Mastering the Walk without a prong

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by Borntoleadk9.com, Oct 4, 2006.

  1. Borntoleadk9.com

    Borntoleadk9.com Rescued Dogs are better

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    hi all

    in an effort to educate myself, i would like to pose a question to the trainers here that do not use the prong collar. i am being sincere and genuine when i say that i truly would love to hear your advice.

    whenever i am training a dog that pulls excessivley on walks, i have found that a prong collar usually fixes the problem in about 56.4 seconds. i joke. but it does work fast.

    for those that do not use prongs, how do you teach a dog not to pull and heel properly when they get excited and want to pull and "go play" somewhere else or run to greet an oncoming stranger?
     
  2. MomOf7

    MomOf7 Evil Kitty taco eater

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    I use a soft rope slip lead. I start out with no distractions. I walk in a rectangle or square. When turning I gently pull pull pull while saying heel to get the dog in line with me. If the dog lags behind, pull pull pull while saying heel. or if it pulls on me I stop pull pull pull to get the dog back to heel position. Of course I give lots of praise when the dog gets back at heel or is heeling correctly.
    The reason for the square or rectangular walk is to make my dog pay attention to me and where I am going. The quick sudden pivot and slight pulls helps keep the dogs attention to where I am going.
    After the dog has this down I will carry a stick or crop. (NOT TO HIT!) but to help guide. If the dog get a little too far ahead I take the stick and put it in front of the dog with a little pressure while its against it to push it back into heel. I use it for being too close, too far away, too far ahead or too far behind. I never..I repeat never hit my dogs. just use it against them to push them into place. Lots and lots of praise during this process. never is my dogs afraid or fearful of the stick.
    After my dog has that down we go off leash with just the stick. I use the stick to guide my dog.
    Then we go back to the beginning while we create some distraction and go through the whole process again.
    This is how I was taught and I know there are many different ways of getting your dog to heel correctly while on and off leash.
     
  3. dr2little

    dr2little Moderator

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    I always teach a "by me" or "heel" command off leash in the home with no distractions first. I'll use whatever motivates the dog, usually food but at times a tug toy may work better for a particular dog, and teach and proof the command first with graduated levels of distraction. Of course I fade the motivators once the behavior has been proofed with distraction.

    I think that one reason the people fail at teaching a dog not to pull is that they think that it's done with the leash on while on a walk. As soon as you snap on the leash, you've added a level of distraction BEFORE you've even begun the actual training. When the command is proofed indoors, I'll move it to an enclosed back yard, then with the leash on a quiet street...and so on.

    Dogs pull mainly because owners allow it to become a rewarding behavior, dogs will of course do what works. Putting on the breaks every time a dog pulls, changing directions, keeping attention throughout the walk, are all things that will help to stop pulling but teaching a "by me" or "heel" first are what I find most successful. I have used this technique with everything from heavy (100 lb. +) pullers to farrel dogs who had never seen a leash before. It takes some time but if owners are left with straight forward exercises and support, this doesn't have to be done with our (trainers/behaviorists) meters running.

    As far as competing motivators go, again, you have to SLOWLY transfer the behavior. The last place to TEACH loose leash walking is on a walk with lots of distractions. Setting the dog up for success gradually will ensure that the behavior remains no matter what the distraction. Of course using desensitization on strong triggers is a given.

    Realistically though, some dogs are very strong and do require more control than what a regular collar will provide, particularly if it's a large adult dog with a habitual pulling problem. So that walks don't come to a complete stand still and during the training phase, I will recommend the front clip harness or in rare cases a newtrix easy way collar to provide the owner and dog with a safety net while learning. I do however use dual ended leashes (one end on the collar and one end attached to the tool) so that training can progress and owners are not reliant on the tool but rather use it for the "just in case" situation.. Both of these tools have a safety attachment to the collar and due to their unique design dogs are not able to back out of either.

