I was in Lithonia at a new Home Dog Training client last week working with him and his three year old Rottweiler named Randy. Randy was a very good dog and we solved all of his standard behavioral issues such as jumping, not listening, counter surfing, and not paying attention while in the house. I forgot to mention that Randy was also over 100 lbs and loved to go on walks. The big problem was that Randy was completely uncontrollable on walks. It wasn’t that he was aggressive, he just wanted to go everywhere at the same time and “completely forgot” that he was walking on a leash. They had already tried all the “normal tricks” for “bad walkers” such as walking on a short and controlled leash, attaching the Holt “nose harness” or walking with the Gentle Leader. None of these worked and or client said that they appeared to make him even moire crazy. So, what did we do next?
Coincidentally, I had this same problem on a training visit with a prior client and his Sheppard two weeks earlier. As with my current client, the Shepherd just wouldn’t calmly heel and was bat crazy while on a walk. I used a technique that worked wonderfully for the Shepherd and I was very sure that Randy would also show great results from the same training exercise.
The method I used and was about to introduce to Randy is for specialized cases when the dog is big, strong, and not listening. I emphasized to my client that the exercise is not something that is used for most dogs. It is not for everybody.
The first thing I did was to switch from the regular collar my client was using to an Easy Walk harness. The difference between a regular collar and Easy Walk harness is that the collar will pull the dog back from the rear of the neck. He will never loose focus on what is ahead and could become more adrenalized from the action. The Easy Walk harness is designed to have the leash attach at the dog’s chest. When you pull the leash on a dog wearing an Easy Walk harness, he will have a tendency to “swing around” back towards you. This is a good thing.
With the equipment change, I took for the leash. Instead of having it at a “short leash”, I held it by the leash handle. There was six feet of loose leash between me and crazy Randy.
My client’s dog glanced and then started to run out to the end of the leash. As soon as he got there and started to pull, I tugged back on the leash very strongly and directed him back to me. During this entire time, I continued to walk and did not make a big deal of the redirection back to me. The Rottweiler glanced at me again and then slowly began to walk out in front; approaching the length of the leash again. I strongly corrected him again. This time I didn’t have to give him as strong a tug to get him to look back and slow down.
After doing this several times, my client’s crazy Rottweiler was walking very near to me and never ran out to the end of the leash to pull and tug. We would pass kids, animals, and cars. The client’s dog would not lunge out and stay right by my side.
It was just the first day, so the problem was not completely mitigated. I still needed to give him slight corrections from time to time. I want to unequivocally state that I never did anything to choke or hurt my client’s dog. I was simply giving him very clear signals that “you can’t go that way”.
Another thing I need to mention is that some dogs need a little more room to “move around” when walking. I noticed this immediately when I began to walk Randy. Because of this, my walking technique with Randy allowed for a little bit more leash to walk “near me” but not “really near me”. I simply put the Rottweiler in a situation where he could clearly understand what he needed to do and that I had the ability to let him understand what was right and wrong.
I want to emphasize that this technique isn’t for everybody. My client was able to handle the dog if he lunged, had a clear grasp of the technique I was displaying, and was able to successfully apply it, if needed. We also observed that Randy always remained in a calm, learning mode. None of the actions we used hurt him or frightened him.
Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 or (770) 718-7716 if you need any dog training help. We are blessed to have been your local dog training professionals for over fifteen years. We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.