Category Archives: Dog Leash Training

How to Prevent Leash Pulling with Your Dog

How to Prevent Leash Pulling with Your Dog
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Even the biggest dogs can be taught to not pull when on leash.
Source: Audrey Kirchner, CC BY, via Hubpages

Why Dogs Pull on Lead

For most dogs, no matter what breed, being on a leash means being restricted. If we think about it rationally, dogs who are allowed to run around our backyard and our homes when faced suddenly with the restriction of having to walk calmly beside us might find that a little restricting.

Looking at it from their perspective can give us a better understanding of why they do it. It doesn’t make it any less frustrating though as depending upon the size of the dog, it can be downright aggravating to have someone trying to pull you down the street.

Case in point–this author has a “smaller” malamute (only 75 pounds) who literally could probably pull a wagon with people on it if you let her.

This behavior did not start until she hit the 1-1/2 year mark and suddenly she became adept at yanking adults right off their feet who weren’t paying attention.

While Gabby’s behaviors are probably at the extreme for pulling on leash, even people with small dogs sometimes have a horrible time walking their dogs because of their incessant pulling.

No matter what size your dog is, there are techniques that can be used to prevent leash pulling.

The key is finding which technique works best for you and which technique works best for your dog. Each situation is different and things like breed, age of the dog, temperament of the dog, etc. have to be factored in as well.

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Pulling on Leash Can Be Dangerous

While most people seem to accept leash pulling as an annoyance factor, this author can also attest to the fact that it can be a dangerous behavior. My husband, who is not a weak man by any means, was completely thrown off balance by our malamute Griffin (who weighs about 90 pounds) and ended up falling down on the ground and almost hitting his head on a very huge rock. This illustrates the fact that a dog pulling to get “at” something (as in this case) can be a serious risk to the dog owner.

Pulling dogs are also hard on your back, your neck and your arms. As the story above shows, it can also be very dangerous if you happen to be pulled down to the ground where you can be road rash or you can break a hip or a wrist clanking onto the pavement.

It can also turn into a nasty situation should your dog be pulling because he or she wants to go after a cat, a squirrel or another dog or even worse, a person. If you cannot control your dog when he or she is on a leash, you have a gigantic problem that needs fixing.

We know that dogs like to pull and that they feel restricted on leash, so what’s the solution to getting your dog to stop pulling while on leash?

Stop and Go Technique for Walking Your Dog

When you have a problem arise such as I did with Gabby or Griffin, I tried several different methods. See below for more suggestions on collars. After trying the collars, however, it did give me pause that I was not really curing the problem–just finding a way around it.

I did a lot of research and this technique really does work. However, it takes a lot of time and even more patience to perfect it. I will honestly say that we are still working with Gabby on this problem behavior and while she is better, she is not “cured” when we do not employ one of the collars.

You will need:

Collar and leash (regular)
Kibble and/or a few mini dog treats

Technique to Stop Leash Pulling:

Go to a somewhat non-busy place where there are no distractions with your dog on a regular (not retractable) sturdy leash
Start off normally with the dog on your left side or side you want to walk her on
Stop the moment the leash becomes taut and the dog is pulling–do not MOVE–as in AT ALL–merely stand still as a statue
If and when the dog comes back to you–go crazy with praise and offer a treat
Do it all over again until you can’t stand it anymore–repeat several times per day

I have done this technique with Gabby and I kid you not that I had to stand stock still for 10 minutes the first time before she would return to me to figure out what was up. The second time it was 5 minutes and so on. She is very clever (as are most malamutes) and she has figured out this game unfortunately and most of the time decides not to remember what she learned in real-life situations on leash. So we employ both this technique and the collar.

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Zigzag Technique for Walking Your Dog

This is another technique I have used with Gabby though I confess it is not my favorite simply because I tend to go around in circles and eventually get a little dizzy. Not to mention it is rather embarrassing as I have had people ask me what in the heck I’m doing to which I respond innocently “I’m walking my dog, of course!”

