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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Murphy will be 3 months old in a few days, and I'm wondering if he's too young for a choke chain just for training reasons. When we go for our walks now, it's like he's always trying to run full speed ahead all the time. So I'm wondering if it's too early and I should just bear with it or whether I should try it out.
 

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Personally, I would try something like an EZ walk harness or a halti.
Timber was a real pain to walk - like Murphey, pulling ahead - and then I got an EZ Walk harness.
All it took was a couple of corrections when we first went out and that was it.
I love walking him now.
He's 72lbs and strong but the harness makes walking so easy.
 

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Instead of a choke chain, I would suggest trying something like a head collar. Gentle Leader makes great head collars and so does Halti. When the dog tries to pull, it turns the dog's head back, which gives you much more control of the dog. It's much more effective and safer than a choke chain.
 

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I'd suggest working on training polite leash behaviors rather than resorting to a more aggressive piece of equipment.

Failing that, the head halters are a much more humane way to work with a puller.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'd suggest working on training polite leash behaviors rather than resorting to a more aggressive piece of equipment.
What should I be doing? I'm still pretty new at this so I don't really know how to train him not to pull.
 

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shadow friend
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A dog is never old enough IMO to use one. There are so many more safe and positive tools out there for dog owners to use, I wouldn't dream of using one on either of my dogs. Many people use them the wrong way and they negatively impact the dogs throat/esophagus/muscles/etc.
 

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Training classes are really important, you should find a class near you and they'll teach you and your puppy how to walk.

You definitely won't regret going to classes, you'll both feel very rewarded as your see your puppys progress, and your puppy will be able to understand what you want from them.

I agree with everyone else in the thread though, choke chains are bad. We use a Sporn (it's similar to a harness) and it works great.

A great way to tell if you're enrolled in a good training program is to ask the trainer if they use choke chains during training. If they answer is yes, then you should turn and run! They're a last resort training tool.
 

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What should I be doing? I'm still pretty new at this so I don't really know how to train him not to pull.
Have you thought about doing a basic obedience class? It can be a great place to teach him how not to pull around all kinds of distractions, and a good trainer can help you with your timing and communication skills.

But to sketch out a basic method:

Work with him in 5-10 minute sessions, several times a day, and you should see some really good foundation work laid. You want to reward him for paying attention to you, and you want to make sure he doesn't get reinforced for not paying attention. Short sessions help keep up interest.

If he goes flying out ahead, just stop and start walking in the other direction. You can make whistling or squeaking noises to generate excitement and interest as you do so. The noises (as well as shuffling your feet) can help keep his interest up if he lags.

If he drags you towards a dog or a person, make sure he does not get rewarded for this behavior by getting the interaction he wants. If he really wants to greet someone and is pulling, just stop in place. Eventually he should stop trying to drag you there and will offer another behavior, like a sit (particularly if you've trained a sit). Once he gives the desired behavior, you can start moving again. The first few times you do this, you'll feel a little silly, but you'll show him that pulling=stop and behaving=go.

If he'll take it amid all the distractions, reward him with food and praise when he's giving you a loose leash and/or his attention. Timing is crucial. If he's chewing a leaf and ignoring you but perks up and comes to you when you make squeaky noises, treat him right as he gets to your side. It helps to be holding a treat in your hand on the side he's coming to so you can reward him without reaching across yourself or bending down more than necessary. Don't use commands like "come" or his name when you're being ignored. You don't want commands to be associated with ignoring. That's why you make noises are shuffle your feet when you're trying to get his attention but aren't sure you will.

It's also generally good practice not to try to attract him with the treat, but rather to have it come out of nowhere when he offers the behavior you want on his own (even coincidentally). Luring with the treat is OK, especially at first, but you want to get away from it as soon as possible, since you're not trying to teach him that he should behave when you have food, but rather that behaving results in sporadic and unexpected rewards. Give a happy "yes" or a "good boy" along with the treat.

Be generous and random with rewards. Good behavior should receive consistent reinforcement with praise, increasingly sporadic reinforcement with food, and periodic jackpots of treats and praise parties. These methods will help make food, praise, and other kinds of rewards (i.e., getting to greet another dog) meld together in the dog's mind so that your praise carries extra weight when you move past treats.
 

