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Maggie went to her training session today and there are many things she does really well. She sits, stays, and is doing a fair job with the recall. What we need work on is pulling and leash walking. She is gagging herself constantly and the trainer is worried about damaging her throat. She suggested a prong collar and tried one on Maggie. She really had no adverse reaction to it. She acted like it was her regular collar except she did not pull.
Is this okay to use in training sessions? If we start with this can we graduate to a flat buckle collar? Is 6 months too young?

Appreciate any insight. I don't have a lot of options for trainers and she uses mainly positive reinforcement. She is more of a behaviorist but does basic training also.

Thanks,
Jules
 

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It is fine to use when used properly. You should use a Sprenger brand pinch collar. It keeps pressure off the trachea. But if you just rely on it to deter your dog from pull and not do the training, you'll always need it.
 

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It is fine to use when used properly. You should use a Sprenger brand pinch collar. It keeps pressure off the trachea. But if you just rely on it to deter your dog from pull and not do the training, you'll always need it.
Thanks Maggie's Voice. That is what I am hoping. That training with the collar and reinforcing the proper loose leash position will make it so that we can wean off of it. Maggie is very biddable, focused on me and treat motivated for the most part. I think the trainer is just worried about her hurting herself.
 

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Thanks Maggie's Voice. That is what I am hoping. That training with the collar and reinforcing the proper loose leash position will make it so that we can wean off of it. Maggie is very biddable, focused on me and treat motivated for the most part. I think the trainer is just worried about her hurting herself.

It's actually very hard to hurt the dogs with a prong collar. You'd kinda have to be trying to. That said, it's not about force correcting with a prong collar but you use it to explain the desired behavior. It's tiny little corrections to nudge them into what you want. All you need to do is pull to the side when they walk in front of you to redirect. Once they get back in line or a reaction to the correct, it's instant slack in the line. Its like a head collar in that respect, any tension is correction and slack in the leash is expressing good and expected behavior. It's not really about zipping it quickly or with any real force.


I wouldn't worry, It sounds like Maggie is responding perfectly to it the way she should be.
 

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Puddles
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Just me but would never put a prong collar on a 6 month old golden puppy. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against using a prong for training ... large, adult dogs that have had no training yes, puppies? no.

If you start using force to teach now you will need to up the pressure as all you have taught the puppy is to avoid the discomfort. Just me but want my pups to make the choice to do the exercise. If you aren't having fun with your puppy doing any exercise there is room for improvement as a handler. Once the dog knows the exercise or command and doesn't comply then a correction / prong is there to enforce.

As a 6 month old pup he/she clearly doesn't understand your expectations and is choosing to go his own way. Start over and teach not control. Make staying with you the most fun place to be. Lots of treats, small corrections when they walk away from you with positive treats when they stay close. Staying with you is part of learning how to be a team. If you start butting heads at 6 months you are always going to have a test of wills and no one wins.

If you don't establish a partnership at this age ... well as soon as you take that leash off for off leash heel your pup will not stay with you as the thing that is causing the pain has been removed. FWIW I don't even use a leash to train the basics... my pups think training is a game we play together and enjoy how happy it makes me to do them correctly.
 

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I have had a great experience with the gentle leader (https://www.petsafe.net/gentleleader). It took a week or two for my dog (6.5 months) to get used to it (lots of pawing at his face, lying down in refusal to walk...), but with consistent use, it has really transformed his walking on a leash! I use treats and such as we walk to reinforce the good behavior and am hoping to wean off the gentle leader at some point. The idea of a prong collar made me a bit uncomfortable, and this has been a great alternative for me.
 

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Just me but would never put a prong collar on a 6 month old golden puppy. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against using a prong for training ... large, adult dogs that have had no training yes, puppies? no.

If you start using force to teach now you will need to up the pressure as all you have taught the puppy is to avoid the discomfort. Just me but want my pups to make the choice to do the exercise. If you aren't having fun with your puppy doing any exercise there is room for improvement as a handler. Once the dog knows the exercise or command and doesn't comply then a correction / prong is there to enforce.

As a 6 month old pup he/she clearly doesn't understand your expectations and is choosing to go his own way. Start over and teach not control. Make staying with you the most fun place to be. Lots of treats, small corrections when they walk away from you with positive treats when they stay close. Staying with you is part of learning how to be a team. If you start butting heads at 6 months you are always going to have a test of wills and no one wins.

