How to Stop Your Dog Pulling on the Lead
How many times has a walk around the block turned into a tug of war with your dog? If you have a leash-reactive or excitable dog, the likely answer is every single time. Going on a walk should be enjoyable; dare I say peaceful? A dog that consistently pulls on the lead zaps the fun out of walking together. There are a few simple techniques you can utilize to leash train your dog, as well as some misunderstandings we need to clear up.
Ways to Stop Your Dog Pulling on the Lead
It is often assumed that when dogs pull on their leads they are attempting to dominate their human and become the pack leader. Even when a dog exhibits leash aggression, it’s not because he’s trying to be the alpha male. In the case of leash aggression, this is a reaction to feeling restrained, afraid, and frustrated in social situations he faces while on a lead. In the general case of lead-pulling, a dog is simply rushing toward those irresistible sights and smells he doesn’t normally get to experience. Whether your dog is trying to rush toward something exciting and stimulating, or he’s trying to put distance between himself and whatever’s causing him stress, a lead is restrictive. This is why positive leash training must happen in order for your dog to learn those good leash manners you want to see.
There are two things humans get wrong when training their dogs. One is a lack of consistency. Even among humans that speak the same language, consistency is always a good thing. Since dogs and humans speak different languages, establishing consistent training methods is a must. When leash training your dog, make sure to do every technique the same way every time.
The second thing humans get wrong when leash training is pulling back on the lead when their dog pushes forward. What usually happens is a dog will pull to get where he wants to go faster, and his human will allow this. Letting your dog pull you forward is reinforcing his bad habit. He’s learned that if he pulls on the lead, he will get what he wants. Below are some techniques for leash training and tips for the best equipment to facilitate your training.
–Invest in a good, no-pull harness.
This is the best harness for dogs that tend to pull. The DEXDOG Chest Plate Harness and EZHarness are both no-pull harnesses that will protect you and your dog. Either of these harnesses will ensure that if your dog pulls on the lead his weight will be distributed across his chest, and his neck won’t be injured.
–Avoid choke and prong collars.
These are dangerous and will likely cause pain and injury to your dog.
–If a dog is used to successfully pulling on the lead, this habit can be stopped if you introduce new consequences for this behavior. When your dog begins to pull, you stop moving. When he turns around wondering what’s going on, call him back to you if he doesn’t automatically walk back to you. Once he reaches your side tell him he’s a good dog, offer him a treat, and then continue walking. If he starts to pull ahead of you, immediately stop and repeat the process.
–Another technique is to reverse direction.
This is helpful if the above technique isn’t progressing fast enough. When your dog starts to pull, say “let’s go” or “oops” as a cue, and then turn away from him walking in the other direction without pulling or jerking on the lead. Use your doggy talk voice to avoid pulling the lead yourself and encourage him to follow you. Once he’s following you, reward him with a treat and turn back in the original direction.
–Once you start seeing some progress, you can change up your own direction (still using consistent training cues) to ensure he’s listening to you at all times. Change directions abruptly using a “let’s go” cue, and apply the training techniques above to positively reinforce good behavior. If your dog is slow to catch on, start in a different direction and use doggy talk to encourage him to follow you. Don’t continue until the lead is relaxed.
These simple training methods will get you and your pooch walking on the enjoyable path you both desire. Remember to stay consistent and avoid jerking your dog around. Positive reinforcement promotes progress faster than punishment. If you’re still having trouble after using these techniques consistently for a couple months, consider visiting a professional dog trainer.
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