What You Need:

Leash and collar (not retractable)
Patience and then some–don’t be in any hurry to get somewhere
Kibble or small treats

Technique for Walking Your Dog:

Start off as if you are going to walk a straight line from point A to point B
At the very first tug on the leash and if it goes taut, immediately stop
Cut in a different direction while giving a sharp tug on the leash and say “Let’s go THIS way”
Keep doing this until you feel that the dog is coming with you–treating occasionally as you go and praising for him or her staying by your side
Hopefully it will not take you 10 minutes to get from one place to the other

The drawback to this technique is that it can become a game with a clever dog such as a malamute. However, eventually most dogs do realize that if they want to get to “there” they are going to have to behave and walk by your side–or continue going in circles.

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Gentle Leaders work for some dogs to keep them from pulling.
Source: Audrey Kirchner, CC BY, via Hubpages
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Collars and Harnesses for Leash Training

If you have a dog who is not responding to either of the above techniques and the dog continues to pull, you may have to resort to several different types of collars and behavioral techniques. Griffin is a model walker but it was not without a lot of effort on this owner’s part. I get a lot of comments as to why I’m walking the biggest dog but it is because we came to an understanding about pulling.

I used the techniques above for Griffin and he did pretty well and was not the handful that Gabby is in many respects. However, Griffin does have a propensity to go after aggressive dogs. If a dog approaches that is growling or barking at him, he tends to get a little freaked out and starts trying to “finish things.” Since that is not acceptable, I had to learn to control him. Easier said than done.

I tried a plain choke collar which I quickly discovered on a malamute is a joke. As much as I have never “approved” of pinch collars, I decided it would be in all of our best interests to get my dog’s attention. I can say without a doubt that I do not have to so much as exert but a tiny tug and Griffin responds immediately to my directions. The pinch collar is a tool that I have learned to use to good advantage with him and it works to keep control of him when a mere regular collar does nothing to get him to stop pulling when he becomes overexcited. This same exact collar has no effect whatsoever on Gabby and she would probably crush her larynx before she would stop pulling.

The E-collar or electronic collar was also a tool that I used for the same reasons above. However, again, on both the dogs, it has had varying success. Griffin responded to it immediately whereas Gabby has mixed results. She responded very well to it training her to sit when you stop or when asked to do it–but it has not worked (yet) on her pulling. I do not even have to use it for Griffin after only using it a couple of times and training him to it. Remember that it is not a weapon to be used to subdue a dog but rather a training tool and if used properly, especially with big dogs, it gets their attention. That’s all training is about really and getting them to do what you ask.

We tried the Gentle Leader or Easy Walk as some are called with Gabby and again, had mixed results. After weeks of training her with it, she still pranced about like My Little Pony and fought it to the point where she had marks on her muzzle when we got home. We felt that it was more of a challenge than walking her on a leash without it because we were afraid she would permanently damage her face.

The Halti no-pull harness has been the best thing we have found to stop this particular malamute from pulling on leash. The Halti hooks at their chest and by virtue of the fact that it goes under them and around their front legs, they cannot exert enough torque to pull you. Peace in the land at last.

See all 4 photos
No pull harnesses work very well for some breeds of dog.
Source: Audrey Kirchner, CC BY, via Hubpages

Dogs Pulling is a Natural Behavior

When all is said and done, it should be remembered that pulling is a very natural dog behavior. For instance, my dogs are absolutely born to pull. However, when forced into the situation of obedience and acknowledging that there are times for “appropriate” pulling and times for not appropriate pulling, they either rise to the occasion or they test the limits. Let me illustrate.

We train our dogs to pull a sled or pull on a scooter or a bike, to literally pull in harness. We give them commands like “let’s go,” “pull,” etc. It is quite another thing though when we just put on tennis shoes and say “let’s go for a walk” and need to have them behave for 2 or 3 miles walking on a leash–with the expectation that there will be NO pulling. It definitely is a training moment.

It can be done of course but the owner (the alpha) must have patience and a pretty good sense of humor if you’re working with breeds such as malamutes. Dogs are clever anyway but some breeds can try and beat you at your own game if you’re not careful. The important thing to remember is that you’re in charge and they should be expected to do what you tell them to do. No matter how long it takes to get the point across!

Depending on the severity of the problem or the size of your dog, you’ll find that different techniques work better for you. There is no one perfect technique. Every breed is different as well and approaches leash walking uniquely. The only underlying component that must be present in all styles of dog training (in whatever arena) is patience. That plus consistency will pay off in the end.

