We both struggled with walking our dogs, both for separate reasons, but it all seemed to be rooted in the same place.
I would walk Luna and pray there was no one nearby because she was so friendly, yet so big. It was a big, hyper puppy that sounded like she was going to eat someone, who did not understand why she couldn’t lick everyone’s face. Now, she did not just drag me down the road as other dogs have before, but it was not a pleasant experience, so much as an anxious one. I had to stay hyper-aware of my surroundings so I could maintain her.
Branden, on the other hand, was having the issue that no matter how many runs or walks he gave Diesel, he would pull and pull till he couldn’t breathe, then pull more. To this day we still make it a game to attempt to pinpoint what kind of breed mixture he is. Whatever it may be, his nose gets him in so much trouble. He would pull towards anything he wanted to if he smelled something that piqued his interest.
Even as a puppy, Diesel was a well-behaved dog.
He is just really stubborn.
He always seems to want his way and will fight tooth-and-nail, literally, to get his way. It was the hardest part about raising him, but I assume most dogs are just simply that way. His desire to smell caused him to put an unexpected wet nose up women’s skirts, knock over toddlers because of his aggressive sniffing, and just outright invade all personal space just to sniff you for an awkward amount of time, even for a dog.
We had both been working on training our dogs for some time. We are both the type to search out information, so we had looked online at a vast amount of free knowledge on this. Cesar Milan was a huge help to us in training our dogs as well as understanding them on a deeper level. That was a key because it was really us not the dogs that needed training when you break it down. We had to rewire our thinking on how we handled our dogs on the walk, not how the dogs reacted to it. Once we used a confident manner and demanded to be the leader, they fell in line.
The reality is we are still working on it but we instantly felt a change after applying the conscious control aspect to this.
We wanted to get a high neck collar in the style Cesar recommended. We were tired of spending walks sitting and waiting for them to be calm, and feeling out of control. The dogs were also beginning to misbehave with Kalilah. Not that they disobeyed but they knew she was not the pack leader and it was hard for her to take them out or walk without them being disrespectful.
The way a Gentle Leader works is really amazing. When the dog pushes forward, the collar puts the pressure across the back of the head, between the ears. The dog’s body responds to that by stopping, in the same way, that a harness creates a constant state of pushing against it for the dog, this creates a stop reaction, using that same resistance only in a different area of their body. It has helped Diesel tremendously and we have been grateful to experience· the change in his behavior. Instead of your dog choking themselves trying to sniff something or attack someone, and possibly injurying themselves pulling on a traditional collar, they simply stop and just seem to enjoy the walk.
You could tell Diesel felt more confident and was walking more comfortably next to Branden. He used to just spend the entire walk attempting to drag you, regardless of how fast you went.
Branden had taken this dog for long runs before a walk even, it never wore him out. We put this tiny harness over his head and boom, he felt like he knew where he went, lmost to the point you could steer him as you would a horse. He still sniffed the air, but instead of the nose to the ground, anxious dog, he was high stepping and head in the wind, looking forward with nothing but confidence.
Luna was another story, she HATED the head collar. She spent most of the time trying to paw it (and most often successfully) off her snout. The issue was she had started pulling on walks on top of the already excited personality. Now Luna may be a puppy, but remember, she’s a 70lb puppy at the time of this starting. I am a 5’4 lady, I have to be in control.
So we worked on it.
She still does not like it but it absolutely gives me instant control of her when she loses her “Marmadukes” over a kid she wants to play with or a cat she wants to eat? Or maybe play with?
It’s hard to distinguish at points, so far she seems to really hate cats.
So we have a lot of training ahead, but overall the Gentle Leaders have helped us and our puppers. We got ours on Amazon for around $15 each and use our regular leashes with them. They are so small we were afraid to use them without regular collars and leads as a backup that since use alone. They really do teach them to not pull forward, in a gentle way that will not hurt them when used properly.
We wrote this to share our personal experience so hopefully some of you will not make the same mistakes. We love walking our dogs, and we are so grateful that we are able to walk them as long as we would like completely stress-free.
Comment on what method you use, and whether or not you have tried any of ours.