Well done Ivy  :D :clapping: :clapping:  What a little star  :luv:
Max (GSP)  always in my heart

Offline sophie.ivy

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Re: Puppy pulling on lead
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2022, 04:11:43 PM »
I don't know if this is helpful advice or not, but I saw our gundog trainer at the weekend and he said 6-7 months is a good time to start with walking to heel on daily walks and this is what he demonstrated to get Ivy walking to heel and without pulling/lunging:

Use a slip lead and tug back (not hard) when she moves ahead of you, use a 'no' when she pulls, followed by tug back, and then 'heel' to get her back in position. Don't start walking again until she's in heel / sat next to you. Rinse and repeat every time she pulls forward. The 'no' should be in a firm voice, but not loud or shouting. Always follow with a command of what you would like pup to do instead. Calm and softly spoken 'good heel' for praise. No over the top or high pitched praise as this will just wind them up.

He said walks don't need to be long at this age and a 10min walk where pup is walking nicely to heel is better than a long walk with pup pulling the whole time and reinforcing the habit. Off lead games like retrieves and 'go find' the treat or toy should be enough to tire them out, even if it's just for 10mins. Long enough to work them, but not long enough that they get over-stimulated and lose focus on you and start looking for their own fun!

He did say Ivy is a very 'willful' pup (I wasn't offended as he also trains her mum and x2 others from the litter - all the same apparently!) so I can be a bit firmer in my corrections with her as she can take it, and it might take some time for her to stop pulling as it's been so rewarding for her in the past. He wouldn't recommend this technique for sensitive pups as the corrections will upset them so coaxing with treats would be better.

I used this technique on the last few walks and it does make walks a bit boring/frustrating, BUT it did work most of the time...I think it's all about consistency and we're going to carry on for the next few weeks and see if it makes a difference! I'll let you know how it goes!

Offline cazza

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Re: Puppy pulling on lead
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2022, 08:08:57 AM »

Use a slip lead and tug back (not hard) when she moves ahead of you, use a 'no' when she pulls, followed by tug back, and then 'heel' to get her back in position. Don't start walking again until she's in heel / sat next to you. Rinse and repeat every time she pulls forward. The 'no' should be in a firm voice, but not loud or shouting. Always follow with a command of what you would like pup to do instead. Calm and softly spoken 'good heel' for praise. No over the top or high pitched praise as this will just wind them up.


I sort of use the above with Ash

Difference being I don’t tug back on the lead I just stop like a statue, I don’t say anything I just stand and wait for her to turn round and once she is back by my leg we walk again - her reward is walking forward again to her place where she is let off for a run etc. - she’s getting there

My problem is that she tugs as she wants to get to the fun bit of running with her pals, I am lucky that who I walk with is happy with the stop start method of a walk

Yes walks do get a bit boring and frustrating for us, but it works in the long run as long as you are consistent

I need to get Ash in town more on lead - we are off to look round car forecourts later today, so that will be good for her training

Wishing you all the best with heel walking, it’s practice and being consistent that gets you there


Offline bizzylizzy

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Re: Puppy pulling on lead
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2022, 09:53:42 AM »

Use a slip lead and tug back (not hard) when she moves ahead of you, use a 'no' when she pulls, followed by tug back, and then 'heel' to get her back in position. Don't start walking again until she's in heel / sat next to you. Rinse and repeat every time she pulls forward. The 'no' should be in a firm voice, but not loud or shouting. Always follow with a command of what you would like pup to do instead. Calm and softly spoken 'good heel' for praise. No over the top or high pitched praise as this will just wind them up.


I sort of use the above with Ash

Difference being I don’t tug back on the lead I just stop like a statue, I don’t say anything I just stand and wait for her to turn round and once she is back by my leg we walk again - her reward is walking forward again to her place where she is let off for a run etc. - she’s getting there

My problem is that she tugs as she wants to get to the fun bit of running with her pals, I am lucky that who I walk with is happy with the stop start method of a walk

Yes walks do get a bit boring and frustrating for us, but it works in the long run as long as you are consistent

I need to get Ash in town more on lead - we are off to look round car forecourts later today, so that will be good for her training

Wishing you all the best with heel walking, it’s practice and being consistent that gets you there





