im gonna go insane! i've been trying to teach my 9 month old lab, Koda, how to behave while he's on his leash. i train him in my backyard to minimize distractions. i want him to learn how to behave while he's on his leash before i try to teach him how to walk loosely on the leash. i was reading a guide on www.milkbone.com and it says to give him a treat whenever he looks at me so he'll realize that paying attention to me will bring about rewards. it worked out for a little bit, but now he only behaves when he sees my hand near my pocket because he expects a treat. he starts biting at the leash every 10 minutes or whenever he realizes that the leash is restricting him from going forward. i don't want him chewing though the leash. what's a good way to teach him how to stop biting the leash and behave while on the leash? also what's a good way to teach him how to walk on the leash loosely?
Have you taken a class? Dog training is so much about technique and timing; it's really best to have someone watch you and give you pointers.
"Watch me" is crucial, and it forms the foundation for your relationship and any further training. Dogs typically aren't comfortable making extended eye contact (in some contexts it is threatening), so you have to teach them. There are various ways to teach it--I am all about using treats, and they can be delivered from your hand or even spit from your mouth. A good trainer can show you how to lure a watch, and then move to rewarding (so you don't end up having to bribe your dog all the time).
If your dog is biting the leash, then you're having some problem with the way you're holding it. It shouldn't be dangling down in his face where he'll have the opportunity to bite it. I personally think that heeling is actually much easier to teach a young dog than "loose leash walking," which is sort of a vague concept. Dogs get "stay here right next to me" much easier than "stay kinda near me but don't go too far forward," in my experience. So you want to make sure that you're spending a few minutes every day just getting your dog to sit at heel position, and reward him for keeping his attention on you. Then take a step, two steps, three steps, and then walk a few paces. Then try a turn.* Very, very gradual and patient, and keep everything light and happy and FUN. Labs love games. Vary your tone and volume to see what works, and don't be afraid to make a complete ass of yourself in public.
Oh, also remember to start small and reward generously. Increase distraction, distance, and duration very gradually.
I agree with Nathan on heel being easier to teach than loose leash. And I would have thought it just the opposite. I've been working on loose leash with Sam for seven months now and he sort of has it but not really. If he pulls, I stop, say Don't pull, and wait until he loosens the leash by either looking at me or coming back. We started heel about 8 weeks ago in an obedience class and I was surprised at how quickly he caught on to that. Doing it all the time is a different matter, but I can tell he understands. If your dog likes to fetch, you might try having him get in the heel position (you will have to physically put him in it for a while) before you throw whatever. Sam would do anything for me to throw the ball, much more so than for treats, and I think that is one reason he got heel quickly.
I've also seen people recommend spraying the leash with Bitter Apple. I think it's a good opportunity to teach Leave It. Take it out of his mouth, saying leave it, then wait until he's not going for it again, hopefully right away, praise (or click if that's what you're using) and give him a treat. You can also teach Leave It by holding a treat in your hand (closed). the dog will nose all over it trying to get it. Wait until he backs off, even if it's just for a second, say leave it. Then open your hand, say take it, and let him have it.
Agree with dweck--many different ways to work. It depends on what's right for you AND your dog. My dog is hard as hell (corrections have little if any effect on him), not terribly praise-motivated, but LOVES TO EAT. Many agility folks use balls and squeaky toys as motivators. You go with what works.