5 month old puppy refuses to walk

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by MJ84, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. MJ84

    MJ84 New Member

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    My labrador mix puppy gets distracted/stubborn on his walks and just lays down when he doesnt get to go where he wants. Treats have not worked as he just walks to the treat then sits down waiting for another one. We have tried every collar type and 'training' tip. The trainer we paid for was also unable to help as her last suggestion to 'wheel barrel' his legs does not work either. Has anyone encountered this? Suggestions? We have had him over a month and he is not scared. He is ok when we walk with a friends dog. Please help!
     
  2. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    Have you done any clicker training with him? You can click when he's walking with you and THEN treat.... Though the luring you're doing is a common suggestion that many [less experienced] trainers teach, with many dogs it's a bribe and teaches them to stop walking until they see the treat.
     
  3. Maura

    Maura New Member

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    Have you tried patting your leg or clapping and giving a cue, such as "let's go"? If you start to run away from him, he will probably follow you. When he catches up give him a rub on his neck, but don't let him jump on you. Keep running in the opposite direction he is going (if he's moving), encouraging you to follow him. Intersperse petting with a ball for him to chase. You'll need a 15' or longer lead to really play this game. Once he is good with this, you can treat him for arriving at your left knee while you are both still moving, but don't force him into a heel. This isn't really a "walk" per se, but a training session. Never let him drag you, which I'm sure he will attempt if he hasn't already. If he pulls into the leash, go in a different direction so he has to follow you.
     
  4. MJ84

    MJ84 New Member

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    Thank you for all of your suggestion, unfortunately however we have been doing all of these things for the past month. Nothing has worked. If anyone has anymore suggestions please help!
     
  5. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    1st....some questions for ya:


    How far is he able to walk before he gets "stubborn?"

    How far are you wanting to walk with him?

    (He's not stubborn really...just under motivated, it sounds like.)

    What do you do when he doesn't want to walk, stops and sits? (besides bribing him with treats. lol) Is there any unpleasantness from his point of view?

    How is he around the yard? Does he like to play? Have you played any chase games, fetch, hide and seek? What's his personality like in general?

    How would you describe your personality when interacting with him? Are you quiet and on the serious side? Are you silly or goofy? Do you make squeeky noises and funny antics with your body? Or do you get frustrated and exasperated? What do you feel like, in other words when he won't walk? And what do you feel like and do....when he does walk along with you?
     
  6. MJ84

    MJ84 New Member

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    Additional information: He never walks with just one of us, he will only even attempt to walk when his whole family (2 adults) is with him.
    1. The distance he is able to walk varies but in general he will walk from our house to the gate. I would say about 200 yards.
    2. We would like to walk around the block with him which is about a mile. When he is 'motivated' usually in the evenings he gladly walks this. It just takes him about a 1/4 of the walk to get motivated. At that point he usually walks better with very few stops. Wagging his tail with his head up.
    3. We no longer bribe him with treats on his walks. We first try to wait him out. We then say come. Try to get his attention with our voices or actions or the leash or a stick or a toy. When that fails we pick up his back legs a little of the ground and walk him, this sometimes works as he begins to walk. (Trainer Advice) After that we run ahead and wait for him to come.
    5.Towards the end of the walk we get to a field where we attempt to run with him. Throwing the ball or running ourselves. At this point he is off leash. He usually just walks around sniffing then lays down. When we go to the dogpark he plays with other dogs for the whole time. He also always wants to play in the house. It is just on our walks he either wants to sit and observe all around him or put everything in his mouth or just lay down. He is also not afraid of any other dogs or people. He always wants them to come to him so he can say hello. Throughout the walk his tail is never between his legs.
    6. When he walks with us we walk. He usually walks right next to us, sometimes a little ahead, never pulling. When he does this we dont stare at him but occassionaly say good boy.
     
