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Why does taking the dog for a nice relaxing walk turn into a tug of war?
Why does he always win?
Why does he seem to enjoy the discomfort of a check chain?

These are just some of the questions that all dog owners have asked themselves from time to time. All we want is to have a relaxing stroll with our four legged friends.
Firstly we have to try and see the situation from the dogs point of view.
A walk to a dog represents 'hunting and foraging' episodes. Food and the provision of food are exciting things to any dog. Therefore he will be excited when he is expecting a walk and during the earlier parts of the walk when he is probably still on the lead. One way to reduce this early excitement is to reduce the period of expectation. This is the time when he knows a walk is in the offing and is getting more excited by the minute. If you intend to take the dog out for a walk try to reduce the signals that he has come to know will result in a walk; and certainly don't tell him that he is going out. He will have plenty of time to be excited when you get to where he can have a free run without getting excited before.
Try to be unpredictable both in the times of your walks and also in the routes that you take. If your dog gets to expect you to walk a particular route which will end in a free run on his favourite piece of waste ground or park he will obviously be excited. That is when he makes your hand look like you have been carrying ten carrier bags all day
Another reason why a dog might be hard work on the lead could be that he is not getting as much exercise as he needs. Consequently the walks that he does get have to be filled with energy and excitement. This is especially true of breeds that were bred to work such as Border Collies and Retriever breeds.
A dog is a pack animal; in each pack there is an 'alpha'. This is usually a male (but not always) and is the pack member who is the strongest. Strongest does not always mean physically stronger . We have seen many a terrier who completely dominates their elderly owner. If your dog has taken the role of the alpha it is very likely that he will want to dictate the route and pace of the walk.
Preventing a dog 'taking over' does not mean physically dominating the dog. It simply means being firm — when you say "no you can't sleep on the bed" you should either mean it and stick to it, or never say it in the first place. Be clear to your dog and he will respect you. If you make it known that your mind can be changed he will attempt to change it for you.
Once you have come to terms with why your dog is pulling the problem is easier to deal with.
Lastly even though we now know why he is pulling there is still the intermediate period to get through whilst our best friend is taught new ways. This will be a lot more comfortable if you are able to control him with the appropriate training aids.
There are any number of training aids on the market varying from some excellent designs through to the entirely whacky. Now this is very subjective and what we approve of might not be the preference of other trainers. However we would recommend the following:
We find the best type of lead generally is a rope slip lead. This is gentler than a check chain but will pull if he does.
A 'HALTI' is a head collar that has produced very good results. We find that the biggest problem with the Halti is that the dog owner often doesn't have the necessary resolve to carry it through because 'the dog doesn't like it'. Don't give up it will work and you will probably only have to use it for a short time.
A 'WALKRITE' is a harness that is very comfortable for the dog—unless he starts to pull. Then it exerts pressure on his chest and underneath the front legs where it is very tender. This (in our opinion) is generally more successful as it does not look like a muzzle as the Halti does and is therefore more acceptable to the owner.
CHECK CHAINS (choke chains!) have their place especially with the bigger dogs. The most important thing to remember if you are going to use a check chain is to always put it on the right way up, (no this is not a joke). If you imagine the steel chain as an extension of your lead it should always pass over the dogs neck first and not under the neck. This does mean of course that the dog cannot move from your left to your right as he would cause the chain to then be 'upside down'. If this does not make any sense call in at the Shelter and we will help.
We would like to acknowledge Dr. David Sands as the source of some of the above information.