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Loose-lead training with part-time dog


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I have my granddaughter's other gran's dog, K, here for the first time today. All is going well, but he does pull on the lead. I've tried standing still when he stops and waiting till he lets the tension off the lead, but (a) it's too flipping cold to be standing around, and (b) while we're getting used to each other I want him to enjoy the walk.

He did seem to get the idea when each time he pulled, I led him round in a circle and said 'good boy' when he ended up next to my leg, but then he'd just steam on ahead again.

I'll only be having him one day a week, and I do wonder just how much I can achieve if his owners just put up with the pulling - I don't want to be spending all our walks stopping, starting and circling, getting both of us frustrated. I'm even considering digging out the Gentle Leader that I used with Jasper for a while - I know it's not generally recommended on this forum, but in effect it will turn him back towards me when he pulls, the same as I would do - he's generally a very placid dog so isn't likely to lunge at all.

His lead was attached to his collar, but he does have a harness, with the lead attachment on the back - is that likely to be any better?
Does the harness have a chest ring? A lot of dogs find a lead attached to that less aversive than a head collar, and it generally is reported to help a lot with pullers.

Edited to add - if it's going to be a long term arrangement, I would persevere with training when the weather is better. IME dogs know perfectly well which behaviours they can do with some people but not others. So he may walk perfectly for you and still drag his owners around if they are happy to let him.
Does the harness have a chest ring?

Not as far as I know, but I could check - thanks. Yes, I'm hoping he understands that different rules apply when he's with me. His 'mum' has the granddaughter on the days I have K, and pulling or not, I definitely get the easier option ;)
I like the look of the "Gentle leader", it has the closest comfortable fit like a Halti. I met a rather large dog in our vet surgery once who was wearing one, it was loose and comfortable fitting and not cutting beneath the eyes, as so many head collar type halters do. He and his owner were very happy with the use of this product and as you say Judy it turns the dogs head in towards your leg and stops all of the strong pulling and lunging.
I do not consider it a cruel training aid.
I'm in two minds about the Gentle Leader. With Jasper it didn't seem aversive as such, just made him think 'Oh, that didn't work,' and he soon realised that walking with me was much more fun if he didn't pull. But then it could be seen as being akin to being led by your nose, which wouldn't be pleasant.
Butter wouldn't melt :)

Dog - Koda 240110.JPG
But it is not attached to his nose it rests above and hangs below his lower jaw. It just turns his head.
Many animals are lead by head collars and halters, they are not cruel. :eek:

Oh wow! is that Jasper as a puppy he's gorgeous.:)
But it is not attached to his nose it rests above and hangs below his lower jaw. It just turns his head.
Many animals are lead by head collars and halters, they are not cruel. :eek:

True - and horses from the bit.

No, it's not Jasper - that's Koda, the cavapoo I'll be looking after once a week.
Mr. Hemlock, when I met him, had dogs that pulled. They soon learned that they walked nicely with me, and they still pulled with him.
Hemlock, I know you've described your technique before and said it was difficult to explain/visualise, but could you have a go at explaining it please?

I do remember that the 'stand like a tree' approach took ages to work with Jasper. For weeks, he would take one small step back and see that as allowing him to go full steam ahead again :confused:
I don't have time to go into detail right now but if it isn't the same as Hemlock's technique, training loose lead walking without using a lead might be another option (essentially heavily rewarding a 'close to knee' position,).
I don't have time to go into detail right now but if it isn't the same as Hemlock's technique, training loose lead walking without using a lead might be another option (essentially heavily rewarding a 'close to knee' position,).

Thank you - I remember reading about that and was thinking I should try starting indoors (and then the garden) without a lead. I feel I need to do some form of mental stimulation/game with him anyway just to build a bond and get him thinking and looking at me for guidance, if that makes sense. Building a connection, I suppose.
Definitely makes sense. I'm not a massive fan of Michael Ellis, but I'm pretty sure he has some good stuff on building engagement.
I use gentle leaders on our boys when walking on holiday they are a very useful tool as I am not a fan of the harness ;)
OK here goes - it IS really difficult to explain, but I'll do my best.

The principle is: nobody goes anywhere until the lead is slack and the dog by your side. DO NOT TALK. DO NOT USE REWARDS. DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT. The reward is both of you walking nicely together.

Use an ordinary collar and lead. Hold the lead behind your back in both hands. Use a wall, fence or hedge with the dog on that side but plenty of room, not hard up against it. As you take the first step, the dog will surge past you. Step across in front of the dog to block the way forward, but say nothing, no eye contact. As the dog pauses or even steps back (good) take one more step. As you become more used to this, you will be able to step across without breaking stride. As soon as the dog stops, set off quick-march (that's a big reward) and of course he will surge ahead and you step across to block this. Many dogs will then dive across to the other side, so you step across to that side. The reason for both hands behind your back holding the lead is to give more strength as the dog tries to dive forward. Round about then, all the toys will go out of the pram, and you just stand there looking at the sky while it happens, and waiting for the dog to offer a step back beside you. REWARD with eye contact, happy voice and a brisk forward stride. After a few steps the dog will try to charge in front, and you step across but say nothing. Continued as this is a long post....
Dogs are pretty smart and realise fast that they only go anywhere when the lead is slack. EVERY time they try to go in front, step across, say nothing. As soon as they drop back, speak nicely and walk briskly. They soon cotton on that nobody goes anywhere unless the lead is slack. I have never known it to take as long as 10 minutes. Some dogs get it at once, others take a minute or five.

Next time you go out, dog will surge forward. This doesn't mean it hasn't worked. It means the dog has always pulled and so this is default mode. Follow the same process and he will quickly give up and take up the "new normal" beside you on a slack lead.

That's it - that's all - but you MUST be utterly consistent.
Thank you Hemlock - I might even practise on Mr N:D
Haa haa, I like it. I hope Mr N, learns quickly :rolleyes:.
Nah, I'm still training him, excuseme. Maybe I shouldn't be using aversives....:D
My second day with K today. Hemlock, I have a couple of reservations about the loose-lead walking method you suggested. First is that I'm so used to letting the dog walk a little ahead of me that I tend to settle for K being in front... and then when he pulls he's too far ahead for me to step across (Jasper's lead was long enough that he could walk ahead of me without tightening the lead - we were so used to this that it would throw us off completely if I put a shorter lead on him by mistake). And second... I'm not good at being consistent and find I'm very reluctant to do anything that makes him think that walks with me aren't fun. That's my weakness, not a weakness of the method!

I tried the Gentle Leader for some of the walk today, and though he didn't like it and tried to get it off, it was much easier to walk him. But I'm tempted to get a harness with a front attachment anyway as though he'd probably accept the Gentle Leader, I'd rather have something he was completely comfortable with. He's such an amenable lad, and I'm not used to a dog who won't make it VERY clear if they don't approve! I'm eyeing up the Perfect Fit, but welcome any other suggestions.

I took the plunge and let him off lead in the park. He was brilliant - stayed close, checked in with me if he got about 20' away, and recalled with no problem. He ignored other dogs - I think he's slightly anxious about them, though this was just a feeling. He really isn't one to complain....

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