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I was a fool not to adhere to Vita’s advice sooner! Puca and I went for a walk this morning with his new no pull harness that came in last night and it was the most glorious walk. It really did immediately prevent him from pulling. He did get frustrated a couple times where he whined, jumped and flailed around trying to get the harness off because he wanted to run. This harness is an amazing tool and I’m sure we’ll have walking down in no time with it!
 

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The first thing I notice in your pictures is that you are using a leash that would actually be better for a German Shepherd dog than a baby small breed dog! For a puppy Puca's size you need something like a 3/8" or 1/2" wide flat nylon or leather leash between four and six feet long. When you have a leash that is too heavy, too stiff, too long or too stretchy for the dog there is no effective way to transmit information to the dog quickly and efficiently. For Lily I use slip leads usually at this point and generally they are pieces of leather boot lace or a skinny piece of nylon cord. When I am out and about with Javelin he is usually on a braided leash made with four double strands of 2 mm satin rattail (like what people use for crafts and jewelry). It is very soft and flexible and transmits information efficiently to him. Lily's street leash is made with three double strands of the same material. Javelin's heeling/ring work leash is made from four single strands of 2 mm satin rattail and is less than 2 feet long. He gets instant feedback if he pulls on that lead.


Actually I don't like harnesses to teach not pulling. There are many other ways to accomplish the goal of a nice loose leash. Additionally for any tool such as a harness or a head halti or a pinch collar you need to have an exit strategy that will let you fade the use of that tool. Most trainers don't pay much attention to that part of the training and they leave their teams dependent on those tools forever. Anyone who wants to use a harness should make sure they are using one that is not restrictive to how the dog moves. For any tool make sure one understands how to apply it properly and have a strategy to be able to fade its use.
 

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The first thing I notice in your pictures is that you are using a leash that would actually be better for a German Shepherd dog than a baby small breed dog! For a puppy Puca's size you need something like a 3/8" or 1/2" wide flat nylon or leather leash between four and six feet long. When you have a leash that is too heavy, too stiff, too long or too stretchy for the dog there is no effective way to transmit information to the dog quickly and efficiently. For Lily I use slip leads usually at this point and generally they are pieces of leather boot lace or a skinny piece of nylon cord. When I am out and about with Javelin he is usually on a braided leash made with four double strands of 2 mm satin rattail (like what people use for crafts and jewelry). It is very soft and flexible and transmits information efficiently to him. Lily's street leash is made with three double strands of the same material. Javelin's heeling/ring work leash is made from four single strands of 2 mm satin rattail and is less than 2 feet long. He gets instant feedback if he pulls on that lead.


Actually I don't like harnesses to teach not pulling. There are many other ways to accomplish the goal of a nice loose leash. Additionally for any tool such as a harness or a head halti or a pinch collar you need to have an exit strategy that will let you fade the use of that tool. Most trainers don't pay much attention to that part of the training and they leave their teams dependent on those tools forever. Anyone who wants to use a harness should make sure they are using one that is not restrictive to how the dog moves. For any tool make sure one understands how to apply it properly and have a strategy to be able to fade its use.
Thank you for pointing out that I need to change the leash! Are there other things you suggest to teach him not to pull?
 

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Thank you for pointing out that I need to change the leash! Are there other things you suggest to teach him not to pull?
Once you have a leash that will give better live feedback then my favorite method for teaching no pulling is to turn into a tree every time he makes the leash go tight. In other words you stop dead in your tracks. Just stand there and wait for Puca to look at you to figure out why you aren't going anywhere. Praise him for reconnecting to you. Then tell him let's go as you start in a new direction. As soon as he pulls stop. Wait for his attention to return to you and praise that then set off in a new direction. Repeat, repeat, repeat...

Your neighbors will think you have gone crazy and you won't go very far for a while, but by waiting for Puca to look at you for information you will be promoting his connection to you as the leader of the team. Going in a new direction will help him to understand that you are in charge of all aspects of the walk. Don't worry about not going far on the walk since he will get brain exercise. Once you get further with walking and no pulling then I would throw in things like getting an automatic sit when you stop. Then if you stop to talk to someone build in a relaxed down stay.

While you are teaching all this make sure you have plenty of nice little tiny treats to pay for really nice executions of the desired behaviors.

I meant to say earlier that many styles of harnesses prevent pulling but don't teach the dog not to pull. Some nonrestrictive harnesses are okay for reducing pulling since for some dogs they will relax when the pressure is off their necks. And my dogs all have harnesses but they aren't walked with their leashes attached to them. Their harnesses are for car safety.
 

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Thank you for pointing out that I need to change the leash! Are there other things you suggest to teach him not to pull?
Once you have a leash that will give better live feedback then my favorite method for teaching no pulling is to turn into a tree every time he makes the leash go tight. In other words you stop dead in your tracks. Just stand there and wait for Puca to look at you to figure out why you aren't going anywhere. Praise him for reconnecting to you. Then tell him let's go as you start in a new direction. As soon as he pulls stop. Wait for his attention to return to you and praise that then set off in a new direction. Repeat, repeat, repeat...

Your neighbors will think you have gone crazy and you won't go very far for a while, but by waiting for Puca to look at you for information you will be promoting his connection to you as the leader of the team. Going in a new direction will help him to understand that you are in charge of all aspects of the walk. Don't worry about not going far on the walk since he will get brain exercise. Once you get further with walking and no pulling then I would throw in things like getting an automatic sit when you stop. Then if you stop to talk to someone build in a relaxed down stay.

While you are teaching all this make sure you have plenty of nice little tiny treats to pay for really nice executions of the desired behaviors.