As evidenced by my own experiences, it is possible that a dog will try and test you again and again in a certain behavior and see if they can get away with it. Change is good and lifetime learning is something I believe in heartily. So if one technique seems to no longer be working, switch to another that does work. The most important thing is to not let a dog become used to getting away with bad or unwanted behaviors. They can prove dangerous for both the dog and the human attached to the leash.

See all 4 photos
No matter how you do it, you can prevent leash pulling.
Source: Audrey Kirchner, CC BY, via Hubpages

No Pull Harness Demonstration

Dog Leads, Harness, Slip Lead, Flexi Extending Leash and Gentle Leader

Dog Leads, Harness, Slip Lead, Flexi Extending Leash and Gentle Leader

Dog leads, dog collars and dog harness

Dog leads or leashes as they are known around the world come in many shapes, sizes, material and prices. Dog leads are used for many different purposes for example standard dog walking, dog show leads, dog , working dog leads and training leads.

Dog collars and dog harness come with the same variety.

Choosing the correct lead is vitally important for the control and comfort of your dog.

Having tried many of them to varying degrees of success I felt it would be useful to explain what the different types are, how and why they are used and the main advantages and disadvantages of each.

It is not my intention to make recommendations because owners and believe it or not dogs will have their own preference; hopefully at the end of this dog lead article you will be better informed to choose the right lead for you and of course your dog.


Dog Leads from Amazon UK

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Puppy dog leads

Sporty K9 New York Yankees Dog Leash, 6-Feet by 1-Inch
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Puppy dog leads

Walking on a lead for the first time is a big deal for a puppy, choosing the correct lead is very important.

The main points to consider when picking your puppies first lead are strength, comfort, length and colour.

Strength-don’t buy a cheap poor quality lead as they have been known to snap
Comfort-it is likely puppy will pull on his first lead so it should have a padded handle
Length-puppies are small and low to the ground, the wrong length can put additional strain on your puppies neck
Colour-bright colours will distract your puppy from walking

Buy quality but don’t spend too much on a puppy lead as your puppy will grow out of it very quickly.

Although harness are available for puppies we would warn against them for very young puppies as they can put a strain on growing bones, if you do decide to use a harness it must have plenty of padding and even weight and strain distribution.


Standard fixed length dog leads

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American Leather Specialties #01040 48″ 3MM Chain Leash
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Fixed length dog leads

Fixed length dog leads come in rope, nylon, chain and leather.

Whatever material you choose it must have a solid clasp at one end and a comfortable padded handle at the other.

Fixed length dog leads are ideal fro growing puppies and mature dogs.

Points to consider when choosing a fixed length dog lead

Quality of material
Strength of material
Correct length
Sturdy clasp
Comfortable handle

If you choose the correct lead it can last a lifetime.

It is advisable to buy the best lead you can as dogs in the early stages of training pull on the lead, poor quality leads always run the risk of snapping.

Retractable dog lead and Extending dog leads

Flexi Large Retractable 26-Foot Classic Long 3 Tape Leash, Black
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Planet Dog Large Zip Lead, Chrome/Titanium
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Retractable dog leads and Extending dog leads

Retractable dog leads are a fairly new phenomenon in the dog world.

Extendable leads come in a wide variety with the world leader Flexi leading the way in quality and design innovation .

These leads are an ideal way of exercising your dog without actually letting them of the lead

A good quality retractable lead should have these attributes

Comfortable handle
Solid construction
Weather proof
Geared braking system
One hand brake control
Easy recoil action

The lead can be of any length as long as you are comfortable with the distance between you and your dog. The lead material will be tape or nylon again this is a matter for you as they are both suitable for most dogs.


Dog slip leads

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Dog Slip leads

Dog slip leads are an all in one lead were the lead itself creates the loop which slips over your dogs head.

Slip leads are commonly used by handlers with their working dogs for ease of putting on and taking off.

Rope slip leads are the most popular and varying thickness are available.

Matching the lead to the size of your dog is the main concern when choosing a slip lead

Some dogs pull excessively when walking, a slip lead is suitable for training purposes however if the dog is stubborn to train out of pulling it is advisable not to use slip leads as they can damage the neck.

