Question: The situation is that we have a 4 month old border collie puppy that we got 2 months ago. We also have an 8 year old lab cross family dog. The older dog is a companion animal and keeps the coyotes and bears away. That is what we hope for in the younger dog too, besides being our 10 year old son’s dog. The pup is totally keyed into the older dog and it is very difficult to take them on walks without constant pulling on the leash. If I take them separately, the pup stays tuned into me and it goes nicely. However, it’s not getting any better when I try to take them on a walk together. The older dog can go on a leash, but is used to running along on loose voice commands. I realize that I may have to change her habits in order to walk them together. Do you have any suggestions or ideas on what I need to be aimed at to help this young dog to be tuned into us, rather than the other dog?
Answer: I’d take your pup out on a long line with your older dog loose when you go on a walk. A 20′ length of 1/4″ nylon cord works well. You can probably drop your end and let the pup drag it. Every so often call the pup to you. Your pup needs to be solid on coming to you when you call it anyway and this is a great exercise for that. At first you will reel him in fairly gently, with lots of praise when he gets to you. But soon, if he ignores you, jerk hard enough to up-end him, say COME, COME angrily as you roughly reel him in, with you backing up all the time. When he gets to you change your tone to praise and tell him what a good boy he is. Then say OK (or another release word) and let him have the length of the line again to wander and play with your other dog as you go for your walk. Since your Lab will probably stay fairly close to you the pup won’t be at the end of the line and pulling even if you are holding on to the end. Soon, the pup will stay tuned to you, even when he is interested in something else just in case you call him.
I’d also walk the puppy alone on leash and teach him not to pull. I’m not into gimmick collars, harnesses, etc., just a regular flat collar. Be sure it is tight enough that you can barely slip 2 fingers between dog and collar. NEVER hold pressure with the leash on the pup’s collar, but tug and slack. All dogs love to lay into pressure and pull, so never let them feel steady pressure to pull against. I’ve had some dogs that were especially stubborn about this so I would carry a switch and tap them on the rear or back legs when they insisted on pulling.