My boy Jagger is so squirrely! Beginning at 4 mos I took him to "puppy socialization" class where I was never able to get him to focus on what what we were doing (unless he chose too of course!) He was much more interested in what everyone else was doing and continually flipped around at the end of the leash trying to reach the other pups. After finishing that 6 week session we enrolled with a different club with the thought that maybe the first one's techniques weren't right for Jag. The second group encouraged much more rigid guidelines but after another 4 weeks and no change, the trainer suggested I try a prong collar. After 10 minutes of that poor Jaggie was so traumatized he wanted nothing to do with me and wouldn't come to me the rest of the evening and the next day. I felt terrible! Now what? When I walk with him in the neighborhood he is great on a loose leash but all bets are off if there are any distractions--another walker, another dog, even a bird, LOL. He's like a kangaroo! He's now 6 mos, am i expecting too much? Any help please???
Last edited by JagsMom; 02-11-2013 at 12:56 PM.
I can only speak from my own experience. I have a almost 11 month old spoo that I got at 7 1/2 months. We are in a 6 week session of obedience and it wasn't until the 4th class that he would pay attention to me consistently rather then all the other distractions in the room (puppies, people, treats). We are still working on it but he is getting better. What our instructor is teaching us is to have him learn the command look as in look at us. Then to teach him to heel and pay attention to us. It also helps if I give him a lot of exercise before we go to class so he is a tired puppy.
I would suggest going to a "star" puppy class. I was told by the local kennel club that this class is required to be taught by a AKC certified teacher for what it is worth.
He is 6 months old. He is a puppy. I wouldn't use a prong collar on him.
By the way, I call our weekly obedience class my weekly class in humility. The most important thing is to remember to try to keep your sense of humor and love your puppy. The first class, two people were late and Fritz informed the entire class of their tardiness by barking at each of them as they arrived and that was just the beginning. Yup, he keeps me humble.
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A 4 month old puppy is too old for a puppy socialization class IMO. A STAR puppy class or even now a CGC class (which also will be an AKC approved/certified evaluator) would probably be very helpful. I would not expect heeling from an adolescent dog (which is what your dog is approaching now). There is a difference between loose leash walking and heeling.
You want loose leash walking. I would suggest the following. Start out for your walk making sure the dog is near you and there is no tension on the leash. As soon as a distraction comes along that pulls him out to the end of the leash, give a quick pop on the leash while saying "uh oh, let's go this way" or simply "oops, let's go" and reverse your direction. Keep doing this over and over so that he learns tension on leash means I don't get to look at or interact with that thing I wanted so badly. When Lily was a puppy, I am sure my neighbors thought I was crazy since sometimes it would take me half an hour to get anything more than one house away from my own house. There were many days we didn't make it off our own short little part of our block. Now I only hold the leash so I can close my hand on it to keep her close if there is a car or some other hazard nearby.
Heeling is having your dog attentively look towards you while walking directly lined up with you left hip. When heeling a dog will take cues from your body position and pace for halts (with automatic sits) and for changes of pace. Really good heeling is not something to expect from most dogs until they are well over a year old (some even later, some never). Lily is a good heeler, but I've worked hard to get it.
Not to stir pinch collar controversy back up again (and I do use them limitedly) I would not use one on a dog the age of yours. You should look for a training class that will help your dog to learn good attention skills. As murphys said, a "look" command.
Be patient, your dog is the equivalent of a tween right now. Think about tweens...moody, unpredictable, uncommunicative, monosyllabic. But she used to be so nice and cheerful and outgoing....and by the time she graduates from high school she is all those lovely things again. How do parents live through all that? By being persistent, consistent and very, very patient.
Lily AKC: CGC CD HIT CDX, RN RA RE RAE RAE2 RAE3 RAE4 RAE5 RAE6 Multiple Rally High Combined, NA NAJ; APDT: RL-1; CPE: CL1-R, CL1-H, CL1-F, CL1-S, CL1
Peeves AKC: CGC BN RN RA
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First, I'd bury the prong collar somewhere deep in the garden, and let Jagger help, so he knows it's gone for good. Then I would read Jean Donaldson's "How to train your dog like a pro" for a good understanding of the three Ds - Distance, Duration and Distraction - and how to proof a training exercise for all three. And then I'd do lots of work off leash - work out what he really, really loves, whether roast chicken, tug toy, squeaky toy or whatever, and teach him that walking with you round the house gets regular treats or play. Then in the yard. Then with the leash on in the house and yard. Be generous, but after the first few yards try to phase out the lure, and reward from your pocket or a pouch. "Look at me" is another really good skill to teach.