The tug back method is very old school, I know trainers still use it but I personally think its awful, it puts pressure on the neck and throat and can cause all sorts of damage. My dog’s ( thankfully)  recovering from spinal surgery and although I‘ll probably never really know the cause of the problem, I‘d advise against doing anything that puts unnatural pressure on any part of the spine, particularly the neck, I wouldn‘t wish the first few weeks after the operation on any dog or its owner!
Walking to heel,particularly for cockers, is challenhging and needs patience but above all, consistency. I wouldn’t claim to having achieved it completely but I can live with how he walks now. Out of all the methods I tried out, that which Cazza has suggested worked best because the dog learns that walking nicely gets him where he wants to be.  Only thing I would add, is to train it in as many places as possible and try to NEVER let him get away with pulling - I noticed Humphrey would automatically walk to heel in places where we‘d trained hard and the minute we moved somewhere else, he‘d be back to his old habit again. I also gave up continually saying „heel“, it either distracted him or literally went in one ear and out of the other, I‘ve no idea, but as soon as I shut up and just stopped walking, he seemed to respond better, - a case of actions speak louder than words!  :shades:
You‘ll get there  ;) but as many of here will testify, it does need time!  Best of luck!  :luv:

Offline JohnMcL

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Re: Puppy pulling on lead
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2022, 09:13:02 AM »
Good thread, just what we need right now, thanks for the info.
Peanut is 13 months today and her lead walking is getting worse, she’ll pull like crazy if allowed. I really regret using a harness as I don’t think that’s done us any favours. Now gone back to slip lead for long walks and using the stop/start method, it’s slow but I find it works and is more engaging. We do a shorter distance in the same time and changing the route has stopped the initial pulling.

Offline sophie.ivy

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Re: Puppy pulling on lead
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2022, 10:16:14 AM »
I appreciate your comments on the tug back method Cazza and Jayne as I've been struggling with it a bit myself. It isn't a hard tug at all or a yank, I would never do that - it's more of a slight pull of the lead, but I still don't like doing it and have been worried about it breaking the bond between us (as well as it not actually being that effective!) In terms of it putting pressure of the neck, that's a concern too, but when she's pulling like mad and choking herself then that can't be good either. I've tried using a harness instead of collar/slip lead, but it makes the pulling much worse.

The thing is, she can walk nicely with just a simple 'heel' command and nothing else, but then she sees a bird and it's all out of the window and that's when the pulling/spinning/lunging starts. There's been quite a few times that I've found myself 'stuck' on a walk where I need to walk her home on lead, but her head is just gone and she can't focus on anything other than 'must. chase. bird' I have picked her up on occasion and carried her home as I didn't want to reinforce the pulling, but I must look like a madwoman!

I think we really need to tackle this bird obsession first, and then go back to heelwork as she can do it. I've been thinking about only taking her for a walk in the evening (when her feathered 'friends' have gone to bed) until we figure out a way to make ourselves more exciting than a seagull... 

Offline vixen

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Re: Puppy pulling on lead
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2022, 12:38:17 PM »
I have never used a harness on Maisie, 8 months today  :luv: I started with just a normal collar and lead.  We now use a slip lead and like Sophie worried a bit about the pressure on her neck as she ALWAYS wants to be in front.  I felt we were getting nowhere as she just didn’t seem to get the connection of gentle pull back when straining on the lead.  I then started to turn round when she pulled and walk in the other direction but the amount of times we did it on a walk made me go dizzy  :005:  So instead of me turning round, as soon as she pulled I stopped and then guided her (with the lead) round to be where I wanted her.  We have been doing this for several weeks now, really boring and I feel quite silly but yesterday it seemed something clicked with Maisie.  When I stopped, she turned round by herself or walked backwards to be where I wanted her.  :happydance: Just  waiting for the penny to drop now that if she didn’t pull, she wouldn’t need to turn round at all  :005:
Max (GSP)  always in my heart

Offline ips

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Re: Puppy pulling on lead
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2022, 08:38:05 PM »
I appreciate your comments on the tug back method Cazza and Jayne as I've been struggling with it a bit myself. It isn't a hard tug at all or a yank, I would never do that - it's more of a slight pull of the lead, but I still don't like doing it and have been worried about it breaking the bond between us (as well as it not actually being that effective!) In terms of it putting pressure of the neck, that's a concern too, but when she's pulling like mad and choking herself then that can't be good either. I've tried using a harness instead of collar/slip lead, but it makes the pulling much worse.

