Tips? Best Lead For A Pulling Dog?

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Member Since
Barked: Mon Sep 17, '12 12:39am PST 
Hello again,

So first off I ought to start by saying my dog does have heel down pat, along with all the other normal stuff however she's got some reactive issues. When she sees something that interested her (Cat, dog, person, ect) all bets are off and she pulls as if their is no tomorrow. No command or even a favorite treat seems to snap her out of it.

So I'm wondering... Does anyone have any tips for what to do to get her to stop this? Lately she has been getting a tiny bit better however. Also, what is the best lead for a dog with pulling issues? In the present she's just got a normal collar, however I've been looking at some other things such as the Halti, and I'm wondering if it'd be good to try with her? Though problem is that she's a flat faced dog. A guessed mix of something like a pug, shih tzu, and some sort of terrier. (We go for a long run, play fetch, swim, and she's still running circles) So I'm not sure one of those would work?

Thanks for any help! big grin

The cheese ninja
Barked: Mon Sep 17, '12 1:51am PST 
If she's a little dog, I like the padded harnesses. They have different kinds on Amazon at pretty good prices. If the problem is that she's got a little too much pulling power on a regular leash, you could get a Kong leash with a padded handle, which keeps her from digging into your hand when she pulls.

It sounds like you might have a few different things going on there. Pulling toward cats, not always, but usually, is prey drive rather than reactivity. Is she growling at the cats, or is she freezing and then silently bolting towards them? For situations where she is pulling toward people in a happy/excited way (where she does not seem angry, anxious, fearful, or aggressive) you just don't let her say hi to people when she's pulling- ask her to heel, and if she doesn't, turn around and walk in the other direction or walk in a wide arc around whoever she wants to say hi to. If you ask for a heel and she gives it to you, she gets to say hi. If she is truly reactive, that's more complicated, but as a quick and dirty answer, pass by people and dogs at a distance she's comfortable with, so she looks at them but doesn't bark or growl, and then give her a treat as soon as she looks away from them.
Thor CGC

God of Thunder
Barked: Mon Sep 17, '12 9:16am PST 
I would NEVER use a head collar on a reactive dog. They lunge at the whatever it is and their head gets snapped to the side, damaging or even snapping their neck.

My friends dog has a nice fracture in her neck from these head collars so I would never recommend them for a dog that lunges.

Maybe a frontal closure harness or a martingale?


Barked: Mon Sep 17, '12 9:34am PST 
I would definitely use a padded harness. Nothing that chokes or tightens (like a martingale) on a small dog with a short neck. Because of her size and what I'd estimate her structure to be your choices are fairly limited.

Keep treats with you on all outings and try to distract her attention before she starts to react. Every reactive dog has a mental "safe distance". Figure out what distance triggers her and work from there.

Crazy Ball'O Fur
Barked: Mon Sep 17, '12 9:03pm PST 
Alright thanks everyone! cheer So I guess a harness of one of those sorts would be best. Anyone have any suggestions for brands and such?
Jackson Tan

Lad about town
Barked: Tue Sep 18, '12 6:36am PST 
Puppia makes a nice stretchy harness and buddy belt is a leather step in that keeps pressure off the neck. They are both good for little dogs.

Code name:- Farmcollie
Barked: Tue Sep 18, '12 2:22pm PST 
On the training side...a harness will not help your issue, although it will be safe for your dog.

My best piece of advice would be this:

If she's already pulling like a freight train and going bananas, you are too close to the distraction for training to take place. Back off a bit until she regains her composure, get her to respond to you. Then slowly re-approach the distraction and ask for that response. Continue as long as she keeps her cool. Retreat if she loses it. It won't be instantaneous progress, but you should be able to build up her self-control over time.

You also might find the "Look at That" protocol from Control Unleashed useful.

Edited by author Tue Sep 18, '12 2:30pm PST


Yes, I'm a boy,- just like the- deer!
Barked: Tue Sep 18, '12 3:08pm PST 
This sounds weird, but for Bambi I attach the leash to the front of the harness, not the back ring. Not sure what the type of harness he has is called, but it goes over their head and the left foot steps in and it buckles at the top to the right side of the dog. No pressure on the neck, but if he runs ahead I just turn to the side and he has to turn. The harness was like $3 at the store too. Got it at Goodwill (new though).

Not sure if the link will work, but here is what it looks like. http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=11188795

Barked: Thu Oct 4, '12 7:23pm PST 
Mini pinch collar along with distraction/training. Putting her in a harness will just give her something to lean into and build up tension on. The minute she reacts I would tell her no and turn directly around and start walking the other way, only turn around once she is calm. Also keep working on your heel. This is eventually what is best to use in sticky situations like this.

Barked: Sat Oct 6, '12 1:24pm PST 
Once your dog is reacting her brain has shut down which is why nothing works and nothing will, the only way to deal with reactive issues is to keep them at a distance where they don't react, that sounds a lot easier to say than do but the more you keep her at that distance the less reactive she will become. As she gets more used to NOT reacting you will find you can get closer to what she reacts to.

No lead will stop a dog doing anything apart from not being able to get away from you. A dog that is reactive should never be walked on a collar, when they are reacting they can do a lot of damage to their neck, trachea and larynx which will cost thousands to correct and some dogs will have to have a tracheotomy in. I once took on a dog that had to have this put in.

If you walk her on a harness and use a lead clipped to her collar for extra security should be fine, have the lead clipped to the collar thinner than the one on the harness so you can distinguish them easily. You only need to use the lead clipped to the collar when she starts to react. Once she is reacting get her away from the situation as fast as you can.

A harness will control her body, you will be able to hold her close to you, a collar will give you more control over her neck and to a smaller degree her head. By using the 2 when needed, you are controlling both her body, nexk and head.