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Canine Behavior/Walking a dog with Epilepsy


Hi, I would be grateful if you could give me some advice on the precautions needed to take when walking a dog with Epilepsy. The particular dog in question is a pointer mix and has epileptic seizures at least once a month sometimes more often. He is about 4 years old. He is on medication from the vet to treat this condition. He has a lot of energy and I feel that he could do with some training on the leash. I would like to use a simple rope around the top of the dogs neck. If I were to make a quick correction (much the same as Cesar does) if he pulls for example, could this affect his condition? As pulling to the side in this manner will give him an out of balance experience for a few seconds before returning to walking at the side of you. What leash would you recommend for this type of condition? Many thanks

I would not do, at any time for any reason whatever, what "Cesar" does.  Period.

You cannot use neck restraint on this dog.  He must wear a harness.  Harnesses can be fitted by taking the dog to a large pet store such as Petco, Petsmart, etc.  There are harnesses of different varieties, including a no-pull harness which is harmless to the dog but which prevents him from successfully pulling you along.  Pointers, as sporting breeds, have high energy levels and high prey drive and can be very excitable outdoors.  

The word "correction" gets THROWN OUT THE WINDOW.  We do not teach with pain, we use the brain.

Leash training using a harness should, for you, involve a clicker.  I cannot teach you in this text box how to condition the dog to perceive the clicker as primary reward nor how to use it to give him leash manners.  I can, however, point you to places that will teach you:

The above is a primer which explains the basics of the clicker.  The best thing to do is to go to Karen Pryor's site (she introduced clicker training to the dog fancy):  There you will find a plethora of free videos, free articles, and free training instructions.  I suggest you learn about the clicker before using it on your dog.  The best way to do this, once you have read through some material online, is to use it ON A HUMAN BEING.  Let's say this:  you obviously TELL the Human that click = YOU DID IT (for the dog, treat: high value food reward).  A dog must be conditioned to the clicker.  When you are ready to do that, put the clicker in your pocket at first to muffle the sound: some dogs are sensitive and are afraid of the sound, we don't want that.  Use it on the Human in the following way:  have a simple goal in mind (stand next to that table) and then place the person close to, but not too close to, the table.  If the person goes away from the goal, turn your back; turn back to the person and give a go ahead cue (simple point).  As soon as the person has reached the table, click.  This is actually fun (and works great with kids, by the way) and it lets YOU see how powerful the motivation is for that click (the person will TELL you this.)

Further information from Karen Pryor:

An excellent book written by her as a resource:

You may be able to actually purchase this book from her site.

So: when you have an understanding of the science of this (it is operant conditioning), you are ready to condition your dog INSIDE to do the simplest thing (he might already know it, change the word/cue/command) such as "sit".  Dogs "get" this fairly rapidly.  You can then progress, INSIDE, to another simple behavior (i.e., "down", using another word and do not train "down" from a command to "sit" or dog will soon lie down at every command to "sit").  You'll know when the lightbulb has gone off over his head (lol).

Now you're ready to take the dog out wearing his harness, clicker in hand, high value food reward in pocket.  When he pulls, the harness will stop him and you will stop moving forward until he looks around (might take some time at first) and then comes to your side: click/treat.  Go forward.  Do this consistently during every walk and the dog will learn that walking at your side (at any pace) is very, very rewarding.  You will have to click/treat randomly once the dog has learned this and eventually you will  be able to extinguish most click/treats but not entirely.  He's working for it, so he deserves it, and the conditioned behavior (walking without pulling) will go into his long term memory once you begin sporadic reward.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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