When you are out, and he lunges, I'd turn and walk away - if possible before he gets excited enough to lunge, then turn and approach again. Calm behaviour = meet other person/dog (with their agreement, of course). Rude behaviour = greater distance from the object of desire. If you can set up sessions with friends with nice dogs, even better - they will know to ignore him when he is being rude. But as others have said, he is at that stage where stuff is easily forgotten, so you will need patience, as well as persistence!
To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden,
where doing nothing was not boring- it was peace.
~ Milan Kundera
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I am with Lily that I don't want to stir up the prong collar debate. I use one every so often for short sessions but if your dog is showing that she is afraid or that it is hurting her I would stop. I'm curious as to how they used it. I'm not an expert but there are def wrong ways to use tools.
I feel like our dogs could be twins by the way they acted in class. My trainer has us take Millie to movie theaters when the movies end and everyone is getting out. Its just so exciting for her to see all those people but it helps her calm down because we are teaching her that people are not a huge deal. We also take her to pet smart and stand by the entrance.... She has to stay in a sit or else we walk away. It also helps her learn that other dogs are no big deal. We also tether her and walk up to her when new ppl come over and she only gets attention when she sits.
Hang in there! My poodle puppy has in some ways been the easiest pup I've ever had and sometimes the hardest depending on the situation.
My pet smart trainer had us take the leash and wrap it around Millie's middle and then through her collar loop so it hugged her when she pulled. She stopped pulling right away. Sorry if the explanation doesn't make sense... I can try and find pictures.
Have you tried the Gentle Lead Collar? We've been using it to teach Wade to walk on the leash properly and it is excellent! He's not terribly fond of it when we first put it on, but once we're walking he doesn't notice at all and it keeps him heeling next to us.
As far as distractions, one thing that we've been working on with Wade is re-establishing reconnection with him when we are out doing things. If we are playing fetch, we make him stop multiple times, look at us, and sit. We also do this on walks.
Names of dogs: Sock It To Me Lumi and Amala Wala Bing Bang!
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Everything FJM said, and to elaborate on her post, there's a knack to effectively walking away from a distraction. Teach Jagger to change direction with you on cue, and be sure to initially teach it (and then regularly practice it) when Jagger is happy and calm. This way when you do implement it on a walk because something spooks or over-excites him, it is a behavior he's already familiar with and happy to do! Leash pressure generally increases a dog's arousal level, so changing direction without Jagger's cooperation may just wind him up even more, regardless of whether he gives in and turns to walk with you. The idea is to teach him that everything is okay and there's no need to get over-excited by giving him a little distance and time to calm himself. Also, if it's too exciting or scary for him, it may be best to just keep walking away and take a different route. If each time you try approaching again he gets just as riled, it's just a distraction that will need more work later on, once he's mastered calmness around some less exciting things. : ) Here's a video of one of my favorite trainers explaining this step-by-step. Also, at 6 months, he's gong to have bonkers moments and forget things he knew yesterday and that's perfectly normal! Good luck with him! : )
Huge thank-yous to each of you for taking your time to reply. I'd recently learned the stopping technique when he strains at the leash and am making some progress there. I've used the "look" command to (try) to get Jag's attention and he sometimes responds but not if there is something more interesting going on. If he doesn't turn to look at me should I position myself in front of his face so he has no choice? I have, admittedly, tried that but he often just peers around me to see what he wants anway. Should I physically turn his head toward me? Jagger's a smart boy, he knows his basic commands: sit, stay, down, and come, both on and off leash, always does them when we're alone, but decides for himself when to practice them with distractions around. After reading your reassurances though I believe I've been expecting more than Jagger can achieve at this age. Murphys, I've followed up on your suggestion by checking the AKC website for the STAR puppy program, emailed two of the evaluators in my area, and am hoping to hear back soon. I'm so glad to have joined the Forum and see already that you're all such a great support. I'm a widow and retired so Jag and I are muddling alone together. Yee haw for all of you!!!