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Discussion Starter #1
So....puppy almost pulled me off my feet again today, for the second day in a row.
When I went to the store to get food, I got a prong collar, too.

And I'm nervous! And upset, too. Almost everything we've done with her until now has been positive, positive, happy happy fun! The only time she's heard "no" until last week was when she chased the cat.

But she has turned into a pulling machine. The trainer (where we go to daycare) has a reactive dog class starting in February and has recommended we go (as has my dog-training friend). The trainer is all-positive. There's no way I can tell her I have a prong collar. We're currently using the harness we got at the trainer's, and it just doesn't work. She can haul me around.

I've spent so much time and energy getting this dog healthy and happy, I'm disappointed in myself that I haven't trained her as well as I should have, and, well, I don't want to hurt my dog or cause her pain. We don't hit in our family, you know?

85-90% of the time puppy does *great*! We have fun on our walks! She's had NILF since the day we brought her home. But she goes ballistic when she sees another dog. Today a dog in a car started barking at her, and puppy tried to *jump into the street* lunging and barking at her.

I'm at the end of *my* leash! I can't not walk her, so I have to have another option.

But I'm also very nervous about the reaction my (highly reactive/sensitive) puppy might have when she hits the prongs for the first time. I absolutely don't want her to be hurt or afraid. The only corrections we use (for minor infractions, like trying to get up from a "wait") is saying "ah-ah." I'm worried that adding a physical correction will upset her.


Thanks in advance for any advice.
 

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You can get rubber tips for the prongs if they make you nervous, but they really don't hurt her. Let her slowly pull into the collar on your next walk so it isn't suddenly a shock to her if she lunges and discovers what she's wearing.

She'll probably adapt surprisingly well, but if you are anxious, she'll pick up on it and be upset, too. Hope it goes well!

Edit: I just noticed you said she wears a harness? What kind, the Easy-walk that you attach the leash in front? I think harnesses of any kind really just give a dog more leverage to pull with. How is she with a regular flat collar correction?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'm not sure what the brand of the harness is, it has a martingale type thing in front that tightens and loosens that the leash clips to.

We've never corrected her with a collar, ever.
She may have hit the end of her leash once by accident. She's very well-behaved most of the time, and it hasn't been necessary to do anything like this until now.
 

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I'm all for prongs, they are a miracle invention, but I also believe in using the minimum necessary for the individual dog.

You said she's sensitive, so how about a hard leash pop (regular collar) and VERY stern Ah-Ah! when she's being unruly? Then as soon as she looks at you, give her a treat/praise like she won the lottery.

I just wouldn't jump to using a prong if you haven't tried other methods first, especially if she's a softie, but if the above method doesn't work, go ahead and try it. Some people will tell you not to correct, but to slowly desensitize her and work under gradually increasing distractions. But, IMO if she's pulling you into the street, you need something that will work asap, which usually means some form of correction. Just because it's a serious safety issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I really, really don't want to "pop" my dog.
As I understand it (and please correct me if I'm wrong!), the prong collars allow the dog to self-correct.

So...dogs, like horses, naturally lean into pressure. One of the earliest and most-reinforced things we do with horses, even when they're babies, is to teach them to move away from pressure. We do this, and practice it, every single day, because it is so very important.

I haven't done a very good job of teaching my dog this important information. She's fairly good at it, but I think if I use a flat collar and she pulls, she will pull harder. I think this is pretty natural. Because I feel that way, I've also actively avoided situations in which she would feel restrained and feel like she had to pull.

The trainer said the harness would allow her to self-correct, but even if I can manage to stay still when she lunges, she'll hit the end, bounce up and do it again. It is very distressing.

I was hoping that she would be well-trained enough that we would never have a pulling situation. I really do feel that I've failed my dog in this.
 

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We all have our opinions on how best to teach our pups, so by all means continue what you feel is best.

