How To Train Your Dog To Stop Pulling On The Leash
(Who’s Walking Who?)
So often you see people walking down the street being “towed” by their dog, this is an improper, arm wrenching, tiresome, no fun way to take Fido out or some exercise. The only time your dog should be pulling is if he’s hooked up to a sled.
Let’s begin by saying, although it’s ideal for your dog to stay by your side when you’re going for walks, that is not a dog’s natural behavior.
Getting outside is an exciting thing, and your dog might want to…
- see something that needs to be checked out or chased
- smell something that needs to be investigated
- go in a different direction that you do
- cut loose and move a little faster
Risks of pulling on the leash…
When your dog makes it a habit of pulling on the leash during walks, he/she is not paying attention to you and what you expect of him. It increases the risk of him breaking loose from you, running into the street and getting injured. If your dog is large, you could get pulled onto the sidewalk and injured yourself. If you are using a normal collar to attach the leash to, not only is it easy for some dogs to slip their head out of the collar, but their constant tugging can choke them, whether you’re pulling back or not. (It’s much safer and more comfortable to use a harness rather than a coller)
If your dog pulls on his leash, it’s time to change the habit.
This is where you teach your pup about the behavior you want…your dog wants to please you, and with the proper training you will both be walking down the street together at a pleasant pace in no time.
- Begin with the leash – Using a short leash is a great way to keep Fido by your side. If you think there may be a reason for you to have a longer leash, use one that is retractable and can be kept short most of the time.
- Teach your dog to heel – Healing is an extremely useful thing for your dog to learn…it can help when he is on leash training, it is useful on busy or crowded streets, paths, crosswalks or sidewalks or any time you want him close to you.
- Decide which side of your body you want him to be on when told to heel, it can be left or right whichever you are most comfortable with, but always be consistent with whichever side you decide on. This will help your pup stay on the same side during walks too, avoiding both of you getting tangled in the leash, on other things, or stepping on one another.
- Begin training by having him sit on the “chosen” side, wearing his leash, and give the command to “heal”, at that point you begin to walk forward using the foot closest to your dog. When he moves with you as commanded, be sure to praise and reward him with a treat (something yummy he likes), then repeat a few times and throughout the day for a couple of days…he’ll soon get the idea of being by your side.
- To use the heal command to stop leash pulling…if your dog begins to pull away, don’t pull back or run to keep up. Simply change your direction and give the heel command so he will return to your side. This also applies if he begins going in a different direction on his own. (Don’t forget the rewards when he returns to your side)
With patience, consistency, praise and treats you will soon achieve the desired behavior.
As a dog trainer, I believe that the most effective method of dog training revolves around teaching your dog what you want them to do, how to behave, how to act in their environment, and what appropriate behaviors are, under given circumstances and situations.