Pulling on Leash...My Mistake!

Discussion in 'Dog Training' started by MyPemCharlie, Jan 18, 2008.

  1. MyPemCharlie

    MyPemCharlie Global Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    On our walk this past Monday, we saw a beautiful sight. Charlie and I passed a young man and his rather huge dog. They were walking in fluid, relaxed unison, side by side. The six foot leash hung silently, lying still between them in a low-slung U-shape, having no purpose other than fashion accessory perhaps. The sun shone. The angels sang.

    By contrast, I had shortened Charlie's leash to about two feet of strained nylon. It was but a feigned attempt to keep him beside me, pretending Heel. We walked quickly and choppily, as I had stopped and started, finally giving in. Let's just get home. My arm ached from the 2 mile battle.

    I have failed my dog at the art of loose leash walking.

    Three months ago with puppy immunizations behind us, Charlie and I left the safety and comfort of leash training in the backyard and ventured forth into the neighborhood. When we started, Charlie was good about staying with me and only needed a couple of corrections. Day by day, Charlie started pulling a little more. The change was so subtle, so gradual, that I hardly even noticed. He was getting worse, not better. Seeing the young man and his well-heeled dog on Monday hit me like a ton of bricks.

    I now have a bad habit to break and a renewed commitment to learn the right way to walk my dog. No excuses for my lack of discipline (or competence). From now on, we will not take one step forward if the leash is tight. I will "be a tree" or walk backwards. I have relegated us to training in the backyard and on the driveway again. No distractions. I'm grounding myself until I learn better. We are making progress.

    The questions: Has anyone else here trained your dog the wrong way to pull on leash, then corrected the problem? How much time did it take? I'm committed to fixing my mistake, but wonder if I'm looking at days, weeks, or months (with daily practice sessions).
  2. Peggy

    Peggy Senior Member

    Yes, and no. Let me put it this way, I had a litter in June, 4 years ago. I lead broke them, then over the winter my son took them out on leash to the runs. Well, he let them pull. So come spring and I want to show Blaze and Lizi, what a pain!!!

    Ok, Lizi didn't like showing so we didn't pursue it with her, but I did with Blaze. I ask another breeder for her opinion on my puppy and she scolded me for not having him better trained. So I got real serious about "leash walking" lessons.

    There were still a few times that I had to keep him on a tight short lead in the ring, but over a few months he got better. (And finished his Ch. last year. On a loose lead!)

    Depending on how dedicated you are will depend on how soon he'll catch on. You can try the tree thing, he pulls you become a tree. Or you can try the changing direction method, you change direction frequently (even about turns) and when he doesn't follow, (and may a time or two get pulled off his feet) your response should be something like "uh oh, what happened? You need to watch me." He'll soon think he's got a nut for an owner that can't decide where she's going and keep an eye on you.

    I took Lizi to obedience classes and taught her to heel. JJ and Keno were taught "easy" (which means slow down and don't pull), by the above methods. I either stopped or changed direction.

    Keno still pulls some but responds to "easy". The others will try to pull at times but will stop when I say "easy". They will often walk on loose leads now.

    It can be done, and I can't give you an exact time frame, but be consistant and determined.

  3. MyPemCharlie

    MyPemCharlie Global Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Thanks Peggy! I know it can be done with my sole objective of "Don't let him pull. Period." as the focus. I got lazy and impatient (and selfish), wanting a nice brisk long walk everyday, and lost the focus on training the dog to walk right even if we didn't walk as far.

    I'm sure my neighbor thinks I'm a nut too. Charlie and I were walking around in circles and zigzigs in the front yard Tuesday or Wednesday when the neighbor came home. I'm sure he probably caught me pretending to be a tree too as he was driving down the street toward home. He looked at me kind of funny when he got out of his truck. :)
  4. Michael Romanos

    Michael Romanos Active Member Staff Member Moderator

    I have always used a slip chain ( slipped on the opposite way to a choke chain) and have not experience any sustained pulling problems.
  5. MyPemCharlie

    MyPemCharlie Global Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    I am going to try not to use any crutches like choke or prong collars, harnesses or halters. To pass the CGC test, I have to have Charlie walking on a loose leash with a standard flat collar and 6 ft leash. If I need to go to a training collar or Halti later, I will. I'd have to wean him off that back to a flat collar before the test. I'm not sure which is easier, weaning off a training collar or trying to train up front on the flat collar we need to test.
  6. jakort1

    jakort1 Senior Member

    I too am guilty of letting Will pull. At night when I go for an evening "constitutional" I use a flexi-lead and let Will go in front for a while. When we're working he will wear a correction collar (chain or prong) but, he will also practice walking off lead at heal. One thing that I learned from my father is that the dog must understand what you are asking of it (he was magic with training dogs for herding...must have skipped a generation).