  7. trainTheDog

    trainTheDog New Member

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    I was trying to tempt him with some cheese, put it in a yard of the puppy
     
  8. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    The problem with that is that it becomes a lure or a bribe, which can make the pup only go ahead when there's food in front of him. When you use food, use it as a reward, which means it comes AFTER the wanted behavior. Reward frequently with something that really motivates your pup. Use tiny pea-sized tid bits of something super yummy (left over meat from dinner the night before or tiny pieces of mozerella cheese. (easier on the tummy)

    But what I am sensing here is more of a relationship issue. (unless there's a medical issue) So, what I'd suggest is more emphasis on playing with him in your yard. Run fast, make happy, squeeky noises, squeek a toy if he likes squeeky toys. Take an otherwise boring toy, like a piece of rope and make it come alive for him and get him revved up. Don't use a leash if you have a fenced area to play with him. Race around, hide behind a bush, get him excited to follow you. And reinforce him with something really special every time he follows along. Don't run too far ahead. Keep the distances short between you. Make coming along with you the best, most fun thing ever. Be more interesting than what's in his environment. Try to find a place where there isn't a lot of commotion going on around him.

    Then put on a leash and do the same thing. Then work your way out on the road, but keep the walks shorter than the distance where you think he'll begin to flag or lose interest. Always quit the walk while he's still having fun, even if it's a ridiculously short walk. And then, gradually increase the distance as he is ready for it. Be sure and reinforce him for small successes, every few steps and use your happy, cheery fun voice.

    If he likes walking with other dogs, try to do that as much as possible. Then after a while, you can wean him off of that and try him by himself. But it's important to keep the walks really short and fun and quit while you're ahead. LOL. Don't push him to the point where he loses interest. Take him for a walk when he's hungry so the food treats are even more valuable. Take him after a rest so he's got more energy.

    If you think his energy isn't up to par, you might consider getting him checked by a vet. What kind of food is he getting?

    Don't worry about training him to walk "correctly" now. Now is only for getting him to enjoy coming along with you, whether he pulls a little or drags behind. If he wants to stop and sniff, let him. Let him kind of set the pace for now. You can teach him the refined things later. The main thing is to make him have fun and enjoy walking or coming along with you. There should be no force, no punishment, no harsh words when he is exasperating you because anything negative will cause him to associate walking or working with you with a not so good time. So, it's reward or nothing.

    So, that's my .02. Let us know how things go.
     
  9. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    I agree with Dober's advice. I'd also suggest using more rewards when he is doing what you want him to do.

    This is the way it sounds to me: When puppy walks, he gets an occasional "good boy."

    When puppy refuses to walk, he gets the whole family to look at him, talk to him, show him cookies, physically touch him, etc.

    If he starts walking after all this, he goes back to getting an occasional "good boy."

    Is that about right?

    The problem is that he doesn't know what "good boy" means, and unless you're saying it in a way that makes him jump up and down with joy, it's probably not a whole lot of fun for him to hear "good boy." But it IS a lot of fun to get everyone to look at him and give him attention, beg him to come to them, etc.... basically he's "playing hard to get."

    How does he get the attention and everything that he really wants? By doing what YOU don't want him to do. Which is kind of inverted.... he should be getting everything fun that he wants by doing what you DO want him to do. So I'd suggest that the whole time he's walking with you - even close to the house or in other places where he usually doesn't have a problem with it - talk to him, pet him, give him treats, take breaks often where you sit on the ground and let him cuddle with you, or let him sniff around on his own. If he puts on the breaks, stop walking with a tiny bit of steady pressure on the leash (do NOT pull him to you, do NOT put so much pressure that it's uncomfortable, and do NOT make the pressure harder the longer you have to stand there.... just enough for him to feel) and do not look at him, just ignore him completely. Eventually he'll move even just a small distance toward you, and as soon as you feel that leash slacken up, then go back to being fun and rewarding like before.
     
  10. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    I agree with dober and lizzy.

    Also, a mile is a long walk, and if all you're doing is walking, it's not very interesting. It also could be tiring or even cause some pain if he's overdoing it. Also, you say he's more willing to do the full walk in the evenings...maybe because it's cooler? I'd take shorter walks and try to quit before he decides to. Leave him wanting more.
     
