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Thread: Malamute Help!- Loose lead training is failing

  1. #1

    Default Malamute Help!- Loose lead training is failing

    HI

    I adopted an 8 month old malamute about 3 weeks ago and he is just a beautiful placid dog (except for back yard destruction even though he has 50 toys to play with). I know they are stubborn and expected some problems but trying to train him on his lead is getting worst, not better, and I am not sure where else to turn. He follows me everywhere through the house and listens to me most of the time and I know I need to be a little more consitant for the best results, but I am sure he understands I am the "alpha" he should be listening to. He lets me do all the things that show this, waiting to be invited inside, walking through doors after me, producing his belly when requested for a scratch, sitting when asked, shacking hands etc etc. (But of course he still tests me with the sneaking into bedrooms and stealing my socks or something I have yet to put away to chew on cheeky little bugger lol).

    When I first got him he was pulling desperately on the lead. After trying so many different things (pulling on the lead, holding him firm by my side, treats when the lead is loose, stopping when he pulls, changing directions suddenly) I have managed to get him to the point that when we start out there is no pulling at all, but it starts when we get onto our normal path. The moment I stop (as he is pulling) he either sits, or walks back around behinds me to my left side and waits until I start walking again. But the last few days he has started getting frustrated and "attacking me" by jumping and nipping at me. I tried turning my back but today I got angry and pulled the lead to the ground and basically sat on him until he settled down (this actually did setting him a little, but he still insisted on pulling on the lead).

    I walk him every morning but we are not getting as far now because he just wont walk with the loose lead for more than a few seconds (if I praise him he thinks it is ok to walk faster). I have no time to wear him out before we go (although I try for a least 5 minutes). I spend and hour and half with him every morning before I start getting ready for work (where he then follows me for the next hour while I get ready). I play for him for another hour when I get home (3 nights a week I go to the gym after this) then its time to settle down for the night (but follows me again). I am also waiting for the dog training classes to start in 2 weeks to take him to this. There is also no chance of letting him off the lead as he chases birds, pounces on small dogs and refuses to return to the lead.

    So I need some help for now on what to do before I get too frustrated and don't want to walk him anymore (which will just cause more backyard distruction)

    How long should this really take? its been 3 weeks already! Or is he still just trying to settle in?? Do I put up with the pulling until I start trianing classes? Or are there other ways? Am I reading him wrong and in fact he does not respect me at all? He sometimes just gives me the look that he is actually playing me for what he wants and when he chooses he does what he wants instead, almost like he doesn't care for me at all.

    Please help!
    Last edited by Assha; 01-29-2014 at 05:41 PM.

  2. #2
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    Hi Assha

    I know this loose lead thing can be frustrating...

    But every step you take with the dog pulling - rewards the pulling.

    So you're going to need to go through the tedious thing of not going forwards if he's put tension on the lead.

    Ideally you train so he has a choice to stay where you want (make this the "reinforcement zone"), or go pulling and only reward the choice you want him to make.

    Practice in the back yard before you go to the front yard, then the footpath out the front of your house then close to the path he knows goes to great places.

    Use the word "yes" like a clicker to indicate he's going to get a reward for doing what he's doing right now. I sometimes use a "non reward marker" to indicate no treat for what dog is doing eg "oops" or "what are you doing?" or "silly pulling dog".

    I also got my sled dog wannabe - a front attach harness - attaches the lead to the dog's chest not their shoulders. We haven't needed to use it for a while but when she pulls or worse LAUNCHES - she ends up facing me. Which isn't where she wanted to be going so it discourages the pulling.

    It can take a couple of months for a dog to figure out what you want. So it's still early days and you've adopted a teenager dog. The most difficult age they can be - in a challenging breed. Just means you have to be super super consistent. Every time you take a step forwad with him pulling - is going to set your training back some.

    Puppy Development Schedule | Steve Courtney Dog Training

  3. #3
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    ive been loose leash trainer my dog for 7 months. And he's just getting it now.
    40 degrees is helping me

  4. #4
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    The stopping when he pulls really only works when you do it consistently and ignore him completey until he calms down. But it sounds like that may not be possible if he jumps and nips. When I start, the reward for not pulling is simply going forward. I find treats are too much of a distraction at that stage. Once the dog seems to get what they are supposed to do, you can start rewarding for them choosing that behaviour.

    Maybe watch kikopup's leash training video. Just do a google. She's a fantastic trainer and her videos always inspire me, even if I might not follow her instructions 100% afterwards.

    Also, some dogs do take longer than 3 weeks to really settle in. You may see a change in his behaviour and personality in another 3.

    If you intend to walk him off leash eventually, I advise you to start recall training now. Again, look for kikopup's video. It can take many months to get to something resembling a reliable recall, but you can do the training anywhere and at any time and it takes very little effort. Just expect to go through lots and lots of high value treats. And take baby steps and continue long after it looks like the dog gets it.

    And good luck with the training classes!

