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6 month old lab driving me mad on walks

(25 Posts)
ABudafulSightWereHappyTonight Wed 08-Dec-10 10:53:44

I hate walking her as it is such a battle. She pulls and jumps and pulls and jumps. Had similar issues with our older dog pulling and a halti was recommended on here which transformed walks and was great. Younger dog - Tara - has always managed to get hers off. Today I managed to get one on her and she chewed through it within 5 minutes. My arm and shoulder are agony now from trying walk home with both dogs and her pulling and jumping. She goes particular crazy if another dog barks from a garden which they all do here.

I have ended up in tears today and am really starting to hate her.

It is a really vicious circle as I hate walking her so I don't so she is manic when I do.

I am in Hungary so training classes are not an option. I do know one trainer who speaks English. What I am tempted to do is ask her to take the dog for a few weeks and train her. Would that work? I tried this training our first dog with this girl but for various reasons we couldn't do it together very often due to her schedule, my schedule and where she lives. She trains search and rescue dogs so has her own dogs out every day.


bluecardi Wed 08-Dec-10 11:00:55

two collars & one longer fabric type lead.

get a metal chainlink collar and slip it over the dogs head. Clip the lead to both the metal collar and your dogs usual collar. If je pulls the metal collar will tighten abit but not too much.

Tell him to sit - if he doesn't pull on the lead. A sharp tug & push is back down to sit. Once he can sit you hold the lead with some trailing on the floor. You tell him to get up and the lead on the floor defines his area. He should not pull on the lead as he walks in the area of the pack.

Also put a blanket on the floor at home. This is your dogs area. Tell him to stay on his blanket. Put a dog treat on the floor in his sight. Tell him to stay on his blanket. Only when you tell him to leave his blanket does he go for the dog treat. Works wonders.

ABudafulSightWereHappyTonight Wed 08-Dec-10 11:33:31

Thanks bluecardi. Will try the extra collar. If I have her on a normal collar I pull it up sharply if she pulls but it doesn't stop her. She is choking but still pulling.

midori1999 Wed 08-Dec-10 12:35:56

I would never use a choke chain. Not ever, no matter what. Especially not on a dog that pulled, the damage that cou.d be done to it's neck could be serious. sad

If a halti won't work, you might find a gentle leader or 'dog bridle' suit your dog better and this will make things easier, but otherwise you can train her to walk to heel in a normal flat collar. You will need to train and walk this dog alone for a long time until the problems are sorted out.

The dog is pulling as it is excited and wants to get somewhere quick. The way to stop the pulling is to teach the dog that the quickest way to get where it wants is to walk with the lead loose and not pull and that pulling is counter productive.

Start in the garden where your dog will be less excited and more likey to pay attention to you. Use a treat to lure your dog into the position you want her in, so with her head next to your leg. When she is in that position, say 'heel' (or 'good') and give her the treat. Then use another treat, held just in front of her nose, but so she is unable to get it (eg, in your fist but so she knows you have it) to keep her in that position. Walk forward a couple of steps and if your dog stays in the right position say 'heel' and give the treat. Repeat, repeat and repeat again. Gradually increase the gaps in between treats, so 2 steps, then when the dog can do that, three steps, four steps etc. If the dog pulls on the lead or gets out of position, just stop and use a treat to lure the dog back into position.

Obviously you need to still walk her whilst you are training her and as you can't use a halti to pyhsically prevent her pulling, it is going to be hard as you will have to do the above and you must make sure you do not ever move forwards whilst your dog is pulling. This can mean having to stop after every single step at first to get the dog back into position and it is utterly and completely painstaking and very frustrating. However, it will work and the end result will eventually be a dog that walks on a loose lead beautifully and stays that way.

Sending your dog to the trainer might work, but usually in these situations the dog reverts back to previous behaviour at some point.

StayingDavidTennantsGirl Wed 08-Dec-10 12:47:49

We used a half-choke on our labrador - it is a fabric collar with a small length of chain so it will tighten slightly, but you can set it up so it doesn't choke the dog. It seems to have worked well with her, and didn't feel cruel to use - our trainer had recommended a choke chain but dh and I were not happy to use one.

patienceplease Wed 08-Dec-10 13:25:46

We had this probem and tried one of these which worked well - she stopped pulling nearly so much. She still pulled when she got really excited (eg seeing arabbit) but it helped hugely.

daisydotandgertie Wed 08-Dec-10 13:52:02

It's going to be hard work to train her to walk properly on a lead, but it will so be worth it. I'm with Midori on the choke collar - they are awful things which can do serious damage without even solving the problem.

I also feel quite strongly about sending your dog away to be trained. Training a dog is about both of you - you need to learn how to handle your dog, how to work the lead and how to ring your dog's particular bells as much as your dog needs to learn what you want from her.

