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Pulling!

Bearsmom
June 7th, 2005, 10:10 AM
Does anyone have any suggestions for a type of lead (choke collar, halti, gentle leader) for our 3 month old mastiff/rottie mix Kaos, (or, any walking tips)?

I find lately he's just ballistic pulling like crazy when I walk him and Bear. Then, Bear feels the need to catch up to Kaos, and it's darn near a road race!

tenderfoot
June 7th, 2005, 11:10 AM
Get ready this might be a long one...

First of all this large breed puppy does not need to go on walks for many months to come. His bones are growing so fast (please be sure he is on adult food) and his muscles can only support that heavy body for so long before they collapse and then you are grinding bone on bone and creating future damage. 2 - short jaunts a day are far better for him than one long one.

Take your older dog out on his own private walks - it will help him still feel special in your world and let the puppy out to romp in the yard for his exercise.

Collars - very wide, flat collar is the best. It dissipates any energy that could damage his trachea. Anything thin, round, chain like can do terrible damage. Its like putting one finger across your neck and pressing in (how does that feel?) versus putting 3-4 fingers across your neck and pressing in (how much better does that feel?).

Pulling - Every step you take forward, as he pulls against the collar, is teaching him that he has to pull his human everywhere he goes in order to get where he wants. We humans start teaching this from early on - when we take him out to go potty we think he needs to smell 20 different places before he can go - so he pulls us here and there learning that pulling works.
Stand still - don't let him pull against the collar or stay on top of him so that he doesn't feel the sensation fo pulling.

I will give you our first drill on 'no-pulling'.

Being a Post - The stay close and don’t pull drill.

This the first drill that we teach. It is about using pressure and release of pressure to get your dog to choose his behavior according to your wishes. In this case he is to stay close to you and not pull on the leash. This is the beginning of controlling your dog's boundaries and teaching him to submit to your pressure. This teaches your dog that he can go anywhere on the leash, whether it is two feet long or twenty feet long, but he cannot pull against it.
On leash this drill is about no pulling on the leash – no matter how badly the dog wants to get at the distraction. When this drill becomes an off leash instruction – it is about staying with in a boundary that you have set. Perhaps I don’t want my dog to go a certain distance away from me in the park or at a camp site. When he gets to a certain distance away from me I will say “Close” or “Stay close” to let him know what the boundary is.

Teaching your dog not to pull
Stand or kneel in one spot – you are a solid post in the ground. Your dog is on the leash (with a flat, wide collar). You need to catch him before he starts to pull and ask him to “stay close” in a firm tone as he nears the end of the leash. If he doesn’t respect your words then you start to pressure him with little irritating ‘dinks’ on the leash. These dinks are not hard enough to move your dog, but they are intense enough to stop him in his tracks. (see Pressure & Release chapter to understand the dinks). Every time he begins to reach the end of the leash start 'dinking' the leash to irritate him. You want him to think ‘wow, this is irritating when I pull against this leash, but if I just take one step towards mom then it stops and feels much better”. You are asking him to pay attention to you and gives him the chance to choose not to pull. When he looks at you, leans in to you or takes a step towards you, reward him with a "Good, close" in a whispery tone and stop ‘dinking’ the leash. This is the release of pressure and where the learning takes place.
This will go back and forth many times until he begins to understand that you just don't want him to pull. He should look at the distraction and then check in with you (eye contact) to see what you want him to do.

Working with distractions.
Do this exercise in four locations in your house until you both have it down really well. Then do it with increasingly tempting distractions.

First establish your boundary, and then toss a treat outside of your boundary as you say “close”. He should look to the treat and then to you – that’s a perfect ‘check in’. If he starts to pull or lunges at the treat then begin your pressures. If he doesn’t listen to the dinks you have some choices – you can stomp your foot, slap your hand on your leg or say “hey” in a firm tone. These are startles to get his attention so that you can help correct his lack of respect and guide him in a better direction. When he looks at you then praise him.

When he sits, licks his lips, yawns or lies down – these are calming signals that tell you he understands and will not argue anymore – he is gaining respect for your wishes. However if this is an impatient dog or a puppy then he might only hold it for a second and then go right back to challenging you. Be ready to start again.

Repeat this drill several times until he stops challenging.


Working outside – release of adrenalin
Begin by working just outside of your back door, when you are successful then move to the front yard, then down the block a few houses and then to the park. Always work toward success – try not to move beyond your dog’s abilities too quickly or he will fail and lose confidence. If you move successfully and quickly through the distraction phases then you will both do great.

