Originally Posted by LaurenBev
I just adopted a rescued Bluetick Coonhound yesterday, and i already love him a lot, but his amazing strength has be scared for his wellbeing and mine. When he's on a leash and a bunny or other small animal happens to hop by, he goes berzerk and chases after it with such force that I am unable to stop him and he literally drags me behind him. So far, nothing terrible has happened, but I'm afraid he's going to pull my arm out of its socket, or get away from me and get into danger - there is a busy road nearby. Is there anyone who's used one of those 'gentle leaders' on their coonhound? Is it effective, or is there nothing I can do to discourage my otherwise wonderful dog from dragging me all over the place? Any advice? I'm kindof scared to take him out for walks, given his brute strength and my inability to control him when he's in 'hunt mode'
Congrats on your new addition and thank you for adopting a hound!
How old is your hound? Have you looked into training courses? Do you have places to walk him that are safe (ie: fenced in)?? What are you walking him on right now?
Since you've had him for such a short period of time, I am sure you both have a lot of settling and foundations to lay. It's also likely that he was understimulated for much of his past, so wildlife is a HUGE thing right now but may gradually lose its appeal. Obviously, a hound is always going to be pretty prey drive but you can easily "harness" that drive with patience, consistency and motivational training!!!
While head harnesses tend to take immediate effect (quick fix) you need to be prepared to do additional training to ensure that it doesn't become a permanent fixture! If you are worried about him slipping away, you may want to look into a martingale collar or a well-fitted harness. If you choose to use a head harness, I'd encourage you to use 2 leashes - one for the head harness and one on his collar or harness so that you don't become dependent on the head harness alone. Either that or "aggressively" reward all loose leash walking on the head halter so that you can fade it quickly!
Dogs pull because it works... So really the simple way to cure pulling is to never allow it. The dog doesn't get to walk unless he is walking on a loose leash! It's definately easier said than done but it is truly the only way to ensure that pulling is no longer self-rewarding. A head harness can help with this because it gives you rewardable behaviour.
It's important to start with baby steps - so start walking your Coonhound around your house, where there are minimal distractions and therefore more chances at earning a reward (and learning what works!). When my hound turned 9 months, his loose leash walking went out the window - most sessions I couldn't get out of the driveway without him pulling! I had to get pretty creative about exercising him without allowing any pulling!
I prefer to teach loose leash walking as a position - so working without a leash can often be far more useful (because you have to engage your dog and learn how to motivate him, rather than rely on the leash to keep him in position!).
It is also important to work on self-control behaviours - especially since he is so prey driven. Work on "leave it", "watch me" and "stays" and also teach behaviours that redirect his focus elsewhere like "touch" (your hand) or a "front" command (where he turns into you). It may also help to set up a "tempting" situation but keep it easy enough that you can still reward him. For example, place a stuffed toy in the distance and walk towards it. Make sure you stay for enough back that your Coonhound doesn't get overexcited. Reward for any and all calm behaviour - if he is a star, move closer. If he isn't phased at all, you may need a volunteer who can help you rig a realistic situation that your coonhound falls for - but that still allows you to maintain control and set him up for success.
Probably one of the best things you can do right now is simply spend time with your dog. Observe him and learn what motivates him. If your hound is anything like mine, exercise and especially sniffing/hunting is VITAL so you need to ensure that he has plenty of time for all of that, on top of his mental stimulation.
BTW - I cannot wait to see pictures!