  7. Corgis4me

    Corgis4me Senior Member

    Does Your Dog Pull on Leash?

    A good article to read - it does work, just be prepared for your walks taking much longer than usual, and always be consistent as it says in the article.
  8. Peggy

    Peggy Senior Member

    LOL! I understand, been there, done that. My neighbors think I'm nuts too. Sometimes dog training makes us look a bit funny.

  9. Peggy

    Peggy Senior Member

    IMO, a training collar would be easier to use and then go back to a regular collar. And unless they've changed the rules you can use a chain "slip collar" (aka, training collar, choke collar). I did with my guys.

    However, you can retrain not to pull using a regular collar too. It's the idea that he either has to watch you or that you're not moving at all that will get the point across, not necessarily the collar.

    Also, using a training collar backwards puts constant pressure on the neck making the dog think the collar is tight. And for a dog that's intent on pulling, well, IMO, they're going to pull anyway. And you can't use the collar this way at the CGC test. It has to loosen not stay tight.

  10. MyPemCharlie

    MyPemCharlie Global Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    I know what you mean about skipping a generation; when it comes to teaching a dog to walk right, that part of my brain must be missing! My dad almost never used a leash with his dogs and they stayed right with him.

    I did read that Charlie doesn't know "where" he's supposed to walk (next to me) because I haven't taught him where to be. I've taught him to "Mush!" instead of to "Heel." Maybe I should buy a sled.
  11. MyPemCharlie

    MyPemCharlie Global Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Thank you for the link. I was so mad at myself for letting Charlie's pulling get as bad as it got that last Monday I re-read that article and at least 30 other articles on leash pulling. The link you posted is one of the better articles written.

    And yes, our walks are taking longer...we haven't even made it to the end of the block since Monday. No more 2 mile walks until we can walk 2 feet in our yard without pulling.
  12. MyPemCharlie

    MyPemCharlie Global Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Thanks Peggy, you're right. I didn't read the CGC "equipment" requirements correctly. I'm glad you brought that up. Still, just for my own satisfaction, I'd like to try retraining with the standard flat collar first. Like you said, it's whether they are pulling or not, not what type of gear they're wearing. If I've "ruined him" by teaching him to pull, we'll try a slip collar in a week or two and see if that helps.

    From AKC site on CGC requirements:
    "Dogs should wear well-fitting buckle or slip collars made of leather, fabric, or chain. Special training collars such as pinch collars, head halters, etc. are not permitted in the CGC test."
  13. Michael Romanos

    Michael Romanos Active Member Staff Member Moderator

    Reverting from a slip chain to a collar following training/usage with a slip chain, creates no diversion from any success gained from this process. In other words, when I put a collar on Taylor, he can heel if required and still does not pull.
  14. fogebotom

    fogebotom Senior Member

    The first thing that caught my eye was that you said-as you saw the other dog approach, you shortened your leash. Immediately what that says to the dog is something is up and they get on their toes looking for something to happen, remember your leash is an extension of your body.

    The tree method can work but what I prefer is the turn and pop. Well not really a pop, the dog corrects themselves.

    As you are walking if the dog's eyes get past your knee-make a sharp 180 to the left in the opposite direction. Do so by crossing over with your right leg, essentially cutting the dog off and forcing a quick readjustment on their behalf. Loose lead the entire time. DO NOT STOP, keep up a brisk pace and continue walking in the other direction.

    If your dog's ears and shoulders get past the point of your knee, then you have to go to the right 180 degrees. But this time you very sharply-turn on a dime, loosen lead and continue walking briskly the other direction. Right before the lead starts to tighten as the dog usually is still going in the opposite direction, give a quick pop and release on the lead. Don't say anything to the dog except for OH NO-what happened? In a very excited and surprised voice. Here's why it works, your back is to the dog-the dog at that point doesn't think you are there and has no idea where that pop came from. Most will think-OMG-Mom, did you know what happened to me while you were gone? They will catch up quickly and start watching your legs and body more knowing that if they loose track of you, bad things can happen.

    I have a collie-the one in the picture, that got taught that once-and to this day has the most gorgeous heel in the world-no lead, no collar, perfect position regardless of where you are in the world.

