I need some help! I have a 8 month old Black Lab named Kenda who is developing some bad habits.
First she pulls way too much when I walk her. It is too the point where I am having difficulties controling her. She is only 52 pounds but walks like she is over 100 pounds! I have tried the "Gental Leader" a couple times but she refuses to walk properly with it on. She keeps trying to get it off while we walk and I am afraid that she is going to end up hurting herself. I have done the training, of "Heel" but no luck. She has a mind of her own! Any suggestions on how to correct this behaviour now before it is too late. I guess I should mention that she actually walks better if she has her long leash on. Appartently she has something agaisnt walking beside me. BRAT!
Second problem is jumping up. She was doing alright with that until the last few weeks and now she almost knocks me over. Any good suggestions for this
Next thing that I was hoping I was not alone with...barking . The barking thing is something she has always done, but recently she will stare at me a bark for no appartent reason. Most of the time I figure out why like she needs to go out, attention, hungry...I don't want to reward that behaviour but I can't seem to quiet her down until I give her what she wants. (letting her out is okay for her to bark). Any thoughts ?
Thanks for the help...
I was going to say that since the GL wasn't working I would go to a prong collar. But then I checked where you were and I see your in Canada. Are prong collars illegeal there? If they are what about an E-collar?
I don't think they are. I did use a cooker chain collar on her with no luck. She still pulled while gasping for air. I don't think she is very bright sometimes!
Try an Easy Walk (made by Gentle leader)
I would teach her an alternate signal for going out and NEVER give into the barking. Ender is allowed to back only when he's informing us that someone is at the door (cause we might not hear the doorbell : )
Seriously... she's training you. It will be rough but you have to be stronger and not give in.
I'm an E-collar fan. The tools mentioned only help with 1 out of the three issues you have. An e-collar can solve all three issues within a week with 30 mins a day training.
Jumping is easy, you want to get her attention quickly that what she is doing is not correct. Give her a level 5 nick when she jumps and provide NO ATTENTION. Praise when sitting or looking up at you. Be consistant. When pressing the nick button, use the word OFF and be very stern, but provide no petting or attention. If 5 doesn't cure it, move up to 6-7, but do not go to 10. If your even close to 10, you need to seek profesisonal assiatance because your somehow giving your dog mixed signals. If I was to use 6-7 on my dog, I can almost garentee she wont do it more than twice. Once for the correction, a second time to see if thats what caused the correction, then its mentally noted...
Running works differently. Set the collar on a level 2-3. When your dog pulls in front of you, tell your dog to come while you press the nick button 3-4 times and instally change directions. The collar correction will make your dog realize that it has no idea which direction your going, and the nick will annoy your dog enough to want to make it stop, but its not a painful level. When your dog is next to you at any point, praise praise praise. Once she starts out infront of you, catch her before the leash is tight, say come and start the nick process. Give a come twice else your making a 180 degree turn which involves another leash correction. A week of this, your dog will watch your body language to see which direction you want to go.
Last, Barking... Higher levels...You MUST be quick on the trigger. When the dog barks, the correction MUST be immediate! Give a stern NO SPEAK command and re-inforce relaxation with praise...
An e-collar can solve all these issues, but consistancy is key. An e-collar is not a magical thing, its a tool like a prong collar or a GL. Tools need to be used correctly or you can harm your dog emotionally or physically. An e-collar is no more correction than a prong or GL, its just a different method. Its not only ment for bad dogs which many people believe.
I would recommend you visit a trainer who does e-collar training and get the facts and consider enrolling in that persons class. A game plan is what you need and each dogs game plan is slightly different, because each dogs personality is different. Allie doesn't bark much at all. The other day she barked at something and I jumped up and ran outside freaking out thinking a 150lbs dog was in my backyard eating her...little did I know, it was actually her giving out a few woofs...I was very surprised, but I gave her a no speak, I dont need barking as an issue, only as a command...
Hmmm, prongs and e-collars. Let me first say that if you want to use a punishment based training method, you had better be a darned good trainer so you dog knows what he is getting burned for. Having said that, if you are a darned good trainer, then you won't have to resort to punishment based training.
Well, dogs do what works.* Like it or not, your dog is a product of your training skills, so if you don't like the behaviour she is currently displaying, it is time to work on your training, not hers*
Always think of dog training as providing consequences to your dog's actions.* Actions that are rewarded will strengthen or happen more often, and actions that are not rewarded will extinguish.* If we can contol the consequences to our dog's actions, we can control our dog.*
You could put a prong collar on your dog, but really, why punish your dog for your short comings as a trainer?* Please put the responsibility firmly where it lies and instead of punishing your dog, train your dog.* Never forget this:* IT TAKES TWO TO PULL!* So stop pulling on that leash and start teaching your dog!
