Any leash training tips?
First Basenji's

My four month old pup is going crazy every time we take her on a walk, she wants to sniff everything and pulls on the leash when people, dogs, and cars go by. I know some or most of this has to do with her being young and being an energetic basenji but if anyone has any tips on making her a little more calm and focused on walks I would greatly appreciate it!

I have heard that you can change direction, which shifts their focus. However, my B is crafty. If there is a dog in the distance (and I want to continue on our walk) she will pretend she is snacking on the grass or smelling a bush so she can either give them time to reach us, or watch them carefully. I know what she's up to, but it's almost adorable to see her try to outwit me.

As for the pulling, I suggest the following: stop moving, hold the leash in a way that you are restraining her tug but you have enough slack on your end to rest it on the ground and step on it. Your body weight is a better deterant than an arm that moves about. This is a good time to introduce a command specifically for this type of situation, "leave it", "chill", etc. If your pup continues to strain while you are standing on the leash, shorten it so that her only options are: stand, sit, or lay down. Once she is calm, praise her. Then, if you see a trigger off in the distance, you can try to prevent the behavior ahead of time by stopping and standing on the leash before the dog or person gets close. Remain consistant with your chosen command word. After your pup becomes successful with the patient wait, you can graduate to only using the command while you continue walking past the trigger.

As an aside: IMHO, socializing your pup to people and other dogs is a positive step in their development. Don't try to prevent your dog from sniffing and saying "hello", just try to teach her how to be polite about it.

First Basenji's

Thank you so much! We've been doing the "tree" method where we stay in place and consequentially have our arm stick out so I'll try stepping on the leash instead and see how that goes!

My suggest is different that Elbrant... sorry to say, and especially with the current situation with the health issues... try to take your pup out when that are not out... off times. And I would suggest as soon as you can, go to a training class or get a trainer that is using positive training methods. This is not the time to try and socialize puppies period, you should not let strangers or stranger dogs touch or be petted by strangers...
And if you are walking the pup to go potty that is one thing, if you are just taking them out for a walk, keep walking when they stop keep moving forward, again since the current health issues, try and pick a time that you will be mostly alone... and DO NOT let anyone or other dogs touch you or your dog

last edited by tanza

I know a lot of people like to let their dog "read the mail" and sniff around in the grass, but the downside to this is that it is a good way for them to pick up anything that is going around, e.g. Parvo or other illness that gets spread through feces, and especially with a pup you don't want that. The other hazard in letting them sniff around is that they may ingest something they shouldn't. Out walking, I like to keep moving unless the dog has to stop to relieve himself. As to meeting other dogs to socialize, as tanza pointed out, it is inadvisable at this time, and even in normal times it's quite possible the other dog may be harbouring an illness you don't want your pup to catch. Or perhaps the other dog doesn't like socializing and may be aggressive with your pup, thereby giving him a bad experience.

Not allowing the dog to pull is another issue, and again is something that can be handled in various ways, one being the "tree" method, another being to teach targetting and from there getting the dog to walk at heel when required. The secret to the pulling issue is that the dog must never be rewarded by getting where it wants to go by pulling, and the worst equipment to use is a flex lead, which essentially trains them to pull!

last edited by eeeefarm

I understand the idea that everyone (even our dogs) should participate in "social distancing"... this is something that will vary (slightly) based on your location. Big cities are most effected and would require more strict compliance. Smaller communities may be more "relaxed". I'm making an observation, not trying to open a Covid-19 debate.

I am confused by "the tree method". Can someone provide a better description than standing with your arm out(?).

@elbrant said in Any leash training tips?:

I am confused by "the tree method". Can someone provide a better description than standing with your arm out(?).

It's a well known technique for curbing pulling. Basically whenever the dog tightens the leash, you stop walking and wait until the leash is slack. Eventually the dog figures out that pulling does not get him anywhere. If you have patience, this will work. It is more of a problem with people who do not have the time or patience to wait it out. One article out of many....

@elbrant - I disagree... smaller communities have problems just like big cities... it is really not necessary for a dog to meet and greet everyone on the street. And in fact note that many will say "my dog is friendly" when in fact the owner has no clue that their dog is invading another dogs space on a lead...

@Malik, I like your approach. Too often I see people out walking their dogs (or their child, for that matter) with their nose buried in their phone, paying no attention to the animal (or child!). You need to engage with your pup and build that bond. You might try teaching your pup to look into your eyes on your command. Easy to teach with a clicker, but can be done without. Use whatever word you want once the behaviour is established. I used "eyes", but whatever. Some obedience trainers spit treats at their dog to get them to look at them, which I think is ridiculous unless you want the dog focused on your mouth, not your eyes! (not to mention it's the wrong message and can be dangerous if the dog gets to think what is in your mouth belongs to them!).

