We've just adopted a mix-breed puppy (likely Lab/Pit/maybe Dalmatian) who is about 13 weeks old. She seems very smart so far and we've only had her a week and she is already learning a lot. We are still housebreaking. We live in downtown Los Angeles, where it is very urban and we must take our pup outside to eliminate but there can be many distractions.
One of the main issues we're having is walking on the leash. She still doesn't like her collar and leash and becomes quite indignant at times. We've tried the "come" command with rewards, which works, but then she will just stop and sit stubbornly (or even lie down completely) and not come when called. She is also very distracted by any passerby, wanting to meet them (they usually stop and tell her how cute she is too, which she sure likes), socialize with, or even jump on them. Another big issue is that she will chew/bite/mouth the leash, or even thrash her head about while it is in her mouth. We have tried simply "NO" when she bites us or the leash, to very little avail. She has even been known to bark back! The nylon leash is becoming ragged around the edges! I should note as well, that when we are inside and the mouthing/teething occurs, we tell her NO and replace out hands with a toy.
Okie dokie, you've got a couple different things going on here. I'll break it down a little bit in a moment, but right off the bat I'd like to recommend you pick up a copy of Paul Owens' "The Puppy Whisperer" and/or Patricia McConnell's "The Puppy Primer." Also check out DVDs by Paul Owens (corny but fun) and Ian Dunbar (delightfully British) for visual aids. Next, Google-search "Puppy Kindergarten" and see if you can find one near you. Since I'm in Glendale, near downtown LA, I wish I could recommend one but at the moment I'm not personally aware of any starting up. Anyway, this is great puppy socialization time in a nice, clean environment where your pup can get much-needed play and social time with other young dogs and you can chat with other puppy parents - healthy for everybody!
So things you've got going on are all manners-related:
1. Walking on leash
- a few questions. You said she does not like her collar or the leash. Does she wear her collar all the time? What kind of collar are you using? Make sure it is not too tight - you should be able to just slide two fingers between the collar and the dog's neck. You could also try walking her on a no-pull harness such as the Freedom Harness or the Premier Easy Walk harness. On both of these, the leash attaches at the front, preventing your dog from pulling. Most dogs adjust to harnesses very readily and it is actually quite a bit easier on their bodies than the pressure a leash can put on their necks.
- Meanwhile, you can help your dog become more comfortable with the idea of a harness, leash or collar by making having it on a fun and rewarding experience. Small treats such as chicken or cheese (most dogs love string cheese) can be used to give her a more positive association with the leash. Soon you will have her thinking, "I love this leash! Every time I wear it, I get TONS of treats! Yay!"
- Dogs are very quick to make associations between two things (such as leashes and going outside). If you can arrange it so that she is less able to anticipate what she thinks the result will be where the leash is concerned, she will become less reactive to it because it will come to not really mean anything specific. In addition to changing her feeling about the leash with treats, you can accomplish this by introducing the leash at random times, and not necessarily taking her anywhere or doing anything with it, or even putting it on her. You can also let her wear it and just wander about on her own terms, or have a quick, fun play session or a short, intense training session where the leash is not involved, but she's still wearing it (and not thinking about it).
- Be wary of using "come" unless you are sure she will actually come. If you keep repeating any cue with no result, the dog will quickly learn to ignore you. Dogs don't automatically come speaking English and they don't communicate with each other verbally, so verbal cues from humans have very little meaning until they learn a strong association between the cue and the action.
- If you would like to use a cue to get her moving, try the "find it" game. Paul Owens' books and DVDs have great descriptions of these.
- Is she teething? This could account for some of the chewing. Make sure she has lots of appropriate chew toys available. To make a cheap, easy toy you can soak an old, clean washcloth in a low-sodium chicken broth, freeze it, and give it to her as a frozen treat. The cold will feel good on her sore gums and the chicken broth will make it a yummy and enticing chewing option.
- Grabbing and tugging at enticingly-dancing objects such as leashes is really not uncommon puppy behavior. Make sure you have some of your treats with you on the walk. You could try all sorts of different things - "find it" to shift her focus away from the leash, "drop it" (at first, when she grabs the leash, hold a treat at her nose and give it to her as soon as she drops the leash. Once she starts going for the treats enthusiastically, add the verbal cue "drop it" just as you offer the chicken), "heel" (again, Paul Owens' DVD has an excellent demonstration of this and Dunbar's series really takes it to the next level).
- I generally try to avoid aversive techniques, but in the interest of offering you several options, there is a product on the market called Bitter Apple which you can soak the leash in. Most dogs don't like the taste and will avoid it. Since she is already not the biggest fan of the leash, doing something to make it even more unpleasant to her is probably not the first method you want to try, though.
Please visualize the behavior you don't want (jumping up on strangers). Now, think of the behavior you would like her to do instead (sitting nicely to be petted). Instead of thinking about what you DON'T want, try to focus on what you DO want. It's a very good thing that your puppy is friendly with strangers. This is an attitude that you want to encourage, overall, but you also want to teach her to be polite. Since she already finds interaction rewarding, you can use this as the reward. Ask her to sit. As soon as she sits, you (or the stranger, if you can find a willing and patient passerby) can pet her. If she does not sit, she may not approach or receive affection from you or the stranger. Until she gets the hang of the verbal cue, you can use a treat to lure her into the sitting position at first and then give her both the treat and the affection. If she is too distracted to respond to you, simply say, "I'm sorry, she's in training," and then give her the cue "lets go", turning crisply and walking in the opposite direction (noncompliance removes the possibility of a reward) - for a demo of the "lets go" command, again, refer to Paul's DVD.
There are various things which you have told about your sweet puppy. As you have told that she is so intelligent that she learns so fast then you should take it seriously that may be she is not comfortable with the lease as it may be tight or some other problem. after checking all this if you see all this again then you should consult to the good trainers. Boom Towne in New York is such a good example if you want to go for and also you can check out good books too.