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Old 10-04-2006, 04:08 PM
Borntoleadk9.com Borntoleadk9.com is offline
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Default Mastering the Walk without a prong

hi all

in an effort to educate myself, i would like to pose a question to the trainers here that do not use the prong collar. i am being sincere and genuine when i say that i truly would love to hear your advice.

whenever i am training a dog that pulls excessivley on walks, i have found that a prong collar usually fixes the problem in about 56.4 seconds. i joke. but it does work fast.

for those that do not use prongs, how do you teach a dog not to pull and heel properly when they get excited and want to pull and "go play" somewhere else or run to greet an oncoming stranger?
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Old 10-04-2006, 05:15 PM
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MomOf7 MomOf7 is offline
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I use a soft rope slip lead. I start out with no distractions. I walk in a rectangle or square. When turning I gently pull pull pull while saying heel to get the dog in line with me. If the dog lags behind, pull pull pull while saying heel. or if it pulls on me I stop pull pull pull to get the dog back to heel position. Of course I give lots of praise when the dog gets back at heel or is heeling correctly.
The reason for the square or rectangular walk is to make my dog pay attention to me and where I am going. The quick sudden pivot and slight pulls helps keep the dogs attention to where I am going.
After the dog has this down I will carry a stick or crop. (NOT TO HIT!) but to help guide. If the dog get a little too far ahead I take the stick and put it in front of the dog with a little pressure while its against it to push it back into heel. I use it for being too close, too far away, too far ahead or too far behind. I never..I repeat never hit my dogs. just use it against them to push them into place. Lots and lots of praise during this process. never is my dogs afraid or fearful of the stick.
After my dog has that down we go off leash with just the stick. I use the stick to guide my dog.
Then we go back to the beginning while we create some distraction and go through the whole process again.
This is how I was taught and I know there are many different ways of getting your dog to heel correctly while on and off leash.
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Old 10-04-2006, 05:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Borntoleadk9.com View Post
hi all

in an effort to educate myself, i would like to pose a question to the trainers here that do not use the prong collar. i am being sincere and genuine when i say that i truly would love to hear your advice.

whenever i am training a dog that pulls excessivley on walks, i have found that a prong collar usually fixes the problem in about 56.4 seconds. i joke. but it does work fast.

for those that do not use prongs, how do you teach a dog not to pull and heel properly when they get excited and want to pull and "go play" somewhere else or run to greet an oncoming stranger?
I always teach a "by me" or "heel" command off leash in the home with no distractions first. I'll use whatever motivates the dog, usually food but at times a tug toy may work better for a particular dog, and teach and proof the command first with graduated levels of distraction. Of course I fade the motivators once the behavior has been proofed with distraction.

I think that one reason the people fail at teaching a dog not to pull is that they think that it's done with the leash on while on a walk. As soon as you snap on the leash, you've added a level of distraction BEFORE you've even begun the actual training. When the command is proofed indoors, I'll move it to an enclosed back yard, then with the leash on a quiet street...and so on.

Dogs pull mainly because owners allow it to become a rewarding behavior, dogs will of course do what works. Putting on the breaks every time a dog pulls, changing directions, keeping attention throughout the walk, are all things that will help to stop pulling but teaching a "by me" or "heel" first are what I find most successful. I have used this technique with everything from heavy (100 lb. +) pullers to farrel dogs who had never seen a leash before. It takes some time but if owners are left with straight forward exercises and support, this doesn't have to be done with our (trainers/behaviorists) meters running.

As far as competing motivators go, again, you have to SLOWLY transfer the behavior. The last place to TEACH loose leash walking is on a walk with lots of distractions. Setting the dog up for success gradually will ensure that the behavior remains no matter what the distraction. Of course using desensitization on strong triggers is a given.

Realistically though, some dogs are very strong and do require more control than what a regular collar will provide, particularly if it's a large adult dog with a habitual pulling problem. So that walks don't come to a complete stand still and during the training phase, I will recommend the front clip harness or in rare cases a newtrix easy way collar to provide the owner and dog with a safety net while learning. I do however use dual ended leashes (one end on the collar and one end attached to the tool) so that training can progress and owners are not reliant on the tool but rather use it for the "just in case" situation.. Both of these tools have a safety attachment to the collar and due to their unique design dogs are not able to back out of either.

I know that some trainers think that the fact that I never use prongs or choke chains makes me narrow minded but I have just seen so many unfortunate situations arise from using pain (and yes both pinch/prong and choke collars are used as a painful aversive) instead of actual behavior modification. To me it's about providing my owners with life long solutions with as few risks to both dog and owner. Timing with prongs and choke chains (hate when they're called "training collars") must be so specific so as not to creative anxiety around a trigger and so that the intended message is delivered, that I found that the percieved benefits didn't outweigh the risks. There are so many other tools that don't add the element of pain and negative associations yet still provide control that I've not had to use a prong in many, many years

If loose leash were taught and proofed the way that we expect other behaviors to be taught and proofed, the quick fixes wouldn't be necessary.
I think that we sometimes forget that tools are really only for control and really don't TEACH the dog anything. While it appears to many owners to have FIXED their problem, the prong, like other tools (front clip harnesses included)without proper training, are really a bandaid at best.

