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Hi All,

Like millions of owners before me, I am having trouble with Beckett pulling on the leash. He has gotten better, meaning he’ll have 10-15 second intervals where he won’t pull, but when he does pull, he doesn’t stop even when he starts that labored, hacking, breathing sound. Usually I try to just stop moving or turn around and wait until he calms down and gives slack on the leash, and then start again. Obviously, it’s slow going, and not practical in all situations - but the lack of consistency in these situations is probably what has allowed this to continue for so long.
Anyway, in our first obedience class (leans more Positive training), the instructor recommended a chain martingale collar. She put it on him and demonstrated how it worked in class. He responded to the correction with her, but only moderately well with me - but I didn’t get any further training with the collar, and the class ended, so I was hesitant to buy one and end up using it wrong.
His current teacher (more balanced training) has also recommended the chain martingale, and has suggested even the plastic prong (point?) Starmark collar. His new teacher spent the entirety of our first class watching everyone walk with their dogs and recommending which collars will work best with them. Essentially every dog in class has either a chain martingale, a plastic prong, or a metal prong collar.
I guess I’m just discouraged that I’m not getting through to Beckett with a flat collar, at least not that well. I just don’t know if I should try one of the training collars or keep working with the flat collar. Ideally I would be able to train him with just the flat, but maybe I’m just being too stubborn to realize that he needs more than that. Watching the instructors let him run full speed to the end of the leash and get jerked back by the training collars was so uncomfortable - but then he started walking nicely for them - so I can see that the collars do help. I’m nervous that I’ll end up relying too much on the collar later on though - and I’ll have to train him with a flat collar all over again anyway. How long are training collars supposed to be used, and how does the transition work to a flat collar? Beckett is 6 months old. Thanks in advance.

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How long are training collars supposed to be used, and how does the transition work to a flat collar? Beckett is 6 months old.
The longer you allow the behavior to continue the harder it will be to correct.
If you are going to use a prong collar, I would suggest something like this;
Yes, it looks mean and scary, it is not. When a dog pulls it pinches, the instant he stops pulling the pinching stops, very easy for the dog to learn.
I have never used or owned a pinch collar. I have always been diligent in teaching proper heeling from the start. I prefer to use a slip leash and a riding crop, wiffle bat or piece of 1 inch plastic pipe with foam insulation taped to it. Before you panic, none of the above are for beating the dog. Start by teaching the heeling position when you are standing still. Next you turn away from the dog and command 'Here' and give a tug on the lead to reposition him. Turn toward the dog and command 'Heel' with a tap on the butt to encourage him to turn with you. Lots of short positive sessions with fun stuff before and after. Next start walking the dog on a path or sidewalk and keeping him in proper heeling position, if he lunges ahead command heel, give a tug on the lead and tap his front legs with the crop. Praise the dog for being in proper position and No No, tug or tap when out of position. NO TREATS, a dog walking nicely beside you in anticipation of a treat is just begging, not heeling. Progress to turning sharply and commanding here or heel. Once taught and understood you can make a game out of it, command heel and move around and turn quickly so the dog has to almost chase you to remain in a heeling position.

Watching the instructors let him run full speed to the end of the leash and get jerked back by the training collars was so uncomfortable
It is also poor training. Most trainers realized that decades ago.
 

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I'm not a fan of prong collars (or anything that uses discomfort to control a dog) but they do have a place in particular situations (e.g., large powerful dog and weak/elderly owner), especially if they are only used short-term while working on training the behavior using more positive methods. I don't mind martingales at all, especially if they are sized to not close tighter than the snug circumference of the dogs neck (i.e., not being used as a "choke" collar). I like the chain ones like you pictured because I think the sound of the chain works as a signal not to pull even before the collar tightens.

There are many effective and positive ways to train loose leash walking. The key is consistency (another reason I don't like pinch collars - it seems unfair to "punish" the dog when we've failed to really put in the work to train the behavior in a more positive way). You may find it worthwhile to buy this webinar from Fenzi Dog Sports Academy and see if any of these methods work for you: Fenzi Dog Sports Academy - LS140: Stop Leash Pulling: Multiple Methods to Loose Leash Walking
 
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it seems unfair to "punish" the dog when we've failed to really put in the work to train the behavior in a more positive way
That would be a failing of the trainer and abuse of a dog, not a fault in any training aid or method.
Positive training is a term that gets tossed around a lot. I will admit that it is a very effective marketing ploy. People often spend thousands of dollars over several years for basic obedience that is normally taught in a few months.
 

