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Months of training yet still pulling on leash

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Labrador_Owner, May 29, 2010.

  1. Labrador_Owner

    Labrador_Owner PetForums Newbie

    May 29, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Hi everyone.

    I'm the owner of a 10 month old Labrador and I have a real leash pulling problem. He still pulls on it it like there's no tomorrow and I've been trying to train him out of it for several months now and I've barely seen any improvement.

    I've tried all the different techniques I've heard, read and watched about: Stopping and becoming a motionless if he pulls ahead until the leash slackens, changing direction, patting my thigh so he returns to the correct position, praising him if he does walk by my side, standing in front of him and making myself big if he walks ahead etc.

    It just doesn't seem to be working and I'm starting to despair a bit. Especially as he's getting quite big now and is getting increasingly more difficult to control. I actually had a bit of scare the other day because he pulled so hard the collar slipped off and he ran on to the road past some oncoming traffic.

    What I have noticed, is that on the return journey back from the park, he does seem slightly better. Its almost like he's smelt everything he's need to smell on the route and so doesn't pull as much. Although its still quite bad.

    What can I do guys? I've heard about choke collars....but I'm not sure if I'm keen on them. I don't really want to hurt him. But if he isn't responding to training, I may have no choice.

    Advice much appreciated. Cheers.
  2. Bearpaw

    Bearpaw PetForums VIP

    Dec 10, 2009
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    Hi there.Sounds like he had a lucky escape on the road! You could try holding a treat in your hand whilst walking him (with your arm across your body so it is near to his head but just out of reach).remember to give him the treat once in a while for being a good boy.Labs are usually pretty food orientated,so this may work.
    You may also benefit from halti/gentle leader type collar,as this will help with the pulling and be less of a strain on you.
    You say he seems better on the return of your walk,is he walked alot? could it be that he gets really excited about going out? Obviously at this age you dont want to walk too much but maybe several shorter walks rather than one big walk may also help.
  3. leashedForLife

    Nov 1, 2009
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    hey, blab! :--)

    is he still intact? getting him desexed can help, in part by reducing his excitability to every scent left by other dogs;
    it will not be gone, just less-frantic to get there.

    a FRONT-clip H-harness with a ring on the chest where the straps meet, can be a terrific management-tool - at 10-MO his strength
    is considerably greater than Urs, and struggling to resist it is not worth the worry + effort, IMO.
    any H-harness that fits well with a chest-ring is fine; name-brand is immaterial.
    i like the Premier Pet-Products Sure-Fit harness only b/c they really do FIT every doggone dog i put them on...
    they adjust all over the body, and are durable + not very co$tly, either.

    i no longer recommend their E-Z Walker - i don;t like the martingale-style loop on the chest, that pulls tight when
    the leash tightens - i worry about sustained pressure over the shoulder girdle and brachial nerve-bundle, under the forearm.
    dogs have no collarbone, the shoulders are held by connective tissue + muscle only - and the brachial never-bundle is crucial to normal foreleg function.

    teaching him SEPARATELY to walk to heel or to LLW / loose-leash walk... THEN slowly introducing this to real walks,
    will give U a good LLW - U cannot take it on the road before it is mastered entirely under controllable circs. ;)

    happy B-Mod,
    --- terry
  4. Labrador_Owner

    Labrador_Owner PetForums Newbie

    May 29, 2010
    Likes Received:

    He has been neutered yes. That's helped slightly.

