My Naughty Habit: Pulling on the Leash

Since I haven't been able to get to a proper training class yet (c'mon, Jeannie -- you adopted me in July!), Jeannie has been relying on written resources - how-to blogs, how-to videos, etc.   You name an online resource and she's been there.  The whole reason she started a blog for me (What?  My cuteness isn't reason enough?!) was to develop a community of dog enthusiasts and then to pick that communal brain for tips.   I do not mean to say that she is substituting online resources for training classes -- she's actually worked very hard to get me into training classes.  But, invariably, I have come down with illnesses and injuries that prevented my participation.  First, there was Kennel Cough.  Then it was Dog Warts (take my word for it - you do not want to google image search this one!).  Then I played too hard and got a very big cut on my elbow that required a staple! Then, Jeannie in classic rookie form gave me the wrong type of Nylabone -- and I ate it. :(  There has been one thing after the next.  The prescriptions change, but the medical recommendation is always "Don't bring her around other dogs for about 2 to 3 weeks." Uh!  Jeannie has schedule and rescheduled training classes ad nauseam. 

Hopefully, all of this waiting will come to an end when we join (and I remain healthy enough to participate) the San Antonio Dog Training Club's Beginner/Clicker I training class, which starts up in April.  Just because we aren't in formal classes doesn't mean that Jeannie is shirking her pack leader duties.  This brings me to the topic of this post.  Jeannie would like to thank my new blog friends Summer, Hawk, Sage, and especially E. A. for the training support and ideas.  She immediately started asking me to do a "Down Stay" for dinner -- wait, should I be thanking you?  Or telling you off? ;)  - and has already noticed a big difference in my behavior.  She and Ben have also had a terrible time with my leach pulling.  It was a bit embarrassing for me when Ben's daddy patiently watched all the tricks I know (sit, wait, stand, back, bed, spin) and then said that I wasn't trained at all when he took me out for a walk.  I hope that my blog friends can point Jeannie in the right direction with respect to walking politely on a leash -- she wants to have as much control over me as possible and the sooner the better!  Jeannie and I look forward to hearing what has worked for all of you very soon! :)


  1. you are pretty darned cute, i'll give you that

  2. So of course the first thing I did was google "Dog Warts"... yikes! haha Leash pulling is a big problem in this house, but harnesses have helped A TON! Don't get me wrong, there is still a lot of work to be done. I've also seen a lot of success with the "Gentle Leader" brand leads - I'm sure you've seen them - a contraption that loops around the snoot but doesn't prevent them from opening the mouth (unlike an actual muzzle). We just bought one for Nugget (he's the worst puller in the pack) and it's a work in progress. Apparently we have to wean him into it b/c he is NOT a fan (and flat out refuses to walk when it's on... BRAT!). Either way, I think the harnesses are the best - even after pulling is no longer an issue - b/c you attach the leash to a loop on their upper back which makes it MUCH easier to keep them walking alongside you.

  3. @Katie
    Hahah! Sorry, Katie! Perhaps, I should have given a brief description to satiate your curiosity: little cauliflower-like growths in the mouth. Puppies younger than two-years-old will contract it from sharing water/mouth contact with other dogs, but after they become adults the warts rarely surface. During an outbreak, they are HIGHLY contagious. They don't hurt, but there's no treatment. So, you have to wait 2 to 5 months for the warts to disappear again. It's a bit of a nightmare.

    You know, Jeannie has several harnesses but she doesn't like to use them. She wants me to learn how to walk properly with only a collar on. Perhaps, you're right -- the harnesses would make our lives a lot easier. :)

    - Mayli the Labradane

  4. Hi Mayli!

    I'm so sorry you have had such a rough time healthwise...know you have my sympathy 'cause I have MAJOR allergy problems, take shots and a pill twice a day.

    Now to the leash training...I don't like a harness 'cause it encourages pullin' and makes it harder to control a big dog, specially if you weigh 100 lbs like me. I can pull my Human over and have knocked her down a couple of times when practicing recall.

    Some trainers like the head harness. My Human just uses my regular collar. When I pull she stops walking and then turns away.

    We also still practice on a regular basis...sometimes every day. She has little treats (in my case my food) (that she keeps handy in a little pouch on her belt or in a jacket pocket) to encourage me to keep an eye on her.

    I try to get away with stuff so we have to have a practice session of something everyday.

    My Human doesn't like carryin' a clicker so she uses "Good Boy" to mark when I'm doin' really good and earnin' rewards.

    Yeh, they use that "down stay" stuff 'cause they say it teaches us "self control".

    I hope this helps you and your Human have more fun on your walks.

    Y'all come back now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  5. @browndogcbr

    Hi, Hawk!