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A reminder, please be respectful to one another, there are different views/opinions and methods when it comes to training.
If that is in reference to my post, I meant no disrespect. I was just pointing out that the tool is never the problem, it is always the trainer. Additionally "positive training" that doesn't achieve results is not training at all.

There are many different and effective training methods and I like to here about all of them. Someday that knowledge may help with a specific dog or behavior.
 

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I know there is a lot of different opinions about halters, but our boy walks great with his Joyride halter. He hardly ever pulls and has learned heel very well. The leash is almost always slack and he loves to go for walks. When he starts to pull we stop and sit. When he stands back up, on command, we continue. My husband has taught him to stop and "watch" to make eye contact, and then "touch" to touch his hand with his nose. It's amazing how well that has worked. Those two things make Jackson refocus and listen. The Joyride harness is pricy, it doesn't compare to the ones I've seen in the pet stores. For us, it's been worth it! In the car he has the Sleepypod restraint halter and that has been a fantastic purchase! He's never in the car without it and doesn't resist it at all. We have the martingale halter, but haven't used it since we got the Joyride.
 

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How old is your pup? And what does he/she weigh?

I strongly agree with the Fenzi course listed above, however if your dog is a pulling machine that you need to take safe control of, a prong or martingale collar may be needed. It does not have to be a forever collar - that is a flat collar can be switched to once your dog understands.

My Wren's instructor for her 1st 2 classes (started at 8 weeks and at 5 months she graduated her 2nd class and is ready to start more formal training) recommends martingales, mostly to prevent your dog pulling out of the collar and worse, running away with no collar - I actually did purchase one but have never put it on her.

I guess what I am saying is if you are having an issue, and it sounds like you are, use the tool that will keep you and your dog safest with the least amount of force. If that is a prong, so be it. A martingale? Same. Just remember that if you are using a training collar, it must be removed whenever you are not actively training and/or out and about with your dog.

I am not a fan of the so called choke collars for everyday purposes (Disclaimer: I do use one of my dogs if needed to perfect heeling once they are about 98% but again, I have experience and do not take this type of collar lightly). A light tug and immediate release can be workable in a dog that mostly understands but is potentially very dangerous if your dog pulls.

FWIW: I train 99.99% on a flat collar with reward based training; I come from a more 'traditional' method of training however, as in I started back in the 80s LOL Use the tool you need, rewards are a powerful tool and you can absolutely pair a prong or martingale with praise, play or treats. But 1st you need to be able to control your dog -- so use the collar that gives you that control as you work through his understanding.

Good luck, it might be a struggle at first and you may need private lessons but the results will definitel be worth it. BTW Fenzi has a new round of courses starting up on the 1st

You did not ask but:
A head halter is not a good training choice since it does not train but can be a choice to simply get your dog from here to there while you train loose lead walking, a harness can actually teach a dog to lean into the harness and really pull (think sled dogs).
 

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I prefer balanced training. I got nowhere doing circle methods and such. Made me dizzy. Lol You may want to do some research as to which age is best to use a Herm Sprenger as a tool. (I’d stick with that brand.)I don’t know if six months is too young. I’ve used one and they are excellent training tools. Whether they are abusive or not depends on the person holding the leash. I think damage can occur with a dog straining on a flat collar.

You will move along more quickly if your dog receives a clear message as to what is and isn’t allowed rather than him repeating the same inappropriate behavior over and over.

People aren’t born expert dog trainers. I think you are doing great and putting in work that will pay off. You’ll get all sorts of different opinions and every dog is different.

I like Obedience Road/Connie Cleveland, Robert Cabral has good videos on proper use of a prong collar, and Leerburg has some good videos.

Oh, and I prefer a 2.25 size prong, but you’ll need extra links to fit that to a Golden.

Edit: Count me in the group who dislikes haltis.
 

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Following for advice as well!

