Oscar, my 140 lb (ish) almost 9 month old Mastiff is a puller (surprise)! I have been working with him since we got him as a puppy, and although he has improved, he is still a handful because, well, he is still a puppy and knows he is big and strong enough to get where he wants to go. So I felt it was time to get professional help before he gets any bigger and stronger. We had our session in a quiet parking lot of a park which includes a dog park, so there were some distractions but it wasn't crazy. I use a Freedom no pull harness with a double leash attachment which the trainer loves, she uses them on her dogs. She also recommended the Halti. I had one when Oscar was a puppy, but he hated it so I never used it. She was able to get it on him, I guess because he is somewhat more mature, although he didn't like it. She attached the double leash to both the Halti and the front d ring of the harness. He did settle and by the end of the session he was getting much better with the Halti and waking nicely. She gave me lots of useful tips that I look forward to working with him on. His reward was 20 minutes at the dog park which he loved. We met a woman there that had met and cuddled Oscar when he is a tiny puppy and still with the breeder, she knew his mama and his brother so that was neat! We have one more private session in three weeks and the trainer felt he is "advanced" enough for her level II class, so we start a six week series in May. I am so proud of him because he has never attended a training class because of being unvaxed. This trainer is fine with him attending class, although on her website she does state dogs need to be up to date (according to their vet's schedule), but she really doesn't care as long as the dog is healthy!
We had our first private session with a trainer today
That sounds encouraging. Will you share some of her other tips, please and thanks?!
I have a puller who hates the Halti. He's only 80 lbs., but he's mutt with lots of sled dog in his parentage, so pulling is natural for him. We tried the Halti, but he fought it so badly that he bit his tongue and bled everywhere. I really couldn't face trying it again.
He learned to walk to heel and will for short distances, but if he sees something, anything, interesting, he strains at the leash. Lord help me if it's a squirrel or a cat that runs away!
I am not sure if her suggestions would be effective in your case. I am dealing with a very large rambutious puppy rather than a dog with a strong prey drive. My dog barely notices squirrels or cats. We need to work on loose leash walking first in low distraction areas like the back yard and empty parking lots. She recommends lots of positive reinforcement when he walks well. I will not move if he starts to pull, not easy with a 140 lb dog, but I can manage it with the Freedom no pull harness. I have tried several harnesses and without doubt this harness gives me the best control over Oscar. I am not sure how a harness would work with a "sled" dog though. Combined with the Halti, the Freedom harness was a miracle transformation! The trainer recommends the silky leash method. If that is of any help.
As for the Halti, the trainer recommended we put it on first thing in the morning and leave it on to get him used to it. Obvioulsy, this should only be done when I am home with him. She recommeded this Jean Donaldson video to help with the desensitization.
Thank you! I don't visit this forum often and I forgot to check back, so I'm sorry it took me a while. Those video links are helpful. The one about introducing the Halti is great and I wish we'd taken that approach. It was a neighbour who first offered to try him out with it. You know, one of those ever-so-helpful people who know everything about dogs (just like the people who give helpful advice to new moms). She slipped it on him and he went wild. That was almost a year ago though, so maybe I could work on a slow, gentle, desensitization approach with him.
The silky leash method is very similar to what we use from dog obedience training. It works well, until those darn squirrels appear.
Anyway, thanks again!