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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi, I've recently taken up walking dogs at the local shelter as a volunteer. I'm having trouble with dogs pulling. I don't want them to pull cause there is still snow here on the pathways which wind through the woods (little sunlight) and I almost fell cause of a little 35lb fella today.

I did the thing where you stop moving forward, stand and wait, then reward with praise when he comes to you, but I couldn't get more than a quarter of a step in before he was moving and pulling and sniffing like a mad man.

I decided to throw in random direction changes when he started pulling. Sure enough, he'd stop and follow me, but he'd immediatly run past and start pulling. I actually made myself dizzy with all the turning I did and had to stand still for a second. LOL!!! So that didn't work....

Then I decided to sit down and just hang out with him, we kinda had a moment where we just chilled out. Thinking his level of excitement had decresed a little I resumed walking, but no, pulling like a monster....

Any tips for walking strange dogs?

I feel like I am there to make the dog's stay in the shelter a little easier. So, although I'd rather them not pull, I realize that these COULD be some of the last walks they might ever go on, so, I just let the little guy pull to his hearts content after trying for about 30 minutes. I know this might not have been good practice for him, but I just felt bad.

I ran with him for about 15 minutes till I was beat out, I'm talking TOP SPEED. The dog was running so hard he sounded like he was gonna puke out of exaustion, but he was frikkin LOVING IT (and STILL PULLING ME WHILST RUNNING!!!!!) and we only stopped cause I couldn't do it anymore.

Any help would be appreciated... I feel like the loose leash training takes too much time for me to accomplish with these guys, so I maybe shouldn't bother and just let them all pull me.

Yes/no???
 

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Does your shelter have a behaviorist on staff? Find out and ask that person what your priorities should be. With many shelters the problem is not everyone does the same thing, leaving the dogs confused.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hmmmm, good idea. This is the city shelter and it is in a pretty small city, so I doubt they are super sophisticated. They didn't give me a prewalk breif whatsoever. I basically filled out a little form, then was walking dogs the next day. They didn't even ask for any identification, drivers license, or anything like that. This is the City Pound BTW. So thats pretty strange to me, but oh well...

I will ask tomorrow though. There is an old fella there I want to walk tomorrow, a black lab. should be a little less taxing on my arm sockets I think...
 

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Does your shelter have a behaviorist on staff? Find out and ask that person what your priorities should be. With many shelters the problem is not everyone does the same thing, leaving the dogs confused.
Agreed. Doesn't help matters when not everyone is on the same page. It doesn't help with adoptions either when the dog is a puller. Teaching them basic commands and loose leash walking (doesn't have to be a perfect heel), greatly improves their chances for adoption.

Also, you have to remember that these dogs spend the better part of their days in kennels, so the times they are on leash and get to go outside, of course they're wanting to get out exploring, leading whoever is on the other end of the leash wherever their noses take them.

I went through the same thing when I was volunteering in house at the humane society. There wasn't a single dog in there that didn't pull when I took it outside, at least at first. For me, I it depended on the dog, but I tried to find something that took their focus away from wanting to pull. Sometimes having treats, sometimes it was a toy, even a stick was the key for an extremely strong GSD. I never used them as a lure type deal, just something to help get their attention so I could teach the "watch" command. It's not too hard to get them not to pull when they have to keep looking at you.

The more difficult breeds for me were the scent hounds. Surprisingly, 2 Beagles less than a year old were by far the worst pullers, and the hardest to get to stop dragging me around (and to get to lift their noses up for any length of time..LOL). Despite their small size, they were incredibly strong!
 

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Does your shelter have a behaviorist on staff? Find out and ask that person what your priorities should be. With many shelters the problem is not everyone does the same thing, leaving the dogs confused.

