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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone.

I have a 17 week old black lab male who I have been working with daily on obedience training and he is doing well with some stuff and does horrible with others. I currently have him in a Petmsart :)rolleyes:) puppy obedience class in an attempt to get him socialized around other puppies, and listen while there is distractions, but it turns out he is the only dog in the class so we are just finishing it since it is almost over anyways. I have been taking some of the stuff they teach with a grain of salt, simply because I do not agree with it, nor do I like how they do some things. I am currently looking at other options for obedience training in the area. Here are a few things I have questions on and am in need of help.


Loose walking on a leash- This is the thing he is having a hardest time with. We take him on two walks a day around our neighborhood and have done this since we got him at 7 weeks old. He pulls like a freight train and is almost to strong for my wife to control him. Petsmart has us using a long spoon with peanut butter or cheese whiz frozen on it and while walking let him lick it every few steps that he stays next to us with a loose leash. He still pulls. We have tried stopping until he stops pulling, making him sit and then continue only to have him pull like a madman again. We have tried switching directions when he starts tugging. We have tried snapping the leash and nothing. Any suggestions?? I understand that he is young, but it almost to the point that I dont even want to take him on walks because it is so bad. And he doesnt deserve that.

Eye contact- There is none.

Approaching people in public- Pulls like a freight train until they put him, almost to the point of respiratory arrest.


Loud noises outside- The other night he heard fireworks while outside and took off for the door. We have done no gun introduction, and he sleeps right thought the thunderstorms we have had. So I would like to approach this slowly. He is good with other loud noises (construction, vehicles, motorcycles, downtown Chicago)



Other than that, he is a great little pup! Loves retrieving, loves swimming, does sit, stay and down with hand signals, sits for food, sleeps all night, potty trained. Would just like some help with the leash issue and eye contact mainly.
 

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Buy a H&S Prong Collar, a heeling stick from the dogs afield banner above, some rope and join your local retriever club.
a 4+ month old lab can be a horse, time to harness that power.



,
 

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I agree with ken. The prong collar works wonders if he likes to pull that hard and the heeling stick is the icing on the cake. Don't be afraid to use either one because the dog will not get hurt, may not like it, but will be just fine. Good luck with your pup!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ill buy some more stuff.

There isn't a retriever club closer than two hours from my house, so sadly that isn't an option.
 

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+400 on the Prong collar. Make sure you get one strong enough for them to grow with since you can take some links out. The healing stick works also but if you are like me and live in a subdivision, people do not like seeing you smack the pup. If the prong collar fits right, just a quick snap back with the leed works. Get a short leed so you do not have to pull in on the leed. Also tell the pup heel everytime you snap them back with the leed. NEVER need to give treats. throwing bumpers for them after they do good is treat enough. Every time I go in Pet Smart and hear the teacher say "Sit Sit Sit Sit OH good boy" I want to throw something at them.
Good luck
 

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I train eye contact with dog in a front sit position. Have treats at the ready from pouch or pocket. Handler takes treat, holds in clenched fist, makes motion extending hand towards dog, cues WATCH while bringing hand to handlers nose (I tend to point with index finger extended to my nose), when dog looks up (makes eye contact), say "YES" and treat immediately. Gradually prolong the timing of the treat reward, eventually fade out the treat and confirm compliance of the WATCH cue with Yes only. Having a dog that understands WATCH Me will be invaluable when you begin casting. I cue MARK when there is something about to happen in the field, WATCH for LOOK AT ME.
 

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It was night and day when I bought the prong collar so I'll 401+ it. I also had a cattle Show Stick from years past that works similar to the heeling stick mentioned above. My show stick extends and I can hold it in front of my dog.

the prong collar should help you with approaching people in public as well. you can also teach him 'leave it' and/or enforce heel and just walk past them.
 

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Nope it ain't Ken. I regularly travel a minimum of an hour to train with a group, and I won't even get into the travel time and expenses to "volunteer" at Club events. I was chastised once for calling this retriever thing we do an addiction, but I figure if it walks like a duck........
 

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...
Loose walking on a leash- This is the thing he is having a hardest time with. We take him on two walks a day around our neighborhood and have done this since we got him at 7 weeks old. He pulls like a freight train and is almost to strong for my wife to control him. Petsmart has us using a long spoon with peanut butter or cheese whiz frozen on it and while walking let him lick it every few steps that he stays next to us with a loose leash. He still pulls. We have tried stopping until he stops pulling, making him sit and then continue only to have him pull like a madman again. We have tried switching directions when he starts tugging. We have tried snapping the leash and nothing. Any suggestions?? I understand that he is young, but it almost to the point that I dont even want to take him on walks because it is so bad. And he doesnt deserve that.

