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ZEPHYRA's avatar

How do I handle extreme dog pulling on the leash?

Asked by ZEPHYRA (21499points) April 3rd, 2015

Cesar Milan would probably give up on her. A highly energetic dog that literally chokes on her collar due to pulling so hard. Does not seem to take to orders.

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25 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Consider switching to a Gentle Leader.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

How old of a dog? I used verbal commands with my dogs. And when that didn’t work I got down right in front of them and we talked. My dogs were never leashed before me, but they got a lot better over time.

gorillapaws's avatar

+1 For the Gentle Leader. That thing is amazing.

wildpotato's avatar

Position the dog on your left side and hold the leash across your body, in your right hand. Walk. The leash should ideally be slack and bump against your legs with every step. (This will obviously not happen right away.) Now walk in a rectangle ten times or so, turning right at each corner. As you turn, the leash will tighten across your body and swing the dog around the corner with you. The dog will be very confused at first but should learn that staying right next to you is the “good zone.” Do the rectangle exercise once a day for a few weeks and you’ll have a dog that heels. You can also incorporate this into your regular walks by turning 180 or 90 degrees (always keeping the leash in front of you, across your body) every time the dog pulls forward, turning their forward motion into sideways motion and also bringing their attention back to you. Looks silly to passers-by, especially if you have to do it several times in a row – but it works. This is how I taught my dog to heel off-leash.

The gentle leader is a shortcut tool that helps teach them the concept of the “comfort zone” – but while it can work wonders for some dogs, it will merely frighten and/or severly irritate others, even if is used often and they are used to wearing it. I don’t agree with using them on dogs who end up pawing at their face with each step and who keep attempting to pull and seem to never really “get” it.

kritiper's avatar

There are special leashes that have a rope that goes through the collar, behind the back legs, and back to the collar. When the dog pulls on the leash, it tightens the rope against the legs which makes the dog stop pulling. You can buy one or fabricate one.

rojo's avatar

Listen to @marinelife. The nice thing about them is that it does not take much effort on your part and you are not dragging the crap out of your dog trying to make them obey so it is a win-win all the way round.

longgone's avatar

The Gentle Leader works well, but what I like even better are the new front-leading harnesses. Basically, it is a regular harness, but the leash is clipped to the dog’s front. Pulling makes the dog turn back to you, so it loses its purpose. You can get them very cheap on amazon.

The Gentle Leader is amazing for huge dogs over whom you would have no control otherwise. However, many dogs hate that thing at first. It goes across their noses, and most dogs spend a lot of time trying to paw it off, if they have not been introduced carefully.

Be aware that neither the harness nor the Gentle Leader will reduce pulling. They are management tools, which will make the pulling less annoying to you. If you’d like to teach your dog to heel using a “nice” method (Cesar Millan is an utter idiot), have a look at this video.

gorillapaws's avatar

@longgone I have to disagree about the Gentle Leader not reducing pulling. My golden retriever will pull the crap out of anyone walking him with a normal leash. You put on the gentle leader and he doesn’t pull and is very well behaved.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Dog is about 2 and a half.

syz's avatar

I’d recommend professional help. Find a reputable trainer in your area.

josie's avatar

The best thing is to get them leash trained when they are babies.

If I missed that window I would also use a gentle leader.

longgone's avatar

@gorillapaws Without any training? That is surprising to me, but I’ll believe it. You’re a lucky owner! ;)

rojo's avatar

It really depends on the dogs temperament.

I have used the nose loop (Gentle Leader) on two dogs.

Both dogs were taught to heel but Skye was not a puller to begin with and if you mentioned walk she would put her nose up in the air for the loop. Ayre was a puller without the loop; he would get excited about a walk until he saw the loop then would hang his head and try make it more difficult to get it on. With it on he walked alongside quite well but had a hard time resisting temptation until gently reminded with a little tug.

We passed it on to my daughter to help her control her hyperactive boxer pup. He detested it too and when after several weeks he got the opportunity he chewed it up.
After reverting back to the old leash and collar for about a week she went out and bought a new nose loop.

gorillapaws's avatar

@longgone Not formal training, no. He fought it at first of course, but I just kept walking and gently pulled him forward. He learned really quickly that he can’t win. As I understand it, the gentle leader (nose loop) works on the principle that a dog won’t pull forward with their head turned to the side. That could be wrong, but I heard it somewhere (maybe my vet?).

