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My golden retriever is 7 months old. He's in a good routine and is easy to live with day to day. He is pretty good with the basics of sit/down/stay/leave it/drop it, although all that can go out the door when he's worked up or distracted. I have worked on the relaxation protocol and capturing calmness and he is very good about settling and being calm at home, but struggles with it in different environments.
The biggest challenge I have with him is his behavior on walks, especially now that he is 60 pounds and quite strong. I am unsure how high my expectations should be. Since day 1 of his coming home I have fed him part or all of breakfast/dinner while on his walks, giving him food when he was walking with slack on the leash or checking in on me. When he pulls (which is still often given that we live in a city and constantly see dogs, people, squirrels, etc.), I try to be consistent about stopping in my tracks until he sits down. He is pretty good about sitting down when I stop walking without being told to. Despite all this, though, he still regularly gets excited on walks and pulls hard, and it seems like it's gotten worse recently. Since he's bigger it can be very hard to restrain him and he had an episode where he pulled our walker over when he was straining to try to greet another dog. If he sees a squirrel he will pull with all his strength but I'm not sure I can blame him for this or expect otherwise…
I guess my question is whether I should keep doing what I'm doing and try to wait out his obnoxious adolescent phase or if I should be doing more to prevent the pulling. His growing size/strength is making it harder to just ignore. He has a harness which I know makes it easier for him to pull but if he wears a neck collar I know he will be gagging himself when he does pull and I worry about damaging his throat. I have tried the front clip on his harness without much success as he still pulls and the harness just kinds of gets pulled askew. Any ideas/suggestions?
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