One of the most common problems dog trainers are contacted for is dogs pulling on leash. While everyone wants to enjoy a nice walk with their pup, it’s no secret that a dog dragging you down the street is nothing short of awful.
Not only is it uncomfortable, it’s dangerous for you and your dog.
You could be pulled into traffic, trip or fall and your dog could very well greet a not-so-friendly stranger (human or animal). But teaching your dog to walk nicely on leash doesn’t have to be a battle. Here are three simple tips to stop your dog from pulling on leash.
#1 – Start Early
The earlier you start using a leash with your dog or puppy, the better. Although we don’t always get our dogs as puppies, the younger the better as well. Either way, letting your dog get used to wearing a leash is important.
Some dogs, especially former strays or puppies that haven’t been on a leash yet, will often panic when they become restrained. Begin by associating the leash with delicious treats or fun toys and making the experience a positive one.
You want your dog to think of the leash as a part of the fun, not something to be restrained by. If possible, work with a trainer near you to start practicing proper leash manners early on.
#2 – Balance Training
Balancing your training is important. Going all positive can result in a dog that is open to looking for a better reward (ie. pulling to chase a squirrel instead of focusing on the treat you have in your hand) and too much punishment is unfair and detrimental to your relationship. Teach loose-leash walking in simple steps, often going on step at a time, until you are able to attach a command (like “heel” or “walk”) and progress in a way that’s easy for your dog to understanding.
Pairing positive reinforcement with simple corrections (like “no”) will often lead the best results. Obviously, there are thousands of different ways to teach loose-leash walking. You’ll want to find the method that works best for you and your dog.
#3 – Keep It Simple
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different leashes and accessories available on the market today. Many are geared towards preventing your dog from pulling. But we recommend keeping it simple and stick to a regular leash and collar and some training.
A common mistake many owners make is by using a harness. First, understanding the history of a harness is important. Harnesses make it easy for dogs to pull comfortably.
Think of dogs that wear harnesses in their jobs. Sled dogs, carting dogs, draft dogs and even dogs that compete in skijoring, bikejoring and Canicross. All of these jobs require the dogs to pull something and they all wear the same thing – a harness. If a harness makes it easier for a dog to pull heavy freight, it’s going to make it easier to pull you as well! Harnesses marketed as no-pull actually just restrict your dog’s movement rather than teach them not to pull on leash.
We find it’s much more enjoyable to simply teach your dog to walk nicely on a regular leash and collar. That said, some dogs need harnesses for medical reasons and they are often easier for some owners to use than a collar. Again, you’ll have to find the method that works best for you and your dog.
Once your dog is walking safely by your side, learn How To Teach Your Dog The “Leave It” & “Drop It” Commands to make walks safer and more enjoyable for you both!
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