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I use a Easy Walk® Harness on both of my dogs, they are about 100 pounds each. The front leash connection loop makes it easy to tug to the side, this knocks them off balance just enough to get their attention.

rojo's avatar

I notice nobody has mentioned those spiked choke chains. Has anyone tried and had luck with them?

I have never used a spiked one but in my younger years used a choke collar without much success. The just keep pulling and choking and I keep feeling bad.

Coloma's avatar

@rojo I was just going to mention those as well. Works like a charm, much more effective and humane than the old fashioned choke chains which are very bad for dogs. I had a 96 lb. hound dog years ago and inspite of months of obedience classes he was just a dragger. Hounds are one breed that can be very hard to leash train without their constant desire to follow their noses and drag you along. haha

I bought a prong collar and it was magic. My drag sessions were instantly transformed into pleasant, leisurely walks.
I had a neighbor that used to tease me, ” I saw you out on your daily drag the other night d with that big ol’ hound just pulling you along.” lol

longgone's avatar

^ Prong collars are humane? No, @Coloma. No animal lover should think so. Have a look at this link, which states, quite clearly: ”Prong collars are subject to all of the same criticisms as are chokers. Furthermore, they can do incredible damage to the dog’s neck since they can become embedded in the skin”.

There is also this link, which adds, ”The only difference between a dog and a human neck is that under the fur, a dog’s skin layer is only 3–5 cells thick, while the top layer of human skin is denser, 10–15 cells thick.”. Can you imagine fitting a prong collar around a rambunctious child’s neck? A dog will have even less sense of self-preservation than that child.

Alternatively, just let me tell a story.

I train dogs as part of my job. Recently, my dog trainer friend was on a visit with a German Shepherd. She was supposed to teach him an appropriate response to people in motion. When she came, the dog was tied to a tree in the garden. She sat down with his owners, and jumped up a short while later – she had heard choking sounds. The dog had, quietly, worked on tightening the leash around his neck, so much so that he was pressed against the tree. He was wearing a choke collar, which was snug against his neck, choking him. The whole thing. Eyes protruding, gums changing colour…they saved him, but that dog came very close to dying on that day.

Beside serious health risks and, very often, plain ineffectiveness, there is also the very real issue of associating pain with all manner of things other than pulling. I’ve seen dogs get aggressive toward

1. Buses
2. Traffic in general
3. Other dogs
4. Noisy children
5. Strollers
6. People riding skateboards

All because they had received leash jerks or been choked by their collars on seeing these things. I don’t care how much my dog pulls, I’d rather have him drag me along then risk him thinking children are hurting him.

In Germany, you can get a free training session in exchange for giving up your prong collar, and all vets I have heard on the subject have been appalled at those things being for sale. They are not humane. They are evil.

@gorillapaws People say that’s true, but I, for one, have seen many dogs pull no matter where their heads were turned. It may be my very careful use of the nose loop. Jerking a dog’s head around with force can cause neck injuries, so I avoid that. You don’t sound like you’d be likely to use force, though, so you may just have had a rather smart and/or easily influenced dog? :)

OpryLeigh's avatar

Front connection harnesses are brilliant! I use the Easy Walk.

Coloma's avatar

@longgone The method in which they are used is a quick jerk and release, giving the dog the cue to stop pulling. They are not meant to be used in a constant state of pulling tension but most dogs won’t do this anyway as it is uncomfortable, that is the whole point. It is similar to training horses to “whoa”. A quick tug, then release, not a constant pull.

They do not allow for extreme pulling like a standard choke chain. I’m not up on all the latest dog leads in the last 20 years but the prong collars are still widely used and not inhumane if used correctly IMO. The use of the one I had was suggested by a trainer, but this was 20 years ago, so, as I said, I am not up to date on all the latest dog training implements. I do not have a dog nor do I want one at this time.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@Coloma I’m also a dog trainer and everything that @longgone has said is up to date with modern studies and research in canine behaviour and training. Prong collars are not humane.

Coloma's avatar

@OpryLeigh Okay, like I said, it’s been years since I had a dog. Thanks for the update.

longgone's avatar

^ A lot has changed in the last twenty years. If you don’t even own a dog, I can understand your not keeping up-to-date with research, of course!

Coloma's avatar

@longgone Yes, thing is I just saw someone using one of those prong collars the other day so I thought they were still pretty widely used. granted I never liked the look or idea of them either but my old dog was so strong it was the only thing that worked with him way back when.

longgone's avatar

@Coloma They are still around, yes. Sadly.

I’m glad to hear you only used those things out of necessity, as opposed to conviction. There really were very few products until the last decade or so…

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