questionsanyone have any experience training a dog?

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try a shorter leash and have her carry a couple treats with her (in a pocket) when walking so he stays nearby smelling her. also the idea of a "reward" when staying with anyone when walking or a stern "no" when pulling by whoever is walking should help.

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I do, but I'm not good enough at explaining it to tell you what to do. I did find, however a few websites you can go to in order to learn what to do.

First site

ASPCA's site

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Does "bad" fit in the any experience category?

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When he pulls and you continue to walk he is learning that it is okay to pull. What you have to do is "stop & go". When he pulls you stop and wait for him to stop pulling, then you can go. You will have to be consistent and very patient but eventually he will figure out that pulling is not a good idea.

Also, use a short lease that is no more that 4 feet long to give you better control.

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@jsimsace: No, or should say not to my knowledge. We are trying to be positive because the dog was previously abused. He has been awesome. He is great in the house and has made no "mistakes". We are still crate training overnight, and there have been no "issues".
I don't want to make the dog fearful by chastising him.

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That was just my poor late-night attempt at humor. I had a bad(non-productive) experience once trying to train a basta-...oops, I meant basset hound. We currently have a yellow lab that is 8 years old and has been raised by us since he was 6 weeks old.

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Along with the short leash, get rid of the extending leash for now. Use a wide 6' leash and hold him at heel so he's walking beside you.

Also, use the word HEEL when he starts pulling, not 'no'. They hear 'no' for everything and it really has no meaning. Use the proper terms for what you want him to do: HEEL, SIT, STAY, etc.

I was taught to say the dog's name and then the command:

FRED. Heel.

FRED. Sit.

Name gets their attention. Command tells them what to do.

When he sees a stranger, maybe try putting him in sit and pet/talk to him until they pass and then give him a small treat.

You might also ask some friends to help you work with him on the stranger fear by staging some walk-bys where they can come slowly up to him and love on him. You should probably have him in the sit and be soothing him during this. Then give him a treat. He'll slowly learn that if you're ok with it, he should be too.

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@jsimsace: Not bad humor, just the truth. We thought about that a lot. We are trying very hard, but maybe the dog needs a different type of owner.
The only reason I am asking this question is because the dog seems happy, and we are happy having the dog.

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these types of harnesses are supposed to cut down on pulling: http://www.amazon.com/SENSE-ation-No-Pull-Dog-Harness-Large/dp/B0013JYDEG/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1333945409&sr=8-3 although I have not personally tried this

I recommend this book: Feisty Fido: Help for the Leash-Reactive Dog Patricia B. McConnell Ph.D. (Author) more here, reviews helpful: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1891767070/ref=wms_ohs_product

and google the author's name to search for her videos. she is a dog expert, and she communicates in both writing and video in a way that is very easy to understand.

good luck!

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every dog trainer I've talked to has told us to never us an extendable leash. just too many things that can go wrong. we got a 6ft leash. enough to give him some play in the leash, but not enough to let him get into trouble. we also did the stop and go thing someone else mentioned. the walks did take quite a bit longer but our dog eventually got it. keep trying! especially since you guys seem to like the dog. also, taking some formal Training classes can help strengthen the bond

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@jsimsace: I've raised 3 bassets & a Jack Russell rescue. I feel your pain.

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@thunderthighs: did you happen to take some classes at Ahimsa?

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@carl669: No. Took a class with Fred & Ethel in the DFW area probably 20 years ago? In a woman's front yard. She was really good though.

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We didn't train our dog very much, but we watch a little Dog Whisperer and we also have a rescue.

It is definitely important to be patient and caring, but you still want him to know what you want from him. If you don't let him know he is doing something wrong, you will both be unhappy. Don't be afraid to use a stern word or a poke every now and then. You will all be happier if he knows what you want.

As far as walks, that can be tricky because it is simply a matter of physics in some respects, he is simply a big dog. However, look for some videos of dog walking technique's, there is a proper way to walk a dog when you are training them.

Lastly, be patient! We have had our rescue for 3 years and she is still getting better every day. It really just takes love and time.

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@atd15: lol.. took me a sec too. When @jsimsace said "bad" it was a response to the question title.

Title: "Do you have any experience with dogs?"
Him: "...does bad fit in to the 'any' experience category?"

Yea, that was probably a little over-explained :)

I've had to deal with dogs that had bad previous owners too and the positive reinforcement way is definitely the way to go. (had to get a little negative with the indoor-pooping though heh)

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"the dog seems happy, and we are happy having the dog" You are clearly off to a great start already!

I'll echo the recommendations to ditch the extendable leash in favor of a six-footer and to put in time training him in loose leash walking. To minimize distractions, I'd suggest practicing indoors if possible (hallway, basement, lobby) or in a small outdoor space (yard, alley). Check the DIY links above, but do also consider a beginner "good manners" class. (Your shelter might offer or recommend one.) It would definitely cover leash training, and the socialization with other dogs and people would help your dog with his fear and confidence issues. You would also boost your own training skills.

Finally, I have seen many labs and other high-energy dogs wearing this harness; the owners say it slows the dog down just enough to be more manageable, so everybody's happy. http://www.amazon.com/Premier-Harness-Large-Black-Silver/dp/B0009ZBKG4/ref=pd_sim_petsupplies_1

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A friend who used to be a professional dog trainer (before she became disabled) still keeps a really good website up: www.shirleychong.com

Lots of useful information, especially on clicker training.

