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Hi everyone!

I just joined this site because I don't know where else to ask--though I hope to go through and maybe help others as well.

My dog, Krystal, is extremely well behaved in most ways; never aggressive, knows commands, comes when called, etc. She barks unnecessarily sometimes, but the problem I really want to correct is pulling when we take walks. She isn't scratching-at-the-ground-level pulling, where she's hurting herself or anything, but she ALWAYS needs to be at the end of however much slack she's given. Short leash, long leash, doesn't matter, she doesn't like any slack in the line. My problem is that, I'd like to relax when we're walking and not constantly have my arm pulled out. She's always been very high energy (German shepherd/?? mix), so we take quite long walks.

I personally have only started walking her recently (last few months). We've owned her since she was a puppy, but we've had various family members living with us who were her "pack leader," for the first ~5 years it was one person, the next ~5 another, and recently I've taken over that role (a different family member moved out and I moved back in--Krystal is technically the family dog, we adopted her when I was 10)

She will walk behind me or next to me if I force her to, and especially if there are treats at stake, but I must constantly remind her and it is definitely not a relaxing walk. With this method as soon as I stop reminding her/forcing her, she's out at the end of the leash again. I've also tried letting her go out in front of me and giving gentle pulls when she reaches the end of the leash, but neither method has shown much result thus far.

I know these habits have been ingrained for 12 years, which is a very long time for a dog, but I want to know if the things I'm trying will work eventually and I just need to wait it out, or if I need a new strategy.

Thanks so much!:)
 

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Welcome to the forum!

I would first start with teaching the command "look". Call her name and whenever she's looking, praise her. And then add the command "look". Do this about hundred times until she really knows what "look" means.

When she's pulling gently lead her back to your side. Let her sit down and look at you. And when she's calm praise her and walk again. But you need to do this everytime. Each time you don't react she will learn again, that pulling is a way to reach her aim.

Some people say when a dog is pulling you should change direction, everytime. In my opinion it only results in a frustrated dog. On my walks I sometimes follow my dog. BUT only if he doesn't pull. I allow him to show me where he wants to go, but then I lead him back to me and we go together in my speed.

Of course, at the beginning it won't be relaxing. But as more consequent you will do it as faster and better it will work.

You can also make your walks interesting. Start to make little games, searching something in the gras or so. Throw a treat in the gras when she's not looking, then suddenly stop and call her back "Look what I found!". She will learn that you know where to find treats and will become more attentive in what you are doing.
Jump over little fences and discover together new things. At the end the walks are not only walks but little adventures for her.

I hope I could help you a little.
 

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In addition to good advice above, I will emphasise "Of course, at the beginning it won't be relaxing." especially if the dog, as I assume, has had lots of experience by now that pulling DOES work, it WILL likely be VERY tedious for the first while. But stick to your guns & he will eventually have a 'revelation'! Because he's learned from past experience it does work, it's a 'strong' behaviour & he's more likely to keep trying, or try harder when you change the rules. You just have to 'weather that storm' & be consistent that it never works again.

I also suggest using some kind of a 'no pull' harness(pref), like the front clip ones, or a halter. *These tools do NOT just work automatically, you still have to *train* the dog, but they help make it a bit easier & give you more control without needing such force to resist the pulling.

I use much the same method as Eishun(who despite your signature line, you seem to be very good at English!). I first teach the dog a cue that is incompatible with pulling, and I just stop in my tracks whenever the dog pulls. Wait until he stops pulling, use a distraction or cue 'look' or something else when needed to get that. Say 'don't pull' when he comes off the pressure and reward him & go on with our walk. At first you might only get one more step(TEdious!) before doing it all again, but as said, if you're consistent, he will learn.

And helps to keep sessions short & sweet, so it doesn't become too frustrating for both. And start teaching in a 'low interest' situation where it's less likely the dog is so keen to get to where he's going.

Ed. to add... didn't read original post fully. So sorry for saying 'he'. And it also really helps to ensure they're well exercised *before* these sort of lessons, so if possible, start at an off lead dog park or somewhere safe for her to run free, not be restrained & slow all the time. Or in the back yard playing fetch or an energetic game of tug of war at least.
 

