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I know some of you have been following my thread about Kelso, the Jefferson County Texas puppy-mill dog I have been fostering for 9 months now. Those of you who have not, and who want to read about his history with me can find the thread in the Adoptions and Rescue section.

 

I have had no success training Kelso to walk nicely on a leash. I spent months simply stopping every time that he pulled on the leash and not starting up again until he turned around and came toward me. I have to admit that at this point this method is not working at all. I just figured that, given enough time and patience, he would stop pulling on the leash, but it has not happened.

 

Although I do not approve of leash-pops, I have tried that (VERY very gently) to see if it would make any difference. I would not even call it a "pop", just a slight tug. No difference to Kelso. He pulls at the leash.

 

I have tried to train him to a "heel" position and to stay with me, using clicker, but I gave up early on trying to clicker train him because he still is not ready for that kind of intense one-on-one work with me, and he is not food-motivated, at least not yet. He has come a long long way from the terrified and almost comatose dog he was last April, but he has a long way to go.

 

He never has to do a proper Heel, as far as I am concerned. But he does need to walk nicely without pulling on the leash. To me, that is just basic.

 

I don't know what to try next.

Any ideas are welcome.

(Please read a bit of his history, if you haven't done so, before replying, as he is not an ordinary dog)

Thanks, all!

D'Elle

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I don't know what to try next.

Any ideas are welcome.

(Please read a bit of his history, if you haven't done so, before replying, as he is not an ordinary dog)

Thanks, all!

D'Elle

 

I read the first and last pages of Kelso's background. What a story. You are to be commended for your efforts, and for the distance you have brought him from the fearful physically unfit dog, to a dog that is behaving quite normally.

 

Part of me says that loose-leash walking, for him, should not be made an issue. He has progressed from standing and resting like a "statue" to a dog that runs and plays and shows you normal interest. He wants to forge ahead on-leash to explore the world around. Perhaps that is not all bad.

 

As a foster-home placement, I could not determine from the history I read whether you have plans to try to find Kelso a permanent home. Proper walking on-leash could be a big plus to others who are considering taking him in. Additionally, leash walking is just more pleasant when the dog cooperates.

 

From what I understand from a quick review of Kelso is that he does not have much interest in food or dog treats as a reward/reinforcement. You mentioned he likes tug games. Are there other little games/activities he enjoys? I trained obedience skills to my little dog as a puppy with food treats to lay a foundation, and quickly transferred over to games I discovered she enjoyed...ball fetch, frisbee, tug, jumping hurdles, etc. Maybe that is something you could try in order to reward him for good leash walking. As I recall I trained her on-leash with a ball in my right hand near her head as we walked. From time to time, for good behavior, I merely tossed the ball a few inches so she could catch it as we moved along. You might try carrying the tug-toy in your right hand, and (after teaching Kelso to release it)letting him have a little tug and release for good walking, as you continue to walk along with him at your side.

 

You might try teaching him to sit using the above-described reward approach. When he begins to pull on-leash, or best, the instant before he pulls, give a sit command, pause for a moment, then continue to walk to his position in front. When parallel to Kelso give him an "OK", or some release command, and repeat as necessary. For some dogs this exercise instills in their minds that pulling means that they don't get to walk at all. Pulling means no fun, and walking correctly means fun.

 

Some ideas you might be able to incorporate into Kelso's training. So much of training depends on the dog's personality and background, as well as the trainers. It is quite circumstance-driven. -- Best wishes, TEC

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Good advice.

 

I admit that I haven't read the back story, but, given that he's okay with pulling on the collar, have you considered trying an EasyWalk harness? Contrary to the belief of some trainers I know, it can be eventually phased out, it'll give him an extra pull toward you, and it won't damage his esophagus in the mean time.

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I know some of you have been following my thread about Kelso, the Jefferson County Texas puppy-mill dog I have been fostering for 9 months now. Those of you who have not, and who want to read about his history with me can find the thread in the Adoptions and Rescue section.

 

I have had no success training Kelso to walk nicely on a leash. I spent months simply stopping every time that he pulled on the leash and not starting up again until he turned around and came toward me. I have to admit that at this point this method is not working at all. I just figured that, given enough time and patience, he would stop pulling on the leash, but it has not happened.

 

Although I do not approve of leash-pops, I have tried that (VERY very gently) to see if it would make any difference. I would not even call it a "pop", just a slight tug. No difference to Kelso. He pulls at the leash.

 

I have tried to train him to a "heel" position and to stay with me, using clicker, but I gave up early on trying to clicker train him because he still is not ready for that kind of intense one-on-one work with me, and he is not food-motivated, at least not yet. He has come a long long way from the terrified and almost comatose dog he was last April, but he has a long way to go.

 

He never has to do a proper Heel, as far as I am concerned. But he does need to walk nicely without pulling on the leash. To me, that is just basic.

 

I don't know what to try next.

Any ideas are welcome.

(Please read a bit of his history, if you haven't done so, before replying, as he is not an ordinary dog)

Thanks, all!

D'Elle

 

I know you said he was not really food motivated,but one trick I have seen used to keep a dog close was a cheap long handled plastic kitchen spoon with a little dab of either cheese or peanut butter on it. If he is at all interested in it, give him a chance to take a little lick of it, then hold it up, and bring it back down for another lick when needed. Use the spoon to keep him close and motivated to stay by your side, then he won't pull. I have seen this work for a lot of breeds of dogs who were thought to be not food motivated, but actually were, the trick was to find the right food or smell that would interest the dog and would stay on the spoon. Don't know if this will help, but might be worth a try.

