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Walking aids: slip leads, martingales, etc.


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Hi all,

I was wondering in what situations you would use a walking aid such as a martingale, etc? Or if you would use them at all. Twice I've had separate trainers tell me that because Ziggy is powerful and despite different methods to get him to walk better (making a 180 when he pulls, using treats when he pays attention to me, stopping in my tracks and not moving until he comes back, etc.) . One of these trainers is from a Control Unleashed class, the other was his agility instructor.

 

Frankly I'm really tired of the pulling, he is powerful and he will dive and pull to get at something he wants which could be any random thing, from a rock, to a stick, to just some weird smell, who knows. He's also reactive and my fear with using any aid is that he will accidentally correct himself if something sets him off and make his reactivity worse. I started using a shorter 18 inch leash which helps because the more leash he has the more speed he can put behind a lunge. Today was particularly frustrating because we went to his control unleashed class and there are other reactive dogs, and even though we're well spaced out there are occasional incidents of lunging combined with him pulling me in all kinds of directions during the class. I don't like to get frustrated or angry when I'm trying to train him so I kind of had to stop and sit out the last few minutes of class because I knew it wouldn't do him any good.

 

Venting aside, I'm tempted to try something like a martingale or even a plain slip collar, although I've been avoiding it. I'm at the point where it seems the more positive methods of getting it to stop haven't been working and it isn't pleasant to get jerked around. I'm just trying to find out what others have done or if they've used walking aids and what were the results.

 

Thank you,

schrev

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OK Schrev,

 

One of my 4 is a puller, or I should say WAS. After years of trying all the "tried and true" methods for teaching loose lead walking, I found something that worked for Ruby. It is from Pam Dennison's "Complete Idiot's Guide to Positive Dog Training" 3rd edition. She devised this for her rescue Border Collie who pulled like crazy. It is very embarrassing for a nationally known dog trainer to have a dog that pulls like crazy! No special training collars, required, rather a regular buckle collar will do, though if your dog is trained to pull on a regular collar, you may want to switch to a harness. Attach a long line that is at least 15 feet long. Start out. Your dog will take off. BEFORE Ziggy gets to the end of the line, click and treat and throw the treat toward Ziggy. If you haven't done clicker training with Ziggy, you will have to charge the clicker first. Pam's book will tell you how to do this and much more. The reason for throwing the treat is that you are not teaching heeling. You are simply teaching loose lead walking, and Ziggy doesn't have to be at your side all the time. Keep clicking and rewarding when the line is loose. If the line tightens, then no treat. " Hmmm. I get a treat when my neck feels good." Start this out in an area with no or few distractions, and gradually work your way up to other places that may be more exciting. The "Be a Tree" works for many dogs, but what Ruby and Pam's Emma learned from it is that when Mom stops, you run back, get a treat, and then go out and pull again so you can come back and get another treat! It all depends on how a particular dog's mind works! It is the challenging dogs that teach us the most if we are able to think outside the box. And the very best trainers do that. They observe a particular dog and figure out what that dog needs.

 

Good luck and have a great time!

 

Kathy Robbins

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I use slip leads and martingale collars and leashes but not because they provide any 'correction' in walking. I use them because Jack has a big neck and pointy head and comes out of his collar pretty easily, because they're easy on and off, and because i do agility where I need to be able to get the dog naked in a hurry to run. As far as I am concerned they are USELESS as corrective devices, at best, and at worst dangerous unless they are limited slip.

 

Pulling walking aid? I have 100+ lb GSD mix with high prey-drive. I've used a lot of things with him over the last year (he's 2) to get him under control, espcially during winter and icy surfaces - he's big, I'm not, I like my teeth. Front clip harness, prong, gentle leader, etc. I had the most success with a prong attached to a very short (6") leash/training tab. At this point he's got loose leash walking down, but I still keep him on a prong collar for backup in case of squirrels or fleeing cats (leash attached to both regular collar and prong, prong only engages if regular collar fails).

 

But seriously - front clip harness, head collar, prong, but a slip or martingale isn't really going to help you. I don't like choke chains but even they deliver correction and then release if used right and put on right. A slip leash doesn't. It just hangs the dog - slowly and without releasing again and that's just plain dangerous.


