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pulling on lead / prey drive

Home Archive Forums Dogs Basic Dog Training pulling on lead / prey drive

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    I’m new and i’m jumping straight in with my problems! I have a collie cross rescue dog, neutered male, approx 3 years old and we will have had him 2 years in april.
    We have been to dog training classes and have also had advice from a behaviourist and have come a long way with him.
    There are still a few issues i’m working on but 2 in particular i’d appreciate some advice on please!

    Despite great heelwork in classes and in the garden he still pulls out on a walk. I have tried various halti type collars, stop and start methods and changing directions, treats etc,  and it has improved but still cant conquer properly!
    The stage we are stuck at is that he will come back to roughly heel position for a few steps but always gradually moves forward until the lead is taught again quite quickly. If i give him a long loose lead he will always walk forward until its taught and pull again.
    He likes treats at home but not interested while walking. Also loves toys and balls, esp squeaky, but not while on the lead. Tried with clicker but again, not interested.
    If i use high value treats, like chicken, he will literally take the treat then dart forward again and also quickly has enough of even his favourite treats and looses interest.
    He is not a dominant dog but is very sensitive and gets stressed easily. Dont know very much about his history but looks like didn’t have proper socialisation with life in general as a pup.
    With the stop/start, we take a few steps, he moves forward few steps til lead taught, i stop, he stops and reverses or walks in a circle back to heel – off we go, repeat!
    I decided to persist with this a few month back literally stopping every single time and did it twice a day for about a fortnight until i couldn’t stand it any longer and felt like we looked like the village loonies juttering along the road! (Which i was prepared to do if i got the result!)  I  felt that, although he repositioned himself he never really understood that i was stopping because of the pulling – it was as if we were walking and if i stopped he had to come to my side, but didn’t realise why or that if he didn’t pull, i wouldn’t stop! Similarly with changing directions, we just didn’t get anywhere far and i feel he didn’t realise why i was changing, just knew he had to follow me each time! Even with lots of praise and patience i felt that it was beginning to stress him as we were just stop- starting all the time.
    I walk him twice daily and we walk to various places where he can be let off and have plenty of free running exercise. Usually about an hour, sometimes more in the morning and try to do an hour later but sometimes less cos of dark etc. The on-lead bit varies from about 3 mins to 20 mins, each way, the rest off lead. Recently i’m using the car to get to places to avoid much lead walking as i’m fed up with it.
    In the garden if i call heel and have a treat he will come to heel position to get it so i feel he does know where heel is and will heel nicely round the garden, watching me and eagerly taking treats. On a walk  he’s either stressed or too keen to get to walk and be let off.
    With the halti’s he’s not much  different even tho i’ve tried 3 different types which control in different ways, he will pull against them and if i gently lead him back he will then move forward again.
    (Tried halti, k9 bridle and gentle leader)

    I would really like to try a different method because i feel so fed up with it and he will obviously be sensing that now.
    I just want him to walk by my side with a loose lead!!

    When i first had him he didn’t even know sit. He’s generally quite obedient now and knows lots of commands. We also do agility.
    His recalls are fairly good on walks when he is not distracted (although i must admit i should do more practice as recently he’s not quite so quick to return ) but if he is off sniffing a scent or has actually seen a rabbit, squirrel or pheasant then i have no hope.
    I have a whistle which he responds to normally and at feeding times i make him wait then blow the whistle to come and get his food. I’ve tried treats but, although loves them at home, not interested on a walk. Will come back to me but doesn’t want the treat, or if high value treat will take it but not really bothered.  I do call him back for no reason sometimes to give a treat, fuss or lots of praise, just for practice.
    I take a ball or toy to play which he loves and will bring back, although not always straight away. He actually wants to take it off to chew up.(At home he never chews anything in the house except his toys, and those he will destroy, even most of the tough ones.) Basically he will run and run with the toy and then lay down and try to rip it up. He also pulls tufts of grass up – at first i thought it was because he couldn’t pick up the ball but he seems to like doing it when playing with the ball just for the fun of ripping something. (He only does this on a walk, not in the garden) He destroys endless tennis balls and i have bought stronger ones but they are expensive and easy to loose on a walk. He likes to carry the ball if i let him but when he goes off to sniff oftens looses the ball so i tend to play a while then take the ball away for a while then perhaps play later on the walk. But again, if tracking, not interested in the ball.
    I’ve tried to vary the balls/toys; recently bought a kong flyer frisby thinking that would be tough – he loved it but in between throws managed to chew it and rip a chunk out of it within about 10 mins! I can only leave really strong toys down at home (like nylabones) otherwise he will rip them up and sometimes eat bits which is obviously dangerous. Despite this he never chews any other items in the house at all – only his toys so i know i’m lucky there.
    We have various places to walk, lots with woods or wooded areas and he will disappear out of sight frequently. I swing between trying to make him stay within sight but feel i’m nagging him and keeping on too much which then looses the impact  ( which is why i think his recalls are not so good at the moment) or letting him run loose and so he has to catch up and find me. But then this is only ok if i’m confident he’ll find me and not get lost or he’s not running somewhere he shouldn’t.
    I use the words “this way” to mean change direction, nearer me sort of thing, rather than calling him completely back to me over and over and he does respond to it well, but again, not when tracking.
    He has managed to catch a few rabbits, not often, but enough to be distressing for me and the poor rabbit  and to be a reward for him to make him keep trying.