Go ahead and try out the prong and allow her to self-correct, a lot of people use it for that purpose. She'll begin to pull, and it will tighten a bit and the prongs will give the sensation of another dog's jaws around her neck, which should make her stop. Good luck!
 

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Originally Posted By: thaliasmomI was hoping that she would be well-trained enough that we would never have a pulling situation. I really do feel that I've failed my dog in this.
No, don't feel like that. She's a dog, and they naturally want to pull towards something interesting. The fact that she wants to pull doesn't mean you've failed or been a bad mom. It's how you deal with it that matters, and you seem to be very determined and willing to work with that. For instance, you have her involved with trainers. A lot of people don't care to put the effort in and you can see them daily, being dragged down the street by their unruly dog.

You're doing great, don't get discouraged!
 

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Prongs are great. They have earned the nickname "power steering for dogs" for a reason. There are a few problems, though. It's all too easy to rely on them instead of TEACHING the dog and sometimes they can fire up a dog even more. Also, it seems all but the Herm Sprengers have poorly milled ends which could sometimes be sharp. If it's not a Herm Sprenger, I recommend returning it and ordering one online (I *really* recommend the HS prong with the quick clasp- so easy). The ends are nicely rounded and the collar is high quality. Jeffers has them for a very reasonable price.

Having said all that, continuing the training is a MUST. I have a very dog-reactive dog and I tell you, the prong does nothing except make him very uppity. It helps with the control, but it does nothing for making him relax around other dogs. I still use the prong, but I now have it on the dead ring (had it on dead, then live, now back) and am making a concerted effort to have him outside and clicker-train him while other dogs are around. When walking, if he gets slightly ahead, I will stop dead- walk's over! I then continue on and repeat. He's learning that if he wants to walk, he has to do it on MY terms. It's slow going but I can tell there is a BIG difference in his overall mood with the stop and go than with jerking on the prong. I still use the prong, but I'm always glad to use it less.

Regarding your "all-positive" trainer, I would move to a trainer who is more accepting of various collars AND corrections for this phase in training. There is nothing wrong with positive training and motivational training (quite the opposite) but it's a very lopsided program that does not introduce corrections and discipline. Find a positive, motivational trainer who understands corrections are necessary, knows how and when to apply them, and can fit the correction to the situation. So long as you teach motivationally and positively and save the fair corrections after the dog thoroughly knows and understands the command, you won't be doing any harm.

It does sound like you let your pup get too far before starting to correct. Do you wait until she's lunging or do you try to distract her away from the dog the second her eyes set on it? If you correct when she's exploding, everything you do will be too little, too late, or even detrimental. Catch her while she's thinking about reacting, not before.

How is she in daycare? Is she playing with other dogs? If she's fine with other dogs in this situation, she could just be lunging because she wants to play with the dogs more than she wants to play with you. This isn't good! If she doesn't like to be with the dogs at daycare or if they overwhelm her, she is defending herself. This is also not good! It would be wise to examine how she acts around other dogs at daycare to decide what to do next. If she gets bullied, pull her out of any dog-dog interactions and board her by herself, saving any dog interactions for training classes. If she just wants to go play with them, make yourself more interesting! Does she like to play tug? Keep a tug toy on you and ONLY whip it out when other dogs are around and engage her in a really great game, then let her win and strut her stuff when the dogs are safely out of her reaction zone (you must still "win" the toy at the end of the game for control purposes). If she likes balls, whip out the balls. Whatever she loves more than anything, have them on hand to distract her. Work on manners around other dogs in training classes.

It's a GREAT thing that you signed up for a class specifically for dog-reactive dogs! I'd give it a try with the all-positive trainer and see how it goes. If your dog just cannot handle it without corrections, seek a balanced trainer. If she does well in the class, discuss with your trainer that you had to get a prong for outside of class and you're looking for assistance both with and without it. If the trainer freaks about the prong, definitely get a new trainer. If she tries to help and point you in the direction of a trainer who knows more or other resources, all-positive or not, you may have found yourself a good trainer.