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I don't take my dogs (especially those that have yet to complete a formal obedience program) for walks because they will pull. When you go for a walk you are typically trying to go somewhere (even if only around the block) and you will not work on the dog's heeling because it means that you may only get about 50 feet out of the driveway without the dog forging ahead.

I teach heeling in the yard with a choke collar, 20 ft. lead, and a heeling stick ala Lardy. It's a combination of praise and correction that gets the result in the yard. Then you have to be able to maintain the standard you set while on the walks. This is very difficult to do when you are just out for a walk, but I suppose it could be done. But do the training in the yard before resuming walks.

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Eye contact- There is none.

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Put a piece of hot dog up to your mouth and tell the dog to sit. Then give him a piece. Do it again, and again... If the dog doesn't start making eye contact, give him away.

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Approaching people in public- Pulls like a freight train until they put him, almost to the point of respiratory arrest.

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Don't let strange people pet your dog. But if you do, wait until you've established the heeling standard as described above. Then get a friend to help make sure you can maintain the heeling standard with the distraction of people around. If your Mother-in-Law comes into the house and strarts bending over toward the dog and baby-talking in a real high voice, throw it all out the window. It's too much to expect a dog to stay at heel or on sit with this going on.

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Loud noises outside- The other night he heard fireworks while outside and took off for the door. We have done no gun introduction, and he sleeps right thought the thunderstorms we have had. So I would like to approach this slowly. He is good with other loud noises (construction, vehicles, motorcycles, downtown Chicago)

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Read this:

http://www.georgehickox.com/articles/gunsense[1].kp.pdf

I don't generally find it necessary to be this step by step but it is a safe way to approach intro to guns. If you follow Lardy's TRT, you will be throwing marks in the field, and then shoot before throwing a mark. No big deal. The gun is at a distance from the dog and the dog is so fixated on the retrieve that they appear not to even notice the gun. Quickly the dog associates the gun with the retrieve and its all good.

I have a 4 year old that is afraid of the vacuum and the squeak of the ironing board but is fine around guns.

Tell the RTF folks what your goals are for this puppy. Competitive obedience, hunting, hunt tests, family pet. You may get more focussed advice. Good luck.
 

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I train eye contact with dog in a front sit position. Have treats at the ready from pouch or pocket. Handler takes treat, holds in clenched fist, makes motion extending hand towards dog, cues WATCH while bringing hand to handlers nose (I tend to point with index finger extended to my nose), when dog looks up (makes eye contact), say "YES" and treat immediately. Next phase is to let the dog see that you have a treat in one hand. Extend your arms out to the side and the dog will look at one arm. Say the command LOOK or WATCH and when dog looks at your eyes give him the treat. Gradually prolong the timing of the treat reward, eventually fade out the treat and confirm compliance of the WATCH cue with Yes only. Having a dog that understands WATCH Me will be invaluable when you begin casting. I cue MARK when there is something about to happen in the field, WATCH for LOOK AT ME.
I expanded on the concept above in red. I learned it in my obedience class.
 

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Ill buy some more stuff.

There isn't a retriever club closer than two hours from my house, so sadly that isn't an option.
I bet if you drive those 2 hours a couple times, you'll find folks a lil closer to home.

As to your issue with pulling:
1. Prong collar (be careful, he's still a young-un')

2. Your walk and your dog training session might need to be separated (sometimes you might find that he isn't capable of making it all the way around the block and you need to put him up). Might even find that it's easier for him to behave when he's not in the neighborhood (try the backyard) A walk with the dog might mean you hardly make it out of the driveway because he ain't behaving (your significant other ain't gonna like that, so that's why I say try not to mix the leisure stroll with the dog training session).

3. Tired dogs have less energy. It's getting warm, so be careful, but maybe some play time in the backyard before you walk him would help?


And:
Approaching people in public might be sabotaging your efforts. Keep teaching SIT and put him in a SIT position a "safe" distance from folks as they walk on the opposite side of the road.
 

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There is more than one way to approach this. From what you describe, it seems like you are luring him with the food reward. Other methods such as the pinch collar are used to give a correction for forging ahead. This works best if you administer a quick correction with the leash and then follow up with praise when the dog gets back into the correct position. In this way the dog gets info on the incorrect behavior as well as the correct behavior. Quick timing for correction and reward is extremely important. Personally I think your pup is too young for the prong collar or a choke chain collar. BTW, there is a nylon puppy prong collar that works quite well.