  5. #5
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    but I am sure he understands I am the "alpha" he should be listening to.
    Nope. Under no distraction, ie home environment he has no real reason to put up a big fuss. But out and about you see how truly respected you are - little. In 3 weeks you have tried too many different things, there is no consistency and now he's jack of it. He wants to do what he wants to do and he's giving you the proverbial canine finger. I would get him a correction chain, he's big enough to learn what is right and wrong well and truly. Put him on a 6 foot lead, have a pocket full of fresh food like cheese, hot dog, meat etc and go for a walk. When he goes to pull ahead, just before the leash is taught give him a big pop but say nothing. Then call him back to you for a treat. While he's walking loosely, just gently say good boy, treat for focus, and if he forges ahead to pull give him another pop. The trick is stay calm and let the collar do the work. Don't shout, grumble, NO, STOP etc it's useless particularly with an adolescent male malamute. PLay a little hard to get you might say. If he goes to pull, he gets a correction. If he behaves, he gets attention and food. The dog learns to watch his own behavior without being micromanaged AND there is no retaliation, fear etc because it is balanced. The two options are always open to the dog and anything unpleasant that does happen the dog sees him doing it to himself. But a jumping, biting malamute, uh uh, that stops right now. If you need a hand message me.
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  6. #6

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    Thank you all

    Nekhbet, you are exactly right that I have been inconsistent and needed to stick to one method; I actually figured this out the very next day. I have also been getting too frustrated which is obviously very bad on my part as he can obviously detect this too. SO; I took a step back and started again and within 2 days we had major inprovements! I could not be happier, its been less than a week and he is already 80% better than he was. I warn before the lead gets tight and if he keeps going, snap the lead and so No then stop (I know you said not to verbalise but it seemed to work and before I wasn't using the no). Then tell him to adjust, he walks back around my side and I reward him with attention (unfortunately he does not seem to interested in food treats and would rather a good belly rub). Now, most the time I only have to warn him and he slows down, if he doesn't I just stop (without saying anything) and he adjusts straight away (or sits) and he gets his belly rub.

    I attached another lead to make a long one and unfortunately now he thinks its ok to pull ahead again, or take off the moment he see's something (which results in him doing a 180 spin in the air once the lead goes tight, if it didn't hurt us it would be funny). However, the pulling is minor and he is really starting to understand everytime I flick the lead to slow down. Plus, he is really loving the extra space

    The only time he has tried to jump at me again is when he has seen another dog and we don't go in their direction. But he has only jgone to jump on me and realised that he isn't allowed and actually not even put his paws on me, so I think our little tantrum together actually helped in some way.

    I will now have to try the treat and calling him back to me though, just patting him after prob just make him think it wont matter if he pulls; he gets a cuddle anyway. Plus, it should help with him paying attention to me instead of every little thing that moves or smells.

    All in all, I am obviously just impatient and expected miracles immmediately (plus the lack of sleep just made me grumpy). So I have just as much to learn as what he does.

    Thanks again for all your suggestions.

  7. #7
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    You work with what the dog likes - no point using something he doesn't like as a reward because he won't find it rewarding. So your use of the belly rub is excellent.

    You could pair the belly rub with treats at some point - eg if he will take a treat out on a walk (low or no distractions around) - you could reward that with a belly rub and eventually the treat will equate to belly rubs but I'd stick with the belly rubs for now. I figure if you can get the dog to work without food - that's great for most things out and about.

    Pay attention to what he chooses to do for himself - and use that for rewards too. Ie if he likes to go say hello or chase the ball or play tug - make sure he has to do something you want first eg a sit / drop / stand / trick .

    Given he is a big dog - you might want to get a tug with a bungee handle.

  8. #8
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    If you train recall with treats, they have to be really good ones. I prefer something soft and smelly, like cooked liver cubes. I just microwave it in a steamer and then cut it up in little cubes. It's not as gross as it sounds but you wouldn't just carry it in your pocket, you'll need a treat bag. I've used pieces of hot dog or cooked chicken too. Some people use cheese. The first few weeks you have to be extra conscious of setting him up for success. I only call new dogs when they are already heading towards me. You want the dog to think you are a bit of an idiot for handing out such valuable treats for such little effort. If you take tiny baby steps, they won't notice that the stakes are getting higher and if you do this long enough, it will become a reflex to head towards you when you call.

  9. #9
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    Malamutes are different - not difficult per say but different to other dogs so you have to remember it's all about leverage.

    Do not make the leash longer. There is no need, as you find his body weight will hurt you at that length. I had a client who's not even 20kg dog tore her shoulder and broke the bone, 4 screws and 6 weeks of rehab. Don't let them take a big run up or you will pay for it and NEVER wrap the lead around your wrist. The reason he's pulling ahead on a long leash is you're putting him in the prime position - they're pulling dogs and primitive animals. The minute you let him forge on ahead HE sets the pace, HE does what he wants and leads the troup. The lead dog in a sledding team actually leads the rest of the dogs, they're not all even in a dog team and not every dog is a good lead dog. You made an untrained, immature and 'not meant to be' leader a leader! So he will keep doing what he wants! You will also never get a good walker or 100% no reactivity if you keep doing this. By your side or a little behind you, nothing else. If you want to let him have a sniff of some grass or go off on a long leash give him a command. I use 'off you go' and mine can go to the end of the leash for a sniff but still not pull. Then when I'm ready to go I give them another command to come back to position for a proper walk.
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