Mumsnet does not check the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you're worried about your pet's health, please speak to a vet or qualified professional.
This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
How did you stop pulling and how long did it take?(50 Posts)
Pup is now 7 months and pulls like a train. He’s quite good for DH as he naturally walks faster and does mostly on lead walks whereas I take him for his longer, sniffy, off lead walks so I think he associates me with running around unrestricted.
Anyway, we’ve got to try and get it sorted because the off lead walks are getting less and I get zero pleasure out of being pulled around the streets.
Any advice? He’s currently wearing a harness (sorry I can’t remember the name!). An old fella advised me to get him on the collar the other day, said it’s stopped all his dogs pulling as it stops them putting any real power being them. Would this hurt his neck/throat though?
I don’t know wether we should try a different harness or do the stop/start training thing.
Place marking. My 5yo pointer still pulls like a train. Have tried umpteen different collar/harness/lead combinations and training.
well, I've never trained a puppy, ours was a rescue and he used to drag me down the street when we firts got him.
It took me 5 months. But that was in stages, so 1 week to stop the drag and yank. Then a few weeks to go from hard pull to just pulling and the rest to get from pulling to loose lead.
Your goal is loose lead. That means walking at your side with the lead loose in a j shape.
The problem is that if all your walks are lead walks, that doesn't allow for much sniffing etc.
This is how I did it - I wathce d5 million youtube videos!
When he pulled, I stopped dead. When he moved so that the lead was loose, I started walking and gave him a positive 'walk' command as we started off. Initially this was literlaly one step and stop, half a step and stop. It took me half and hour to get to the end of our short road. But that is massive tiring mental exercise for them as they are working all the time.
He was pretty stubborn (3 years to unpick) so I went further. When I stopped, if he kept pulling I slowly started walking backwards. he veyr quickly responded to that.
He still pulls sometimes, and when he is bad, I will also turn round, walk back a few steps and stop. Make him look at me, turn so he is next to me, standing still and looking, and then give the command 'walk' as we set off again.
I also used a lot of treats, so once he sort of got it, I would hold a treat in my hand and he would walk by my side eyeing up the treat and then get one every 10 paces he walked at heel.
we use a harness, can't stand dogs pulling on their neck
What sort of dog is he?
Mine is a springer spaniel and Biteyshark had some excellent advice about spaniels, their natural instinct is to sniff and dart left and right.
It is hard to train them to walk in a straight line.
So, we did train ours to walk to heel, no darting and sniffing, proper walk to heel, but then at every chance he is off th elead so he can behave like a spaniel.
Now, due to CV, we are walking him on a lead, but we have 2 leads, short, he has to walk as he was trained, to heel, we use that always on pavements. And a long lead, really long and loose, where he can wander and sniff, but I can get him back very quickly, we use that on the grass at the park.
he only walks well on a lead for me, because even now 3 years later, I make him do it. For example, he had started to dive through a particular gateway and pull me after him, so for the last 2-3 months we have stopped before that gate, and I have made him wait and follow me through at then walk to heel..
dh and kids just moan, they don't continue to train.
steppemum thanks for the advice. I’m dreading doing the training but I know we need to. There’s a field a 5 minute walk from the house so if I can do the stop/start training as far as the field then he can have some off lead time and then we’ll do the training on the way back too.
You must feel like a right knob doing it! Now’s a good time though as we’re in no rush to get the walks done and get him tired before work.
I paid for an hour with a local gun dog trainer. He taught me to break my dogs concentration. Either with a hiss sound or a foot shuffle, in both cases stop walking and wait for him to look at you. Walk slowly, unnaturally slowly. It took ten mins for my dog to get it, if that. He told me to ditch the harness too- ddog is absolute fine with a collar now
I have to keep it up, and because he is off lead so much I sometimes find myself forgetting to practice but for such basic stuff it’s made a huge difference
oh yes ot the walking slowly, much much slower than he natural pace.
Actually that is something I only realised much later.
My dogs natural pace, which he does off lead, is to trot. Walking is way too slow and he would never walk down the road.
I had to basically make him go slow enough to walk with me, whereas he naturally wanted to trot along, which is much faster than a human walk, and so he ended up way ahead and pulling.
Going really slowly made him actually walk and focus on me.
steppemum ah now what you’ve said there has been a little light bulb moment. He’s a mix breed but he has got spaniel in him and that’s the other thing that frustrates me-he can’t walk in a straight line, his nose is down, he’s here, there and everywhere, he has to sniff every blade of grass, he wraps himself around lampposts. That combined with the pulling and it’s just not pleasant.
So maybe we should be focussing on getting him to walk to heal. I’ll have to watch some YouTube videos on that. I’m guessing it’s very different to training them not to pull. I have had moment with him where if I’ve got a great treat (like roast chicken) he’ll walk close to me and looking up at me instead of nose down. I don’t really want him to walk like that either though as I need to look where I’m going.