Actual training does take time, but unlike with the use of a prong, the behavior remains with the dog rather than with the tool.
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Last edited by dr2little; 10-04-2006 at 05:45 PM.
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Old 10-04-2006, 05:32 PM
Borntoleadk9.com Borntoleadk9.com is offline
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thanks! thats something for me to work on.
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Old 10-04-2006, 05:45 PM
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heh. i wish a prong collar would have taught my dogs to walk nicely in 56.4 seconds lol. i still had to teach them the old-fashioned way with marking and rewarding what i wanted, a strong "look" command, etc. both of my dogs will pull right through a prong collar if they find it worth their while.
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Old 10-04-2006, 05:47 PM
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heh. i wish a prong collar would have taught my dogs to walk nicely in 56.4 seconds lol. i still had to teach them the old-fashioned way with marking and rewarding what i wanted, a strong "look" command, etc. both of my dogs will pull right through a prong collar if they find it worth their while.
Great point! Punishment if applicable must be harsh enough to stop a behavior first time or it's useless.....lots of pain...still no gain..just doesn't cut it. With some dogs you'd need a lit torch and still it'd be just a tool..
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Old 10-04-2006, 06:03 PM
silverpawz silverpawz is offline
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I do use prongs for loose leash walking, but with certain dogs I do it a couple different ways.

The "quick turn" is my favorite and it teaches the dog pretty quickly. I can usually do this with just a regular collar. I start out with the dog next to me, take a few steps, dog will often shoot out in front, so I turn quickly in the opposite direction BEFORE the dog gets to the end of the lead. This really does require good timing, as it's important to turn before the lead get's tight.

Dog hits the end, realizes I'm "leaving him' and I encourage him to catch up. Praise tons when he does. Wash, rinse, repeat. (and watch out or you might get dizzy! lol)

Even without a prong I can usually teach a dog to walk on a loose lead within about 20 minutes with this method. You have to stick it out though untill the dog gets it.

I can also use the clicker in a "choose to heel" sort of fashion to teach the dog where he should be. No leash to start out with, just a lot of of treats, a clicker and me walking aimlessly untill the dog decides to check me out. When he eventually gets in the right position, I click and treat. I taught my BC how to heel like this in about five minutes. But he's a pretty smart a cookie. LOL
For me, this way is more of a competition method than something I'd do with a pet dog that really pulls.

In short. If I have a huge dog on the leash, I use a prong. I'm a a tiny person, barely 5'3 and 110 lbs soaking wet, I can't control a huge Rottie on just a buckle or else I might end up face first in the dirt.

If I have a medium size dog, I often try the quick turn first without the prong. Both work well, some faster than others though.
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Old 10-04-2006, 06:25 PM
opokki opokki is offline
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In the beginning, I simply stopped moving forward each time the leash tightened and then changed direction. I would also frequently change direction before the leash became tight whenever possible. I continued with that but shortened the leash and started using a clicker...clicking and treating for correct position, which ended up working better than I'd imagined.

It took about 3 trials before she started to "get it" and several weeks before she was reliable. I only practiced 2-3 times per week but I think if I would have practiced daily and started out with the clicker right from the beginning she would have caught on much quicker.

In puppy class, we use target training. The puppies are taught to touch a target...either the owners hand or a wooden spoon (for small breeds).
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Old 10-04-2006, 06:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by opokki View Post
In the beginning, I simply stopped moving forward each time the leash tightened and then changed direction. I would also frequently change direction before the leash became tight whenever possible. I continued with that but shortened the leash and started using a clicker...clicking and treating for correct position, which ended up working better than I'd imagined.

It took about 3 trials before she started to "get it" and several weeks before she was reliable. I only practiced 2-3 times per week but I think if I would have practiced daily and started out with the clicker right from the beginning she would have caught on much quicker.

In puppy class, we use target training. The puppies are taught to touch a target...either the owners hand or a wooden spoon (for small breeds).
Another great technique! I use the clicker for loosh leash positioning markers too (forgot to add that) and it works really well. Target training is another fantastic way to make the message fun for a dog and it's very effective too!
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Old 10-04-2006, 07:45 PM
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I don't like the term "choke collar" because if the collar's being used properly, the dog isn't choking. A "choke collar" has to be loose most of the time to be effective. Unfortunately, a lot of people just slap one on without learning how to use it and let their dogs gasp on the other end of the leash.

Heeling with a lot of turns and about faces is a great way to keep a dog's attention. I also trained my dog not to step off the curb until I had, so she paid special attention at street corners.
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