my puppy pulls the lead throughout the entire walk
by Jess Mason
Hi I'm really hoping you can help me.
My 5 month old puppy Tori is a Lhasa apso crossbred with an italian greyhound, we've had her for two months now and she's doing really well. The most pressing issue I have is that on our daily walks Tori will pull me throughout the entire walk, she does a strange almost bunny hop and after a while she will start gasping from the pressure on her collar. Obviously I don't want Tori's throat to become damaged because of this and also because of her putting all of her strength into pulling me forwards I'm left in physical pain in my shoulder.
I take her for a walk on a homeline and have it slightly longer than a standard lead (she refused to walk with the other lead). I have tried stopping and waiting until the lead goes slack and was waiting for around 15 minutes, I praised her and set off again only for her to instantly pull again. I've repeated this process for around 2 and a half weeks with absolutely no progress. I've tried turning directions when she pulls but this does nothing as she continues to pull. I have considered getting an anti pull harness from a reputable pet shop near my home but I feel that in some way I'm not teaching her properly. Plus I'm not sure the harness would teach her not to pull if I ever took her out without the harness on.
I originally thought the problem was because Tori wanted to sniff at everything she came across but I stop every so often and allow her to sniff to her hearts content before setting off again. This hasn't done anything to lessen the fact that she pulls. Despite this I really enjoy her walks purely because she is happy, sociable and friendly with the other walkers. Only because of the worry over her neck and the pain in my left arm/shoulder I'm beginning to dread taking her for walks. Is there anything you can suggest that might help?
This type of pulling can be a real problem because it could definitely damage her trachea and is causing you pain!
There are a few things I'd recommend, and one of them is to try a harness. I understand your concerns that this won't teach her to stop pulling but it will take the pressure off her neck (and your shoulder) which is a good short term move.
Plus I'd suggest enrolling her in a basic obedience class so that you can work with her on the 'heel' command with a training collar and leash with the eventual aim of walking her with a collar and leash and giving up the harness (or at least having the option of doing either without difficulty).
Hands on help from a professional trainer is really useful in this type of situation.
If you're using a regular flat collar, I'd recommend switching over to a training collar, and a prong collar is actually more gentle and safer than a plain chain 'choke' collar. But as your puppy is probably small and has a thin coat a choke chain may work well enough. It's something you'd have to figure out through trial and error.
Using a training collar like this will allow you to make a quick, sharp tug (often called a 'pop') on the collar as a correction. She will notice that whereas she has become immune to the steady pressure on her neck from the collar/technique you are using now. It's also much less likely to hurt her throat.
Part of her pulling behavior may be due to the breed characteristics of the Italian Greyhound in her. They're fast hounds who want to chase anything that moves and so that may be making the situation more of a challenge.
With the right equipment and some hands-on professional help I think you'll be able to overcome this issue though, so do stick with it.
Hope this helps, best of luck.
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