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Without a collar it'll be a bit more difficult, but it's fairly simple. Use a relatively short and strong leash, randomly change direction and hold securely to the leash and say 'heel'. Normally this jerks the dog's neck pretty good, it'll jerk your arm too, so be prepared, but doesn't do the dog any real harm. This teaches the dog to actually look at you to figure out where the two of you are going. Start each walk this way, praise the dog when he walks with you, instead of walking you. Reinforce the 'heel' command when he begins to pull on the leash. Shorten the leash when he disobeys. A pat on the head and "good dog" when he obeys works wonders. A retractable leash can then be used to allow a little more freedom, shorten the leash each time 'heel' doesn't get obeyed. They get the picture very quickly. Worked with every dog I've owned or even watched for someone. Usually by the third day, you'll actually see the dog checking 'your' progress over their shoulder.

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I have a lab/wolfhound mix who was virtually impossible to walk until I got her one of the collars that @ginawoot posted. It really did make the difference between a comfortable, fun walk, and a dislocated shoulder.
I also keep treats in my pocket when I walk her, so if we come across another dog I can keep her calm and contained.

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You could also try using a gentle leader. I have a 2-yr old lab/german shepherd mix. It sounds like I'm about the size of your wife, and it keeps him from walking me.
http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2751500

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First, I would like to commend you on the adoption. I have 3 shelter rescue dogs of my own and they were (and still can be at times) difficult to train. I agree with thunderthighs that a retractable leash is not the answer. A 6 foot leash is best but I would also recommend a "Gentle Leader" type of control collar for walking. The collar is not a muzzle and allows the dog to breath, drink, eat, etc. What the collar does do is allow you to correct your dog using minimal strength by redirecting their head to the side instead of pulling straight back. Dogs have their greatest pulling strength through the shoulder/neck area. If you use this collar it takes away that strength. I would also recommend training classes at Petsmart. I trained all my dogs through the advanced courses and my experiences were wonderful (for me as well). And no, I have no affiliation with either the Gentle Leader or Petsmart companies. I just love my dogs.

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I work at an animal shelter and in a situation like this we would recommend an Easy Walk Harness and a 6 foot, non-extendable leash. The leash attaches to the Easy Walk harness at the chest so when the dog tries to pull, the placement of the leash causes him to just turn toward whoever is walking him instead of allowing him to lunge forward. Basically it just makes it impossible for him to pull you around.

You can find the harnesses on Amazon.

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While people are offering some great advice and collars for your dog, I would really recommend in your situation taking your dog to a leadership/obedience class. I recently (January '12) rescued an adult female GSD. It is nearly impossible to known exactly what type of a life a dog has been through when they're rescued. And from your case it sounds that your dog has lived a terrible life of neglect. So first off I thank you for rescuing your dog.

These classes are offered all over and are usually under $200 for a 8-10 week course meeting 1 hour a week. Most places will give you a great discount for having a rescued dog as well. It will be a great environment for you and your dog to learn in. Just do some research, and try to stay way from the major pet-stores that can have too large classes and too many distractions. It was a great investment for me and my family. Give it a shot, they will give you a set of tools with endless possibilities.

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Our dog was also abused in her first home and had fear-based aggression. You're on the right track with using only positive-reinforcement.

We found a GREAT class offered locally called Fearful Fidos.

My first piece of advice: look for a specialized positive-reinforcement class near you.

Fearful Fidos was largely based on the book (almost more like pamphlet at just 30 pages) The Cautious Canine ($7 through Amazon). I'd highly recommend this book. It discusses what's going on in your dog's head and how you can put him/her at ease.

As for collar advice, the Gentle Leader is great. We have a border collie with a really skinny head, so we usually use the Gentle Walk harness instead. It's made by the same company. It doesn't work quite as well as the Gentle Leader, but then again she can't slip out of this.

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I would like to thank everyone for there advice, you are all amazing people.

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I don't normally recommend them, but with the problem using a conventional collar, you might want to try a halti.
http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2754854

The people I have known who have used them say that they work fantastically for controlling the dog on leash. The dog trainers I know dislike them because they are not a training tool, the dog is not learning proper behavior, the halti just makes them do what you want, using the same principle as a horse halter-- where the nose goes the body follows. He won't be able to pull ahead of your wife, when he gets out in front the halti will turn him back toward her. As others have said, lose the extension lead. They offer little control and lots of risks. Before you press the dog on his fear of people, I'd strongly suggest working with a trainer. Fearfulness can be a complex behavior to overcome and you'd be better off with an experienced adviser.

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I was trying to edit my post above but I keep getting a server error. I just wanted to add that my 140lb Great Dane was dumped at Animal Control because of dog aggression problems, and I have been through numerous group and private obedience courses plus done a lot of research and private training as well. There are some highly skilled trainers on my Great Dane yahoo list and we chat a lot about training there.

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My 140lb Great Dane came to me with dog aggression problems, so I have done a lot of training. I don't normally recommend them, but with the problem using a conventional collar, you might want to try a halti.
http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2754854

The people I know who use them say that they work great for controlling the dog on leash. Trainers dislike them because they are not a training tool, the dog is not learning proper behavior, the halti just makes them do what you want, using the same principle as a horse halter-- where the nose goes the body follows. He won't be able to pull ahead of your wife, when he gets out in front the halti will turn him back toward her. As others have said, lose the extension lead. They offer little control and lots of risks. Before you press the dog on his fear of people, I'd strongly suggest working with a trainer. Fearfulness can be a complex behavior to overcome and you'd be better off with an experienced adviser.

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Sorry about that mess above. I kept getting server errors and I guess it eventually posted all the posts which didn't seem to be getting through.