Fast forward to training last night. Over the past several weeks, we've noticed we're the only ones in class who are still struggling with their dogs pulling on leash. We kind of figured it was just because we have the largest dogs in class, but it was making training stressful every single time. Both of the Newfies are easily stronger than me, so I often feel helpless and totally out of control. The martingale (half regular collar, half choke-chain) collars we'd been using were having little or no effect on correcting the dogs' pulling, so J. and I knew something had to change. We took a chance and decided to try out prong collars for the first time ever. We arrived at class a little early to purchase and get the dogs fitted for the collars. I have always disliked the idea of prong collars, thinking them unnecessary and a little harsh. But after going through 4 weeks of training class and still being jerked around by Thatcher and Boden every time we're in public, I was desperate for a solution. Instead of the crazy-looking, bulky metal collars I've seen in pet stores, these ones were surprisingly petite. They are made of separate links hooked together, and you can take them apart or add/remove links as needed. They sit on the upper neck, right below the dog's ears, and are meant to simulate a scruffing of the neck.
We got the dogs properly fitted, and a trainer walked one dog around the room at at time to get them used to the feel of this new corrective measure. Though I was skeptical at first, the difference it made was incredible. I am not even exaggerating at all when I say the pulling issue basically disappeared. I walked Boden around, and whenever he would pull even slightly, I gave the leash a little tug and he would immediately stop. Besides Boden being a little confused and nervous because of this new feeling on his neck, training went great. Instead of having to be tense and fight the dogs' constant straining, we were able to actually focus on the training aspect. We practiced coming, heeling, staying, standing, etc. No leash-burned hands, no sore muscles, no crazy dogs. I felt like a weight lifted. For the first time in quite a while, I felt completely in control as we worked on heeling. The only hiccup I had is the "stand" command again. I cannot figure out how to get this idea to sink into Boden's mind. All in all, J. and I left feeling happy and stress-free. We might end up with a couple of trained Newfies after all.