Your puppy will probably yelp and act very shocked when she first feels the prong in action. Try not to let her hit the end of the leash full speed for the first time- go with her and ease her into it as much as possible. Don't worry if she yelps or fusses- she'll soon grow used to it. Don't baby her, don't go "oooh nooooo, I'm sooooorry, I didn't hurt you, did I?!" as that will just make her worried and nervous that something IS wrong. She'll do fine. If you're concerned about the prong hurting her, put it around your leg or even your neck and jerk it. It won't feel bad at all. Then remember that dogs have quite thick skin AND a good coat of fur to boot.


Finally, how old is your pup again? If your pooch is younger than 10-12 months, it would really be wise to find other ways of teaching and training for now.
 

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Quote:I really, really don't want to "pop" my dog. \:\( As I understand it (and please correct me if I'm wrong!), the prong collars allow the dog to self-correct.
They can, but you NEED to train your dog! Use it as a tool to train, not as a crutch. If your dog only learns that hitting the end of the leash is bad, she may come to realize that it's only bad when the prong is on and she won't obey when she's off the prong. If your trainer tells you to wait for the dog to self-correct, you are MANAGING the problem but you are not TRAINING, which is the SOLUTION to the problem. Please do not fall into this rut! Take an active role and understand that popping the collar is fine! Look at how dogs communicate to each other- they will use body language, then growls, and if all else fails, a snap or even a bite. The prong simulates this bite very well so it's a lot more natural than a no-pull harness or a halti. Use whatever works with your dog, but remember that no tool is a substitute to not train. Do not rely on self-correcting. You can use it to your advantage, but the second you rely on the dog figuring out the corrections, you also begin to leave it up to the dog to decide when to behave. You want your pup to learn to obey you and trust you regardless of collar (or lack thereof)! Train to that goal.


You will do fine. You have realized the problem and you are taking steps to correct it. This is millions of times better than most people who just deal with it and let the dog pull and lunge or even those that don't even realize a problem exists!

Quote:I've spent so much time and energy getting this dog healthy and happy, I'm disappointed in myself that I haven't trained her as well as I should have, and, well, I don't want to hurt my dog or cause her pain. We don't hit in our family, you know?
I'm sure you've done well.
No one is asking you to hit the dog (absolutely not), but dogs really do understand firm corrections that are on their level. Mine understands that when I freeze my posture, begin to stare, and hold my breath, I am unhappy. He'll stop and move away some of the time. If I escalate to a low growl, he will move away. I use this when I am eating and he is crossing the line to begging or he's forcing himself on me. This is their language and they understand this MUCH better than any "ah ah" or "no." At least that's the way with mine! Dogs need discipline and corrections- they need negative consequences. They respect a firm, fair, trustworthy leader, one that they know will keep the pack in line at all times fairly.

When I was growing up, I had friends who were raised without much discipline. They screamed at their parents and misbehaved a lot. I was raised with lots of discipline (could have used more) and had extremely rare spankings. I knew that if I yelled back at my parents my head would be rolling on the floor even though they never once hit me (I don't count spanks). I respected them completely and trusted them, and now as an adult I really wish they did more to keep me in line as time went on, but I'm thankful that they were not part of the 100% positive/no corrections crowd. I think it is the same with dogs.
 

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Quote:.I don't know what this board would do without the articulate people like you and Chris W!
No no, I am not near worthy to be on par with her. She's extremely experienced. Take whatever she says over me any day! But I appreciate the kind words and am glad that I can be articulate when I drone on and on with my novella posts.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Those are a lot of great answers for me to get while I was away for one quick shower!
I was thinking about all of this while I was in there (as one does...) and I realized that this pulling went from "hm, this is a problem" to "We are in DANGER!!" when we started using the harness. It took a remarkably short time for it to happen, and it happened during a crucial part of my dog's life.

