Author Topic: Walking on the lead - or rather not walking but pulling!  (Read 1574 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline FranklynTheDog

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 4
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

  • Donator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4054
  • Gender: Female
  • 🙂 Jayne
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

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 4
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!

Offline rubyduby

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 611
Re: Walking on the lead - or rather not walking but pulling!
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2020, 09:42:53 AM »
I can totally sympathise with your issue, my girl Amber is two now and still pulls, it is probably worse because she has spent most of her time off the lead when she is out on walks as she does need the exercise, we have an older girl 1o yrs who is much steadier, but that makes no difference Amber wants to see and sniff everything , she is reasonably good at whistle recall most of the time, but if she smells something really interesting she is off and can be two fields away before you even realise, she too isnt very food orientated and only playing a game immediatey can partially distract her, but that doesnt alway work when you want cover distance for a walk, spring and summer is worse as she wants to chase the grouse etc and there are far more scents about so I am dreading it. Makes it more difficult that I walk the two together and one the older, likes to sniff in the long grass locally , a lot, she is a manic vole hunter, but that doesnt exercise Amber .The latter is usually on an extension lead but she just gets to the end of that and pulls, so I tend to go to the same places where I can let her off as it does my head in, and hers. I have had Cockers for 40 years, and Amber is probably the most energetic and field wise of them all, and tbh I am struggling, the walks become a worrying chore to be got thro rather than a pleasure. OH doesnt help at all as the dogs wont even go with him, so I struggle alone

Offline FranklynTheDog

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Walking on the lead - or rather not walking but pulling!
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2021, 09:34:30 AM »
Hi RubyDuby, i thought I would update as Frank is now 5 months old.

He is (still) a very enthusiastic and exuberant puppy. He very much has the characteristics of a working cocker. His find and retrieve is extraordinary. We hide balls for him and get him to find them and he's absolutely brilliant at it and he's the most wonderful, loving dog.

However, his lead walking is still a challenge. It's mainly because he can't manage to keep his attention for long periods. It took me a while to figure it out. He can do short bursts of attention. So if I take him in the garden and get him to walk to heel (without a lead attached), he can manage it now but for say 10 seconds and then he's not particularly bothered. So it's not as though he doesn't know what he needs to do but he can't do it for any longer than a short spell. He's also far better when he's tired - so he walks fairly well on lead when he's had a good run around and he is more likely to look up for the next command.

We could not walk him with a lead on his neck or on a back fastening harness as the first means he throttles himself and the second is just an invitation for him to pull like a sled dog. So something that has really helped is a front ring harness - with these for him to pull ahead hard, he has to hop on 3 legs (because the lead crosses one of his front legs) which inhibits his ability to do it and helps with his training. It doesn't stop him though and when he's determined, he will just hop rather than walk. Unfortunately for me, he is now so strong, he could pull me over (he's a large cocker for his age, he's about 12.5kg now at 5 months) so I have to walk him with that front ring harness otherwise I couldn't cope.

Like you, I have the same problem with my OH. Frank is far better behaved for me and his recall is near perfect for me but nowhere with anyone else (even though we are using a whistle for training). I think it's because I'm more consistent than OH, I've also been doing the early walk but also I guess because spaniels have that tendency to bond strongly with one person. It's going to be an issue when I'm back at work as it was OH who will be around most.

I would recommend trying the front ring harness and seeing how you get on - it won't stop it but it might help make walks slightly more pleasurable. Like you, before I got it, it really was a chore and throughout the wettest days, I was just waiting for him to pull me over on my backside!!

Offline rubyduby

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 611
Re: Walking on the lead - or rather not walking but pulling!
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2021, 04:40:54 PM »
Yes I have the front ring harness, and yes my dog hops along and it is easier for walking, but it bothers me that she might be straining herself as its not a very straight way for her to walk and the one I have is a tad small for her, but she is quite a narrow dog so the front strap seems to pull around and it just looks a clumsy mess, also I feel that the strap is digging in , she is getting worse now spring is coming and I need desperately t find a comfy front fasten harness for her as she is going to have to be on the long lead more

Offline Pearly

  • Donator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4200
  • Gender: Female
  • Pearl, Coral, Sally, Purdey and Kukri
Re: Walking on the lead - or rather not walking but pulling!
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2021, 11:27:49 AM »
Working cocker spaniels need a lot of training.  Every day, every “walk”, every doorway, meal time, every visitor, the list goes on....

The reason why he has such a low attention span is because he’s far more interested in everything around him than in you (or whoever he is walking with).  At 5 months you should still be working on the basics with him: sit, presenting retrieves, recall and patience.  If you don’t get these right when he hits the teenage phase at 7-9 months you will have a real problem on your hands.  Don’t be fooled by the cute puppy routine and rolling on his back or tail down - these pups know how to work their humans and at 5 months he’s likely to have you exactly where he wants you.

