I really need some help training Max to walk on a leash...........

Max is 4 months old. We've been going to puppy classes at Petsmart which she enjoys. She
gets along with the other dogs, who are 3 times her size. She's doing good with all her "homework" except the loose leash walking. I've tried everything to get her to take just a couple steps with me. When the leash goes on she is ready to take off. I've tried stopping until she comes back to me but she just lays down. Treats only work for a few seconds than she lays down again. Max wears a harness when we try to go for a walk and she is never lifted by it. Sometimes I think my arm is going to fall off with the way Max pulls. Any advice would be greatly appreciated...............

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Try leash training her at home or in a small, closed-off area. If she knows the "sit" and "stay" commands, you should be golden.

I know exactly what you're talking about. I had the same problem with Gizmo. First, I got her a training harness, which really helped. (I tried the halti training harness - which goes around the dog's muzzle - but that didn't do much except annoy her). Next, we took it one step at a time. Literally.

Start with your pup sitting on your left side. If Max goes nuts every time she's hooked up to a leash, you may want to practice this first step before taking her outside. Keep some treats handy, as rewards and positive reinforcement is the best way to teach a dog new tricks.

Start walking. Go about five paces, telling your pup to "heel," and then have her resume the sitting position. If she runs ahead, tug on the leash until she's back at your side (while you continue to walk), telling her to "heel," and then have her resume the sitting position.

I've also noticed, with Gizmo, it's sometimes helpful to keep the leash a little bit taut at first, so the tugs are easier on her, and she can't run ahead as far. I've done this exercise with her for about 10 minutes a day, and within a couple of weeks she's picked up the word "heel," and understands what she's supposed to do when I tell her this. She still gets excited and wants to run ahead (especially when there are other dogs or people around that she's anxious to sniff at). But this is an extremely important command, as her well being could depend on it. Eventually, you should be able to keep walking, and not have to have the dog sit every few steps. The concept is heel, tug, heel, tug, heel "good girl."

If all else fails, take it slowly. Try doing this inside at first, so Max doesn't have so much stimulation and distractions.

Best of luck!
Harnesses were originally designed for dogs that pull. Many folks feel that this is not a proper tool to use when training a dog to walk properly on lead. I would go back to a traditional type collar, perhaps a martingale (partial slip) so you have little room for correction. Your problem is focus. This is also a time to use what we call "high value" treats, something she usually doesnt get such a cheese, little bits of chicken, etc. I would start with the "watch me" command in which she looks at your face for a short time then treat. Continue this exercise until you can get her focus each time you say her name. Gradually add movement to it with the "come" command. Start adding steps. It sounds like when you get her attention as she is pulling you may be over correcting and she is shutting down. Some dogs do much better when you have their attention prior to good lead walking. Remember too that flexi-leads serve no valuable purpose when teaching a dog to walk with you. Many people let dogs walk too far ahead to train them to walk properly. Flexis have their purpose if you are training distance work. We dont train the heel command until a dog is walking readily on lead.
Regarding the gentle leader/halti this is a good tool if used properly. Certainly dogs initial reaction to it will be negative, it feels different and garners great control. It is also very good at self correcting a dog that forges ahead. Remember it is a training "tool" only and used in a progression to train, not a permenant collar.
yes take it slow. maybe like 5 feet a day. the next day 6 feet and so on. if she starts to pull go in the oppisite direction. once again if she pulls again. quickly turn around. if she is walking next to you say Good Heel.if you want her to wanlk next to you say heel and make her. and when you stop she stops and sits. make sure she sits. hope this helps
Thanks everyone for your advice. I did use a flat collar for Max orginally but she started pulling so hard I thought she would choke herself. She loves to walk around the house with the leash on but once we go outside its like we are at the races...she's gone!!!!. We have beengoing out more each day since the weather here has finally broken. It's a little better but I can tell we have a long way to go. The watch me command is very helpful with Max especially when a car goes by. She really wants to go after it and we are in the back yard!! I have to try the high value treats you suggested Sam, Max seems to have lost interest in the kibble treats.
If I blew it with any of Charlie's training, it was loose leash walking! We started out well, but over 2 months I let him pull a little more every day until I realized that I had taught him to pull! My problem was exactly what Sam said: I lost focus. It took about 7 weeks of intense focus to correct, and now he walks really nicely about 80% of the time. We're still working on walking with distractions. So...

Make a promise that you will not take one step forward if Max is pulling you. If you're in a hurry to get somewhere, pick her up and carry her, but do not let her pull you one step anywhere.

