Can we openly talk about prong collars and other methods to train a good walker? No judgement zone.

I’m concerned about Henry’s walking skills lately. We’ve done as much as we can to get him to be a good, slower walker but its just not happening. He will be 2 in February and I’ve only had him get away from me once, but once was enough. As the weather gets colder, my arthritis is acting up already and I’m worried about walking him. Last winter I only was able to walk him a handful of times because of how hard he pulls, but we practiced as much as we could in the yard. This year he is much bigger, stronger, and despite all we’ve worked on over spring and summer, he is no closer to being a good walker. 

We’ve tried all types of harnesses but Henry is an escape artist and gets out of most of them. He pulls his elbows together and backs out - which allows him freedom in under 3 seconds despite the harness fitting properly. We are currently using a Kong one and its the only one he can’t get out of (i’m open to all recommendations for harnesses tho). We’ve done positive reinforcement and treats on walks, but he ignores treats when he is out and about. High value treats can sometimes bring him back to focus, but its kind of a lost cause on him. Our trainer last year that we worked with all winter couldn’t really get him to slow down, but that was also a group class with distractions.

So that brings me to thinking about prong collars. I’ve never used one but read up a LOT on the proper way to use them. I’m on the fence about them because I tend to not like any type of walking strategy that uses the neck for fear of hurting him (that even goes for flat collars). But I also don’t like the possibility of Henry running off if I can’t control him. So I feel its on me to be responsible and think about the “what ifs” instead of being too picky about what we use. I’ve only ever seen one dog wearing a prong collar correctly in all of our outings, and that dog was a very large doberman who was walking beautifully. The collar was up high, not too tight or too lose, kept its position when they were walking, and you could tell the dog was highly trained to ignore distractions because he left Henry alone and did not pull once.

I wanted to try a halti style one with Henry but i’m worried about him pulling his face too hard to one side and hurting him. Eventually I’d like to work up to that.

I feel like at almost 2 years old, he should be walking much better. And maybe its time to change our method because walking him could result in a dangerous situation. I think the ONLY thing holding him back from progressing further in our service dog journey is his walking. He does everything else great especially at the store with kiddo, but his walking and pulling is too much. 

So tell me about your journey to having a good walker. What do you use? Do you like prong collars and the results they bring? Any recommendations for prongs or better harnesses or techniques?

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Some random parts of my day:

I met with my fellow GOTR coaches to talk about the season and enjoyed my favorite/most delicious spiced soy latte. ☕️

I walked my babies and we got rained on ☔️

I’m running out of food in my house so I got creative for dinner. I made white chip pancakes and they were just spectacular 🍴

Happy Tuesday yo 😉