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Have an 8 month old pup who is a lovely friendly girl and whose training is going well except for walking on the lead!! She will happily walk to heel off the lead but on the lead, she pulls strongly. I have already had a broken rib and bruised kidney because she took off unexpectedly and caught me off balance ! I have worked hard with her but for some reason she does not want to grasp the art of loose lead walking !! I live in the UK and have been recommended to use a "dogmatic" headcollar but just wondering if anyone else has had experience of using one. I have tried one on her (the correct fitting) but being a poodle she was agile enough to put her paw through the loop under her chin and while she couldn t remove the headcollar she managed to get her foot caught. Is it just a matter of her getting used to it or can someone recommend an alternative product .
 

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Well there are plenty of ways to teach a dog not to pull on leash. Personally I favor be a tree. In other words as soon as there is the slightest tension on the leash you stop moving. You can wait out the dog and once she stops, turns and starts to approach you to see why you aren't moving give a treat and take a couple of steps until there is again tension on the leash, repeat, repeat, repeat... It shouldn't take her very long to figure out that pulling=going no where and loose leash/checking in=moving on. I don't generally like head halters. If I was going to use a piece of equipment for this it would be a pinch collar with proper preparation that would allow it to be faded from use.
 
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Have you tried reinforcing your heeling training with a leash on? She definitely seems to think that the leash means she's doing something completely different from what she's expected to do off-leash. I'd suggest doing some focused training in the same environments you've worked on your off-leash heel, and just introducing the leash into that.

If you're getting injured, though, I think some equipment is a good idea to help you out. Here's a quick rundown of the common ones based on other discussions here:
  • Head collar: Takes training to get the dog used to it, and carries risk of neck damage if the dog continues to try to pull with it on. Never, ever, do a leash correction with a head collar on. Most also look like muzzles, which can affect the way people react to your dog. If the dog will use it, though, it can be a great training tool. I often see it recommended for reactive dogs specifically (with proper introduction/desensitization).
  • No-pull harness: The two main types are a front-clip harness and a "sensation." The front-clip redirects the dog's weight from its shoulders to the front of its chest, which makes it hard for the dog to really pull hard. It also tends to pull the dog around to face you, which can help reinforce training. However, the placement can sometimes interfere with a dog's gate, since it hangs down where their legs connect to their chest. Can also be easy to slip out of, and very determined pullers can figure out how to pull even with them on. A "Sensation" harness is similar, but instead of clipping in the front it clips in the back and is designed to tighten under the dog's front legs when they pull. This is unpleasant for the dog and makes it hard for them to throw their weight in and get traction. They can be bulky (my dog hates his), but better than a front-clip for some dogs. Both kinds are best in combination with training, and I recommend using a caribiner or other device to attach it to the collar in case they slip out of it.
  • Pinch collar: Also called a prong collar. A collar with curved "teeth" that tighten if the dog pulls, delivering a pinch to the dog's neck. This acts as a deterrent, as pulling becomes painful. The collar must be properly fitted and sit high on the dog's neck. These look a little intimidating and can affect how people treat you and your dog. As with the head collar, it's important that you not use leash corrections or intentionally "pop" the leash -- just let the dog experience a natural reaction to pulling. Can make things worse for leash-reactive dogs, as they're already afraid and then associate the pain with whatever they're reacting to. Users here have mostly had very positive experiences with it, though.
  • "Choke" collar: A chain that tightens around the dog's windpipe. Please don't use these. They can cause tracheal damage and are complicated to get right. I mention them because they're still popular in some pet stores, but understand that they're falling out of favor and aren't recommended.
With any tool, you either have to use it all the time from now on, or find a way to phase it out with training. Personally I'd suggest working with a trainer before putting on any training device you haven't used before (though the harnesses carry the least short-term risk if you want to just grab one).
 
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lisasgirl that is a great review of tools for on leash behavior however i do take exception to the pinch collar causing pain. It is annoying, but I have put the pinch collar around pretty soft parts of my own arm and given a pretty hard yank on it and it is much more an annoying sensation than painful in any way. The teeth are rounded on the tips and don't do damage if the collar is used correctly.


I agree with you about unlimited slip chains. For me they are a never useful item and I do not allow students in my training classes to use them unless I know the person and their methods extremely well, but then again most of those folks would use a pinch collar long before a slip chain.


I also agree that one should put thought into how to fade the tools we use before starting to use them. That includes food and leashes. If one searches around here I have described how I introduce pinch collars so they can be faded a number of times, but that method would apply to any tool.
 
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Thanks for the clarification on the pinch collar! I've never used one, so it's good to get the details from people who do.
 