    I know that some trainers think that the fact that I never use prongs or choke chains makes me narrow minded but I have just seen so many unfortunate situations arise from using pain (and yes both pinch/prong and choke collars are used as a painful aversive) instead of actual behavior modification. To me it's about providing my owners with life long solutions with as few risks to both dog and owner. Timing with prongs and choke chains (hate when they're called "training collars") must be so specific so as not to creative anxiety around a trigger and so that the intended message is delivered, that I found that the percieved benefits didn't outweigh the risks. There are so many other tools that don't add the element of pain and negative associations yet still provide control that I've not had to use a prong in many, many years

    If loose leash were taught and proofed the way that we expect other behaviors to be taught and proofed, the quick fixes wouldn't be necessary.
    I think that we sometimes forget that tools are really only for control and really don't TEACH the dog anything. While it appears to many owners to have FIXED their problem, the prong, like other tools (front clip harnesses included)without proper training, are really a bandaid at best.

    Actual training does take time, but unlike with the use of a prong, the behavior remains with the dog rather than with the tool.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2006
  4. Borntoleadk9.com

    Borntoleadk9.com Rescued Dogs are better

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    thanks! thats something for me to work on.
     
  5. elegy

    elegy overdogged

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    heh. i wish a prong collar would have taught my dogs to walk nicely in 56.4 seconds lol. i still had to teach them the old-fashioned way with marking and rewarding what i wanted, a strong "look" command, etc. both of my dogs will pull right through a prong collar if they find it worth their while.
     
  6. dr2little

    dr2little Moderator

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    Great point! Punishment if applicable must be harsh enough to stop a behavior first time or it's useless.....lots of pain...still no gain..just doesn't cut it. With some dogs you'd need a lit torch and still it'd be just a tool..:yikes:
     
  7. silverpawz

    silverpawz No Sugar Added

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    I do use prongs for loose leash walking, but with certain dogs I do it a couple different ways.

    The "quick turn" is my favorite and it teaches the dog pretty quickly. I can usually do this with just a regular collar. I start out with the dog next to me, take a few steps, dog will often shoot out in front, so I turn quickly in the opposite direction BEFORE the dog gets to the end of the lead. This really does require good timing, as it's important to turn before the lead get's tight.

    Dog hits the end, realizes I'm "leaving him' and I encourage him to catch up. Praise tons when he does. Wash, rinse, repeat. (and watch out or you might get dizzy! lol)

    Even without a prong I can usually teach a dog to walk on a loose lead within about 20 minutes with this method. You have to stick it out though untill the dog gets it.

    I can also use the clicker in a "choose to heel" sort of fashion to teach the dog where he should be. No leash to start out with, just a lot of of treats, a clicker and me walking aimlessly untill the dog decides to check me out. When he eventually gets in the right position, I click and treat. I taught my BC how to heel like this in about five minutes. But he's a pretty smart a cookie. LOL
    For me, this way is more of a competition method than something I'd do with a pet dog that really pulls.

    In short. If I have a huge dog on the leash, I use a prong. I'm a a tiny person, barely 5'3 and 110 lbs soaking wet, I can't control a huge Rottie on just a buckle or else I might end up face first in the dirt.

    If I have a medium size dog, I often try the quick turn first without the prong. Both work well, some faster than others though.
     
  8. opokki

    opokki New Member

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    In the beginning, I simply stopped moving forward each time the leash tightened and then changed direction. I would also frequently change direction before the leash became tight whenever possible. I continued with that but shortened the leash and started using a clicker...clicking and treating for correct position, which ended up working better than I'd imagined.

    It took about 3 trials before she started to "get it" and several weeks before she was reliable. I only practiced 2-3 times per week but I think if I would have practiced daily and started out with the clicker right from the beginning she would have caught on much quicker.

    In puppy class, we use target training. The puppies are taught to touch a target...either the owners hand or a wooden spoon (for small breeds).
     
  9. dr2little

    dr2little Moderator

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    Another great technique! I use the clicker for loosh leash positioning markers too (forgot to add that) and it works really well. Target training is another fantastic way to make the message fun for a dog and it's very effective too!:)
     
  10. Boemy

    Boemy New Member

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    I don't like the term "choke collar" because if the collar's being used properly, the dog isn't choking. A "choke collar" has to be loose most of the time to be effective. Unfortunately, a lot of people just slap one on without learning how to use it and let their dogs gasp on the other end of the leash.

