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Extreme leash pulling

Whistler's mum
July 9th, 2008, 01:00 PM
My year old black lab is an absolutely wonderful dog, except on a leash! I have been to dog training with him which calmed him for a while but after three months, he still hasn't learned. I am currently walking him using a gentle leader harness but he can still pull considerably on this and has open sores behind his front legs from pulling. I have also tried a halti head collar which seems to work miracles with other dogs but unfortunately, my guy scratches madly at his face with significant bleeding gashes as a result.

I'm starting to lose faith as there are limited and unappealing off leash parks in my area. I really want to be able to walk him on a leash with my other more well behaved dog and get my life back.

Anyone in a similar position?

July 9th, 2008, 01:13 PM
I have been using the Easy Walk Harness with Butter(75lbs Labradoodle) since he was 8 month old. It really make a big difference.

July 9th, 2008, 01:28 PM
What types of things have you tried with him (other than halters and the like)?

I've noticed this is a trend with labbys.....and mine is a little over a year and still using a Halti, but it has gotten a LOT better! I'll let you know some of the things I've been doing, but since you've been training I don't want to tell you things you may have already tried! No point in being repetitive....

Whistler's mum
July 9th, 2008, 01:59 PM
Hey Chase Mom

Other than the harness, I've:

- Taken him to obedience classes specifically for loose-leash walking
- Tried turning 180 degrees every time he pulls - he walks OK for a few steps then lunges back into husky-without-a-sled mode
- I've tried being a 'tree' and standing completely still until he stops pulling. Unfortunately, he eventually sits down and then as soon as I move forward he goes into the lunge again :(
- I've tried treat training from a bag around my waist but to be honest he's so completely in a different mood when we're outside. He loves treats inside but couldn't care less once we set foot out of the door. There are squirrels, leaves, rabbits and blades of grass blowing in the wind that capture his attention.
- I made some little elasticated booties for him to cover up his dew claw so I could use the halti but he can get them off eventually.

Any help/suggestions would be very, very much appreciated!

Whistler's mum
July 9th, 2008, 02:17 PM
I also forgot to mention he has an overbite which may be contributing to his discomfort using a head collar.

July 9th, 2008, 02:36 PM
When my then one year old 90 lb lab approached one year old I had to give in and purchase a prong collar. He absolutely went nuts to scape off the halti as did your pup and the body harness only worked to a small degree. The prong has been a great tool for us. Many people look at them (myself included prior to this) and think they look like a torture device but in fact they are much more humane then a regular choke collar. I would definately advise that you find a trainer that can show you how to fit and use the collar correctly. Also be sure to look for a quality collar (Herm Sprenger) is the best design and not one of the cheap knockoffs as they can have poorly finished prongs. I also personally like the quick release model for ease of putting on. Here are a couple great articles to consider.

July 9th, 2008, 02:45 PM
I figured you would have covered all of the basics since you said you had done training....that's tough! Chase didn't like the treats outside either....he actually spit them out.

I wouldn't push the Halti if he is really not having any of it....I only use it as back-up now. It seems to remind Chase to be good and keeps him calmer.....but if he was really pulling severely I wouldn't use it anyway because it can cause neck injuries by jerking the head to the side.

Where I found the most improvement with him was with the use of a martingale collar (NOT a choke), using a quick leash correction anytime he pulled ahead, praising him whenever he stayed at my side even for a split second, and continuing with abrupt changes in direction. I also did umbilical (leash around my waist) with the martingale, and attached Chase to me while making dinner, vacuuming etc. - I aimed for about an hour a day, and it helped teach him that he needs to go where I go, and that the leash doesn't equal going full steam ahead. The only problem with the martingale is you have to be ready for him to pull and correct before it doesn't minimize pulling like the Halti does so if they get enough momentum and pull away from you, there is not enough slack on the leash to give a correction anymore AND you can end up with some nasty rope burn! Oh, and I also practiced basic things like he has to be in a sit-stay before going outside, I go out the door first, and he needs to be invited out.....things to drive the point that you are in charge.

Just remember that whatever you try, progress can be very slow. Chase is 13months old, has taken nearly five months to show real progress, and we're not all the way there yet. He was so bad on leash and got so strong at 7 months I realized I was shying away from walking him, but once I decided just to keep practicing over and over again he started to improve. It can take a lot of time and a lot of consistency. :)

July 9th, 2008, 03:22 PM
Teach him to walk behind.You can start in the house with him tethered too you and tell him behind.if you have a fence in your yard walk close to the fence so he can't pass you on you left.if he tries to pass on the right get him on the left side again.

With the pulling.when he starts to pull stop and give a pop of the leash to the side.tell him steady and when the leash is slack with a dip in it start walking again.if he comes to you that is even better.

