It’s not uncommon to see a dog owner passing by on the street, dragging behind an over-eager pooch that is wheezing and panting excitedly as they pull and strain against the leash. It might be a little amusing to see the dog taking the owner for a walk, but this sort of behavior can also be dangerous. Leash pulling can cause damage to the dog’s neck or throat and it can be much easier for an excited pup to slip out of a collar, running off in front of a car with no guarantee of returning to safety without a strong recall.
‘Heel’ is the most important command when out on a walk, as it can relieve much of the tension that can harm both your dog and you. It can also mean that your walks are more pleasant and your four-legger will be less likely to bolt towards a distraction. There are a few strategies and tools that exist to help you teach the perfect ‘heel’. The prong collar is one of the more popular tools out there.
When used safely, the prong collar can protect your dog against injury. Even pressure is applied around the neck without having a strong pull on a specific area such as the throat. This collar can help you teach your best buddy to walk along beside you, making your outing more pleasurable for both of you.
A prong collar is made up of a series of connected links with open ends that face inward toward the neck. A proper fit prevents tracheal damage on an eager pooch who tends to pull excessively when walking. The Herm Sprenger collar is a popular brand that has rounded tips that do not poke into your dog's neck. Sometimes used in beginner obedience classes, the collar is also effective when teaching a dog to walk calmly and in the heel position.
Proper use of this type of collar entails self-correction. For instance, when you are teaching your pup to heel and they continue to move forward, they will tighten the collar and come to a halt. They are then gently reminded that they are in training to learn how to heel.
The prong collar is only used for training and should not be left on your dog afterward. Timid dogs or pooches that do not pull when walking won't need the prong collar.
To teach the heel command, find a prong collar with the appropriate fit for your dog. The collar should be fitted behind the ears and up towards the head, rather than around the base of the neck. If you’re unsure of the size or fit, ask your veterinarian for advice. Other than that, you may need a handful of treats, a sturdy leash, and a little bit of persistence to obtain the results you want. Rushing to teach your furry buddy can be discouraging for them, so it’s important to take your time when helping your dog understand what you want.
Loose leash walking has been a semi-challenge as Archie is a very, very curious guy. We have recently started using a pinch collar for walks and it has been a huge help as Archie no longer pulls constantly — but there is still more fine-tuning that I could use some help in learning so our communication optimal.
Hello Paul, Check out the Turns method from the article I have linked below. The directional changes and changes in speed can help pup learn to pay attention to where you are and learn to follow better - since pup isn't able to anticipate where you will go next as much. That combined with the prong collar (with a bit of slack in the leash so that pup won't feel the prong collar when they stay with you. You want the leash to look like a slight J shape as far as how much slack to give), and the rewards for when they are heeling really well can help you work up to harder distractions gradually so the prong is depended on less for the majority of the walk because pup is paying better attention throughout most of it. Turns method for heeling: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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