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Showing content with the highest reputation on 03/29/2013 in all areas

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    I'm sure it's a question a lot of you have asked because after all, everyone knows huskies pull! But don' be fooled by people who tell you it's impossible to train a husky to walk on a loose lead because they have been bred to pull - they are incredibly intelligent dogs, I'm sure I don't need to persuade anyone of that, and they are more than capable of learning just like any other dog. It just might take a little bit more effort to get it through to them than other breeds. There are two ways to go about dealing with pulling; using training tools to manage the situation, and behaviour modification. They are not independent of each other and can both be used at the same time, however it should be noted that any time you use tools you run the risk that the dog will associate wearing them with whatever behaviour you're training, resulting in the dog reverting back to its former behaviour once the tool is removed, irrespective of training. Not such a problem with pulling because when you go for a walk the dog will always be wearing the tool, but there may be situations where you don't have it on you or the like where you'd be much better off it the dog simply didn't pull whatever it's wearing. Tools There's a whole host of head collars and harnesses out there to help manage pulling. Below I've summarised the most popular but I'm sure you'd be able to find more if you did a bit of digging! Walking belts are also an option. Before you attempt to start putting any of these tools onto your dog it's worth taking a moment to watch this video which has an excellent example of how you should introduce them to prevent the dog from finding wearing them a negative experience: 1wakterNyUg Walking Belts Walking belts are wide, thick padded pieces of material that clip around the waist, with an attachment on the front to tie the leads to. These are the best option for people who don't mind the pulling but would like an alternative to having their shoulders separated on every walk! They are also often used for canicross. Either way they are a useful tool - I have one myself and enjoy having my hands free to pick up my dog's poop, carry bags (usually from the pet shop..) and so on. Any jolts your dog might make are easily absorbed by the elastic in the belt and the wide padding means you are much less likely to get pulled all over the place or even off your feet, and with two hands free it's much easier to grab at that lamppost for support! The only con I can think of to the walking belt is possibly having less control over your dog - my dog is a sucker for wanting to rush straight up to other dogs in the street to have a sniff and if my hands are full, or I simply don't have time to grab the lead from the end of the belt, she'll get a lot closer to a dog passing to the side of us than she would if the lead were already in my hand. It should also be noted that these belts don't provide any mechanism to stop the dog pulling, if anything you might find the dog pulls more because it's not receiving any corrections you might have given if you were holding the lead. I've certainly found my dog has started pulling now I use the walking belt (she never used to pull at all before). Never-the-less a very useful tool! I know of several websites that sell walking belts, I personally have the SASS version because it comes with a carabiner clip, but others have extras such as zip pockets and bottle holders. Here are some links to the ones I know of: KISI Canine Accessories - http://www.kisi.co.uk/walkingbelts.php SASS Dog Equipment - http://www.sassdogequipment.co.uk/dog-walking-belt/ Snowpaw Store - http://www.snowpawstore.com/dog-walking/dog-walking-belts.html As an addition to the walking belt, some people choose to attach bungee lines to the dog instead of regular leads. This aids in absorbing any jolts and are generically used in canicross to stop both you and the dog being yanked about by each other's strides. Here are a few I know of: KISI Canine Accessories - http://www.kisi.co.uk/canicrossline.php Snowpaw Store - http://www.snowpawstore.com/cani-cross/cani-cross-lines.html Halti Head Collar Probably the 'original' head collar designed to help deal with pulling; the Halti attaches around the back of the head and over the nose, with the lead attacking to a ring under the chin. They also have a safety attachment so the head collar can be clipped to the dog's collar, and some padded varieties are available. When the dog pulls, the head is pulled to the side and the loop over the nose tightens. This works on a basic feedback principle for the dog - when it is walking with a loose lead the head collar is relaxed and comfortable, but when it starts pulling it gets tight and pulls the dog off to the side. It will soon learn how it needs to behave to avoid discomfort. However Haltis have a big flaw - because they are loose when the dog is not pulling they are easy for the dog to paw off. There are many places on the internet to buy Halti Head Collars. Due to the various sizes and versions I won't bother linking to any - this would go on forever otherwise! Gentle Leader Head Collar These are similar to the Halti head collars in that they clip around the back of the head and loop over the nose, with the basic principle that when the dog pulls the loop over the nose tightens and pulls the dog's head to the side. The main difference is that they have tried to address the problem that the dog can paw the nose loop off - there is an adjustable clasp under the nose loop where the lead attaches that can be moved up to tighten it. However, once tightened this means the dog is learning nothing from it because now it will not be loose when the dog is walking nicely and doesn't tighten much to provide the necessary correction. Again there are many places online to buy these head collars. Dogmatic Head Collar Once again this relies on the same principle of pull = discomfort that the two previous head collars have, but has several design differences. For a start, it is made from leather and brass as opposed to soft nylon materials like the previous. The tightening mechanism is also different - instead of the material from the nose loop pulling through a metal ring under the chin, a circular piece is looped through two rings either side of the mouth and the lead is attached under the chin. When this circle of leather is pulled on as the dog moves away, it pulls at the rings either side of the mouth and gets narrower; therefore tightening the head collar (it's difficult to explain!). Because of its design this also avoids the issue of being pawed off and doesn't tend to ride up to the eyes like the previous collars can. Canny Collar The canny collar differs in design in that it fastens and tightens from the back rather than under the chin. There is still a neck strap and a loop over the nose which feeds through rings under the chin, so when the dog pulls forwards