And NOTHING will work unless it's paired with active training to show the dog what you want. Otherwise, you'll just be stuck using a corrective device forever, the dog will never know how to loose leash walk and that's really not your goal. So whatever you use, pair it with training of whatever method you like. I've had good luck with penalty yards and heavy food/praise reenforcement.

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Like cpt. jack, I don't like to use slip leads for correcting loose leash walking. I have a slip lead for tess that i love, but i only started using it when she was trained.

 

For reactive dogs I like a head collar on a very short leash. I find it's easier to keep their attention on you. You have to use a short leash though, because they can cause neck injury if the dog sees something and takes off after it on a 6' or 4' leash.

 

Like cpt jack said, these are only training aids, not to be used forever. You have to actively train to eventually lose the aid. If a dog doesn't learn to pull they will eventually pull with anything you try, harness, head collar, prong, etc.

 

Front clip harnesses work well too, I like the freedom harness the best.

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(Putting flame-resistant gear on): I used a prong collar on one dog, when he was prone to pulling (when he was still a six-month-old pup). Why did I cave (when this was the LAST thing I wanted to use?) and go with this?

 

He'd just had bilateral OCD surgery on both shoulders. He was still a pup, and hadn't learned *not* to pull on leash. He was often subjected to "high impulse" environments - I would walk out of my office with him, on leash, only to discover young kids chasing balls. No way to backpedal gracefully and find an alternate route to my car in the parking lot.

 

I didn't *want* to use a prong collar. The P/T vet expressed concern over his pulling on the leash with a conventional collar or any sort of harness. He *was* going to pull, and fall, and was going to re-injure those healing shoulders.

 

I argued with the vet that we could use a Gentle Leader, or a harness. Nope, those would put too much pressure on his healing shoulders, or would force him to use one forelimb in preference to the other. Harnesses would "squeeze" his healing shoulders and impair their development as they healed from surgery. I eventually caved, and used a prong collar. But I treated it as a training aid (I also used a conventional collar, with a second leash). It didn't ruin my dog; he didn't become dog-reactive (pulling, then flinching, on seeing other dogs). We transitioned from it as soon as we could manage. He interacts well with other dogs now both off-leash or on-leash, and he doesn't pull at present on a conventional leash.

 

Prong collars look like medieval torture instruments, though if they're used correctly, there is evidence that they protect dogs from tracheal injuries that may be incurred with conventional collars or (worse) choke chains. At least this is what my vet tried to convince me.

 

Training aids are just that: use them as transitions while you move to something else. They're not an end unto themselves.

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Dear Doggers,

 

You can find many blovations but no credible scientific evidence that training (aka "choke") collars or prong collars cause trachial damage. Tools don't matter much, your attitude does. Your dog doesn't pull. Your dog does not have the right to pull. Your dog will be happier not pulling than he was pulling.

 

There are many possible corrections to put a stop to pulling. General rules are the same for any correction. Corrections should be the gentlest effective correction. Apply correction as dog is deciding on undesirable behavior - not after he's been doing it for ten minutes. If you can't apply the correction properly, don't apply it at all. You must mean "Don't pull" not "Don't sniff that candy wrapper". If the undesirable behavior is well established, unless it's life threatening (car chasing etc) don't try to cure it with one dramatic superpowerful correction - it'll take several. Remember: at first the dog does not know what you're getting at and may panic or jibe or whimper. Don't reward this behavior with your kisses and tears. He's not the trainer, you are.

 

Donald McCaig

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Honestly Lyka has lunging issues on a leash, as she just LOVES all dog/people and wants to play. I use a pinch collar with her and if used and sized correctly it really helps the problem. I would contact a professional to show you how to use it, because there is a specific way you have to hold the leash for it to actually work and be safe

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I use martingales when I need to get my dog's collar on and off quickly - like when going to the start line in Agility. Using a martingale will also ensure that I don't accidentally leave the collar on, which can result in an NQ in the venue that I compete in.

