Dog pulling on lead - help!!!

(29 Posts)
Didthatreallyhappen2 Mon 28-Jan-19 14:29:11

Our cockapoo is nearly 2 years old. In almost every respect he's wonderful, daft as a brush, soppy, very affectionate, absolutely the perfect family pet, and we all love him to bits.

But …. he pulls hugely on his lead on his walks. I walk him twice a day, at least half an hour each walk but usually more. I'm a SAHM so he's in and out of our big garden all the time, chasing squirrels etc etc. We knew he was a high energy breed, and were prepared to give long walks, but he pulls constantly. It's meant that I now have very bad sciatica (can barely get out of bed some days) and shoulder problems and I'm getting a bit desperate.

We tried him on a harness which was supposed to stop pulling. All it actually did was mean he could pull even more because he had the leverage (think "World's Strongest Man pulls caravan" sort of thing, and the angle that they can pull at). So we've put him back on a regular lead and collar and now, every time he pulls, we simply pull him back, stop walking, say "Stop" (or TBH "Ow" in my case), and then wait for a couple of seconds before starting again. Some days we have to do this every step of our walks.

Are we doing something wrong (or right, I ask hopefully). He is the most wonderful pet in almost every other way and we love him to bits, but this is becoming a real problem. Someone suggested putting a sort of muzzle headset on him, but he'd hate it and that seems like a punishment, which we don't want to do.

Thank you for reading. This was longer than I had anticipated.

OP’s posts: |
Judashascomeintosomemoney Mon 28-Jan-19 14:49:30

You’re going to need a lot of patience and be prepared to look like a bit of a wally but it’s doable. Two methods I’ve used with success on incredibly strong Labradors that could easily pull me over so needed to knock the pulling in the head ASAP as follows:
1, set off walking and the second he pulls stop, do not say or do anything (I don’t even give eye contact tbh), the second the tension in the lead goes even slightly slack (he may just stop pulling on it or he may turn round to look at you), and it may take quite some time, then move forward and praise with a ‘good boy’. He will probably pull again immediately. If he does, you must stop immediately and repeat, only moving forward when the tension slacks on the lead. Repeat ad nauseum. You may only get half a step each time (and passers by will wonder what you’re doing!) but there’s a fairly good success rate with this method. Eventually you should be able to walk more and more steps before he pulls ahead and eventually he should get to the point where he’s walking beside you on a loose lead. It can take ages and in the meantime you might not go far but it is important you are consistent and don’t give in and think, we’ll just walk a little way with him pulling so we get an actual walk - if you do then you’ll have to start again from scratch.
2, this method usually works a bit quicker. Start off walking, the second he pulls you abruptly change direction and walk the other way. He will immediately pull again, so again you abruptly turn and walk back the way you came. You keep doing it. You will look like a weirdo to passers by but, needs must. When I’ve used this method I’ve found that the dog very quickly starts to look up at you (probably thinking, what the hell is going on), and quickly gets focused on you and what you’re going to do next. Again you must be consistent and always use this method, most dogs will have a relapse back in to pulling so you just employ this method every time they do.
Disclaimer: I’ve only trained Labradors in this way (quite a few of them though) and it works well for the breed but I don’t have any experience of Cockapoos so there’s a good chance a Cockapoo ‘expert’ might have an even better method more suited to their drive/need to pull ahead to sniff everything! smile

BiteyShark Mon 28-Jan-19 14:51:05

I have a cocker and they are notorious for head down, zig zagging about and pulling. I tried a figure of eight lead over his nose which is similar to a head harness which stopped his pulling because he would throw himself onto the floor and refuse to walk and scratch to get it off grin. That didn't last long wink.

I have a perfect fit harness with double lead which we use to practice walking with. The double lead attaches to the front ring of the harness and I am using the stop and pause technique with this and it does seem to be working.

Some harnesses do encourage them to pull even harder in but the perfect fit one using the front ring is the best one I have found for my dog.

