About a week ago, I felt a need to up my training regimen with Pete. He was constantly pulling me forward very forcefully for portions of our walks. I forgot who, but someone said to me, You gotta stop that now. He’s only going to get bigger – do you want him pulling you then?
Crap, no I don’t. So, both Jeremy Yoda and this guy I see around the neighborhood periodically, Itzik, told me that whenever Pete tries to pull me ahead forcefully, I should just do a 180° turn and begin walking the opposite way. If he races past me and begins dragging me again, just 180º again. Itzik said right away – just a few times of this constant turning around – and Pete would get it instantly and stop pulling. Well, I tried this a few times, and it had, like, no effect on Pete whatsoever. It was like bullets bouncing off of Superman’s chest or something; just woefully useless. Plus, sometimes, I’m not in a hurry and there is time to make the whole walk about this lesson/exercise, and it doesn’t matter if we make it around the block or not. But what about when I bring Pete on an errand with me to the post office – when time is of the essence, and I’m trying to cross a few errands off my list before noon, and there just isn’t time to go stupid back & forth so much?
So, I also began another method – emulating this woman I saw in the park once. She was holding her dog’s leash very tightly, with almost no lead; basically holding the dog right next to her. And she would slowly, carefully take a few steps forward and then STOP. (and holding the dog in place, making him obey to stop in line with her). Then, she would walk a few more steps, and again – STOP. I tried this with Pete, along with even giving him big old jerks backwards where he would actually fly up off the ground as I pulled him back to me, hard. Plus, when he was walking calmly like I wanted, I would reward him with treats and praise. None of these things had any effect on him. Pete would be very good at stopping right in line with me. But once we started moving again, he would strive forward with all his might. And when I’d let some temper go and yank him totes hard a few feet in the air right back to me, it had absolutely no affect; it was like trying to shoot Michael Myers or something, and he doesn’t even flinch but keeps coming right at you. I swear, I would have to yank Pete with everything I got for like 100 times in a row for him to actually get it, and I just don’t have the stomach for that. I already feel guilty; bad. Like I’m hurting him, even though he doesn’t yelp or cry, only charges forward again.
So, I asked my friend Oren about this one afternoon in the dog park. Get a choke chain, he said, with no trace of guilt. They’re not cruel…he’ll catch on quick that he had the power to stop it from feeling so tight if he just doesn’t pull you…you gotta be Alpha, Scott; show him who’s boss….Stevie has one, and he pointed to his dog, who was sportin’ a choke chain, sure enough.
I wasted no time, and went right to Roi’s pet shop on the way home from the dog park. I thought maybe the one I got was too big, but Roi said it was just right. I kept Petey’s cute patterned collar on that his Aunt Betz got him, because when we’re not walking, the choker is kinda big and hangs down a little on Pete, so his other collar helps to keep it on. Plus, the patterned collar is just totes too cute. I tried removing the choker by pulling it over his head when we were finished walking and back in the house, but this quickly grew cumbersome, so that’s why I leave it on now.
You know what? It hasn’t completely resolved the problem. But it does slow him down. I’d say his maximum pull has decreased from an 8.5 to a 6.5. And, he doesn’t pull all the time, just sometimes. So, it feels like it’s gotten a little more manageable. I know these chains are controversial, and watch the comments below – I’m sure my mom and Betz are gonna have something to say. But I feel like it was the right decision for us.
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