How To Stop A Dog Pulling On The Leash.
Pulling on the leash/lead is a common problem that most people experience at some time during their time as a dog owner if not, they have seen someone struggling with their dog. Pulling seems to be a problem that is easy to solve, but in reality, it can be a challenge and take a long time to address. To be able to treat a dog pulling on the leash, you need to be patient, but most of all, consistent.
There are numerous reasons a dog might be pulling, and it needs to be addressed. Seeing a dog pulling and the owner fighting to stop the dog taking them for a walk is not only uncomfortable, (let’s face it your dog always pulls when you are walking with your friend who has the best-behaved dog in the world.) it is dangerous. Dogs that pull are more likely to pull away from the owner, either the leash breaks, slips out of there hand, or the owner lets go because they can’t hold it any more. At that point, you have lost control and your dog, and it could get hurt. Learn how to stop a dog pulling on the leash, and you can go on long walks that are less stressful and more enjoyable for you and your dog.
Why Dogs Pull On The Leash.
Pulling on the leash/lead is a learned behaviour – The longer your dog has been pulling, It is more likely pulling is a learned behaviour. The dog has learned pulling ensures a quicker arrival at the destination.
Your dog Is not focused on you. – A dog focused on pulling forward is not looking at you and are focusing on what is in front of them and reaching their primary goal, the park and not you.
Dogs Walk Faster – Dogs generally walk at a pace twice as fast as a human. It may be natural for your dog, so it needs to learn to walk at a slower pace that you both enjoy.
Excitement and anticipation – some dogs get excited when they are going out because they anticipate what is going to happen and where they are going. They know that when they go for a walk, they get to run free, chase a ball and play. These dogs often only pull when they leave home and not on the way back. They may walk a few steps then lunge forward to get there quicker. All they want is to get there and play.
They want to be in control – Some dogs are born to lead, and others feel a need to be the top dog. A feeling of needing to control can cause many problems, and an increase in stress for the dog. Dogs demonstrating this behaviour are more likely to pull continuously, both on the way from, and when returning home.
Fear and anxiety – If you observe your dog and note when it pulls; it may be when you approach your home and is anxious to get home; near loud noises, e.g. motor vehicles, machines or tools. Some dogs may pull to get away from other dogs. Dogs can fear anything and want to get away from it.
There are as many causes for why a dog pulls, as there are ways to address the problem. If you look on the internet, you will see solutions which claim to solve the problem. That isn’t always the case. Dealing with the root cause is the only way to ensure the issue doesn’t return. It takes time, commitment and love for your dog to address some of its problems. Ask yourself if your dog is in fear would it be right to force it to walk past the cause and not react without addressing the concern. I wouldn’t put a person or any animal in that position.
Any owner who has experienced continuous pulling on the leash/lead will tell you it can spoil going walking with your dog. Additionally, constant pulling can cause injury to your dog’s neck.
How To Stop A Dog Pulling On The Leash.
You may be wondering what you are supposed to do if there are so many causes, and it is necessary to deal with the reason. Initially, I would say you don’t panic; you can deal with this; you need to start by observing your dog. Here are a few questions to ask yourself.
- When does the dog pull?
- Where does the dog pull?
- What is nearby when the dog pulls?
- Is the dog pulling all the time?
- Does your dog get excited when you start getting ready to go out for a walk?
- How long has the dog been pulling?
- Did the dog start pulling Suddenly?
Asking yourself questions will help you see what is causing the dog to pull. You can then address it with the best method. I am not going to deal with all solutions here, in this article. I am just going to show you a technique that may solve the problem completely, but remember if there is an underlying cause you may need to deal with that as well. Even if it stops the pulling, I am sure you would want to help reduce your dog’s anxiety, fear etc.
When it comes to stopping the pulling, you need to remain calm and be patient. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, those feelings will be picked up by your dog, and it will happen quickly when your dog is on a lead. It is like holding hands with someone you love or care for you pick up on tensions etc. through holding their touch.
Some trainers will suggest using a training aid at this point. There are various legislations relating to these varying from country to country. For example, in the UK, prong collars and shock collar are illegal; in the USA, they are not unlawful. I would recommend seeking the help of someone trained to use training aids like these, so you don’t hurt your dog or make the situation worse. Some items such as harnesses and head collars can be of use, but some harness’ can make pulling worse.
Following are two techniques, both of which I have used. They work very well, but they do take time and patience. Initially, you may think you are wasting your time if it has taken you twenty minutes to walk to the end of a short street. Don’t let this deter you, stay calm and be patient, if you get frustrated, so will your dog. Also, unless you stick at it and remain consistent, you will keep regressing to the original behaviour. Entering a cycle of pulling and not pulling is frustrating, and you will make no progress; if anything, the problem could get worse. Anyway here goes.
Method One – Stop And Wait
As soon as you feel the lead go tight, stop immediately. At this point, do nothing, relax, stay calm and focus on your dog. If you show frustration or annoyance, your dog won’t relax. Your dog will stop and relax, the leash/lead will go slack as the dog takes a step back, or the dog will turn its head and focus on you. As soon as the dog relaxes step forward and start walking again. When the dog begins to pull, stop and repeat the process.
Method Two – Turn And Walk.
A soon as your dog pulls, give a command such as “walk”, “come on” or “Let’s Go”, At that point suddenly change direction and walk away. Make the change significant enough to ensure you walk away from the dog. Ensure you don’t walk away so fast that you do not jerk on the leash/lead. You can avoid pulling on the lead/leash as you walk away.
If you find that you are pulling the lead as you turn and walk in the other direction because the dog is slow at turning and following you, motivate the dog. As you turn, encourage the dog to follow you, use an excited voice to attract your dog’s attention. Once your dog is following you and the lead is relaxed between you turn again and start walking back in the direction you want to be going in. It can take a few attempts to get this right. But after a few tries, you both will get the hang of it. After a few positive turns by both of you, your body language and vocal cues will be reinforcing that pulling is not beneficial, and they will not make forward progress. A loose, relaxed lead will always reinforce forward progress. The result it a message to your dog, being well behaved and walking in a relaxed stated by your side with a slack leash/lead will allow your dog to get to where he wants to go.
Once the dog has decided to walk as you want, you should start reinforcing it with positive action, such as giving him a motivating reward. Once you start seeing an improvement in your dog walking on the lead in a relaxed manner at your pace, you can start introducing a more unpredictable path, turning left or right randomly. Varying your approach will help your dog to pay more attention to you and listen so that they are aware of when you are going to change direction.
Training your dog to be alert means your dog has to listen to you at all times because he never knows when you are going to turn or where you are going to go next. These techniques can then be developed even further by turning full circles, walking in a figure of eight or also changing direction by turning towards your dog rather than away from it. Do not forget to praise them for complying; your dog will engage with you better when you applaud them for doing good.
As you can see, this can be a challenging part of the training, but the results affect both the dog and owner in a positive way. Most owners I help tell me they feel so proud when people comment on their dog when it is walking well on their lead. Training your dog should be enjoyable, and the results will impact you as well as your dog. Enjoy your time with your dog; They are your best friend.