I've seen many dogs who've been away to learn 'stuff' and on their return the owner has no clue how to operate the dog. You both need to learn together - and the bond you will build is incredible.

Would it be possible to spend an hour with the English speaking trainer and concentrate just on lead work?

I have solved pulling on the lead by one of my girls (lab) by smartly turning 180 degrees and walking in the opposite direction every time I felt the dog begin to pull. Every single time. It took about an hour, but by the end of it, she had worked out what I wanted. I didn't use any food treats, just lots and lots of lunatic praise. I found that with food involved the dog was beyond all control - she was just so excited by everything she couldn't manage to even think!

All of my labs are working gun-dogs and we don't tend to use food treats in training. I've no idea why - one of my trainers said it's to teach the dog to please you, not just to do something for food. Maybe that's it - it sounded good anyway. And it seems to work well enough.

bluecardi Wed 08-Dec-10 16:06:05

As you've clipped the lead to both collars the chain just tugs rather than hurts the dog. It reminds him not to pull. Also it's a solid collar. Once the ordinary fabric collar unclipped with our dogs pulling & he ran all over. Luckily no cars so ok but after this I got the metal collar to use two.

frostyfingers Wed 08-Dec-10 16:15:41

Another thing to try is find something to bif her gently over the nose with if she's going to far ahead. You may laugh, but a feather duster will do the trick, I just tapped mine on the dog's nose if she started getting ahead of me and she came back. It may not work for you yet, but once you have mastered the worst of the pulling might stop her creeping forward.

We too have used a thick rope choke lead, but as soon as it tightens you must loosen it - it can make a walk a bit long but it does get through to them. Above all you need to be patient and firm, don't get shouty and stressed it's not good for either of you!

TheHoneydragonsInTheIvy Wed 08-Dec-10 16:26:14

I have a lab, brilliant on lead, awful off. My dog trainer advised this all Kumfi products are practically magic imo when used properly. Within 3 days we were sorted and it was only used occasionally when at places she would be excited and forget herself. The halti can often be used as a solution, whereas these are sold and meant to be used as a training aid. They work best with a partial choke collar....not to check the dog with a choke, the chain goes at the front, it is to aid diverting the dogs head, so that when the head collar is removed they use the partial choke to self correct iyswim.

I am not a expert, I have just had a few labs and really struggled with her, just as you have described and this worked for me.

Daisy I was always taught praise not food with guns too smile

minimu1 Wed 08-Dec-10 17:19:52

OMG I can not believe some of the advice on here. No wonder there are so many badly behaved dogs around.

Never use a choke collar
Never use a half choke collar
Do not biff the dog on the nose when they pull
Do not tug the dog.

Lets just think about this for a moment.

If I were to come up to you and pull you towards me (what would you do apart from hit me!) You would pull away from me.

So you pull the dog the dog pulls more so that does not work.

Next lets put a tight collar around you and then pull you so tight that you can not breath and it hurts - you will try even harder to pull against it or the person that is inflicting the pain to make it go away

so the dog pulls more

I would like you to walk next to me but at random intervals you biff me on the nose with a newspaper or even a feather duster if I had any sense I would try to walk further away from you!

The tried and trusted way which always works IF you are consistent with all dogs is to
go to a secure place and off lead lure the dog into the correct position with a bit of yummy food, cheese is usually great for a lab. Do this several times a day over and over.

After a few days add the word you would like for this position so heel, close, with me, side etc.

After a while when the dog knows the heel postion say heel and step sideways from the dog - if the dog has learnt the position he should move sideways too into the correct position praise like mad.

Ask the dog to get in the heel position before you feed etc. Good things always happen in the heel position.

When the position is learnt you can start to do it in harder places so going for a walk. The dog will still pull as this is what he has done for a while. When he pulls just stand still he will eventually slighly turn to look at you (this can at first take a while so hang in there) when he does ask him into the heel position and carry on walking. Every time he pulls stop and do the same.

To start with you will get nowhere but DO stick at it. Be prepared for some days to get worse but stick to it. Just think even if if takes two months that is better than being pulled at the end of a lead for 14 years.

Once this is learnt do not take it for granted continue to treat the dog for being in the right place on occasions.

I like to think of heelwork as just teaching a dog another trick - people are prepared to take hours teaching a dog a trick - heel work is just another trick go for it!

You could send your lab off to be trained (I'll do it!) It will cost a lot of money and yes the dog will learn to walk to heel with the trainer and you for a while but unless you have learnt why the dog is pulling and what you are doing after a few days I bet you that your dog will be pulling with you again.

midori1999 Wed 08-Dec-10 17:20:30

Yes, praise alone will work for some dogs.