    Heeling with a lot of turns and about faces is a great way to keep a dog's attention. I also trained my dog not to step off the curb until I had, so she paid special attention at street corners. :)
     
  11. Borntoleadk9.com

    Borntoleadk9.com Rescued Dogs are better

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    if a choke collar is being used as designed, the dog is most definetly choking. they were designed to remove the air by strangulation. when you issue a correction you pullup on the leash and remove the ability for the dog to breathe. it gives the dog something to think about why all of a sudden they cant breathe. mostly used for dominant aggression in dogs. i dont use them but thats the point. also used in the show circuit to keep the head up straight.

    i just realized the point you were making, so disregard my above comment. you are right about what you said.
     
  12. cindr

    cindr Guest

    prong collars quick fix

    I use both. Neither one is better than the other. It's all about the use of the equiptment. If you use it wrong then your the lost the game all together. As far as the prong collar it is generally just to be termed as a quick fix and nothing more.

    We had a Dob name Shania, and did that name suit her. Now she was a bit of a pain at times so I went out and purchased a prong collar. So I would use it on her maybe 2 times and then hang it up in the equiptment room.

    Now if Shi would act out I would go to the equiptment room and grab the prong. Shake it and show it to her. Well as soon as she seen the stupid thing she'd straighten up in a heart beat. Did we abuse her with it? No- Not at any time. This is how we used it. I placed it up and behind the ear set. We would go for the walk. She would begin to forge. I would do a quick turn to the right and once I did that she would hit the end of it. She let out a yelp. Oh well you did that to yourself. So by doing this two or three times. Dog got the hint and the collar was them put away.

    Now our Shepherds see it they shake and wag hey going for a walk but they do that with anything I pull out.

    We had our Rottie trained to walk on a peice of binder twine. So it is all up to you in what you want to use. Just make sure you use it right rather than a weapon.
     
  13. IliamnasQuest

    IliamnasQuest Loves off-leash training!

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    First thing I do is I teach my dog how to be attentive - without attention, I have very little to base training on.

    I do this through a series of steps, marking and reinforcing for attentive behavior and gradually requiring longer amounts of attention before I reward. Once I get stationary attention, I can start taking a step or two, still marking and reinforcing that attention. As I've mentioned before, the tips for teaching attention are on my website (www.kippsdogs.com/tips.html).

    Using this method results in a dog that does that head-up attentive heeling:

    [​IMG]

    For walking on a loose leash, I still start with attention and name recognition, so the dog learns to look at me when I say his name. Then I refuse to move unless the leash is loose. Yep, it takes awhile at first. I mark any loose leash behavior and reinforce it, as others have already described. As the dog becomes more proficient at walking on a loose leash (or heeling, depending on what we're working on) I gradually increase the criteria by adding in more distractions. We do a LOT of work in various parking lots where people are walking by, eating, pushing carts, etc.

    Today I was working Khana (in the photo above) at the local mall. Kids were skateboarding past, people were pushing strollers and shopping carts, and some "cool" guy in a hot-rod car pulled up and blasted music - bass drum so loud you could feel the vibrations .. *L* (he'll regret that in about 20 years). Khana was absolutely solid, except for one time when three little kids got out of a car and were mesmerized by her. I had Khana do a bunch of tricks for them and rewarded her for that, but you could tell that what she wanted more than anything was to go over and be loved on by those kids! But she was a good girl and listened to me (the Mom told the kids not to go up to her, and I respected that).

    My thoughts on a prong collar is that it fixes nothing fast. It may provide an instant change in the dog's behavior (because the dog doesn't want the pain it provides). But it doesn't teach the dog anything except to not pull WHEN the prong collar is on. This is not training - this is merely using something aversive to stop a behavior. People who do this end up walking their dogs on a prong collar the rest of the dog's life because it never learns what it's actually supposed to do.

    My concept is that I want the dogs I work with to learn to walk on a loose leash even if it's only a piece of baling twine. I don't want people to have to run and find the prong collar in order to walk their dogs - they should be able to clip a leash on the dog's regular collar and go. So I use the method I mentioned above and it works great. On occasion I'll find a dog that is more easily distracted and determined to pull, and I will go to a Gentle Leader harness (the type that has the ring at the chest - this is not the head halter, it's the harness). I prefer this over the prong because I prefer to first try a tool that doesn't use pain. This is very effective. But, using tools like the GL harness or the prong doesn't mean the dog is trained - they simply give you an opportunity to train properly by keeping the dog from pulling long enough for you to mark and reinforce the "good" behavior. My philosophy is that you should use this as little as possible and work towards having a nicely behaved dog without having to use a tool to get them to walk quietly.