If you do use a slip lead fit it correctly so when the dog is not pulling it should automatically loosen.

Dog training leads

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Guardian Gear 20-Feet Cotton Web Dog Training Lead, Red
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Dog training leads

It may sound obvious but a training lead is just that, it should only be used for training and not standard walking.

Training leads are much longer in length and are used for controlling your dog at different distances than normal.

Long line training leads are ideal for recall training giving you the ability to encourage your dog back in the right direction from much further away.

Training leads are used also in sniffer or search training giving your dog a wider search area whilst still under your control.

Quality is the key consideration when choosing a training lead as it will be tested to it’s fullest capacity.

Dog harness

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Dog Harness

Dog harness are predominantly used for dogs who simply refuse to walk to heel as they can be chest fitting with a head control.

More and more pet owners are using dog harness because the design and comfort have improved drastically over the last few years with glitzy bright colours being the favourite of toy dog owners.

There are more specialist dog harness on the market

Safety dog harness
Dogs with mobility issues
Support dog harness
Fashion harness

Dog Collars

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StarMark Training Collar, Large, Blue
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Large Martingale Pink Paisley Patterened Dog Collar
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RC Pet Products 1-Inch Adjustable Dog Clip Collar, 12 by 20-Inch, Medium, Tropical Paisley
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Dog collars

Dog collars like leads come in every conceivable colour, material and design.

Some are practical and some are plain old fashion statements.

Collars come as stand alone or as part of a lead and collar set.

Collars can be one plain material or a mixture with reflective materials becoming very popular.

It has been known for collars to be studded with real diamonds costing thousands of pounds however for most dog owners comfort and strength should be more important than being a pointless accessory.

Which leash do you use?

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How to Leash Train a Dog

How to Leash Train a Dog
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Walking 3 malamutes–it can be done with the right training and the right leashes.
Source: Audrey Kirchner, CC BY, via Hubpages

Leash Training Your Dog

Teaching a dog to walk on a leash is not a hard thing to master and can be accomplished by a variety of techniques. There are also as many tools for walking a dog as there are ways to teach this particular dog behavior.

Before you attempt to start leash training your dog, you will need to set your criteria. For instance:

Are you leash training a puppy?
Does your dog’s breed play a role in your training to walk on leash?
Do you have a rescued dog you are trying to train to walk on lead?
Is your dog older and never been taught to walk calmly on a leash?
What do you plan to do with your dog on leash? Hike or run? Or just walk?
Do you feel confident training your dog to walk on leash?
Is your dog horrible at straining towards people and other dogs when walking?

All of these questions (and maybe several more) play a part in deciding which technique might be best for your dog and you. The answers may also have an effect on where you train your dog.

For instance, well behaved dogs are usually a better bet for formal classes while out of control dogs might need individual work or even the help of a professional trainer.

Whatever method you choose though, remember to be consistent but also keep an open mind and you will have success with leash training!

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How to Leash Train A Dog

The most important thing of course is that you have a collar and a leash. Many people use a variety of collars and swear by them. More on that below. Some even use a harness. Whatever seems to work best for you and your dog is what you should use.

Basic leash training involves a few simple things–like getting your dog (no matter what age) used to a collar. In order to walk on a leash, the dog has to be comfortable with the collar. After getting your dog used to a collar, proceed to adding the leash.

Most dogs don’t take to leash training right off. For some reason, it makes them feel restricted and like they’ve lost a bit of their freedom! Ah–the purpose!

Whether you’re dealing with a puppy or an older dog who has had no leash training, the practices are basically the same though with a puppy very short sessions repeated throughout the day work much better than long sessions because they have no attention span.

Treats can be a very valuable asset. If the dog seems reluctant to walk at all on the leash, go out in front of the dog, kneel down and call the dog to you. Reward with a small treat or piece of kibble. Practice this until the dog feels comfortable walking with the leash on.

Next, progress to walking with a piece of kibble or treat in your closed hand. I use my left hand since that’s the side I want my dog to walk on. This effectively gets their attention and encourages them to stay close to you. Don’t treat all the time–bad habit! Treat every so often and when they least expect it but there is NO limit on praise! Tell them over and over what a good dog they are for walking right by you.

