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Canine University 71 Clinton St. Malden, MA

Have a Great Dog!

Natural Health Corner: Techniques for Stopping Dogs that Pull on Leash

I am always amazed to discover the different ways TTouch can improve the relationship and communication between a dog and his owner. Half the dogs I see walking down the street with their owners look more like they are trying to run away from them rather than walk with them. I saw a little terrier the other day, pumping his legs and curving as far away as possible from his owner. That kind of pulling says a lot of things about the relationship between the dog and owner and none of them are good.

If you've taken classes with us and read our materials you know that I believe strongly in developing a great relationship with your dog, because I firmly believe the more fun you have together the less likely the behavior problems will be. Pulling on leash is a very common behavior problem and almost every dog including my own will pull on the leash at some point to get where they want to go. Most of these dogs look more like locomotives pushing full steam ahead instead of dedicated and happy companions Some of the reasons for pulling are related to reinforcement for pulling and the need to practice rewarding the dog for walking next to you. However, other reasons for pulling relate to your relationship with your dog, how much he trusts your judgment and how much confidence he has being out in public.

Not every dog that pulls is completely happy being on a leash in public where there is traffic, noise, people, other dogs and unexpected happenings. TTouch will benefit those dogs who have had some training learning not to pull because it will help make them more aware of their bodies, give them confidence and improve your ability to communicate with them.

There are several TTouch techniques that you might find useful in helping you teach your dog that being next to you is the place he wants to be. The body wrap (Canine University Quarterly, Vol 7 No.2, Summer 2002), used in combination with a gentle leader and two leashes may be just the key you and your dog need to work successfully as a team. There are different variations on the wrap which can have different effects on your dog, and it may be modified as needed for those dogs who are resistant to it (most aren't). It's purpose is to make your dog more aware of his body and the way he moves his feet, legs, torso, tail and head. This awareness gives your dog the ability to be more in tune to what you are trying to communicate with him, helps him to be more relaxed and less hyper and will ultimately make it easier to teach him to heel.

The use of two leashes and the head halter is a little different for most people and you might find it a bit ackward at first. A single leash with a clasp at each end is ideal for this type of work (this can be purchased from TTouch Training offices 800 854 8326 or TellingtonTTouch.com). One end of the leash clips to the head halter, the other end to the dog's regular collar. This way you not only can prevent pulling on the head halter which some dogs try to do when they are excited, you can also give your dog more information about where you want him to go. You actually end up holding the leash like reigns on a horse. If your dog is on your left side, you would hold the end of the leash attached to the head halter with your right hand, and the end attached to the collar with your left. You would use the end attached to the collar to stop your dog from pulling with a slight pull and release (not a yank !), and then you would use the end attached to the head halter to turn his head in the direction you want him to go, pulling your right arm into your side to go right, and pushing your right arm toward your dog to go left.

This may sound complicated at first and does feel a bit awkward, but I think in the long run it gives the dog more information about what you want and can be a useful addition to your training program. You may work your dog with the wrap and double leashed head halter for five minutes and then take the whole thing off and work with your clicker and treats on heeling the way you learned in class. This will give your dog time to warm up to the exercise and because your dog is now more receptive to learning it will give you more opportunities to click and treat for the right behavior which we all know is money in the bank for not pulling.

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