How do you get your dog to stop pulling on the leash? Is your dog taking you for a walk instead of the other way around? Well, you’re not alone, and it’s absolutely normal behavior for your pup…at first.
It would be nice if our dogs could just go everywhere with us without having to be on a leash. That’s every dog parent’s goal, to be able to give their dog freedom from the leash.
When you first get your puppy or dog, leash training is very important; obviously dogs don’t naturally know how to walk on a leash – they have to be trained and it’s our job as dog parents to train them as soon as possible. It’s important for you and your dog’s safety, as well as that of the people around you. Not to mention the squirrels your dog would be chasing otherwise!
Since all dogs have a prey drive which can cause them to run away and get lost, leash training a puppy or dog is essential. If yoFL., search Google, watch YouTube videos, or talk to one of your local Jacksonville, Fl., dog trainers you’ll constantly hear and see terms like: “loose-leash walking,” “polite leash walking,” and “heeling”.
All these methods are effective and are good practices to work on immediately when it comes to leash training. Just keep in mind that when you’re walking your four-legged best friend that you still allow your dog to stop and sniff around. This is normal behavior and as long you’re the one in control of the walk instead of the other way around, it’s okay to let them sniff away! I mean, just imagine for a second that you’re the dog, never being allowed to sniff things pretty much defeats the purpose of the walk. If properly loose-leash trained they won’t pull you into your neighbor’s rose garden or to an another dog owner’s front door when they catch a scent.
So how do you make your walk as pleasant as possible for the both of you?
First and foremost, The best tip for getting your dog to maintain a “loose-leash” walk is to start off calm. If your dog is pulling you every time you walk, they likely will also get super excited when they see the leash or when you say “Do you want to go on a walk? If your dog struggles with walking calmly and following your lead, the best practice starts before the walk starts.
Get them familiar with the leash throughout the day, not just when it is time to go on a walk! If your pooch is too excited to control themselves when it is time to walk, then how do you expect you to control them on the leash? Set your pooch up for success by starting the walk in a calm state of mind. When it comes to the actual walk itself, all you really need is for the leash to remain slack, and for your dog to attend to you enough to turn with you and to stop when you do.
To me, a walk with my dog feels like holding hands with someone, but to get to that point you need to know:
- The factors that make loose-leash walking difficult.
- How to teach more effectively
- How to impose penalties
Reach out to your local Jacksonville, Fl., dog training business to help you even further in these areas.
- The equipment that will make loose-leash walking easier
Factors That Make Loose-Leash Walking Difficult
As I mentioned earlier, a dog walking on a leash is unnatural. No one enjoys walking with a dog who constantly pulls. It’s terribly unpleasant and in some cases can be downright dangerous. Some dog owners often end up avoiding walking with their dog altogether which inadvertently can make the problem worse – the less often the dog gets to go for a walk, the more excited he becomes when he eventually does get to go. Once he’s outside the faster he’ll walk and pull! It’s a vicious circle.
Our goal as a human when taking our dog for a walk is to get from place to place and maybe get in some exercise; dogs just want to chase squirrels and smell fire hydrants. The last thing they want to naturally do is walk at your pace right next to you. So how do we fix this?
How to Teach More Effectively
You may now be thinking all is lost. Not so! Here’s how to become a more effective teacher for your dog.
When you begin to teach polite leash walking, commit yourself to it. Pulling no longer gets your dog where he wants to go — ever. Instead, u
se his wants
to reward him for doing what you want
. If your puppy takes a step in parallel with you, say “Yes!” to mark his good behavior. Change the inflection in your voice so your dog hears the positive tones and knows he did something good. Dogs love to please their owners so after another step, give more praise.
Another way to reward your dog is to give permission to go sniff objects that interest your dog– use it often. Remember how we talked about this earlier? You can also change up the pace by trotting along with your dog now and then as a reward for keeping that leash loose.
How to Impose Penalties
Here’s a terrific exercise. Set up a goal for your dog — it could be a biscuit on the ground or a person she adores. With your dog on a leash take a step toward her goal. The instant she draws forward and tightens the leash, say “No!” and then go right back to the starting point. Repeat, repeat, and repeat, imposing penalty yards whenever your dog draws the leash tight.
I did mention that you’d need a lot of patience, didn’t I? Help your dog succeed by delivering a lot of positive reinforcement and maybe a treat or two when she keeps the leash loose on the way to the goal.
Equipment and Exercise
The right equipment can help decrease pulling so your dog gives you more behavior to reward.
Use a fixed leash length:
Although it’s tempting to walk your dog on the longest leash available, using an extendable leash can lead to problems. From a training perspective, flexible leashes encourage pulling because the dog always feels tension around his neck, which translates to tight leash, which tells them that means they get to go forward.
Plus, you and your dog aren’t really connected when they’re walking 15 feet in front of you – there’s no communication between dog and handler when there’s that much distance between the two of you.
Use a front-attach harness:
Some dogs pull strongly on the leash no matter how much training you put in, and some owners (especially if you’re of small build walking a big dog) are unable to control their pup.
Some owners just don’t have the necessary time to effectively teach their dogs loose-leash walking with a collar and leash; so the most appropriate management tool in these instances for most dogs is a front-attach harness. You can also reach out to a professional dog trainer in these instances.
A front-attach harness is a gentle training aid that helps to stop dogs from pulling. If unsure how to fit your dog properly you can always ask your vet, ask your Jacksonville Fl, trainer, or the professionals selling them to assist you in fitting a front-attach harness for your dog and tips on how to properly use them.
Walks are a highlight of most dogs’ lives. So don’t let fear of not being able to control your dog keep you both from the enjoyment and connection you both will get out of it. The best way to overcome any obstacles is to keep working at it. You can try shorter walks at first and then each time make them longer.
If you’re still having frustrations the best course of action to take is to set up a consultation with a professional dog trainer.
We Can Help You!
At Come.Sit.Stay Dog Training, our end game is to teach your dog so well on the leash that we progress to giving your dog freedom from the leash. As we talked about in the very beginning, that seems to be every dog owner’s dream- to have your dog walk obediently by your side and not run off. Well, our amazing trainers at Come.Sit.Stay located in Jacksonville, Fl., have trained countless dogs of all breeds and sizes to do just that!
Our proven in-home programs are custom built to each dog and owner to reach your personal goals and give you and your dog FREEDOM FROM THE LEASH. So if your dog keeps pulling and walking you, we’re here and ready to come to the rescue! We service Jacksonville, Florida and its surrounding areas. Contact us today at www.comesitstayusa.com to schedule your free in-home consultation.