Do you envy other dog owners as they walk by? Their dog is happily loose leash walking, smiles on both of their faces and without a care in the world. You instead have a dog that is about to pull your arm out of its socket, yanking you in whichever direction he decides. He can’t breathe because the collar is cutting off his windpipe.
Oh to have a dog like that. Well here is the good news – you CAN have a dog like that. Here is the BAD news, you need to be the one to train him.
But don’t despair, it only takes a few minutes and a few treats each day and you will soon be walking the neighborhood with your head held high as others pass you with envy.
How To Stop Dog From Pulling Leash
Choose The Right Harness – If your dog is a heavy puller, do not attach the leash to their dog collar. Dogs have a behavior called opposition reflex. That means when you pull, they pull harder. If you are using a standard collar, you can easily crush their trachea and cause permanent damage. This is especially true in smaller dogs. At minimum switch to a harness. However, you may find that they pull just as hard if the leash attachment is on the top. The best training harness for teaching your dog leash manners is a front leash attachment harness.
The front attachment harness takes all the pressure off the fragile neck area, it also pulls the dog sideways when they pull, knocking them a bit off balance. Make sure the harness is snug, but not too tight. You should be able to easily slide a finger underneath all areas of the harness.
Choose The Right Leash – To properly leash train your dog, use a 5 – 6-foot leash. Do not use a retractable leash as they are too hard to handle during practice.
Geared Up And Ready To Go
Basics First – If you haven’t yet taught the basic commands of sit and stay, please do so. They are the building blocks of any future training, and a great way to teach your dog that you are the one in control, not him.
Exercise First – it is much easier to get a dog’s attention when he is not a bundle of energy. Burn off some of that energy before you start any training session. A rousing game of fetch is a good way to tire your dog. If your dog is not much into games, go for a walk or a run and save your training for the last 10-15 minutes of your outing. If you do this consistently, he will come to expect it and you can give training cues earlier into your dog walks.
No Distractions – When first training new behaviors, you want your dog’s full attention. Stay away from other dogs, children, and loud traffic, anything that would divert attention from your training, Later on, when he is comfortable with responding to your cues, you will want to put him in real-life situations, but not now.
Commit– Leash walking is not a natural behavior for your dog. Your motive for taking your dog for a walk is most likely to stretch your legs and get some exercise and fresh air. Your canine companion sees it as an opportunity to check the latest pee-mail communication, chase squirrels and frolic about. That leash thing is nothing but a hindrance holding him back. When you decide you are going to finally teach your dog to walk nicely on a leash, commit to it. Pulling on the leash is no longer an acceptable option – ever.
Catch Your Dog Doing Something Right – For this exercise, have a bag of tiny, tasty treats with you.
**Dogs don’t care about the size of the treat, just that they are being rewarded. If you use bigger pieces, you are not only adding to their calorie intake, but they may get full and not respond as well.**
Begin walking, if the dog walks next to you, mark that moment either with a clicker or a distinctive vocal sound, such as “nice” or “Yes”. Once you pick a word, use that same word and tone all the time or your dog may learn more slowly Once your dog starts pulling, abruptly stop walking and say something like “no” or “oops”, again always use that same word and tone for consistency. Start walking, as soon as he walks on a loose leash, mark that moment with a praise and reward, just like last time.
If he continues for a few more steps with a loose leash, repeat the praise and reward. The moment the leash goes tight and he begins to pull, stop and say “no” or “oops”.
Another way to teach your dog to stop pulling is to set a goal for your dog to focus on. For instance, put a tasty treat or toy at a distance, close enough to hold attention, but far enough away to execute the exercise.
Start with a short distance and then increase as your dog figures things out.
With your dog at a sit position and the goal in focus, begin walking. As soon as your dog tightens the leash, say “no” or “oops”. Turn, go back to the start point and repeat from the beginning.
You can help your dog along by providing treats as he keeps the leash loose on the way to the goal.
This type of exercise is known as “providing penalty yards”, the dog soon learns that he will not ever achieve his goal treat if he doesn’t behave along the way.
Patience and Practice
Both of the techniques require patience, patience and practice and more practice for both you and your dog.
Once your dog gets comfortable with what is being asked of him in a relatively quiet area, introduce him to distractions, such as new neighborhoods and meeting other dogs. Remember it is all a process and will take time.
In the beginning, there will be good days and not so good days.
Just make sure that you don’t give up – you are committed.
However, teaching your dog to walk nicely on a loose leash, is probably the most satisfying behavior that you can teach your dog. It helps build trust between your dog and you and will lead to many pleasant and wonderful adventures ahead.