Judashascomeintosomemoney Mon 28-Jan-19 14:52:47

on the head doh!
Btw meant to add, I would go back to using a harness (not necessarily a non pull one, I dont think they work that well anyway), you're right they do give more leverage to the dog but it’s also safer than a collar pulling tightly on your dog’s delicate neck while he’s still pulling like a steam train. It’ll be the method you’re relying on not the harness. Good luck.

billybagpuss Mon 28-Jan-19 15:41:15

I have used a couple of methods:

Method 1, Halti collar, Billypup absolutely hates it, but days when we don't have time to use methods 2 or 3 it does work. We used it as a very specific solution to a specific problem and initially only needed it for a couple of days before we had a massive improvement. She very rarely needs it now only if I'm trying to walk more than 1 dog or there are a lot of early morning squirrels about.
Method 2, Walking to heal with a constant stream of treats, I managed 2 miles like this and if you hold the treat in the hand so she can't eat it she will sniff at my hand and we don't end up bankrupt with a very podgy doggy.
Method 3, (the most irritating) Every time the second the lead goes tight stop dead and say no, call her back to heal. It does work but takes soooo long to get anywhere.

I've been working on this for a good 2 to 3 months now and we very very rarely use the halti, mostly now using Method 3 now and the second I stop now she repositions herself in the heal position (with a side order of looking extremely pissed off) Our walks have got much calmer.

Iamblossom Mon 28-Jan-19 15:45:16

I use a halti and it is a gamechanger.

Also we are lucky enough to have lots of walks round here where he can run freely and doesn't need a lead

Flooffloof Mon 28-Jan-19 15:57:04

She very rarely needs it now only if I'm trying to walk more than 1 dog

Jumping in on your OP sorry didthat.
I have a similar problem when walking both dogs. Each one alone is just fine and happy to putter along besides me.
Take them both together (every damn day) and both pull, but one stops if I do, moves if I do, just at the end of the lead. I get around that by having a spring end lead.
The other just pulls like a train trying to be in front. And so every day I end up figure of 8 lead. I just want to walk em both together without drama.
I tried the 300 method, which works fabulously alone. It's how I got them to walk to heel in the first place.
That's not going to work with 2 dogs.


billybagpuss Mon 28-Jan-19 19:58:54

@flooffloof Its competitive, we only ever walk 2 dogs when helping our neighbour out, who also has a collie. Ours is 11 months theirs 4 years. Ours just HAS to be in front no matter what, we've noticed even when there are 2 of us with a dog each.

Whats the '300 method'?

Flooffloof Mon 28-Jan-19 20:19:12

Eh the 300 peck method. Is some videos on YouTube that I can't seem to link to.
But as your walking along, every time the dog pulls you turn in a 380 circle with the dog, give treat/use clicker, carry on walking. Dunno why it's called 300 peck.
It's similar to stop and wait for dog to concentrate on you. But more direct I think.
Also quick to work. I tried the stop and wait for dog to notice me. I waited a vvvvery looong time for the dog to remember me.

Flooffloof Mon 28-Jan-19 20:21:52

Here's the spring end dog lead for those interested

MattMagnolia Mon 28-Jan-19 20:23:38

Ours is a very bright little dog so I don’t know why he doesn’t understand that he can’t get there any faster by pulling. I get so cross, it’s spoiling our walks. Can I use a head collar on a titchy dog?

peeblet Mon 28-Jan-19 20:24:44

Halti turns my dog into a showdog in seconds. perfect walking from the second its on!

bunnygeek Tue 29-Jan-19 13:05:04

Some more tips here smile

spot102 Tue 29-Jan-19 18:45:50

Two things I found helped with my dog who was an enthusiastic puller:

Halti - works really well, ideal as a quick solution, but watch out for them biting chin strap and rendering it useless. Keeps you in control of their head and was the only thing I found that really worked well.

Harness and springy lead attached to handsfree belt. Was actually a canicross belt/lead (similar available from pet shops), but only used for walking (Obviously could also use if for running if so desired, great if running is your thing). Allowed the dog to walk ahead without yanking me. Didn't necessarily stop her pulling, just reduced the effects.

Obviously proper training is your best long term friend!

Things I did wrong, training-wise:
Walked dog on the school run - was always late and didn't have time to do any form of training
Took another dog along, they just competed and still no effective training

Hoddykins Tue 29-Jan-19 18:56:49

Please don't use a halti - I think it takes away all the pleasure from a dog on it's walk - they can't put their nose down and have a good sniff sad

Walks are for the dogs - not for the humans!

