Both of my dogs were rescues from the kennels near to where I live. They were not puppies when we adopted them, they were full grown dogs and had picked up a lot of bad habits from their previous owners or from lack of discipline.
Bear in mind that both of our dogs are bully breeds, we have a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and an American Bulldog and those breeds are known to be big and boisterous dogs.
Discipline is essential in raising these types of dogs and if it is not appropriately applied then the breeds have the potential to live up to their undeserved reputation.
Juda was actually adopted by my partner nearly four years ago as quite a young dog and he had a fear of walking outside and my partner and his brother, with the best intentions, pandered to this fear and so took him on minimal walks. When I moved in, I took it upon myself to try and enforce a change as Juda’s weight was starting to become an issue.
He wasn’t keen on the walks at first, his tail was between his legs and every so often he would just stop walking and refuse to walk anymore. It was a difficult object to overcome and we tried a few things to make him stop this parking and refusal to continue. At first we just tugged him along to make him move, but this only resulted in him stopping more frequently because he just couldn’t overcome his fear of walking outside.
For Juda, we needed a more gentle approach, and so every time he stopped and shook, I’d walk to the end of the lead, leaving him a little bit behind and then encourage him t come to me, where he’d get lots of fuss and love and then we’d continue with his walk. The stops became less frequent but they were still happening. After a few weeks of this, we think we got the stops down as infrequent as they could be with this method and then we tried something else. When we saw the warning signs he was about to park, we upped the pace and talked to him and encouraged him to carry on, sometimes breaking into a little jog.
It took a godo few months, but now, he walks fine, he’s never got a smile on his face, but exercise is an important part of owning a dog and it is necessary.
His next big behavioural issue was his neediness and craving for attention. This problem only really arose when we brought another dog into the household. He won’t allow anyone to stroke Pepper without pounding over and nudging your hand and demanding attention. He also does this when we are having quiet time. We are working on this by making being at our side as unstimulating as possible, when we enter the house we don’t give him any attention until he has calmed down and is sitting nicely and when he starts to get too needy, we fold our arms and ignore him. It’s hard, but he’s slowly weaning off this behaviour.
Pepper was abandoned by her previous owners when her skin condition got too much and she had no fur and was red raw. I don’t know much of her previous life but she came to us very dominating and bossy and there was a bit of a power struggle in the house between her and Juda when she first arrived.
Her main issue though was during her walks, but her problem was the opposite of Juda. She was an extreme puller and for the first few days, I had to wear thick cycling gloves to prevent her lead from cutting into my hand. I eventually got a better lead and the pain was less in my hand but she was still pulling.
It is very frustrating walking Pepper but we’re taking time to fix this as it is a major obstacle right now. We began with treat training, holding a small treat by my hip that she would focus on and make her stick by my side. The problem with this was as soon as she’d eaten the treat, she would bound off and start pulling again until the next treat made an appearance.
We are still working on the pulling issue as we seem to have tried everything (much moe than just treat training). She walks a lot better with her extendable lead but it’s only a temporary fix and it only works for the extra length.
If anyone has any advice on how to stop a massive, 30kg dog from pulling on the lead, please let me know!