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I guess the first thing I would consider would be whether you want to spend the time and effort of training her to not pull on the leash at this point, or merely prevent her from pulling on the leash through some sort of mechanical means of making it less effective/rewarding to pull. There's no reason you can't do the latter while also working on the former, or IMO no issue with choosing either exclusively. My dog is normally quite good at walking on a loose leash, however I recently discovered that if I walk him after going home for the evening, but before I feed him, he pulls like a freight train on the way home because he wants to get home to eat. The first night this happened, I used it as a training opportunity, and required the leash to be relaxed in order to walk- it took quite a while to get home, and I resorted to heeling him some of the way because it was such slow going (he struggled with that as well, but not as much as walking "freely"). On subsequent walks, I've been just letting him pull in a harness (it's good exercise :rolleyes:) but if I didn't want him to, I'd probably just use a front clip harness to minimize his pulling ability, as that's our "relaxing" walk, and I'm not inclined to do a whole lot of training. When I walk my parents' dog (who used to be my Grandmom's, and has minimal training), I always just use a front clip harness to minimize the pulling. It's a pretty firmly engrained behavior at this point, she's not an easy dog to motivate (minimal food and toy drive), and I take her along just to get her out of the house, so don't necessarily want to put a lot of effort into getting her to walk nicely. She actually walks fairly well now even on a collar, but will still pull at the beginning of our walk, so still using the harness.

In your place, I would probably use a "no pull" device like a front clip harness to make walking her more tolerable, and work as you feel like it with food rewards to get her closer and more attentive while walking- her walking position should naturally move closer to you if she is keeping her attention on you. At her age, I would do whatever it took to continue her walks, as I'm sure she enjoys them and regular walks are great exercise for a senior dog :)
 

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or merely prevent her from pulling on the leash through some sort of mechanical means ... IMO no issue with choosing either exclusively.
Please tell me more?? I've only ever used a halter in the past, but I've seen many with those harnesses that have straps going between front legs & around girth to attach to collar. I've seen that they may *weaken* pulling a bit, but not stop it, if the dog is not also taught consistently the behaviour doesn't work. I've only recently heard of, and seen only in pics, the front clip harnesses.

As my dogs very rarely pull on lead for me or my kids any more(they getting to be big dogs, I was very strict with that rule), but I just can't seem to train the husband(hardest animals to train IME!), and my dogs have worked out they can pull him around! I'd love to know of some kind of humane equipment that does work without the training??
 

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You may be thinking of the "sporn" no pull harness? IME, those tend not to work as well as the front clip harnesses, but I've never personally used one, just watched other people still getting dragged around by dogs wearing them ;) . Front clip harnesses seem to come in two types, ones like this: Easy Walk , with the strap across the front of the shoulders, and ones like this: Ruffwear Front Range with the "y" front, and an attachment at the center of the y. My experience has been that the former may slightly restrict the gait of some dogs by the resistance if offers their shoulders even when not being pulled on, so my current preference is toward the latter type. My dogs are usually moving out pretty good though when we walk, for a leisurely stroll, I'm not sure it would matter.

I have also used (and I'm not sure if this would be considered an aversive, but there are "humane" no pull harnesses which have a martingale action on the harness, and my personal experience has been that dogs don't seem to mind it) what some people call a "leash wrap", where you wrap the leash around the dog's chest behind their front legs, then tuck the "tail" under the wrap and create a makeshift harness. There is some tightening if pulled, so you have to use it sensibly, and I always keep it around the chest, rather than the waist (that seems like it would be more uncomfortable to me), but it seems to reduce pulling with minimal fanfare and discomfort. I've seen a couple different companies selling various contraptions which do the same, but why buy something when you already "have" it for free? This: Thunderleash is similar, except instead of hooking the leash under that little hook, you would just run it under itself. I've employed this when walking a dog on a collar who begins to pull unbearably, or if I forget/don't have time/equipment to appropriately outfit a dog that I know pulls.
 
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