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Question to tenderfoot about pulling

June 7th, 2005, 12:52 PM
I know there are many threads about pulling, but I have a few questions specifically about tenderfoot's "teaching your dog not to pull" paragraph.

Levi usually walks well on lead now, but every once in awhile he'll have some slip-ups. For example, "ooo, I haven't spelled that tree in a LONG time...pull.pull..puuuull..." or "Did I just see a cat? I think I have to meet that cat..pulll...pull.....pull." and he'll get distracted and not pay attention to me at all. I do the "dinks" and he'll sit - if he's still pulling, but sitting, I continue to "dink" and he'll stand up, move towards me, and sit, but continue to stare in the direction of the distraction - so I'm not sure if I should correct that or not. If I try and stand in front of him to make him "watch" me, he'll look up for 0.1 of a second and then it's back to that fun distraction.

If I try some kind of startle to get his attention, he'll usually just move closer to me or, again, look at me for 0.1 of a second.

When he does some sort of calming signal, I'll praise him/give him a treat and then we'll continue to move and he'll go right back to what he was doing earlier.

I've tried different ways of making him pay attention to me, but nothing's worked. I've even tried turning in the opposite direction, but if it's something like a cat, he'll continue to stare while I drag him along. Obviously I don't want to drag him anywhere, so I need some help. Of course, anyone else's advice would be greatly appreciated. :)

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.

June 7th, 2005, 02:09 PM
Sounds like you have done a really good job - we just need to get you to level 4 which is distance & distractions.
If he is sitting (calming signal) and still looking at the object of desire that's okay right now. He is consciously listening to you by not pulling, sounds like he did give a quickie 'check in' (asking "is this right?") but you really can't expect a kid not to look at the elephant in the circus - he's a kid! So Levi is doing great - give him (and yourself) some credit. Try to not correct his looking at the object, and only reward when he looks at you. If he is still pulling while sitting then perhaps you didn't let any slack into the leash to release the pressure. OR instead of 'dinking' try a slow & steady pull in the opposite direction he is looking (now we are getting into the 2-step dance). Get his attention at what ever distance works for him so that he isn't over whelmed by the distraction. Try not to stand in front of him for his attention - you should not have to force him to look at you - he should want to check in with you out of respect. We do not expect our dogs to be robots who stare into our eyes every waking moment - that's no fun for anyone. But we do ask that they 'check in' with us when there is a decision to make - "I really want to chase that cat!!!! What do you want me to do? Mom"
He is doing a great job every time he sucks into you - reward the heck out of that. He is understanding!!!!!!
Now that doesn't mean that when you head back towards the cat he isn't going to get overwhelmed again. Each step towards the cat is a new challenge to him and each one must be dealt with.
Here we go....
For every step that he takes pulling you towards the cat you are going to SWIFTLY turn in the opposite direction and walk a few steps away. Sometimes you are going to turn right into him and make him move out of your way. This can also help to break his thinking about the cat. If he is still dragging along (his choice by the way) then you are going to keep walking slowly away. The second he stops dragging (challenging) you stop and reward that with soft praise. Now try one step towards the cat. If it happens again then make the same correction. You might end up walking further and further away from the cat until his brain kicks in and he understands that every step towards that cat that doesn’t involve pulling gets him closer to the very thing he wants. At first you will move further away and then suddenly you will start to make progress forward with less corrections backwards. Until he can walk right up to the cat with no pulling. This does not take days or weeks it takes minutes - maybe 15 minutes but that is a short time in the big scheme of things.
But each new distraction will take its own little training session until he can learn to control his impulses.

June 7th, 2005, 02:21 PM
Thank you so much, tenderfoot. You are so wonderful to put forth all this information!

I will practise what you said as soon as possible. :D

June 7th, 2005, 02:31 PM
Levimh - I swear that Dodger and Levi have some kind of identical personality! Dodger did (and sometime still does) what you are describing of Levi! Dodger used to stare at the distraction and sit or stand with constant tension on the leash. I would take penalty steps and then try to walk calmly by the distraction repeatedly! He thought that if he came back to heel position that he could then sprint for the end of the leash and be free to check out the distraction :confused: !! Kinda like how a racehorse breaks at the gate - this was Dodger!

What Tenderfoot explained sounds great but Dodger still hasn't realized the point of penalty steps and we've been doing this for months now. If I use my voice he'll listen but I just want him to do the right thing on his own accord!

I think my problem is that Dodger spends more time off-leash than on-leash so training him to stop pulling is gonna take a longer time!


Good Luck with Levi! :pawprint:

June 7th, 2005, 03:17 PM
How old is Dodger?
It's like kids - some need a lot of prodding and reminding to clean their room while others just seem to do it on their own. Some kids need to mature fully until they can get good on their own.
If Dodger is "bolting out of the gate" then the 2-step dance would help him a lot and going super slowly will also get him to slow the bolt. Doing the opposite of what they want to do is a key in becoming a good leader.

June 7th, 2005, 04:10 PM
Thanks Tenderfoot! Dodger is 11 months old so I'm really trying to work with him a lot now with hopes of entering adulthood with solid obedience in day-to-day life! We're taking intermediate obedience and a pre-agility course right now but its no good doing all the "fancy stuff" if we can't get through a walk without pulling!
I'm also back to university in September so I want to get the brunt of the work done before then and just have nice and easy training sessions in the fall!
I will definately be working extra hard using the techniques you described in this post and from the other pulling posts.
Thanks again, you are always a great help! :)