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Debbie
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Riley is a wonderful puppy who has responded well to training. We started when she came home and have been training ever since. She is now 7 months old and in her "terrible teens". It seems like most of what she has learned has gone out the window. I know this will get better but the biggest problem we are having is with her walks. Sometimes she'll walk beautifully on a loose leash, other times she will act like it is her first time ever being on a leash.

Now that she is getting bigger and stronger I am having trouble controlling her (and my sore back is taking the brunt of it). I use a training leash (it is a Remington brand leash with a choke type collar. You loop the end of the leash over the head like you would a metal type collar) and sometimes it it totally ineffective. When we start walking we use lots of praise and positive reinforcement. She is very food oriented so she tends to focus well on treats. When she starts to pull I used to be able to redirect her attention to me with treats and praise....but lately she gobbles it up and she's back to pulling. I try turning and going the opposite direction but that works only temporarily, she's right back to pulling.

So.....I have read several of the older posts on both prong collars and gentle leaders. I am torn. Both seem to have their advantages and disadvantages. I know the topic of prong collars can fuel heated debate. I hope to avoid that here. I have read many of GRF members opinions on them. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I am still confused as to what to use on this sweet, stubborn (hopefully temporarily so) pup of mine. Any advice?
 

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What you describe sounds EXACTLY like what I went through with Brady when he was that age. We tried the EZ walk harness first...that was good for about a week, then he just continued to pull even with that. So we switched to the gentle leader...he absolutely hated it, but it worked so we used it for about 2 months as a training tool, and when I felt he finally got the message, we switched back to the EZ walk harness and that has been good since. I also discovered that if I run him around in the yard chasing frisbees for about 5-10 minutes first, it burns off some of that pent up energy and he walked much more calmly.
 

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I would stop using any kind of choke or prong collar and get a Martingale style or even a Gentle Leader head collar. Those two things are much more effective and are not dangerous to the dog. Lupine makes beautiful Martingale collars. We have several of them. The head collar is also very effective because the minute the dog starts to pull, it gently pulls their head back, which causes the dog to stop pulling forward.
 

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I really think pulling should be treated as a training issue, not as an equipment issue. Special equipment should be a tool to help you teach the dog the skill you want, not a permanent state of affairs. The goal is to have a dog that you can control without a leash at all, a dog who's clear on the expectations and is joyfully working with you.

To that end, a halter-style collar can help keep it from becoming a battle of strength and give you an opportunity to redirect her attention, since it naturally turns her head up the leash towards you.

A prong will also usually give you control, but if she does pull on it (as some dogs still do), the risk of injury is much higher, and you don't have that advantage of having the dog turn back you for more direction.

My training philosophy for pulling is to show the dog that it simply doesn't work. If he pulls, I stop. If he gives me loose leash, I move and, depending on how food motivated the dog is, I produce treat after treat. You could accomplish that with either a prong or a halter, but I favor the halter because it's safer, gentler, and helps redirect the dog's attention back to the handler.

Don't teach the dog NOT to pull. Teach the dog TO give loose leash. There's a big difference.
 

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I really think pulling should be treated as a training issue, not as an equipment issue. Special equipment should be a tool to help you teach the dog the skill you want, not a permanent state of affairs. The goal is to have a dog that you can control without a leash at all, a dog who's clear on the expectations and is joyfully working with you.

To that end, a halter-style collar can help keep it from becoming a battle of strength and give you an opportunity to redirect her attention, since it naturally turns her head up the leash towards you.

A prong will also usually give you control, but if she does pull on it (as some dogs still do), the risk of injury is much higher, and you don't have that advantage of having the dog turn back you for more direction.

My training philosophy for pulling is to show the dog that it simply doesn't work. If he pulls, I stop. If he gives me loose leash, I move and, depending on how food motivated the dog is, I produce treat after treat. You could accomplish that with either a prong or a halter, but I favor the halter because it's safer, gentler, and helps redirect the dog's attention back to the handler.

Don't teach the dog NOT to pull. Teach the dog TO give loose leash. There's a big difference.
I love this philosophy, I just wish I could make it work effectively!
 

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Debbie
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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
I love this philosophy, I just wish I could make it work effectively!
I like the post also and agree with it in theory. I have planted my self and not budged, I have turned the opposite direction, and I have stopped in the middle of the sidewalks and "chatted" with Riley (much to the amusement of passersby I am sure) about her behavior and nothing is working at this age. I feel like we would not even have a walk if this is all I did. And she needs her twice daily walks for everyone's sanity! Some days she is perfect on our walks. Today she was a beast! And it gets worse on the return when she knows she's going home.
 

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I would follow the advice of TippyKayak and Doodle - what they are saying is so true. I think anyone who walks their dog(s) every day and spends a good amount of time with them, will have good ideas you can try. I learned more in just the walking and spending time with my dogs than I could have in any class. I think you have to get out there and work on it - it becomes natural to you over time.

This is what I know from my experience of having 3 Goldens that we have raised as puppies -

before you even begin your walk take care of two things:

1) Have your dog eliminate at home before you leave. This is so important. It makes a big difference. Otherwise, first thing in the morning, you will have a dog that is sniffing and pulling you from side to side thru your neighborhood until he finds the perfect spot to twirl, and twirl, and twirl and finally just go : ) The benefit to that is you won't end up with a bag to carry home. It makes the walk so much more relaxed. Everybody poops before we leave.

