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Old October 2nd, 2008, 12:54 PM
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SyntheticSmile SyntheticSmile is offline
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Unhappy walking the dogs

We have two dogs, Loki (border collie/german shepard - we think- , approx. 2 years old, got her from the shelter in May, was previously a stray with NO training) and Odin (a huge 6 month old bull mastiff/ lab cross - the only thing "lab" about him is the color and his face isn't smushed in or wrinkley). Now I'll admit that we haven't been doing routine walks as often as we should and therefore training is lacking. The biggest reason for that is that it is very hard to split these two up for a walk and its not very often that my fiancee and I have time to walk them together. To walk them seperately means leaving Odin alone to howl (we've heard him howling from inside the house 3 blocks away) and then when you get Odin on the leash by himself he'll grab the leash and spend the entire time trying to pull you back towards the house and Loki (for such a big dog he is VERY insecure without his Loki! Its really pretty funny most of the time except when trying to walk him). Even as a 6 month old pup he already stands taller than Loki and out-weighs her as well. And he is SOLID muscle - we should have named him the Hulk! lol. Loki also pulls like crazy. Shes not nearly as massive, so is a bit more manageable (still weighs about 65lbs though and that does get tiring very quickly). Walking them together is even worse. Odin spends the entire time trying to wrench your arm from its socket (it seriously takes ALL of my strength to hold onto him, and I'm not a weak person) and Loki (being more dominant) trys to compete with him. They pull so much that we only get about a block or two before we get fed up and turn around. And even just a block is murder on whoever ends up walking Odin. At this point he hasn't yet begun to drag anybody - but he is only going to be getting bigger. This is a thought that I'm greatly concerned about. We have a pretty good sized yard that they have full run of, so its not like they're starved for exercise or anything. I've never really had this problem with any previous dogs, so I'm at a loss for what to do now. The only thing I can think to do next is try a choke chain on Odin, but he gets so anxious and upset if he's not within a 2 foot radius of Loki at all times that I honestly think he'd end up choking himself out rather than submit to the chain. Plus I'm kinda confused about choke chains to begin with. I've heard so many things for and against them. They are very good dogs otherwise. They do all the basics (sit, lay down, shake, speak, etc). Just not the walking thing. Someone please help!

Don't know if it makes a difference or not, but Loki is fixed and Odin we plan on getting fixed within the next month or two. Hoping this will help, but not holding my breath.
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Old October 2nd, 2008, 01:11 PM
kandy kandy is offline
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While choker chains can be an effective tool, they can also be dangerous if not used correctly. I would suggest a gentle leader or halti harness - the design keeps the dog from being able to pull - and it's not putting pressure on the dogs throat or neck. When a dog pulls with a normal collar or even a choke chain, the pressure on their throat and neck can cause permanent damage.

They also make leashes especially for two or more dogs - between that and the halti harness, you might find that walks are easier.
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Old October 2nd, 2008, 01:27 PM
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Since these two are huge pullers,do not use a choke collar at all.I use one once in a while.BUT it's not to correct any pulling cause my guy isn't a puller.Ok that didn't make sence.LOL

These two need some serious one on one training.And somehow both you and your fiancee need to find time for this.And work at it.

You say you have a good sized yard.Well you can start there.Do some "walking" training.

You can try the harnesses.Some dogs take to the halti,some don't.Some will try and fight it.You can give it a try.

Have you tried contacting a trainer?
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Old October 2nd, 2008, 02:03 PM
BenMax BenMax is offline
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Originally Posted by kandy View Post
While choker chains can be an effective tool, they can also be dangerous if not used correctly. I would suggest a gentle leader or halti harness - the design keeps the dog from being able to pull - and it's not putting pressure on the dogs throat or neck. When a dog pulls with a normal collar or even a choke chain, the pressure on their throat and neck can cause permanent damage.

They also make leashes especially for two or more dogs - between that and the halti harness, you might find that walks are easier.
I have to agree with Kandy. A choke can be effective and usually only requires minimal usage if used correctly. If you do not know how to use one then it is best to consult with a trainer first.
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Old October 2nd, 2008, 02:30 PM
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I have a lab X who is a puller and I have decided always will be. She wears a Halti (or Gentle leader) on most of our walks. Note though that they can sometimes slip out of these so I latch the leash onto the Halti and to her regular collar. I did not find that a harness helped at all, it only enabled her to lean into her pulling more. Ugh. I did try one of the double leads once, and that only led to my puller dragging my polite dog all over the place.

Now the difference in the two, and most important for you, is that the polite walking dog was given extensive obedience training! The puller was not. By the time we got the second dog the first one had severe separation anxiety and could not be left home alone while taking the younger one to training classes. The young one behaves when walked alone, but seems to know when I walk them together (most of the time) she can get away with pulling because I can't correct her as well as when I only have one dog.

