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Zoe's mom
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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking for some honest input from people with experience with various collars for walking my 6 month old girl, Zoe. We have used the Wonder Walker since we got Zoe, and while it initially seemed to work to curb leash pulling, she seems immune to it now. I should preface my question with this: Zoe is generally mellow, can walk with a loose leash in the neighborhood much of the time, but when we go to our wooded park (or on forest hikes), she pulls like mad. She pulls after squirrels, she pulls toward people, she pulls in the direction of the creek, she pulls to the field where we meet her playmate, etc. These walks has become very unpleasant for me.

Do any of you have thoughts on using a prong collar to retrain her not to pull? We generally use positive reinforcement, but no amount of treats works for her pulling in the woods. I'm reticent to try the prong or choke collar for two reasons: 1. She's generally a sensitive girl and it's taken 6 months to really cement our relationship. She just started actually coming when we call her about a month ago. She's aloof and not a huge cuddler, and I really don't want to damage the developing aspect of our relationship. I want her to trust me, still, and I worry about the prong collar (or choke chain) doing more harm than good. Am I being overly paranoid?

The other issue is that she's a reforming arousal biter. She's 90% better than she was at 3-4 months, but she still has her moments where she freaks out and jumps up on me with mouthiness and biting her leash. My first priority at all times is to keep her calm on leash and to avoid anything which might trigger her arousal problem. I already have an arsenal of tools I use to address this problem, but I would hate to introduce a training method that might exacerbate her arousal biting.

Any input would be great. I would prefer no judgement regarding my consideration of an 'aversive' collar, but just honest thoughts. I always, always choose the path of positive reinforcement, but if the gentle collars aren't working, then I feel like I need to look at some other options. Thank you all in advance!
 

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I basically used a training collar (Garmin Delta Sport Remote) to define general property lines to keep Miss Murphy from wandering over to the neighbor's when she was 6 months old. It only took a couple of "no's" followed by the collar correction to have her understand her yard parameters when she's off leash in our yard.

I also have her wear the collar when she's off leash during our walks in fields/woods. I recently had to use the collar when Miss Murphy jumped a deer & started to chase. Again I used a verbal "no" followed by a collar correction & she immediately stopped her pursuit & returned to me.

The collar I use has a vibrate mode that works great when I need to have her return to me in thick cover.

The use of the training collar allowed me to pretty much skip using a checkcord in the field.
 

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The trainer I went to used a prong collar and an electric collar. That was over a year ago and my golden Caleb still wears them today. When my pup would act up in the house and get out of control. I would do some corrections with the prong collar. Lately we have used the shock collar a lot. I wasn't a fan of the shock collar at all when we got it. I didn't like the idea of sending a shock around my pups neck. But as time went on I started to use it. I hardly use the shock button anymore. I just hit the pager button (which is a vibration). That gets his attention. Like Syonker said in his/her post about using the vibration mode in an electric collar to set boundaries. That works. When my golden wanders over into the neighbors yard I hit the vibrate mode and he usually comes back into the yard. Now if he's eating something outside he shouldn't be. And a vibrate warning doesn't work, then a light shock is needed. But the prong collar and electric collar introduced to us by our trainer has helped tremendously in the training of our golden. He was literally out of control at times. He's 18 months old now and is doing great.
 

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Chester's mom
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Prong collar did wonders, we use it for training and for when we go to very crowded places with lots of distractions. At home when we go for walks we just use a regular collar. But if you decide on a prong collar or choke chain make sure you get a good quality one, it is definitely worth it. Also always double check if you need to add new links into the prong collar because they grow quite quickly so it becomes tight every few weeks. I was very hesitant on using a prong collar but once it was on I realized what a life saver it is. It is so much easier to communicate with your dog through leash work etc. so it is very very useful for training.
The harness and choke chain did nothing for our boy so for us it was not the way to go but different things work for different dogs that's for sure.
I was lucky enough to have a genius trainer who showed me exactly how a prong collar works, how to put it on properly, how to use it and how tight it should be. I would recommend asking someone to help you with all that stuff if you decide to get one, as it's all very important.
 

