Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pulling and Snorting Wins the Race

This past weekend was a very busy one for us.  We went holiday shopping and took pictures with Santa, completed our beginning C.L.A.S.S. training, and joined RespectaBulls for a December group walk.

Ready for the rain on our RespectaBulls walk

Since Athena still gets very excited in the presence of other dogs, we have used the RepectaBulls walks as a way for her to learn that her whining and pulling are not going to earn her the privilege to meet and play with other dogs.  The pre- and post- walk have also served as a great controlled training environment where we can practice all of Athena's commands in the presence of one of the toughest distractions: other dogs.

Athena gets a lick of her Leanlix treat while training at our RespectaBulls walk

Another issue that we are dealing with during the walks is Athena's leash pulling.  We really don't have an issue taking Athena on walks around the neighborhood.  She's actually a fairly polite walker when we use her Gentle Leader.  However, as soon as the RespectaBulls walk begins, Athena thinks it's time to race.  She pulls and snorts (the Gentle Leader causes some major snorting action!) as she tries to race to the front of the pack.

Athena's Motto: 
Slow & Steady Wins the Race 
Pulling & Snorting Wins the Race


Even the Gentle Leader is no match for Athena's pulling.  Therefore, we have found this piece of equipment to be useless during pack walks.  Because of this, we have started to explore other walking equipment that may help Athena to stop her pulling.

Move it mom, we are almost in the lead!

As much success that we have had with the Gentle Leader, we have decided to try the Holt Walking Collar as an alternative.  It was suggested to us by multiple RespectaBulls members because unlike the Gentle Leader, the Holt only applies pressure to the dog when they are pulling rather than applying pressure the entire time they wear the collar.

Sookie modeling her bright pink Holt Walking Collar

The Holt Walking Collar arrived in the mail yesterday, so we will be giving it a try over the next few weeks.  We will give you a comparison between it and the Gentle Leader soon.  What walking equipment have you tried to eliminate your dog's pulling?  Have you ever used the Gentle Leader or Holt Walking Collar?

*So far we've tried the Easy Walk Harness (it causes hot spots), the Gentle Leader (it causes pulling and snorting on group walks), and we will soon be testing out the Holt Walking Collar*

21 comments:

  1. We tried the Easy Walk Harness with Hank and they worked well except for the part where they it to awkwardly made that they don't fit him right and no longer work. He is very deep chested so after growing out of the two that we bought I decided that was a no go. I spend a lot of time teaching him to "walk nice", it takes a lot of patient but it is paying off. Something else that might be helpful is find a leash that is 18 to 24 inches long, wonderful those times that she needs to be right at your side.

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    1. Great suggestion about the short leash. Thanks!

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  2. Have you tried making her wear a backpack so she has a job to do during walks? That helped a lot with Turk! RuffWear makes a great one that we won in a Two Pitties giveaway!

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    1. We have two backpacks for her....unfortunately each time we've have her wear one she's gotten bad hot spots =( I hope someday we can figure out a way for her to wear the backpack without getting the spots because she does do really well with it on.

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    2. Can you put a hoodie or shirt underneath the backpack as a layer of cushion?

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  3. We have found during the SociaBulls walks all the dogs want to be in the front. Mr B wears a special harness (it was actually from the Ruffwear Palisades pack) because he pulls so much. I'd be interested to hear more about the Holt. And where did you get that raincoat?

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    1. The raincoat is this one on Amazon:

      http://www.amazon.com/RC-Pet-Products-Packable-Umbrella/dp/B007T4KAPU/ref=sr_1_57?s=pet-supplies&ie=UTF8&qid=1354755847&sr=1-57&keywords=rc+pet+rain+poncho

      We bought Athena a size XL

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  4. Our reactive dog training class recommended the Black Dog head collar. We haven't tried it because they allowed Mushroom to wear her usual Gentle Leader / martingale combo, but one of the other dogs in the class seems to be having a lot of success with it. Here's the link: http://www.blackdog.net.au/index.php?page=shop.browse&category_id=2&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=5

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  5. Kaya was a crazy puller when I first got her and like Athena she wanted to be in the front no matter what. I know a lot of people are against them but I did use a prong collar for a while. Halters and harnesses were a wash and really pissed her off. I like the prong collar because she put her own pressure on it which would make her back off, I would just hold the leash steady, never having to actually pull on it or correct her. My goal was to get her to the point where she wouldn't need it so I would not dependent on it and I'll admit it, I did not like the thought that people would think she was a "bad dog" because she was wearing it! I only used it for a couple weeks. Now she stays right at my side and I actually only leash her if we are somewhere really busy.

    There were other things I did too though. She was never ever allowed in front. Not even an inch. I would stick my leg out as a barrier if I saw her creeping forward. You can use a chuck-it or umbrella, etc. too. Of course, not even touching her with it so she was not afraid, just like a guideline for her. Another thing that helped, if I was walking along a fence, wall or bushes I would keep her on the inside and if she wanted to move ahead I would drift inwards so she'd have no choice but to move behind me. And of course, use treats and praise(just not too excited) when she was in the right spot. Oh, and she used to whine a TON too which she has quit also:)

    Maybe someone you know with a dog will be up for practicing with you in a less exciting setting than RespectaBulls on the off days:D Also, the backpack sounds like a good idea too!

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    1. Great suggestions! I think I'm going to try to set up a few friends with dogs to do some practice walks with us. That might really help Athena to learn that we are not actually racing =)

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  6. I feel like I'm in the minority here... but I didn't use anything other than treats and a clicker to teach loose leash walking. No harnesses or halti's or special "training" collars. LLW is a very abnormal behavior for a dog, just like not vocalizing or digging or biting. If you want solid LLW, put in the work. Work on it during pack walks, even if it means you're at the back of the pack. The more distance you can get between the trigger (dogs in proximity) the higher your success will be. Relying on tools is management, at best. They're not meant to be end-all-be-alls.

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    1. Treats and a clicker worked wonders for us in the beginning for teaching loose leash walking. However, as time went on, Athena decided that the world around her was just a bit more exciting than us and our clicker =) The good thing is that Athena is a really good walker whenever we take her out, we actually only need to utilize the Gentle Leader when in the presence of another dog.

      I do agree with you that our loose leash walking work needs to extend to the group walks, we need to be better about that.

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  7. It is hard not to get really excited about walking with all my buddies! One thing that really helps me is going for a run or playing a long game of fetch before a pack walk.

    And I don't get any food before the pack walks, so those tasty treats are a little more likely to get my attention.

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  8. I like to toss a toy or treat to Koira to demonstrate to people that the head halter is not a muzzle, and that she can open her mouth plenty wide. But, we don't use it too often. A friend of mine said that the Freedom harness is awesome for pulling dogs. But I don't know if it would cause hot spots as well, since Athena is thin furred and thin skinned.

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  9. Hades is a pretty bad puller. When we tried a Gentle Leader he would literally rub his face to the ground and scratch with all his might until he was cut up and bleeding. I know how to use a Gentle Leader because it's all we used for Taylor and Madden, so it's not that I can't use it--he is crazy determined. For Hades we have had to result to a pinch collar--it's still no match if he decides to go bat-crazy when he sees a dog. We've battled leash reactivty in every form with our dogs. It's a delight! Braylon actually isn't reative or much of a puller at all unless a dog goes crazy on her, then she tends to talk back. We just walk her on a no-slip no problem.
    I'm intrigued by the other collar you are showing here. We are supposed to start fostering Madden ASAP and I may need to invest in that. I know all about Gentle Leader induced snorties!

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