Staying "present" with your dog is so important!

@malik said in Any leash training tips?:

Great Job Malik! Perfect!

last edited by tanza

Anything along the lines suggested by Malik or eeefarm. I'll just add that treats can be useful as well.

However, you're right that at four months your pup needs to explore. Twigs, sprinklers, clumps of grass are all new an exciting. So at this point you may not want to overly focus on how they walk on a leash.

First Basenji's

@malik This is awesome I love it!! I'll definitely try these methods out, I have a feeling the search game will be her new favorite!

@tanza said in Any leash training tips?:

And in fact note that many will say "my dog is friendly" when in fact the owner has no clue that their dog is invading another dogs space on a lead...

Dogs on leads feel vulnerable and that is the time NOT to allow your dog to approach too closely, regardless of what the other owner says. We aren't even in a 'smaller community', elbrant, we are deep in the countryside. But we still try to avoid other people and other dogs. On the rare occasions we meet others out on the myriad public footpaths which abound around here - both or all dogs are grabbed or reined in and one party backs right off down a side trail if there is one, behind trees if there isn't. Or even just a discreet distance out onto the field.

If one dog is on a lead and another free, the tethered dog will feel vulnerable and so the owner of the free dog has to control it NOT to approach too close. This is done with patient training - recall being to me one of the most important things a puppy should be taught. Mku (aout 17 - 18 weeks now) will brake and come back to a whistle (I can do that extremely piercingly). Sometimes he gets a treat and sometimes inordinate praise. He is always hopeful for the former !

On the lead, going up through the village, he pulls, I stop. He stops, we go on. To drop the lead and stand on it - I might miss it and have him under a car in seconds ! My arm is quite strong enough to hold him - LOL

@zande said in Any leash training tips?:

To drop the lead and stand on it - I might miss it and have him under a car in seconds

The idea isn't to drop the lead, but (stop and) stand on a section of it between the leash handle and the dog collar. IMO, body weight trumps arm strength against a pulling dog. (Dog age, size and breed makes a difference.)


@zande said in Any leash training tips?:

Dogs on leads feel vulnerable

True, I've noticed this myself. A tight leash-hold is a clear indication that the other dog owner/walker is not interested in any interaction. I use a "leave it" command which I use for things like trash, (other) dogs solids, or dogs that I want her to pass by and ignore.


@tanza said in Any leash training tips?:

many will say "my dog is friendly" when in fact the owner has no clue

LOL, too true!

@malik said in Any leash training tips?:
It sounds as if we both have the same walk philosophy. It is HER walk, for her enjoyment, so as long as she is not in danger, I let her sniff and check out what ever she wants. she loves it and never wants the walk to end. My dog too loves to watch for other people or animals coming and will "freeze" up to where I cannot budge her! Usually I can stop and pet her a little and she will then start moving again, But I have had to pick her up and carry her twice because she just would not move. I love this idea "We also have a game where I say "search" and throw a treat on the ground. It's great, because the treat bounces and she loves to chase it" and Iplan to do this with her.

@malik said in Any leash training tips?:

I've also done a lot of additional training at home. Impulse control is important. Not eating before your say so, place treats on the floor etc. On walks, I often stop her and ask for her to sit and to give paw etc. We also have a game where I say "search" and throw a treat on the ground. It's great, because the treat bounces and she loves to chase it with her eyes or nose.

If I was doing this with a dog I would not use anything edible, but something she can "find" and trade for a treat. Maybe a toy the dog likes, or something along that line. Dogs are natural scavengers and will gobble up most anything (edible or not!) that they find on the ground. Personally I want to discourage, not encourage, that behaviour. Dogs can and do sniff and ingest things that make them ill. The owner may not even realize that something encountered on a walk is what is making the dog sick. I do like the idea of playing games with the dog, but I would want to be sure the games are safe. For the same reason I have a problem with people allowing unlimited sniffing around. Before you know it, the dog is eating something it shouldn't. If you want to let your dog sniff, please be very observant and ready to intervene if the situation becomes unsafe. You do not want your dog sniffing other dogs' feces. It's a good way for them to pick up something nasty that may cost you a trip to the vet, or worse!

last edited by eeeefarm

@malik said in Any leash training tips?:

so she isn't able to sniff around where I can't see.

Honestly, "doodle's" nose is becoming legendary. I'll think she's smelling the bush (or urine on it) and she'll come out with a bagel in her mouth! (yes, this actually happened!) I have learned that she can find all manner of things that are clearly obvious to her nose and undetectable to my eyes. If your pup is intent on what she's smelling, there's a reason for it.

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