I will tell you first hand that most methods of loose leash walking are not based on good training.* You see, a good trainer tries to make sure their dog never rehearses behaviours they don't want.* If we play the Red Light, Green Light game or Penalty Yard game when teaching loose leash walking, we allow our dog to pull on leash and then provide consequences.* the limitations are 1), we allow our dogs to pull on leash, even if we don't reward it, so it remains high on the repertoire of behaviours they will offer on leash and 2), our criteria for stopping or moving backward are usually too fuzzy for our dogs to understand.* Depending on our mood and the situation, the amount of leash tension that we consider excessive will change and it becomes difficult for the dog to understand why we are stopping or backing up.* I will say this method works well with young puppies without a history of pulling, but is really not that effective for other dogs.
Now, I will tell you up front that I am a clicker trainer.* I am also a professional trainer, behaviour and training consultant for the Nova Scotia SPCA, service dog trainer and competiton trainer, and with about 100 students a week, I have ben able to experiement with many methods of loose leash walking.* Of course, with service dogs, their on leash steadiness must be extremely reliable, so this is a matter with which I have struggled for some time.
So, getting back to dogs doing what works, we want to arrange things so that loose leashes "pay off" and tight leashes don't.* *I will outline Karen Pryor's method for loose leash walking and I will tell you it is the best method I have come across.
The following method requires first, that all or most reinforcement will come from behind you and second, that you will toss the food to the ground -not far- so the dog has to look for it.
Loose-leash walking is going to begin as a game. Here are a few simple steps you will train BEFORE you do any walking with your dog:
Put your dog's leash on and just stand still. When your dog releases the tension on the leash, click and show him the treat in your hand. Let him see you place the treat on the ground by the outside of your left foot. Once he's eaten the treat, move to the end of the range of the leash so it is taut and stand quietly. When he moves to release the tension, click. Show him the treat and place it by your left foot. You don't care about eye contact. What you are teaching is that releasing the leash tension gets clicked and treated. Do this a number of times.
Continue to stand now that your dog is not pulling. Now you will click for eye contact. After the click, treat by your left foot. Remember after he has finished eating the treat to move to the end of the leash. Click and treat three times for looking at you while on a loose leash.
Again, just standing with your dog on a loose leash, looking at you, toss your treats right past your dog's nose to about three feet away. When dog eats the treats and comes back to you looking for more, click and treat by placing the food by the outside of your left foot. Move and repeat.
Again toss the treat right past your dog's nose. When your dog finishes eating it and turns around to come back to you, you turn your back and start walking. (Just take a few steps in the beginning.) When you dog catches up to you, but before he gets past your pant leg, click and treat. Repeat.
Note: Make sure when you toss the food it goes right past the dog's nose. This is the warm-up. Now that you have the dog following you for a few steps it is time to start walking and reinforcing behind or next to you.
Continuing the training on the move:
Your dog is on leash. You turn away from him and start walking. Your dog follows. As the dog catches up to you and is coming up next to you - maybe even makes eye contact - mark (click) and drop the treat next to your left foot. Don't keep moving and be sure the first few times that you let the dog know that you have food in your hand. Once he's finished his treat, start again. Show him the treat and then turn and take a few steps away from him, walk till he catches up, drop the treat next to you or a little behind.
Note: Dropping food next to your side or a little behind helps the dog to stay close to you. It prevents the dog from anticipating and forging ahead. So drop the food behind you or you can even let the dog take it out of your hand behind your back. Don't drop the food so far away that the dog has to drag you to get it.
Start again. Begin to walk in such a way that the dog is at an angle beside you or is behind you. As the dog catches up, drop the food behind you (or next to your pant leg). Once the dog has eaten the food and is coming back toward you, start walking away from him again. Try for more steps before dropping. Timing is everything! Don't let the dog get in front of you. If he does, pivot away, wait till he catches up BUT is next to you or slightly behind you (or his nose is at your pant seam), and drop the food.
Now it's your job to increase the number of steps before dropping the food behind you. Never drop food if your dog has gotten in front of you. Work towards walking more steps before rewarding. You can vary this and reinforce while he is next to you if you wish, or toss the treat way behind you so the dog has to hunt for it and then reinforce him for catching back up to you.
As your dog gets better and you can now walk quite a distance without forging and pulling, don't fail to reward intermittently. For your dog to walk without pulling he has to believe (because you rewarded him) that there is a better chance of good things near you than in the wide world.
If at any time, your dog begins to pull or lunge at distractions, simply go back to the stationary exercise until he is ready to progress to moving again.
I will deal with jumping up in another post as this is quite long.
To err is human:To forgive, canine."