If you want to try another method that works quite well investigate some of the methods described in the books on marker/clicker training.

I have used all of the above methods at one time or another. It's important to fully understand the method you use, be consistent, and be clear in letting your dog know what is expected.
 

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I expanded on the concept above in red. I learned it in my obedience class.
I glanced over the 17 week old part. Forget what I wrote and enjoy him as a puppy! You can work on obedience in a few months. Others will disagree but that's what I did and I have a CDX and soon to be UD title on my dog so take it for what it's worth. Join an AKC affiliated dog obedience club near you and have fun!
 

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I expanded on the concept above in red. I learned it in my obedience class.
Thanks sandyg....that's a great addendum.
 

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For help on the forging ahead, here is what I was advised to do with mine before he was really ready to formalize a "heel" command.

Get a length of rope, maybe 20-30 feet (here's to you Ken Bora). You can attach this to a prong collar if you like (I did) or simply double the end on itself and make a sort of improvised "choke rope" out of it. Put the dog at your side. Let him start out away from you, which sounds like exactly what yours will do. Mine always wanted (wants?) to be in front. At some point, without saying a word, stop and step on the rope.

He will then stop himself and wonder what in the world is going on. You can then wait a minute for him to figure out to come back to you, or you can give him the "here" command, which you might need to do the first few times you try this. Having a treat waiting on him the first few times he comes back would probably not hurt either. He will still get out ahead of you, and you can repeat this process, gradually weaning him from the treats and even the "here" command. You want to start a foundation with him that (i) being beside you is the coolest thing ever and (ii) it is his responsibility to keep himself there, not yours with mulitple "heres" and "heels." It is very important that you don't say anything until he stops and starts trying to figure out why he can't move forward.

My dog and I walk about every night, and since he has been FFd, CCd, and has his OB formalized, I can now use collar pressure when he still slips and gets ahead of me, or more likely now when I catch him not paying attention and I start backing up or make a 90-degree turn while giving him continuous mild collar pressure until he re-heels himself - again without me saying a word. It's getting harder and harder to catch him not paying attention, which is a good thing, and it has almost turned into a game with us. I also periodically release him with "OK" and then re-heel. He's learning that he is supposed to keep himself at heel until given a different command or until he is released. And when my pup was your pup's age, I didn't think I would ever see the day he would walk beside me for any length of time, much less actually heel past distractions.

In any event, keep in mind that he is 17 weeks old, and he will be nowhere near perfect at this. He is still trying to assimilate himself into this great big world.

Now, you folks who have forgotten more about this than I will ever know please correct this.
 

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I would also suggest you buy one of the training dvds. I think Smartworks has a puppy training dvd that includes obedience and demos the use of the heeling stick. Also, Jackie Mertens has a good dvd, Sound Beginnings. You might also look at Bill Hillman's Training a Retriever Puppy.

I don't know what your goals are for your puppy but Hillman's dvd may be a bit expensive for you if you are not good to hunt and test your dog. Jackie Mertens dvd is reasonably priced.
All the advice above is very good but actually seeing it done will help a lot.

I don't care for the stuff at the PetSmart ob classes either.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I would also suggest you buy one of the training dvds. I think Smartworks has a puppy training dvd that includes obedience and demos the use of the heeling stick. Also, Jackie Mertens has a good dvd, Sound Beginnings. You might also look at Bill Hillman's Training a Retriever Puppy.

I don't know what your goals are for your puppy but Hillman's dvd may be a bit expensive for you if you are not good to hunt and test your dog. Jackie Mertens dvd is reasonably priced.
All the advice above is very good but actually seeing it done will help a lot.

I don't care for the stuff at the PetSmart ob classes either.


I have the Smartworks basic pack and will be watching it again tonight. I followed the Sound Beginnings at the request of the breeder and he did well with it. I have slowed down on retrieving and am doing more obedience for the simple fact that he is a "terrorist" inside of my house. The first Smartworks puppy dvd was worthless in my opinion.

GOALS FOR PUPPY:
1.) To have an obedient dog that I can take out in public and not head back to the truck in embarrassment.
2.) To have a reliable goose and duck hunting partner.
3.) Down the road he will probably be entered into some hunt tests, but we have a long way to go for that.
 
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