Help! I have a 9 month old Am Bulldog and i have posted a few other questions before and health issues and now i need help on a bad behavior.
Generally when we go out on walks she is amazing and rarely pulls and knows to stop when corrected. She wears a harness and on our walks we do use a retractable leash. However; recently the past few times we have taken her with us to our local pet store to do some shopping she pulls uncontrollably. I went alone today to get her nails clipped and ears cleaned and i could barely control her. She typically is never this bad. We try to take her with us every time we go to keep her socialized but she gets so excited her poor face,eyes and ears go pink. By the time we arrive home she passes out in the middle of our living room. I brought treats with me today in hopes to gain her attention when she shows good behavior and also to train her how to great new people. She was so excited and out of control she didn't even notice her favorite treat in front of her.
Will she out grow this the older she gets or do I have some hard training ahead of me?
Personally I do not like harnesses. I don't think they provide any control for the owner and do not provide any negative feedback to the dog for bad behaviors like a collar would. There are a few harnesses out there that are made to stop certain behaviors such as pulling, so if you want to continue using a harness that may be the type you need to use.
Alot of people do not like the retractable leads because again, they provide very little control for the owner. I personally love my retractables but not for training purposes, only for recreational purposes, like taking your dog for a walk in the woods.
Has your dog been through obedience classes? If not that would be my 1st suggestion. Your dog needs a solid foundation of listening to commands in order to be taken out in public and not have the problems you faced at the pet store. This will help you have more control over her, her be more willing to listen to you, and an overall more pleasant experience for you both when out.
9 months old is the bratty teenage stage and is the time when she is going to start exerting herself even more and seeing what she can get away with. So now you have to be even more vigilant about making her listen to you. If I experienced something like you did in that store I would have left. She was too overstimulated by everything around her and when they are like that you cannot get through to them, unless they have a solid obedience background. Sometimes even then, if they are too stimulated, not even then will they listen. Its better to remove them from the situation and go back to basic obedience commands in a non distracting environment and work your way back slowly to the pet store.
If she starts pulling on regular around town walks thats a little easier to work on. Once she starts to pull, turn around and start walking in the oppposite direction. You can say Let's go while you are turning around or not say anything at all. If she starts pulling when you turn around turn in the other direction and start walking. Don't wait for her to turn with you just turn and go. She will follow because she will have no choice. If she doesn't seem to get the idea that she is supposed to be looking to you while walking, not leading you around, then its time to walk in tiny circles over and over again until your dizzy lol until she gets it. Doesn't take long for them to pick up on this and understand what you want from them. You will need a regular leash for all this, not a retractable. You'll find it much easier to work with a regular leash.
Training should always be done with a 4 or 6 foot leash. Retractables are for fun walks. I would buy a normal buckle collar, or even a prong collar, and walk her on that instead of the harness. The problem with a prong collar is that you need to have it fit properly or it will be completely useless. A lot of people put them on with too many links and they are loose and ineffective. Some people put them on way too tight as well and cause scrape marks on the dogs neck. A trainer can fit one properly to your dogs neck. Eventually after training, you will not need the prong anymore and may even be able to go back to walking on the harness.
I went back to the store (without her) and purchased a great 6 foot leash and a new lead harness that stops her center of gravity. We went on a few short walks and i can already tell a difference! She is super stubborn and we knew we were facing that especially getting a bully breed. She's already 73lbs at 9 months! She knows all the basic commands and one or two fun tricks. We do walk in circles at times already while training her. I think as you recommended i just needed a better leash and harness. When i took the old harness off she pulled so hard it left a red mark on her chest for a few hours. I felt so bad.
I personally do not like halters of any kind. Halters can encourage a dog to pull. i would suggest a dog halter. this way if they try to pull, there head gets turned toward you, keeping you in control.
A leash by itself wont fix the prob. U gotta stop her dead in her tracks every single time she starts pulling or even thinkng ab pulling. And each time this happens u gotta stop the both of u and say "heal" very sternly and blunt. Be as loud as u need to be at first until she starts listening then gradually lower ur volume and tone as she starts learning what these words mean exactly. This could take time, some dogs longer than others. Each time u say heal, stop, give ur dog a tug(hard or softly, depending on the circumstance), pull or place her on ur left side and tell her to heal and stay.. Always reward good behavior sometimes w/ treats and other times w/ just a simple praising.. Her nose should never pass ur toes when walking. If her nose passes ur toes, then she is walking u. U can train w/ harnesses but I agree that collars work the best, especially choke collars. They work, and work fast. But it's all within the discipline of the master/trainer. U cant give in to that lil cute puppy dog face. U gotta be tough and and a little harsh at times. Never give in, bc they can and will notice, that if they try hard enough to get their way, sooner or later they will succeed, which will cause them to try and try and try and misbehave and misbehave until they get what it is that they want. U have to be the boss. No matter what ur doing, no matter where u are, no matter who is around u, u must discipline ur dog when needed, NO MATTER WHAT. One time is all they need, to see that they can get away w/ something, and they will keep trying every opportunity they get which means ur back at square one. Never reward them treats or anything unless they have done something that u have commanded them to do or if they have done something that they know is right. And once again u can praise them and give them no treats at all about half the time, or more, or less. But they shouldn't expect a treat everytime. They should want to follow your command just to see u happy and to receive affection and make u proud, and this keeps them from getting spoiled rotten.