Clicking With Canines

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Stop the pulling and stop the choking!

PULLING YOU DOWN THE SIDEWALK IS NOT THE WORST THING HAPPENING WHEN YOUR DOG PULLS....YOUR DOG MAY BECOME AGGRESSIVE!

There simply is no greater disservice you can do to your dog than allowing it to pull on its leash when being walked. Dogs are not born with the desire to pull on a leash.  Instead, it is a behavior that people actually teach their dogs.  It starts with the very first time a collar and leash is put on a puppy.  The puppy simply wants to explore the world, but now with a collar and leash it is prohibited from doing so freely.  The puppy pulls to go forward and the human willingly complies.  After all, its just a puppy right?  

The puppy learns very quickly that keeping the leash tight allows it to go forward AND it keeps their human coming with them.  Simply a fact of life when living with humans!  All appears fine until the puppy grows up.  Going for a walk with your now grown dog becomes a very unpleasant thing to do.

However, all is not fine when a puppy pulls.  The biggest problem is NOT that your puppy or grown dog is pulling you down the street.  By far, the most serious issue is about what is happening to your happy go-lucky, "the-whole-world-is-wonderful" puppy.  By allowing your dog to pull, you may be allowing your dog to become reactive to other dogs, people, and objects.

Dogs learn by association.  Let's say your puppy sees another dog when pulling on leash.  Initially your puppy just wants to go meet the other dog.  It starts pulling hard on the leash resulting in the puppy feeling choked.  You hear your puppy gasping for breath.  You may even pull back on the leash in an attempt to regain your puppy's attention.  This makes the choking sensation worse.  Now, if this scenario is repeated every time your puppy sees another dog, or a kid on a skateboard, or the friendly neighbor across the street, it doesn't take long before your nice, friendly puppy will begin to associate the choking sensation, which acts as punishment, with the other dog, person, or object.

That's right!...your dog will start thinking that the other dog is causing the pain and choking.  From your dog's point of view:  "Every time I see the dog across the street I get choked!  That dog must be doing it too me!  That dog is DANGEROUS!"  Next, you will notice your dog becoming reactive to the other dog, and maybe even all dogs.  As soon as the other dog (or person or object) is in sight, your dog will begin to lunge,growl, and/or bark, possibly with its hair raised along its back.  Your dog is saying:  "There's that dangerous dog again!  Hey, you'd better not choke me this time...GRRRRR!!!"

What happens?  Your dog lunches forward and gets choked again.  But now you think your dog is suddenly being aggressive and to restrain your dog you yank back on the leash even harder.  This makes the choking and pain even worse.  Then you may raise your voice and scold your dog.  This only confirms what he believes he has learned:  "I THOUGHT that other dog was dangerous and I must be right because my human is BARKING at it too!"

A vicious and endless cycle has begun.  Your dog gets worse and worse and you try more force to prevent it from happening.  You seek advice from a trainer and they recommend a choke or pinch collar.  Such devices only make the problem worse!  You may gain control with them, but your dog learns to simply HATE other dogs or people.  You dog has learned exactly what you have inadvertently taught it:  That other dogs, people, or objects are BAD and the best defense is a good offense.

PLEASE...IF YOU RESPECT AND LOVE YOUR DOG, DO NOT PLACE THESE TYPE COLLARS ON YOUR DOG!  NOR LISTEN TO ANYONE WHO RECOMMENDS THEM AS A TRAINING METHOD.

Steve Benjamin, KPA CTP
Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner
Karen Pryor Academy Faculty Member
P.O. Box 5715
Endicott, New York 13763
607-217-0428
PLEASE...SPAY and NEUTER