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Hi all, first post here.

We have an amazing 6 month old white lab named Luna. She is amazingly obedient in and around the home (close to 100% with most commands she has learned) and has been clicker trained, but we are struggling on our walks and time outside. She has always been a bit crazy and we love this about her. But it's this overwhelming excitement that I feel is halting our progress (I don't know if that's just me expecting too much if I'm honest!).
Firstly, she is a bit of a puller. She will sit and wait calmly as I get ready, out on her lead etc. and will only leave the door on my command. But as soon as she is out, it's like I turn invisible and she goes into hyper mode. I have never tolerated the pulling, always stopping dead if the lead is taut. I have tried this technique as well as turning and heading in the other direction when she pulls, rewarding at the heel of my foot as she catches up to me. In my opinion she has figured out what she has to do to get that treat, and just pulls ahead afterwards and repeats. Any advice on helping with this would be much appreciated.
Secondly, as mentioned above she gets very excited outside. Even more so when she sees other people or dogs. I try to put some distance between us and others to keep her attention as much as possible, but she won't listen to me until the distraction has gone completely. Because of all of the above we have been struggling to get much done outside. We will get the occasional good recall, or a sit but it's rare. Am I going too quickly or expecting too much?
I've read a lot of books about training, and we did attend puppy classes (she was crazy in these too, but usually settled down on and off). We would have been attending training now also had it not been for Covid. Can anyone please help us out? I'm dreading the teenage phase at this rate 😂

Thanks for reading!
 

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I'd say you are trying to walk further than her attention span allows for. This was something I wrote some time back. It was not written specifically, rather from the moment a pup first arrives home. But it will give you an idea how I set about heel training

First off, as in most things, there is more than one way to skin a cat. This is just my way.

Firstly, I never take a puppy for a walk. Every time we go out of the gate it’s training. But not too regimented, rather fun training. Think about this for a moment. You are going on the school run and take your pup with you, killing two birds with one stone. Kids to school and puppy walked! You are in a hurry as you always are at this time, trying to get the kids to school on time, and preferably with them not getting run over by a lorry on the way! You meet other mothers on the way and have a nice natter as you go. Once you have posted the kids in through the school gates you can relax and walk back home with the other mums. In all honesty pup did not get much of your attention for the whole of that time, you were too busy. Training the pup was the last thing on your mind! Yet your pup was learning. He was learning that there were exciting smells and sights just past the end of the lead, people to greet and to make a fuss of him, so he wanted to get there in a hurry. In other words, he was learning to pull you along!

Better to leave pup at home. A lesson learned by him that he cannot go everywhere you go! Take him out only when you can give him undivided attention. But I’m getting a bit in front of myself. Training starts the minute the pup arrives, well before it has had it’s vaccinations and able to go out.

The first part of training is to get the pup use to a collar, and this literally starts the day the pup arrives home. I always put the collar on immediately before feeding. That way the food takes the pup’s mind off the collar. I leave the collar on all the time unless pup is in her crate. (It has been known for collars to get caught up in the bars and strangle the pup, so don’t take chances!) I like the softest, lightest collar I can find.

My first actual heel training takes place off lead in the garden. Armed with a few treats I call the pup to my left side, waft the treat in front of his nose so that he is aware of it and with the command “Heel” walk forward 3 or 4 paces then stop, praise him and give him the treat, then give him my “End of training command.” In my case I use “OK” as the command. Basically it means “We’ve finished and you can do what you want now.” Talk to your pup while he’s walking at heel, tell him how wonderful he is, keep his attention on you.

After a few days of this, two or three times a day I’ll start using a lead. And for my first lead I use a piece of string! It’s lighter than any lead, which is ideal because I don’t want pup to really notice the “Lead.” We are starting to walk a little further now, so time to think about where to walk. Aim at 10 seconds of heelwork at first, keep it short and keep it fun. Walk pup on the left and If he tries to get in front turn in an anticlockwise direction across in front of him. If he lags behind turn clockwise away from him and encourage him up to heel. Never walk in a straight line for more than 5 paces, straight lines are boring! Squares, Triangles and circles are the order of the day. Add other exercises in to provide variation. Stays are so useful for when you need to clear something up on the floor, or even for taking photographs. Recalls are obviously useful. But don’t combine the exercises at this point. For example, if doing a sit stay then make sure you praise the sit stay before moving on to a recall. Make sure your pup KNOWS it’s finished it’s sit say!