I saw a demo of a 14 month old cocker a couple of weeks ago (local trainer and across a field...) that was awesome, the control was amazing and she was such a happy dog.  It made mine look like an unruly toddler having a tantrum and she’s Field Trial standard! So it is possible.....

Have a look at Beggarbush Foundations.  He is about to launch an online application for training.  I’ll have a look for a link for you.  There will be a cost (not sure how much) but he is a very successful gundog trainer and those that I know follow the Foundations have happy, well trained and obedient dogs.

As soon as you can, get to a local gundog trainer and get your boy assessed.  They will help with teaching you to read his body language, anticipate his behaviour and how to stop issues before they start.  If you start with the Foundations ASAP (from the very beginning - it mostly gets you to use his dinner for training) you will have a head start to when you can see a trainer after 29 March.

I would also ditch the harness.  They teach the dog to pull, even the front lead type, after all, it’s what they put on Huskies to pull sleighs!  Get a 6mm good quality slip lead (Muntjac Trading have nice, smooth, leads) and learn how to use it correctly.  The lead should be vertical when you are walking and just long enough that his head is by your knee and held/controlled in your left hand, with the loop over your right hand.  The lead should be high up the dogs neck, again vertically and directly behind the ears, with the thread-through loop under the lead on the left of the dog.  This makes it impossible for the dog to pull.  As soon as you feel the lead go slack it will have dropped down the neck and your dog is likely to lunge forward and pull again.  10 days of short walks with the lead in the correct position is all it should take to get your boy to walk to heel.  Reinforce the heel command using your voice.  Heel should only be said when your boy is in the correct position - tell him he’s a good boy when he is so he understands what you expect of him, the more he’s right the more exciting you make your voice and tell him every few seconds....this can tail off as he starts to nail heel and you can focus on walking.  The correct position is to your left with his head off the ground (no choice because the lead is short, right?) and level with your knee.  If he moves forward, use his name and your “no command” I.e. ah, ah! no! or growling at him, whichever you use and he recognises as being norty!   No need to yank on the lead, that’s just mean/cruel - sit him up, put the lead into the correct position and say heel before setting off.  Think about your feet also, you should be stepping off on the left foot first so he moves forward with your knee.

Remember at this age whilst you may think he understands, he doesn’t really and is only doing what he thinks you want him to - that will quickly morph into doing what he thinks is right but not necessarily what you need him to!

When you’ve cracked heel you can introduce stop on the move.  This is often referred to as a set of brakes.  You will need this once he realises what ground scent means.

Whether you intend to work your boy or not, please do continue with is training as not only is it really rewarding to see him progress but having a well trained dog is a wonderful experience and one to be very proud of.

Good luck with your boy.
Jayne

Offline Pearly

  • Donator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4200
  • Gender: Female
  • Pearl, Coral, Sally, Purdey and Kukri

Offline pibbo1968

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 50
  • Gender: Male
Re: Walking on the lead - or rather not walking but pulling!
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2021, 01:45:22 PM »
Jura,our WCS,is now 3 1/2 and we're having to retrace our training!Not only lead walking but recall!
The lead pulling is not as bad as when he was a puppy but we want to nip it in the bud.
His recall was generally about 98% but that is now about 90% so we're back to long-line training for the moment >:(
I'm beginning to think that if they're from 'worked' parent(s) but not 'worked' then it's a lifetime on-going training thing :005:

Offline Pearly

  • Donator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4200
  • Gender: Female
  • Pearl, Coral, Sally, Purdey and Kukri
Re: Walking on the lead - or rather not walking but pulling!
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2021, 08:12:04 PM »
Jura,our WCS,is now 3 1/2 and we're having to retrace our training!Not only lead walking but recall!
The lead pulling is not as bad as when he was a puppy but we want to nip it in the bud.
His recall was generally about 98% but that is now about 90% so we're back to long-line training for the moment >:(
I'm beginning to think that if they're from 'worked' parent(s) but not 'worked' then it's a lifetime on-going training thing :005:

It’s just the same for worked dogs too  :D

Offline JohnMcL

  • Donator
  • Jr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 57
Re: Walking on the lead - or rather not walking but pulling!
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2021, 12:18:46 PM »
Working cocker spaniels need a lot of training.  Every day, every “walk”, every doorway, meal time, every visitor, the list goes on....

