Sadie’s got a new specialty harness we’ve been working with lately – the Xtreme Pet Products No-Pull Harness. Now you may be asking why in the world I need a harness to stop pulling when Sadie is a pretty small dog. She usually seems well behaved too. But what you don’t know is that in certain circumstances, Sadie does have a tendency to pull. She’s not a big, strong dog, so it’s not a dangerous problem, but it’s still an issue I thought it was time to address. Hence our testing of the Xtreme Pet Products No-Pull Harness.
When I first received this harness, I was a little confused about how to use it. Don’t be embarrassed if you look at a harness and just see a bunch of strings with no idea where they go, because that’s how I feel at first too. But the Xtreme Pet Products website has a nice PDF file that you can save or print to show you exactly how to put your dog into the No-Pull harness (click here to view the PDF instructions). There are two loops that go around your dog and you just need to slip both over your dog’s head with the larger loop going on first.
Now Sadie’s main issue with pulling relates to avoidance. She is not comfortable with other dogs, so she tries to pull me away from them. This sometimes happens with people or strange/noisy objects as well. This behavior can sometimes be embarrassing for me, like in the sponsor room at the BlogPaws conference when Sadie got tangled under a vendor table trying to avoid probably the most well behaved dog I’ve ever seen. So I decided to take Sadie to some pet stores so we could encounter other dogs and see if this harness could really stop the pulling. There was definitely a difference in Sadie’s behavior. With any old harness, Sadie would be straining at the end of her leash and halfway into the next aisle if I went near another dog. With the Xtreme No-Pull Harness, Sadie would attempt one pull and then just stop and look at me. So far this harness test is a success.
I also took some video of Sadie and I on a walk using the Xtreme Pet Products No-Pull Harness. The video was taken towards the end of our walk, when we are about half a block from our house. At this point in the walk Sadie is normally rushing as fast as she can, trying to drag me down the street to our house. She typically looks like a little sled dog trying to mush me home. But with this harness on, Sadie acted completely different. As you can see in the video, Sadie is just walking along normally, occasionally looking back at me. Instead of pulling harder when she reached the end of the leash, Sadie just glanced over her shoulder, as if waiting for instructions or waiting for me to catch up.
The No-Pull Harness from Xtreme Pet Products comes in 21 different colors. Many of the colors contain reflective threads to help increase the visibility of your dog. Ours is pink, of course, with silvery white reflective threads. It’s made in the USA from a shock absorbent material that stretches when you apply pressure, which helps to lessen the strain placed on your dog. The No-Pull Harness is only for dogs 10 pounds and larger. You actually order the harness by picking your dog’s weight from the list, ensuring you receive the best size. You can get your own for $30-$37.
Sadie is almost three years old now and has gone up and down countless flights of stairs. But there is one particular set of stairs she’s never traversed on her own – the main stairs up to the second floor apartment where we live. Sadie is fine with the stairs in the office because they’re carpeted. She’s comfortable with the brick steps up to the front door and even with the rugged wooden steps off of our back deck. But shiny, slippery, interior wooden stairs were out of the question. If she was a bigger dog I may have worked on convincing her to try those stairs. But since she’s small enough to carry and I knew we would be getting those stairs carpeted eventually, I decided to err on the safer side and just carry her up and down those slippery steps. But now the time has finally come. We just had carpet installed on ‘the’ stairs. All I need to do is convince Sadie that the stairs are now safe and she will no longer be carried up or down them anymore.
I started the process at the top of the stairs. Big mistake. I spent valuable time trying to convince Sadie to step off the landing, but she just wouldn’t go. Eventually I took her off the landing and placed her on the top step to get her moving downward, but she just stood on that top step and refused to move. After more negotiations, which Sadie won, I gave up and carried her down the stairs. We went outside for a potty break. When we came back in, Sadie stepped up to the bottom step, then looked back at me. All I said was “Go ahead” and she shot up those stairs like a bolt of lightening. I couldn’t have been more proud of her.
But going down the stairs was still a problem. Sadie did not want to step off the landing. I tried luring her down the stairs with food, but Sadie has never been very food motivated. I tried throwing a squeaky ball down the stairs, hoping she would chase after it, but she just stared sadly at me until I went and got it for her. Just when I was running out of ideas, the doorbell rang. Sadie raced down those steps without a second thought, wanting to know who was at that door. All it took was that one distraction for Sadie to finally stop thinking about how scary the steps were and start thinking about what’s exciting at the bottom of them. From then on, Sadie happily goes up and down the stairs with ease. I can’t believe I went so long having to carry her, because life is so much sweeter when I can have free hands on the stairs.
When I was daydreaming about getting my first puppy, I made a list of all the things I wanted to teach her. Towards the top of the list was putting her toys away into their box. Well two years later we still haven’t figured that one out. But I’ve been trying to teach her since the first week Sadie’s lived with me. These photos come from the day I introduced Sadie to her first toy box. I couldn’t convince her to put toys in the box, but she was happy to put herself into it. She also thought it made a pretty tasty chew toy. Continue reading →
Does your dog pay attention to you and follow your commands? Most dog owners have trouble keeping their dogs focused and cooperative both in and out of training sessions. One way to deal with this problem is to analyze your tone. If you constantly get frustrated and yell at your dog, he or she will probably learn to ignore the yelling as normal behavior and continue doing whatever he or she feels like doing. But if you act happy and excited about a command, your dog may enjoy that and try to perform the command to keep you happy and excited. It all depends on your particular dog and his or her relationship with you as the owner. Continue reading →
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Today I’ve decided to join the new Training Tips Tuesday blog hop. As it’s my first time joining this blog hop, I decided to share some basic dog training principles that I always like to consider when working with Sadie.