Agreed! I was a very active volunteer at our local shelter. I went 5 days a week right after work or on weekends I usually started in the am. I would look at their "euthanasia box" and take all the paper work out chose the dogs I felt had the best chance of saving, and started with them. I would start each of them with a walk to relieve themselves, then a nice, around the yard to wear off some steam followed by a crash lesson in "sit" and "walk on a loose leash." I would usually pick about 3 dogs a day and spend as much time rotating between them as I could I would keep going with those 3 dogs for as many days as I could. It was amazing to me how quickly some of them got adopted once they learned those 2 simple things.

I don't know how much time you have to spend there but if it is several days a week, maybe dedicating most of your time to only 2 or 3 dogs would pay off more? Just a thought.

You might wish to talk to whomever is in charge about getting a volunteer meeting together to discuss the best way to solve this problem together.

I taught many of the other dog walker volunteers how to teach some simple behaviors and it spread like wildfire. I believe wholeheartedly that you can make a huge difference if a few people work together. Good Luck to you and God Bless you for helping animals in need.
 

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I'll be the Debbie Downer of this thread and say that aside from very well run shelters, you are not going to be able to coordinate a system with trainers/volunteers with too much success. Having walked hundreds of dogs at the now-closed rescue here, many pullers/biters/jumpers, your best bet is to do what Inga said and focus on one or two at a time. Trying to change an entire shelter of dogs with training issues is just too confusing when you're dealing with multiple parties. Though Inga does make a valid point that you could try to collaborate with some of the others.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks guys.
Inga, to answer your questions, the shelter is open Mon to Fri 12pm to 4pm. Which I think is sad, since most people don't even get off work till 5 or so, thus, some might not get to go into the shelter as easily as they should.

I think the hours there are messed up. No weekends? Thats just crazy to me. Maybe after I've been there a while I can pick up a weekend volunteer slot, cause someone obviously goes there on the weekends to feed and clean, so why the heck wouldn't I be able to take a dog out for 30 minutes here or there.... We'll see...

Also, with respect to your idea about a volunteer meeting, I've only been there 3 days now. And I am wondering if some of the (possibly) paid staff might get peturbed at a new volunteer rocking the boat or threatening their little empire. You know how some people can be with their empires. Defend defend defend!!! So I might get black listed from helping out...

I'll just play it coy for the time being, but I think your idea would be great after I work my way into the mix a little bit on the social side of the shelter, you know? Then I'll suggest some things perhaps.

In the meanttime, I am going to ask about a behaviorist or a general game plan. And also explain that I'd like to work with 2 or 3 dogs who have high odds of a successful adoption, but just need a little help. Then maybe I could work on 1 dog with issues every now and then to enhance my skills a little.

I'm trying to do lots of reading, and I am actively thinking when my technique isn't working. I'm not thinking stupid dog, I'm thinking stupid me! How might I better communicate to the dog what I would like him to do?

All of this so that when I do get my very first pup in a few months, I'll know what I'm at.

It's fun too.
 

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Hmmmm, good idea. This is the city shelter and it is in a pretty small city, so I doubt they are super sophisticated. They didn't give me a prewalk breif whatsoever. I basically filled out a little form, then was walking dogs the next day. They didn't even ask for any identification, drivers license, or anything like that. This is the City Pound BTW. So thats pretty strange to me, but oh well...

I will ask tomorrow though. There is an old fella there I want to walk tomorrow, a black lab. should be a little less taxing on my arm sockets I think...
I walk dogs here as well, and the only thing they require is to give them your drivers license while you take the dog out. There's no filling out of forms or anything, unless you become a full fledged Volunteer, which you will be doing more than just walking dogs.
 

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A lot of the time when these dogs pull/jump/bite, it's because they just have waaay too much energy pent up inside them. I don't know how the walking situation is at your shelter, but at mine, every dog gets taken out for maybe 30-40 minutes in the morning. After that, they get nothing. They interact with shelter visitors and staff through their fences. Maybe a behaviourist will come in and work with them for fifteen minutes or so. Other than that, they're inside their runs with the same two toys that have been there for weeks. That's not a lot of stimulation for Labs, Shepherds, Huskies or mixes thereof, which we get a lot. That's barely enough for any young dog.

