Careful! My Dog Pulls Like A Train!
At Harmony Farm Kennel & Lamb, located near Kamloops BC, Gerry & I love to exercise, play with and care for all kinds of dogs, but often, before a dog even gets into the kennel, their owner will yell out a caution like,"Careful...he pulls like a train!" We hear this often! Someone once told me that adults are experts at making simple things difficult. In this case, adults can be experts at making simple dog manners, more difficult that they need to be!
Why is it soooooo hard for people to 'check' a dog from pulling, simply, correcting the behavior they don't want? Why do people make this so difficult? Why do people believe they have to fight with their dog and be physically stronger or worse, have a dog out of control pulling 'like a train' as the norm for walking on leash? It is NOT about strength!
We see people everyday, stubbornly take a strong hold of their dog, no matter what age (even young pups!) knowing it's going to be a fight and a struggle; lead them into the kennel by the collar, front feet in the air; often wrapping the leash around their hand several times prepping themselves for a better grip or using a leash with a padded handle allowing their dog to get a head of them, bear down and just haul them around wherever their heart's desire! “He is a great dog, but careful, he pulls like a train” - “better have a good hold of him!” we hear almost daily. WHY? Why not correct within the first few feet of walking together? WHY is pulling acceptable?
I ask people if they actually think I, personally, am strong enough to get pulled around by dogs all day? I can tell you I am not! Do you know that some people get so desensitized to their dog pulling and even hurting them while walking, that they are willing to give up owning their dog entirely, rather than correct their own inconsistency of allowing it?! I just don't understand this.
Ever notice most dogs put their nose down to pull? It is the rule of leverage not strength! If they can pull against something, often dogs will, in other words, when you just take a hold - the drag is on! One of you is in control, why not you?
Correcting is NOT difficult and it IS effective ... Simply, use your chosen collar high enough to be effective. If it's a martingale type collar be sure it fits. If it's a 'check' chain be sure it is the right size and you have fitted it correctly with the extra chain coming from ontop of the neck rather than under, to the side you will walk, not under where it can not release itself.
Timing is important – sooner than later is better! Correct with a quick lift up or to the side and release that check -BEFORE your dog gets ahead or starts to bear down or pull – CHECK with a lift up or to the side and then RELEASE! If you don't release it's just a hold isn't it? (The reason why check chains are often referred to 'choke' chains.) Please don't just allow your dog to get ahead taking up the slack in your leash and go, nose to the ground! It's just a matter of their low leverage taking the power advantage of their position. Essentially, they will feel 4x their weight and strength with the angle of that leverage. Once they feel resistence, dogs (most animals for that matter - even people) lean into it harder. Why? Becasue they can and it works!
As for those who think 'check' chains are damaging, do they actually think it's easier on the dog to let them pull their owners around by the neck with hundreds of pounds of pressure with a flat collar that can not release?Going by many dogs that we see here at Harmony Farm Kennel & Lamb, it makes me wonder if people also allow their cars to just take up speed going downhill faster and stronger out of control and get used to it! I'd like to believe that people check their car's power with a tap on the brake? Is that hard on the brakes or would pushing down on the brake pedal without release be harder and more wearing? What makes people think that 'checking' their dog with a quick upward or to the side lifting check (and release!) before things get physical, is mean or aggressive? There is a huge difference between assertively being in control with a check (before you get mad!) and allowing your dog to physically (and mentally) pull like a train! The difference of course is in having calm emotion and not turning a correction into aggression. Leadership is assertive, not aggressive.
If they can – they will, it's that simple. For children I am told, and for dogs! You get what you train. If dogs understand the difference, every dog, that we have ever had the pleasure to care for, without exception, quickly, becomes much happier, relaxed and instantly appreciate knowing their place when they are correctly quickly, with whatever tools their owner leads them with. It's not about the tool it's about the timing and the tolerance, or not. Dogs get happy, comfortable and secure respectfully partnering up almost instantly and it's NOT hard on anyone!
Imagine a dog being happy to walk alongside their human with a smile in the lead, knowing where the end of the leash is, enjoying their own space without fighting or pulling out of control? Correcting is NOT hard or mean or difficult... it IS effective and necessary, and ...every time you take a dog for a walk, it's a choice... it's your choice to train what you want rather than fight. One of you is in control, why not you? Before you know it, both you and your dog will love to go for more walks! What a concept - to look forward to the pleasure of walking your dog!