If you don't establish a partnership at this age ... well as soon as you take that leash off for off leash heel your pup will not stay with you as the thing that is causing the pain has been removed. FWIW I don't even use a leash to train the basics... my pups think training is a game we play together and enjoy how happy it makes me to do them correctly.
Thanks for your comments Puddles. Maggie is very easy to work with and wants to please. She does well with treats unless she wants to chase a leaf or wants to go to a person she sees. That is when she pulls with force and starts gagging. Any suggestions for redirecting her back to me at those times? Treats are not enough for her. I change directions and try to distract. I know a lot of it is just training and age and we work every day. I have no doubt she will get there. I just don't want her hurting herself.

Jules
 

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I prefer the use of a gentle leader then a prong collar but not everyone wants to take the time to get the dog acclimated to it. People also think is it a muzzle for a dog and that the dogs aren't friendly. But if you get your dog acclimated (usually a couple days if fitted properly) then they work wonderfully. The thing is, it's still a correction type thing but because people don't see the prongs they feel better about it. Most people that don't like prong collars don't really understand the point of them (no pun intended lol). They don't poke the skin, they fold away and pinch the skin. This simulates how the mom would pinch the neck and pull down to correct their pups. This allows the pups to realize it's a correction and not punishment. It's never to be used to pop or hit hard on it. The gentle leader just puts pressure on the muzzle area so the dog corrects themselves to release the pressure. The pinch collar basically does the same thing but around the neck not the muzzle. That how a prong or pinch collar (the correct name of the collar) should be used.
 

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She does well with treats unless she wants to chase a leaf or wants to go to a person she sees. That is when she pulls with force and starts gagging. Any suggestions for redirecting her back to me at those times? Treats are not enough for her. I change directions and try to distract. I know a lot of it is just training and age and we work every day. I have no doubt she will get there. I just don't want her hurting herself.

Jules

I recommend teaching the "Look" or "Look at Me" command. You work at distance and then get closer and closer to distractions until your dog will look at you with distracts close by. You have to teach your dog to be able to focus on you. The training class you took should have shown you how to teach this and told you to work in it constantly. With either a gentle leader or pinch collar if there are times you can't get the focus on you, it's just a tug tug. Remember, any time you tell them a command you MUST make them do it or you turn commands into suggestions. if they aren't giving you their focus, then walk away until you're at a distance that they will give you you the focus and then reward. There is a very easy training method on YouTube from a guy named Zak George on training the look at me command. He does all positive reinforcement training.
 

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I recommend teaching the "Look" or "Look at Me" command. You work at distance and then get closer and closer to distractions until your dog will look at you with distracts close by. You have to teach your dog to be able to focus on you. The training class you took should have shown you how to teach this and told you to work in it constantly. With either a gentle leader or pinch collar if there are times you can't get the focus on you, it's just a tug tug. Remember, any time you tell them a command you MUST make them do it or you turn commands into suggestions. if they aren't giving you their focus, then walk away until you're at a distance that they will give you you the focus and then reward. There is a very easy training method on YouTube from a guy named Zak George on training the look at me command. He does all positive reinforcement training.
Thanks Maggie's Voice. We are on the right track then because that is what we are working on for our homework :) She is doing great at it. Will have to test it out with distractions after a while. She responds really good even with my other dogs in the mix.

Jules
 

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Puddles
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Maybe I misunderstood your original question. I was thinking you were in a training class... I'm not sure a class will allow you to use a gentle leader as the goal is to train the puppy not to pull, not to prevent the pulling.

As far as treats not working, use better treats :) And remember this is a 6 month old puppy that has only been in your care for 2 months. Lots of new & wonderful things in a puppies life. They have a very short attention span, some are better than others but have patience and be consistent with your training.

When I have a very distracted puppy I use boiled chicken (tiny, tiny pieces) and only take a step or two then reward while we are walking those two steps. I also reward when they stay sitting beside me so they start to learn where heel is before you take a step. I've also used boiled liver or tiny pieces of hot dogs.. some pups prefer beef to chicken.

Truth is at this age I'm still using kibble and start this training in the house without distractions. I also don't train more than 5 minutes at a time. As soon as I get a couple of steps and a sit I tell them ok to end the session, get in front of them and toss a rope toy and begin a game of tug. You have to let them win, funny how when you let them win they return to continue the play.

