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Old 08-21-2012, 12:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 4 month old pup that pulls on lead

Hi all,

I wanted to get your thoughts on this.

I have a 4 month old pup who is getting stronger by the day is is starting to pull on the leash. I can hold her, but she is choking herself sometimes, and it's a real pain if I've got my arms full.

We are now done our puppy class and have just started grade 1, so this is something we're working on in class, but in the meantime I wasn't sure what you guys do for this problem.

In class we are using a lot of bait to keep the dogs close to us. This is fine & dandy, and at some point we are to wean the pups off the food, but the problem for me is that if I forget my bait pouch or if I don't feed her constantly, she resumes the pulling. Also if my arms are full, it's impossible to feed her while we walk.

In training class they only allow a flat collar, choke chain or gentle leader (the would prefer this over the choke chain).

I got a Gentle Leader. I will say, it does work - however - I HATE it. The dog hates it. I seem to have trouble getting it fit correctly. You're supposed to have it up high, behind their ears, it slips down no matter how tight it is. It's also messing up the fur on her nose, which is simply an aesthetic thing, but it bugs me. lol The adjustment buckle for the part around the muzzle is always coming open, so that part gets loose causing the strap to get too close to her eyes. The dog hates me putting it on her and we fight over it every. single. time. She tried to rub it off with her paws in training class and I spend more time correcting her for that than correcting her for not doing her obedience properly. lol

I'm not crazy about choke chains as I think you can hurt their neck if they suddenly pull too hard.

Her breeder said to get a prong collar. She said not to punish her with it, but just let her self-correct. I was surprised she said that since the pup is so young, but I decided to try it. It's hard getting it on her, as she's wiggly, but she does not object to it and it seems to help with the pulling. I put the rubber tips on it and use the dead ring.

But I can't use it in my training class and also, my flyball people really object to it. I used to feel the same way, as they look like a torture device, but I've since changed my mind after doign a bit more homework. I'd also rather give one sharp correction than a hundred nagging ones, and while she's not pulling, it's not activated and not bothering her, whereas the GL is ALWAYS annoying her, regardless of if she's behaving well or not.

What do you guys do?! lol

Should I just persevere on the flat collar with treats, or what is best? I feel like every other person is criticizing my choices and now I'm not sure what is best for her while we work through this issue. Mostly she walks nicely beside me, it's if she sees/smells something interesting, or is keen on getting somewhere (back home) that she'll pull, and it changes every minute depending on what is going on in her environment.
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Old 08-21-2012, 12:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Please do not use a prong collar until the dog is at least six months old.

Please check Youtube.com for "Loose leash walking", there are countless videos on this topic. Its a fairly common topic, and infact one of the hardest thing to teach your dog.

Frequent stops, about turns, etc especially when you feel tension on the leash, will keep the dog guessing and looking at you as to where to go.

Also, best advise I got, when starting to walk the pup - when going for a walk with the pup, go for a walk. Dont go grocery shopping or to visit a friend, or talk on the cell phone, go for exactly what you planned, a walk with the dog.

The time invested on teaching the dog how to walk well, especially when younger, will bring rich benefits in the future.

Honestly, I felt loose leash walking to be a tougher challenge than potty training. My pup is 11 months old, and even now, there are elements of the loose leash training I use when walking him.

Loose leash walking is a work in progress. It will take some time, but hang in there.
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Old 08-21-2012, 12:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I personally think 4 months old is too young for a prong collar. I didn't introduce one on my pup until 6 months old and even now I only use it occasionally. I know that most here will say to train on a flat collar, but I also had a very strong puller and it can be quite tiresome stopping and redirecting all the time.
I used and still use occaionally the "Sensation Harness". This harness has the ring in the front of the harness to discourage pulling. It really does work well and will save your arm! Gentle Leader also make a front ring harness as well, but I liked the Sensation better. Keep training she'll get it eventually!
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Old 08-21-2012, 12:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks WT.

That's a good idea about just going for a walk. I guess I find that hard, is I'm so busy right now, that I'm trying to incorporate bringing the puppy with me everywhere, which maybe isn't the best idea.

I heard 6 months too, for the prong collar, which is why I thought I'd ask. I'll hang that guy up for now I guess.

I'm working really hard on the training, I'm glad to hear it's not that uncommon a problem. Mostly she's really good, she looks you right in the eye. I've tried the direction change thing, it hasn't helped yet, to be honest, but I guess I just have to keep persevering!

I was just worried that she'd injure herself, as she'd pulled hard enough that she was coughing a bit. :/
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Old 08-21-2012, 12:37 PM   #5 (permalink)
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And regarding collars :

Martingale collars are fairly good. And I like the additional security knowing they wont slip off the neck.

Prong collars - when the dog is 6 months or older.
Prong collars are not an absolute must, your dog can be trained for loose leash walking even without them, but they do work rather well. Its like power steering.


Personally I used a harness until my pup was 6 months, didnt have the heart to "choke" him with a martingale or choke collar when he was that young. And yes, it was not the best choice, pup some times went in to "cart - pulling mode" lol. Now I use martingales and prong collars.
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Old 08-21-2012, 12:40 PM   #6 (permalink)
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'cart pulling mode'
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Old 08-21-2012, 01:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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be a tree!
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Old 08-21-2012, 06:32 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Woof_Terrorist View Post

Personally I used a harness until my pup was 6 months, didnt have the heart to "choke" him with a martingale or choke collar when he was that young. And yes, it was not the best choice, pup some times went in to "cart - pulling mode" lol. Now I use martingales and prong collars.
I agree with a harness, only not a REGULAR harness.

The Gentle Leader one is so much better. Attaches in the front, between the front legs so pulls dog around and back to you. Rather than dragging you along when attached up top between the shoulder blades.


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Old 11-25-2012, 06:28 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Your pup is probably old enough now, but I'll just give my experience.

My 14wk white shepherd was a bad leash puller, choking herself with her collar. I used the combination of training methods that you can find on youtube etc. It wasn't an overnight thing, but there was definite improvement from 12wks to 14wks.
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Old 11-25-2012, 06:38 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Your pup is probably old enough now, but I'll just give my experience for anyone else reading this with a young pup.

My 14wk white shepherd was a bad leash puller, choking herself with her collar. I used the combination of training methods that you can find on youtube etc. It wasn't an overnight thing, but there was definite improvement from 12wks to 14wks.

1. Teach the dog to give you eye contact as you walk, watch her as she is walking and as soon as see looks at you, treat her.

2. Teach the dog to back up, there is plenty of videos on this.

3. When the dog does pull the leach taught stand still and don't let the leash move at all in her direction. As soon as she stops pulling and gives you eye contact, tell her to back, I point at my shoe and she comes around, I then treat her. This will take a while. I took mine on 2 walks a day over a 5 day period, 15-20 minutes each so she didn't get frustrated. After that amount of time as soon as she ran away and tightened the leash, I would stop and she would automatically come back to my side.

4. Walk somewhere familiar so she isn't busy sniffing and walk in a zig zag motion, so that she will follow you. Because she doesn't know which way you are going to go, she will be more likely to say at your feet. when she does, treat her, and again if she looks at you.

Over the course of the two weeks training this method, she has greatly improved her leash walking, sticking close to me and constantly checking I am near. She does still occasionally pull on the lead but I just stop walking and she runs back to correct herself. This is just usually when something has really interested her.

I think it is good also to teach them to sniff out objects on your command if it is outside the reach of the lead, this helps with a lot of the leash pulling.
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