German Shepherd Dogs are known for being excellent at obedience and training – it’s one of the reasons they are used for police, military and service work! But, this doesn’t happen by itself. A German Shepherd that has not had the right training can just as easily pull you down the sidewalk and be very pleased about it. The following are tried and true tips to help make sure that your German Shepherd doesn’t pull on the leash.
#1 – Start Young
As soon as you bring home your German Shepherd, start leash training. This includes the eight-week old pup. The sooner you instill those good leash manners, the better. Why wait until he his is 60 pounds and a teenager to train him when you can do it while he weighs just 10 pounds?
#2 – Practice Attention
Being a herding dog, German Shepherds are sensitive to motion. Anything that moves is going to interest them. So, you need to teach him to focus on you instead. Working on having him looking at you when you say her name, offering eye contact without a cue, “leave it” and “drop” are important to leash training. All of these will help your dog stay focused on you during a walk, instead of pulling you wherever she feels like it.
#3 – Self-control
Another reason your German Shepherd may pull on the leash is to chase after whatever is moving. For this reason, working on self-control with your shepherd is very important. This means teaching him that when he sees a cat, bike, car, kid, etc., he doesn’t have to chase it, but can stay with you instead.
#4 – Reward Correct Position
Whenever your German Shepherd is in heel position – walking nicely by your side with a loose leash – be sure you are rewarding him. This can be anything your dog likes, including treats, praise, toys, etc. As long as your Shepherd likes it, it’s a reward. Dogs repeat behaviors that are reinforced, so the more you reinforce him for being in that position, the more he will go there. It’s as simple as that!
#5 – Don’t Let Pulling Be Reinforced
As mentioned above, dogs do what gets reinforced. If your German Shepherd Dog pulls on the leash and gets what he wants (to sniff that bush, to greet that person, to chase the cat) then he will continue to do it and it will get worse. Instead, if you feel your dog start to pull you in one direction, you can plant your feet and stop moving until he comes back and gives you attention (if he is not stronger than you). Or, turn and walk the opposite way. Once he is walking next to you nicely, you can turn back and go the way he wanted to. This teaches your German Shepherd Dog that if he wants to go somewhere, he has to keep that leash loose.