Our puppy walks decently on a loosh leash with a flat collar but WITH kibble as treats, and I mean a tonne of them...we feed her a whole meal while on a walk. Without kibble she doesn't last long before starting to pull. I see now from SRW's comment that we shouldn't have trained her with food?

We've been working with the treats for months and are really starting to see nice results, but not sure how we can transition away from them!
 

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I see now from SRW's comment that we shouldn't have trained her with food
Keep in mind that this is just one person's opinion. SRW comes from a more "traditional" training background. I come from a more reinforcement-based background. And Diane probably falls somewhere between us. Although I suspect we all use food to some extent as a reward, how much, when, and how quickly food is phased out of the training process will vary greatly (though phasing out the food is the ultimate goal, even for a "positive" trainer like me!) . Training methods can be a hotly debated topic, even among those with years of experience and dogs competing at the highest level of obedience. There is no one "correct" way to train - a lot depends on both the dog and the handler, as well as handler skills, experience and goals, and how easily the handler can access an experienced trainer for guidance and support.

I wish there was a single "best" way to train, but I'm afraid you need to do some research, find a trainer you are comfortable with and whose methods align with your own thoughts and goals... and be willing to try something else if a particular method doesn't seem to be working for you or your dog...
 

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I see now from SRW's comment that we shouldn't have trained her with food?
I use treats on a very limited basis in training for several reasons. Treats can work to keep a puppies attention and teach the meaning of a command. Puppies will learn very quickly and at a very young age to plant their butt when they hear 'Sit', then look at you anticipating a treat. That's good, it teaches the meaning of 'Sit' and to focus on the handler. it doesn't teach the whole concept of "Sit means Sit until told to do otherwise".
A dog that has to be bribed with a treat may know the meaning of a command but that isn't obedience. Your dog needs to sit, come, heel, whatever because you told her to, not because of a treat.

We've been working with the treats for months and are really starting to see nice results, but not sure how we can transition away from them!
Cold turkey is my recommendation. I know you will be tempted to taper off with the treats but it sounds like they are a huge crutch and distraction right now. When you give her a treat she gobbles it down and wants another, am I right?

Don't think that your efforts so far were wasted, they are not. Your girl is heeling, just not for the right reason, at least not entirely. She needs to heel because it is what you told her to do. She will and with great pride if you keep working with her.

Retrievers are working dogs with a strong desire to please, treats can and do distract from that. Work with your pup in short sessions, whenever you have 5, 10 or 20 minutes. Be very conscious of your tone of voice, praise her for doing it right, no-no when she gets it wrong and don't overdo it with either. She will notice everything you do and say and how you say it, so be consistent and always maintain your standards.
 

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Oh boy, I think we're like a couple months older than you, and I can tell you now, if you don't nip it in the bud now, it's going to get worse.

Windsor's pulling is very situational. In new settings or excited settings (e.g., groomers, class), he pulls like crazy, and he's so, so strong that if we're not 100% paying attention, we would fall. In areas where he knows (the park, our block, other people's homes), he can loose leash walk like the best of them. So we switch between a flat leash collar, slip lead (it's just so easy to put on and gives a great correction without too much of a pinch..), and for the "excitable events," we use a gentle leader. Make sure that you don't get one that fits too tight because I've seen it leave marks on other goldens' faces. When he goes to shows, we put the gentle leader on him right when he exits the car. The gentle leader lets him know that he's working, and he cooperates beautifully. When he tries to jump or pull, it just brings his head down. We're also trying the new 3-1 harness that allows you to clip the leash to his front and we'll see how that goes.

While he's getting better, we still have to come to the realization that he's still a puppy, and when he sees a new dog friend or is in an excitable environment, he's going to want to go after the thing. Good thing is that his recall is getting better and better and half the time I can call him off his pulling, but other times, he honestly can't even hear us....
 

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She isn't a Golden but she is a retriever and we are training without treats.
Big retrieve for a little girl, over 100 yards and mostly water. She can't see the bumper until she gets pretty close so it takes a lot of confidence to push all the way across. The first bumper drifted way to the right with the wind. Lily was being very good, not swimming toward the launcher, so I shot another one when she got close.
She was dropping the bumper at the end, not something to worry about too much in the field, we'll take care of that in the yard. At this stage building desire and having fun are the main goals.
 