If your going to use a head halter i would use a halti as it sits better the the GL.also the Newtrix head halter is an awesome choice and works great for stopping pulling.

With the walking behind you can also have a treat in your hand keeping him behind telling him good boy good behind.

July 9th, 2008, 03:58 PM
A prong collar worked wonders on Kali, I tried a Halti too and she also would have ripped her face off as she started scratching at her mouth.

Doesn't look so nice, but I think you need something like it for big rambunctious Labs

July 9th, 2008, 04:20 PM
Oh, and try to go for LONG walks whenever possible. I found once they get slightly tired they pull a little less and that provides more opportunities to give positive reinforcement. It's harder to do that when you first start out and they're acting crazy. :)

July 10th, 2008, 08:39 AM
2 comments before I offer another option to corrections: 1. Labs are pain insensitive - most gleefully put up with corrections 2. If you choose collar correction, you should see immediate results...If you do not, its because your corrections aren't severe enough (most of us aren't willing to be as severe as we have to be in order to get the message through - especially with pain insensitive dogs). Poorly enforced corrections are ineffective - they are meaningless to the dog and become a nuissance - which makes them less likely to notice an even harsher correction... Not to mention it never cures the pulling problem.

Training tools in general can a huge help but most people become dependent on them because its easy... It is actually harder to use training tools because it takes additional time and training to transition OFF of them. Many people never make that transition which of course means that NO training has taken place. So if you use them as a tool, great but don't let it replace training.

Increase physical and mental activity - it can be difficult to increase physical activity if you can't walk anywhere without pulling but it is necessary... Dogs who are understimulated and undersocialized are the worst pullers IMO so you really need to provide an outlet for your dog so he is not pulling out of frustration/boredom... At first you may have to play fetch in the backyard or make a flirt/lure pole or even drive to an off-leash area at off-peak hours so you don't reward any pulling. If you have the vet's okay - get your dog into weight pulling - it is wonderful outlet for all his energy and an acceptable time for pulling (you can also do this in your yard!). My dog used to pull a truck tire as conditioning exercises - it is definately exhausting (but you need to work up to that kind of weight!)
Practice loose leash walking indoors or in the backyard - anywhere that is relatively boring. If that's easy for him - add distractions like toys, food and enlist some volunteers (ie: neighbours and their dogs) so that you have increasingly difficult distractions to practice on before you get to the hardest distractions of all (walks).
When you do go on walks - go at less stimulating times and get to a quiet area fast. You may need to use a training tool but don't let it replace training. ONLY use it when you have no choice but go for a walk and once your dog is tired or if you are at a "boring" place (ie: very few distractions) take off the training tool and start training!!!!
On top of all this, you need to do some OB training - if your dog already knows the basics, then get started on some other useful behaviours or tricks... For example - "touch" - if you teach your dog to target your hand or a target stick (ie: touch it with his nose) you have a way or getting his focus back onto you and away from distractions. Work on self-control exercises like stays and leave its...

Now - all of this requires that you have a reward to give the dog. You mention that you used treats... What kind? Were they the best of the best? How did you deliver the treat?
Generally treats are the best things to use because they are easy to deliver - which is why so many people limit themselves to them... In fact, a REWARD is ANYTHING YOUR DOG WILL WORK FOR. If your dog has a special toy, use that instead (requires a good leave it) - I knew a dog who's best reward was pinecones. My dog loves water - he loves to catch splashes so I fill a water bottle and squirt water for him to catch as a reward. The only limits are your imagination and of course what your dog considers a reward. Some dogs will work for petting or praise - most need a little extra.
Another reward that people tend to overlook is FREEDOM... For example, if you are practicing loose leash walking in your backyard and your has just don't really well, releasing him to go sniff or just to run around with the leash dragging is a perfect reward...

One more thing, reward him anytime their is slack in the leash or even if there is no leash involved, reward him for being within the 4-6ft that you want him to be in on a walk... Dogs will quickly learn that the 6ft bubble around you is rewarding and will CHOOSE to come into it more often... Dogs who are given the opportunity to make the right choice are learning...whereas dogs who pull and are then corrected are still practicing the bad behaviour and if the corrections aren't enough of a detterent - they aren't learning at all.

Good Luck.

July 19th, 2008, 04:53 PM
I'm sad to hear it's being difficult for you :(

Don't lose hope yet!

I've read many times that a quick 'check' helps teach them to stop tugging, although some owners don't like using this.

Another method that I DID like, was if the dog is say going too fast, tugging too much, or insists on walking infront of you; stop and tell the dog to sit or lie down. Wait a few minutes until he has calmed down and hopefully this will help.

Good Luck! :thumbs up

July 24th, 2008, 05:58 PM
see my post in the general forum re: illusion collar.