    Also, might I stress, continue working on your focus-Look At Me or name recognition-as he gets distracted while walking, slow to a stop and say his name. Immediate reward for looking and paying attention. See how long you can keep eye contact-extend the time from 10 secs to 15 and so on and so forth. Clairee the collie and Moose can sit or down for easily 10 mins or more in my obedience classes that I teach and one little whisper of their name and they are right there and ready to work.

    Good luck!
  15. MyPemCharlie

    MyPemCharlie Global Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Sorry, I wasn't clear. Charlie had pulled almost the entire walk, and I had shortened the leash well before we saw the man and his dog. Seeing the well-behaved dog made me realize what a truly horrible job I was doing.

    I have been stopping like "a tree" and giving Charlie a couple of seconds to come back to me and loosen the leash for a treat. If he doesn't correct himself after a couple of seconds, then I've been turning to the right 180 from the direction he is facing and walking away. Maybe I should not be combining the two methods.

    Crossing over the dog and going left is something I haven't read anywhere. I'll try that! I have been working Charlie in tight left circles where he runs into my knee if he's not paying attention.

    That's where I'd like to be someday. If I'd done it right the first time, we might be there today instead of me trying to "fix it". Charlie seems to do better staying with me off-leash (with a treat lure by my left knee) than on leash. Of course that is in the fenced backyard where he doesn't have distractions. I wouldn't dare try off-leash out of the yard yet.

    He really is good at giving me eye contact when I say "Charlie". We worked on that a couple months ago for about 3 days straight. It has helped with all of his other training. I haven't tested him beyond 60 seconds in down/wait.

    Things are improving, and I think he may be just about to break through and figure out the rewards for loose leash and "we dont' move forward" with a tight leash. Of course that is working in the backyard, front yard, and a bit into the culdesac. The further we get from home, the more he wants to fall back into losing focus and pulling. When he starts to lose attention, I just take him back to the yard, get the right behavior and end that session. Instead of one long walk per day, we are working on three to five short leash sessions per day. (Unfortunately it's supposed to be cold and raining all week here, so we may have to work on "indoor" fun and training instead of leash work until the weather clears.)

    Thank you so much for your ideas. I may try skipping the "tree", and just use the turns and see how that works. I'm looking forward to trying out the left turn in front of him. I can see how that may really help.
  16. fogebotom

    fogebotom Senior Member

    The key to it is the position of the dog - if it's just past heel position, left turn, if it's truely forging and shoulders are past the knee, then right turn.

    I think combining the two-tree and turn, isn't getting the correct message across to him. Try just doing one thing and reward. The other thing to remember is act like it's an accident not a correction. The tone of your voice is different, accident or an oops type voice is upbeat and the dog gets excited to see what's up, corrections tend to be stern and the dog either blows you off or gets very downtrodden with it all.

    Good luck and happy heeling!
  17. MyPemCharlie

    MyPemCharlie Global Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Yes, I see the position difference between turning left or right. That's probably a split-second difference, but we're going to try it.

    I was just being quiet, no verbal correction when he pulled, but giving verbal praise when he was walking on a loose leash. Peggy suggested the "Uh oh! What happened?" a couple days ago, so I have been trying that instead of just being quiet. I usually try to redirect him to a positive behavior that I can praise him for instead of giving stern or harsh corrections.

    His behavior occassionally catches me by surprise though, and he gets a very very rare "NO! Stop That!"...like when he was caught in the act of chewing through the leather on the recliner when I thought he was just chewing on one of his toys. Surprise! That type of thing is not really normal with him.

    Overall, he's pretty good (or at least predictable) and I can be calm and redirect him to the right thing so he succeeds and gets positive, happy reinforcement.
  18. Peggy

    Peggy Senior Member

    I wasn't sure if they'd changed the rules or not. I just know I used "choke collars" on my dogs at the last CGC test we did.

    The slip collar might get his attention faster, but overall it's the methods not the collars that teach what you want.

  19. Chip's Mom

    Chip's Mom Global Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    I always use a buckle collar on my boys in or out of class and it works fine for me. I don't really care much for the choke collars. When we had our rottie he also had a buckle collar and I would walk him holding onto his collar he was so tall it was easier for me and he always stayed by my side.
  20. MyPemCharlie

    MyPemCharlie Global Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    It's funny you mentioned your rottie. My last dog was a rottie and last week it occurred to me that I never really learned to walk him "the right way" either. He passed his CGC as a puppy, but by the time we went to advanced obedience, he was pulling me on leash. The instructor finally gave up (on me) and suggested a Halti (head harness). It worked immediately, and for the rest of his life, we were able to take nice walks without him pulling - as long as he wore the Halti. He would pull my arm out with a flat collar. I apparently have a mental block about leash training. :(

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