OK, now for jumping up. If you have worked with the Loose Leash Walking Game, you should be pretty good with a clicker now! The problem with jumping up is the same problem as pulling on leash: both are innately reinforcing to our dogs. It is very hard to ask a dog not do engage in a behaviour that is pre-wired into them. If I said to you that for the next four hours, every time you smiled I would charge you $20, then took you out to socialize I would be pretty rich. You would smile without even thinking about it because when we are comfortable and social, we smile without knowing it. Dogs do the same with jumping up. Now, if instead of saying 'Don't smile", I were to say "I will pay you $1,000 if for the next four hours you can hold a frown", I would expect you would have a much easier time of not smiling.
The same applies with our dogs. Instead of teaching them not to jump, let's teach them to do something else instead and reward it. When you come into your house and your dog is waiting at the door to jump on you, click before he does and feed him and keep clicking and feeding at a very rapid rate so he will have four feet on the ground. Keep a clicker and some cookies in your car or mailbox to make this easy. After a couple of days of doing this, your dog will be aware of the fact that your coming home is an opportunity for him to win cookies and all he has to do is have four feet on the ground. Do not tell him to do anything, let him offer the behaviour all by himself. Once he becomes aware of this, wait a bit longer between clicks and ask for a little bit mroe behaviour from your dog. If he jumps up on you, you are just too slow with your clicker. Ideally you want to click a lot the first few times and feed him constantly to keep him down.
Once he is greeting you with four on the floor, you may want to increase the criteria and begin to wait until he offers a sit. Once you have a reliable sit, then you've got something! If your dog is automatically sitting 90% of the time when you come through the door, you have a pretty reliable behaviour, so now we can give it a name or a command (Off). To do this, simply say Off when he offers the sit, then click and feed him. This is how he will learn the cue. It makes no sense to teach the cue before this point as we will be associating it with unreliable behaviour.
OK, now that your dog will Off when you come through the dooor, it is time to try it with guests. To do this, you need to load your guests up with cookies and ask them to feed every time you click. You must be in charge of the clicker and follow the above steps except you can now cue the Off. This method works better if your guests feed and not you. Have your dog rehearse this over and over with a large number of guests, then he will begin to generalize and offer it to everyone he meets.
If you do the above, your dog will stop seeing guests as someone to jump up and down on and start to see them as a chance for a pay-off. Because people coming through the door have been paired with the sit for food so often, your dog will soon percieve greeting people as a new cue for sitting. Cool stuff, operant conditioning! And guess what? You won't have to hurt her at all, so you will both be happy 8)
To err is human:To forgive, canine."
Dana, these are two of the best and clearest and most concise posts I've ever read anywhere on LLW and jumping, and I have read LOTS (including tons of stuff by Shirley Chong and Pat Miller and Melissa Alexander and others). Thank you. We should sticky them.
One thing about the LLW--I understand why this approach would really work. One thing, though, is city dwellers (like me). If you are trying to raise a dog and the dog must be on leash for potty training and virtually every activity outside of the house, then it is really, really, really difficult to have the consistency required of this approach. This is of course something you just have to deal with, but I do think it has to be recognized. Granted, when Theo was a puppy I had never trained a dog with positive-oriented operant conditioning before, but for at least a month he was a berserker outside (so many good smells!), and my goal was getting him to pee in the right spot; a tight leash was the least of my worries.
I agree, clicker training is an excellent way of training, which has proven itself time and time again. To say its really the only way to train and your a poor trainer if you consider anything other than clicker training; I would have to disagree with. I'm sure I could find countless GL trainers who would argue their point, and countless e-collar trainers who can stand up to any dog compeditively. To say its the only method seems narrow minded, its obviously not your perferred style of training, but to basically say its the only way, else your a poor trainer seems over the top. Everyone knows there more than one way to do most things in life, and they can be just as affective and rewarding as your clicker style of training.
I would think someone of your profession would want to know about every method of training, its benefits and drawbacks. Every method has both, else there would only be one method of training. Why would you even say that e-collar trainers are "burning" there dogs, the corrections are very short and persise. Like you mentioned earlier, moods and emotions are removed from the equasion.
I want my dog to have a mind of its own, I don't want to cut her off at the pass everytime I think she may go down the wrong path, and be forced to feed her food to keep her happy. I want to be the prize, not the food. I want my dog to know if she breaks certain rules, a correction will be given everytime.
I think the main key is consistancy. No matter what method you choice, be consistant and you will get your result with time and praise. I'm not training off punishment, theres way more praise then punishment. And punishment is a harsh work, its more like a reminder/correction, a tap on the shoulder, its not painful or harmful.
I enjoyed your response and am very open to hear everything you have to say, but don't bash other methods, it only turns people off.
Really awesome posts. We should add these to the "best advice" thread in the training tips section.