Here’s an email that rolled in yesterday.
It’s from longtime subscriber and friend Michael Y.
Here is his question:
"Where do you stand on the gentle leader? Older couple has Irish Setter and is hard to control. Obedience class told him to go with gentle leads which works but the dog HATES it. What say ye ?"
Good question. I use gentle leaders a lot. I like them more than the harnesses and in the early stages of training, it is not a good idea to use any strong adversives. So a gentle leader works out great.
But gentle leaders are not the easiest to use when you first put one on a dog. I would say about 90% of them HATE it and most people give up too soon and stop using them because their dog blows a gasket every time it is put on.
So over the years I've worked hard to get dogs to accept them so the owner can walk the dog without resorting to choke or prong collars on a dog just learning to walk on leash.
Getting the dog to accept and stop fighting the collar takes a little work and the fastest way to make it happen is to use…..
….a combination of treats and…..(GASP) negative reinforcement.
Hold on, hold on, before you get all upset because I mentioned using negative reinforcement hear me out.
The last thing you want to happen is to put on the gentle leader and let the dog pull it off. The dog quickly learns to fight hard to get it off.
To prevent this we use a little negative reinforcement.
There is one word that best describes negative reinforcement. That word is….
So when a dog I have on a gentle leader starts to fight, I lift up on the leash. I hold the pressure until the dog stops fighting. The dog’s paws ARE NOT lifted off the ground. I simply keep pressure in the leash so it is impossible for the gentle leader to come off.
Once the fighting stops, I let the pressure off and reward the dog. I repeat this until the dog no longer fights the gentle leader. Now I can walk the dog without fighting and the dog learns to accept it.
I also do some exercises to help the dog like the collar. I put the collar on and give treats. I feed meals with the gentle leader on and associate it with good stuff.
Within a short period of time you can get most dogs to accept and walk with the gentle leader. It is well worth it because the gentle leader really can bring big, strong dogs under control.
The gentle leader is a management tool and helps teach the dog to walk without pulling. Eventually you want to get rid of the gentle leader and walk without it. The good news is The Dog Training Inner Circle is loaded with videos and articles to help you train your dog to walk on leash without pulling.
The best part is you can get started for just $1.00!
Here’s where to go NEXT: