click for home page
ARTICLE

Use the Articles List to select other articles or go the the HOME PAGE

 

Bookmark and Share

SANDMAN REVIEWS


A gripping psychological read with characters that reach out and grab you. A real page turner.

SOPHIE KING
bestselling author of The Wedding Party and other novels

Sandman touches our primary emotions: jealousy, love, fear, hatred, and grief... Kingsley has written an intriguing mystery/psychological thriller with interesting, believable and well-developed characters. There are twists, turns, red herrings, and a healthy dose of hair-raising fear and suspense to keep even the most fickle reader captivated. The dialogue is authentic, and, along with the scene-painting narrative, you’ll feel like you’re on the beach witnessing the unfolding action.
Highly recommended to readers who enjoy a great mystery!

WILLIAM POTTER
Reader’s Choice Book Reviews
(5 Star Rating)

Stop your dog pulling—and start enjoying your walks

I'm on my third dog now and I know how pulling on the lead can be such an annoying problem. Yet it doesn't have to be that way, and I hope to show, in this article, how you can cure your dog of this problem so you can actually relax and enjoy walking with your dog again. It will show you how to train your dog from pulling—or how to cheat and buy the right product for an instant cure!

Stop Progress

Your dog wants to get somewhere fast, he's impatient. Off to the park? Come on, Dad, Mum, let's go. It's exciting at the park. Let's get to it. Follow me! And so you trail in Fido's wake, feet hardly touching the ground. How do you teach Fido that's not the way to do things? Shout at him? No, that won't really work, I guess you've proven that. It only adds to his general excitement, right? So what can you do to cure it? Stop. Simple. Just stop! Stopping your progress every time the dog pulls eventually sends a message to the dog that pulling leads to the exact opposite of progress towards the park. Keep quiet and patient with this exercise, since shouting merely adds to the confusion and anger just gets your dog worked up and even more anxious to get to the park and away from this dreadful training exercise! Just stop, wait until the dog stops pulling on the lead, then slowing take off again—until the next pull.
I suggest this exercise is best linked to the reward of going off the lead in the park or somewhere nice, so Fido learns that behaving well leads to this excellent treat. If this is not practical, then make sure he has a nice play with you in the garden chasing a ball, or whatever he likes best, as a reward for putting up with the training exercise. He will eventually learn you are willing to play with him if he behaves on walkies.

Reverse Progress

If the above fails to work, you need to step it up a level. Instead of stopping, turn around and head off in the opposite direction. The dog will find this puzzling, but eventually he will get to realise that pulling has a very unfortunate effect and he will eventually learn how not pulling is a far more effective method of getting his own way: progress in the right direction. As before, this exercise should end with a nice playtime off the lead—one in which you are also involved.

Treat Training

A further level up from 'Stop Progress' and 'Reverse Progress' is Treat Training. With this method, you are going to instantly reward good behaviour. Get some tasty but small doggy training treats and feed a few to Fido saying "treat" just before you hand over, so he gets to the point that hearing "treat" will prick up his ears and get him ready for the tasty treat. For even greater success, make your own by thinly slicing really tasty sausages: not cheap ones, dogs are very discerning! Or small pieces of cheese are good. You need a treat bag so that you can gain instant access to these treats. Treats must be given the instant Fido is doing things right, so no fumbling is allowed. A good idea is to get one in your hand ready for the next reward.
Use the above 'Stop Progress' and/or 'Reverse Progress' methods, but add the fact that when your dog is doing things right, you give him a treat. When your dog happens to be walking perfectly to heal, alongside and not ahead of you, say "Good heel. Treat!" and then immediately offer him a treat. By immediately, I mean within a second maximum! You can say "Good heel" in an encouraging way without treating, so he is getting verbal praise when he is walking to heel, but reserve "Treat" for the times you are actually going to add the treat. Gradually space out the treat handouts as he gets better. If you end up giving your dog lots of treats as a result of all this, remember to cut back in proportion on his normal meal: you want a good dog at the end of all this, not a fat dog!

