It can take ages to get your dog to walk well on a lead. I don't like to train using harsh equipment, so clicker training and some patience is often the best way.
Nevertheless, I recently discovered and started using a Perfect Fit harness at home as well as at work. A harness made of three different parts (for a perfect fit... genius), and most crucially with a double connection: one on the back, but also one at the front, on the dog's chest. I can honestly tell you that this extra connection makes all the difference.
There are a few reasons why using a harness is good for you and your dog: they are more comfortable than collars (vets often see damage made to the neck and spine largely caused by the dog pulling on the lead), but the pressure can also restrict breathing, reducing oxygen intake, increasing anxiety and stress.
So, what makes this harness really special is the double connection. Let me explain... if the dog is attached from the neck or the back only, when the lead tightens, the dog's first reflex is to pull back. This is called the Opposition Reflex, discovered as the Freedom Reflex by Nobel Prize, Ivan P Pavlov (1949 - 1936). Because of this, a single connection can often get the dog to pull back.
Here comes the science bit... concentrate...
The second connection (the one on the chest) will be linked to the first (the one on the back) so you can alternate the hold and the pulling between both connections. Therefore there is nothing for the dog to pull against and the opposition reflex is never triggered.
Suddenly, there is a real connection on both sides of the lead. Lead walking becomes very intuitive; direction can be communicated simply using the connection at the front, and speed, using the connection at the top. Your dogs starts walking next to you rather than in front of you.
It is still worth adding training and positive reinforcement during the walk, so you can eventually move to using a single lead. Because ideally we'd all really like to use that beautiful leather lead that was bought in a fancy shop the day after you got your puppy.
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