Dog Training Articles
Copyright 2008 2011 2014 bobbytails
The question when training a dog is "How do we get him to want to do what we want him to do?". If a dog
wants to do something he is more likely to be motivated rather than 'do it or else', compulsive methods.
It seems that dog's use this non confrontational method of training each other as Lottie my youngest dog
has learned to train my oldest dog!
Oscar, my oldest dog was sat having a fuss with me in the living room and Lottie clearly wanted his spot.
She made no approach to disturb Oscar or myself, but stood watching in the middle of the room.
She ran to the window and barked; Oscar immediately left my side and went to the window to look. Lottie
then quickly shot into Oscar's place beside me!
I wondered how long it had taken her to perfect this behaviour; I simply hadn't noticed it before.
I decided to test it on another day. I fussed Oscar and waited; Lottie did the same thing again!
A few more tests later and I was sure this was now learned behaviour from Lottie (dogs really do what
works for them!).
The next time Lottie tried this, I was ready; I gently held on to Oscar giving him more fuss and praise, not
allowing him to go to the window. Lottie turned to see why Oscar wasn't coming to his cue and then tried
harder with her cue, barking again and again. Oscar was now quite happy to ignore her but Lottie kept
trying to make her cue work and beginning to get frustrated, trying harder.
Is this behaviour so different from human behaviour? When your car doesn't start, do you keep turning and
turning the key?
Lottie the Dog Trainer
Pulling on the Lead; Why do Dogs Pull? Author Julie Love
Quite simply, young dogs and puppies learn to pull because it works for them!
They pull and we follow - it keeps on working.
It is important to understand this because the longer we allow pulling to continue the better the dog
becomes at pulling; s/he gets to practice pulling daily. Practice makes perfect and the dog develops
muscles in all the right places to allow him/her to pull even harder and better.
Anyone who knows me understands why I have zero tolerance on pulling. Most of my dogs weigh more
than me! My dogs have learned that whilst on the lead, in order for them to move forward they must not
pull. This is quite a difficult concept for dogs to grasp and requires help, patience and consistency. Dogs
are like children, the more difficult the task the more help they need; which makes shouting and frustration
My dogs learned that if they pull - I DON'T follow!
It is much easier and kinder to start as you mean to go on; whilst the dog is still young and the bad habit
hasn't yet formed. Even though small breeds and puppies are 'low horse power' pullers, they will get
stronger and you will have miserable, embarrassing walks on the lead in the future.
My current dogs are all rescue dogs so they came with 'baggage'. Dogs can still learn not to pull at any
age. What doesn't work is pulling your dog back when s/he pulls - this will make your dog pull harder
and end up in frustration for both you and your dog. I sometimes take in rescue dogs who arrive 'fitted with
a choke chain' - nearly pulling their owners over. My immediate thought is - "so that works" !!!!
If one needs to use a training aid for a dog who pulls there are many more humane choices than a choke
chain. The medical evidence of the damage to dogs caused by choke chains is quite staggering. Apart
from not wishing to inflict pain on my dogs, the risk of large vets bills for a broken hyoid bone (for
example) is not something I want to contemplate.
There are various techniques to teach your dog not to pull. Which one is right for you will depend on the
age and breed of your dog. For example a cocker spaniel or a hound will have their nose pretty close to
the ground and be keen to get scenting. There are good books on the subject; written by respectable
trainers. Do not despair if the particular advice doesn't work for your dog. Books are generic and one
size doesn't fit all dogs.
What will help your dog is to:
Train 'heel' ~ both on and off the lead at home; make it fun and rewarding.
Remember to give feedback ~ praise your dog when s/he gets it right; every time.
Allow your dog time to 'think' ~ be patient and consistent.
Improve the bond between you and your dog ~ training improves the bond. Teach your dog to do other
enjoyable things with you.
Never assume your dog knows where heel is ~ Show your dog where heel is ~ (although I don't expect
my dogs to walk to heel for a whole walk. However, they must not pull!)
Invest time now ~ Begin small; train in the house and garden without distractions until it is second nature.
Nobody's perfect ~ Keep training sessions short; avoid frustration!
Get your dog to follow you ~ a dog who follows isn't pulling!
Once you begin your lead training be consistent and allow plenty of time.
Dogs don't understand the word 'sometimes' - sometimes I can pull and sometimes I can't; just because
you are in a hurry.
If your dog is strong to handle consider using a training aid such as a Halti body harness. From
experience dogs take to a Halti harness better than a Halti head collar. The harness is easy to fit on/off
and more comfortable for the dog to wear. Head collars need to be introduced very carefully to get the
dog to accept wearing one. Let's face it, if the dog is uncomfortable walking beside you, in your choice of
equipment, it isn't going to improve your bond! All too often I hear from owners who tell me their dogs
won't come back when called, which began with the use of a head collar! The dog is actively avoiding
coming back to wear the head collar!
Training aids offer a window of opportunity in which to train your dog. Once you remove the Halti Head
collar, the dog will still pull - probably more than before!
Training aids to avoid are; electric shock collars, choke chains, prong collars, all of which can inflict pain
The flexi type leads can hinder progress of lead training as they can actually 'teach' a dog to pull.
Whatever your choice of equipment it must fit correctly. I have seen dogs back out of both collars and 'no
pull' harnesses; it happens in an instant. Make sure this doesn't happen to you.
Regardless of whether you use a harness, head collar or normal collar, the law requires every dog to wear
a collar and identification tag. The tag must have the owner's surname and address on it. This is a legal
requirement even if your dog is microchipped. Your telephone number is not a legal requirement but may
help get your dog back to you quicker. Never put your dog's name on the tag - why tell thieves his/her
It is sad to think that a dog who is pulling would rather be somewhere else than with his owner and without
the lead he probably would be somewhere else! Surely then, we need to change our behaviour in the way
we do things to help our dogs
And finally from the dogs' point of view:
I have my freedom to move around the house and garden at my own pace most of the time.
Now suddenly, when I go forward, I have to pull my owner with me - my pace is now restricted; I must try
harder next time!
I learned to sit in front of my owner and was well rewarded - now when I'm asked to sit (and I do the
same) I'm in trouble - I'm confused!
Nobody ever taught me to sit beside my owner - I don't understand.
Nobody ever taught me to walk beside my owner - I don't understand.
Nobody taught me I can get rewarded beside my owner - all the good stuff always happens in front of
my owner - this is what I will do.
Nobody told me not to try to run away when the collar got tight - it must be my owner making it tight, I
want to run away from this..
Nobody told me that I don't need to drag my owner with me - I have to pull him, he can't manage if I
Nobody showed me where 'heel' is or what it means, even though I hear it all the time - I think it means
pull harder, English isn't my second language, or third or even twentieth.
My owner always gets cross when we go out into the street - I don't know why; maybe I don't pull hard
enough - lets go faster and get this over with.
It's so good when I finally get free in the field, I can run and chase without dragging my owner. I don't
think I'll go back until I'm really tired - or maybe wait till dark. I know where my owner is because he
keeps shouting; so I won't get lost.
Funny thing is, now my owner has stopped shouting, he seems to understand how tired I am because
on the walk home he walks unaided; so I don't need to pull!