Walking your dog should be a pleasant experience for both you and your puppy pal. But there’s a big culprit to making this one-on-one time less than ideal and that’s when your dog pulls on his leash. It could be because she saw a squirrel, is generally extremely excitable, or maybe he has some obedience issues. But no matter the reason, it causes stress for everyone, your dog included.
Here are some tips and tricks to try to curb this behavior and make walking your dog on a leash an enjoyable experience again.
Don’t Follow When They’re Pulling
If you follow where your dog is going when they’re pulling you, you’re essentially saying it’s okay that they do it, which means that behavior will continue. Rather than letting them forcefully lead you, instead stop, wait until the leash goes slack, then allow your dog to move forward. Then, you can reward them with a treat when they allow a loose lead for a few steps.
Engagement Is Everything
One major key to keeping your dog from pulling is by keeping him engaged, and there are a ton of ways to do this. You can engage her vocally, with a toy, eye contact — anything that will keep the focus on you and how you want this walk to go. Ilenia Di Simone of Revolutionary Walkers also recommends slowly extending the time between action and reward. “That helps the progress so that over time they require less engagement and don’t expect a reward all the time,” she explains.
Use Cue Sounds and Positive Reinforcement
Another way to engage your pup is by using certain sounds to get their attention when they’re doing a behavior you want, making that sound, then immediately following it with a treat. A great way to use this is by using a clicker. This distinct sound tells your dog that he’s done what you’re looking for and they’ll associate it with knowing a reward is on its way!
Choose the Right Leash
Having the right collar and leash is instrumental for a positive walking experience, and also will ensure that your dog is less likely to pull. You definitely don’t want something that’s too tight (or tightens) on your dog’s chest and throat, because this could cause great discomfort and even injury. There are tons of amazing options that include harnesses and even leashes designed specifically with dogs that pull in mind, check out some of our favorites here
Take Things Slow
Just like most training, this is something that’s going to take time and not something that he will master overnight. The reality is that the outside world is a pretty exciting place for a dog, so her natural instinct is being excited to explore. That’s why it’s best if you take it easy in the beginning. Don’t go on a hike or go to the park. At first even just getting positive results in your driveway is rewarding and will contribute to success over time. Plus, it’s a familiar space and less likely to have distractions that will make him want to pull. When you feel like you’ve got the basics down, you can start thinking about more advanced outdoor activities, like going on runs.
What If I’m Not Doing the Walking?
Let’s face it: it’s unlikely that you’re going to be the only person walking your dog 100% of the time. Whether or not you have a larger family that contributes to the care of your dog, or you’re looking to hire a walker to help out when you’re out of town or at work, it’s essential that whoever is taking your dog out is aware of the pulling issues and on board with the techniques you’re using. If you’re in the market for a dog walker for the first time, make sure that you do your research so that you can find the best fit for your family and most importantly your pup! Here are some tips to assist you in your search.
It’s easy to get frustrated if you’re not getting the result you want, but be patient with the process. It’ll be beneficial to both you and your dog in the long run. Be consistent and practice as much as possible. It’s much better to put the time and effort in now so that you can enjoy healthily and fun walks for years to come, as opposed to needing to correct the behavior later, which is harder and will take ten times longer. Put in the work — it’s worth it.
Leash pulling isn’t the easiest thing to deal with, but with some hard work and understanding, it’s something that you and your dog can get past so that you have a stronger bond and a safer, more productive and pleasant walking experience overall.