Then start working on a longer line – to help you in get off leash. Set your boundaries further away from you and try to use the leash as a back up tool. Use your voice and body language more actively and then use the leash only to back it up if he is not listening. Soon you will notice your dog not wanting to leave your side – he will naturally just stick close to you.

I hope this makes sense - let me know if you have questions.

Bearsmom
June 7th, 2005, 11:17 AM
Thanks! You're absolutely awesome! Will give it a try. Can't wait to get him into puppy school, he's not old enough yet.

Luba
June 7th, 2005, 11:20 AM
That's great information :D wonderful post!!!

Myself after months of training needed to resort to a harness, it works well. And she doesn't end up choking herself out from pulling on a collar.

I really love the harness.

tenderfoot
June 7th, 2005, 02:45 PM
Bearsmom - This IS the time for training. If your local trainer won't take a 3 month old then find another trainer or try to start on your own. Talk to people whose dogs are well behaved and ask them who they used or what they did.
We do have a DVD on our methods which take you from the beginning to end in his training and cover just about every action he can perform. Enough said - you can check out our web site if you like.

Bearsmom
June 7th, 2005, 02:52 PM
Will check out the website, thanks!

Our local puppy training place doesn't take puppies till they're six months old, and being in a small town, plus working loooong shifts, it's very difficult to find a puppy training school that isn't a majillion miles away.

tenderfoot
June 7th, 2005, 03:16 PM
Please, please, please find someone to help you now. I don't care if it's our video or someone elses (actually I do, but that's a whole other topic :p ), just get help now. This dog is going to be huge and could even be intimidating looking, so it is so important for him to respect his people and have great manners. This needs to start now.
I am so amazed that trainers still don't start dogs until they are 6 mos. It is archaic! The first six months are the best time to train. We get a new pup and it has a big vocabulary in the first week - we just have to reinforce it through maturity.
It's great that you have this web site until you can get more help.

Bearsmom
June 9th, 2005, 07:40 AM
Wow. Took Kaos out last night and tried that gentle tugging (gotta tell ya, I was so concentrated on doing it properly that I caught myself saying "dink dink dink", and some guy was walking past and looked at me like I was NUTS).

That annoying tug seems to work and get his attention, but I don't seem to be able to hold his attention for very long (he's extremely food motivated, but I don't want to reward constantly with treats, I'm trying to do a treats/praise mixture). Still working with the "be a post" thing, but again, the challenge is holding his attention.

Any suggestions?

tenderfoot
June 9th, 2005, 10:25 AM
He's a very young pup and needs to learn patience.
Try to work the drill in the house first and get really successful before you introduce outside distractions. If you work things in the proper order he will learn faster and you will both feel better about what you are accomplishing.

Bearsmom
June 9th, 2005, 11:17 AM
Thanks so much for all your help, I'm sure I'll have a million more questions for you.

jessi76
June 9th, 2005, 12:15 PM
Tenderfoot has given some really phenominal training advice, which I, myself, have read here, and try to follow. However, I just wanted to mention a new product out for pulling - it's by Gentle Leader, it's called EASY WALK, and it's a harness (not the Gentle Leader head-harness). I got one for my puppy (they have all sizes up to XLG dogs), it's much like wearing a shirt that is too tight in the arms - makes you not want to put your arms all the way up - same theory here, the harness goes across the shoulder, restricting the dog's stride, thus making it impossible for them to get too much ground on you and pull.

Like I said earlier, the training advice is best, but if you were looking for an actual product to use with the training, the EASY WALK may help. I've liked it so far (in ADDITION to training, of course).

levimh
June 9th, 2005, 12:31 PM
I would definitely try tenderfoots advice, but for those times when you just want to resort to using a lead I would choose a halti. I found it to be a miracle worker when I first put it on Levi. After I read on this forum, one day, that any type of halti or leader justs covers up the problem and doesn't actually "fix" it, I decided to try and actually teach Levi not to pull. Most of the time, he's great, but for days when he's more distracted than other days or when he's just being uncooperative, I use the halti. :)