 

My martingales are set so that when they tighten, they do not put extra pressure on the dog's neck. I could still put the usual two fingers in between the dog's neck and collar that I can with a flat buckle. It's not there to administer a correction, but to keep the leash attached to the dog where it is required that I have one (going in and out of the ring).

 

Slip leads I generally don't use at all.

 

I use: flat buckle, martingale fit as a flat buckle when it tightens, back clip harness (yep, I let Dean assist me up the hills when we hike, so he pulls when on harness and neither of us care one bit!). That's pretty much it. I teach my dogs to walk on loose leashes, but I also give them permission to "ride" the leash when we are on casual walks (walk out at the end of it, but not pulling), and I also encourage Dean to pull in certain circumstances.

 

As I get older and spend more time with dogs, I tend to train according to what suits me much more than social convention.

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Honestly Lyka has lunging issues on a leash, as she just LOVES all dog/people and wants to play. I use a pinch collar with her and if used and sized correctly it really helps the problem. I would contact a professional to show you how to use it, because there is a specific way you have to hold the leash for it to actually work and be safe

So what you are teaching her is that something unpleasant happens when other people and dogs are near. Let's just hope she doesn't translate that to believing that they are causing the unpleasantness and become less friendly or even aggressive towards them.

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I have been transitioning her off the pinch collar, however it only is uncomfortable when she lunges. That also doesn't mean it wasn't a useful tool for me. It's not like it is causing her serious pain or constantly punishing her. It sounds funny, but I did use it on myself first and it not painful just uncomfortable if properly sized. She learned quickly that if she lunged it didn't feel good, so she stopped. I also don't put it on her everytime we are around people and dogs only on walks. She seems to understand it had nothing to do with the people or the dogs, because that hasn't stopped her from getting positive attention from people and loving it or from playing with other dogs when I release her.

 

I get that a lot of people disapprove, but it's what I feel is right for my dog.

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I've been just as frustrated for a year with the same issues. I've been making good progress lately doing a couple simple things. One was doing a few walks just around the yard. I realized I was getting really frustrated trying to get through an entire walk and finding a little success really helped with my attitude which is really important to do effective training. Second was going back and re-watching all the leash training videos (kikopup has some really good ones). I realized I didn't remember as much as I thought I did and was making a lot of the common mistakes. If you're dog is overpowering you I would also recommend a leash that you can tie around your waist so you can use you're legs to help counter the force.

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consistency is the only cure. Make sure the dog does NOT get to what he wants to by pulling you. this is what makes pullers get stronger. The front clip harness works well, the gentle leader, no pull harness etc, however the dog will continue to pull IF allowed to pull

 

Stop the pulling. simply do NOT go forward if there is any tension on the lead. This requires consistency. Praise/reward the dog when he does not pull. any tension on the leash no reward.

I have worked with many pullers and the owner is the problem by allowing the dog to pull

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Dear Doggers,

 

You can find many blovations but no credible scientific evidence that training (aka "choke") collars or prong collars cause trachial damage. Tools don't matter much, your attitude does. Your dog doesn't pull. Your dog does not have the right to pull. Your dog will be happier not pulling than he was pulling.

 

There are many possible corrections to put a stop to pulling. General rules are the same for any correction. Corrections should be the gentlest effective correction. Apply correction as dog is deciding on undesirable behavior - not after he's been doing it for ten minutes. If you can't apply the correction properly, don't apply it at all. You must mean "Don't pull" not "Don't sniff that candy wrapper". If the undesirable behavior is well established, unless it's life threatening (car chasing etc) don't try to cure it with one dramatic superpowerful correction - it'll take several. Remember: at first the dog does not know what you're getting at and may panic or jibe or whimper. Don't reward this behavior with your kisses and tears. He's not the trainer, you are.

 

Donald McCaig

Hear, Hear

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Dear Doggers,

 

You can find many blovations but no credible scientific evidence that training (aka "choke") collars or prong collars cause trachial damage. Tools don't matter much, your attitude does. Your dog doesn't pull. Your dog does not have the right to pull. Your dog will be happier not pulling than he was pulling.