I meant to say earlier that many styles of harnesses prevent pulling but don't teach the dog not to pull. Some nonrestrictive harnesses are okay for reducing pulling since for some dogs they will relax when the pressure is off their necks. And my dogs all have harnesses but they aren't walked with their leashes attached to them. Their harnesses are for car safety.
Ahh thank you! I was doing the stoping thing before but not pairing that with turning to a different direction. I was also worried I wasn’t going to be exercising him enough if we didn’t go far enough so it was kind of a half hearted attempt. It makes me feel better to know we don’t have to go that far. I will try out those suggestions and let you guys know how it goes!
 

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Catherine, where did you buy those leashes? I have plain leather ones. Puca pu, I never bought a no pull harness. We used Lily CD’s (Catherine’s) method of no forward motion with pulling. I also used a professional dog walker’s advice of turning completely around, as if we were going back to where we started. Pulling is not rewarding. Repeat and repeat.
 

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Another method, which I used in conjunction with the freeze/change direction Catherine describes, was to play lots of games of Follow the Leader off leash. It is much easier to keep up a good rate of reward without a leash to manage, and to twist and turn and change speed. At first I rewarded almost every step, quickly building up to every few steps and then much longer intervals - the fun of the game becomes rewarding in itself. Once they understood With Me, introduced as a cue when they were adepts at the game, I put them on a very light leash (I use Rogz extra small - about 3/8" wide and 150cm long) and used the cue to encourage them to stay close.
 

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fjm with Javelin we did lots of chase me type games when he was a puppy, so actually it was far easier to teach him not to pull like a freight train than it was the older dogs. Since he was a baby dog he has always know that coming along with or following me would be rewarding!


Mfmst I bought some of those leashes from someone who always had them available at one of the places I train, but I have found them also to be very easy, quick and fun to make. PM me if you are interested (anybody). Braiding adds strength to materials that are not heavy or thick and keeps the leash feeling lively. I almost always have to tell newbie training folks to lighten up their leashes. Leashes need to be tools that are effective at conveying information to the dog. If too heavy, long or elastic there will be a big delay and dulling of how that information reaches the dog.
 
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I was a fool not to adhere to Vita’s advice sooner! Puca and I went for a walk this morning with his new no pull harness that came in last night and it was the most glorious walk. It really did immediately prevent him from pulling. He did get frustrated a couple times where he whined, jumped and flailed around trying to get the harness off because he wanted to run. This harness is an amazing tool and I’m sure we’ll have walking down in no time with it!
Thank you for the compliment, Puca, but no, you weren't a fool by any means. Having a new poodle for the first time is trial & error to see what works and if your own ideas work. Sometimes they do, and you feel really good, and other times they don't, and you regret not trying out advice. The opposite comes into play too: sometimes you don't take advice and you're sooo glad.

Anyway I'm glad the harness is working for you. I like them mainly b/c the throats of toys are delicate, and if for any reason you have to snatch up your poodle in your arms really fast (i.e., a big aggressive dog is running toward you) then a harness is perfect for this.

As for the leash advice Catherine gave, it's good. I also use a thin, lightweight leash that matches Bella's harness, so it's less bulky.

Extra tip: have an extra dog tag to keep on the harness. This is ideal if you trip and fall and your pup runs off chasing a squirrel and you can't find him, but someone else does. Amazon has a lot of these. Get one that has a rubber ring around the tag so it doesn't make noise. A neighbor in my building used to have a large dog that would always start barking when we walked past her unit b/c she could hear the tag clinking. The rubber/plastic stopped this. Put in a second phone number of a trusted person.

I put Bella in a carrying bag that looks like a small gym bag when I take Bella out or shopping. After thinking of the many things that could go wrong, I attached another tag and a hidden paper ID in the bag under the floor lining.
 

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lily cd re - What I've been doing in the few days since I got your advice is using the harness for when we go out in public but every day at home we do a couple sessions with the slip lead (that is appropriate for his size) on pulling. In such a short time he has already learned that if he pulls I'm going to stop and when I do he needs to make eye contact and come to me. Then he'll get a treat and we can keep walking (in a different direction of course!). We still have a ways to go but it's amazing how a simple set of actions can make all the difference even in such a short amount of time. In our walks, he is definitely looking to me as the leader more.

fjm and lily cd re - The chasing/follow the leader game is a great idea as its something we already do. I never thought to make it into something useful for training.

Vita - I was worried about his throat because sometimes he would pull so hard I could hear him wheezing afterward and I didn't want him to hurt himself. Having extra tags is a really good idea. Thanks!
 

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I am happy (not surprised though) that that is working for you. He's a poodle so he will get better and better right before your eyes.
 
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Lilycd and fjm, what are the fun follow me games? Anything in particular? Saffy is not too bad at pulling and I just use a leash mostly. But anything to keep the attention on me!!
 

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I used to fill a pocket or pouch with tiny treats then start a game with the puppy to get her attention. Once she was hooked I would run a few steps, laughing and flapping my arms and encouraging her to follow me, then drop a treat to her when she did. At first the treats came every few steps, but as she learned the game itself became as rewarding as the treats - running and chasing, walking and bouncing, staying close through twists and turns, all with lots of pauses for games and treats. Because you have no leash to force the puppy to stay close to you, you have to really work on keeping her attention and make it fun and worth while for her.

Once the behaviour is well established introduce a cue - I use With Me - for games with treats but rather less silliness that you can take on the road. I still play the giggly one with Poppy sometimes, though - Sophy prefers the games she invents herself!
 

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JenandSage, just about exactly what fjm said. Javelin and I would play together in the yard and then I would just leave and if he followed I always let him catch me and then restart the play. He always followed!
 
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