Freyja
July 9th, 2005, 02:07 PM
Hi all, been a long time since I last posted. Lindy is my 20mo old Shepherd/Huskey cross who was a rescue dog that I got one year ago. She has come a long long way from where she was last July and I am very glad about that. I did have a trainer come to the house a few times and that worked well for basic training. But I am still having lots of trouble with heel and pulling on leash. I am the only one who can walk her, she is terrible with the kids, pulls something awful. The trainer had me "dinking" the leash and making Lindy come around to go the other way and repeating it everytime she went ahead of me. We never got past our block and I was extremely frustrated. So we are going on our normal walks, at the beginnning of the walk there is a lot of dinking going on, me snarling "heel!" and Lindy stops pulling for about 30 seconds and then starts in again. It is not as bad as it used to be but she seems to want to push it at every opportunity. Some days it is like she is trying to pull me like I am a sled. It is like she has totally gotten used to the leash correction and it doesn't phase her anymore. Pavlov's dog indeed

Prin
July 9th, 2005, 08:34 PM
I tried this in a store and it is crazy. Ut;s a halti that tightens behind the head. We walked Boo on the leash with it maybe 3 times and now without it he walks really well too. It's not 100% comfortable, but he got used to it quickly. We can pass cats on the street and he doesn't even try. It's good because it works long term, meaning it works even when it's off after wearing it a while.
(it's a little expensive though).
http://www.newtrix.ca/docs/index.php

tenderfoot
July 9th, 2005, 11:41 PM
Freyja -Your dog is back to a challenging mode (it usually starts at about 18 mo) and you have possibly over done the 'dinks' to the point where they have no meaning anymore.
We teach our clients to use different 'pressures' to impress the dog and to avoid desensitizing them to one particular method of communication. Remember that every step you take in the direction your dog is pulling teaches her to pull. Your dog does not need to go for walks from point A to B. She needs to learn that in order to have a calm/fun walk - all she needs is to have manners. Turn into her shoulder the second she steps ahead of you and make her move out of your way. This will make her think you are erratic and that she needs to stay just behind your knee because she never knows when you are going to change direction. You might feel like you are doing circles or changing direction every few steps but she will smarten right up when she realizes that her choices are what dictate the walk.
Do not let the kids walk her right now until you have things under better control. It's like having puppies take puppies for a walk - there isn't much quality leadership happening.

Freyja
July 10th, 2005, 06:53 PM
Thanks for the idea, we will try that.
As for the dog not needing to go from A to B, maybe not, but it sure makes things a lot more interesting for me! :p

Freyja
July 10th, 2005, 11:16 PM
We had a great walk tonight. I reviewed the rules with Lindy before we headed out and she was great. I have a question though. Because she is not off leash yet (she bolts, loves to run and run and run). I have been taking her to the off leash area and letting her go on the long retractable leash. I have been "dinking" her if she pulls on the long leash and have been doing lots of recalling with treats and praise and "off you go". Is this a bad idea before she is really good "on leash"? :confused:

Prin
July 11th, 2005, 12:18 AM
What is "dinking"?

tenderfoot
July 11th, 2005, 10:48 AM
Hi Freyja - Good idea to do obedience drills before you go for a walk this gets the brain in gear for better listening & cooperation.
2 things about retractable leashes: 1- There is always constant pressure on the dogs neck (if its not locked) so it teaches the dog TO pull & 2 - retractables have big hard handles & tiny strings - niether of which are good for communication. Its like guiding someone on the dance floor by a single hair on their head versus guiding them by a pony tail. It's out of balance - so the 'dinks' aren't as effective. Try a long heavier rope or long lead (20-30 ft.) - it can take some talent to maneuver the rope so everyone doesn't get tangled but it can be done. Don't over do your 'dinks' - try to use the other pressures and get her listening to your words. If you depend on 'dinking' then you will have to forever.
It sounds great that you are making the recall into a game and that it doesn't mean the fun is over. Another fun recall game is the 'round robin' - if you have more people at the park. Everyone gets in a big circle and each one takes a turn calling the dog. The dog loves the attention and gets to practice coming in a game environment.

Hi Prin - 'dinking' (if done correctly) is a series of irritating pops on the leash to get the dogs attention. It is done with a flat collar (less harmful) and not so hard that the dogs feet move or not so little that you do 20K dinks and the dog ignores you. It's like a child tapping on moms shoulder to get her attention. It's very irritating. When the dog looks at you, turns into you or stops pulling then you stop instantly - The irritation (pressure) is to get the dog 's brain to engage and make a better choice and the stopping the dinks (release of pressure) tells the dog he made a good choice. Then you can add soft praise as well. Hope that makes sense.

jjgeonerd
July 11th, 2005, 01:05 PM
That turning in trick sounds great...I'm gonna have to ty that! Gabby is doing very well with the Tenderfoot methods...18 months is just around the corner though! :eek: :p