Quick and Easy Way to Stop Your Dog or Pup Pulling On their Lead
For me this “Pulling” is the classic “Habit” problem.
It probably started not long after you started lead walking your dog and just got worse, especially if you had a pup that’s grown to be a heavy weight.
Dogs naturally walk faster than us. So it not unusual for them to start off their walking life in front of us.
Plus, all the smells sounds and movements make it exciting (or scary for some).
You may not have worried too much about it when they were a puppy, you were probably expecting them to improve.
But they didn’t.
Not a problem let’s fix it…
Firstly we need to find something that your dog likes…
Some really smelly treats..or a toy (yep doesn’t have to be food)
Now we have the “what’s in it for me” bit.
This bit is really best practiced at home first, where there aren’t as many distractions.
This is also easier for you…You’re not going to have to worry about other dogs, traffic etc.
If you can not do this at home try a quiet street.
Ok, the next thing to think about is exactly where you want your dog to walk with you.
Head by your side, Slightly in front or behind your leg.
When teaching people this routine, I always go for the dogs head at their thigh.
It easy to remember and it gives the dog a good “marking” point as well.
So here goes…Step 1
Try to relax and be natural…dogs really do pick up on any stress or heightened anxiety.
Start off walking on a lose lead.
As your dog walks off in front of you just slowly walk along until it reaches the end of the lead.
Just Stop and plant your feet…don’t pull or tug on the lead, just stop and wait.
Depending on your dog they will either turn their head immediately or take a moment to realise something is different.
You have to be patient and just wait.
If your dog doesn’t turn but appears to relax the pulling that’s good enough it means they are probably waiting for your signal.
Next call them…(You could use the touch command)
Now this is where “Reward the habit you want not the one you don’t” comes in.
Call your dog and at the same time turn away to go back in the opposite direction.
Don’t pull just call…
…Sooner or later your dog will react because he realises that you are going in a different direction.
As they change direction get ready to treat him/her as they come along side your leg.
You will find out now if your choice of treats is good enough.
If the dog just walks straight past you then need to re-think your reward…if they stop to get the treat then “success”.
Of course the first time you do this they will take the treat and probably walk on.
But the point is we are “charging” the treat position.
Do this a few times and you will notice your dog starts looking for the treat.
Once this happens you can hold it back for a second or two.
Gradually working up to a new habit where the dog is just walking by your side.
Throw in a command like “close” or “side” and then dog knows exactly where to get its treat from.
Of course there are variations on this and some dogs may need one of several variations of this idea.
But the basics are the same.
Questions and Answers.
Q. Keep turning is making me dizzy is there another way?
A. Try this technique.
Step 1 and 2 are the same but instead of turning in the opposite direction this time you bring the dog back along side you and get them ready to start the walk again (in the same direction).
Still reward them as they get back to you but make them settle before they start again.
Q. I have tried this at least 5 times and it still doesn’t work.
A. You remember I started by calling this a “Habit”?
How long does it take you to break a bad habit?
Luckily dogs are pretty quick to pick up on things but even so it’s going to take a lot more than 5 times to get the dog to understand the new behaviour you want from them.
Q. Malcolm I really have worked hard to do this but it still doesn’t work.
A. Firstly I know this technique works because I have personally taught it to 100’s of dogs.
But sometimes you need to go back a few steps.
Is your dog excited before they even leave the house?
Do they start off in front of you as you leave the house or get onto the street?
If this is the case you need to take the time to teach them to be calm before they start the walk.
Are you taking them to the park or a field where you will then let of the lead?
Then in this case you allowing your dog to be rewarded for a behavouir that you don’t want.
Take the freedom away until your dog is walking properly.
Change your walk route.