Leash breaking a strong dog

We have two Siberian Huskies. This animal was bred to pull, all day long, across the frozen North. The Easy Walk, made by Gentle Leader referred to above, was an absolute Godsend.

As opposed to other training methods, the harness does not use pain or discomfort to correct pulling. It has a leash attachment point on the chest, between the shoulders. If the dog pulls too energetically, the harness cinches the shoulders together, and she loses the ability to pull.

Our older dog did a face-plant on the sidewalk, once, and learned this was not something she wanted to do again. Before that, she would stand on her hind legs, pulling for the whole walk, practically choking to death. We tried every training strategem, without much improvement.

When we got her baby sister, Calliste, we got another Easy Walk for the puppy, but Shena Punum helped to train the puppy how to walk politely.

Now, we are continually praised on how well-behaved our girls are, and they even won an informal dog show’s “Best Behaved” award.

I highly recommend looking into the Easy Walk.

My dog wasn’t a hard case but pulled steadily and was annoying (as opposed to pulled strongly and was dangerous). She went through a miraculous change as soon as I put a backpack on her. Add 2 to 5 pounds of weight (a couple of pints of water and a couple handfuls of treats) to the backpack (depending on the size of the dog). She doesn’t need special leashes or halters/collars. You can get backpacks at any pet store.

The idea came from the Dog Whisperer show. Working dogs need to work and a walk with the backpack is her work. It also tires her out so a walk of a half-hour is the equivalent of 45 minutes. I also walk her for 30 to 60 minutes EVERYDAY. And, according to Cesar, wait at the door until she is calm and submissive. Don’t start the walk by her pulling you out the door.

YMMV. This is just another alternative.

I finally got the Gentle Leader head collar and gave it a quick tryout.

Oh, it is nice. She doesn’t like pulling against it at all, so - she stops. She tosses her head and dances a bit, but she doesn’t pull.

Thanks for that recommendation.


Just a note on the Gentle Leader…it’s not a “let’s put this on and we’re going for a walk now” type of lead.

First you do a training session in the yard to get the dog to stop fucking with the Gentle Leader. It may take quite a bit of ignoring doggie drama for the dog to get used to it.

Once the dog is no longer messing with the Gentle Leader and realizes it’s ok to have it on her nose, THEN you go for a proper walk.

Don’t make the mistake of walking around with a dog trying to fidget with her leader. If you take her for a walk while she’s still being stupid about it, she’ll think that it’s ok to do forever.

Good luck tho - the Halti (similar thing) cured my large golden retriever in no time flat. It only took a few years of her walking with that on her face to get used to walking like a good dog, and she no longer needed it.

Definitely a godsend for strong dogs!

First and foremost…extreme patience.

Dogs do what they find rewarding, and stop doing what stops being rewarding. The following two methods each address one of those.

METHOD ONE: Make it rewarding to walk beside you.

I assume she’s food motivated. Rare is the dog who isn’t.* Take PLENTY of treats. Walk SLOWLY, one step at a time, holding treats in your hand down at your left knee. Keep your fist closed at first, so she can smell, but not snag any. She should be right beside you, hoping you’re going to give up some of what’s in your hand. Begin stepping forward, slowly. She should still be right there, give her a little bit of treat. Step, step, treat, step, treat, step step, treat, step, treat, step, treat. Also praise as she stays beside you.

Keep doing this. Over time you reward less and less frequently as she gets the rhythm and knowledge that the most rewarding place to be on a walk is right next to you. Eventually, you stop treating altogether, but of course you always praise.

METHOD TWO: Make it UNrewarding to pull.

This comes into play after you’ve got her doing a better job of staying beside you. When she decides she’s going to pull you, you immediately reverse direction and walk the other way. INSTANTLY. No fuss, no correction, no anger, no fight. Just turn around and walk in the opposite direction from the direction she’s pulling. If she pulls in the new direction, do it again. If she pulls in the new direction, do it again.

You may find that sometimes you don’t get to take more than a step or two in any direction at first. But she’ll get it, and she’ll get tired of it - she’ll figure out that the only way to actually GET to anyplace she’s interested in going to is to relax, and that the minute she pulls towards it, it’s gone.

Trust me, these methods WORK. They depend on your patience, but if she’s even average smart for a dog, it won’t take long at all before she gets it.