 

There are many possible corrections to put a stop to pulling. General rules are the same for any correction. Corrections should be the gentlest effective correction. Apply correction as dog is deciding on undesirable behavior - not after he's been doing it for ten minutes. If you can't apply the correction properly, don't apply it at all. You must mean "Don't pull" not "Don't sniff that candy wrapper". If the undesirable behavior is well established, unless it's life threatening (car chasing etc) don't try to cure it with one dramatic superpowerful correction - it'll take several. Remember: at first the dog does not know what you're getting at and may panic or jibe or whimper. Don't reward this behavior with your kisses and tears. He's not the trainer, you are.

 

Donald McCaig

Well said.

 

I think it would be possible to damage a dog with a prong or choke collar, especially if the dog were small or the correction were too harsh. I don't like to see them used at all, because often people start out using them from the beginning, which I see as a kind of laziness in the trainer, and I think that it is probably always possible to train without them. But note that I say "probably". I think the most important thing Mr. McCaig says above is "Corrections should be the gentlest effective correction."

 

A friend of mine has a 95 pound doberman with whom she uses a prong collar. She says she doesn't like to use it, and never pulls on it normally, but that if he decided to take off it is the only way she can be in control. I have thought about this. She adores her dog. The dog is very well trained; does freestyle and so on. But if he got a wild hair he could certainly pull her off her feet. So, should she simply not have a dog that she cannot control without a prong collar? I can't go that far in my thinking, because she is addicted to dobermans and IMO should have the dog she wants, since she takes excellent care of her dog. It would be easy for me to think that she should simply train the dog sufficiently that a prong collar is not necessary. But what if that is not really possible for that particular dog? He has excellent manners, but if he sees a squirrel or a rabbit he loses his mind. Better that she have a prong collar on him than that he get away from her and get lost in the desert or killed.

 

I am a positive reinforcement trainer, but that doesn't mean I don't ever use corrections. My correction is verbal and is the smallest "uh-uh" I can make and get results. My dogs never need a choke collar. But I don't have a 95 pound doberman, so for all I know, if I did I would have to make the same decision my friend has.

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You are correct D'Elle. People get lazy when walking their dog. and 'corrections" given by the typical pet owner are not effective for certain pullers. so they use the choke, keep it tight constantly or the pinch constantly tight and the dog learns to pull harder. Again, consistency is the cure. Do NOT allow the dog to pull. One very strong correction may 'hurt' the dog for a second, but if done properly the dog usually requires few of these in a lifetime. However new devices such as a front clip harness makes it easier for the typical pet owner to fix the problem without using harsh corrections. And rewarding the dog when it does not pull works too. BUT! the dog needs to understand that pulling does not get him to what he desires.

 

I teach obedience to 4 H'ers. Often I have large dogs (pyrs, Dutch Shepherd mixes, lab etc).with smaller kids. We have had good success with the gentle leader and have started using the front hook harness and so far I really like the results for the dogs/kids. We deal with a lot of strong pullers (with little kids) and reactive dogs and have very few problems as we get the kids to get the dog's attention ASAP.

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You are correct D'Elle. People get lazy when walking their dog. and 'corrections" given by the typical pet owner are not effective for certain pullers. so they use the choke, keep it tight constantly or the pinch constantly tight and the dog learns to pull harder. Again, consistency is the cure. Do NOT allow the dog to pull. One very strong correction may 'hurt' the dog for a second, but if done properly the dog usually requires few of these in a lifetime. However new devices such as a front clip harness makes it easier for the typical pet owner to fix the problem without using harsh corrections. And rewarding the dog when it does not pull works too. BUT! the dog needs to understand that pulling does not get him to what he desires.

 

I teach obedience to 4 H'ers. Often I have large dogs (pyrs, Dutch Shepherd mixes, lab etc).with smaller kids. We have had good success with the gentle leader and have started using the front hook harness and so far I really like the results for the dogs/kids. We deal with a lot of strong pullers (with little kids) and reactive dogs and have very few problems as we get the kids to get the dog's attention ASAP.

 

I'm with you Pam. It's a slippery slope using force on a dog just because it is stronger than you. Rather it is more important to get the dog's cooperation without compulsion if it is powerful. It will be safer in the long run when control is needed.

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