My puppy Lilu has some trouble walking on a leash. She usually does alright in the parking lot of my apartment when there are no distractions around, but of course if there are any distractions or interesting smells... then it all kind of goes out the window. We had just a regular flat collar, and I was afraid of her choking herself or collapsing her trachea, so I got her a harness, but I think she actually pulls more with that - maybe because it doesn't hurt as much. A friend that fosters dogs (usually large breeds like mastiffs) suggested a martingale collar for training. I don't really like the idea of using a choke collar on her, but a martingale is supposed to be "more humane' than a regular choke collar.
I wanted to solicit some opinions if any of y'all are familiar with these collars and recommend them or don't.
A martingale doesn't tighten up enough to have a choke effect. The main benefit is that they are almost impossible to slip if you have a dog who balks or backs out of a collar. With Corgis big necks and sometimes heavy ruffs, they can be good candidates for collar slipping.
Personally I don't see much difference for every-day walking, but I do have one for each dog for times when they will be near busy roads or parking lots, as I have one who is an expert collar-slipper (she does the perfect head twist/shake to get out of even a tight collar).
How old is Lilu? Puppies are tough to leash train til they are around four months old or so. Easier to teach a dog to heel nicely on command than focus on not pulling. The best way I've heard training explained is it's easier to train a dog to DO something than to NOT do something. If not pulling, then what? Focus on rewarding her for walking nicely next to you rather than preventing her from pulling.
At that age, I would not expect her to behave in the face of distractions. I didn't even really start distraction training with Jack til he was about a year or 14 months old; he was too excitable. I didn't do CGC with him til he was going on 2 because I knew he wouldn't be able to walk past a strange dog without wanting to play.
Now he will even work for me off-leash if another dog is trying to leap on his head, something that actually happened when we were practicing agility and a puppy showed up. So don't lose hope, keep working. The tool is just a tool, it's the training that makes the difference in the long term. If a harness helps, great. Just remember, though, that your ultimate goal is a dog who will stay on a heel off-leash with distractions if you ask. Equipment can break and if you are ever away from home and you find your dog is no longer attached to your leash, you still want him under voice control.
I don't know much about martingale collars (except that I used it a number of times on a fear aggressive foster dog who kept backing out of his collar to run away) , so I won't comment on them.
Pazu is currently 10 months old and he has passed Canine Good Citizen Test and is great both on and offleash. He had to complete 4 off leash tests (all of which included the instructor's dogs running around and playing while offleash Pazu paid attention and stayed close to me) to get into Intro Agility just shy of 8 months old and now entering Agility 2.
My suggestion is to use food often and go from a low level distraction environment to a mid level and then to a high level. If Pazu was solid at home, we would upgrade to the outside backyard with lots of food and walk around. Then to the sidewalk on a quieter evening with less people and then finally to the offleash dog park. Since Pazu was 3 months old, we went to the offleash dog park about 3-4 times a week and every day we'd practice the same drill with food (really good tasting food). To get him to come to me, we'd play a game where I'd run and he would chase me and then I would give him food so his recall is great. He learns that coming to me is like playing AND he gets food. Also when he pulled, I would stop and he would realize that he wouldn't go anywhere. And sometimes if he didn't want to go where I was going, he'd stop and plop down and just stare at me like he's bored. And then I would bring out a piece of food or his favorite toy to lure him to turn to the direction I want to go.
Basically find creative ways to make it a game because he'll exercise his little brain and choose what is more fun/interesting to him and you'll have a dog who trusts you to follow you and that you are a source of good fun things. And sometimes he didn't want to go into the pet store and I'd be like come here and as soon as he got there, he was like "Wow, this is SO much cooler!" Or sometimes I'd be bending over something and he'd come over and be like "What, Mom, what are you looking at - I wanna see!"
I completely agree with your methods. All pups mature at different rates though, and while some have the attention span to do CGC-level work at that young an age, a large number simply don't. In addition, when training even a very compliant young pup, it's always critical to balance the need to train with the need to have pup go out and experience lots of things, be eager to meet new dogs and new people and assess new situations on their own. When they make their own decisions, they can learn that bad decisions have consequences inherit to themselves, that don't come from the handler (so for instance running off in a safe place means you lose sight of mom, and that's scary to a pup, so then you have a dog who is safe to take hiking off-leash if that's what you want to do---having Jack wander off down one path while we went another way means that now when we reach forks in wooded trails he ALWAYS stops to see which way we go; that's not something you train, that's something a dog figures out on his own). Personally I like puppies to have lots of time to mature and play and interact with the world without me trying to call them off it. There are people who have enough time to do both (socialize and train) but for myself it was more important to spend that first year letting my puppy do his own thing.
Anyway, Jack did not have enough of an attention span to even do a long sit/stay until he was 14 months old. He knew all the commands, several tricks, the names of his toys, and would pick up new commands in two training sessions most times BUT could only focus on very short training sessions, because he was so high-energy. Things that would have taken me weeks to work on when he was a pup came to him in a couple five-minute sessions once he matured a bit. Each pup is an individual and many will act just like Lilu in a stimulating environment. By 16 months or so most have settled enough to find everyday things not so distracting. Little and often, and a little time, is what most pups need.
Hi Beth, I meant to hit reply to Jackie's post about her pup being 10 1/2 months old, not yours.
I agree with you that pups mature at different rates. Pazu has always been a pretty mellow laidback, sorta aloof pup. He was not very fond of high energy pups, but every once in a while he'd find a few medium energy ones and he'd go up on his own and play and I'd let him. When I first met him at the breeders', he sat by my feet and looked up at me while the other pups were jumping up and crawling over me. Not a typical Corgi.
I do think part of it is that Lilu is still at a stage where she's easily distracted. She's generally a good dog, and I have taken her to some training classes before, so she knows how to sit and lay down. She'll definitely do those at home, especially if there's a treat involved. She knows what "crate" means and always jumps up in the car on her own when I open the door for her. Out in the world, though... or if there's not a treat in it for her, she's a little less consistent. I've been trying to do reinforcement with her on the leash, like telling her "good girl" if she walks with slack and stopping when she starts to pull. If she keeps pulling, I try to make her sit, but sometimes I really have to get on her before she'll actually do it. I don't know if she's just being stubborn or if it's just because she's clever enough to say "Well what's in it for me?" (ie: a treat).
I also know it's partly my fault because I don't think I've done enough specific leash training sessions with her. And I have to admit I haven't really used treats in that regard out on walks. I need to find the time and patience to work on it more with her. I'm just hoping the harness will help with that reinforcement though because sometimes I do get frustrated when it seems like she just won't stop pulling and we end up traveling about a foot ever 5 minutes because I keep stopping.
She definitely wants to stay near us though, at least. When I take her to the dog park, sometimes she runs off and does her own thing, but if I step outside the gate (to get something from the car or make a call) she goes over to the gate and wants to come with me. We have even let her off leash before (though I know we probably shouldn't) when we've gone for walks in back woods and there wasn't anyone else around.... she kind of goes off a little but usually stays within sight and doesn't just wonder off completely. She even chased a squirrel into the bushes once, but as soon as she lost sight of it and we called her back she came back to us. I'm hoping that's at least a good sign or start... but I guess the leash just isn't long enough for her and she wants to explore.
Here's what I'd do: get either a ten-foot leash or an extenda-leash (the kind with the ribbon, not the cord) and when you take her out, let her wander. Let her sniff. Let her be distracted. It's very important for her development for her to explore.
Forget about stopping whenever she pulls; you (and she) will come to see walks as a chore rather than something fun.
Carry a standard-length leash with you. AFTER she's tired herself out some and AFTER she's had time to sniff and play and you've walked a nice long way, then clip the regular leash on. She'll learn the short leash means business. THEN practice having her walk nicely. Betcha she behaves better after she's had some time to play around, and I'll also bet that you come to enjoy walks a lot more.
If she's already confused by months of mixed-messages on-leash, teach her to heel off-leash first inside, then clip the leash on her (still inside) and have her heel while she drags it behind her, and only then pick up the leash. Once you have that down, take her to a fenced, quiet area and do the same from step 1 (no leash, then dragging leash, then you carrying leash). I had to do this with Jack because he was prone to wandering off and so I needed to leash him up for potty breaks and socialization when he was still way too little to demand nice walking. By the time he was around 4 months old and old enough to start, he already had bad habits (and so did I).
Come to think of the leash as a safety line so she can't run off, not as the tool that keeps her from pulling. I give mine verbal corrections, not leash corrections, if I've put them on heel and they forge ahead.
If you would like more detailed info, feel free to shoot me a private message. You'll need to send a friend request first. Good luck!
This is one I was thinking of getting, which claims to be a training collar. Maybe there's a difference in the all-nylon martingales and the ones with chains?
I originally got her the harness because I thought it would help her stop pulling, but I think I got a "comfort" harness which I guess is not the same as the no-pull harness. How does that one work to keep them from pulling?
How about this one for the no pull harness? It says it has a martingale type loop in it as well, but obviously tightens on the chest instead of the neck. I would probably get her a small.... she's on the smaller side even for a corgi mix - about 22 lbs.
Thanks for the help! If this will work I'll definitely get it.
I think I'm going to try the mesh one. One of the complaints about the other one was chaffing under the front legs, so hopefully the mesh one will be better for that and more comfortable.
Thanks everyone for the help! It's always good to get advice from other dog owners with more experience. I'll still keep using the positive reinforcement with the harness and hopefully it will help.
Jackie is going through EXACTLY what I am with Billy, my trainer had me buy the martingale so that I can keep his focus on the walk and not every single possible smell/distraction in the way and I fear he will be sad if i use it, she had me try the no pull that the dog above is wearing but it didnt seem to do ANYTHING for the pulling. Walks are NOT enjoyable for us because I feel the whole time i am dragging him (not literally). I guess I am going to have to remember to always bring treats on walks but this dog is gonna be fat by the time he learns.... He will do ANYTHING for treats but without them he laughs in my face.
I love martingales:)