Does your Shetland Sheepdog pull your arm out of your socket at every walk? Many Shelties have trouble walking on leash for a variety of reasons – they may want to greet other people or dogs, or chase moving objects (including cars!). In some cases, your Sheltie may be pulling out of fear and you will probably need the help of a professional trainer. But for those that just have a rambunctious Sheltie bent on chasing everything, don’t worry, you are not alone! What’s more, there is a way to fix this behavior so your walks can be pleasant again. The following are five tips to prevent your Shetland Sheepdog from pulling on the leash.
#1 – Start Young
Dogs start learning from the moment they are born – what do you want yours to learn? Do not wait until your Sheltie puppy is an adolescent – start teaching good leash manners as soon as you bring yours home.
#2 – Teach Self-Control
Shetland Sheepdogs are intelligent and have a strong will and instincts, especially the instinct that says to chase anything that moves. At first, you may find that upping your rewards helps – often more intelligent dogs need more of a reason to do what you ask. In addition, teaching self-control so your Sheltie can make the right choice – for example, staying by your side instead of chasing that bunny – is very helpful. Stay, Go To Bed (mat-stay behavior), sitting for a toy/food/petting, etc., are all good ways to work on self-control.
#3 – Practice Attention
As mentioned above, your Sheltie probably likes to chase things – which means he may be constantly scanning the area for anything that moves. On leash, this can lead to you being pulled in whatever direction the nearest moving object is – not fun! A key to stopping these behaviors is to keep him focused on you during a walk. Working on looking at you when you say his name, offering eye contact without a cue, Leave It and Drop are important to leash training.
#4 – Reward Correct Position
Whenever your Shetland Sheedog is calmly walking in heel position – by your side with a loose leash – be sure you reward him. You can even turn this into a game by trying to move away from your Sheltie and seeing if he stays with you off-leash in your house or in your backyard. Start off easy and then increase difficulty (quicker pace, tighter turns) as he learns the game. Rewards can be anything he likes, including treats, praise, toys, etc. As long as your Sheltie likes it, it’s a reward. Dogs repeat behaviors that are reinforced, so the more you reinforce him for being in that spot, the more he will do it. It’s as simple as that!
#5 – Don’t Let Pulling Be Reinforced
As mentioned, dogs do what gets reinforced, so make sure your Sheltie is not being rewarded for pulling. If she pulls on the leash and gets what she wants (to chase a bunny or greet a dog) then she will continue to do it and it will get worse. So, if you feel your Sheltie start to pull you in one direction, plant your feet and don’t move, waiting until he returns to you. If yours is stronger than you, you can also turn and walk the opposite direction. Once she is walking next to you nicely, you can turn back and go the way she wanted to in the first place. This teaches your Shetland Sheepdog that if she wants to go somewhere, she has to keep that leash loose. Dogs figure this game out quickly, so it can make training go faster.
Do you want a healthier & happier dog? Join our email list & we'll donate 1 meal to a shelter dog in need!