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Dear TAGS: What’s the best method against pulling?

Hilary asked:

I have had a few people recommend a certain way of putting on our dog’s leash to reduce his pulling. Basically it’s as follows: run the leash along the dog’s back to its hips; wrap the leash around the dog’s waist under its belly and loop the leash through itself to make a slip tie (it has a special name but I can’t remember what!). This technique has worked wonders for us and results in much less pulling; however, my husband is concerned about the pressure of the leash on our dog’s waist/hips. What is your take on this technique? Do you recommend it?
Our certified trainer answered:

To find out if that method of using a leash could harm your dog, you should consult your veterinarian. However, there are many other options available that will most certainly help you keep your dog from pulling.

One of the primary reasons people attend our classes is to address a dog that pulls them off their feet or acts “aggressive” on leash. If you haven’t yet taken an obedience class, you could start with that.

But there are also great tools on the market to help you teach your dog how not to pull. Which one is right for you is a personal decision.
Dog with gentle leader. CC image courtesy of krossbow on Flickr.

I have always used the veterinarian-developed Gentle Leader head halter.  When the Gentle Leader first hit the market, it was sold only through veterinarians and trainers, who would ensure a proper fit for the dog. Now pet stores are selling them, and I have a concern that they are not fit and used properly. The principle behind the Gentle Leader is simple: control the head, control the dog.

Several years ago, anti-pull harnesses hit the market. They offered a different approach. Rather than using a halter-style, the harness was designed to cover the dog’s body to reduce the dog from pulling. They work well, and I have never heard of any issues with them. Again, remember these are special harnesses for teaching dogs not to pull; they are not a regular-style harness, which will make some dogs pull more.
Dusty pulls a lot less with this special type of harness

In the old days, choke collars were used, and we were taught to “correct” the dog by snapping the chain until the dog responded to our command. I would never use a choke collar or a pinch collar! Why would we use tools that can harm our dogs and that most pet owners do not use correctly?

So, ultimately, what is the goal? Most owners are happy to use the tool that eliminates the pulling—end of story. As a trainer, though, I ask, Is your dog learning? Tools should be used to teachyour dog. And they must be used correctly. Walks are opportunities for training, challenging and rewarding your pet. Make the most of them!

If you have any questions concerning your pet, send us an email or ask it on Facebook or  Twitter or in the comment section below.

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