I think training for both of your dogs is of the utmost importance and you should get on it asap. Good luck.
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Old October 2nd, 2008, 02:30 PM
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Guinness' mom Guinness' mom is offline
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Hi SyntheticSmile
I have a 80lb year old chocolate lab....who is a big puller...I used to hate walking him...I tried every collar with him and our trainer.
I ended up using the pinch collar. I used to think they were barbaric...but they way safer then the choke collar.
And now walking my dog is a pleasure and my shoulder stays attached

http://leerburg.com/fit-prong.htm
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Old October 2nd, 2008, 03:03 PM
BenMax BenMax is offline
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Originally Posted by Guinness' mom View Post
Hi SyntheticSmile
I have a 80lb year old chocolate lab....who is a big puller...I used to hate walking him...I tried every collar with him and our trainer.
I ended up using the pinch collar. I used to think they were barbaric...but they way safer then the choke collar.
And now walking my dog is a pleasure and my shoulder stays attached

http://leerburg.com/fit-prong.htm
Again, and I cannot emphasize more - the choke collar is not dangerous if you know how to use them correctly. The pinch collar can be equally dangerous if not used properly.

Everyone has an opinion no doubt on what collar to use. What works for one, does not work for another. In order to save time, money on all different kinds of collars, the very best advice is to spend a little time and money on a good trainer that already has the proper equippment. Also, they have experience with certain breeds and collars that are best suited for these breeds.
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Old October 2nd, 2008, 05:00 PM
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...

Thank you guys for all the replies. I will skip the choker and look into the halti. As for the trainer... well, we had considered obedience classes previously when we first got them, but as we've been preparing for a big move, we just never got rolling with it. Now as I've said, they are great dogs other wise and I really don't think we need classes on how to do the things they already do well - besides which we don't exactly have money to spend on things that aren't problems. Do they have trainers that do just the walking part of it? I mean, everything I've ever seen is like a "class room" you bring your dog to with a bunch of other "students" and someone runs you through all the basics (including walking - but we wouldn't really need the other stuff, and how can you train your dog to walk properly inside with a large group of dogs anyways?). What do I look for in a trainer? (I don't really know to much about hiring trainers.) How much does one usually cost?
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Old October 2nd, 2008, 06:04 PM
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mona_b mona_b is offline
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Well you can do a search for trainers in your area.Just make some calls and ask if they,or anyone they know who helps out training for pullers.As for costs,don't know that one.Never used one.

Being able to walk your dogs is very important.Yes there is a yard,but they need to be out and socialize and be familiar with what goes on around them.

I trained 2-3 month old GSD's together.And it took alot of work.This meant training them seperately and together.If they were pullers,I'd be pulling,my hair out that is.LOL
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Old October 2nd, 2008, 06:38 PM
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We have a yellow lab that is a puller. We tried the gentle leader at first but like prefer the Newtrix much better. The gentle leader pulls the dog's head to the side which can cause neck damage whereas the newtrix tightens from behind the head which is safer imo.
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Old October 3rd, 2008, 12:06 PM
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While you say you only want to work on the pulling issue then you may need private training lessons. But part of the whole process is the dog learning to respond to you in many different situations, which is what the class will help with. Your dog listens to you at home when you tell it to sit, but does it have the same respect when you're out walking down the street and two dogs go by you?? I went through three levels of obedience with my older dog even though she listened fine after one. Really the classes were a process of instilling the respect, and defining the leadership role for the owner. Really it's the owner who learns the most in the classes. Given a chance to do it again, I'd take my younger one to obedience in a heart beat. The collars and halti's and such only help to mask the problem, they don't necessarily correct it. I've accepted the fact that my lab will always be a puller, but it's entirely my fault for not instilling her basics when she was younger. Good full scope training is not something you would ever regret.
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Old October 3rd, 2008, 12:56 PM
kandy kandy is offline
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For as little as he is, my collie/hound cross is the worst puller. I looked at the halti and the gentle leader - but tried just looping the leash around his chest. He wears a harness anyway, so I hook the leash to the ring on his back, and go around his chest. When he pulls, the leash tightens down on his chest and he doesn't like that. It effectively stops him from pulling.

The thing I don't like about choke chains or pinch collars is that for some dogs, its the fear of the pain that makes them behave. You take the collar off and they'll go right back to the undesirable behavior. Used properly, they work for some dogs and not for others. Same with the halti or any other control device - it all depends on what it is that is motivating your dog to pull in the first place IMO.
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Old October 3rd, 2008, 01:02 PM
BenMax BenMax is offline
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Originally Posted by kandy View Post
The thing I don't like about choke chains or pinch collars is that for some dogs, its the fear of the pain that makes them behave. You take the collar off and they'll go right back to the undesirable behavior. Used properly, they work for some dogs and not for others. Same with the halti or any other control device - it all depends on what it is that is motivating your dog to pull in the first place IMO.
This is exactly my point about people who use chokes and pinch collars who use it incorrectly. These devices are not suppose to hurt...bottom line.

