How do I stop my dog pulling?

I am a member of a few Old English Sheepdogs Facebook pages I love seeing other peoples Old English Sheepdogs (Although mine will always be the loveliest). I enjoy these pages because its a place where you can chat to fellow owners about the highs and lows of owning a sheepdog.
A post that came up recently regarding a dog who just pulled ‘She is now 9 months old. I have walked her every day since she was 7 weeks old. She jerks if there is a truck or motorcycle. Pulls me down!! When she see a person or an animal she runs and pulls and has actually pulled me flat twice. She just wants to get to the person or animal but she won’t behave so she can be petted. She absolutely will not listen’’
103 comments later all from fellow sheepdog owners I was sad to see a lot of bad advice being given. Don’t get me wrong I know that the advice given was done out of love not malice but what is upsetting how these outdated concepts are still being used and taught.So I thought it would be good to go through the common suggestions that actually aren’t helpful in the long run.

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Put Yourself In Your Dog’s Paw’s.
Right we’re off for a walk and you’ll be my lovely dog ‘Fido’, first thing I do is pop your collar and lead on then head out the door. Remember I haven’t actively taught you how to walk without pulling so you are going to do what is natural and pull against the collar.
Now to make absolutely sure you understand what it feels like I want you to place your thumbs together just above your collarbone. Your hands will wrap around your neck with your fingers meeting at your back neck. With your thumbs gently push against your throat/windpipe and that is the feeling of a collar against your dog’s neck.
So while you and I go on our walk and I drag you away from the lampost you want to sniff, tug at your lead to stop you pulling me over to the nearest dog and just allow you to pull as we walk you now know the pain/discomfort to caused by the collar.
Remember you the dog love going for the walks, pulling against the lead and collar is totally natural and furthermore your will put up with the pain to get what you want.

The E-Collar
So you and I (the dog) are walking along you are doing what comes naturally pulling, I am getting annoyed I even shout at you but I have put a new collar on you set to give a vibration as you’re pulling so I hit the button and BAM you have been stopped in your tracks. I have scared you but I don’t notice that I just care that you’ve stopped pulling. We carry on walking and every time that you pull I simply hit the button. I’m so happy you’re not pulling that I haven’t even bothered to tell you ‘well done’ for stopping pulling. You are simply scared and staying closer to me to feel safe.
As time goes on you have learned to withstand the vibration so now I have started giving you wee shocks to stop you pulling. It provides you with pain and discomfort but in the that moment you stop pulling.
You have worked out that the collar is what is causing you pain, so when it’s time to go for a walk you start hiding from me and the collar. You have also worked out that its me your controlling the shocks.
As the walks go on you stop pulling because you’re scared of the shocks not because I have trained you. Then one day there is big bit a lovely smelling food on the floor and desperately want to get to it so you pull, I just shock you however you have decided you can withstand the shock and continue pulling, ignoring every shock I give you because you want the food.
One more shock and you snap all the weeks and months of being scared of the collar and me, of putting up with the pain, not knowing why it’s happening. Your turn and lunge at me, snapping because your want the shocks to stop, I drop the control and you have got what you wanted the pain to stop. You’ve also managed to get to the food.
I am now a furious and scared owner and seriously contemplating giving you up as you’re now dangerous.
So maybe we won’t use an E-collar.

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The Water Pistol/Pet Corrector Spray
As before you and I (the dog) are walking along you are doing what comes naturally pulling, I am getting annoyed I even shout at you. Then I pull out my water pistol and squirt you straight in the face, the shock of the cold water in your face stops you in your tracks.I have scared you but I don’t notice that I just care that you’ve stopped pulling. We carry on walking and every time that you pull I simply hit the button. I’m so happy you’re not pulling that I haven’t even bothered to tell you ‘well done’ for stopping pulling.
You carry on pulling not because me squirting you with water isn’t working it is because you’re scared and doing your best to get as far away from the water pistol. As time goes on you decide you don’t want to go on walks, you want to avoid the water pistol and running away from a walk is the best way to do this.
After a few weeks you are scared of going on walks because of the water pistol, you don’t know why you’re getting sprayed in the face and you continuously try to get away from it. All this stress is building inside and then on one walk I pull out the water pistol and you snap, lunge for the pistol and snap at me to get me to stop it works.
I am now a furious and scared owner and seriously contemplating giving you up as you’re now dangerous. So maybe we should forget the water pistol.
You see by giving a dog a negative experience without showing them why, you are causing them to hide their behaviour which becomes stressful for the dog. Then when they’ve reached their stress level they will snap…. How long can you tolerate a something bad when you don’t why its happening before you snap?

A Slip Lead
As before you and I (the dog) are walking along you with your new rope slip lead on, it even feels like you don’t have lead on, happy days you think.
Then you can smell a lovely smell on the pavement coming up and you lunge forward pulling me…. The slip lead now does its job and becomes tight around your neck, the more you pull the tighter is becomes. The lead digs into your neck causing some pain and its also bloody uncomfortable. The sudden pain causes you stop pulling and I am a happy owner.
As you realise we are nearer the park you start to pull but as the lead begins to tighten you stop pulling. ‘Yes’ I am happy and to me you’ve learned not to pull. If only I realised that’s bullshit and the reason you no longer pull is because you don’t like the pain/feeling of the lead as it tightens around your neck, so you don’t pull any more simply to avoid it. You also now associate me your loving owner with the pain too meaning when I am holding your lead you don’t pull.
I now believe you’ve been ‘trained’ not to pull and one day I let my young niece take hold of the lead, it’s fine you don’t pull. As you walk along you realise that I am no longer holding the lead and this is your moment of freedom you’re gonna head to that lovely smell coming up and you’re gonna sniff it as much as you want.
You head towards the smell the lead tightens but you try and pull against it, it works and the tightness goes away and you make it to the smell. Me on the other hand I am picking my niece off the floor.
On the next walk I simply pull tight on the lead when ever I think you’re about to pull, you are left with a permanent bruise hidden by your fur. As time moves on your neck becomes sore and slight touch causes you pain, after a trip to the vets I discover the Slip Lead has caused damage to your spine and in turn you nerves. What a good idea the slip lead wasn’t!!!!!
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A Trip To The Vets
I am going to take you to the vets you are going to be neutered because of your pulling, you will calm down once this has happened and you won’t pull. You have a successful operation, behaved well through the recovery period and you can’t wait to get back on your walks!
We head out on our walk and you do what comes naturally pull against the lead and collar, months go by and you still pull. Nothing has changed except for your operation and my lighter wallet. So that’s not the answer.

Decide What Kind Of Owner You Are.
All the above are very lazy ways to get your dog to stop pulling because you MUST put in time and effort to train your dog. Every dog is smart and capable of learning, you don’t help them at all by providing punishments or looking for shortcuts.
If you are willing to put the time in then seek out a Positive Reinforcement dog trainer to help you, look for training classes that also train with positive methods.
Try my training game the Start Stop Game is way to show your dog that walking on loose lead is the best thing ever and helps you to train them not to pull.Take CareSuzanne
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