So when they do get to explore the great outdoors, they go nuts... and they just start pulling all over the place wanting to take in every sight, sound and smell. Unfortunately this ends up reinforcing the very act of pulling on leash, and eventually they don't learn to walk on a loose leash even if they're not as high-strung as before.

What helped a lot for me was bringing the particular dog I was working with to a large fenced field one day, and just letting her run it out. We played fetch, tug, chase, and she generally just sprinted around and had a fabulous time. She was knackered by the end of it and didn't pull at all on the way back or the next day.
 

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I saw a trick I love that works wonders on my dogs. Take the collar and slide it up the neck and under the chin. Put the dog next to you in the heel position and pull straight up lifting the dogs head. The dog can't pull at this point. At least not any way but down. It's kind of like a head halter I guess.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the replies...
I walked a 10-12 year old black lab, I couldn't tell. It was a female and she was a fatty. Thats why I'm gussing older, but maybe being chuubby threw my guess off. She was super happy to be out walking.

She had a little fabric giraffe pattern doggie bone stuffed toy thing, and boy, she would NOT go for her walk without it. LOL!

Now I have another question....

So, as we were walking, and she was pulling I would just stop. Then I got the idea to take the bone from her, and to use it as a reward. Trouble is, when I tried to take the bone, she was reluctant to give it up. So I was a little afraid to come accross as punishing her. Nevertheless I took it from her thinking it would make for a great reward. When I had it, I held it up and tried to walk forward, but she just stared backward at the bone in my hand (at about my shoulder level), and jumped repeatedly for it. It was really cute. But I had to hide it behind my back then she'd calm down and start to pull again...

So I would stop walking forward, then after a second she would walk toward me and I'd throw a party and give her her bone and rough house her a little bit to get her excited and stuff and she loved it... But then I realized I have a problem: I had to fight her every time I wanted the bone back from her, which would come across as punishment. So I would be giving mixed signals. That's my reasoning anyway.... Whats the proper way to use a toy as a reward when they are super reluctant to give it up?

I stopped taking the bone, but she did learn something. t could have been an existing behavior but here goes:

About 1/4 through the walk, she ("Alice") learned that when she was pulling and I stopped, that I wanted her to come back to me. Trouble is, the behavior wasn't fully developed. When I stopped, she would turn around and approach me on my RIGHT side, then walk behind my back, and emerge on my LEFT side. I stopped about 40-50 times during the 1 hour because of her pulling and she did that behavior for the last 35 stops EVERY TIME! So, she knew that I wanted a behavior when I stopped, but she didn't know why I was stopping, or what behavior I wanted.

I experimented with beginning walking as soon as she appeared on my left side (and still behind me a little). I would get about 2 steps in before she was leading me again and soon she would be at the end of the 6 foot leash pulling. I'd stop, and try again. I'd get the circle behavior and I'd try to walk with her behind, but she'd lead me again and pull...

I stopped and thought for a while about what I was doing wrong. I felt like the toy wasn't a good reward because I didn't want to be punnishing her by taking it away. I didn't have treats. I didn't know what to do....

long post, but I was just confused. All in all I'm happy with the experience and she was a good girl, walking with a loose leash toward the end cause I think she was tired.

Shoulda seen her happy face trying to get the bone from me, and jumping, she looks adorable man.. Can't waiiit to get a pup!
 

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I saw a trick I love that works wonders on my dogs. Take the collar and slide it up the neck and under the chin. Put the dog next to you in the heel position and pull straight up lifting the dogs head. The dog can't pull at this point. At least not any way but down. It's kind of like a head halter I guess.
That may stop pulling, but how far does it go in *teaching* them not to pull?
 

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For your own safety, you might try to get the shelter to buy a few no-pull harnesses in the most common sizes. The dogs are pent-up and eager to get out, and I don't think any kind of no-pull training will do any good in just the short time you have with them.
 
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