After you play a few minutes you bring out the treats and work a little more but never do this for more than about 5 min. Then we toss a treat and ask them to get it, when they look at you for more give a treat. Anytime they begin to walk away call their name, clap your hands or run the other way or backwards and as soon as they take the 1st step toward you say YES and give a treat. This helps with recall as well as teaching them to focus on you. Try and keep them engaged for about 5 minutes give a hug and end the session. This entire process shouldn't last more than 15 minutes and sometimes you have to work up to doing all this. You want to end before they totally check out mentally. Homework is supposed to be fun so mix it up and enjoy.
 

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Hi Jules, Brock is my 4th golden & until Barley, my 3rd, I resigned myself to the constant pulling. Then I saw Cesar Millan recommend using a slip lead pulled up right up behind the ears & Voila!-no more pulling! I use a Mendota leather slip lead I got from Amazon. Just remember to keep the collar up right against the ears. One light pull is all that's needed for correction.
 

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Maegan
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Gentle Leaders are the worst. They are very painful and put all of a dog’s weight on their nose. They are not effective long term. They are toted as positive, but they are NOT positive. You can find multiple articles by actual balanced trainers explaining why they are awful and do not produce the actual desired behavior.

I am split between recommending the use of the prong collar and recommending that you physically correct her when she pulls really hard. My dog used to pull like that and I was taught how to properly correct him by grabbing his collar and physically pulling him back into proper position with a big loud “no” then asking for a sit and rewarding the good behavior. Right now, there is no communication between you and your dog that tells her what you don’t want. This type of correction won’t hurt her, but it may look rough. It only takes a few of those before the lightbulb comes on “Oh you mean I should not pull so hard I choke myself and nearly knock you over and/or dislocate your shoulder! Ok cool. Got it.” You have to be quick and prepared to make the correction and you can continue with a buckle collar in this situation. If you decide to try the correction, you must never pull on the leash. Always grab the collar at the back of the neck and pull the dog back in position by lifting up and back. It will startle her, but it won't hurt. It kinda snaps them out of whatever they were doing and puts the attention back on you.
 

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Maegan... What you mention is from misusing a gentle leader. That is not the way you use a gentle leader. It should never cause pain. The point off a gentle leader is pressure is correction and slack in the leash is correct behavior. You should only ever need the slightest pressure for positining the dog and it's instant pressure and then slack. Just hold your ground and the dog corrects themselves 99% of the time. The instant they step back there's slack in the leash. If they are walking faster then you it's slight tension, then instant slack. The dog should never ever have pain or need pain to respond to the gentle leader.
 

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Maegan
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Maegan... What you mention is from misusing a gentle leader. That is not the way you use a gentle leader. It should never cause pain. The point off a gentle leader is pressure is correction and slack in the leash is correct behavior. You should only ever need the slightest pressure for positining the dog and it's instant pressure and then slack. Just hold your ground and the dog corrects themselves 99% of the time. The instant they step back there's slack in the leash. If they are walking faster then you it's slight tension, then instant slack. The dog should never ever have pain or need pain to respond to the gentle leader.
I disagree. Every balanced, experienced trainer that I've worked with is against them and will not recommend them. If they have worked for you then, I am glad.
 

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Definitely agree to disagree :)

Not just for me, I've trained at least 20 dogs with it and have seen numerous other trainers use it without anything you've described.

It also works amazingly well to get a rambunctious puppy or dog to calm down just having it on as they can see it on their muzzle. It makes them take a step back and is great to get a dog that likes to pull or run up to people to great them. Makes them much easier to sit and stay and wait to be greeted. Perfect for starting the therapy and service dog training. No correction needed the dog is calmer naturally.
 

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I’m not a fan of gentle leaders or those harnesses that connect in the front of the chest or head harnesses. I think they are a form of avoidance and lots of dogs never seem to move past it.

A dog needs balance. They need to know there are consequences if they pull. Consequences like, You pull, I stop, I reel you back to my side, I make you sit, then when you are settled, we will try again. This can take awhile to get anywhere. Patience is a virtue. Lots and lots of treats. Personally I try to have my dogs off leash as much as possible. But I live in a place I can get away with it. You have to start in places where there is a lot of control. Like your yard and then gradually increase the distractions. Make sure to talk to your dog. Don’t be rigid. Take one step, then reward if they stay by your side. Just work on one step for awhile.

Look on YouTube for Janice Gunn at TNT Kennels and Connie Cleveland at Dog Trainers Workshop.