    Interesting about those types of harnesses. I like the look of the Gentle Leader and the H Harness. May have to invest in one. Have you guys had more success using these types of harnesses instead of a traditional collar?
  5. haeveymolly

    haeveymolly PetForums VIP

    Mar 7, 2009
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    I ve tried every technique in the book plus harnesses, halti's you name it ive tried it and . . . . . . . . . . he's 10years:eek: molly is just as bad she's 20 months.
  6. leashedForLife

    Nov 1, 2009
    Likes Received:
    if by traditional collar U mean a choke-collar, definitely the harness works better -
    a choke-collar takes a lo-o-o-ong time to teach LLW or Heel, and is rarely used properly by any pet-owner :eek: even with help.
    remembering the leash is LOOSE on the choke all the time that the dog is in position, and to use SHORT firm tugs is not simple;
    its an incessant non-stop conversation of tension + release, + APOs get distracted + forget.

    the front-clip harness needs no habituation, *cannot* pinch skin or pull hair out / pull on hair, cut hair short, or CLOSE-OFF
    the dogs airway dangerously
    , like a choke-collar. the one thing that U do need to be aware of, is to have it SNUG
    on the body, so that the harness does not slither around - No Fingers should fit between the harness + dog -
    and be sure BUCKLES are not in armpits - the skin there is delicate + sensitive.

    please check his TAG-Collar and adjust it so that it cannot go off over his head again -
    ONE finger between dog + collar is plenty of leeway, he is not a rapidly growing infant, and U can check his collar daily, too;
    i put them /\---- up -----/\ near the ears, not halfway to the chest -
    that only makes the collar BIGGER in relation to the dogs backskull, thats how it came off. ;)

    if he is not a typical Lab but has a narrow backskull a sighthound style martingale will NOT come off -
    Mrs Bones Custom made Dog Collars, Leashes, couplers, engraved tags, Martingale Collars-Made in the USA, Standard clip and Martingale adjustable collars
    the dog in the photo is wearing hers too-low, tho -
    How a Martingale Collar Works

    --- terry
  7. ScottieDog

    ScottieDog PetForums Junior

    Feb 23, 2008
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    Sounds the same as what we went through with our collie. The dog is excited and knows he is out for walk and this is his only focus the return trip home he is much more relaxed and therefore better on the lead.

    1st Get a harness for the dog makes it much safer for you and the dog easier to handle.

    2nd just take it slow talk to him nice and calm (I can't be bothered with all those tips you read about) and keep yourself calm tell him steady and get his attention with his fav tasty but don't give him it until you happy with him.
  8. sketch

    sketch PetForums VIP

    Sep 19, 2009
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    As mad as it sounds, try some focus work with your woofer, if you can get good focus you can get good heel work
  9. Inkdog

    Inkdog PetForums Member

    Dec 5, 2009
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    I completely agree!

    My Lab used to pull like a steam engine and I found that using a halti or a gentle leader didn’t make the slightest difference. I didn’t know about T-touch or the Mekuti harness back then otherwise I would have tried that; but what did help was clicker training. After months of pulling I had him heeling nicely within a very short period!

    There are dozens of threads discussing CT, if you haven’t tried it then give it a go.

    You might find Pamela Marxsen’s ‘Watch Me’ game to be a useful starting point for teaching your dog to focus on you: YouTube - pamelamarxsen's Channel
  10. sketch

    sketch PetForums VIP

    Sep 19, 2009
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    Well I believe and its just my opinion, unless you have focus, you have trouble training a dog to do anything at all...."You cannot train a Dogs Butt ", they have to be looking to you not away with there butt in view lol
  11. Deb

    Deb PetForums Senior

    Jan 28, 2009
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    been there - done that!!! Tried every method without success - until i found the mekuti harness. Dont know how it works but it does for my collie from the minute we put it on. Must have spent a fortune on haltis, gentle leaders etc. but money well spent for the mekuti:thumbup::thumbup:
  12. PennyH

    PennyH PetForums Senior

    Dec 30, 2008
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    A Gencon worked for our Lab x springer - I am not joking when I say a 2 year old could walk her on one of these. They are absolutely fantastic!!!
    Worth a look definitely!
    Good luck.
  13. keeleyjane19

    keeleyjane19 Guest

    Slip lead and a tasty treat like liver cake, chicken etc.