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I don't have a problem with using prong collars for walks, but I think a more effective tool is to loop a leash around the dog's waist, so it works like a choke collar but for the waist
 
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A few thing should be kept in mind. Dogs need us to help them to learn to generalize their behavior - meaning we need to teach them what is expected of them in 100's or more different situations and environments. We need to be realistic in our expectations based on the age, training level and life experiences of our dogs. You have a 6 month old puppy, for whom going out in the forest is very mentally stimulating environment and 'new' in many respects with the sights, the sounds, and smells so it is exciting and distracting for her - she naturally, instinctively wants to see, smell and 'experience' it all, normal natural behavior, it takes time and maturity to develop self control in order to inhibit those desires in new situations.

I have always used harnesses or flat collars on my dogs, and those I work with, taught them to make a eye contact with me, to 'check in' frequently, and highly rewarded them for choosing to that, and for walking 'with me' keeping a loose leash. Patience, practice, reward for behaviors I want, and helping them learn to generalize their leash walking behavior has given them consistently reliable leash walking skills.
 

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i was curious about using a shock collar for the same reasons. mainly to correct a behaviour when she is not on a leash. she is 8 months old now and still pulls on the leash when we go for walks in the neighbourhood. she does great when i ride my bike though. she does fairly well off leash expect for when we meet another dog and she gets overly excited. would it be beneficial to use the vibrate or a small shock in that situation? she completely ignores me when i call her because she is just to over stimulated. i would hope that that vibration would cause her to perk up and look for me. great question Zoe's Mom. i am very curios about this subject.
 

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One thing Susan Garrett said (repeatedly) in one of her seminars online is to make sure when you are building a house, don't try to put up the roof when the foundation hasn't been poured. In other words, the foundation of whatever behavior you are establishing must be very strong-- as Charliethree said, this takes consistent practice (of the wanted behavior) many, many times in many, many situations, and then slowly increase the challenge once the easier behavior has been proofed.

Now, I have a harder time seeing this work with dogs who are not food or toy motivated and instead motivated by wildlife. . .this seems to be very challenging and I would not know where to begin.

I have the same arousal issue and it has been much improved by consistent redirection. I want to go to forest walks, though, and it makes me nervous! So, what I am going to start doing is taking my dog on very short trips to the forest preserve so that he is successful, and then build up the time. If my dog ever pulls, I stop. For a long time we used food, and that made him too hyper focused and aroused, so these days we walk him without food and because we took a break from walking him for awhile (sort of a reset) now he is OK without it.
 

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How do you give a leash correction? Most dogs do NOT like a quick,solid jerk (hard POP) of the leash, and, when accompanied by some command, quickly learn not to pull. The tendency, including when using prong collars, is to haul back and hold onto the leash in an attempt to prevent the dog from pulling, and most pullers quickly learn to ignore this. As a youngster, Luna was a serious people greeter, and I reverted to a prong collar with quick "jerk" corrections, for a short period of time. She's much better now, and the prong collar is at the bottom of some drawer somewhere. Now, if she starts to pull, I'll put her in a sit or a sit-stay until she's polite. She also knows that if I say "don't pull" while we're walking and she doesn't stop, she's going to get a solid leash correction. I very rarely need the correction...
 

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thank you for this thread. it's really interesting to read this because i also have a very reactive 5 month old, who begins to jump on me and bite the leash when she is not getting where she wants to go. she also jumps enthusiastically at people who pay her attention and manages to drag me to every pole, bit of grass, wall, tree, wood, plastic and whatever else around her. she wants to especially run to children and play with them (even whining when she's not allowed to go near them). cute when she was young (and even then not allowed to pull), not cute now that she's five months old and heavy and difficult to correct. I do notice that if she's somewhat tired, the tendency to pull also lessens. So, I tried walking her out, only after letting her run around for her favorite toy (I have a small kong stuffed toy on a string attached to a pole and i can stand while i swing it around me and she runs after it). This tactic seems to have helped a little bit. I have also been rewarding heavily, changing treats to see what she reacts to the most. Food rewards keep her attention and walking at my side for a max of 5 minutes and it does seem to get better. now, even when we still have the leash pulling problem, she is at least checking on me every so often, which is i suppose the first hurdle to get over to that of her being aware that she's being walked and not the other way around. I am getting the idea that clicker training would probably be the most logical way to go from here, alongside a harness so i could much more firmly establish in that cute little head of hers the connection between loose leash and reward. right now, it seems the concept of food reward and loose leash is vague to her.