    Melanie and the gang in Alaska

    [​IMG]

    Khana heeling in her first rally competition
     
  14. cindr

    cindr Guest

    training

    Awsome demonstration and explaination. If anything someone should learn from your expertise.:cool:
     
  15. dr2little

    dr2little Moderator

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    Not trying to offend but this is just such a good example of why I would never use a prong to control "not teach" any dog...
     
  16. cindr

    cindr Guest

    No No No No; If the choke collar or training equiptment is used properly then there is NO reason the dog should be CHOKED. NOT EVER IS THIS TOOL TO BE USED IN A CRUEL ABUSIVE FASHION. THe truth of the matter. When you use the choke collar or training tool. It is to be kept loose around the neck. At no time what so ever should that collar be pulled tugged towed and or janked on any dog at any time.

    I can't stand that anyone would consider to use this training tool in this type of fashion. To be honest with you if I would catch you I would be the first one to put it around your neck and nail you or the person that was using it in such a way.

    When I use the collar. It is used right. The collar is on the dog. I am walking foreward dog is forging I would give a slight check to the collar where as it would make a noise. And state heal or Fouse. If the dog choose to continue I would then leave the leash loose where as the dog would be at the end of the 6 foot lead I then turn to the right quickly and the dog then hits the end of the lead. Once this happens the dog realizes what has happened then the dog goes to catch up with me. Now if the dog does something out of the ordinary then I give him a quick check and then release.

    I sincerly have a problem when people discuss a training tool that has been around longer than I have to state such a false hood. Not only that it is about getting the dogs attention and the dogs focus on the situation. Learn to get the dog to work on you and what you want from the dog. Rather than subjecting the dog to pain. That is not fair to any animal at any time.
     
  17. dr2little

    dr2little Moderator

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    This industry has changed more in the last 10 years than in it's entire history. You'll see more and more trainers choosing not to use aversive tools for a reason. Choke chains, prong/pinch collars and shock collars are ALL based on pain. If you'll review your last post about the prong, there's a reason your dog yelped. To say that it's the sound of the choke chain is an old and not exactly honest arguement. A collar with tags makes the same of similar sound but has no where near the same FEAR OF PAIN response.

    FACT - choke chains are responsible for more injuries than any other (collar) training tool currently on the market. I'm sure you'll also acknowledge, being in this industry for a fair amount of time, it is also the most widely misused along with prong/pinch and shock collars.

    There is no reason, and quite frankly we don't have the right, to use pain to try to control our dogs, or our clients dogs when so many viable alternatives exist today.
     
  18. cindr

    cindr Guest

    Yes Shi yelped and she was a soft dog. In that post I only used it once and never again on the dog. As far to say yes if the collars are used improperly they do cause injury. It is about learning and educating the owners how to use it. Rather than the improper ways of using it. Hey I would never ever put a dog in severe pain never have and never will. As a matter of fact I chose to imprint rather than use all of these cruel superfical antic's.

    I will be the first to take a piece out of your hide if I caught you using it improperly. And will state I have. I remember as situation where as a individual was using the tool improperly, I jumped all over them a Police Service Officer was right there. All I received from the Officer was a laugh and a statement Watch your temper. So no don't ever think that any of my dogs have been injured by me and or a tool that I have used for well over 37 yrs. I have trained well over 300 dogs in my day and none of them ever received a imporper correction or improper handling at any time.

    We have a code of ethic's that all students must sign, as well all and anyone that signs up for training on and or at my facility must supply a Police Clearance. If they can not then they are not welcome. So as far as I am concerned the tool can be used properly and correctly. If used improperly then that person needs to be litterally SHOT:popcorn:

    I hope that I have not caused any hurts here I just know that the tool can be used properly and yes can be used improperly. It is all about education.
     
  19. Julie

    Julie Are You Blowing Me Off?

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    Hmm. And you questioned my training methods?
     
  20. cindr

    cindr Guest

    Hi I appoligise but when did I question you? If I did anything and or said anything wrong I am sorry.
     

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