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17month BC pup pulling hard on leash

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Hello everyone,


This is my first time here and I'm looking for some advice. I'm a first time dog owner and have a 17 month old male BC whom I would love to correct some behaviours on.


The biggest issue I have is that he relentlessly pulls on the leash when I walk him. To me it seems like he gets overstimulated or overwhelmed by cars/people/other dogs and doesn't calm down til he's home again. I think it's his mind that gets so much momentum, as it's like he gets into an unbreakable stress/panic where he completely tunnel visions. If I walk him on the leash at home he doesn't pull at all.


I have tried calming him down outside by taking a break from the walk and sitting him down, which does work, but it doesn't take long at all before he gets going again and it makes things very silly to take a few minutes break to calm him down every minute or so of walking. I am hoping somebody will suggest a better way than this.


I have tried giving him corrections in the form of a tug on the leash when he tries to pull in the direction of things of interest (trees, poles, etc. he wants to smell everything and everyone that walks past him) and while it does have some effect, he reverts to the behavior right away. Perhaps I'm being too timid from giving him the right amount of force in the tug, I don't know. I don't want to hurt the little guy.


I've been using a thick rope leash which tends to choke him a bit when he pulls. I used to use a regular harness but this gave me much more control over him, but perhaps the choking adds to his stressed out mind. I've seen people with harnesses that clip on middle of the chest or harnesses that go on the face and have been considering trying these as solutions. Anybody who's had a pulling dog tried this? Did it actually stop the behaviour?


My goal is really to teach this dog to walk at my heel, as now when he pulls he's out in front of me. He still wants to smell practically everything on any grass we walk past and I wonder how I can break all these distracting habits he has and get him to focus just on me. Would love any advice for accomplishing this.



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What have you done to teach him to walk on a leash? Has he been allowed to drag you for the past year+?


If active loose leash training has not been done, then of course he will pull. If he tugs and you tug back, what does that teach him?


I would suggest watching videos on YouTube by Kikopup on how to teach leash manners. She has several videos dedicated to just leash walking and breaks things down easily enough for a novice to understand. I would also suggest starting the training at home, where you have success already. Then move to the yard, then to a quiet street with little to no cars/people. Then to quiet parking lots, then to busier roads, etc. This will likely be over weeks/months, not days as he starts to learn to be calm on walks. Set yourself up for success as this can be a frustrating thing to teach an adult dog who has a history of pulling.


Just tugging back on the leash isn't going to teach him about leash pressure and what pressure on the leash means (in fact, tugging back teaches the opposite of what you want). Harnesses like the easy-walk (front-clip) may help but they don't teach the dog about leash pressure and most dogs still pull just not as hard. IMO head halters aren't the greatest tool for leash walking and I personally would not use/suggest one. Especially if the owner continues to allow the dog to pull with it on, now the strain on the body has just shifted.


It takes active every day training from the owner and lots of patience to teach leash manners. If he has been allowed to pull for his whole life, it will also take longer to train. Patience and time will pay off so you have 14 years of nice walks ahead.

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My Border collie used to pull awful with a regular collar to the point I was dealing with a lot of the same behaviors that you have mentioned. I started using a harness like the one you mentioned also with 2 points that I can attach a lead (one in front and one on top plus a handle). I started working along the same steps that waffles mentioned with the harness and the leash clipped in front. In the house, in the yard, and on quiet roads. As soon as he would start pulling, the harness automatically would have him turned facing in my direction where we would try to reinforce "heel" and "sit/stay". He still gets excited at the beginning and end of the walk because he knows where we are but his manners while walking have improved 1000%. Early on when he would start to pull, I would turn and walk the other direction with "heel" commands so it made him have to be engaged with me because he really wasn't sure where exactly we were going next.

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Among other things, I like to use the crazy man method. Basically, after he has started to grasp the concept of not pulling, when he forges out in front you just turn around and walk the other way. It'll take a long time and an ability to handle dizziness, but it's the best method I've found for getting the dog to realize that it needs to pay some sort of attention to you when out walking, because you may randomly change directions.

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Good suggestions above. Like others I have to ask if you've ever tried teaching him where you want him to be in relation to you, rather than trying to correct the pulling? IOW, what, if anything, have you done to reward him for walking either by your side or simply with a loose leash?


One method I've used is to hold a refillable squeeze tube with something really yummy, like thinned liverwurst, or a can of spray cheese at my side where I'd like the dog's head to be. The only way the dog gets the reward is if s/he is in the proper position. As the dog gets better at being where you want him to be, you gradually lengthen the time between rewards.


Here are a few places you can purchase them.





LauraV's absolutely right in asking if you've worked with a trainer. If you work with a good positive reinforcement trainer you'll learn how to use markers and rewards that'll really help a lot. As others have said, expect it to take a little longer because he's been self-rewarding for so long, but these are smart dogs and he should learn quickly.


Best wishes going forward with this.

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I would really recommend obedience classes. They teach the person more than the dog usually. I took Rey, my 1 year old BC through beginning and intermediate classes. That made me spend time and she's wonderful now. She still pulls some, but I go the other way when she does, or use stop, leash hand on my hip so I don't give some unintended signal and wait for her to relax pressure on the leash and go again when that happens. Is she immediately pulls again, we stop again. There have been time where is tool 5 minutes to go 20 feet. But the result is last night I just held the end of the leach and we went for about a mile walk and she never pulled.


Are you using a training collar of some sort??

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What training have you done to teach the dog to walk nicely on a leash?

Any dog has to be trained that this is desirable and the only way to do that is to make it worthwhile for him NOT to pull on the leash. Right now, you are teaching him that it IS worthwhile to pull on the leash.


Take a good obedience or basic leash manners class, go online to Kiko Pup as someone else suggested, learn how to train your dog properly with reinforcement and not punishment.


You cannot expect him to know what you want if you only use collars or harnesses that prevent his pulling or make it uncomfortable to pull, or if all you do is jerk on the leash. He needs to be taught what you want, not just punished for what you don't want.


This applies to pretty much everything with a dog.


If you put yourself in the dog's place, you can imagine that you want something over there very badly. But every time you try to get it, you are (say) pinched on the arm by another person. You learn that going for what you want results in a pinch. But, you still want it and the pinch is not that bad so you keep trying to get it no matter what.


Now, if you are, instead, told "hey, you can have that over there if you want it, but you first have to ask nicely for it and behave this certain way", well then, you will be happy to do what is asked of you to get what you want. You just had to have it explained to you.

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I also would suggest an obedience class.

you could try the "be a tree" approach: the dog starts to pull, you stop and stay. no punishment with the leash, just keep the tension till the dog releases it and come back toward you. you want to mark and reward when he does.

do this in increasingly stressful environment.

then you could try the "penalty yard" exercise: put something that your dog wants (little mountains of treats for example) at a certain distance and start walking toward the treats, but this time, in addition to stop at the pull, you will also walk back.

so your dog will get what he wants only when he does not pull you all the way. increase the distance, increase the distractions.

the crazy man method I found it also very effective to get the dog to pay attention to you.

but if your dog is overwhelmed by the environment, I would start to teach the basics in a calmer place first, and make sure he understood what you are asking.

I used a martingale collar with my dog for the training.

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