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Hi Guys,

I recently posting a topic bout being frustrated walking my puppy choc lab dog, as he would stop and sniff everything. The general consensus of advice was be patient and enjoy the walks instead of rushing them, and I have took that on board and enjoyed the walks more.

I recently started going puppy lessons, and the trainer said she doesn't like harnesses and I really need to lose the harness and use the collar. It makes sense in that I have more control over the head and what he sniffs etc, and of course I want him to walk on the collar when older, I don't want a harness all his life.

but the problem is he constantly chokes himself on the lead. I am of course doing all the stop, get slack in the lead and continue stuff, and I'm sure he will get the idea and in future walks will be fine. But I am worried in the interim, that he is hurting himself and may do some serious damage, and nothing is worth that.

He chokes himself many times on walks to the point he chokes up saliva and gags, then continues and happens over and over.

I'm only just learning the stop, slack, praise, walk stuff, but its everytime he pulls he chokes.

I never had the choking with the harness obviously, thats why I liked it, but I want to keep up with what my trainer says.

Anyone got any advice on what I can do? I surely can't just ignore the choking until he gets the idea can I? I don't want him to hurt himself?

Any help will be appreciated!

He is 16 weeks old btw
 

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You can train a dog to loose lead walk on a harness so I'm afraid that I would ignore the trainer and put him in a harness so that I know there will be no choking but then I would continue the training to have him walk nicely without pulling.

I still use harnesses for my <cough> supposedly adult dogs at times when I know that excitement may well result in pulling. I prefer them not to damage their throat/neck.
 
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I agree that the collar pulling on his neck is a worry, and I was always concerned about damaging the trachea when Mischa was a pup and pulled on lead.

When we went to training one thing they got us to do was trot along with pup close for a few yards, then change direction and repeat, all this was done for a very short time with treat for doing it nicely.

I think I would ask your trainer to watch you for a while, this would help him/her see if you are going wrong with your procedure.

It is very early days so try too keep positive, if necessary only do the lead walking for a few minutes at a time, also worth trying is letting him have a run around off lead in the garden for a short while then pop lead on and be very matter of fact with short nice lead walking [it only has to be a few yards, then treat and repeat].

If you think the sniffing everything is a distraction then avoid the places this is happening, look for boring pavement walking type places for the training, then let him have a sniffy time when he has done some work.

I must admit I have always tried to distract the sniffing as it can become a nuisance if you are trying to do a toilet walk and they are only interested in reading their mail;), it really does depend for me, ie if its just a gentle stroll or a nice brisk walk, then I let my lot do what they want when we arrive at destination.

I'm sorry I am not very good writing it down, it may help if you can find a video of early days lead walking to heel with puppy.

June
 
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I've had several pups and none have consistently choked themselves on lead. Ok we may have had the occasional cough, but that has only been with the pups with much finer skin and less muscle than the Lab pups. So with this in mind, I'd get the vet to check him over, to make sure he hasn't got a problem with his windpipe/throat area, and in the mean time I'd use the harness and carry on training in that.

The trainer can only advise and state her preferences, but at the end of the day, the dog is YOURS, so you can do as you like.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks guys, some helpful responses here.

I think I will keep him on the harness, I feel far more comfortable that way and I enjoy the walks more.

The choking himself on the walks is quite bad, and by the end of the walk he is very flustered and panting, I'm really not happy with doing that again, it worries me.

I have a vet check up due in a week for weighing etc, so I'll get a quick once over on him then.

Thanks again!
 

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Can I suggest that you use the collar and lead for class and practice with it at home but use the harness for your walks you don't necessarily have to tell the trainer this, its not like your dog is going to snitch on you ;)

At home you can put his collar and lead on and practice with some yummy treats and praise with no distractions in the house in say the hall where there is nothing of interest to your puppy then when he can do that on a loose lead then try in the garden then down the drive and so on if your ultimate aim is to have him only on a collar and lead.

Like Laura I still use harnesses with mine if we are going somewhere exciting. I also use harnesses when I want to let them have some freedom in places they aren't allowed off-lead (several parks around here have that rule).

Like June I have a no sniffing on collar and lead rule for our street walks as I know the council spray pesticide on the verges and lamp posts (I asked them) and lots of people around here use weedkiller, slug pellets etc on their front gardens, plus sometimes I just want to get on with getting somewhere so for all those reasons I expect mine not to sniff or mark etc when we are pavement walking, I give them a release command and let them off lead or have them on a harness when I get to the destination so they know they can then do as they please :)
 

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We would use a harness when George when we had to take him anywhere but didn’t have the time train nice walking. It means the lead would only be used when we had the time to train him properly, so he would kind of know the difference as well.

Please don’t be dis-heartened training a dog to do something takes a long time, its something that is often forgotten about i find, new dog owners are rarely told things take a long time, unless they come on places like here.

It took me a year to train George to walk nicely on a lead, a year of stopping when he went in front, bring him back along side with food then off we go. Stop, start, stop, start; always rewarding the right with plenty of treats.

It wont be a quick thing, it takes a while and kind of needs to become a routine of a daily thing of stopping. They get it in the end i promise, but they are stubborn.

If he is choking and refusing to come back to you with food, then up the rewards. Only give him juicy treats for this situation, put the chicken/cheese up to his nose then guide him back to your side. Then off you go again, pullllllling stop back along side.

This will drive you mad and you’ll think that he’s never going to get it, he will. :)
 
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