Also if you get up to Anchorage, sometimes we have trainers come up in the winter for 2 day seminars. It might be a good excuse to head up here, get some training in and do a little shopping. What Alyeska Canine Trainers facebook page for updates on trainers they are bringing in. Alaska Airlines is $100 each way to fly your dog, and they do a great job.
 

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Kate
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Something to keep in mind is there are no miracles in dog training.

A lot of people like "gentle" leaders because it's in the name. You can walk a dog wearing one using just your pinky. The reason why is the strap around the muzzle exerts pressure around the nose where the dogs have a ton of nerves. The dogs are more sensitive in that area than they are around their necks.

Retrievers are bred to have strong necks (because they are supposed to carry heavy birds). For this reason they are a lot to handle on leash if not trained to be soft/responsive to subtle leash corrections.

So prongs... have been a go to for a lot of trainers. Because they allow for control and responsiveness with some pretty strong dogs.

One of my teachers uses prongs with her flatcoats when walking them from one building to the other. She is not one of those trainers out there who consider prongs to be a mandatory obedience training tool and I've never heard her tell any students to put a prong on their dogs. But she uses them with her somewhat boisterous dogs.

All of that said - people are putting prongs on their dogs and not learning how or why they work.

The idea behind prongs is the tool replicates the jaw of an alpha dog pinning an offending dog. This is why back in the 90's, these tools were primarily used for very dominant and macho type breeds. It was supposed to give a trainer an upper hand on a lot of dog.

I'm not sure how that all translated to every trainer recommending people use prongs, but would gather it had something to do with people no longer using leash corrections and or trainers getting up in age and wanting to have really powerful dogs - but wanting control.

Either way, there's people who put prongs on their dogs and maintain lightness or softness on the leash. The idea is that the dog will not feel the prongs digging in unless being corrected. And a correction is a finger squeeze.

With everyone putting prongs on dogs and pushing the use of prongs, you've had people misunderstanding how the tool works, how it is put on, why it works, and how to train a dog with a prong collar.

This has led to injuries and or collar failure (dogs pulling so hard they break the collars). Same thing as choke chains which were the hot tool for everyone prior to prongs.

Choke chains got a bad reputation because people would put them on backwards and or put the dogs outside on a tieout wearing a choke chain.

People if taught well from the start - would put the choke chains on correctly and then keep them on the dead link unless actively training. This means that if the dog pulls while wearing the choke chain, it will not choke the dog.

Choke chains are supposed to be fitted (only so big as to permit the the owner to slide them on and off over the dog's head). And when actively training a dog with a choke chain, it should be placed high up under the jaw.

Note, I do put loose chains on my dogs for obedience, but I also do not require a correction for them beyond chain rattling. The chain never had to tighten around the neck - except conformation which is a different beast altogether.

Anyway. If the instructor is teaching you how to train your dog with a prong and the dog only wears the prong when working - that's fine. Just don't get too set on using prongs all the time when training. The reason why I say that is you can not have a prong on your dog on a trial site. So if you have that crutch, you are going to be very stressed when trying to walk your dog around a crowded show site, even if you do not intend to use in the ring.
 

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I’m not a fan of gentle leaders or those harnesses that connect in the front of the chest or head harnesses. I think they are a form of avoidance and lots of dogs never seem to move past it.

A dog needs balance. They need to know there are consequences if they pull. Consequences like, You pull, I stop, I reel you back to my side, I make you sit, then when you are settled, we will try again. This can take awhile to get anywhere. Patience is a virtue. Lots and lots of treats. Personally I try to have my dogs off leash as much as possible. But I live in a place I can get away with it. You have to start in places where there is a lot of control. Like your yard and then gradually increase the distractions. Make sure to talk to your dog. Don’t be rigid. Take one step, then reward if they stay by your side. Just work on one step for awhile.

Look on YouTube for Janice Gunn at TNT Kennels and Connie Cleveland at Dog Trainers Workshop.

Also if you get up to Anchorage, sometimes we have trainers come up in the winter for 2 day seminars. It might be a good excuse to head up here, get some training in and do a little shopping. What Alyeska Canine Trainers facebook page for updates on trainers they are bringing in. Alaska Airlines is $100 each way to fly your dog, and they do a great job.
I agree totally about the ez walk harnesses out any that clip to the front of the chest area. Those are useless for the majority of dogs. I've seen to many dogs pull, create space at the shoulders and then use that space to just step out of the harness. People just put them in and know nothing of what to do with them and don't do any good.
 
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