Move from kibble or tiny treat in your hand to in your pocket. Yep–they know it’s there but they never know when they’ll get it so it’s a good training tool. I even put doggie waste bags in my pocket and crinkle them every now and again while I’m walking since my malamutes are easily distracted by many things and tend to forget what the rules are regarding walking by my side.

Over time, you can train your dog to walk neatly beside you (a true heel position) or you can let them venture out ahead of you with the caveat that if you give them a command or a gesture, they will come back to your side. This is especially effective for approaching people or dogs off leash.

You can also work with any number of types of leashes from retractable leashes to very long leashes to harnesses.

For problem dogs, leashes that fit over the head can be effective while for others, the Haltie may be the answer. The Gentle Leader is shown below on my young mal Gabby and we had very little success with it while the Haltie (shown further down on the shore) is the perfect solution for her particular quirks when walking.

For really hard to train breeds or dogs who do not seem to be responding to any other method, the E-collar can help you train the dog in the beginning realizing that this is merely a training tool and not to be used all the time.

One important thing to remember is that the presence of a leash can cause anxiety in any dog. It’s said that more dog fights happen on leash than off and from my own experience, this has some merit. My dogs do seem to tense and act differently when on leash compared when they are off leash. However, for their protection and mine, I never let mine off leash except at home or in a secure fenced environment.

It’s crucial to try and be relaxed when doing anything with your dog on a leash. Another truism is that they do sense tension and it travels right down the leash. If you are worried about an oncoming dog that is roaring towards you, your dog is going to sense your panic and probably react more urgently.

Like an umbilical cord, a leash connects you to your dog so keep a cool head and always act as an alpha would in the situation. Take charge and chances are, your dog will follow suit and not feel he or she needs to step up and be the alpha.

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Leash Training the Stubborn Dog

This author has great experience with malamutes. They can be one of the most remarkable breeds to work with and conversely, they can be one of the most frustrating. They are all unique and you can never plan on the response being the same from one to another.

My youngest malamute, Gabby, was a joy to train. She was energetic, happy-go-lucky and so much fun it was a breeze as a puppy. However, as she aged just a year or so, she began to develop the malamute tune-out behavior. People who have mals know the look and the attitude…as if to say “Eh? No speaka Ing-glais, mamasita.”

After being this wonderful puppy I could walk anywhere, she suddenly at 1-1/2 turned into what I affectionately call “my little pony.” It is if you’re walking a horse not yet gentled as she rears up and prances about like a wild horse.

Back to the drawing board I went. This technique has worked (thus far) along with a special harness called the Haltie in curbing her horrible leash behaviors.

Steps to Leash Training a Stubborn Dog (puller):

Start with a regular leash–advance to a longer one later
Don’t be in a rush–this will take some time unfortunately
Proceed as you would down the street or in a park or even in your backyard with the dog on the leash
At the very moment that the leash becomes taut–stop dead in your tracks and DO NOT MOVE (this is the hardest part of the training as it can take 5-10 minutes)
Wait until the dog finally comes back to your side before moving on–but at the moment that the dog comes to your side, praise lavishly and/or offer a small treat–and move on!

This technique is extremely tedious for the owner as I can attest but it does work–especially if you repeat it for say a week. Usually the dog will tire of getting all revved up to walk and then being made to just wait and will quickly put the pieces together and figure out why.

See all 3 photos
For more challenging dogs, leashes like the Gentle Leader can be helpful though in Gabby’s case–not so much.
Source: Audrey Kirchner, CC BY, via Hubpages
Guardian Gear 20-Feet Cotton Web Dog Training Lead, Black
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The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs
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Things to Remember When Leash Training

Do not train a dog when you are tired, angry or upset in any way–dogs sense this
When the dog stops responding, stop training
End on a positive note with training–get 1 easy command followed and quit
Talk in an authoritative tone while training your dog
Save a happy, squeaky voice with your dog for enthusiasm not commands
Use the same commands consistently and firmly when dog training
Do not hit, kick, yank excessively or otherwise intimidate your dog–he or she will never respect you or obey you
Reward with treats in dog training sparingly but reward with praise lavishly
Set realistic goals for your leash training–base it on age of the dog, temperament of the dog and receptiveness
Repetitive short sessions of dog training have more effect than long, nonproductive ones
If you find that you simply cannot leash train your dog, seek a professional’s help as sometimes someone else’s perspective or technique makes all the difference in the world
Investigate ways to train a dog and see which one works best for your purposes and with your breed–this is a very important part–not every breed is created the same

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Prong Collars and Leash Training

This author has been deadset against prong collars for as long as I can remember. However, I have come to the realization that with malamutes, sometimes it’s important to be flexible.

