When I started researching Miniature Goldendoodles I had this vision of a calm, snuggly always happy-go-lucky pal like my friend has. Well, not that’s not exactly what my family received. We ended up getting the hyper boy… the one that never quite matures on time like he was supposed to.
Among other behavioral issues, one of the worst we encountered with our baby was the struggle we always had going for walks. Now, not only do we go on (almost) daily walks, this dog has gone through basic obedience training, passed Canine Good Citizen™ (CGC), as well as being shown in 4-H one year so it’s not that we didn’t try. He continued to pull no matter what we tried. All dog trainers that read this will say it’s the trainer and I totally agree! My personal struggle is that I don’t need a dog that always stays to my left and constantly looks up at me for direction when walking, I just want a dog that doesn’t yank me all over the road and ruin my hands on our casual after dinner walks.
My 50-lb Miniature Goldendoodle (yeah… not so “mini” right?! Much more of a Medium Goldendoodle) pulled so much on a walk it hurt my hands.
Solution #1: The Martingale Collar
I tried a nylon Martingale Collar which is a collar that tightens when the dog pulls & then loosens when the dog stops – sounded perfect to me! I hoped the additional pressure when he tugged would slow his pulling behavior.
Did it work?
Turns out it didn’t work at all. This type of collar is good for escape artists because it tightens when the dog pulls but didn’t give the kind of control I needed. Although this might work for some dogs, it didn’t work for us so I cannot recommend it for those looking for a no-pull solution for a casual walk. So on to the next solution.
Solution #2: No-Pull Harness
I did more research and next considered harnesses. I found a padded no-pull harness like this one that not only can be hooked up the traditional way on the back of the dog, it can be hooked up in the front. That way, when he pulls it almost pulls his front legs a little to prevent him from pulling harder.
By now, this dog was ruining my hands – I felt like I was getting arthritis in my knuckles because he was pulling so much! (Ok maybe I still am because I am of that age but still.) So, I went looking for padded handle leashes and found this fantastic one! Not going to lie – this leash is very comfortable and the perfect length for casual walks. I have purchased more than one because they are durable and come in many color choices.
Did it work?
Yes, well sort of. The leash helped my hands but he still pulled even with the harness hooked in the front and he knew right away when I switched the leash to the back he could pull more. So, it was better but not the best. And then you know what happened? He chewed up both the harness & leash one night while we were gone! (Guess he wasn’t a fan.) Instead of repurchasing I did more research on other options.
Solution #3: Gentle Leader® Headcollar
Many moons ago I did some puppy training for WAGS (Wisconsin Academy for Graduate Service Dogs) & I noticed that now WAGS dogs have images with a head collar (they didn’t use those back when I did training). I thought that was interesting and if it’s good for training service dogs it has to be good for mine. What is a head collar? A head collar is a collar that has loops over the dogs head and muzzle to give more control (kind of like a horse halter).
After some research, I purchased a padded Gentle Leader® Headcollar because it has such positive reviews on the sites I checked and I thought the padding would be more comfortable for my dog. Along with the Gentle Leader, I purchased a leash with 2 padded handles – one midway down so I could more easily hold him back if we came upon a doggy friend on our walk & he got excited. This leash VIVAGLORY Dog Leash with Two Padded Handles was perfect for us, my dog is just tall enough for me to walk holding the shorter handle if needed.
Did it work?
YES! I cannot stress enough how much of a difference the Gentle Leader® made for improving how enjoyable our walks are. My daughter will walk him now too – something she wouldn’t attempt before. I still recommend taking your dog to some obedience training and sticking with it (train the trainer at least) but if all else fails try using a Gentle Leader and see if it makes a difference, it sure did for us.
Different dogs respond to different training methods, and different trainers, but ultimately the owner or caregiver needs to be able to care for them so everyone’s happy and sometimes that takes a little trial and error to figure out what works for everyone. There are only a million different types of collar, leash and harness combinations available to purchase through numerous retailers and sizes for every dog from tiny to giant breeds so it can be hard to weed through. I hope the story of my trial and tribulation with my favorite fur baby helps you make an educated decision on what will work for you so you too can enjoy some peaceful after dinner walks this summer!