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Discussion Starter #1
Good morning!

Would love your insight on how best to deal with a tiny challenge we face with our new to our family standard (he’s been with us for 4 weeks). In the grand scheme of things, if it’s a quirk that we have to live with, it’s totally fine!

He’s a delightful boy on walks (delightful overall actually :)) no pulling, calmly observes people and dogs walking by, makes a new best friend every time he gets to meet a dog as he’s so polite and wins over the neighborhood people with his sweetness.

Except, he will put down an anchor and refuse to move at times by sitting if we have a difference of opinion. Sometimes a high value treat will convince him to agree with our plan, or sometimes a quick chin rib will win him over. But there’s been times when I’ve had to drag him a few steps before he gives up and trots off with no more questions.

For example he will sit and refuse to move if he sees a dog walking a short distance behind us, walking in the same direction - he seems to want to wait for the dog to catch up to say hello before continuing on our walk.

Another example is if we try to go on a route that’s different than he thinks it should be, he will start by gently pulling in his direction and staring longingly, if we don’t follow him he will sit and refuse to move.

When he decides that he disagrees with the current plan and sits, what’s the approach that we should take?

Thanks everyone!
 

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I think you are doing the right thing by insisting you are the leader. I would not lure him with treats or sweet talk. When he stops, just keep walking without looking at him, as though you have forgotten all about him. A harness works better than a collar for this. I would also use longer than a six foot lead and I would not use a flex leash.
 

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He sounds like such a good boy! It's possible he was taught in his previous home to sit when he was anxious or excited (e.g. when a dog's approaching or when he smells something interesting down another street). Maybe he used to hop up and down in those moments. Or pull. I wouldn't assume he's trying to be "the boss."

To address this, I wouldn't lure with a treat, as producing a treat when he's sitting could be interpreted as a reward. But I would reward him for moving forward.

So he sits, the human keeps walking, he grudgingly starts moving again, and something tasty appears once he's got his nice forward momentum back.

I'd also be feeding the tasty things periodically while he is walking along nicely.

Another thing I'd be doing is watching for signals he's about to plop down. If you can figure that out, you can jolly him along with your voice and reward with a treat before he ever has a chance to rehearse the sitting behaviour.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
After reading Peggy’s “How do you train” thread yesterday and thinking about this, I think this actually a people problem not a poodle problem.

He’s doing an excellent job of training us.

I realized that for the first few weeks that we had him we stuck to the same walk route. He was a little bit nervous and in my dumb human brain I thought that taking the same route every time would help him gain confidence as he would know what to expect. Now when we head off on that same pathway and try to go the “wrong” direction at the junction, we get a suggestion by him to go to the “proper” way and sit happens if we insist on going the “wrong” way.

I honestly wonder if he thinks that we are confused, and is trying to tell us that we are going the wrong way?

And the sitting with a dog approaching from behind, I think I did that too.

There are a few very reactive dogs in our neighborhood, including one that I honestly feel is large enough to pull the lady who walks it over. I don’t feel safe with them walking behind us and the dog carrying on, it’s one slip of the leash and the dog is loose. The few times that they have been approaching us from behind and her dog has been going insane, I have taken Ben off the path onto the green space beside it and done sits, downs etc. until the dog has safely passed.

In this case I wonder if he’s made the connection between a dog walking behind and sitting calmly, @PeggyTheParti you’re so smart.

The last part of the issue, I feel is a bit different but also rooted in the same thing (poodle training us), and the one that I do want to address.

These are the sits (and a dramatic flat out on the ground with deep sighing that he did last night apparently) that occur when someone else in the family tries to take him for a walk and I stay back at the house. My daughter tried to take him for a walk last night as I was making supper, they made it two houses before he sat, and then when she insisted they continue slid into a dramatic poodle pancake on the ground. This has happened with my husband as well although they made it quite a bit further. Each time they have not insisted they continue, but have instead turned around and come right back to the house.

I have a feeling this is reinforcing the message in the poodle brain that mom shouldn’t be left at home alone while others go for a walk? Which is not something I want him thinking.

I’m definitely his person, but I would like for the rest of the family to be able to take him out when I stay back home. He doesn’t do this when I’m not home, he will willingly go with anyone then, it’s just when I’m left behind.

I think I might need to manufacture some successful walks without me. Where I stay home and he goes with someone else to show him that this it is not only possible to leave me, but ok. They can start short, just around the block, but if he protests they can’t just turn around and come home they must complete the mission. Take the approach @Michigan Gal suggested, firm let’s go when he stops, snacks when he’s moving out nicely.

Thanks everyone!
 

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I have a feeling this is reinforcing the message in the poodle brain that mom shouldn’t be left at home alone while others go for a walk? Which is not something I want him thinking.
His thinking isn’t so complicated. He just doesn’t want to go without you ! My toy will whine the whole time if someone else takes him for a walk, even if he knows them. He’ll be distressed, look behind and want to go home. Try to avoid this with your dog if you can, it’s not healthy (my dog has a severe anxiety disorder).

Since he’s still a puppy, you have time to work on making it so much fun with other people that he will think it’s worth it even if you’re not there. Like really yummy treats if he walks.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Yes, I agree. My wording probably wasn’t the best. He is trying not to leave me, either way not what I want him thinking/feeling.

He’s 3, rehomed with us a month ago. Other than this walking issue, he’s not showing any signs of what I would call separation anxiety, he’s totally fine to be left alone in the house when we are all out, and happily hangs out by himself on another floor of the house when I’m home.

Mission, make him have more fun without me will begin ASAP.
 

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I accidentally taught Pogo and Snarky the command "This Way" when they were young. I would unthinkingly say it when I got to the end of our street and was preparing to cross the road. It started out as just a way to make noise and attract both dogs' attention, so that one of them didn't get distracted and find himself being dragged when the rest of us changed direction. Then I realized I had said it with such consistency that they had learned "This Way" meant we were going to turn and go a new direction.

I wonder if you could teach Ben a similar command and reward him when he looks to you and follows.
 
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