    I expect some of you will advise to lead walk him until i have a perfect recall, but, see point 1 above! I cant stand the pulling! If we go through an area with lots of rabbits etc then i do put him on lead and i hate it (and so does he). I couldn’t stand to walk him for an hour at a time on the lead and i’m sure he’d go stir crazy at home without the free running  exercise. And however good the recall is how can i ever compete with a live rabbit?
    I’m also wondering whether the pulling is connected with his prey drive?
    When i first had him and he started doing it i bought a long line from diy shop and tied him on that on a walk instead of letting him completely loose so he could run about but not run off.  But it just got caught up all the time so i got fed up with that! I keep thinking about going back to that but not very practical and not a long term solution. It would be ok on an open flat field but we don’t have many of those around! But willing to try if anyone can advise on methods.
    I know reward based training is correct and not punishment but when i get really fed up or worried about it i do wonder if some form of deterent when he chases or catches something would stop him. I’m sure some of you will go nuts at me for this and i don’t really want to do it but some form of collar with spray or loud noise or something? I don’t want to use a shock collar, apart from being cruel I’ve heard they can cause more behaviour problems. Please don’t get me wrong, he is the love of my life but i just really wish i could sort this problem as some walks are a misery.
    When he wont come back i’ve tried the whistle, calling excitingly, squeaking a ball etc and also (i know its wrong but we’re all human!) shouting and getting cross  but once he’s in that mode its too late. If i can catch the right moment when i think he’s about to go i can say firmly leave, or out (if he’s about to go through somewhere) and sometimes stop him but its constant.
    I try to vary routes and go different ways from him to make him watch me more, which again, he responds to and sometimes stops and looks back to check where i am – which i always praise, but again, if tracking he’s just off.
    He is friendly with other dogs, always keen to go over and sniff but never plays with them. Just wants to sniff and then move on. If they growl, snap or bark he backs off and doesn’t fight or go back at them, (actually on the lead if they bark or go for him he squeals and lunges at them which i think is due to flight or fight on the lead, ie he cant get away so goes back at them) If they want to play he ignores them. If i walk with friends and their dogs he’s really excited to see them but then ignores them when they try to play. If they chase and try to play with him he just changes direction.  He is worse when i walk with friends as i’m obviously not watching every move and to be honest, sadly i think he runs off to avoid being  play tackled!
    I watch other peoples dogs enjoying their walks and running around but always staying fairly close or coming back to check on their owners – i wish mine would do that! He’s so lovely at home but so distant on a walk!!
    In warmer weather he loves swimming and fetching the ball in the water and i feel that satisfies him more.
    At home he is very affectionate but on a walk he has very little interest in me at all. Initially he was very “clingy” at home and followed me everywhere, but even then had little interest in me on walks. He is more confident and secure at home now so not clingy but does enjoy company. When we get back from a walk he loves a rub down with a towel and is so pleased to be with me, wagging his tail, enjoying a fuss,  watching me, listening to me and responding quickly.

    We have 2 cats who he get on ok with. He is allowed on one of our sofa’s that has a throw on and  quite often him and one of the cats will be asleep on it, not cuddled up together but near or maybe touching.  He will wag his tail and sniff this cat when she wanders around. The other cat isn’t so friendly and he’s wary of her. He doesn’t chase her inside but if she runs when outside he will, although stops when i shout leave it or no.  So at least his prey drive isn’t so bad he wants to eat the cats!!   (If we see a cat on a walk he wants to chase it but i think that is quite normal although i obviously don’t encourage it.)

    I’ve read books and articles on line and forums but i cant see how i can ever control his prey drive. Most suggest really working on playing with a ball but you cant do that the whole walk and as soon as i stop he’s off again and i still cant see how i can ever be more rewarding than live prey.
    I’m so sorry for the lengthy post but i’ve tried to include as much info as i can to show the whole picture. Also the 2 problems maybe should posted individually but they are sort of connected.


    Hi and welcome ;D

    Long post :surrender:

    The lead walking, when he comes back to your side do you praise him? (by the way his name and a photo would be nice :yes:)
    You say he know where heel is?
    You may be surprised, you say heel and lure with a treat and he heels?

    Try folding your arms, looking straight ahead of you and giving him the cue heel, chances are he will look at you not sure of what you want.
    You can lure or clicker train him into position with a hand signal then when he understands that add the cue word.
    Check out the stickies,  lots of very good training advice on there,2438.0.html,3154.0.html,3153.0.html,2403.0.html

    Some to get you started 😉

    Kiz who wrote most if not all of them is an expert on all things dog so get yourself a cuppa and have a good read.
    Any questions just shout one of us should be able to point you in the right direction.

    The  levels of criteria thread will explain more on the off lead problem and how you build up training


    The short answer to your post is that a) I do not believe that you are seen as a valuable resource to your dog b) try walking INTO your dog rather than traffic lights eg keep turning left, right, about so that the dog does not see  a walk as necessarily going from A to B c) the toy situation demonstrates the lack of relationship toys should be interactive and only have value when “alive” d) prey drive does not sound very strong, if it were you could redirect onto a toy, this is more about obedience and lack of and again the underlying cause is lack of relationship.

    Do you have to walk to get to exercise area, you may find it more effective if you drive to it and then you can work on the lead exercises post some running etc.

    just a few thoughts.

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