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Discussion Starter #1
I just bought a Wonderwalker chest and regular harness, which I'd like to use with the Halti Training Lead. The lead has clips for the front and back, for maximum control (just while training). I'd like to teach him to stay in the heel position (right next to me).

Previously we were using a head halter and I let him go ahead of me, so long as the leash was loose. He pretty much got it, but hated the head halter--I totally got that, and I pretty much hated how much he hated it and don't want to grow dependent on it long term. So three questions:

1) If you've used a lead like this, how do you do it? Use top to correct pulling and front to turn him around? Do you think it is helpful to use in this manner, rather than just a front lead?

2) Does anyone have any tips on how to move from allowing the dog to walk ahead on a (relatively) loose leash to having him next to you? I'm reading Sophia Yin's book (the BEST imo), but she has just a few paragraphs on walking.

3) If you don't think it is useful to use both clips, and that the front harness clip is enough, do you have a lead to suggest? A length? I have a retractable leash but two people have told me that isn't ideal for front harnesses.

Thank you!
 

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I've never used a dual-leash harness and didn't really have too much success with a front-clip one. It gave me a little more control of the dog's front end, but LLW was really about training.

For heeling, we've been using a technique called "choose to heel" in class. It helps to have a fenced or other enclosed area to work safely off leash, but if you don't, we done it in beginner-level classes on leash.

Start with your dog close to you (heel starting position, if you have that), toss a treat behind you, and start walking. As soon as the dog is in the proper position, mark/click, stop, and feed. Start again by tossing a treat and walking forward. When the dog is again in the proper position, mark/click, stop, and feed. The dog learns that the payout location is right next to you fairly quickly.

Heeling is hard work for the dog - after a one-hour class (when we're not even working constantly) my girl is beat. We do short practice sessions on regular walks, but it's not something I'd want her to do for an entire walk.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I just took the two prong leash out for a test drive and I really don't think it's necessary. My kid is only 18 lbs., and I just don't think we need the extra control. I'll try just the front hook on our next walk.

I'm thinking about using a much shorter leash than I had been; that was one nice thing about the leash I just used, because it's easily adjustable. I have a retractable Flexi, and I've been told not to use it, but will try it until I get something else.

And thanks! I'll look up "choose to heel" online. And I'm pretty much happy not so much with a strict heel (although that's what Yin suggests) but rather with a loose leash and having him within a foot of me so I have more control if anything comes up and I can get him to pay more attention to me. Yin suggests treating extra every time he makes eye contact, and of course, as much positive reinforcement as possible.

Thank you again!
 

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image.jpg Your dog at 18 pounds is a little short for a tab but you can make a longer one.
Here is what I use. I use a prong with only one or two fingers. It's never more than a twitch of the fingers. There is a very small prong or variant. It's just a reminder.

I use the main leash as a restraint so she doesn't run. The tab or short leash is the control or direction. I use a gentle tug on the control with a "watchme" command. Done correctly she gets a treat. I also drag to reward out a little so she has to really want it.

This is working pretty well on the reactivity problem. We are down to about 20'feet in our neighborhood and it varies else ware. Sometimes other dogs issue challenges that drive Sam into overdrive. We just do a 180 and cool down.
 

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When I'm working with a dog that needs extra physical control while learning to walk politely on leash, I use a combo of front clip harness & martingale collar with a double ended 4' leash (although a smaller/shorter dog might need a 5' or even 6' one) The leash is snapped to the front of the harness with the other end securely fastened to the martingale collar so I have a 'belt & suspenders' set up - if for whatever reason the harness breaks, comes undone or the dog manages to wiggle out of it, I still have the martingale collar attached so I can't possible lose him. (these are shelter dogs, so not mine to lose! lol)

I don't expect a 'precision heel' out of the dogs, but I do want them to learn to walk nicely at someone's side without pulling. Depending on the dog, that might be accomplished best by either the 'be a tree' method (stopping & not moving on until the dog reorients to me - best with just slow, strong pullers) or, more frequently, playing the 'this way' game. As the dog starts to get distracted and/or surge ahead I make an abrupt turn while excitedly saying "This way!!" and then C/T as he hits that 'sweet spot' next to my left leg. We begin working on this in the parking lot, or on the gravel drive - even indoors if necessary (less distracting smells under foot) with frequent breaks given where the dog is 'released' to sniff, potty, whatever... in a grassy area. I try to make a very clear distinction between "Let's go" mode where we are simply motoring forward or playing the 'this way' game & "OK, take a break" mode when the dog is permitted to snoozle along to his heart's content. The better the dog gets at paying attention to me, the more free time they earn. Plus, if I notice a distraction, or something the dog might get reactive to, I can get them back to paying attention to me (if I catch it in time) by simply calling out "This way!!!" and dashing off in the other direction. I make walking with & following along with me into a FUN GAME - not a chore.
 

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And thanks! I'll look up "choose to heel" online. And I'm pretty much happy not so much with a strict heel (although that's what Yin suggests) but rather with a loose leash and having him within a foot of me so I have more control if anything comes up and I can get him to pay more attention to me. Yin suggests treating extra every time he makes eye contact, and of course, as much positive reinforcement as possible.
Choose to heel is a fantastic method that works well for virtually all dogs. The thing I like best about it is that it eliminates the need for any type of 'correction', such as stopping or abruptly changing direction. Below is a link to one video, it shows the general idea fairly well. Although personally, depending on the dog and the environment, I prefer to feed directly from the hand and in position during the earliest stages of training. If you have a smaller dog you may have to bend down to feed while continuing to walk, it's do-able but some people may find that slightly difficult. Once your dog gains a bit of proficiency you can then start to throw the treats.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5il8ym0ymY

Note the fenced area, the low distraction environment, the circular counter-clockwise walking pattern with the dog on the inside left. And the lack of verbal cues, at least to initiate the desired behaviour. Remain silent and allow the dog to CHOOSE to be in the correct position.

Practice this ad nauseum, use plenty of tasty food rewards to create a strong history of reinforcement. It'll pay dividends and make things so much easier when the time comes to add straight line walking, directional changes, halts, change of pace etc, and finally, some distractions. If you don't wish to have the precise position and or the eye contact that's fine, just modify your criteria so that you mark and feed for what is acceptable for you and your dog. Eventually you can take it all to the streets, just remember to keep rate of reinforcement high when you get to that point.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you all for your suggestions. It is obvious that you all know your stuff really well! Will incorporate these into our routines. Now have bigger fish to fry: he's started peeing in the house. Hates the crate and have to get him adjusted. But we'll work on the walk, too. Thanks again.
 
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