    For bigger breeds a leather slip collar is ideal (you attach your normal lead to it)

    This is what I train:

    Remember the sequence ATTENTION--COMMAND--REWARD--RELEASE

    Practise in a small area like your garden to start with.

    Make sure your dog has your attention, possible sit your dog in a heel position sit (on either side but stick to the same side each time).

    When you have your dogs attention, check your dog (tug on the lead so it tightens then quickly releases) and command heel when walking off. Have a treat by his nose and keep command heel, when he heels, go over the top on praise "GOOD BOY, GOOD HEEL, GOOD HEEL". When you have finished this exercise get him back in heel position sit. Reward him, and say a release command "OK" then ignore him for a couple of seconds.

    This is the most successful way of training, effective, and has a quick reaction. Isn't cruel to the dog (like a choke chain) and makes it easier for you. Don't let him pull on it all the time because it will choke him, every time he pulls check him back and say HEEL again, remember lots and lots of praise and occasionally reward him.

    ALL THE BEST!!! xx
  14. JjPhoenix

    JjPhoenix PetForums Member

    Jan 6, 2010
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    loose lead walking is one of those thingx that you can only train using consistancy. if you train for a few days,, then take your dog out for a quick spin round the block without training, that 10 mins has completely undone all the work you've put in. dogs are born gamblers, if they only get away wth something once or twice a week they will keep trying all the time.
    Harnesses are far better that collars, especially if you have a dog that pulls because of the damage that can be caused. Also dogs tend to pull less with harnesses anyway, but with any training aid, if you just slap it on the dog and still do no training, the dog will get used to it and carry on pulling after a while anyway.
    i went through every training aid i could think of, harnesses, head collars etc, and we only cracked it when i put in the time and effort myself. neutering isnt going to help, the dog doesnt know its not allowed to pull! if you havent shown him any different?

    we used clicker training 300 peck method.
    1 step, loose lead = treat
    2 steps, loose lead = treat
    3 steps, loose lead = treat
    5 steps, loose lead = treat
    7 steps, loose lead = treat
    10 steps, loose lead = treat

    if the dog surges forward and the lead goes tight, guide the dog back into place with the treat and start from 1 step. dont add a command in until your dog can do 300 steps with a loose lead.

    i use this harness
    K9 Gear Limited Power-Harness
    this one is good too.
    Fleece Lined Harness for dogs and cats
  15. keeleyjane19

    keeleyjane19 Guest

    I find Harnesses just "Mask" the problem and encourage the pulling, it doesn't actually help with training a dog to heel, the minute you take that harness off the dog will be pulling again!!

    Correcting the problem is far better than masking it, for the dog and for you xx
  16. Colliepoodle

    Colliepoodle PetForums VIP

    Oct 20, 2008
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    Using a harness/halti or whatever is a way of managing the problem while you work on solving it.

    Putting a dog in a position where he can't make a mistake is far better than correcting him, for the dog and for you ;)
  17. keeleyjane19

    keeleyjane19 Guest

    I find dogs pull far worse on a harness.

    I walk about 6-8 different breeds a day, and found the ones in harnesses are nightmares to the ones in slip leads.

    They find it easier to pull with their chest than their neck.

    Halti's are ok, but would only recommend if the dog is a serious puller and a larger breed, not like a terrier etc
  18. keeleyjane19

    keeleyjane19 Guest

    You said it yourself "correcting him" and this is what needs to be done!!