The benefits of using positive re-inforcement over the other methods mentioned here are that the dog is working for something, not to avoid it and so it can also eventually be used to teach the dog to walk to heel off the lead too, or in fact, to teach it anything. The dog will also enjoy training more and be more motivated to comply.

If you use a method such a choke chain or a smack on the nose, what about when you want to traint he dog to walk to heel off lead? The choke chain is off, so that won't help at all and the dog is going to be far more interested in running off than getting a smack on the nose. (it might intially also be more interested in running off than getting a treat, but that's fine, we can up the anti and find something the dog likes more, like a ball/game of fetch)

The most successful obedience competitors use reward based training, I think that ssays a lot about how effective it is. The other major benefit to it is that the dog isn't going to react adversely to it.

midori1999 Wed 08-Dec-10 17:23:12

Thank goodness Minimu, I was beginning to think we were in the doggy dark ages..., rolled up newspaper anyone?! [GRIN]

StayingDavidTennantsGirl Wed 08-Dec-10 17:26:10

Minimu1 - I read your advice with great interest, and will be following it with our lab (when the streets are less slippery - I am a wuss so the rest of the family are walking her). She is pretty good on the lead, and doesn't pull much, except with me - I suspect because I don't walk as fast as the rest of the family - but I would like to teach her to walk nicely with me, on and off the lead.

I feel bad that we have used the half choke collar up to now - the dog trainer we did classes with recommended a choke chain (and made a makeshift one in class by threading the end of the lead through the loop, and putting it round her neck), so we thought it was the right thing to do.

I just hope we haven't ruined things.

ABudafulSightWereHappyTonight Wed 08-Dec-10 18:20:17

minimu - I would love you to train her! Fancy a trip to Budapest??!

I will start training her to come to heel in the garden tomorrow. I am assuming that I can't do 2 dogs at once?

ABudafulSightWereHappyTonight Wed 08-Dec-10 18:23:06

Oh - not ignoring anyone else! Thanks for all the suggestions!

I did laugh at the feather duster one. She LOVES the floor mop and chases it around when I try to mop up the many, many, many, many sets of muddy paw prints! I imagine that the feather duster would be a great game.

I don't want to do anything that will hurt her. And the pulling upwards sharply the way the Hungarian trainer showed me didn't work on our older dog. And this dog is even MORE mental. So why would I think it would work?

anonymousbird Wed 08-Dec-10 18:26:57

Haltis are hopeless for learning not to pull when walking on a lead.

We have a failsafe method, works every single time. My dog trainer told me it, and I am forever in her debt (seriously - it's like magic!)

Normal rope/soft cord style lead (not a clippy on one).

Loop the lead around her neck with lots to spare. Take a smaller loop out of the loop around her neck and put it around her snout.

She will absolutely hate it, but she will get used to it.

But guaranteed 100% she will not pull with the lead there. Every now and then, when mine starts to take the piss again on the lead, I put it on her (don't normally need to these days) and boy, she remembers fast and stops pulling me about.

And as for general training, reward, reward, reward and praise. My very silly ridiculous 2.5 yo lab will do anything for a snack. We just repeated and repeated and repeated and eventually she got the message.

It is bloody hard work. Good luck. I too cried numerous times over my lab in the early months/year.

Batteryhuman Wed 08-Dec-10 19:12:45

I fostered a springer for 3 1/2 years while the owners were abroad. He pulled like a train and arrived with chain collars, halti and of all things an extending lead (if the latter doesn't teach a dog that pulling pays i don't know what will).

I am no dog trainer and am a huge admirer of the dog gurus on here smile but I cannot bear being pulled. It took 3 months using the kind of positive reinforcement methods outlined by Midori but he never pulled again and walked at the shoulder of my other dog (who in the meantime had got so bored of stopping and waiting for a slack lead that I think he must have had words with him to sort it out).

The day he went back to his original owners, he reverted to his old habits. So i for one do not think that sending him away to be trained will stop him from pulling.

I wish you good luck and endless patience. It is so worth it.

ABudafulSightWereHappyTonight Wed 08-Dec-10 19:18:12

"Endless patience". Hmm. I am not known for my patience! Therein lies the problem.

I will try the positive reinforcement techniques. I will. Aaargh.

anonymousbird - I can't visualise what you are saying. Sorry. Am a bit slow. And given that she chewed her way out of the halti today I don't hold out much hope for that one.

bedlambeast Wed 08-Dec-10 20:12:10

Message withdrawn

anonymousbird Wed 08-Dec-10 22:26:43

Oh, Abudaful I knew it would be hard to explain!!!

With my method, she cannot possibly chew the lead, assuming you are on the other end of course!

