Does Your Dog Pull On His Leash?
18 June, 2013

Many dog owners love to take their dogs for long walks on leash and want it to be a fun experience for both the dog and you, the owners.  However, a lot of dogs try to take control on the walk and tend to pull on their leash.  Why do they pull on their leash?  Because it works and it usually gets them where they want to go.

Your dog is being pulled by the environment

First of all, your dog isn’t really pulling on the leash as much as he or she is being pulled by things in the environment that stimulate and attracts him. Of course, all dogs are different, so each dog will have his or her own motives for being pulled toward any specific stimulus, but the underlying reason is always the same: it feels more natural for a dog to move toward something than it does to walk next to you.  Therefore, it is important to make walking next to you attractive or fun.

Make each training session short and fun

It is never easy to teach a dog to stop pulling, but until your dog learns how to do so, consider each walk or venture as a training session.  Therefore, try to make them short, but more frequent and fun for your dog.

Since each loose-leash walking session will be shorter, try to find other ways for your dog to release the pent- up energy (since he or she won’t get to do so on the walks).  Dogs tend to pull on the leash because they’re full of excess energy. So unless you can expend that energy, your dog will find it hard to control himself. Before you start training, play fetch or take your dog to the dog park to release some of the pent-up energy.

Make sure your dog is calm before starting

If your dog is jumping up on you when you are putting on his leash, try to calm him or her down.  Wait until your dog has all four paws on the floor and then attach her leash.  If he isn’t calm from the start, it will make the training that much harder.

Bring treats with you

Teaching a dog to walk without pulling requires a reward system. Use yummy, desirable treats that your dog doesn’t get at other times. Soft treats are the best so your dog can eat them quickly and continue training. Chop all treats into small cubes so you don’t over feed your dog.

Try walking at a quick pace. If your dog trots or runs, he or she will have fewer opportunities to catch a smell of something enticing and be less inclined to stop and eliminate every few steps. And you are far more interesting to your dog when you move quickly.  It feels like more of a game for them.

Reward often at the start

Start with your dog standing at your left side. With several treats in your left hand, hold your left hand right in front of your dog’s nose and say ‘let’s walk’ and then get started.  If your dog keeps up the right pace with you, pop a treat in his mouth and praise him for his good work.  If your dog pulls ahead or to the side, immediately stop.

If your dog pulls the leash, stop and start the exercise again.

Don’t discourage your dog.  Let him have a nice rest, ask him or her to sit and praise your dog when she does. Then put the treat-loaded hand back in front of her nose and start walking again. Go a little bit farther every day that you practice. After at least a week with treats on your walks, try to stop enticing your dog with treats and just have an empty left hand in a natural position at your waist with elbow bent.

Make each walking session a little longer

Try again with ‘let’s walk’ and reward your dog by giving her or him a treat after a few minutes. When your pup can walk along without pulling for several minutes, begin gradually increasing the number of steps you go in between treats so that your dog is walking longer distances between rewards.  Try to use praise and not food as a reward and see if that works.  We don’t want our dogs to gain weight!

There are also different collars and leashes that can help deter your dog from pulling, but the reward system is always a nice way to start because your dog learns from praise, trial and error and positive reinforcement.  

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