Let's face it: Leash pulling can be very FRUSTRATING!
The good news is:
Training them NOT to do it is not as hard as you might think.
In this post, you'll learn:
- Why dogs pull on their leash
- How to train your dog not to pull on her leash
- Bonus tips to be even more effective in your training
Let's dive right in!
Reasons for dog pulling on leash
Why do the pups pull on their leash in the first place?
Well, this is one of the most misunderstood dog behaviors.
The owner thinks:
"He must be stupid if he's chocking himself like that"
While the dog is thinking:
"How do I escape this choking feeling?"
Dogs pulls on their leash because they simply are interested in the big world around them.
By nature, they walk faster than humans and are super excited to sniff on stuff, pee on stuff, and, well, have a doggone good time!
They already KNOW the person at the end of the leash; they want to go and check out all the other cool stuff waiting for them in the outside world!
In addition, your dog will be more inclined to pull on the leash when he or she is lacking sufficient exercise.
When too much energy has been built up within your dog, they can't help but be jumpy and energetic.
They simply need to let out all that energy that has been bottled up inside for too long.
I cannot express enough the important of exercise in general, and more specifically in dog training.
This is why I recommend that you exercise your dog before attempting to train him not to pull on his leash.
A good game of fetch can do wonders in releasing all that energy and enabling him to focus on what you'll be training him.
And that leads us right to the next step...
How to train a dog to walk without pulling on the lease
Training your dog not to pull on the leash can take a bit of time (usually between 3 to 6 months), but the steps are not complicated at all.
Take along some treats when you strap on that leash.
We're going to use it throughout the session as an incentive to listen to our training.
Start off your training in a familiar environment - a place where your dog will feel most comfortable and less distracted - like in the house for instance.
[Focus on leash training indoors for at least 20 minutes a day. It will be easier to get him to obey, and not pull away. Once he's getting noticeably better, you can graduate to outdoor training - as we'll see in step 5.]
Walk your dog around the house and when your dog pulls the leash, STOP.
Become a statue.
When he turns around and says, “Hey owner, what you doing!!??” (or at least gives you that face) allow him to come to you and give him a treat.
If he still keeps on pulling even after you stopped walking, then just change directions and begin walking the other way.
Not ABRUPTLY so as to yank on the dog’s neck, but just simply begin walking a different direction.
When he changes directions and catches up to you, reward him.
(Saying "good dog!", with a pat on the head can sometimes be as effective as a treat btw).
Throughout the training session sprinkle in easier commands that he already knows, like "sit" or "stay" and reward him when he listens.
This will keep him excited about the training session and remind him how it works.
It's also a good Idea to continually have your dog focus on you as much as possible by using the "look at me" command and rewarding him for his cooperation.
Now take your dog outside where there are a bit more distractions.
He most likely will be jumpy and distracted in the beginning. After all, who can blame him! There is an exciting new world out there to discover!
So, be patient with him in the beginning.
Let him do his thing and enjoy his surroundings a little.
Then, be lavish in your praise and increase the amount of treats every time there is no tension or pulling on the leash.
Your dog will need the extra boost of confidence, since there are more distractions outside.
You can say, "good dog" to reinforce this positive association.
When your dog begins to pull, say "no", and then change directions.
It's important to be consistent here.
Each time he pulls say "no" first and then start walking in a different direction.
The idea is to have your dog associate the word "no" and the consequence that follows.
With consistent training each day for a couple of months, your dog will eventually learn not to pull on the leash during walks.
However, if you are having a hard time finding success with leash training, then you will need to fine tune your overall training strategy to meet your dog's specific needs in order to be more efficient in your training.
The following 5 bonus tips will help you optimize your training and get better results.
5 Bonus tips to get dog to stop pulling on leash
BONUS TIP #1
Here's a mistake that many new dog owners make.
They decide to train their dog not to pull on the leash while they are anyway out walking their dog for a potty-training session.
This is a BIG no no!
To learn these 2 skills at the same time is too much to ask from your dog, especially a new dog that has not been trained yet.
It is against your dog's nature to walk slowly, as well as it is against his nature to be potty trained.
These 2 lessons are simply too difficult for your dog to process simultaneously.
So, be sure to separate the two. Designate a specific time special for leash training.
I should add that it is also not a great idea to leash train during typical walks with your dog.
You'll see better results if you designate time for the one focused goal of leash training.
BONUS TIP #2
The one thing that keeps the entire training session functional is the positive association created by rewards.
But here's the secret:
Rewards don't only have to be in the form of treats!
Of course, treat work great. But you can sprinkle in other things that your dog might also like as a reward.
For instance, if your fur baby loves belly rubs then offer him belly rubs once in a while when he listens to your command.
A fun game of tug-of-war, an ear-rub or a warm snuggle are great ways to reward your puppy.
And it doesn't cost a penny! (Lol)
So, whatever it is that your dog enjoys, be sure to include it into your training sessions to get optimal results!
BONUS TIP #3
You may have succeeded already to get your dog to look at you when she is stationary.
But you may not have mastered yet the ability to have her look at you while she is walking.
This can be exceptionally helpful for leash training.
There are so many distractions and temptations in the big world for your dog to be drawn towards.
Training your dog to focus on you at your command while she is walking can be a game changer!
And here's how it's done:
As your dog is walking beside you, hold a treat to her nose and then slowly move the treat towards your direction.
Your dog will turn her head to follow the treat.
Once she is facing you, quickly bring the treat up to your face and say the command, "look at me".
Then immediately give her the treat and praise her heavily!
The key thing to keep in mind is that throughout this whole procedure you do not stop walking!
Soon your pup will learn to listen to the "look at me" command even while she is walking.
BONUS TIP #4
When your training your dog outdoors, at some point your dog is going to be distracted by something going on outside.
When that happens, you will need to distance yourself from the distraction in order to resume your training.
The question is:
How do you know if you are far enough away from the distraction?
Here's how you can identify at what distance your dog is safely out of the distraction range and has returned to obedience territory:
As you move further away from the distraction, continually command your dog to "sit".
When she finally listens to you and sits down, you can be assured that you are far enough away from the distraction and you can resume your training at that distance.
Your dog has now proven that she is ready to focus.
BONUS TIP #5
Keep practicing the "leave it / watch me" combo command with your dog.
This combo can be especially helpful when training your dog not to pull on her leash.
The reason it is so important is because, when you're walking your dog outside, many times the reason she is pulling on the leash is in order to snatch or sniff on something.
In that case it would be very handy to have the "leave it / watch me" command in your pocket ready to implement when needed.
Now it's your turn
I'm sure you're feeling much more confident now about training your dog not to pull on the leash.
I would love to know:
What was your main take-away from today's post?
Was it the importance of exercise... or designating a specific time for leash training...?
Let me know in the comments below.
I read through all the comments :)