This is totally my fault, for not recognizing it, but I'm a little irked at the trainer, too, for not recognizing that my dog isn't the "will work for food" type.
>sigh<

I realized, too, that when I said I failed my dog, what I failed at was not at teaching her what pressure meant, but that I am the center of the universe. The root problem, of course, is that she isn't paying attention to what *I'm* doing when she's lunging about.


We definitely don't try to wait until she's lunging to do the current correction, which is walking the other way until she's calm, and then turning around and walking past offending dog again - but she can go from "hey, there's something interesting over there, did you see it mom?" to "alert!!!!!!" and lunging in what seems like nanoseconds.

If she was a horse, I'd be able to read her and prevent most of this, I think. I just don't know dog language very well, despite having them almost all my life. >sigh<

In answer to your specific questions, DianaM, she *loves* other dogs. She loves everyone, actually. She is very happy-go-lucky. But she does sometimes seem to be treading the line between "hey lets be bff!" and "I'm danger!" and "hey, I'm just a puppy! be nice to me!" --- and the problem is a million times worse when she's on a leash. When she is loose and with loose dogs, there is no problem (for which I am very grateful). But if there is a fence or a leash involved, its tough. She's 10.5 months old today. And she usually looks like this:


Thank you so much for the advice, and for reading my nattering on about this. Sometimes its hard to get the information out of all the emotion, I know.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
PS. Funny the HS are the best. They're among the best horse bits, too. And you're dead on about the body language...I can stand off most pushy horses just by pinning my ears at them. Well, my figurative ears. It works, regardless.

I *can* learn this! Onward and upward!

Thank you so much!
 

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If you can handle a horse, you can tame this little beasty.
Remember your horse background- if you can read their body language, you can decipher the dog. I believe the DVD "Calming Signals" by Turid Rugaas (spelling may be wrong, but it's definitely the DVD and not the book) may be a HUGE help for learning their body language.

Lots of dogs that are fine with others off leash have leash aggression. Examine yourself: When other dogs appear on the scene, do you shorten and hasten your breathing (or even almost stop breathing), alter your pace, alter your voice, tense up, have jerkier movements, and tighten up the leash? Any of these or any combination of these will translate down the leash to your dog, especially the leash tightening. If you have something to concentrate on such as a toy to whip out to play with, you'll have something to focus on yourself that requires lots of movement to hopefully hide your true feelings. If your dog votes for the game, you'll relieve your stress and uncertainty by playing and your pooch will have confidence that you can control the situations. Of course, you cannot distract forever and that is why good training must be done.
It's good she loves other dogs. Be very thankful for that. She is about the right age for a prong so don't feel bad if you want to use one. If that's what it takes for her to start paying attention to you despite the distractions, that's what it takes, but always use these tools with the goal of eventually not needing them.

But really, if you know how to communicate with a horse, you will be fine with the dog. A horse is prey and a dog is predator so there are differences, but you were able to learn the language of one and you will do the same with this one. If you feel your trainer let you down, no one is stopping you from shopping around for another.

I saw that HS made bits, didn't know they were considered so highly!
 

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I'll keep mine short: Prongs are great. You have nothing to feel guilty about. Use this new tool in a positive way. Your dog will mirror your emotions.

Use the prong for a year or so, or as long as you feel you need to. Then graduate to something else if you want to. This isn't the last training tool you'll ever use. It's just one of many.
 

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Yes, the cheaper ones have slightly sharper prongs, which is actually why I bought one from Petco to replace my HS. Nico needed something a bit "extra," and I didn't want to go with a dominant dog collar or E-collar. So glad I discovered the cheap prongs, LOL!
 

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If you haven,t already give the prong a try. My dog was a puller and as he grew it became harder and harder to control him. Bikes, joggers and squirrels started to become a problem.

My breeder suggested a prong, set high and tight. She also recommended a strong "pop". One walk, a few strong pops and that was it. His behavior was corrected.

I kept the prong on for about a week, but never had to use it again. Timber is now 20 months old, and was probabkly 6-7 months which I used the prong.
 
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