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Advice needed - Training my 4 year old to leash walk

Dwight Byrd
October 16th, 2004, 11:05 AM
Hi folks,

Hope that you can help. Buddy is my 4 year old Golden, a real sweety. We rescued him 6 months ago, and he has come a long way. He was clearly never leash trained. He has come a long way, seems to enjoy his walks. We have been using an extension leash, which seems to work best, because when he is in the park, or even walking down the street, we can let it out and he seems to like this. On a short lead, he pulls and pulls, and ofcourse we can hear this terrible wheezing, because he is pulling so much. Whether we use a choke chain (no spikes ... just a regular choke chain) or his regular collar, it does not matter. Same thing happens. He is much better on a short lead, after he has had a chance to run on the extention leash and has burned off some energy. Does he just need time, or is there a trick that I can employ to get his to not pull so hard when he is on a shorter leash?


Dwight and Buddy "Bubsy"

October 16th, 2004, 11:43 AM
I used to be a dog training assistant, and my boss (lol I like to call her that), always used positive reinforcement, namely, of course, treats. You'll have to wean him off of them but that's not a problem.

Walk with your dog, telling him to HEEL, and as soon as he pulls, say NO, stop, and begin to walk backwards, pulling him along with you. When he begins walking back towards you, praise him and give him a treat...and then repeat the steps over again..eventually, he'll learn that when he pulls, he won't get to his destination, but will instead, be walking back towards where he came from, thinking, HEY, this is no fun..we're not getting anywhere!...I know it sounds useless, but believe me, it actually worked!...and once he starts to pull less and less, treat him every time the leash is nice and loose.. can do the old way of training a dog to heel...every time he pulls, give him a tight QUICK jerk (PLEASE don't choke him though! LOL)..and say NO...this will be a faster way of teaching the dog to heel...although the above method is a little more friendly..but I taught Messina with the quick jerks and it worked for me just fine as well...

I'm sure some other people will be happy to comment also :) Good luck.

Lucky Rescue
October 16th, 2004, 12:14 PM
When I got my dog, she was 2 yrs old and a world class puller.

I found out, as you are, that choke chains do not work, and many dogs continue to pull. This can cause tracheal damage and won't stop the pulling.

The collar with the "spikes" or prong collar is actually much more effective and humane. But no collar will work without training.

Extension leashes are not good for pullers, because you have no control and the dog is learning nothing.

Every time your dog pulls and you follow, he has won. Since dogs do only what works, he will keep pulling since it gets him what he wants.

Use a regular 6 foot leash. As soon as the dog starts to pull turn around VERY abruptly and start walking swiftly in the opposite direction. Do this every single time your dog pulls. You may not go anywhere for a while, but your dog WILL learn to pay attention and stop pulling once he realizes that pulling gets him the opposite of what he wants.

October 16th, 2004, 01:33 PM
Using a regular collar,go ouit and get something called "THe Gentle Leader" its a device that you place around the dogs snout and neck...and when he pulls on the leash,it gently closes his mouth to put pressure and he will ease up....THIS DOES WORK..worked for my 4 year old golden who was a leash puller..

Once he has this on for a few weeks,you can try walking him without it,the gentle leader will condition him to wal nicely on a leash.,.while you give the heel command and other training.

Its very gentle way for the dog to learn to walk on leash

October 16th, 2004, 05:26 PM
I have also seen the "no pull harness" at a wal-mart before, I haven't tried it, but maybe someone else knows if it actually works.

October 16th, 2004, 05:55 PM
I agree with Lucky Rescue. That is the method that has worked for me. I would also suggest searching Nothing In Life Is Free (NILF) on the internet and following its training suggestions. It really is a great program.

Dwight Byrd
October 16th, 2004, 06:55 PM
Thanks everyone for all of your suggestions. I will follow your advice and use the short lead and when he pulls, I will start walking in the opposite directions with him. He is a pretty smart fella, so I am sure he will learn fast.