There is a lot of talk about the relative merits of collars or harnesses. But in reality they only secure the dog from running off. Really they play very little part in the actual training. Because my pups are destine to be working gundogs I don’t want a collar on my dogs when working because of the risk of getting caught up and strangled. So I use a slip lead, so named because it is quick to slip on or off and does not need a collar! If you do your training right then you never have a tight lead so what you use is really unimportant.

So now the vaccinations have been given and your pup is able to go outside the gate. I slip my pup into my car and take her to the park where I can continue training along the route I’ve started. I don’t want to walk there because it’s too far to be able to keep my pup’s attention. Plenty of time for that when the habit of walking to heel is set. All the training in the park is the same as at home. Short pieces of work interspersed with games. Even sitting on a seat watching the world pass by is still training, it’s training patience! Work at your training and you will end up with a dog to be proud of. I don’t take my dogs for a walk. I go for a walk with my dogs, and thats a big difference.
 

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I really appreciate the time and effort that has gone into your post there, however I have been doing similar training as you describe since Luna was 8 weeks old. I started out training as soon as we got her at 8 weeks old and used very similar methods to the ones you mention (piece of string, few steps heel at a time etc). Again, at home we had amazing results from the get go.

Also, our walks are always just us 2, and she has my undevoted attention. I just don't have hers! She is far too excited seeing and sniffing everything around her, which I really wouldn't mind so much if she didn't try to pull to get there. This is as soon as we leave the door, so I don't believe the length of walk to be the issue. And the main issue with my current method of stop-start is that she has figured out to come back for a treat, pull again, let the leash go loose and come back for another treat. I have tried to drive her to an open field a few times also so that we could practice in a nice open space off lead, or using the long lead. But again, I have none of her attention. It doesn't matter which toy, which food, or how much I wave myself about and try to seem interesting. I'm lucky to get her attention for even a few short seconds. And even then, when she does something and I click to reward, she will already have lost focus and not be interested in collecting her treat!
 

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It is a slow process, I was terrible when I first started out training and couldn't see where I was going wrong. It might be a good idea to book some one to one training with a good trainer who will train you. I had a one to one with my then 8 month old puppy a couple of months ago, just before lock down, as she is very intelligent and really struggles to keep her attention span on me, and this trainer looked at the way I was doing things and pointed out a few ways to help which he does differently. And they do help, so it is worth while getting someone who is training dogs all of the time, and has a good reputation, to help out and give you some pointers and different suggestions to try. Although I train my dogs and work them, I only get to see my dogs, where as a trainer will get to see lots of different dogs, and will have tried a variety of things to help train them, so may come up with something new that might not have occurred to me to try in a particular situation, and I'm never too old to learn.
 

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It is a slow process, I was terrible when I first started out training and couldn't see where I was going wrong. It might be a good idea to book some one to one training with a good trainer who will train you. I had a one to one with my then 8 month old puppy a couple of months ago, just before lock down, as she is very intelligent and really struggles to keep her attention span on me, and this trainer looked at the way I was doing things and pointed out a few ways to help which he does differently. And they do help, so it is worth while getting someone who is training dogs all of the time, and has a good reputation, to help out and give you some pointers and different suggestions to try. Although I train my dogs and work them, I only get to see my dogs, where as a trainer will get to see lots of different dogs, and will have tried a variety of things to help train them, so may come up with something new that might not have occurred to me to try in a particular situation, and I'm never too old to learn.
Thanks for that. I know it is never the dogs fault, always the owners methods. Everything we have accomplished so far I either learned by reading, or from our trainer at our puppy classes. She runs further classes but unfortunately hasn't recently due to covid. We will be booking Luna in with her as soon as she returns to business. It's a shame really. This pandemic just came at the worst of times for her
 

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Thanks for that. I know it is never the dogs fault, always the owners methods. Everything we have accomplished so far I either learned by reading, or from our trainer at our puppy classes. She runs further classes but unfortunately hasn't recently due to covid. We will be booking Luna in with her as soon as she returns to business. It's a shame really. This pandemic just came at the worst of times for her
It's a slow process, of all the Labradors I have owned, which is only five so not a huge amount, but my current pup is my most challenging. She is really bright and intelligent, and so full of energy, but if I find ways to channel that then it makes life so much easier. I own her mum and Grandma, so I know her breeding very well, and she is from a repeat litter, and I've watched the first litter of pups over the last two years grow into the adult dogs I hoped they would be.
 
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