Choke chains have their place in training. Unfortunately with malamutes or other dogs who are accustomed to pulling with the entire upper part of their body, choke chains may do more harm than good.

Remember that what works with one dog may never work with another. Choke chains on my wooly Griffin were a joke as he couldn’t feel them through all that fur. The prong collar quickly got his attention–however, it is never used as more than a quick jerk and release. It’s only there to remind him that I’m in charge and he needs to listen as in “now.”

He is so well trained that I seldom have to even exert so much as a partial jerk as he is listening to my commands more than responding to the collar.

On the other hand, pinch collars have no effect whatsoever on my other malamute Gabby who I mentioned above. She would break her larynx before she would stop pulling on it so it became a very bad alternative to the plain choke collar.

The collar should fit properly and again, be used as an adjunct to getting your dog to pay attention to you–not as a means to control your dog. Even the strongest person will not be able to contain a dog bent on going after another dog or leaping at passersby if the dog is not trained properly on leash in the first place.

Even with the prong or pinch collar, the leash should be lax and the dog should be relaxed. If not, more training is required. Prongs are used mostly with large dogs who have a propensity to strive for control of the situation. They should only be used as a means to get your dog’s attention and will not solve problems with dogs who want to be alpha or who have aggression problems.

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Shock or E-Collars and Leash Training

Again, this author is not fond of this device and never have been. However, I have employed one for a very short period of training when both our younger malamutes were bent on defying our commands and were persistent in trying to drag us down the street. This was usually towards someone or some other dog, which is not acceptable.

It’s imperative that anyone using a shock collar or an electronic collar purchase it with the video and instruction manual and actually review both to learn how to use it properly. If you do not use it properly when leash training your dog or begin training him or her in any way with it on, you can bet you will have a problem with your dog you will need to fix. These devices when not used properly can scare your dog if the current is turned up too high. They can make your dog so fearful that he or she will not respond at all. That is not the goal.

As with a choke collar or a prong collar, the idea of the E-collar is to get your dog’s attention especially if you are dealing with a particularly stubborn or cantankerous dog. In our case, we only had to use the electronic collar for a couple of training sessions. After that, we simply put the collar on and they were immediately responsive to our every command–without us ever pushing the button. We rewarded them for their good behavior and then were able to take the collars off and they still obeyed us.

Because of the size of my dogs and our age, we do use the prong collar or the Haltie just to give us the extra confidence of control if we are out in public with our dogs. In this case, it’s more a protection for those around us “just in case.”

We find that usually our dogs were faced with something that has nothing to do with them. We can be walking quietly through a park and be faced with dogs off leash running at us or kids on skateboards and bikes zooming past us.

This is an exercise in my firmest canine belief–my dogs should be controlled by me and not the situation. Sometimes you have to employ tools to help you if you happen to have very big dogs or dogs who have a tendency to test the limits occasionally. I believe that the reason my dogs respond to us is because they trust us to be in charge.

No Pull Harness Leash Training

For my stubborn little malamute Gabby, we have found the Haltie to be the best solution for a dog who would be a pony on leash. While some show that the Haltie is an over-the-head kind of leash, our is a harness that fastens with the leash in the front of her chest.

While she resisted the leash that fit over her head and pulled her head back, she doesn’t seem to have too much trouble with this type of Haltie. This in effect makes them unable to exert enough force (which malamutes definitely have) to pull you forward continuously.

In my observances of her coming towards me, it appears to hobble her gait a bit as she strains to get her way with pulling. She eventually relaxes and walks (gasp) like a normal dog but even with this type of harness/leash, we have to build in 5-10 minutes of trying to do it “her” way while she settles in for the duration.

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The leash system that currently works best for Gabby the prancing pony.
Source: Audrey Kirchner, CC BY, via Hubpages