Are you one of those dog owners who end up chasing their dogs during walks? And more importantly, do you want this to stop? If the answer is Yes to both questions, dive in and learn how you can stop your dog from pulling on their dog leash.
Don’t worry, we’ve all been there and it’s totally reversible.
Why do dogs pull on their dog leash?
Please forget all the fancy theories that your dog wants to be the pack leader, the alpha dog, or the dominant one. The explanation is much simpler than that.
Your dog is excited to go outside and just wants to run out there. All the smells, the sounds, and other animals make for a fun new world worth exploring. In addition, your dog’s walking pace is naturally faster than yours.
Also, keep in mind that your dog’s senses are much more powerful than your own, making the outdoors even more stimulating. So it’s no wonder that they are in a rush to explore and end up pulling on their dog leash.
When they pull, they get the reward of getting to the place they want to go – faster! That’s one of the reasons dogs feel very motivated to pull. If they get a reward every time they pull, the behavior is likely to stick.
There is another reason why dogs pull their owners during walks. Being restrained is not natural to them so they feel threatened. Hence, when they are being pulled back, their response to oppose and pull forward. Luckily, most dogs simply lean in and pick up the pace.
However, the situation can escalate, and the dog can get aggressive on the leash if not introduced to it properly. If you have this problem, it’s best to get help from an experienced dog trainer. Otherwise, you’re likely to get hurt, and this could also be the end for your dog.
Are dog collars and the best dog harness all you need?
Dog collars usually aren’t enough to teach your dog to stop pulling. In addition, dog collars can hurt your dog’s trachea if he pulls consistently or you run out of leash.
Choke collars are an extremely bad solution! The yanking motion is very likely to hurt your dog’s neck, especially if it’s an everyday thing.
Dog harness can be more useful if you need to teach your dog to stop pulling. The best dog harness for this purpose is the chest-led harness. This type of harness will not hurt your dog’s neck but it will turn him around when he starts to pull.
If you want to go with a simple dog collar and a leash, you’ll need lots of patience and lots of treats.
If it’s not really working out, consider getting professional help or taking your buddy to dog school.
So how do you stop your dog from pulling on their dog leash?
As mentioned above, having the right equipment like the best dog harness and leash can ease the process. However, training is key. No leash or dog collar or harness can stop your dog from pulling if you don’t work on correcting the behavior.
The first thing you need is a positive attitude. If you get frustrated easily, the training session will not go well. Don’t think of this as teaching your dog not to pull on their leash. Think of it as teaching your dog to walk calmly by your side.
Every time you see a behavior you like, even if it’s just there for a second, reward your dog with a treat and give lots of praise.
You need to know what your dog reacts well to and use that in training. Some are all about treats, some enjoy praise, while others prefer toys. Whatever it is, use these methods of positive reinforcement during training.
Never use negative reinforcement. It’s ineffective and cruel.
Training methods for leash pulling
This first training option requires time and patience.
When your dog starts pulling on their leash, you need to stop immediately and stand still. When your dog walks back toward you or turns around, causing the leash to get loose again, praise or reward the dog and continue walking.
Repeat this every time throughout the walk.
It seems like hard work because it is, but it will pay off. Some dogs need more time to figure out what you want. Once they do figure it out and start walking nicely by your side, give them rewards and lots of praise. This will reinforce the behavior.
Keep these walks short (no more than 5 to 10 minutes at first). Dogs have a short attention span and the longer the session lasts, the less likely it is to be effective.
Pro tip: It’s always best to start training indoors and in environments you can control, such as your backyard. Once your dog masters this, slowly move the session outside and into busy streets.
The other training method is called the reverse direction method. The key is to get your dog to follow you and stay close no matter where you go.
Start walking with your dog on a loose leash and when he pulls, instantly change the direction and say ‘Let’s Go.’ Do not jerk on the leash. Praise and reward the dog for following you and staying close. The moment he starts pulling again, change the direction and issue the cue again. Rinse and repeat.
This will teach the dog that pulling will not get him to where he wants to go.
Can you do it alone or do you need to take your pup to dog school?
You can train your dog yourself if you’re willing to invest some time and effort into this relationship.
So here’s an overview of what you need to do:
- Get a chest-led dog harness and a dog leash
- Start in environments with few distractions
- Use only positive reinforcement
- Make the training sessions short
- Use lots of praise and rewards
- Be consistent
However, if you are too busy, get frustrated easily, or the dog’s behavior is simply hard-core or dangerous, you need help. Getting your dog to a professional trainer or to dog school can pay off big time.