Keep lots of treats in your pocket or a fanny-pack waist bag. Have a treat in your left hand. Put the leash on her. If he will come over to your left side and look up at you, great! Give her a treat and take a step or two forward. If she stays with you, keep walking. If she starts pulling, stop and stand like a tree until she looks at you like "What's up?". Have another treat ready, and hold it straight down by your leg, where Max needs to be.

If she lies down, try walking backwards two or three steps and call her toward you, or try turning your back to her and start walking the other direction.

Another thing I tried which was somewhat successful, was to tape a spoon around a foot -long "stick" (dowel rod, or any other stiff object). Put peanut butter on the spoon and dangle in front of Max's nose, by your left leg of course so she's in the right position. As you walk the peanut butter is always just one step ahead of her. Let her have a little taste now and then to keep her going.

There are 6 or 7 walking techniques. We tried them all and ended up with a combination. Keep us posted. If none of these tips help, I can probably suggest a few more. Good luck!
Thanks Charlie. I use the peanut butter when I brush Max. Never thought to use it for walking. I have to give it a try.
I concur, ditch the harness, it only teaches them to pull more. Did you Petsmart instructor suggest a harness? You are getting some really excellent advice, I would also concur with a limited slip (martingale) collar. And since you are switching equipment, you will certainly have to start a few steps back in training. As soon as you feel a tug, turn and walk in the opposite direction so that he gets the idea that pulling gets him exactly the opposite of where he wants to go. Also important in loose leash walking is attention. You need to have his full attention. At 4 months, you can't expect that attention to last very long so make walks short and make sure to end on a good note. And always keep the rules consistent, do not take long walks and let him pull once you get tired of playing by the rules.
I've decided go back to the flat collar. I was just afraid that Max would choke herself before. It seems that that may be the best way to get her walking. She is taking a few steps withut pulling but let a leaf blow by and she is gone. She is also very strong willed. No matter what I coax her with she will lay right down and not move. I usually stand there and wait until she is ready to move. Then its a couple steps and we are right back at square one. I will put all this great advice from everyone to good use. Thanks................
Walking Theo on a harness actually hurt his leash training. He wouldn't mind me at all because there wasn't that connection from his collar to the leash to me. He would go and stop and he pleased, so matter what I said, or where I tugged him. A regular buckle collar is what got Theo walking right for me.

It sounds like your problem is that Max goes from pulling to not walking at all, is that right? I had the same issues with Theo. To get him walking again there's a couple of methods I used. The one that worked best for me won't necessarily work best for you. Theo and I play this game in the backyard where we chase each other around. When I'm going to chase him, I jump and stomp my feet right in front of him, and he jumps up and runs away (turning back to make sure I'm chasing him). Hehe. So when he would lie down on our walks, I would just do this jump/stomp about a foot or two from him, and he would bound up and follow me. It didn't scare him, it actually got him excited to get moving.

Another thing you could try is treats, and actually teaching him the command "stand". Or just tickling his butt while encouraging him to follow you.

To keep him from pulling, that's something I was able to break him of, but not consistently. I taught him "heel", which means he's to stay by my heel or behind me. And again there are a couple of methods I've tried. You might want to start off keeping the leash pretty tight next to your left hip, so he can't really go anywhere by next to you, and then you can praise him for heeling. Also, if you walk a bit more quick-paced, he'll have to go faster to pull, and if he keeps his pace and is next to you, then you can praise him for heeling.

What my training says to do is use treats to get the dogs attention on you. Teach him to look at you. Get him to look at you as you start moving, and the dog should start moving along with you, next to you to keep the eye/treat contact. And if the dog starts to pull, just (gently!!!) pull him back to where you want him. Also, if he pulls ahead, you can change directions and turn right, then when he catches up and pulls again, turn right, and so on until he gets that if he pulls ahead, you're not going to go that way.

Basically whether its his idea or not, always praise Max when he's heeling correctly, and treat him periodically. Don't just hold out the treat and not give it to him ever, or he won't listen. Even if what he's doing isn't quite what you want, if it's a step in the right direction, help him along in his understanding by praising.

At least, that's all what worked for me. Theo still pulls about 10-15% of the time, but the rest of the walk he's a dream!
My Eowyn use to pull a lot on the leash, but with consistant daily training, she's gotten better. Everytime she pulled, I just stopped and made her sit down. Then started again, and she usually began to run and almost hang herself, but I just stopped once more and made her sit down. Now she's almost a year and a half old and she's doing a LOT better. I put her into a sit at the door and make her wait. When we first start out, she pulls a wee bit, but nothing like she use to. And she can be let off leash now, so a leash is hardly a tool now. So in time with consistant training, he should do fine.

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