Originally Posted by tcarlisle
So what is my advice? See the next post (I want to seperate my advice from my plea to the moderators)
What is my advice? Well, there is a sticky thread about acclimating a boxer to a GL in this forum that probably has all the information one needs. In addition, I would point out that acclimating a dog to wearing a device on their head takes time, patience, and perseverance.
I would guess there are people that buy one, strap it on, and try to walk the dog. That is too much all at once. Start of little by little. Put it on the dog for short periods of time (without a leash attached) and let him get used to having it on his head. If he paws at it, etc. just redirect his attention to a toy. Or let him paw at it and learn he can't get out of it. Reward him for wearing it with food, etc.
Then you attach a leash, but don't hold the other end. Let him get used to wearing the GL and dragging the leash.
Then you hold the leash and walk him around the house.
Then you take him for short walks outside, and at this point expect regression. Why? Becuase in the house there are not all the distractions. Doing this outside is the first time this is being done under distraction. Expect progress to go back a few steps, and simply take the dog back in the house so he can be successful at walking on the leash with the GL.
It is a slow process to get the dog that is trained to walk ona GL in a controlled environment, to be able to transfer that training and do it in an uncontrolled environment. Take it little by little, and it will happen. Expect too much, too quick, and it probably won't happen. Stay calm and cool, it will happen. Loose your frustration, and it won't.
Now the dilemna of course is that this process could take days, or even weeks. How do you walk the dog in the meantime? Well, the old fashioned way -- on a regular flat buckle collar and a leash. Will he pull, lunge, etc? Of course. He has not been trained not to yet. And he can't be trained not to until you get him acclimated to the GL. So for the time being, you just have to manage as best you can.
If he pulls, stop and gently reel him in and then start again. There really isn't much more you can do, and you can't expect miracles at this point. Walking the dog on a regular collar is just temporary until you can get the GL in use.
Once you get the GL in use, I am sure there are plenty of articles and information sources available for using the GL to train the dog not to pull. The key is to actually train the dog -- that means marking the behavior you want with positive reinforcement, and marking the behavior you don't want with negative reinforcement. The GL provides the physical negative reinforcement, and you just provide the verbal (No). If you don't actually train, and you just walk the dog on the GL, you will probably end up in a situation where the dog still won't walk on a leash without the GL. That would mean he never really got trained.
When the dog walks proplerly on the GL, and seems to understand that he is not supposed to walk at the end of the leash with the leash pulled tight, then I would move to weaning the dog from the GL. This can be done when the dog does not pull to the end of the GL, even amongst distractions (kids, other dogs, etc). If the dog does not walk propoerly on the GL amongst distractions, training is not yet completed.
But if training is completed, wean him off the GL. Walk him on the GL most of the time, but then take him for short walks on a buckle collar. If he walks propoerly, praise him. If he walks like a maniac, go back to the GL -- he ain't ready. If he walks good, but pulls sometimes, he is almost there. Shorten the lengths of the non-GL walks and minimize distractions to create the opportunity for the dog to succeed. Then over time increase the length and distraction levels.
Training a dog not to pull is no different than training him to sit. People will argue that, until I clarify -- I am not talking about training a dog to sit in the living room in a controlled environment. Anyone can do that. I am talking about training a dog to sit in any environment, with any level of distractions. Training that type of sit and trainign the dog to walk without pulling is the same fundamental process.
The difference is that most people don't train the "sit" to that level, and they are perfectly happy if the dog sits 90% of the time, and they really don't expect the dog to sit more than 25% of the time if other dogs are present, etc.
But walking the dog must be trained completely -- 100% of the time, and amongst distractions. So the majority of dog owners/trainers really only get exposed to true, complete training when it comes to teaching the dog to walk on a lead. That is because the environment the dog will walk in is uncontrolled and full of distractions.
So my overall recommendation for people having significant difficulty in training their dog to walk on a lead is: make sure your expectations are set correctly, follow the process of training a little at a time, and don't consider the training done until the dog can perform consistently in any environment with any level of distraction. And to get to that point you work up to it by starting in a controlled environement, and expanding that environment and adding distractions over time. That takes time, patience, perseverance, and self control.
A key point to be made is that dogs cannot transfer their learning like we can. Not realizing that simple fact makes training frustrating and often ineffective. For example, if you train your dog to sit in your living room and then take him oustide you will find he probably won't sit. To us, the situation is so similar that we think the learning shoudl transfer -- but to the dog the situation is so different that he basically needs to be taught again in the nex environment. So you can't teach the dog the command, and expect it to transfer under different circumstances. You have to re-train the command under as many set of circumstances as you can.
And yes, throughout the training process your neighbors that are watching you walk your maniac will silently chuckle to themselves -- but weeks later when they see the difference they will silently say "wow".
And then if you decide to train formal heeling, you will be amazed at how simple it will be for you since you properly (and completely) trained walking on a lead. Training a dog to heel is revered as a monumental accomplishment, but the simple fact is it is simple if the proper groundwork has been laid -- and teh foundation for that is a dog that walks propoerly on a lead. If the dog doesn't walk properly on a lead, the chances he can me trained to heel are nil.
But that brings me to a related opint back to training walking on a lead -- walk your dog on your left side throughout the process of training your dog to walk on a lead. When you later get to teh point of training the heel, you will be glad you already trained the dog to walk on your left. As you train walking on a lead, just keep him on the left -- don't make him actually heel. If he walks wide, forward, or even lagging the "heel" position -- don't worry about it. The goal at this point is to get him to walk on the left and not at the end of the leash. As long as the leash has slack you have reached your goal for walking on a lead.
Another tip -- as you train walking on a lead also try to train the dog to do it proudly. When you are done training the dog to walk on a lead, before you check off training as complete observe and make sure the dog is walking happily. If not, find out why and fix it. You want the dog to walk confidently, proudly, and happily. Not apprehensivley and confused.