Click Training

Click training is brilliant, providing you do it right. Buy a click trainer at your pet shop and read the instructions carefully. You must appreciate the fact that whenever you click you must also treat—within a second. This method is like the above 'Treat Training', but the click replaces the verbal "treat" message. Only ever use a single click at a time, for multiple clicks, or unrewarded clicks, will desensitise the dog to the sound and the whole effectiveness will be lost. (So don't let anyone else play with your clicker, either!)
The advantage of this is that because the click sound is so distinctive, it goes right into the dogs brain. Pre-condition him, as before, by clicking and treating, so the click makes him look to you for the immediate treat. Only when this connection is made can you go walkies armed with clicker and treats. If you cannot buy a clicker, or do not want this particular encumbrance, provided you can do a loud click with your tongue, this will suffice.
So this is the way it goes. Walk. When your dog is at heel, click and treat. Gradually space this out as he becomes better. Eventually you will have a new dog.
I would suggest that you combine this with stop-sit at pavements when good progress is achieved with heel. Click and treat following the sitting.

Harness Solutions

If the above training methods fail with your dog—maybe because you just don't have sufficient patience, or the dog is just too obstinate, then there is every chance that a non-pull harness will provide the solution for you. Google 'non-pull harness' for a selection; Amazon usually comes up as a good source.
Avoid cord-only versions since the small cross-section and movement can make your dog really sore under the legs (eg check out this feedback for one I would not recommend).

The Sporn Non-Pull Harness

I have used the Sporn non-pull harness myself and found it really good. The majority of user reviews on Amazon tend to agree it is good, often miraculous, as I found, although there is the odd review that also talks of rubbing—although, I would suggest, this might be due to incorrect fitting. Mine worked instantly!
This harness should be adjusted to suit the body and check the manufacturer's website to ensure you get the correct size after measuring your dog's neck and to watch a video on YouTube about fitting and using this harness. You need to adjust the straps for a good fit, and then slide the cord-lock on the lead section down near to the metal coupling plate. This harness incorporates a front mesh to spread the load and padded straps where it goes underneath the do to make it comfortable and avoid rubbing. Slide the cord-lock up the lead section until there is at least a 4" distance to the metal plate when putting the harness on or off to ensure sufficient slack in the straps which you need to guide each leg through. Watch the video to see how to do this. It's easy. If you forget to slide the cord-lock down after fitting, the loops will hang down in the way beneath the dog.
Here's a tip. If your dog is going for a swim, I would suggest taking the Sporn harness off first to prolong its life. This harness worked so well for us that my wife wanted to buy a second one, as a reserve, on the first day—just in case we couldn't a replacement at some future date!
If your dog still significantly and constantly pulls with this product, I would quickly discontinue using it in case it makes him sore underneath. This is very unlikely scenario but it might occur in extreme cases, with very strong (or strong-willed) dogs. I imagine the following alternative would be far less likely to cause any such problem. But do ensure the 'Sherpa sleeves' of the Sporn are at the bottom of their cords so cord movement is not adjacent to the dog's body. Correct adjustment is essential.

The Gentle Leader Easy-Walk Harness

Another harness I have heard good reports about is the Gentle Leader. Check out these details and the two videos for further information on this product. It looks equally good and probably more suitable for dogie-swimmers!

Conclusion

You can buy both these harnesses via Amazon (eg in the USA and the UK).
Training your dog becomes much easier if you understand how your dog's brain works; read my article of understanding how to communicated with your dog for what might be a useful insight.
Good luck with your dog training. I wish you every success and hope this article helps make your life easier and your walks a whole lot more relaxing. And since you like dogs, my novel SANDMAN includes a very clever dog: it is integral to the plot! Why not read it? Apart from doggie matters, is it a psychological thriller set against a beautiful backdrop.


Please select other articles from the Articles index page which
should already be open. They will all open in this window.