Definitely true. I'm working on 'look at me' and drop it and recall, for the most part with Roxie. That said, I think at 5 months I had Oliver doing RELATIVELY well on the leash. I know he didn't have loose leash down but I just meant it might be something to start before the stop command off leash. Maybe beginning that on a leash would be safer. I know it's best not to do real 'walks' with puppies but I do like to do 5-10 minute ones around my cup-de-sac etc because they just learn easier as puppies. Granted, Roxie LOVES to run in circles around me on the leash and I let her. It's fun. I was SHOCKED to see that a trainer in a Havanese group on FB recommended a CHOKE COLLAR for a four month old puppy who was 'pulling' on a leash. Seriously? My dog is 3.5 months and 5 lbs. I cannot IMAGINE doing such a thing at any age, but as a puppy that will definitely create a negative association and cause lifetime damage. .
A lot of good advice in this post!
Did you come up with the circles by yourself? Or have to learned Denise Fenzi's "Circle walking"? I used more traditional (positive) training methods with my older ones. Pixel was easy... she has always naturally wanted to stay close. Kodi took a fairly long time to really be reliable about loose leash walking. Panda LOOKED like she was going to be another tough nut when it came to LLW. Now, this was a puppy who started competition obedience training (in a puppy friendly way) at 12 weeks. She had BEAUTIFUL, off-leash, formal heeling in the ring a YEAR before she was getting better about LLW. It was learning circle walking that gave me the "hook" I needed to get her past pulling in an over-excited state. circling EVERY TIME she tightened the leash let her get rid of excess energy, while not pulling on her neck, and taught her that we didn't get ANYWHERE until she settled herself down. Maybe it was because she was the "right stage", I'm not sure. But it took about 3 walks with consistent circling, and she was TONS better. She can still get overexcited when she knows we are going on a walk (and she is 4 yrs old) but a few loopy circles are enough to get her head in the game, and then, barring a chipmunk or something, she will be fine for the rest of the walk!
I think 10 minute "puppy walks", to practice leash skills or just to follow the puppy and let them explore, is just perfect! ...And yes, if ANYONE suggests putting a choke or prong collar on a Havanese, RUN the other way!
It would have terrified me, too. And it's basically a crap shoot at that age as to whether they'll listen. I don't trust Oliver in a distracted situation at all. In fact, IMO the BEST thing to do in an emergency like that is turn around and run the other way. It sounds counterintuitive, but my dog likes to chase me and if I chased after him, it would make things worse.
Yes!!! This is one of the BEST ways to get them to come back!
But I do think learning a leash (and I'm one of the few that doesn't think it's necessary for my dog to be 100% in line with me at every step.) I'm fine as long as he isn't pulling and is pretty close. My trainer says his skills that way are good enough and that other things take precedence. She actually suggested a longer leash.
I think it is important for people to understand that there is a HUGE difference between loose leash walking and formal obedience "heeling". Unless you plan to compete, most dogs NEVER need to learn formal heeling. If you DO plan to compete, this is not a skill you generally teach out on casual walks. It is HARD for the dog, both mentally and physically, and is taught in TINY steps, for a few steps at a time. As I said, both Kodi and Panda had beautiful ring heeling, before they were reliable abut LLW. formal obedience heeling is a "trick" they learn. LLW needs to be comfortable for the human and the dog for long periods. Everyone has their own criteria for loose leash walking, and if you are happy with what you are getting, and the dog is not pulling you around or hurting themselves, it's perfect! My LLW criteria re pretty simple. They can be in front of me or behind me, but the leash must never get taut enough that I can't comfortably hold it on one finger. (a holdover from my horse days
) Which means, that if they've been keeping it loose, they can even stop and give something a quick sniff, as long as the moment they feel the leash tighten, they move along again.
My other rule is they must be willing to walk on either side of me (because I am usually walking two dogs, and sometimes all three) and they must NEVER cross in front of me. It's fine if they cross behind me, but I DO not want to get tripped!
They all have developed their own "style". Kodi MUST lead the way on all walks. but he goes out in front on the LIGHTEST of "contact" on the leash, and is totally "steerable" out there, Pixel ALWAYS wants to be at our side, but either side will do. The cutest thing she does is if Dave is walking her and I'm walking one of the others, I tend to be in front (Dave is a slow walker
) and even though she is attached to Dave, she will walk in "close to heel" position with me. Panda takes advantage of ALL allowed positions! As a result, when walking all three, I keep Kodi and Pixel in one hand and Panda in the other. Otherwise, she'd constantly be tangling with the others!
So I am 100% with you! I don't worry about "proper position" on walks either!