    People who don't correct and just mask it are lazy and just can't be bothered to work on training their dog in my eyes, but thats just my opinion, no offence
  19. leashedForLife

    Nov 1, 2009
    Likes Received:
    YouTube - Choose to Heel
    Be PATIENT - she walks alone + *waits* for this pup to join her... ;) takes about 30-secs, but LOOK how happy + relaxed -
    this is his home yard, he is very familiar + confident here.


    july 10, 2008 -
    clicker-training PINK, an AmBull, at 8-WO...
    YouTube - Clicker Training 8 week old American Bulldog Puppy

    Aug 11, 2008 - PINK at 10-WO -
    learning Choose To Heel, off-leash in a horse-arena
    YouTube - Clicker training a heel with a 10 week old American Bulldog

    Feb 3, 2010 - PINK practicing off-leash heel + Fronts at a public park:
    YouTube - Norcal's Pink heeling and come to front

    theres another video of Pink under 6-MO doing an off-leash heel at a park -
    but i couldn;t find it. :cryin: waaah... and she was REALLY happy, with lots of distractions.


    contrast the body-lang of those pups with THIS -
    a 7-MO female GSD-pup in a park - BTW the trainer narrates behind the camera, the handler is mostly silent. ;)

    YouTube - Heeling and focused attention
    at 1-min the dog is still worried by her surroundings, her mouth is open but tongue retracted behind incisors,
    her body is contracted while sitting, tail down when she stands... her ears are slightly angled-out (the rabbit-antenna look)
    vs upright in relaxed curiosity, or even lightly back in smiling, relaxed engagement with her handler.

    she ducks + peeks around her stationary handler to the right - her head is still turtled into her shoulders, + poll is forward.
    at 1:30 LOOK at her SIT position -
    her butt + heels / hocks are down, which is good... but her KNEES are way, way out in a flared wedge. :huh:
    *humans* sit like this when in a deep squat, with their butts above the ground; dogs do not.

    at 2:30 she is finally beginning to relax + pay attn to her handler, vs the scary environs...
    her ears are still wavering in + out of that 45-degree anxiety-angle, but at least she can look at her handler for a few secs,
    w/o breaking away to look for threats.

    at 3-min the dog is given a break from the sit, and relaxes a bit more
    (note -
    movement always helps control anxiety; standing or sitting or lying-down is not as helpful in a worrying situation,
    UNLESS U can place the dog in a safe area where its possible to hunker down + observe - obviously this setting,
    or at least where they are ATM, makes that difficult to impossible.)

    structure - not emotive behavior:
    at 3:34 WATCH as that puppy sits - where are her knees? what happens to her spine?
    her back roaches as she tucks her butt forward, and BOTH knees go out again, in that wide almost-90-degrees
    at her tail angle.
    her hocks are In, toes are Out.
    i dunno whats wrong with her rear structure, but this is IMO very abnormal posture + movement.

    4:35, her ears are *still* slightly outward, she still checks-for-threats in between attn-to-handler moments.

    at nearly Five-Minutes the handler plays her up a little, and the dogs tail FINALLY rises a bit to a low saber -
    she also loosens her body-contraction, whew; for 15-secs she is too engaged in hunting for dropped treats to worry.

    by 5:20 they begin CHOOSE - TO - HEEL...
    and at long, long last the dog is engaged-enuf for her body to come alive + her tail to stay up - she focuses, *movement*
    has her pay less-attn to scary things that MIGHT happen, and more attn to the Good-Things that are happening.
    by 6:10 she has already discovered where she needs to be, to be praised + rewarded - she is maintaining her position,
    relative to her handler, and moving fluidly.

    by 7:13 the dog is Both holding a good position whilst moving, and! giving her handler attn.
    she is going 2 to 5 strides in motion between rewards.

    a partner to CLICK the dog for position would have had this process move along much faster - the essential clue
    [what are we rewarding this time?] of this exercise took a little while for the dog to figure-out.

    STRUCTURE again - watch from 7:15 to 7:30 when the dog slows down + turns left <=== her hocks wriggle like Jell-o. :(

    behaviorally -
    by 7:30 the dog WAGS when she hears praise... :thumbup: much improved! i hate to see a dog constrained by fears -
    this is much nicer.

    8:08 exercise finished! :), nice little rumply play-session with the handler.

    happy training,
    --- terry
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