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PS - Class is FUN. Working together with your dog and getting in sync is surprisingly rewarding. I pooh-poohed classes with my first dog and was able to train him well just by reading, but I've gone to classes since then, and it's been wonderful. The dogs have a blast, and I get a lot better at communicating with them. It's also a fantastic environment for teaching self-control and socialization because they get to see lots of dogs that aren't there for play.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you for all the helpful tips! I want to put him in an obedience class, but he has to be 20 weeks to start them so I have to wait for now.
 

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A great way to tell if you're enrolled in a good training program is to ask the trainer if they use choke chains during training. If they answer is yes, then you should turn and run! They're a last resort training tool.
I don't really agree with that, and I don't use a choke chain. I wouldn't sign up for a class that required choke chains, it's not a tool that I use so wouldn't want to be forced to use one.

But I probably also wouldn't sign up for a class that did not allow choke chains either. That shows that the instructor isn't willing to be flexible with different teaching methods and acknowledge that different methods work better for different dogs/handlers.

The classes I would be looking for are the classes that give you the option to use them if that's what you want and what works for you.
 

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Daisy pulled like crazy on an ordinary lead, so I changed over to the full harness, and I wish I had used it from day one!! it really has made an enormous difference, and I have more control over her i.e not jumping up people, not strangulating herself and making those awful throat noises!

I really don't think choker chain collars are good for any dog, they are painful if used wrong and your dog will never look forward to a walk, I personally hope you will not use one :-( Try a harness first :)

p.s I'm very very suprised the puppy classes you found won't allow your pup until 20 weeks old! Maybe you should look around for another class. The one's I found allow all pups from 10 weeks old onwards so long as they have had all their vax's. They all suggested the younger the better for socialising.
 

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Why go straight to obedience classes? Tess will start puppy class in January, and after that I'll take obedience. Or is he in puppy class now?
 

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I would try a gentle leader, years ago a choke chain seemed to be the only option (10/11 years ago)and I used them for my GSP which was recommended by a police dog trainer at the time who was doing 1 on 1 training with Nybble (GSP) and also for Jade my Great Dane it took training for me to use it properly, and they worked great if Jade went on lead now I would still use it as she could have the lead thrown over her back and still walk to heal, unless another dog barked at her or Honey so then a quick flick of the wrist (and you do know how to do that) would avert any trouble.
Coming on 10 years I had Police dog trainers come to the house to train Honey as she was not able to go on road walks until 15 months they recommended the gentle leader and although she was not keen at first now it works great, also once she has got her initial madness out of her system we can put her on a flat collar for the rest of the time.
Things move on so please don't put your pup on a choke chain.

Sorry havent read all of this thread so apolagies if this information has been posted, I will read through it all and then perhaps edit.
 

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Wonder if Laura would know of a puppy-K in you area since you're in Michigan. OOOOHHHH..... L-A-U-R-A............ You'd have a blast and little one would get some important socialization and a headstart on heeling and basic manners.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Ok I definitely won't be using a choke chain thanks to all this great info I got from all of you. The only reason I haven't put him in a puppy class is because I was told that it's basically just a socialization class, and he gets TONS of socialization. I hang out with a lot of dog people. :p:

If I'm wrong and they will actually start teaching us things in puppy class please feel free to let me know. Only one of my friends has done any type of class so I don't have a lot to go on.
 

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But I probably also wouldn't sign up for a class that did not allow choke chains either. That shows that the instructor isn't willing to be flexible with different teaching methods and acknowledge that different methods work better for different dogs/handlers.
Or it shows that the trainers are passionate in their belief that choke chains can be dangerous. I don't allow choke chains in my classes, yet I do understand that different people prefer different techniques. How can I promote positive, reward based training if I have a couple students in each class who choose to leash-pop their dogs on choke chains and I stand by and let them? Some people think smacking the dog works best. So if I'm going to be an open minded, flexible trainer, do I have to allow that, too? It's all about where you draw the line.
 
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