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Many years ago, when I lived in Philadelphia, I took my Boxer puppy to our local SPCA, which held puppy training classes on a certain night of the week. I wanted Rodney to learn basic commands. The instructor, a canine police officer, ran the class. He told the class to never try to train a puppy younger than eight to nine months of age. They just won't get it and are in puppyland at this time.
The most basic instruction he gave was that "all" dogs, especially those big 'ole boys, should always, without reservation, wear a choker chain collar (never the kind with those hook-looking ends that dig into your pet), but a basic choker chain. These will never harm your pet, but with a slight tug on them, you can teach your dog to do just about anything.
For the "heel" command, holding a chain type leash (attached to the end ring of the choker) in your right hand, cross your body with the chain of the leash and hold a shorter length nearer to your dog. Position him next to your left side and if he is standing, tug on the choker and, in a firm voice say, "heel". A gentle push on his rear will let him know what that means. Tug the chain again, and say "come" and start to walk slowly. He will respond by following you. Always hold the chain close to your left side and never let him get ahead of you. A well-trained dog, walks next to his owner's left side.
My Boxer responded immediately to my commands. Trust me, the choker was the "only" thing I could use to control my powerful Boxer, and of course, teach him these commands.
It is used in the training of all Police Canine dogs, at least in the city of Philadelphia. Try it, I think you'll be amazed.
By Joyce from Gulfport, FL
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I have had my Shepherd for a year now and I am having problems with him lunging at people. At one point I thought he would bite. How do I correct him for this?
I am also wondering how come he do doesn't do what he is told. I have been working on him for a year on heeling and he does just OK with it, then he just starts walking past me. He knows these things, but just doesn't listen. I have been doing this since he was 4m old. What is wrong? Please help me and Axel.
You are wise to be concerned about a lunging dog. It sounds like you need some advice from an experience trainer. You could start with some online trainers who post videos. But I would recommend that you find a local trainer with good credentials and get started with them. You need to be able to stop that behavior right away.