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Old 02-10-2009, 07:14 AM
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Dekka Dekka is online now
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See I am not a fan of retractable leashes for pups. Its hard for them to learn loose leash walking when no matter what they do the leash is never loose. A long line works better as there is no constant pull. (When my dogs are older I will occasionally use a flexi lead and they seem to get the difference)

What I do is I reward heavily for walking beside me. If the pup gets a head and starts pulling I stop, wait.. if nothing changes I start walking backwards. The INSTANT the pup looks back I mark and reward. Though the pup must come back to me for the reward (all rewards happen beside me on the side I want the pup to walk). They get it pretty quickly.
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Old 02-10-2009, 09:24 AM
slchsu slchsu is offline
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Thanks, Dekka. A couple of questions: what exactly is a long line? Is it just a, well, long line? And what's a flexi lead? We're actually living in Shanghai right now, and the pet stores are about a generation behind those in the States and Canada. I had to have someone schlep the Halti back from the U.S. And what do you mean by "mark"?

With the retractable, I take up the tension with my off hand whenever she's walking next to me, so the length of leash between my off hand and her collar is loose. When she starts walking away, I let go of line with my off hand and the tension returns. It's not heavy tension, of course, but it's more than nothing.

So when your pup starts getting ahead or pulling and you stop, does the line go taught? What do you do when the pup is straining at the end of the line? Just wait? When you walk backwards, are you pulling the pup, thus creating a situation that may encourage the pup to dig in against you? Or do you call the pup back to you? I understand the idea of stopping but don't quite grasp the specifics.
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Old 02-10-2009, 09:35 AM
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A long line can be a horse lounge line or a soft rope of 30 feet or there abouts...whatever you like. You can get a rope at the hardware store and attach a snap clip on the end. I used my horses lounge line sometimes. You can get them at farm and feed stores or tack shops.

A Flexi lead is a retractable, long line that comes out of a plastic housing. It has a lock on it that you can switch with your thumb to stop the line from going out. So you can make it any length within it's allowance. It takes some practice to get coordinated with it and there are conveniences with them. They can also be very dangerous if the dog somehow manages to yank the thing out of your hand because the housing can reel in at mach speed and injure the dog. Or a person. Unless the lock is in place, there is always tension on the dog's neck...it's light weight so it's not injuriously tight generally but nevertheless, there's tension.

To mark a behavior is to identify the behavior to the dog. Marking is a conditioned reinforcer. In other words, a value is assigned to something that formerly had or inherently has no value by associating it with something that does have value. It can be a word or a sound that immediately precedes something of value. (Pavlov's bell) Clickers (little cricket toys) are used often in dog training. They make a distinctive sound. You click-treat, click-treat over and over until the dog learns that hearing the sound of the click means a treat is forthcoming. The click then, once the dog learns it's meaning is used to mark or identify a behavior you like and want repeated in the future. A treat or other reward is then given right away. Rewards must be given as close as possible in timing to the behavior. Since this is not possible much of the time or not precise, the click can sound just at the second the behavoir is happening and the communication to the dog is more exact that that behavior he's just doing IS what he's being rewarded for. The conditioned reinforcer bridges that gap in time or effectively eliminates or makes moot that time gap. Once the behavior is well learned, the clicker can be dropped from use on that behavior. ClickerSolutions Training Articles Contents Clickers can also be used to shape behavior. So you don't have to get the whole behavior perfect in order to reinforce. You can reinforce approximations to the goal and build the behavior to being more precise or better.

You can mark a behavior you like and want to reward. (a conditioned reinforcer) Or you can mark a behavior you don't like by using a no reward marker (like my use of "uh-oh" when the dog gets to the end of the leash) It means that "you just lost out buddy." The walking forward is ceasing because you came too close to the end of the leash.....or you made tension in the leash. (whatever your preference) This would be a conditioned negative punisher...in other words...the good thing ends.

I am also not a big fan of flexies. I know a lot of people use them and I can see that if you have no place to go for off leash play or running. But I like my dogs, when on a leash to walk fairly close to my side....not a perfect heel, but not going all over the place. And I don't want them to get use to constant tension on their neck as part of the "deal" for walking forward. As it's been said, dogs pull because they're taught that pulling allows them to walk, pulling is just part of the walk. It goes together.....because most people just keep walking when their dogs pull. The fun walk is the reinforcer for pulling. (dog is not being "dominant" or trying to be the "pack leader." Rofffffff) It's just flat out fun to go for walks.

As an aside for the "pack leader" crowd... even with mild collar corrections, it is often worth it to them as long as they get to keep on walking, (going on walks is very valuable to most dogs) so mild collar corrections tend to not work very well either. You have to be very stern and injurious with a choke collar to deter them from pulling and they tend to shut down and dislike working with their owner.It's confusing to them because they're being punished one second and being rewarded all at the same time practically....rewarded by walking forward immediately following the yank. Mixed messages.

For pulling etc:

I don't want my dogs to walk across the front of me and trip me or yank me over to the side while they sniff or pee. They can go ahead a little bit, but not further than about 4 ft of my 6 ft. leash. When learning, just before the dog gets to the end, I say, "uh-oh" and stop or turn back the other way, circle back on the same boring path. (they hate that) Mix things up to prevent anticipation which can create a sort of behavior chain where they automatically get to the end and stop, go out to the end and stop over and over...just automatically. So sometimes you stop, sometimes go back, sometimes make a couple of little circles or sharp turns to the left, to the right etc. Do these things just BEFORE your dog comes to the end of the leash rather than after. Prevent that tension in the first place. Eventually, they get in the habit of paying attention because of your random maneuvers and get use to no tension on their neck and staying in the vicinity of you. LOL. Dogs pull because it has worked well in the past to be able to walk. When you change the rules on them, they're going to keep on trying for some time. Stick with it and don't take one single step forward EVER if there is tension in the leash.

I keep the leash close to the same length all the time so they learn just how far they have to go before they hit the end. Keeping it shorter helps keep them under control so they have a harder time walking broadside across the front of you. I don't want them to hit the end hard so I use a little word first so they know it's coming. Later they seem to learn...."oh, I have one more foot to go." LOL. Once they get use to a word or sound preceding the stopping of the walking, I find I have to use it less and less because they're at the same time learning not only the length of the leash, but being frequently reinforced for staying near me. (that's where the really good stuff happens) But if they forget or are interested in something else, I can use my little reminder word and they come back along side me better, either by pausing till I catch up or whatever.

Remember....frequent reinforcers for nice walking along side you until well learned, then you can space them out more. Encouragement if she's lagging. (rope or squeeky toy, pat your thigh, hop or skip, make goofy sounds.....make it fun and cheery, not exasperated or nervous)....No reinforcement for pulling. aka... continuing to walk when tension is in the leash...not one step.

If you need your dog to have more freedom and can't do off leash anywhere safely, I like a long line better than a retractable too....until the dog is trained to walk without pulling. But it's the same thing as with the leash. Try to teach her to recognize when she's nearing the end of the line with a warning word just before the tension happens. And start out with not so much length until she gets use to it so she doesn't get rip roaring and then slam against the end.

Separately, at home, you can teach your dog to look at you on cue. That's a good one to get them to focus on you at times when you need him to pay attention.

In addition, if your dog is super eager to go for a walk and has been inactive for a long time, see if there's a fenced place where you can get the zoomies out first, where she can run like mad and burn off some of that pent up energy before trying to make her walk nicely. It's really hard for dogs to walk so slowly like we do with only two legs. LOL
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Last edited by Doberluv; 02-10-2009 at 09:53 AM.
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