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And... for what it's worth, this is my boy Dover earning his first Rally Excellent leg. :) He was a very intense, high drive dog (he's almost 11 in this video) and the control needed for Rally was really hard for him (Agility is what he loved to do... he did Rally for me). He received a perfect 100 score for this run. Even at this point, he was getting a LOT of food rewards in class/training, but in competition no treats or food or toys are allowed in the ring (though we're allowed verbal reinforcement). So... what SRW does works for him and his dogs, what I do works for me and my dogs. Everyone needs to decide for themselves.

(PS - the dog you see at the end of the video is my boy Guinness. He had significant dog reactivity so competitions like this were hard for him and you can see he wasn't particularly comfortable in the ring. This was one of his first Advanced runs. BUT, using lots of treats and praise - in training - he was able to not only earn his Rally Advanced titles, but went on to earn a Rally Excellent title, Qing on all three runs with scores all in the high nineties).

And for the record, at some point early in their training, I also stop rewarding my dogs (other than the occasional "thank you" or life reward) for basic manners things they know well, like sit, down, stand, stay, wait, leave it, etc.
 

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SRW - that video is so cool! So nice to see a pup so young doing what she was bred to do! :)💕 Is it normal for a pup that young to be able to swim so well? I mean, the rest of it was really impressive too, but just the speed at which she was swimming was amazing! 😯
 
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And... for what it's worth, this is my boy Dover earning his first Rally Excellent leg. :) He was a very intense, high drive dog (he's almost 11 in this video) and the control needed for Rally was really hard for him (Agility is what he loved to do... he did Rally for me). He received a perfect 100 score for this run. Even at this point, he was getting a LOT of food rewards in class/training, but in competition no treats or food or toys are allowed in the ring (though we're allowed verbal reinforcement). So... what SRW does works for him and his dogs, what I do works for me and my dogs. Everyone needs to decide for themselves.

(PS - the dog you see at the end of the video is my boy Guinness. He had significant dog reactivity so competitions like this were hard for him and you can see he wasn't particularly comfortable in the ring. This was one of his first Advanced runs. BUT, using lots of treats and praise - in training - he was able to not only earn his Rally Advanced titles, but went on to earn a Rally Excellent title, Qing on all three runs with scores all in the high nineties).

And for the record, at some point early in their training, I also stop rewarding my dogs (other than the occasional "thank you" or life reward) for basic manners things they know well, like sit, down, stand, stay, wait, leave it, etc.
In a word: WOW! Just WOW! #archiegoals
 

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She isn't a Golden but she is a retriever and we are training without treats.
Big retrieve for a little girl, over 100 yards and mostly water. She can't see the bumper until she gets pretty close so it takes a lot of confidence to push all the way across. The first bumper drifted way to the right with the wind. Lily was being very good, not swimming toward the launcher, so I shot another one when she got close.
She was dropping the bumper at the end, not something to worry about too much in the field, we'll take care of that in the yard. At this stage building desire and having fun are the main goals.
That was really beautiful to watch! Lily did a great job!
 
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Really nice :) Thank you for sharing.

And... for what it's worth, this is my boy Dover earning his first Rally Excellent leg. :) He was a very intense, high drive dog (he's almost 11 in this video) and the control needed for Rally was really hard for him (Agility is what he loved to do... he did Rally for me). He received a perfect 100 score for this run. Even at this point, he was getting a LOT of food rewards in class/training, but in competition no treats or food or toys are allowed in the ring (though we're allowed verbal reinforcement). So... what SRW does works for him and his dogs, what I do works for me and my dogs. Everyone needs to decide for themselves.

(PS - the dog you see at the end of the video is my boy Guinness. He had significant dog reactivity so competitions like this were hard for him and you can see he wasn't particularly comfortable in the ring. This was one of his first Advanced runs. BUT, using lots of treats and praise - in training - he was able to not only earn his Rally Advanced titles, but went on to earn a Rally Excellent title, Qing on all three runs with scores all in the high nineties).

And for the record, at some point early in their training, I also stop rewarding my dogs (other than the occasional "thank you" or life reward) for basic manners things they know well, like sit, down, stand, stay, wait, leave it, etc.
 
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