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Dog Goes On Strike

by Sam Mazzotta

Dear Paw’s Corner: My dog Perry tugs, fights, and whines when I put a collar and leash on him. He will even flop down and refuse to move. I don’t know what to do.
—Mike D., Roanoke, Virginia

Dear Mike: Oh, that’s frustrating! You can help Perry to tolerate his collar and leash by making some adjustments and rebuilding a positive association with the leash. Here are a few tips to start with:

  • Check the fit and comfort of Perry’s collar. Sometimes owners buy stylish collars that look great on their pet but are uncomfortable and either too big or too small.
  • Consider a chest halter instead of a collar. This provides a supportive fit and when you tug on the leash, pressure is distributed around a dog’s torso rather than its neck.
  • Re-introduce Perry to the new collar or halter gradually. Show him the new gear while offering a treat at the same time. When he’s eating, gently drape the leash over his back. Give lots of praise at the same time. This starts to create positive connections with the new gear.
  • Conduct obedience training at home, in 10-minute sessions, while Perry wears the new collar or halter. Review basic commands of come, sit, stay, and lie down. Leave the leash off at first.
  • Add the leash, but don’t tug on it. Continue obedience training while Perry wears the new gear. Take the gear off when done.
  • Gradually increase the time your dog wears the collar or harness and leash.

This will take patience, lots of love, and encouragement. Always be positive with Perry while retraining to the leash. If, despite these efforts, he still doesn’t respond, contact a professional trainer to help you both get through this stuck spot.
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