Originally Posted by skillingsworth
Lot's of good replies here. I would only add that training time is necessary and should not be when you decide to go for a walk or just be prepared for a lot of frustration. You should make specific times where your intent is to teach commands and that should be as often in short intervals as possible. V's will heel very well. My V actually does much better off leash than on leash. Finally, e collars are worth their weight in gold. I rarely correct with it anymore because when it is on, which is every time we go for a walk, he knows he must behave. He does good without it but is even better with it. Think of it as a very long leash, he will learn no matter where you are, he must obey you.
This has been my experience, too. My V is now 7 months, and he used to pull so badly on the leash that he would be practically crawling on the ground to get any traction. He was choking himself, and I was in danger of dislocating my shoulder and losing my grip. The various harnesses didn't make any difference; he quickly lost interest in earning prized treats and toys, and the start-stop and turn around methods just left us both frustrated and still needing an outlet for pent-up energy. Yes, he still got plenty of off-leash time in a fenced-in area, but that made the leash training even harder. With the introduction of e-collar training (2 months ago), we are both in a better, happier, and safer place. I don't have to correct him much at all when on his leash (or off). He will still pull a little on occasion (such as when people stop to pet him or he really wants something), but he is a 100 times better now than before. As Skillingsworth observed, mine heels really well (I was surprised at how easy that was for him!) and tends to mind even better off leash. When he is wearing his e-collar, I am able to hike with him off leash with confidence. He constantly stops and "checks on me" every 20 feet or so, but he did that naturally without any command or training, and I always give him lots of praise when he does it. I am constantly working on recall and sit/stay commands at a distance, but I rarely have to use any correction. He seems to know that being off leash on our hikes is a privileged and doesn't want to ruin it.
Just remember that no singular method of training is best for all people and all dogs. I have used a variety of methods with mine depending on what he responded to best and in what situations. Use of an e-collar has been a great supplement
to our training, so it may be worth checking out as another option.