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Another vote for the Easy Walk harness or any other front hook harness. Or try a Freedom harness (a bit more complex). Given the back story and progress made to date, I also wouldn't be too adamant about "heel" position. One of my dogs pulls like a freight train on her regular collar (me- bad trainer, not consistent), but on her harness always walks slightly ahead or behind on a very relaxed loose leash.

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... but, given that he's okay with pulling on the collar, have you considered trying an EasyWalk harness? Contrary to the belief of some trainers I know, it can be eventually phased out, it'll give him an extra pull toward you, and it won't damage his esophagus in the mean time.

That's what I also recommend. It's subtle and it applies a gentle correction that is perfectly timed, because it is triggered by the dog. Works wonders for me.

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I like to know if he's pulling to sniff life and explore because he's happy or to get away from whatever he feels is a threat?

 

I think that would depend on how I would deal with his pulling.

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I've just started using the Freedom Harness (that has the clip on top and in front) and I love it. I've used the Easy Walk Harness for a long time with my dogs, and it works somewhat, but since Cadi is a dedicated puller it still looks a little uncomfortable for her. So far, the double action of the tightening on top and front has had more of an effect. She will walk right next to me now without pulling, and I don't have to tug. This is going to help a lot while I work on her doing this without the harness.

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In addition to the harnesses mentioned in other posts, "Halti" sells a head collar that fits around the muzzle. Halti also produces harnesses to control pulling.

 

The head collar attaches to the leash under a dog's muzzle. Very light pressure on the leash controls the dog's head, so that he/she walks in the intended direction and at proper pace.

 

In my estimation, a head collar would have to be used sensibly. They are quite gentle, as the dog simply behaves and walks properly, without tugging. Of course, jerking on it could produce discomfort to the dog. I have seen them used to very good effect.

 

My inclination is to first try teaching loose-leash without special collars. In the event that Kelso is not picking it up quickly, perhaps the caring thing to do (in light of his difficult background) is to incorporate special collars as a teaching tool.

 

Google "Halti", and numerous websites will appear for both types of collars.

 

Have others used head collars as a teaching tool? What opinions do you have? -- Best Wishes, TEC

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I have used a Halti on a temporary basis for some dogs. The only caveat I can think of: make sure to keep the dog close to you so the dog doesn't injure its neck/back by bolting after something, and of course you cannot jerk on it. I use one of the heavier Resco show leads for medium dogs so I can ball it up in my hand and keep the dog close. I use a strong but soft leash so I can fold it comfortably in my hand for bigger dogs. It is a nice temporary aid to get the dog used to being close to you on walks, but it doesn't "teach" the dog to walk on a loose lead. Also, some dogs will try to rub it off, so it takes small time periods to acclimate the dog to the Halti (with lots of bribes treats).

 

I much prefer an easy walk harness.

 

My two cents.

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thanks so much for your replies!

Kristen, he is pulling out of excitement, rather than fear. Which is wonderful, but he needs to walk nicely on a leash.

 

Of course I don't care about teaching him to heel. Just to have good manners.

 

Northfield Nick...THANK YOU!!! I do really like the idea of the Easy

Walk harness, and think it is the best thing for me to try. Since I live on a tight budget, I would be very grateful indeed if you sent me yours.; I will PM to you to give you my address. That is very kind of you.

:)

D'Elle

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  • 2 weeks later...

A miracle has occurred.

It feels that way, anyway.

Northfield Nick was so kind as to send me an EasyWalk harness. I put it immediately on Kelso and went for a walk. As I knew he would, he first had a full-blown hissy fit about it in the yard. As I always do, I just stood there and let it play out. Once he was done with that, it was like walking a new dog. Kelso actually *cannot* pull on that harness. And yet, the way it is designed, it also cannot hurt him. In two minutes he was walking nicely.

 

Thank you, thank you, thank you NorthfieldNick!!! This has made all the difference. Walking Kelso is now a pleasure instead of a chore. :D

 

I am now going to be on a soap box promoting the EasyWalk harness. I am telling everyone about it. I think that it would be good for teaching a puppy to walk nicely on a leash, too. If you started out with the EasyWalk, maybe by the time the puppy was old enough to graduate to a collar he or she wouldn't even know it was possible to pull on a leash.

D'Elle

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Yea! I am glad the easy walk is working out and glad you had a wonderful person send you one!

 

I have a beautiful little rescue bc that I struggled exactly the same with. I got an easy walk harness and it made going on walks so much better. In the mean time, I played a lot of games at home with rewarding her for being at my side with treats -- my girl didn't play at all and was not very food motivated at first, but has gotten there with both. It has been a long road for sure, but tonight in our class (took two years to get into our first public class) They had each dog come out one by one to demo what they have learned. Though we were demonstrating tricks, what everyone commented on was how great her heel position was and how focused on me she was. two years ago, I would not have thought it possible. lots of love and patience and Kelso will get there.

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I'm glad it worked! I started Hoot in just the harness, then when he was walking nicely in that, I put a second leash on his collar. I'd keep the collar leash shorter than the harness leash, but if he pulled, I'd shorten the harness leash quickly so that corrected him. (Thank goodness for years of riding dressage. I can manage a lot of reins/leashes at once). Then Hoot wore the harness with just a leash on the collar, then no harness. Of course, by that point, he was working and had a solid recall, so I basically gave up the leash anyways.

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