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Old 02-09-2009, 10:04 AM
slchsu slchsu is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2009
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Default Puppy refuses to walk and it's driving me crazy!

Hi Everyone,
I need help. My 4.5 month Labragolden puppy suddenly decided she will no longer walk on a leash. If I try to direct the walk, she responds by stopping, digging in, and then sitting down. Our walks, which were terrific just a month ago, have become nightmares. Tugging, either gently or forcibly, is no use. The only way to get her to move is to lure her with a treat (she responds well to "come"). As soon as she gets the treat, however, she stops again. So we pretty much move in 10 foot increments.

What makes this all the more frustrating is that until a month ago, she was an absolute angel. She would automatically assume the "down" position when she saw me holding her leash, and didn't move a muscle as I clipped it on. We live in a 5th floor apartment, and we would zoom down the stairs, out the door, and then she would happily follow me to a de facto dog park in our complex. There, I would unclip her, allow her to run around, and when it was time to go, she would come when called and allow me to clip the leash on again and follow me back to the apartment. When she did veer off track or start pulling, a gentle tug would get her back on course.

She still gets in the "down" position for me to clip on her leash. And in the house, she's very compliant on leash. She'll follow me around the house perfectly (I reward her every dozen feet or so with a treat). But as soon as we go outside, it all falls apart. It used to take us less than five minutes to get to the dog park. Now it takes us 30 minutes to get halfway there. It's excruciating. I've tried the treats. I've tried being patient. I get agitated just thinking about taking her for a walk.

(Background: She wears a nylon collar and I use a nylon leash. We started out using a long retractable leash and it worked just fine until one day she decided she was done with it. The nylon leash worked for a few days, then she rejected that, too. She also used to respond if I started jogging, or if I just kept moving briskly in one direction--she would keep up in order to maintain slack in the leash. But now even that doesn't keep her from just sitting down and digging in, even on concrete, and I just don't have the heart to drag her along in a very cruel and painful game of chicken.)

I've been scouring the Web for information on what to do, and while it's heartening to see that I'm not the only one dealing with this, I'm also quickly learning that doggie training tips are like cornholes: everyone's got one, and most of them stink.

So much of the information out there is contradictory, or assumes smooth transitions between learning stages, or doesn't account for the existence of concurrent problem behaviors, or oversimplifies very complicated situations, or offers protracted 25-step solutions that don't leave any time for my pup to eat, sleep, or eliminate. For example, many people on dog forums have said that this age is like the canine equivalent of the "terrible twos" and that pups like mine will simply grow out of their willfulness. That's all fine and dandy, but what the heck am I supposed to do in the meantime??!!

(More background: I have recently started using a Halti, which she's still getting used to and which does a great job of preventing her from pulling, but is useless in terms of getting her to walk, which is the main problem.)

I should also mention that other than this one issue, she's a very cute, well-behaved dog. She's housebroken. She's not destructive or aggressive. She's very friendly and curious. She obeys "sit," "stay," "come," and "down" about 90% of the time in the house and maybe 65% of the time outdoors (too many distractions--and if anyone can help on this topic, that would be great).

In fact, she's sufficiently imprinted with me that she would actually be just fine walking off-leash, but walking off-leash is not an option, at least for now. I really want to be able to walk her on leash. What can I do?
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