For any and every issue you ever face training a dog, just remember that they do what they find rewarding, they stop doing what isn’t rewarding anymore.
*If she isn’t, it might be because you are free-feeding her. **Stop that. ** Feed her unpredictably. Give her no more than 10 minutes to finish, then pick up the dish. Even if she hasn’t eaten anything at all. Wait a few hours, do it again. Let her go 24 hours without once in while, it will not hurt her at all. You must control all the food all the time, and she must not be able to predict or demand it. You will find she will appreciate treats as a training tool much more.

Totally agree. If she can’t predict which way you’re going, she’ll eventually figure out that the bext place to be is beside or slightly behind you.

Depending where I am (sometimes there isn’t another direction to go, especially next to a road), a good variation is to simply stop dead and walk backwards several steps.

We had trouble with our dog leaving the house. We first established that that unless he was sitting and calm, he did not get to pass through that magical portal to the world of walkies. He got that pretty quick. However, once outside, there’s about 20’ of path from the front door to the road. He was an utter nightmare in those 20 feet.

So it went like this: we’d start walking down that 20’ of path. The moment he moved ahead, I stopped and walked backwards all the way back to the front door (even if we’d made it 19 of the 20 feet). I’d just keep doing this - at first I’d be doing it for 30 minutes or so, then the time started to drop. He only gets to the other end of the path and the wider world if he’s walked it perfectly.

He’s getting there. It usually takes 2 or 3 attempts now rather than the 30 attempts it used to take. And I’m fairly confident that very soon he’ll do it perfectly every time.

Several other collar options (prong or choke: boohiss)

the Cesar Milan Illusion is very good. It holds the collar right under the head and it can’t slip down the neck, which gives much better control.

Gentle leaders can be good, but I’ve heard of a lot of dogs fighting and then pulling again when you stop using them. (they aren’t designed for forever use)

Another one is… damn I forget the name… the way it works is to run parts of the lead under the “armpits” at the front. There are padded covers to avoid chafing. When the dog pulls, it pulls under the armpit area. Surprisingly, dogs do NOT like this one bit, and they will stop pulling immediately.

The problem with it is that it’s a little tricky to use and fit properly. But it does work.

Having in the past helped out an animal rescue charity, I will recommend this - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Medium-Easy-Training-Harness-Walking/dp/B000RZN8MK/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1300113681&sr=8-6
I’ve used it many times, with many different dogs (including a Boxer x Dalmatian and one Husky with severe behavioural problems). I always had good results from it, and not only is it quick and effective, but it is adaptable… when the dog is walking properly you can just attach the lead to the collar in the normal way.

At the advice of our dog trainer, we use a prong collar with Max, our corgi mix. Max had some aggression issues when we adopted him and it was absolutely essential that my husband and I had him under our control when we walked him. The prong collar was amazing in that regard – it was the training tool that was right for Max.

Max would pull a lot when we first got him, running over to trees and whatnot without regard for our commands. As we got more comfortable training him and reinforcing “good” walking behavior through both corrections and commands, Max became a top-notch walker. We view every walk as a training opportunity. It’s work for both us and Max. Now, after all our training, we have a dog who walks right alongside our legs, not out in front. When we stop walking, Max sits next to us and looks up, making eye contact for a verbal command. Eye contact was simple to accomplish by holding a treat near our face, pointing to our eye and saying “watch.”

When we say “free,” he goes out to a tree, or lamppost or whatever, and as soon as he’s done he knows to come back and sit back down by our sides. Then he looks up again to make eye contact and waits for us to say “heel” to resume walking. When we were first training with the prong collar, we’d pop him a bit when he broke. We rarely need to correct him at all now – if he happens to break (gets excited, isn’t focused, etc.), all it takes is a firm “No!” and he’ll come back, knowing he messed up.

We also did the moving in opposite and unpredictable directions. Now, what we do to keep him alert and attetive is occasionally stop so he has to sit, and then resuming the walk after he makes eye contact. That way, as others have pointed out, he has to listen to and follow us. When we’re walking, I also sometimes give him a verbal “sit” or “down,” a “stay,” and then walk to the end of the leash and face him. Max has to stay in that position until I release him. And then he gets lots of pets.

With the prong collar, it’s important that it actually fit the dog’s neck so you get the results you want. We had to adjust the collar by taking off some of the prongs to make sure it hits his neck where it should. And then it’s all consistency and repetition. And pets. Don’t forget the pets.

I think the most important thing is to let her burn off some energy in the backyard before we go for a walk.