Going out on a walk is a great way for you to bond with your dog, enjoy the outdoors, and have time to relax, and unwind.
However, walking is the most exciting time for your dog. This is the time that they get to see the world, explore new places, see other dogs and meet new people.
It is also the time that they can be curious, and use their noses to understand the world around them. This can result in a lot of excitement and overstimulation, which can make your dog pull very hard on the leash, and can yank you forwards.
Whilst this is lots of fun for your dog, it is not a whole lot of fun for you, as it can make the walk very stressful.
What you may want to hear is that many, many dog owners struggle with dogs that just love to pull on the leash. You’re definitely not alone! The good news is that it is an easy fix, and you can leash train your dog to walk nicely without pulling or lunging forward.
Why Do Dogs Pull On A Leash?
There are many reasons why your dog may be pulling when walking on a leash, and they may not be good at walking nicely by your side.
Some of the most common reasons that your dog will pull on a leash is because they are excited. Dogs are faster than us, and they want to pull and lunge forward to get where they want to go.
Most of the time, your dog is pulling on its leash during walks and hikes because they want to go quicker, and they are trying to pull you along and up to their speed.
Pulling on a leash is also caused by your dog wanting to explore, play and socialize.
You may notice that your dog starts to pull more when they want to meet another dog, or whilst heading towards other dogs and people so that they can play, and because they are super curious.
Another reason for pulling is because your dog has learned that if they pull, they can get to where they want to go. Pulling you along makes you walk at their speed, and dogs repeat behaviors that work.
Because pulling works for them, they will keep doing it.
This is why you will need to break this habit with leash training as soon as possible, and teach your dog that pulling will not work for them and get them the results that they want.
What Is Leash Training?
Leash training is the term used for getting your dog used to walking on a leash whilst walking calmly and in a relaxed manner. If your dog is leash trained, then it is demonstrating the proper behavior when walking on a leash.
This means that your dog is not pulling, running or lunging forwards whilst on the leash, so that you are not being tugged along. If a dog is fully and well trained, then they will walk responsibly by their owner’s side, without pulling forwards or in another direction to their owner.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Pulling?
The secret to training a dog is consistency, repetition and positive reinforcement.
This means that you set time aside to frequently train your dog, and are repetitive and consistent with your commands so that your dog can focus and learn quickly.
You will also need to reward your dog with either affection, attention or treats when they respond appropriately.
This goes for any type of training as dogs respond best to positive reinforcement when they do something right, rather than chastising and scolding your dog when they do something wrong.
The same goes for training your dog not to pull on the leash. When it comes to leash training, you will also need some equipment to help you. Of course, you will need a leash or a harness so that you can control your dog.
However, you need to be sure that these do not hurt, harm or cause any discomfort to your dog. Some owners also prefer to use a leash that buckles to their belt or waist rather than holding onto it with their hands.
For instance, you can find hands free leashes for running and walking such as this one that even has a treat pouch attached.
This also leaves the hands free for holding poop bags or treats to reward your dog and keep them focused. Alternatively, you can use a flat harness or headcollar as these do not put any tension or pressure on the ribs and sensitive areas, or a no-pulling leash.
However, you can just use a normal leash if it works for you. Whatever equipment you choose to use, make sure that you introduce it in a calm, fun and gentle manner so that your dog responds well to it.
Once you have your leash ready, start practicing leash training in a quiet place such as your backyard as there will be no distractions for your dog.
Then, whenever your dog is standing or staying next to your side on the leash, make sure that you reward them for this behavior.
To get them to walk nicely next to you, you may have to keep their favorite treats or toy in your hand. Remember to praise your dog and reward them whenever they are close to you and behaving well.
Then, as you start moving around, and your dog stays by your side, give your dog a treat.
After this, you’ll need to start walking forwards, or in a different direction, and try to maintain your dog’s focus on you with treats. You’ll have to keep practising this, whilst adding in new distractions, or changing the direction in which you are walking.
You will probably need to start slow, and give your dog lots of rewards when they stay by your side. In addition, you will have to banish bad behaviors such as pulling.
For instance, when your dog starts to pull or go in another direction, just stop moving. This will teach them that they cannot pull or lunge to get where they want to go.
Then, only move forward when the lead is slack and your dog is not pulling. Do not pull the lead back towards you or chastise your dog, just stop moving and ignore their pulls until they stop and wait for you to move again.
Whilst you are on stop, your dog will stop pulling, and will likely turn towards you and begin to focus on you again. Then, you can start over, walking in your chosen direction, and rewarding your dog for behaving.
To summarize, you can leash train your dog with lots of treats and positive reinforcement. This means praising your dog when they walk by your side, and preventing pulling by not moving when your dog tries to pull you.
When your dog focuses on you as the leader, you can walk again and teach your dog to walk nicely and in a calm manner.