Pulling on the Lead – A HUGELY common problem…

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Looks nice dunnit…(well the dog does!)?

Looks IMPOSSIBLE dunnit…?!!

Well its not… HONESTLY !!!!!

Pulling on the Lead… a HUGELY common problem……..:

…..So therefore noone should feel embarassed or fustrated that their dog does.

Pulling on the lead is something that is learnt quite quickly by a young dog or puppy and its a bit of an addictive habit, because, I’m sure you can imagine (speaks generally to the room not anyone individually…) dogs respond to what THEY consider ‘works’. They pull, and every SINGLE time they get where they think they are going. They don’t understand that they would have got there anyway, they consider the pulling ESSENTIAL to get them where they want to go because, they have almost always pulled, and almost always got there.

I note in another thread, in Rubyrubyrubys post on this problem, she mentions something we almost all do. Ten minutes walk there, then a long free run. Completely normal. But the pulling is anticipating the freerun and trying desperately to speed up that part occuring. The fact they get there and GET a freerun consistantly is not something that should STOP them pulling, but infact is pretty much causing the pulling, if that makes any sense.

Its like drviing a kid to a party and them excited and yelling ‘drive FASTER! Drive FASTER!’ Wink

Dogs work chains of events ‘backwards’ very well to anticpate things. Its amazing that to anticpate a meal to begin with they have to hear the chink of a bowl a few times. Then its walking towards the sideboard with the bowl ON…. then its sighing and closing your newspaper consistantly at mealtimes, or saying ‘Righto….’ at the right time of day…. they work it all backwards… then forwards….and anticipate. So some dogs are pulling before they even leave the house in their own sweet way because picking the lead up causes them to throw themselves around madly and huff and puff and start hyperventilating immediately! A dog hurling himself about in the house anticpating a walk is most commonly NOT a dog about to meekly walk at your side quietly up the much loved and familiar road to freerunville. Wink The pulling is really just a mirror of what is occuring before the lead even goes on….

The problem why probably 75% of pet dogs pull is because firstly they were never shown when tiny and really responsive that pulling doesn’t get you anywhere, and more IMPORTANTLY training them NOT to is SO boring, pretty long winded, hugely repetitive and pretty fustrating once you have a problem.

Few people, honestly, go the whole nine yards to do so but drop out half way and just think ‘blow it, its not ALL the time/I can buy an anti pulling device/drive them to walks in the car/get my husband to walk him TO the park and I’ll walk him home’ and you can understand that because its not something like recall which can mean the difference between life and death, its just the difference between a wrenches shoulder and knowing the first ten minutes of each trip out is a utter pain for you and sometimes others who offer to walk your dog….

I had a dog once I had to work with that pulled like crazy on the way HOME from a walk…. but not on the way there. Completely the opposite to most. Working it through, he was not a hugely dog social dog AND a touch lazy so his freerun was NOT the be all and end all of his world…. but his dinner WAS… and so because he was fed every time after his afternoon walk, he wrenchd his owner home to that meal!

Changing so he was fed at 8pm at night, hours and hours after they returned, changed this behaviour in about two months. Just as an interesting little side story.

But you can draw paralells. I totally agree that the changing direction, stopping and walking backwards thing etc etc can and does work. BUT the problem is you tend to need to do it SO consistantly, NEVER giving him an inch that most don’t have the patience. No critism, but when we pick to walk our dogs its because we have a window to walk them. We can’t spend all that small window ‘not getting anywhere’…

Only to help with pulling, you have to. You have to do one of two things. You either have to forget walking to freeruns for the time being and drive them there only, and make ALL your onlead walks, training walks where you will be 100% proactive and consistant and NO freerun at the end of it just lots of praise…. until the habit is broken…. OR you need to get SERIOUSLY tough and memorably physcial, and most are not up for that nor do they have the timing and strength needed to do so effectively.

A puller can vary from a dog that just leans and puts a reasonably amount of pressure on your hand and the lead, which becomes stronger if he sees something he wants to get to quicker…. right through to dogs who cause themself pain and harm by choking and wheezing and building up big muscles in their shoulders and neck by the constant use of the same, negative, muscles.

If you have this dog it could kill you. I have known weak and elderly people pulled under cars by their dog seeing another across a road. I have CERTAINLY heard of two deaths in seven months of dogs on roads where their lead has broke OR their halter has come off as they haul themselves along.

Pulling makes life unpleasant for you both. There is, like a ‘peace’ that comes over a dog when he realises there IS a way to get to the park and still not need a sit down to recover from the walk THERE when he arrives!!!! Wink Wink Ditto the owner!

I have had dogs that pull. I have trained many dogs that pull. I have written about pulling. I’m not an expert, I just feel the pain of all involved and any questions welcome on this topic with others chipping in hugely welcome. Its the MOST common canine behavioural problem of dogs of all sizes and ages and breeds. lets have a big old chat about it and see if we can’t help even one dog be a little happier….!!!

Di – June 2010

Do email me and we can discuss things, meet for training OR have a look at the discussion that ensued on the national Labrador Forum afterwards HERE at:

http://www.labradorforums.co.uk/ftopict-76587.html

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