Miss Dottie
May 27th, 2009, 11:31 AM
Wow - the pulling in "Huskie without a sled" mod really made me laugh, as my 15 month lab does the exact same things.... I have tried all the "tricks" you did and had identical results... The prong collar did help some, but just when I think she is ready to move to the regular collar, it's back to the same issues. Did any of the suggestions work? One thing I found helpfull is a ball session in the yard to tire her out and calm her down first...

May 27th, 2009, 01:10 PM
I've watched countless dogs pulling their owners like you describe. I've seen Haltis cause damage to dogs and I wouldn't recommend a choker either. But if you try a prong (get someone knowledgeable to teach you how to use it) you will notice your dog stop pulling immediately. We recommend then in obedience class for the frail or elderly who have trouble controlling their dog and in one session the dog is walking at heel nicely. It's like having power steering. You don't have to do any correction with this collar, the dog corrects himself and ususally a few times is all it takes.

May 27th, 2009, 01:46 PM
Whistler's mum:

One question. (And to everybody else too)

Why dont you just make it simple for the dog, dogs like simple, and just show the dog:

we do not take any steps further, not even a babystep, while you are pulling

I know youve done this before, but you also must correct your dog, and show that it not wanted. And as soon as she takes 1 step correctly, stop and praise. Start walking 3 steps, stop. If she pulled, then try walking 2 steps. Etc
Im no trainer, but with this logic (also includes corrections such as tellig the dog off when pulling, stopping when she pulls, making the dog calm down and sit behind me everytime we stop, but also includes ALOT OF TREATS (:crazy:) AND PRAISES WHEN DONE CORRECTLY!) ive succeeded training my dog, which is also my first dog

It took me a long time to do this though, the dog has to know that no walking unless she does it correctly. First week we walked 1-2hours a day, normal amount, but the length of the walk trips was like 200m a day! But a mental problem like that is also very energy draining!!

May 27th, 2009, 02:31 PM
I've switched to the easy walk harness by Premier. The leash ring is in the front of the chest and when the dog pulls, he goes sideways. I have a small dog but she pulled so much that she was choking all the time. Works for me. Make sure it's sized right.

May 28th, 2009, 12:07 PM
Nagina this is one of the other methods we teach but with the frail and elderly and some very obnoxious dogs it simply doesn't work for them , hence the prong to make it easier for them . The dog also learns that they no longer have control over them by yanking them to the floor or hurting them. We also teach a lot of turns, everytime the dog is not paying attention, just turn direction.

May 28th, 2009, 01:02 PM
Dogs usually learn this because we cannot hold out as long as they can.. You go for a walk and try to get them to stop pulling you get exhausted and give up, they pull for the rest of the walk and then you try again next time..

Try playing ball for awhile first to get the crazies out.

Don't tolerate it, you need to have patience TONS of it, keep turning around when there is pulling, keep correcting, I just like a word, and if that doesn't work a small correction with a martingale collar, I am not a fan of chokers or prong collars. Try the halti again, when he tries to get it off, stop him, and move! fast keep moving, he cannot get it off if he is at a trot. He will still be thinking about it though and wont be pulling. My dog tried to get it off for a long time too, and then took to rubbing her head on the side of my leg to try and rub it off, I just correct her for doing it.

If they pull, block in front of their face, with your hand, leg, or body, you can also swing the end of the leash in front of them, DO NOT HIT THEM, they wont pass it, if they do try and get bumped with the leash on the nose it wont hurt, but it is not the intention to actually hit them, just block.

But dont tolerate it, dont give up, dont allow any pulling, when they are walking nice you can start to give a command 'ok' that they can then go up a bit and sniff around, but they cannot pull first and then u say ok, you choose when it is ok or not. You have to persist the whole walk, each walk, each day, you will win, but every time you let them pull you are putting yourself back at the beginning. I would rather rely on training than equipment,

I have a lab also, and I have gone through this, persistence persistence, and they will get it, just never ever walk with them pulling, you are in training mode now and it is not acceptable.

May 28th, 2009, 03:20 PM
I have the Halti for my big guys and it has worked great! Matt didn't like his at first but made it exciting for him and now no problems. I couldn't not take a step when he was pulling as he out weights me and I needed something to aid with this. The halti has made a huge difference here. mybe try again

May 28th, 2009, 07:18 PM
yes M&M good point that I forgot!! That is also why I use a halti, my dog heels nicely but if we see another dog she can out power me easily.. She hated it too, but you can make them like it, when you first get it you reward them for it, and you stay ever so calm, then take it off, you have to wait until the dog willingly puts his head in it, then you know it was accepted, then when you start walking if they dont like it you just have to move, when they come willingly reward have a party, you can get any dog to like it! I would try that before a prong collar I really do not like those. It is inflicting pain to get the behavior you want imo, and I disagree with that.