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Dog has hurt me(30 Posts)
We have an American staffy type dog. He is only 2 so still young. Very sweet natured. People always assume these dogs are mean but he is lovely with kids and other dogs. Dogs have gone for him before and he's never shown any malice and never once snapped at anyone.
But....he pulls on his lead terribly. He is very strong and I struggle to manage him. Yesterday he pulled me clean over on the pavement and I've really hurt my side. He tends to just get carried away if he sees people and wants to rush towards them. We have tried harnesses and collars designed to stop pulling but nothing works. I feel like I can no longer control him and my husband will have to do the dog walks which is a shame as I do enjoy it when he behaves.
Is it worth taking him to training lessons for this? Has anyone had any other success with certain techniques?
Sorry to hear you got hurt. I believe that pulling can be quite a hard behaviour to sort out because of the difficulty of exercising the dog while you are training it not to pull. So its definitely worth contacting a good dog trainer who can advise you and recommend a harness.
Pulling on the lead is hard to fix. It's a self rewarding behaviour. The dog pulls and it gets to move forward. Instant reward.
The best way of training is to stop dead every time the lead tightens and don't move again until the lead is slack. It will take a few weeks of perseverance and walks where you're mostly stood still but it will work. It took me three days just make it out of the garden when I was training my terrier to walk on a loose leash.
In the meantime plenty of training indoors and if you have a garden or enclosed space lots of games of fetch will provide exercise and mental stimulation.
If he's pulling towards something that is moving towards you turn around and walk away until the lead is slack and then turn back to what he wants.
You must train him, it's completely irresponsible to have such a strong dog out in public that you cannot control. Urgently seek an experienced trainer or consider rehoming. 2 is far too old not to be fully trained (6 months fair enough). Dogs pull but you need to be always in full control - a harness may work as an interim measure whilst you sort out training
He is of course always on a lead so I wouldn't say he's any sort of danger to others. He's never gotten off the lead, it's just very uncomfortable for whoever is walking him.
I can't very well not walk him at all and the pulling seems to have got worse recently, never had any issues when he was younger. I am hoping a trainer can help sort this out as my arm muscles and side are bloody sore today.
What frequency said.
It really does work.
We recently adopted a teenage dog who did pull initially.
We used the technique above and it was quickly sorted out.
Just stop dead, hold firm, ignore dog until lead goes slack.
But everyone who walks the dog should do the same.
I had a dog that pulled terribly and was very reactive on lead and would have me over - I was the only one who would walk him as DH was out at work all day.
There were other behaviour issues and both the two
very expensive behavourists I hired told me to re-home him.
When you physically cannot control your dog, it's dangerous for both of you.
Have you thought about clicker training?
@AltasCloud that's really sad my dh can control him a lot better but sadly he's been poorly this weekend so I've done most of the walks. He is well trained in other areas it's just his one thing we need to crack. Really wouldn't want to rehome him over this.
@LittleFairywren what is clicker training?
Have you tried a Halti type headcollar? Mine can be a puller, so normally has a harness which makes him manageable but when my mum takes him out she has bad wrists so he has a halti on.
Someone also mentioned to me something like putting a harness in a way that the lead attached at the front of the chest I think (never tried - but someone else might have more experience)
I certainly think you will benefit from the advice of a dog trainer, and make sure its a good force free modern trainer who uses positive reinforcements only. It is also important to use a harness if you have a dog that may pull on the lead at all, as this is bad for their neck.
Canny Collar is another headcollar type.
The idea behind clicker training is that it's a positive reward based training. The clicker is used to mark the exact moment of the behaviour that you want. First of all you teach the dog to associate the clicker with a treat. Then you can train him to do whatever you want but it is a slow process to really make sure the dog gets it. Say you were walking him and you ask him to heel, the very instant that he lets the lead go even the slightest bit slack, you click and treat. Repeat over and over and over again until he learn the command heel and what it means. the other benefit is that the clicker is a consistent sound no matter who is using it. If you and your husband both walk/train him, and you said "good boy" to him, first of all you wil both say it differently so he might not realise that he's done it right and also you might not say it at the right moment so he may not associate the phrase with what he actually did right. for instance by the time you finished saying good boy he might have started to pull on the lead again and therefore you're praising the bad behaviour. The dog should learn to value the sound of the clicker over the reward he currently gets for himself of pulling on the lead. There's lots of videos on YouTube, I learnt to clicker train from Karen Pryor's books so might be worth looking up her to get an idea of how to start. you can literally train a dog to do anything with no conflict. I've even trained cats using a clicker.
You must train him, it's completely irresponsible to have such a strong dog out in public that you cannot control. Urgently seek an experienced trainer or consider rehoming. 2 is far too old not to be fully trained (6 months fair enough)*
Oh, don't be so dramatic. The only injury a Staff excited to see people is likely to inflict is friction burn from all the kisses.
Dance, you could see a trainer and I would advise you to do so but honestly, as a former dog trainer for a rescue, their advise will be the same/very similar to mine. The only fix is to remove the reward (moving forward). This always entails a few weeks of stop-start walks or walking in circles depending on the technique the trainer uses.