It's like having a loop through (as opposed to clip on) lead in a figure of eight, and one part of the eight goes around her neck, the other smaller part of the figure of the eight goes around her snout and is pulled snug

I wish I could send you a clip of how to do it - it absolutely guarantees your lab will not pull you any more on the lead.

Hmm, how to show you? I don't know!

frostyfingers Fri 10-Dec-10 16:16:01

Minimu - when I said bif I am not advocating whacking the dog over the nose - impossible with a feather duster anyway. A gentle wave in front of them just reminds them not to go too far. Likewise with a choke lead, the one we used was soft, and we were always extremely careful about stopping and loosening as soon as began to tighten. I agree that allowing a dog to pull so it actually chokes is not on, nor is hitting.

There is no quick fix, or one stop remedy for pulling, but using a combination of these two methods worked well for us. In fact both our dogs were taught to walk at heel at the same time as being taught on a lead and we have never had any problems.

It's a bit like disciplining children I think - what works for some, doesn't for others and not everyone approves of what others do even if it does work for them! EG: I won't use food to bribe my dogs as I believe it makes them beg and hassle - but it works for you.....!

Abudaful - pick which one you think you are happiest with, and see how it goes - let us know!

minimu1 Fri 10-Dec-10 16:53:07

Frostyfingers I do not bribe my dogs either but I do reward them constantly. Would you work for no pay!?

There is no such thing as a "soft choke chain" you can't softly strangle someone.

I agree there are many ways to train a dog but there is only one fair effective kind way and that is by positice reinforcement.

The method anonymousbird is suggesting is also a choke method but using a slip collar around the neck and nose. As the dog pulls forward the nose is pulled down and the lead tightens around the neck - again not a method I would recommend. But if for a little effort and training you will risk your dogs neck and spine then go for it!

As said above if it works for you!?!?!? but at what cost

I don't mean to be sounding like a narky old moo but as a dog behaviourist I see problems with dogs day in and day out and old out dated training methods that have caused dogs mental and physical harm.

Why fight against the easy proven way of training that works quickly and easily and you will have dogs that love to work for you and are a joy to be with.

An example I have had is a staffy that pulled on the lead and was dog aggressive so he was put on a choke chain and dragged to meet other dogs when he reacted to them by barking and pulling he was restrained by the choke chain and pushed to the floor and hit with a newspaper.

I took him off the choke chain used a normal collar and sat in the park with him. Every time a dog passed he got a piece of cheese. Soon when he saw a dog coming he turned to me for the cheese. No barking lunging from him, no shouting and hitting from me. Within two weeks he was playing in the garden with my dogs no problem.

The lead pulling did take longer and we had to practice many times a day for several weeks. However he has now been rehomed to a family and is loved and walking on lead no problem.

I can give thousands of examples of where positive training has done wonders for dogs. Also clicker trained dogs - you only need to pick up a clicker in my house and the dogs will all be around me ready and up for action they ust love it!

midori1999 Fri 10-Dec-10 17:54:09

"EG: I won't use food to bribe my dogs as I believe it makes them beg and hassle "

I never get why people won't use food to reward their dogs. The only thing that makes a dog beg and hassle is being rewarded for begging and hassling.

If I asked my son to go to the shops for me and said if he didn't he'd get a smacked backside and sent to bed (I don't hit my dogs or my DC by the way!) he'd probably do as I asked and go to the shops.

If I asked my son to go to the shops and I'd let him keep a couple of pounds out of the change, he'd probably still go to the shops. I know which one would make him happier though, and the second might even make him look forward to going to the shops for me next time, or try and work out what else he could do to earn pocket money.

Same sort of thing applies to dogs. If during training all that happens is you get reprimanded/experience something unpleasant when you don't do the right thing, all the dog is doing is trying to avoid doing the wrong thing and not enjoying the training session. If the dog gets rewarded for doing the right thing, it is constantly trying to do whatever the right thing may be and enjoys the training.

I don't use a clicker that much, but have done. Like Minimu, if I get the clicker out, or a treat and the dogs know I am going to do some training with them, even without being asked, they go through their repetoire of 'tricks' very enthusiastically trying to work out what I want them to do.

30andMerkin Fri 10-Dec-10 17:56:50

"if I get the clicker out, or a treat and the dogs know I am going to do some training with them, even without being asked, they go through their repetoire of 'tricks' very enthusiastically trying to work out what I want them to do."

I'm so glad you wrote that Midori! When I get the clicker or treat box out my puppy does this sit-down-hover dance before the first command, and I thought it was something I'd done wrong to confuse him! Nope, it's him just trying to 2nd guess what the first 'job' is going to be isn't it? grin

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