I am not very comfortable with the idea of using prong or choke collars since i'm quite afraid that amber will wrongly associate the leash and collar band with something unpleasant. The harshest correction I've done so far is to yank her back to me with a reprimand "don't pull" but this is also why i am considering a harness. I have noticed that when she sees the neck collar, she resists having it put on. So, this is what i mean by her negatively associating the neck collar with pain (all the yanking back i do, or the full stop i do when she's struggling at the end of the line to get further), and it's also the reason why i think choke or prong collars are not an option for us. She pulls so much and i yank her back so often (not very hard but hard enough to get her attention) that i think something like a U-lead is a safer and less painful option for us. I know patience is the key, but i also understand how hopeless it can feel when this happens every day and walking is becoming a stressful time for the dog owner. I have to admit, I did not expect this as other dogs i've had were a breeze ...but it is a high energy dog. i am working very closely with our trainer to correct this particular problem but a lot of the work is of course up to the owners themselves. Here's to hoping for some relief at the end of the training tunnel!
 

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Zoe's mom
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Discussion Starter #12
I thought you all would appreciate a quick update: I got the Herm Sprenger prong collar yesterday and with much trepidation, we tested it out. I watched a ton of videos online about proper installation and use and was confident in my technique. Well...I have to say, it was pretty amazing. We walked in our park for two miles, where she usually pulls like a maniac for much of the walk. With the prong collar, I would literally only have to do a two finger gentle correction (honestly not even an official "pop" of the collar) and she would check in with me. I am pairing the correction with the command "easy" (because we aren't officially heeling or anything, I just want a loose leash). She never acted like it hurt or that she was in discomfort, but she certainly noticed when I applied the gentle two-finger pressure. I'm hoping that like some of the others who posted, I can use the prong collar for a short period to retrain Zoe's brain, and then revert to the harness when she understands the "easy" command. I also wanted to note that she has arousal biting issues (non-aggressive, just excited jumpy/bitey behavior) and when she did this one time on the walk, I gave a slightly harder correction, just a pop, paired with the "no" command, and she settled so much easier and more quickly than she has in the past few weeks. I don't think the prong collar is a cure-all, and I'm hoping that it's just a tool, but wow, what a difference it made on our first walk! Thank you all for you advice and input. It made me feel much better about at least trying an aversive.
 

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When you've started to get good response with the pinch collar, you might want to try to fade the use of the collar. One of my favorite instructors puts the pinch collar on UPSIDE DOWN (prongs out) when she's training in the ring. If the dog gets too excited, she can simply flip it over, quickly regain control and focus, and can turn it back over if she thinks it's no longer needed. Eventually you can switch to a flat collar or a martingale.
 

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Very Helpful information to a new Golden owner(Me!)
Max has been on a harness since a pup and tends to drag me along on the walks.
Now that he is +70lbs, the harness turns into a "yoke" that he can really dig in and drag me around.
I have been using the verbal command "slow" along with the leash pull and he listens and learns well.
Lov this site!!
 

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Grumpy Old Man
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When you've started to get good response with the pinch collar, you might want to try to fade the use of the collar. One of my favorite instructors puts the pinch collar on UPSIDE DOWN (prongs out) when she's training in the ring. If the dog gets too excited, she can simply flip it over, quickly regain control and focus, and can turn it back over if she thinks it's no longer needed. Eventually you can switch to a flat collar or a martingale.

The key to getting crisp , clean response to commands is being consistent in what you're doing when communicating with the dog. Once the OP has a breakthrough and is getting good response from the dog, they should stay the course until the dogs performance is clean and polished. Then they can look into switching to the flat collar or no collar.
 

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In Macau
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As any of you ever tried a Gentle Leader? Its used on the muzzle and you only need a small touch on the lead to get your puppy's attention it may look aggressive on the dog but actually is not the material is quite soft so soft that one bite of Ella on it and she ruined it.

The concept is quite simple if the dog pulls because it's attached to the head and not the body his head will immediately turn torwards the handler instead of the direction he wants to go if it's a more persistent puller eventually the dog will face the owner entirely. It's quite effective on chasing a dogs behaviour.
 

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I do not like any kind of head halter. It's more of a last resort tool for me.
 

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I love the gentle leader. It takes the dog a little time to get used to but doesn't hurt them. I am 70 with bad knees and so control is very important or I could fall down. The gentle leader lets even a child have control without hurting the dog.
 
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