Is your dog walking with you? Have you been pulled down to the ground from your dog chasing after something? Walking your dog should be a pleasurable experience not a frantic walk with lots of leash pulling. I know some of you walk your pet at odd hours of the day to avoid other dogs. I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way! Leash pulling can be fixed nearly all the time. Like any other dog training cue, there is more than one way to fix leash pulling. Try some of these tips and if they don’t work or if you struggle to grasp the concepts you can always watch World Of Dog Training e-Course on “Leash Pulling”, which is designed by myself, Ryan Matthews.
Leash Pulling : It is common for puppies to be bothered when any sort of equipment is attached to their neck. If the dog stops while walking, simply continue to walk; in about five steps the dog will start to walk as well. If the canine knows how to “heel” but chooses not to, be sure to say “heel” every time you start the walk or change directions. Tap your left hand on your left leg to promote the dog to walk forward. Give the dog praise and a treat at the beginning when it is walking at the desired position. I recommend always having the dog come to you when putting on any piece of equipment such as the leash, collar or even a muzzle. The reason is, you want to create a positive experience where the dog is seeking to take the action you desire, such as putting on a leash. At times, you may find a dog more interested in sniffing than focusing on a nice paced walk. If that is the case, there are a few tricks to try: change the pace of the walk from slower to fast and vice versa, throw in a random stop and sit, or go the other direction.
Holding the leash: Often a new client will hold the leash in a tangled mess. Try the way pictured, the dog will not be able to pull the leash out of your hand, no matter what.
If at any point a dog is pulling too hard, simply go in the opposite direction. It allows the human to be in front and regain control of the walk. Remember to watch the dog’s head, because that is where the focus is. If during the walk the pet is continuing to scan and anticipate something to see or go after, that is not the type of walk you want. To get the upper hand, you must use rewards to your advantage. I suggest bringing food of high value on a walk and when the dog looks up at you while walking (checking in), give a treat. Remember, where you give the reward is important. If the dog is walking in the correct position, present the treat right in front of their mouth, encouraging them to continue to walk in the same position. Or, if the dog responds in a way in which you are impressed while walking, don’t let the good behavior go unnoticed. Bend down and pet the dog while walking and let it know you are proud of it.
To assist you with a great walk, you will likely need an effective tool; any of these can work depending on the dog and it’s distraction level: leash and flat collar (buckle), leash and choke chain, leash and flat collar (buckle) combined with food reward, leash and pinch collar (prong), leash and flat collar (buckle) plus toy reward, leash and flat collar and a clicker or leash flat collar and e-collar.
Again, the right way to train your puppy is to use the method and tool that you are comfortable with and that your dog responds to. For example, let’s say we chose to use the choke chain method and the dog does respond, however, it’s not consistent and requires a lot of correction. In this case, I would advise against that method; as long as the tool is being used properly and the dog is not responding well, it’s not a good fit. I feel as though a compulsion method used too frequently is not fair to the canine. Instead, just as in dog-on-dog correction behavior, one solid firm correction is the way to go otherwise continued discomfort can become unreasonable.
If, however, your pet is highly food or toy driven and you have time and patience, I’d rather you attempt to teach behaviors via either luring with food or free shaping and reward with food or toys or
dog accessories. It has been proven that with both humans and dogs if we get them to perform because something is in it for them, they will actually want to work for it. This means that once the dog understands that they receive the thing that motivates them, the canine will desire to work for you. There are interesting studies on this learning technique. One study with pigeons found they wouldn’t take the free food that they didn’t have to work for. Instead, they wanted to perform and take the reward after performing a task.
These few examples are just some of the many ways you can gain the walk back from your leash pulling dog. As a professional dog trainer, I have a lot more techniques to try with leash pulling so if these don’t work, feel free to reach out and allow to each you via my video e-Courses, video or phone coaching or even one on one private lessons!