  11. MJ84

    MJ84 New Member

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    Thank you for all the suggestions. He has been to the vet and he is happy, healthy and a really good boy. We'll continue to work on this with him for as long as it takes!
     
  12. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Lizzy brought up some good points. It does sound like you've been inadvertantly reinforcing the behavior you don't want and not reinforcing the behavior you do want. It is so true that just saying "good boy" isn't a reinforcer. It has to be paired with a reinforcer....like his favorite food or favorite toy. Even praise is marginal as far as a reinforcer. It's great and you should praise him. But to really strengthen the steps forward and make him want to repeat that, he needs something he reeeeeeeelly goes ape over. If he's like the typical Lab, good food is usually high up on the list.

    And I agree with CP that a mile is a long walk if he's a dog that doesn't have boundless energy. Maybe later, he'll come to loving that more. Another idea is to try and find more interesting places to walk so he can explore new sights, scents and things as he goes. I sometimes walk my dogs down my road to the little store where they can visit with people. But more frequently, I drive them in my car about 3 miles away where there are a variety of trails I can take them on. One is along side the lake, another is through the woods, up the mountain, over a creek, up some rocky places. Sometimes I take them on the gravel road that goes along side the lake. There are still other trails. They're ecstatic when I get their leashes out. I live in a unique area, that is true. But even if you can vary the places you go....maybe there's a lake nearby...that might make it more interesting for him. But I'd still start out with super short walks, just so he ends it feeling like, "Wow..that was pretty fun." Then the next time, he'll be apt to be more eager. That is the hope anyhow. LOL.
     
  13. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    I was just going over your original post to make sure I didn't miss anything. The first time through, I was concentrating on other things and forgot about this.

    This has me baffled. You mean the trainer said to pick up his hind legs and push him forward so he has to walk on his forelegs??? I'm sorry, but that's terrible advice. It's uncomfortable. It could injure his shoulders. It's using force. It's unnatural. It will teach him nothing except that walking with you sucks. I am really flabbergasted :yikes:....if I'm understanding what wheel barrowing means. Not all trainers are created equal. Be careful who you use.
     
  14. MJ84

    MJ84 New Member

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    Yes you understood correctly and yes it does not work. And we realize while she appears qualified, on paper, she isnt.
     
  15. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Of course it doesn't work. I can't stand it when people call themselves trainers who are clueless... and go out and mess with people who are at their wits end and don't know what to do. I just hate it. I'm so sorry you wasted your money.

    Now I think your dear little pup just needs some time to bond more with you....not that he isn't bonded, but just more of it. More fun, more regular romping and playing and a little bit of walking in way where he is set up for success. Lots of reinforcement is what makes him want to repeat what he just did. The reinforcer has to come right away. You can use a marker word which precedes the reward. (or a clicker, which you can learn about) It helps communicate to the dog just what it is he's being rewarded for. (important)

    You can even keep a part of his meal ration in your pocket and whenever he comes around close to you, pop him a piece. (unless you don't want your dog following you everywhere you go. lol) Later, you can spread out the treats so he doesn't get one every time. Or sometimes just make it really fun when he comes down the hall with you and watches you fold laundry. Then take it out on the drive way, then out on the road with a leash. See if he can generalize that behavior a little bit of walking along with you in different locations, different contexts. When he's not coming along side you...at other times, don't make it as much fun. Try to show him that all the good stuff, the best attention etc happens when he walks somewhat near your side. Or when he does other behaviors you like.

    Training has to be fun and rewarding or it isn't worth a dang. Dogs and people don't exactly speak the same language and learning to communicate in ways that a dog can understand is something that goes a long way. The more you learn about how dogs learn and think, the better you two will be able to communicate to each other. If you want to understand beter how dogs really are, I highly recommend reading the book, Culture Clash, by Jean Donaldson. There are other great books too. The Other End of the Leash, by Patricia McConnell is a good one too. But Culture Clash really puts it in a nut shell and can help with lots of training techniques which make good sense. These people are all about using gentle, non confrontational methods based on science. I really hope you stick around and share what's happening in your life and your pup's. Best of luck!
     

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