2) It will also help a great deal if you can bring him down a bit before you take off for the walk. Throw a ball or let him chase in the yard. You will be able to tell when he is sufficiently relaxed to start the walk - he'll stop running or he'll lose interest in the ball and lay down and chew grass or something. Thats when we buckle up for the walk.

Finally, you will have a good sense of when or if you can stop using the harness. I use the harness on all three of my dogs during the winter because there is a chance that I could fall and get really hurt if they did unexpectedly pull. However, in the summer, I will opt to go without the harness - - I compare notes with my daughter because she walks them once during the day and I give them their big walk. I'll ask her - how were they for you today? Was anyone pulling or misbehaving? Just like with children, we check in with each other on them. She'll say "Oh, Marty was really good today, but Melody . . . " you get the idea. Because then I know who may need some extra work or may just need more exercise. So, I wouldn't rely on the harness long term for a dog that is a good walker - but I think for now, you are going to need it until you work out the pulling issues.

I hope this helps : )
 

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I like the post also and agree with it in theory. I have planted my self and not budged, I have turned the opposite direction, and I have stopped in the middle of the sidewalks and "chatted" with Riley (much to the amusement of passersby I am sure) about her behavior and nothing is working at this age. I feel like we would not even have a walk if this is all I did. And she needs her twice daily walks for everyone's sanity! Some days she is perfect on our walks. Today she was a beast! And it gets worse on the return when she knows she's going home.
Oh I remember only too well how frustrating this can be...typical adolescent behavior. The good news is she will come around if you persevere with a positive, consistent training method. I also used the "you pull, I stop" method, and there were days where it took us an hour to walk 1/2 mile!!!! But eventually they get it and you can use the equipment to help you as Tippykayak indicated. Another thing I found is that if I really focused on keeping MY OWN attitude positive and calm (rather than getting frazzled by the less than desirable walking behaviors), it helped. They really do sense what we feel and respond accordingly.
 

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Have your dog eliminate at home before you leave. This is so important. It makes a big difference. Otherwise, first thing in the morning, you will have a dog that is sniffing and pulling you from side to side thru your neighborhood until he finds the perfect spot to twirl, and twirl, and twirl and finally just go : ) The benefit to that is you won't end up with a bag to carry home. It makes the walk so much more relaxed. Everybody poops before we leave.
Yes yes yes!!! I have also found this makes a huge difference!!
 

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Bailey was also pulling on our walks and we got an Easy Walk Harness and it's so much better now..and going on walks with her is so much more enjoyable. I always go for walks with my 3 year old in the stroller and most of the time she walks next to the stroller and a few times behind and infront of us, but the pulling is almost gone.
She doesn't like the harness... and runs away when I come to put it on, but once on it's fine and we can enjoy our walk.
 

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As far as the stop/start method, you have to be willing to look like an absolute crazy person and to stick with it for a good twenty minute stretch at a time. It does not "click" with the dog right away, since pulling make so much more intuitive sense to them.

You also need to work on building the dog's habits of giving you attention in all kinds of situations, with all kinds of distractions. You can't bribe a dog for attention by outbidding distractions (no food will work 100% of the time) and it doesn't seem humane to me to match discomfort or pain against the strength of the distraction. You have to pit a strong habit against the distraction.

Pulling never works, so the dog eventually stops trying it. Giving loose lead works, so the dog learns more and more to offer that instead.

Sometimes, when we're working on the stop method for pulling, I'll start walking again very slowly. If I get a loose leash, I speed up. The longer it stays loose, the faster we go. Like I said, it makes you look like a crazy person, but it does start to "click" with the dog that loose=get there and pull=stop.

Very, very frustrating sometimes. Patience on the human's part is key.
 

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PS - if you try one technique and switch to another before the first has had a chance to work, it's like starting from scratch. So if the stop method didn't work for you, you may just have to try it for ten times as long, but when you switch back, it'll be like starting over.
 

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I really think pulling should be treated as a training issue, not as an equipment issue. Special equipment should be a tool to help you teach the dog the skill you want, not a permanent state of affairs. The goal is to have a dog that you can control without a leash at all, a dog who's clear on the expectations and is joyfully working with you.

To that end, a halter-style collar can help keep it from becoming a battle of strength and give you an opportunity to redirect her attention, since it naturally turns her head up the leash towards you.

A prong will also usually give you control, but if she does pull on it (as some dogs still do), the risk of injury is much higher, and you don't have that advantage of having the dog turn back you for more direction.

My training philosophy for pulling is to show the dog that it simply doesn't work. If he pulls, I stop. If he gives me loose leash, I move and, depending on how food motivated the dog is, I produce treat after treat. You could accomplish that with either a prong or a halter, but I favor the halter because it's safer, gentler, and helps redirect the dog's attention back to the handler.

Don't teach the dog NOT to pull. Teach the dog TO give loose leash. There's a big difference.
I think I was doing this over the weekend. Our guy has been pulling like mad. wife is now pregnant and we can't afford to have him pull and cause her to fall or strain from sudden movement.

after she had a bad walk with him saturday, i took him out for the next shift and on every pull, i stopped, made him sit, and then made him "watch" or "look" back at me for eye contact, then we started up again. I'd command "heel" and always dangled a treat, for every 30 yards or so he'd get rewarded. rinse wash repeat about 100x, doubling the duration of our walks since.

I'm going to keep doing this i guess until i can get out and get him a gentle leader.

i also JUST got the invisible fence in this weekend so we we'll be starting him on that and hopefully can run him around the yard before walks to calm him a bit.
 
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