The reason why he has such a low attention span is because he’s far more interested in everything around him than in you (or whoever he is walking with).  At 5 months you should still be working on the basics with him: sit, presenting retrieves, recall and patience.  If you don’t get these right when he hits the teenage phase at 7-9 months you will have a real problem on your hands.  Don’t be fooled by the cute puppy routine and rolling on his back or tail down - these pups know how to work their humans and at 5 months he’s likely to have you exactly where he wants you.

I saw a demo of a 14 month old cocker a couple of weeks ago (local trainer and across a field...) that was awesome, the control was amazing and she was such a happy dog.  It made mine look like an unruly toddler having a tantrum and she’s Field Trial standard! So it is possible.....

Have a look at Beggarbush Foundations.  He is about to launch an online application for training.  I’ll have a look for a link for you.  There will be a cost (not sure how much) but he is a very successful gundog trainer and those that I know follow the Foundations have happy, well trained and obedient dogs.

As soon as you can, get to a local gundog trainer and get your boy assessed.  They will help with teaching you to read his body language, anticipate his behaviour and how to stop issues before they start.  If you start with the Foundations ASAP (from the very beginning - it mostly gets you to use his dinner for training) you will have a head start to when you can see a trainer after 29 March.

I would also ditch the harness.  They teach the dog to pull, even the front lead type, after all, it’s what they put on Huskies to pull sleighs!  Get a 6mm good quality slip lead (Muntjac Trading have nice, smooth, leads) and learn how to use it correctly.  The lead should be vertical when you are walking and just long enough that his head is by your knee and held/controlled in your left hand, with the loop over your right hand.  The lead should be high up the dogs neck, again vertically and directly behind the ears, with the thread-through loop under the lead on the left of the dog.  This makes it impossible for the dog to pull.  As soon as you feel the lead go slack it will have dropped down the neck and your dog is likely to lunge forward and pull again.  10 days of short walks with the lead in the correct position is all it should take to get your boy to walk to heel.  Reinforce the heel command using your voice.  Heel should only be said when your boy is in the correct position - tell him he’s a good boy when he is so he understands what you expect of him, the more he’s right the more exciting you make your voice and tell him every few seconds....this can tail off as he starts to nail heel and you can focus on walking.  The correct position is to your left with his head off the ground (no choice because the lead is short, right?) and level with your knee.  If he moves forward, use his name and your “no command” I.e. ah, ah! no! or growling at him, whichever you use and he recognises as being norty!   No need to yank on the lead, that’s just mean/cruel - sit him up, put the lead into the correct position and say heel before setting off.  Think about your feet also, you should be stepping off on the left foot first so he moves forward with your knee.

Remember at this age whilst you may think he understands, he doesn’t really and is only doing what he thinks you want him to - that will quickly morph into doing what he thinks is right but not necessarily what you need him to!

When you’ve cracked heel you can introduce stop on the move.  This is often referred to as a set of brakes.  You will need this once he realises what ground scent means.

Whether you intend to work your boy or not, please do continue with is training as not only is it really rewarding to see him progress but having a well trained dog is a wonderful experience and one to be very proud of.

Good luck with your boy.
Jayne

THANK YOU for this brilliant lesson. We are on day 5 and seeing good results. Peanut is 13 weeks so we can only do 15 mins walks. We do three 5 minute sessions a day which is basically to the field and back, I take the lead off in the field for ten mins so that all lead walking is following this lesson. I’m sure that keeping her this close whilst walking is helping her to respond faster to other games and commands too. We are closer, she’s in my sight 24/7 so hugely helping me to read her body language/ understand her.

Today I’m trying to be more appealing than cow poo, this is a new experience!

John.

Offline Pearly

  • Donator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4200
  • Gender: Female
  • Pearl, Coral, Sally, Purdey and Kukri
Re: Walking on the lead - or rather not walking but pulling!
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2021, 05:58:25 PM »
 :005: Fabulous!

So pleased the info has proved useful, it’s always a challenge to write help in a way it can be understood and I’m sure leaves it open to misunderstanding!

From your other posts on here, it strikes me that Peanut is lucky to have found you, all your effort now will be rewarded tenfold when she’s older  :luv:  have a go at off lead walking in the field with her and rather than letting her run round /play, keep it all nicely under your control - if she gets more than 10ft from you, call her back…. Right now, she’ll be happy to do that, once on scent when she’s older if you’ve not put the basics in now, you’ll have no chance of keeping her close!  I definitely know that one from experience with number 2 cocker! 

A word of caution though, what has worked for me may not always work for others and I can only share my experience.  I’m not a dog trainer, far from it!  The online application should / will get you in to a great position to move on to more formal training and I think they offer assessments as part of the package?

Cow poo is interesting, fox poo is irresistible to roll in but wait until the day she finds goose poo….