and the collar tightens the dog's head is pulled down rather than sideways. This collar too is prone to being pawed off if it gets too loose and can ride up by the eyes, but overall is said to be very effective. Halti Harness Once again Halti got there first with the design and the Halti harness is the original of its kind. It has a strap around the dog's girth just past the front legs and another strap across the chest which has a ring for attaching a lead and another to create the tightening effect. When the dog pulls forward the lead pulls on the chest strap, tightening it and pulling the dog's chest and body to the side. This design had issues with the chest strap falling down so nowadays it comes with a clip for attaching to the dog's normal collar. Gentle Leader Easy Walk Harness This is often considered to be the best no-pulling harness. Learning from Halti's mistake, the Gentle Leader harness has a Y shaped, tough design that means the chest strap will stay in place without the need for a clip to attach to the collar. The chest strap on this harness has the same tightening system as the dogmatic head collar. Another brand that has virtually the exact same design as the Gentle Leader is the Trixie Easy Walk Harness, but this one is said to have an inferior quality. Walk Your Dog With Love Harness This is another front leading harness that prevents the dog from pulling by veering the dog off to the side. The strap across the chest is designed differently to the rest; it sits higher on the chest towards the neck and does not rely on constricting the chest to provide the correction, the steering to the side is dependable enough. All parts are completely adjustable. Behavioural Modification This is essentially training your dog not to pull rather than relying on tools to provide positive punishment/negative reinforcement and simply prevent them from being able to do so. There are several methods you can choose to do this. It should be noted that while still working through the early stages of training you should try to avoid locations or routes that are familiar to your dog, or locations where your dog will usually pull. Negative Reinforcement Not the kind of reinforcement you're thinking of I'll bet. Negative reinforcement is defined as the strengthening of a behaviour by giving the dog a chance to behave in a way that will avoid an unfavourable stimulus. With the idea of pulling in mind this boils down to the 'Stop....go...stop...go' method. Have the dog on a lead, in the heel position if you can (try getting the dog to sit and position yourself alongside). It helps to have a release word for your dog such as 'OK' so they know when they can start to head off. I have this for my dog and it is useful in many situations such as when I feed her – 'OK' tells her she can release from her sit and chow down! Once you're ready to set off tell the dog 'OK' and start walking forward. As soon as you feel any tension on the lead stop where you are and pull the dog back. Get the dog back into a heel position and start again. Eventually you'll notice the dog pulls less often because it learns when it does it has to stop and go back - they don't get anywhere by pulling. An alternative to this is to change direction when the dog pulls instead of stopping. The dog essentially learns the same thing - it doesn't get to where it wants to go by pulling. Changing direction also prevents the dog from getting a heading; it doesn't know what direction you're heading in and so will hang back and look to you for a direction instead (in principle!). This has to be incredibly consistent though - my housemate's dog was 'trained' like this but not well enough. Now when you take her for a walk she reaches the end of the lead, runs back to heel and then runs to the end of the lead again, effectively running in an oval shape the entire way to the field unless we're walking fast enough for her to just stay at the end of the lead! Here's a quick video that shows some of this in practice: 9y9K2uit1oQ Positive Reinforcement Now this will be what you had in mind! The definition of positive reinforcement is a behaviour being strengthened by the dog experiencing a favourable stimulus as a result of their behaviour. To use positive reinforcement to teach a dog not to pull you're going to want to make sure you've charged your clicker first - that is, make sure your dog knows that click means treat. This is very simple to do and in dogs doesn't usually require many repetitions before the dog understands. All you have to do is have your dog's attention, press the clicker and then immediately deliver a treat. Do this several times until you think they understand. To test, wait until your dog looks away and then click - they should look straight back at you expecting the treat. The positive reinforcement method of teaching a dog to walk on a loose lead is called the 300-peck method. This was developed by people who were training pigeons to peck in a lab environment. The general idea is to build distance and/or duration in a behaviour. For lead walking, have the dog set up as described before (in the heel position) and give the release word 'OK'. Take ONE step, then click and treat if the dog has not started pulling. Next take TWO steps, then click and treat if the dog has not started pulling. Then three, then four, and so on, clicking each time the criteria is raised (i.e. you add an extra step). If the dog starts to pull, stop where you are and get the dog into the heel position next to you again, release it and start walking again - but you must start from ONE step again. This is where things get tedious if the dog is insistent on pulling but this is the most successful method I have used and will always be my first choice. You should continue raising the criteria until you get to 300 steps. By then the behaviour should be fairly solid; now you can begin adding distractions one by one, and can begin walking your usual routes again. Try not to throw too much at the dog at once though - remember when training you always want to set the dog up to succeed, i.e. don't put them in situations where you know they are likely to fail - try to give them as much opportunity to be clicked and treated as possible. By the time you get to your 'finished product' the dog should have changed their way of thinking and developed a positive relationship with walking to heel/on a loose lead, as opposed to developing a negative relationship with pulling which is what tools teach. Either way you should now have a dog that is happy to let you take them for a walk, rather than them taking you! Here's a video showing how to teach the heel position and teaching your dog to stay with you when you stop: voW2Vkq0u6Q And here's a video demonstrating the 300-peck method (not the greatest but I can't find any really good ones!): d_DDKUiuz1w These aren't the only methods of teaching by any means. If none of the above works for you try having a flick around youtube for other methods, or speak to a professional.


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