Ace and I walk together every morning (right after I walk the wild-child puppy). It’s a nice way to start my day. Yesterday, we even ran for about 45 seconds. He loved it!
And while he’s not a fan of our puppy Remy, Ace seems to tolerate him OK.
I am no longer concerned about any aggression issues like we were having earlier. Ace will occasionally snarl or even bite Remy, but it’s always deserved and it’s always my responsibility to keep Remy in line.
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I’ve partnered up with Dog Nation in previous years because my readers do a lot of work with rescue dogs. This year, I want to remind you of the chance to nominate your favorite shelter or rescue group to win a $500 donation.
1. Find a collar that makes the pulling less extreme.
It truly doesn’t matter which training collar you prefer.
I recommend trying a few options and using the one that gives you control without hurting your dog.
Since we’re going to use highly valued food to “lure” the dog, you won’t be giving many corrections so a prong collar or Gentle Leader would be OK for most dogs. (I’m not against corrections, but corrections usually don’t work very well for teaching leash manners.)
Remy is a hard puller and what I’ve been using lately for him is a Gentle Leader and a martingale collar. I clip the same leash to both, and that seems to keep the GL from sliding into his eyes when he pulls (somewhat).
I also recommend a six-foot leather leash.
My favorite leash by far is the Ruff Grip leash because the material is so easy to grip. It is worth the price ($38 or so). I’m going to buy another so I have one for both my dogs.
2. Use highly motivating treats!
To stop your dog from pulling when you’re outside, you’ll need some extremely motivating treats.
Indoors, dogs are less picky because there’s fewer distractions.
Outside, I use bits of deli meat, bits of cheese, Green Bark Gummies soft treats and sometimes pieces of chicken. I mix it all together in a treat pouch and add in some dry dog food.
Total, I use about a cup of goodies per walk. Obviously, you might need to cut back on your dog’s meals if you do this.
3. Wear a treat pouch around your waist.
At the very minimum, carry a TON of treats in your pockets.
Once you start heading out for training walks, you’re going to need to carry about a cup’s worth of small treats. That probably won’t fit in your pockets easily.
A treat pouch fits around your waist (yep, like a fanny pack!) so you have quick access to treats. I walk with Remy and give him treat-treat-treat for walking at my side.
I reward him for looking at me, walking at my side and not pulling. I also use treats to lure him back when he pulls or gets ahead. I simply stop and wait for him to return to or I lure him back.
Here is the treat pouch I’m using:
I like that it opens with a hinge so it stays propped open if I’d like and also snaps shut quickly if needed. No zippers or snaps to worry about. I can fit my whole hand in the pouch so treats are easily accessible at all times.
4. Practice indoors a lot.
This is what really helped Remy. We worked in the living room for five minutes a day and it really clicked for him on the third day.
I used a leash at first and simply popped treats into his mouth for being at my left side or making eye contact. I walked along the wall so he had few options of where to go and lured him where I wanted him to be (my left side).
I would stop and have him sit, give a treat. Then take a step forward, have him sit, give a treat. Then two steps, etc. He really caught on quickly.
Practicing indoors is what made a huge difference for us because Remy seemed to finally “get” what I wanted and with no distractions it was easy for us to succeed.
Practice in every room of the house, the basement, the garage, perhaps the back yard or the driveway. I like to practice in quiet, open parking lots like church parking lots on weekday mornings.
5. Practice on walks.
Of course, outdoors is the challenging part.
Our obedience instructor actually told me not to walk Remy for now if he’s going to pull. She said to stick to really boring walks up and down the driveway or in circles in the yard or perhaps down the street at quiet times.
If you want to stop your dog’s pulling you need to remove his opportunity to pull. Practicing indoors makes sense until he gets the hang of it. Then move on to “boring” outdoor areas before adding more exciting outdoor areas.
However, in the real world, I need to be able to walk my 8-month-old weimaraner for exercise purposes and potty breaks. I live in an apartment, so a leash is his only access to the outdoors.
So … I am not perfect.
Sometimes I just need to get my puppy out for a quick potty break and he pulls. This sets our training back. Sometimes I just want to be “normal” and check out from training … and he pulls. Like, really bad. This sets our training back.
I’ve debated using a specific collar for our training walks and a different collar or harness for our “checked out” walks, but I haven’t been consistent.
6. Take a short break every 5 minutes during walks.
This is really important.
On your walks, ask your dog to heel for 5 minutes or so, and then use your release word – “Free!” or “Break!” – to let him sniff or play or walk ahead for at least 30 seconds (but stop moving if he pulls).
There are a few reasons for this:
Dogs have short attention spans
This helps remind you to take breaks and keep this fun!
Heel is very, very difficult for them
It helps if they understand “heel” means “heel until I release you.”
So, try rotating between focused heeling for 5 minutes, quick break, heeling for 5 minutes, quick break.
Other tips that can help:
Walk in zig-zags or figure-8s. Turn around a lot.
Work on random obedience or obstacles.
Pick up the pace, jog a little, run.
Sign up for a basic obedience class.
Try different types of treats!
Giveaway – Win a bag of Green Bark Gummies
Green Bark Gummies is giving away a bag of treats to 10 readers of That Mutt. Learn more about Green Bark Gummies here.
*This contest has ended. Just fill out the Rafflecopter giveaway form below and follow the simple instructions for entry options. If you filled it out on yesterday’s post you’re already entered.
Contest ends at 12 a.m. midnight PST Saturday Oct. 15. I’ll announce the winners in Sunday’s email. Join the list here. Must have a U.S. mailing address to win.
I don’t go too crazy analyzing the ingredients in treats, but I do read through them and wonder why the heck some of these companies are adding things like sugar to dog treats! Same goes with unspecified “animal” by-products.
If your dog doesn’t have allergies and he’s just getting one treat here and there, the ingredients maybe don’t matter a whole lot.
But if you’re like me and feed so many treats that you have to decrease your dogs meals, then the ingredients matter quite a bit. The treats make up a large percentage of your dog’s overall diet!
First ingredients from Green Bark Gummies:
Chicken, Pea Flour, Potato Starch, Dried Ground Beet Pulp Product, Tapioca Syrup, Black Beans, Dried Ground Chia Seed, Pork Gelatin, White Fish, Chicken Fat, Bentonite, [full list]
#4: The treats are soft or easy to break.
I prefer soft treats (just a personal preference) because I use them for training and will pop 4 or 5 treats into Remy’s mouth very quickly. We can’t waste time standing around waiting for him to crunch up each treat before moving on.
Lindsay Stordahl Lindsay Stordahl (with her mutt Ace) is the blogger behind That Mutt.
Julia Thomson Julia Thomson (with her mutt Baxter) writes regularly for That Mutt.
Barbara Rivers Barbara Rivers writes for That Mutt about raw dog food.
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