    This is Jeannie's problem -- she has brought treats with us on our walks, but only once or twice. She did notice a huge difference. When I see her get the treat bag at home, I know that my attention needs to be on her every move.'ve give us a lot to think about. Thank you!

    - Mayli the Labradane

  6. Dog warts! Oh no! =(
    Well the humans got off easy as I'm not much of a puller. I did go through a pulling phase so they managed to nip that in the bud. Now I only pull when I see cats! No resolution to that problem any time soon though. They're hoping that one day I get into a nasty brawl with a cat that sends me running with my tail between my legs, after which I swear of cats forever! Dream on, humans.
    When I started the pulling thing, one of the things they did was to stop and give me a sharp tug on the leash. If I continued pulling, which I inevitably will, they stood their ground and keep tugging the leash until I got the message. When I stopped pulling and looked at them, then rewards and praises galore! Now they expect me to sit and wait for the release when I pull. Of course, sometimes I cheat by dragging my tush around. It's still sitting, isn't it?!
    They also did this thing where as soon as I started pulling, they walked in the opposite direction! That caught me by surprise because now they were pulling ME instead of the other way around. This might require some back and forth walking, but it does pay off eventually as it keeps us doggies guessing.
    Another thing they did was to put a treat by their leg at sporadic intervals. When they do that, I always keep an eye on them and never stray too far because I don't want the yums to give me the slip! Of course, if the distraction is greater than the motivator, then it isn't so effective. But you wouldn't want to keep doing this anyway. The humans say they get a back ache after a while as they have to purposefully put the treat down in order get my attention away from the cow pat! It's just so I get used to checking in on them during walks.
    When they got me the harness however, the pulling reduced dramatically! I guess it's a matter of finding what works for you. If all else fails, then my people agree with Katie to get a gentle leader. At my one and only doggy class, there were a few serious pullers in there and a few sessions with the gentle leader did absolute wonders!
    Hope this helps Jeannie with your problem somewhat. And you know, this does mean more treats for you, Mayli! Lucky dawg. =D


  7. @Summer

    Summer, thank you for writing that long, wonderfully helpful comment! :) Jeannie was asking for eye contact and a slight head turn before walking forward today. But, she couldn't tell if I was just looking around, or purposefully at her. So, she really likes the idea of asking for a sit before proceeding. I think that if Jeannie has a choice between NOT bringing me somewhere for a walk (a la the dreaded Riverwalk) or using a harness, she will mostly likely use the harness.

    Very good advice! Thank you! :)

    - Mayli the Labradane

  8. You definitely don't want to follow my blog for leash-pulling advice. Dewi could pull me on skis when he gets around other dogs in public. (and I was "the lady with the crazy corgi" in our last training class) :-( I try the stopping and starting thing, but give up because we'd never get to where we're going. I've considered a head collar (and might go there next) since I can't carry hotdogs around in public with him either. Good luck, Mayli and Jeannie.

  9. Hi Mayli - well, people don't believe it when they see me now but I was a TERRIBLE puller and lunger in my teenage days! And you can imagine my size with Hsin-Yi's...I pulled her off her feet lots of times! It was very dangerous & stressy for my humans, so they took me to see a very good private trainer.

    One of the key things he taught them was to keep changing directions, especially whenever I shot out in front of them and looked like I was going to start pulling - they would just turn abruptly and head off in a totally new direction! This would give me a shock and make me rush to catch after a while of this, I started hanging around them to make sure that they wouldn't take me by surprise and making sure that I was watching them all the time and keeping my attention on them.

    See, coz usually humans are just too predicaable and boring and SLOW and that's why us doggies pull - to hurry them up! But if they do this kind of constant-changing direction, then we learn that they are the leaders, not us and we are the ones who have to follow them, not the other way around.

    Straight line walking is very bad for teaching us not to pull - it is best in the beginning to avoid going for walks where we have to go on a straight route - better to practise in big, open spaces where the humans can keep changing direction and darting around (not just turn 180 and go back the way we came but really heading off in a new direction) - if you DO need to go on a "walk" - then best for your human to do 5-10mins of this kind of "attention walking" in front of your house before oyu set off. See it requires a lot of concentration from us to follow them and so it also helps to calm us down at the beginning of the walk, which means we pull less. And then during the walk, every 10mins, stop and do a bit of this changing-direction/attentionw-walking on the spot (like weaving around trees or parked cars, whatever) - so basically, we just never know when our humans might suddenly take off - and so we can never get complacent!

    This was the training that my humans did with me which fixed my pulling problem and also lunging problems at other dogs. They also used a check chain with me, which I know many people don't approve of although it is actually a very useful training tool if used correctly but unfortunately, most people use it wrongly. But anyway, it's OK if you don't want to use that - the basic principles of changign directions and making us pay attention is the key.

    HOpe this helps!

    Honey the Great Dane