But I agree with all the above posters! Unfortunately it isn't a quick fix and they've shared some great methods!

spot102 Tue 29-Jan-19 19:16:21

Trouble is its the nose down thing that can be half the problem (in my experience) - its like ohh there's a nice smell, yank - and another one over here, yank - oohh and found a nice smelly pile here, yank!!!

But yes, they do like to have a good sniff around, just need to remember about the long-suffering person on the other end of the lead!

billybagpuss Tue 29-Jan-19 19:26:28

I do kind of agree with @Hoddykins regarding the halti as they can't sniff as comfortably. which is why we used it as a very specific solution to a very specific problem. Collies are very intelligent dogs it took a matter of days for the halti to make a difference that I didn't need it as much.

I used it a lot in the first week, then I'd put it on for the beginning of the walk when she's at her most reactive and its easy when she's calmed a little to slip it off her nose and let it dangle down, then put it back on again if necessary.

Didthatreallyhappen2 Wed 30-Jan-19 11:13:23

Brilliant ideas everyone - thank you! (Spot102 - the examples of smells made me laugh out loud - have you been following me???) smile

I'm researching the halti at the moment. We've got deep snow at the moment so that is making walking with a pulling dog even harder - maybe I should get a sledge instead and just let him pull me along. Perseverance is obviously the key, along with a lot of knowhow. Thank you all - I am truly grateful (and in a bizarre way it's nice to know that I'm not on my own)!

OP’s posts: |
AvocadosBeforeMortgages Wed 30-Jan-19 11:19:04

I haven't RTFT, but have you considered attaching your dog's lead to a special belt around your waist? It won't do anything to stop pulling, but it might help reduce your pain while you work on it?

This sort of thing

missbattenburg Wed 30-Jan-19 12:19:45

300 peck is a method in which you train something one tiny increment at a time.

It comes from experiments with pigeons in which they were taught to peck a button 300 times in a row before being fed. They did it 1 peck at a time.

e.g. 1 peck

then 2 pecks

then 3 pecks

Each time the pigeon failed to give the right number of pecks they went back to the appropriate stage. For example, if they had built up to 10 pecks and then the pigeon only offered 2 pecks before giving up you would go back to 2 pecks, treat and work back up from there.

The lead method described above sounds like it was mislabelled or there was more to it than that. To use 300 peck to loose lead walk you would break it into steps or seconds.

e.g. 1 step of loose lead


2 steps of loose lead

and so on...

peeblet Wed 30-Jan-19 12:46:06

the halti headcollar doesnt stop them sniffing unless u choose to have a super short lead and pull them up. just works like a standard collar until they do start to purposefully pull

Myranium Wed 30-Jan-19 13:00:34

I'd recommend attaching the lead to a well fitting harness (one with a ring at the front if you want something that will make it physically difficult for him to pull) as pressure from pulling on a collar can be harmful. There's a good article about it here.

Kikopup on YouTube has a great playlist of videos on loose lead walking which are all well worth a watch.

I'd also recommend joining the Dog Training Advice and Support FB group as they've got some excellent resources in the 'Files' section concerning loose lead walking and it's also asked about very regularly so worth searching through posts to read as well.

Theresahairbrushinthefridge Wed 30-Jan-19 17:08:50

My osteopath (who has her own dog ) says she sees a huge number of clients whose wrist/ back/ shoulder problems are caused by pulling dogs.

Treefloof Wed 30-Jan-19 20:14:01

The lead method described above sounds like it was mislabelled

Quite possibly. I simply saw it on YouTube, saw it might work on the pulling dog and used it. It worked, I was happy, dog was happy. Then I got a second dog (who didn't need to be trained really)
Each dog alone is a dream to walk. Together, sigh.

Oh name changed too.

Maneandfeathers Thu 31-Jan-19 13:18:16

Why do haltis stop dogs sniffing hmm

I walk all of mine in dogmatic headcollars. No bad back for me plus they can pant, sniff and do whatever they would normally be doing so I have no clue why people think they are cruel confused

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