It can be a nightmare for many people trying to walk a dog that pulls on the leash. It can get so bad that a very strong dog might cause someone to fall or even worse, get injured, which can lead to some stop taking their pets for walks. I would like to share with you how I taught my dog to stop pulling on a leash.
When I rescued my dog at the age of 3, she used to pull so much on the leash. We immediately knew we had to control that. It’s one of the basic training techniques that every owner should learn, but it requires patience.
It’s never too late to start training your dog. Any dog can learn any trick at any age.
– Lorena, Happy Rescue Tails.
The training needs to start before leaving the house. Do not let your dog leave the house before you, you’re the pack leader and you need to lead the way. If you have an overly excited dog, try your best to call him/her down (I know it sounds easier than it really is). Make your pup sit with the door open and wait until they are calm and relaxed. Try your best not to leave the house with an excited dog. This will take time, you might not succeed to calm your dog down the first time, but eventually you’ll get there.
Use the right collar and leash. Try to avoid using a harness, it only gives your dog more support for him to pull. We like to use the martingale Adjustable No Slip Collar that we found on Amazon and love it. We can adjust how much it tightens so we don’t hurt our dog but it still gets a little tight when she starts pulling, making it easier to correct her. For the leash, we like to use the ZippyPaws Mountain Climbing Rope Leash. It’s made of a thick rope that feels very nice in our hands and provides a better grip. It’s also great quality so you don’t have to worry about your dog breaking the leash off.
When you are walking with your dog, as soon as he starts to pull, try the 180 switch method. When the dog is pulling in front of you, change directions and walk the opposite way of the pull. You might have to do this several times until your dog understands (and also your neighbors might think you’re crazy). When you stop a dog trying to pull ahead, the natural reaction of your pup might be to pull even more. Stay firm and hold your ground until he moves with you.
Use a treat and use words like “good boy” when your dog is walking by your side. Positive reinforcement will make your dog understand that you want him walking next to you. It’s easier if you just use something quickly to chew. I used kibble dry food as a treat when I started training and it worked great. This will also help your dog to focus on you, once he knows you have food.
Our dog pulled the most when he saw other dogs walking close by. If your dog was super stubborn like ours, you could try to snap it out of it with a quick touch. Has someone ever tried to startle you before with a quick touch? You want to use that same effect on your dog. Some people tug on the leash upward and some others give a gentle foot tap on their dog’s side. I prefer to use my hands since I have more control, this touch shouldn’t be strong but should be enough for your dog to stop. I’ve found it most effective to give a quick tap between the hind legs and the ribs.
Depending on the dog, this could take a while if it is stubborn. It took us a few weeks for our dog to walk perfectly on the leash. The key is to have patience and stay calm with your dog. Every dog can be trained, don’t lose focus.