If people knew how to effectively use them then most problems are rectified immediately and without pain.
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Old October 3rd, 2008, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by SyntheticSmile View Post
Thank you guys for all the replies. I will skip the choker and look into the halti. As for the trainer... well, we had considered obedience classes previously when we first got them, but as we've been preparing for a big move, we just never got rolling with it. Now as I've said, they are great dogs other wise and I really don't think we need classes on how to do the things they already do well - besides which we don't exactly have money to spend on things that aren't problems. Do they have trainers that do just the walking part of it? I mean, everything I've ever seen is like a "class room" you bring your dog to with a bunch of other "students" and someone runs you through all the basics (including walking - but we wouldn't really need the other stuff, and how can you train your dog to walk properly inside with a large group of dogs anyways?). What do I look for in a trainer? (I don't really know to much about hiring trainers.) How much does one usually cost?
I strongly disagree! For the most part, dog training class is about training the owner to work with their dog. They may have known all the commands but it's up to them to decide who to listen. You've to attend the class to learn to be their leader. To hire a private trainer could be expensive. But my dog is enrolling in this class hosted by the city and it costed only $65 for 8 classes. It's an outdoor class and the 1st lesson is walking the dog.
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Old October 5th, 2008, 11:40 AM
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It used to be that the goal was to be off leash - now it seems that everyone just wants to control the behavior but not teach the dog to think. Did you know that choke chains and pinch collars are illegal in some countries? They did a study in Germany that showed the damage to the neck muscles caused by dogs who were trained on choke chains versus dogs who were not and the results was considerable.

Odin is the real issue here as he has emotional problems because he is overly bonded to Loki. Loki just needs some good training and you need to learn how to teach her - that can be covered with a good trainer.

Odin has his emotional umbilical cord pugged into Loki and he can't function when it gets stretched too tight. You have some homework to do. These dogs need to learn how to be alone, how to self entertain, get some confidence in the world...their leader and themselves - Odin most of all. This means that the two humans need to assign yourselves a dog each and hook yourselves up to them A LOT!! These dogs need to go for seperate walks, play just with humans, sleep seperately and have seperate adventures with their people. You got dogs to have a relationship but instead they have a relationships with each other. You can trade off so the dogs don't transfer their over bonding to one of you. Its like having children - both parents need to be involved with the kids. If one parent does all of the work the relationship with the other parent becomes disconnected and lacking.

It seems like pulling is the issue, but it is simply a symptom of lack of leadership, training and time well spent. I am not trying to criticize you at all, you are doing the best you can with two big dogs and one that is very insecure. That is a handful for most people. But the key is not to go out and get another device to restrain the dogs, but to break things down into the very basics of all relationships - love, trust and respect.

Love - thats the eaasy part, unfortunately they have greater love for each other than for you. I am not saying they don't love you but you can see it is out of balance.

Trust - they trust each other and now you must earn their trust. They must trust that you will never hurt them (pain/fear=trust lost) and they must learn to trust that you will not let harm come to them (sign of a great leader). They must also learn to trust the rest of the world so going for a walk is a great adventure not something to be dreaded without their dog buddy.

Respect - Odin respects Loki as his leader and protector. He does not listen to you at this point because he doesn't respect you. It needs to be that he listens to you out of respect and doesn't not argue. Like a child has good manners for their family and society out of respect for others - not because someone hands them an cookie every time they say please and thank you.

Odin is a teenager and anything missing in his training or relationship with you is going to be magnified right now and for the next few months - so now is the time to step up and take charge.

Find a trainer who talks about teaching you how to develop a strong relationship built upon good leadership. I would caution you not to go to anyone who thinks that slapping a device on them is going to change their emotional state. Odins emotions are so strong for Loki that the device would have to be pretty startling to get through his rush of adrenalyn when they are apart.
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Last edited by tenderfoot; October 5th, 2008 at 11:43 AM.
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Old October 6th, 2008, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by SyntheticSmile View Post
Thank you guys for all the replies. I will skip the choker and look into the halti. As for the trainer... well, we had considered obedience classes previously when we first got them, but as we've been preparing for a big move, we just never got rolling with it. Now as I've said, they are great dogs other wise and I really don't think we need classes on how to do the things they already do well - besides which we don't exactly have money to spend on things that aren't problems. Do they have trainers that do just the walking part of it? I mean, everything I've ever seen is like a "class room" you bring your dog to with a bunch of other "students" and someone runs you through all the basics (including walking - but we wouldn't really need the other stuff, and how can you train your dog to walk properly inside with a large group of dogs anyways?). What do I look for in a trainer? (I don't really know to much about hiring trainers.) How much does one usually cost?
Look for a positive reinforecement trainer that offers one on one classes. I think that would help you out more because you get the chance to ask specific questions. It depends on your area of course, but around here one hour consulation is around $60, sounds like a lot but you may only need a few sessions. Group classes are good, but are more geared to teaching basic obedience. I have seen Gentle Leaders work wonders with dogs, depends on the dog. I would defiantely try it, it gives you a chance to reward them when they are not pulling Or you can just train them to walk beside you by rewarding them whenever they are walking beside you and not pulling. Even start in your backyard on leash, so there is less reason to pull. Reward everytime the dog is in line with your leg. It may take tons of treats at first, but they start to get the idea after a bit.
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Old October 6th, 2008, 02:39 PM
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Skip the generic group obedience class, save your money, and go to a trainer for private one-on-one lessons. You'll get more out of the classes and be able to address these specific issues.
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