So I realize Winston is a little old to be having these issues. And I admit I probably should have addressed this behavior when he was younger. But the past is the past and I can't change it now.
Winston has always been a pull-on-the-leash maniac. Before I moved to Seattle, while it was frustrating, it didn't really pose much of an issue. We would go on walks (mostly where he was fully extending himself at the very limits of the leash) and I would scuffle along behind him. While this was obviously not behavior I liked or wanted, the practically suburban setting made it manageable because we rarely ever encountered other people and if/when we did, it was easy enough to see them ahead of time and not actually interact.
However, now that I've moved to Seattle, I live in the middle of an extremely busy area. Like... every day, all day, regardless of the hour, there are LOTS of people on the sidewalk.
First, I want to fix this pulling/tugging/lunging behavior. I can't enjoy walking Winston because there are people everywhere and two things happen: one, I worry people will step on him because he moves erratically and he doesn't stay by my side and two, people often want to say hello. This wouldn't normally be a problem (if he would act calm) except that saying hello is one of Winston's most favorite thing! He loves people! So much! He jumps, he pulls, he licks the air, he goes into hyper overdrive mode!
Secondly, because this behavior seems to get more and more reinforced, I am more and more resistant to going out and about with Winston. It's becoming stressful to take him anywhere. The constant pulling and wanting to greet people makes the pair of us look crazy! It's getting to the point where I dread walk-time and that isn't fair to Winston. But with the way he is, I really dislike going outside with him. I know this is my fault, but I don't know how to fix it.
I tried the over-the-nose head collar thing. It did work, sort of. But I had two issues with it: Winston absolutely hated it. He really really hated it. It made him not want to go outside. And it didn't really work very well. He would still want to tug and pull and lead. And then when I would take the collar off back at home, he would have a deep mark indention across his nose. I was really worried he would hurt himself so I returned it. He now has one of those wonder walk halters but it doesn't give much improvement.
I don't really know how to address this anymore. Attention from people reward his behavior and there isn't anywhere I can go that is calm/quiet/relatively empty. No matter what I do, there is a constant stream of people wanting to pet him, or cooing at him. I just want to be able to walk my dog like a normal person. I know it will make things 1000% better, especially since then I would be comfortable taking him to all the places he is allowed to go.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
@Rebecca, excellent advice regarding training and dealing with frustration. I especially like that you equate being Alpha with remaining calm at all times and taking the time to get your on emotions under control before attempting to resume teaching the dog. I have read a lot of people's opinions on what being Alpha means and I think yours is one of the best!
You need to get the dog to 1st pay attention to you...Aha you ask, how do I do that? Get a Martingale Dog Collar, Get a long line web or nylon rope, loop one end and put a clip at the other end to attach to the dog collar. The line should be at least 10' long 15' is even better. next thing you need to find an open empty field where there are no distractions at first. living in the city you might have to drive a ways to do this or maybe you can find a local park. 1st day. take the dog out to the field, attach the long line, hold one end of it at your belt buckle (or where it would be), pick out a spot about 25-30 yards distant and start walking. Don't talk to the dog, don't even look at him. When you reach your objective atop, pick out another and do the same thing...continue for at least 30-40 minutes. ignore your dog while doing this. pretty soon the dog WILL start watching you. 2nd day. same exercise. 3rd day same exercise however, now if the dog runs out in front of you, you are going to turn around and start walking in the opposite direction BEFORE the dog has reached the end of the lead, picking out another spot to walk to. If the dog charges ahead again, do the same thing, turn around walk the other direction BEFORE the dog reaches the end of the leash. The dog will soon learn that it HAS to watch you to keep from coming to an abrupt stop at the end of the lead. 4th day same exercise, by the end of this exercise the dog should be turning back to you before reaching the end of the line, 5th day same exercise with more turns, the dog should be following you or at least by now not pulling on the lead and watching you at lot. Paying attention to you!
After the dog starts paying attention and is no longer lunging at the end of the long line, put it on a leash, the leash should be at least 6' long. Start the process all over again, This time it should be a lot easier though. The dog does
not know how long the lead is.
Once you get the dog to be paying attention to you it is time to start adding some distractions. Don't worry about getting the dog to heel yet. Just walking calmly on the leash is all that you want to accomplish now. Especially in town where there are lots of other people and dogs.
It takes a lot of patience. Good Luck
WARNING : This technique will work as far as training goes, but I think a word of warning is appropriate. The abruptness and force with which the dog hits the end of the long line (more or less depending on the individual dog) puts a tremendous amount of strain and pressure on the neck, shoulder assembly, throat cartilage, and reverberates all the way through the back and hips. In particular, and especially when the person attached to the line goes in the opposite direction, torque on the dog's body will increase the risk of injury. This is particularly true of dogs under a year of age, where cartilage is still forming and growing. Dogs with a genetic tendency toward weak hips or backs will also be at greater risk of injury. Many here have had the experience of Corgis who have come to injuries of this sort simply by playing or running around forcibly on their own steam. Adding the resistance of a person's body (120 to 150 Lbs of weight) at the other end can do serious, lasting and costly physical damage especially in a dwarf breed with long back. As Physics tells us, the longer the length of the line, the stronger the force becomes at the other end. This technique, in other words, would be safer with a 6' leash and progressively more potentially harmful as the length of the line increases.
Look for some modern training classes. It's never to late to learn how to work as a team. :)
If you want free help there are several good trainers on youtube that have step-by-step training exercises you can do at home. Kikopup's channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/kikopup?feature=watch) is my personal favorite as she examines the cognitive processes driving a dog's behavior (which are sometimes not obvious), and uses methods that don't hurt the dog. Running the opposite direction to your dog is going to give them whiplash, especially if your dog is also running in the opposite direction. Why do that when you can make them think walking on a loose leash is fun and their idea. :)
Some leash walking tutorials:
Set your dog up for success and training goes much smoother. Is there a place you can go indoors to practice? I don't know your living arrangements or where you live but there must be some place in your town you can go (soccer field early in the morning, school playground after hours...) to practice where people won't bother you. Also if people do want to approach you can always refuse, that's your right. The first video I linked addresses some of your concerns as well...
2 thumbs up! I'm a big fan of kikopup. I started using some of her techniques just a few days after I brought Nemo home, now he is way ahead of his classmates.
I do this with my friend's border collie mix whom I babysit for when she's away. She doesn't mind that the dog pulls and weaves all over the sidewalk, but I don't like it. As soon as we get outside, I have the dog sit and praise her for that, to "get set" for the walk and remind her that I'm the boss. Then as we start to walk, as soon as she starts pulling, I say "UH" short and sharp to get her attention, turn in the opposite direction, and keep walking. As soon as she follows without pulling I praise/pet her. She's not food motivated, so treats don't do much but I'd give her a tiny treat if she liked them ASAP when she walked nicely. She gets it within the length of the first block. After about 5 times or so, all I have to do is say "UH" and she will fall back in line with me immediately. I use that "UH" sound as my all purpose "knock it off" sound for my own dog and it works great when she barks too much, digs in the bed, licks her paws too much, etc. She hardly does those things but it gets her attention and makes her stop from across the room or even from a different room.
Just a tip on how to get him used to the head collar. It can be a great tool. Put it on him, and leave it on while he's just hanging out in the house. Let him drag the leash around so he gets used to it. Treat him. Take it off after 5 minutes. Then gradually increase the time he has it on, and begin attaching the lead to yourself while you are walking around the house. Be sure to treat him while he has it on.