How to stop your dog pulling on walks
Pulling on the leash deters many owners from walking their dog regularly. After all, nobody wants to be pulled down the street with little control over their dog.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way! With a little focus, time and effort, this frustrating behavior can be completely turned on its head, making walkies time enjoyable for both dog and owner. Here’s how:
4 Steps to Stop your Dog Pulling on the Leash
By Doggy Dan – The Online Dog Trainer
- Ensure your dog is calm when you start your walk.
If picking up your dog’s leash is a cue for your dog to get super excited, you have some work to do! Does the following scenario sound familiar to you?
…You bring out the leash and BAM! Your sleeping beauty becomes a rocket. They jump up, tail wagging, racing around demanding that you put the leash on….
Now if you simply oblige and put the leash on, they get even more excited! The reason is simple. You are reinforcing their excited behavior with a reward, the lead. So, this behavior gets more and more extreme. Your dog will become more excited not less.
And the same thing is happening as your dog drags you towards the front door, barging their way through first and then pulling you down the garden path. All of this is getting your dog more and more excited. They will be at bursting point when you get onto the path!
The solution is to take your time.
Pick up the leash and then wait for your dog to calm down. Simply carry on doing what you were doing and ignore your dog’s antics. If they don’t calm down put the leash away or put it on a table.
This may take a little while, several attempts or quite a long period, but your dog will eventually calm. When they are calm you can try again and repeat until they are totally relaxed as you attach the leash. This process can be repeated all the way until you are on the path ready to start your walk.
Either wait calmly with your dog on the leash until they are calm before progressing or take the leash off and postpone the walk for a few minutes.
It may seem like you’re getting nowhere fast but better to take some time getting this sorted now rather than being dragged around the streets for years on end.
- Change direction whenever your dog starts to pull ahead.
This way you will be calling the shots and leading the way whilst keeping your dog slightly behind you. Your dog will need to start paying attention and listening to you as ‘pack leader’.
Change direction at the very start of your walk by looking at which way your dog is trying to head. If they want to go right, then you turn left. Walk to the left and repeat the directional change until they are properly taking notice of what you are doing.
Once your dog starts to pull ahead simply change direction and go the other way. Remember to do this early and do not allow your dog to get too far out in front of you. Your aim is to keep your dog by your side or slightly behind you. This exercise can take a little time, but your dog will get it.
- Choose an appropriate device.
If your dog is especially strong it is worthwhile taking a look at some of the different types of devices available to assist you in getting your dog to heel. There are special harnesses where the attachment is under the dog’s chin. This is totally different to a traditional harness where the attachment is on the back enabling dogs to pull like a cart horse. Another option is to use a Haltie which fits over the dog’s face. As with all devices, you need to ensure they fit properly and do not cause rubbing or pinching. Choker chains are always a no-no. Although many owners with pulling dogs resort to these sorts of collars- they can cause significant damage to throat and larynx when dogs constantly pull on them.
- Be the pack leader and make sure you lead the walk!
On the walk the pack leader leads from the front. So, if you are not the pack leader in your dog’s eyes, they will really fight for that spot at the front. Learning to become the pack leader is topic all on its own and is the basis of Doggy Dan’s world-famous training method. His 5 Golden Rules, when followed daily, will help you become the pack leader in a calm and gentle way.
If you would like further help in mastering your dog’s daily walk, then head on over to Doggy Dan’s website The Online Dog Trainer. This site has over 250 instructional videos including 7 excellent videos on how to walk your dog correctly showing you how to deal with every issue and question you may have.