The thing is, she can walk nicely with just a simple 'heel' command and nothing else, but then she sees a bird and it's all out of the window and that's when the pulling/spinning/lunging starts. There's been quite a few times that I've found myself 'stuck' on a walk where I need to walk her home on lead, but her head is just gone and she can't focus on anything other than 'must. chase. bird' I have picked her up on occasion and carried her home as I didn't want to reinforce the pulling, but I must look like a madwoman!

I think we really need to tackle this bird obsession first, and then go back to heelwork as she can do it. I've been thinking about only taking her for a walk in the evening (when her feathered 'friends' have gone to bed) until we figure out a way to make ourselves more exciting than a seagull...

Sounds to me like you need to train a "gone away" command which is a pretty standard working gundog command (mine is actually a leave that but it means same thing) it's a spaniel and even if it's a show version it will have a built in high prey drive, you won't stop it but you can change the outcome from chase to "leave it" and lots of reward for not chasing, reward the leave it with a ball chase in opposite direction (a break away) and your sorted 👍
Muddling along in the hope that one day it all makes sense.

Offline sophie.ivy

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Re: Puppy pulling on lead
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2022, 11:56:59 AM »
Thank you ips! A reliable 'leave that' outside would solve a lot of our problems.

We have a reliable leave trained in the house, but it could really use some work outside. I started out using 'ignore' and when she looks at me instead of the offending bird she got a treat/fuss, but I realise now that wasn't nearly as rewarding as the chase. The only thing I taught her to ignore was me in the end! I've started using 'leave that' now and rewarding with a tennis ball and that works some of the time, but not always. I bought a couple of rabbit fur balls the other day for 'go find' games and she goes mad for them so they may be the key! Will try them out on the next walk.

I often wonder if I'm training her or if she's training me?


Offline ips

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Re: Puppy pulling on lead
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2022, 05:45:15 PM »
Thank you ips! A reliable 'leave that' outside would solve a lot of our problems.

We have a reliable leave trained in the house, but it could really use some work outside. I started out using 'ignore' and when she looks at me instead of the offending bird she got a treat/fuss, but I realise now that wasn't nearly as rewarding as the chase. The only thing I taught her to ignore was me in the end! I've started using 'leave that' now and rewarding with a tennis ball and that works some of the time, but not always. I bought a couple of rabbit fur balls the other day for 'go find' games and she goes mad for them so they may be the key! Will try them out on the next walk.

I often wonder if I'm training her or if she's training me?

The problem is that nothing trump's chasing birds, I trained it pretty much same as you, I actively hunted out pheasant and rewarded the none chase by chasing a tennis ball the opposite direction the theory is to reward not doing what they want ie a chase with what they want ie a chase but on your terms. Training a stop works similar dog hunts or quarters stops to command and is rewarded for stop by being released to hunt again....🙄
PS
There is a train of thought that a spaniel will comply better with a turn whistle than a stop as there is a better flow, 🙄
Muddling along in the hope that one day it all makes sense.

Offline Firestorm

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Re: Puppy pulling on lead
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2022, 04:05:12 PM »
Thank you for all your replies it has been very interesting reading. The training we recently completed used “cues” rather than commands, it relied on teaching your dog a cue (yes) to keep making eye contact with you then reward whilst walking on the lead by your side. This method was ok for dogs in the class that weren’t persistent sniffers, for Max it didn’t work as soon as he had any smells he pulled hard on the lead often rearing up to get to it. I have had many dogs in the past 50 years and all were trained on a slip lead or choker which was the norm. Yes it worked but now I wouldn’t want to risk doing any injury to my dog when there are other methods. So since asking the question I have incorporated a some of your advice. First I decided as he enjoys sniffing so much not to worry about trying to get him to walk nicely by my side. Then I used the stop method sometimes giving a little tug on the harness. After  quite a few walks the rearing up stopped and the pulling lessened sometimes I get a loose lead for a couple of meters which he gets plenty of praise for. He has also recently started to look back at me occasionally checking to see if I was going to stop when he pulled. I have quite a way to go but there has been definite improvements.