It's not even something you can train for in the house but have normal walks while you're working on it because the second the dog pulls on the lead and gets to move forward the behaviour has been rewarded and all the training you've done is undone. Although, you can practise in the house/garden to speed things up. It's recommended to start somewhere dull where there are less things to pull towards.
I used Halti head collars when I was working in rescue and always found them very effective when coupled with training.
Thank you @Frequency - I would be worried if he was in any way aggressive but he really isn't. He just wants to say hello to every person/dog he ever sees. I do appreciate that it's not always nice to have a dog like him marauding towards you though. It's been a while since I took him out alone before this weekend (usually dh and I go together or he will take him before work) and I was surprised at just how strong he is now.
I will certainly have a word with dp about the method you've described as it does make sense. The problem is he's pulling before we even get out the door most days so goodness knows how well make it out anywhere 🙈
Some trainers do specific workshops/courses on loose lead so it might be worth having a look to see if anyone near you does. For e.g., I know a really good one up near Lincoln who runs a 3 weeks loose lead and recall workshop. It can sometimes help to see others struggling and tackle it together.
Otherwise, Battendog responded best to the stop/start method in which I stop like a dead weight if he pulls and don't start again until he makes the lead loose. We bagan by using treats to lure him back to my side but now he checks himself and comes to my side if he wants to move forward. It's a looong slog, though. It took him several months.
During that time we've had two set of kit:
- a flat lead and collar for the walks I want to be training type walks. These are the one where I am strict about no moving forward until the lead is loose
- harness and lead for the more fun walks where I just want to exercise him and not worry about training
The idea was that, as he learned to behave, the harness set-up would be retired and all walks would be on a lead and collar.
It's worked pretty well and while it might have slowed us down a bit, it's meant we could still have fun walks to tire him out and the different kit was an indicator to him that there were different rules.
Dogs do what works, so if they are doing soemthing then it is working for them in some way. Stop it working, make the thing you want the thing that works and they should get it.
Pulling = get to move forward and go for a walk = keep pulling
Pulling = I have to stand here tied to this log of a human = doesn't work = don't bother pulling
Worth noting that when something has worked previously and you stop it working suddenly, the dog might get worse before it gets better. This is because it used to work so he will try the old thing harder before giving up on it.
Join the Facebook group Dog Training Advice and Support. They have loads on this.
If he's pulling to get out of the doorway you start the stopping and standing until he's stopped doing it.
True it can take an age to get anywhere at first, but it's very well worth it.
I've done it with my Rotties and GSD. When they pulled or got ahead of me I'd stop and / or turn and go the opposite way. The dogs have all got the hang of it pretty quickly.
Ditto what Frequency said about the stop start method. My little terrier was starting to cause me back pain with all his constant pulling and the method did work, but it took months (honestly, it was probably the toughest but to crack in his training, but so, so worth it). The key is total consistency - the moment he pulls, you stop until the lead goes slack, then you move. Repeat ad nauseum. Your DH absolutely must be committed to the same method and apply it with total consistency. If you need to be somewhere by a specific time, either don't take the dog or drive there - much better than letting the dog pull and undoing your training.
On the topic of harnesses - avoid the ones that tighten when the dog pulls - they basically 'work' by causing the dog pain, but often the dog will pull more to get away from the pain. I found a Perfect Fit harness did help to reduce the pulling, in combination with training (it's no magic cure!) and it does have a front and back ring, which some people like to use with a double ended lead for more control.
If the rest of your dog's basic training is up to an acceptable standard then I'd give the stop start method a go, and if you're struggling then book in a one to one training session with a local APDT qualified trainer, who will be able to really focus on the issue with you. If there are other things you would like to work on then it may be that going to group classes would be a good idea anyway.
The stopping dead idea does sound like it would work with a lot of perseverance. My concern is that he's so strong that it's physically hard for me to stand still with him and not be dragged along. He isn't too bad when we are in remote areas it's just when other people are about.
If stopping dead is hard for you, turn around and walk a few steps the other way. You can sort of use his forward energy to swing him round with you.
In that case I'd start off the learning with him in a rural area and move onto more exciting places once he's grasped the fundamental concept - though dogs are crap at generalising their learning from one environment to another, so expect some 'setbacks' along the way.
I wonder if having the lead attached to a canicross padded belt might make things any easier for you? It would at least stop your shoulder being yanked out of its socket.
I would invest in a dogmatic headcollar, some treats and use the turn and reward method. If the dog pulls change direction and go the opposite way every single time.
With dogmatics I can hold 3x 30kg german shepherds easily and I’m only 5ft1 and 46kg myself!!
If he's pulling before you leave the house I bet he's doing somersaults off the walls when he hears the W word or you touch his lead?
You need to train for this too. A successful training walk is one that starts off calm. Try to arrange his walks when you have an hour or two to spare. Walk towards his lead. The second he shows an interest, walk away. Repeat until you have the lead on without the somersaulting and dizzying circles. Once the lead is on do not move until it is slack, even if it means you don't leave the house that day.
Walking is not the only form of exercise you can give a dog. Mental stimulation is physically tiring too. Watch YouTube videos on clicker training and spend some time teaching him some neat tricks or take to the garden to play fetch.