October 21st, 2004, 09:00 AM
You can also keep a treat pouch clipped to your belt or pocket on the side he is walking.Let your hand down in front of his face as your training (with a treat in it) every few steps that he stays by you treat and PRAISE!
Turning around and going the other way is excellant training.Remember to use a high pitched excited voice. :) You may get dizzy at first turning so much! LOL
Come on, watch where I'm going, oh look I am going this way!
Any ole talk to get and keep his attention.
don't expect to much for awhile.
Make your sessions short as it will take some time to get across the point of walking next to you., especially since its already a habit to pull.
I personnaly hate those retractable leashes.Why?...They are dangerous,(you have no control over a dog that far away from you) I don't want a dog at the end of a retractable lead coming at me and my puppy and it teaches nothing to let a dog drag you (pull you where it wants to walk)
Good luck, have fun and stay happy, dogs can tell your mood.

October 22nd, 2004, 12:50 PM
I'm with bigdawgluver, you want to start from the beginning with this big guy, use a standard choke chain and a 4-6' leather lead, get him on your left side, fill a pocket with treats, dangle a treat in front of your boy's nose, and once he looks up say "Buddy, heel!" and off you go. Circling is excellent practise, and if he knows how to sit, tell him to sit on all stops. If you talk to your boy constantly, and reward appropriately, he'll do just fine. I have a 3 year old golden and she came to me at 5 months & 42 lbs without ever being leash walked, and this technique worked well. Goldens love to please, you just need to help him understand what you want. With regards to proper usage of the choke chain, make sure it is fitted up high on the neck, just below the ears, in that position you will notice a huge difference with response during corrections.

Good luck! He's a beautiful boy. You've done a wonderful thing adopting him!

October 27th, 2004, 09:47 AM
I agree with the positive reinforcements this is the best method. I am not a fan of gentle leaders or haltis, I find that first they hate it and you spend your first few training sessions with them rubbing their face on the ground trying to get it off. Then once they do know how to walk with it as soon as you put a regular collar back on them guess what they start to pull again. I also dont like leading my dog by the nose. I have used the lupi harness on a Bloodhound rescue who was a very big boy and had never been walked in his 4 miserabe years before he was rescued. I broke 2 leather leashes trying to train him and then out of desperation bought a lupi and it was like walking a new dog. It works by applying pressure under their front legs if they pull but it never seemed to hurt him or chaffe his underarms and walking became very enjoyable. Even when I would walk him with a regular collar he did not pull any longer.

October 27th, 2004, 09:59 AM
I have two dogs and two prong collars. One for each dog. Chase wears hers about once a year. That first walk in the spring so that she can gently be reminded that she is not to pull me down the street.

I don't have a choker for Missy, nor will she ever have one. She would kill herself on one. She is pretty strong for a 40 pounder! Early this spring she muscled her way out the door when my mom and I were leaving for the feed store. I loaded her into the van and she got to go with us. Since her prong collar was at home, she went in with her buckle collar on. She spent the entire time at the feed store choking and puking!

Now her prong is kept in the van. It is still handy for walks around the neighborhood, yet always available for those unexpected trips out.

If you don't know how to use a prong collar, find a trainer that will show you.

October 27th, 2004, 10:09 AM
This may sound silly, but what is a prong collar? The only form of training collar I have ever seen is a choker. Our dog wears a choker, but we never use it on walks, we use his harness.

October 27th, 2004, 10:19 AM
They are sometimes refered to as force collars or pinch collars. They are metal with prongs on the inside.

The sound gruesome, but they are not. I have had Chase's around my leg and they don't hurt in the least. They pinch a bit, but, used properly, will not cause damage to your dog.

October 27th, 2004, 01:39 PM
They are one of the best training tools but you need to know how to use them as Lucky said. I used one on Boo he was terrible on the leash and had a very high prey drive so if there was a squirrel I could loose and arm or in some cases pulled down the street, an owner obviously not in control. The pinch collar was like a miracle for me. Once he got the whole walking on a leash thing figured out we would only use it if he started to forget his manners and one walk usually was enough of a refresher for him. They do not hurt the dog in fact I perfer them to a regular choke chain

October 27th, 2004, 08:48 PM
I second a vote for the Gentle Leader. PIA the first few times until the dog gets used to it but then it works like a charm.

I had a oversized 90 lb rescued Samoyed that lived to pull and it worked slicker than cat**** on a linoleum floor:D

Combined with treats and praise its surefire. ;)