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Leash Tug of War-need ideas

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Leash Tug of War-need ideas
  • My 20 month old Mastiff throws tantrums when he doesn't get what he wants when we go for a walk he'll grab the leash, play tug of war of war with and snap/snarl, jump and grab my arms... At 120 lbs, it's getting a little old... I've tried the downs and waiting til he calms down, stopping when he grabs the leash (which worked for awhile, til he was strong enough -bad hips- to jump up and grab hold of it and my arms). Over the past year, he has gotten better at some things, but, it seems to be now, certain intersections, or when he sees dogs he wants to visit, or when he wants to cross the street... Any ideas?

  • I'm not a fan of them, but try using a chain leash until he gets the idea that he's not allowed to do that.  Once you're able to work him through the triggers, you should be able to go back to using a cloth or leather leash.

  • Max is only half the size of your mastiff, but at 60 lbs. he's still pretty strong ... and he's a puller, leaper and lunger.  At least he was until I got him an easy walk harness.  It's amazing how having that one strap across his chest controls all that.  Even when he tries to take the occasional flying leap at a cat or squirrel now, he's pretty easy to handle. I'd really recommend trying to find one in a super large size and giving it a try.


  • Nothing In Life is Free (NILF).  He wants his ears scratched, he's gotta sit or whatever you decide...he gets nothing that he doesn't earn.  This applies to absolutely every aspect of his life.  No exceptions.  He needs to learn that YOU and you alone control all the good stuff that happens in his life.

    I could tell you how to train a pup to behave on lead, but I'vehad my own issues with older dogs who suddeny don't.  My "last resort" was a prong collar,   but, I don't really recommend those.  You really have to know what you are doing in order to not injure your dog and to make him "get" what you want from him without that tool.  The easy walk could well be the best idea for you.

    Hopefully one of our trainers will hop on with some better ideas.

  •  If you fit him with a Gentle Leader head collar and learn how to use it properly (you can purchase a video or get a local positive trainer to help you), you can use it to insure that he cannot bite you or grab the lead - all you need is gentle upward pressure on the GL, which closes the dog's mouth.  If you prefer to use a harness, you still can, but muzzle the dog.  Every time he practices putting his mouth on you to get his way, he learns that aggression works - not the lesson you want to teach him.  This is a dog that should be "asking permission" for everything (the NILIF philosophy that Glenda suggested).  So, if he wants to be fed, he must "sit" and "wait" as you lower the bowl to the floor.  No sit, no dinner - walk away for 15 minutes and come back and try again.  There are no dogs I know that have starved themselves to death to learn this.  Also, if you do not have verbal control over your dog's movements, get him in to a good training class - yesterday.

  • Use a chain lead?  Or spray some chew deterrant (bitter apple?) on the lead (although be warned: some dogs develop a taste for it!) IMO, your best bet is as spiritdogs suggested: muzzle him for now, to stop him "practising" the unwanted behaviour, while you introduce some training, a Learn to Earn programme (NILIF) and find a good training class to help you get control over him.  Use a basket muzzle, it's easy to train dogs to wear these because you can ust poke their favourite treat thru the end and work up to fastening them.  They are good to use when you need to do a lot of training, because you can still feed treats, which can be used to reward desired behaviour.

    Someone posted this video clip a while ago, and I really like it.... I think a lot of pups become so used to the feel of the lead and collar pulling on their neck, that, for them, that's just the way of things when you go for a walk.  They don't really understand that the pressure on the lead is meaningful, and they don't seem to realise and/or care that the twoleg on the other end of it is trying to communicate with them.  I think this is one good way to change that..... to make them realise that the pressure is a signal, that the person is trying to communicate, and that listening to them might be a jolly good idea.

    Silky Leash

  •  I had a dog who I just used a chain leash with. None of those sprays did anything.  He actually liked them. I heard he wouldn't like vicks vapor rub, but he liked that. He actually ingested an entire 6 foot leather leash.

  •  Have you tried training to teach good loose-leash walking? You mentioned the down/stays and stopping when he pulls - have you tried a "magnet" type method, rewarding for the dog staying close to you? I know often we go straight to "mechanical" fixes like new leashes, collars, etc. when sometimes just a little bit of training might make a big difference. (Clearly this is not always the case, but it never hurts to try the training first!)

    Here are a couple of good resources:




    Since your dog is very big and energetic, some of the training methods might not be possible for you (for example, you can't really "be a tree" if the animal can pull you over!), but you can still experiment and see if any of these training tips might work for you.They might also help supplement if you do decide to try a different type of harness, or muzzle, or whatnot.

    Are there any training classes in your area? A good trainer might be able to help, too, especially if your dog doesn't behave well around distractions.

  • I was wondering if you'd made any progress on this issue or had any suggestions -- my 9 month old malamute literally does the EXACT same thing with me on walks (it was weird to read your post!) -- it's sort or a new behavior, and he's gotten so big (85 lbs.), that it's hard for me to deal with.  Ignoring him/turning my back hasn't worked at all, and he just seems to get really frustrated when he isn't allowed to do what he wants.  Any advice would be much appreciated!

  • That's going to be a really awesome dog when he grows up if you put some work into him. I'm not a huge fan of mastiffs because they've in many cases had most of the "environmental awareness" bred out of them in favor of physical characteristics. Anyway, what you've got there is a 120 pup who thinks he knows what his job is - to go check out everything in sight and learn the difference between "normal" and "threat." The key is, I would say, to redirect this. First, as others have said, he needs to learn that you are the most important thing in his world at all times. I go a step beyond NILIF, which emphasizes the dog working for resources, to simply asking the dog to work at random times (and getting a reward). Carry small high value tid bits around with you at all times and every few minutes when you are around him, suddenly call out a command and give him a treat and tell him what a terrific teammate he is. Start close to him and work up to where he'll obey from across the room, the yard, or even out of sight. He's a pup so you've got to be patient with this. He'll learn, then forget, and you'll have to go back to square one, but every time you go back he'll be much, much better! On walks, use the head halter and a chain lead (I use them for all my dogs as they go into a pocket so nicely). When you get near a trigger event, just turn and go the other way. Don't let him ramp up. Eventually, your work with him in the home will translate to more trust outside. At that point you can show him that there's no need to be silly when he doesn't know what to do. Good luck! He really sounds cool!
  •  In addition to what other folks have said, perhaps you can give him a rope toy to hold when he wants to tug the leash? I've found when my pups have been wanting to tug on walks I just let them do it. Take a tug toy and wave it in front of their nose. They latch on and are usually happy to walk along with you being led by the toy. Kivi has grown out of it, but I've just started taking a toy for Erik and now Kivi thinks he'd like to carry the toy. Sometimes dogs just wanna have something in their mouth. You could teach him to carry the toy and then his mouth is occupied.