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I always appreciate insights on tools I haven't used also. I have harnesses for restraints in the car, but don't use them as tools for loose leash walking. I think one thing that is important is to be open minded about various tools and techniques. What works for one combination of person and dog may not be right for another, so it helps to be able to look at other options objectively. Post #11 in this sticky thread has the information (adapted from a discussion I had with Ian Dunbar at a workshop) on how to introduce a corrective/aversive tool in a way that will allow it to be faded later on. https://www.poodleforum.com/23-general-training-obedience/100970-ian-dunbar-seminar-workshop-2.html
 
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I had a really hard time teaching Noelle that she was not the lead dog in a sled race. I tried be a tree, and Noelle ran around me like a horse on a lunge line. What worked for me was practicing getting from the living room to the kitchen and back with a loose leash. Because if the dog can't walk on a loose leash in the most boring place in the universe, they will not walk on a loose leash outside.

When your dog pulls on the leash and you pull back, the dog pulls harder in the opposite direction. You don't want this. What you want is for your dog to yield to leash pressure. In your house, get some tiny pieces of something delicious, put a leash on your dog and hang out in the living room. You're going to give a very slight pull on the leash, firm enough for the dog to feel something, but not anywhere near painful. Enough tension on the collar to notice. Now, you hold that and wait. You may wait 4 seconds, you may wait 4 minutes. You hold that little bit of pressure on the leash until the dog yields and chooses to loosen the leash. Mark that moment by saying, "yes!" give the dog four treats. Count them out, 1, 2, 3, 4. Do this again. Tighten up the leash, wait for a yield, reward for yielding with food and praise and laughter.

Move to another part of your living room and play the game again. If you're in a new place, it's a new game, so start all over again and expect to wait a while. Move to the kitchen and play again. Move to a hallway and play again. Play this game of you create leash tension and the dog releases tension in short training sessions. Your dog will learn that she will be rewarded for stopping tension on the leash. Neat!

Walk your dog from your living room to the kitchen. Every time your left foot makes contact with the floor, drop a treat at your side. Start with every step. Try every other step. Try every third step. If the dog pulls, go back to dropping a treat at your side every step.

After a week of practicing inside, try going right outside your front door and playing the leash tightens/yield game and the treat beside your foot game. Once your dog can play that game directly in front of your house, try walking from your front door to the neighbor's house and back. Set very small goals and reward each goal like your dog just won an Olympic medal AND a Nobel Prize AND a Pulitzer on the same day. It takes a lot of patience and time to train loose leash walking. Noelle still pulls sometimes, but we've worked on the yield game and she's gotten a lot better.
 

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I love Click's method. I would use a different collar or harness for the high value training - a collar and lead, perhaps, and a harness for getting around outdoors while building up. That way the new behaviour you want - the fun "Walk with me" game - is differentiated from the already habitual "Pull as hard as possible"game.
 

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Great suggestions! I have always believed that a harness was for pulling.



I have to use a prong collar on the Lab. I still use chain collars for most of my dogs. They learned not to pull when they were puppies. Zoe has a very special collar to protect her coat: it's a wide (3 1/2 inches) satin band that has a chain collar embedded in it so it never touches her coat. I got it from "The Quilted Hound".
 

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MY standards also 8months old. I use a pinch (prong) collar. When we first began walking I used to lure him to walk next to me with a treat. If he pulls the collar will tighten. He actually is quite good now at loose leash walking and seldom pulls. I still walk with the collar as one never knows if and when he will have a moment...and I'd be face down on pavement. sometimes I don't like it as if he gets overly excited he will really pull on it but he goes no where. This doesn't happen very often. I usually keep a treat bag on me and I think he is too interested in something I put him in a sit (he is reliable at that) and treat him. Then we continue on, as as others said you also can stop and just hold your ground. I had to do that too in the beginning and lured him to my side. For awhile I even held a treat in my hand next to where I want him, where he could smell it but I wouldn't release it right away. Now he just looks to see hmm do you have a treat or not but he stays put because I just may. LOL
 

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I have to use a prong collar on the Lab. I still use chain collars for most of my dogs. They learned not to pull when they were puppies. Zoe has a very special collar to protect her coat: it's a wide (3 1/2 inches) satin band that has a chain collar embedded in it so it never touches her coat. I got it from "The Quilted Hound".
There are slip/chain collars that are great -- I see them used on Greyhounds a lot, because their heads tend to be smaller than their necks and regular collars don't stay on. And show dogs wear those thin chain collars too. My issue is with the ones that are intended to choke the dog for doing wrong, which can cause a lot of problems.
 

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Just remember that properly used tools of any type can be really helpful and IMO a pinch collar is a lot more humane than an unlimited slip chain of any sort or material. I pinch collar is really a specialized Martingale.
 
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I agree, the pinch has worked very well for me for many years. I've used it on many of the past large dogs I have had. Renn walks so nice...seldom pulls unless he has a "moment: so the collar doesn't even pinch him. I use it more now for me as a just in case so I don't end up on the ground. LOL
 
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