How To Stop A Dog From Pulling On The Leash: 10 PROVEN TECHNIQUES
GETTING A DOG TO STOP PULLING ON THE LEASH
When the person on the other end doesn’t know how to keep up, effortless leash walking can be a pain. Guess what? The annoyance is the same on both sides! The intensity of the pulling and how much time and patience you have to invest in training determine how to stop a dog from pulling on a leash. As part of my group classes, I teach leash walking lessons at least once a week. And I know for a fact that 80% of those people will see no results because as soon as the class is over, they leave with their dogs bolting and lunging out the door, and the pet parents are fine with it.
Before we begin, I’d like to emphasize that leash training is not something that can be accomplished in a single day. That German Shepherd you saw walking with his owner without a leash the other day is the result of years of training and a fantastic recall.
The following are some of the reasons why your dog may be pulling on the leash:
- Sniff Sniff Sniff
- He walks too far, and you walk too far.
- Your walks are routine, and he knows where you’re going.
- He has only ever learned to walk on a tight leash since he was a puppy.
- You let him pull and he pulls.
- He has no idea how to control his excitement, which manifests itself in leash pulling.
- At home, he receives no mental or physical stimulation. His only form of exercise is going for walks.
TEN WAYS TO KEEP YOUR DOG ON THE LEASH AND MAKE TRAINING FUN FOR BOTH OF YOU!
1. Before you step outside, take the excitement off the leash.
If you can’t get your dog to come when you put the leash on him for a walk, your dog needs to take a chill pill before you leave the house.
Get your dog to stay on leash in front of an open door for at least 30-40 seconds before you step outside the door. Step outside slowly once your dog has mastered this. If your dog bolts outside, wait and start.
2. Begin loose-leash walking in areas where you can concentrate better.
Start loose leash walking in an easier-to-focus area, such as your backyard or a less-frequented area, to set yourself and your dog up for success.
Our dogs have always walked faster than us since they were puppies. As a result, they’ve always been walking and running ahead of us on the leash, resulting in a tight leash on walks.
Your dog begins to associate a “tight leash” with “keep moving” over time. We work on reverse while teaching them to walk on a loose leash.
Keep moving with a slack leash and stop with a tight leash. The walk comes to a halt as soon as the leash becomes too tight. The walk will resume once your dog has waited by your side.
3. Don’t be afraid to use treats.
Being able to explore in an outdoor environment is a reward in and of itself for a dog. So, while any type of training can be added to an existing routine, motivation is just as important. Treats can make the process go much more smoothly and produce faster results.
Tip – When leash walking, use crumbly or soft, moist treats instead of hard ones, as we want the dog’s attention to shift to chewing.
4. Do not interfere with the enjoyment of the walk.
I see a lot of dog owners who keep the leash extremely tight to keep their dogs close to them. It makes it difficult for the dog to even bend down and sniff because of this. Remember that your dog’s primary reason for being outside is to sniff. How are you going to get your dog to stop pulling on the leash if you take away the one thing he enjoys the most?
If you give your dog the choice between an hour run with no sniffing and a 25-minute walk where he can sniff everything, he will choose the latter because it will physically and mentally tire him out at the end of the day. You should re-evaluate your walks if your dog returns home after a walk and continues to destroy things in the house.
If your dog returns home after a walk and continues to destroy items in the house, you should reconsider your walks.
5. Make the walk interesting.
Outdoor walks are one of the most enjoyable activities for your dog. Taking him to the same location, in the same neighborhood, every day will make your walks monotonous for both of you.
Taking your dog to new places every now and then will encourage a lot of sniffing and will help your dog slow down on walks. To keep things interesting, switch up the scenarios at least once a week.
6. Use the proper equipment.
For a dog that pulls uncontrollably on a leash, a back clipping harness and a retractable leash are not the best tools to use. A back clipping harness creates a swing effect for a dog while pulling, making it much more comfortable for the dog. It also triggers a reaction known as the “opposition reflex.” This means that your dog has a natural resistance to pressure and will pull in the opposite direction from anything that exerts pressure on his body in a particular direction.
A retractable leash simply allows a dog to pull more freely. Retractable leashes also isolate your dog from you, giving him the impression that he is walking alone. A dog that walks alone assumes responsibility for his own safety. This is when issues such as barking, lunging, and other behaviors begin to occur. On walks, a dog who is focused on walking with you and keeping up with you pays less attention to other stimuli.
Humane equipment such as martingale collars, head halters, and front clipping harnesses (also known as the no-pull harness) will greatly reduce pulling while providing you with a good threshold to teach your dog how to walk properly on a leash.
7. Vary the pace of your walk on a regular basis.
Changing the pace of your walk keeps it interesting for you and your dog. It not only exercises your dog physically, but it also stimulates his mind. Changing the pace of your walk will also help to keep your dog’s attention on you more often, strengthening your bond with your dog.
8. Keep a steady pace.It will take time to complete the process.
When your dog has been walking in a certain manner since puppyhood, it will take some time to change. Just keep this in mind before you start so that you have the right expectations from the start. Teaching a puppy to walk on a leash without pulling is much quicker than teaching an older dog because the puppy’s leash pulling behavior hasn’t been practiced for a long time.
9. Continue to add tidbits of obedience training.
The majority of the time, training fails because most pet parents try to discipline their dogs only when there are no distractions. If your dog hasn’t been taught to respond to you in the presence of distractions, he is unlikely to do so.
In no-distraction environments, adding bits and pieces of obedience training, such as Sit, Down, and Watch me, can set your dog up to listen to your commands even when there are a lot of distractions. It also teaches your dog to walk alongside you on walks and assists with leash walking.
As an exercise, ask your dog to Sti and stay for a few seconds at the turn of every second block, regardless of whether there are any distractions nearby. Soon, you’ll notice that your dog begins to anticipate these cues on walks and instead chooses to look at you for directions every now and then.
10. Keep your training and sniffing walks separate.
Finding a balance is the best way to work your way around any problem. This also applies to walking on a leash. Allowing your dog to have his “sniffanigans” while also training him to walk by your side should be a part of your walk.
On walks, I like to keep a 50:50 ratio, where half of the time is spent teaching your dog to keep up with you and focus on you, and the other half is spent letting him have his sniffing adventures. This keeps things interesting for both of you and helps you strike a balance on your walks.
It takes more than a few days or weeks for leash walking to happen. It takes a lot of repetition and practice to get a dog to walk nicely on a loose leash. Walking on a leash is an excellent way for you and your dog to bond. Instead of expecting your dog to blindly heel beside you on walks, be an amazing leader and give him a good reason to focus on you.