I had a terrier before him and she just used to trot along in a reasonably straight line, didn’t have to train her to do anything!
the fist stage, the basics, is quite quick. Mine just had a lot of unpicking to do for us to get to consistant loose lead.
I think in a few days you could get the basics
yes, aim to train him to walk to heel = no diving to sniff a lampost.
But for a spaniel cross that is really hard, so I am only that tough because i know he gets and hour off lead sniffing later!
Ohmymg sorry for sounding thick but could you break that technique down for me please, step by step?
Is the idea that if you walk really slowly they think ‘what’s going on here?’ and focus on you instead of the pulling?
Should I ditch the harness then? It does allow him to pull really hard. If I had roller skates on I’d be zooming along!
I would second the idea of using a gun dog trainer, they understadn spaniel behaviour.
Thought I'd send a message to say that they can still put lots of force through a collar. Our dog (spaniel) walked just on a collar for a while whilst we worked on his fear of harnesses and he pulled so hard he fainted a couple of times as he was restricting his breathing. Obviously as soon as we realised this we changed things. He now walks with a harness.
I think the harness v. the collar is a red herring.
When he has been taught not to pull, it won't matter.
The walking slowly - I just slowed right down when I was doing the pull training as I outlined above.
th etemptatio is to move faster, to keep up with the fast moving dog. But dogs will ALWAYS move faster than you, he has ot learn to walk at your pace.
So, walk slowly, stop as he pulls, possibly take a step backward, wait till he looks as you and relaxes the lead, positive reinforcement, start walking, slowly, he pulls, you stop.
That basic principle, he shoudl get quickly.
@Circletime27 stand still and let lead hang loose, as soon as dog steps ahead(or there’s tension) stop dead and hiss. Dog should stop and think “wtf” and hopefully make eye contact. Carry on walking, very slowly, as if you are on a tightrope kind of speed. Repeat every time there’s tension. Stop dead and hiss every single time. Loud enough to get the dogs attention. My dog got this quite quickly and trainer said I could substitute a hiss with a sharp foot shuffle, or a stamp. He explained its enough to snap the dog out of his “must pull and sniff” zone.
We walked for half an hour, around a field- very slowly and turning around every so often. But I’m genuinely not exaggerating when I say my dog was like a different dog within ten minutes.
We let ddog off lead for a run and back to walking/stopping/shuffling.
I was very very wary of substituting his harness for a collar, and do still have his harness but he walks so well with the collar without any pressure.
If you can find a local gun dog group you may find someone who does 1-2-1. A lot of what ddog was doing was totally down to me- he trained me basically. Not the dog!
I volunteer to walk rescue dogs and I have this problem with some of the dogs. I was initially told to say no and yank them back which does not work and is cruel. I now don’t say anything, when they pull I stand still and don’t walk again until they’ve stopped pulling. It makes the walks take twice as long but I’ve found it works well. I agree with the poster who said wearing a brace is better than a collar for a dog. You wouldn’t put a collar on a toddler learning to walk so why put it on a dog?
I recommend a mekuti or perfect fit harness. They stop pulling and therefore stop the dog practicing the behaviour. They don't hurt the dog but put them off balance. Some other harnessed actually make it easier to pull.
Swap harness for collar. Easier to pull with a harness and much more strength from shoulders. Our pup is terrible before his walk and great after. If he's really pulling I slip his lead under his front leg which stops him since when the lead is tight he's uncomfortable not me. He's been trained, he knows what he should be doing. Chooses not to. Lead under leg reminds him and he stops. Once he stops I slip it back out. Have seen me walking him for 20 minutes like that before he stops though... he is not the brightest whippet I've ever had.
I'd do stop start and also, when he pulls change direction. Don't just do a 180, but literally go any direction you like.
I'd get your husband to walk more slowly with him on the lead. My youngest developed a 'one speed' lead walk and now I'm pregnant and can't go that fast I notice her pulling more, because she's used to 'the onlead speed' so to speak. She's still not bad, she can go slow or fast now, but I'd like a medium in there too
I've got 2 spaniels.... and walking in a straight line NEVER happens. It's not physically possible.
What does help is either using a figure of 8 lead so it goes over their nose but they hate it.... or using a harness (we've got Ruffwear) that has a lead connector on the front of their chests. So if they pull, they just pull themselves around towards you.
The other thing is a squeaky tennis ball in one hand.... given a regular squeak to remind them it's there. Works like a charm as they are glued to me waiting for a throw but I do feel a bit of a doughnut walking along doing it
I used a combo of methods, all with a slip lead. Click and treat to start with, so the dog knows what you want. Sharp direction changes when the lead goes tight, changes of pace and direction to get the focus on me, and a lot of off-lead heel.
She is now great on the lead with me alone, but always wants to catch up with whoever is in front when we're in a group so we go back to random direction changes and the odd tug on the lead.