How to Train A Dog to Walk on a Leash Without Pulling
If you’ve ever tried to walk your dog and been dragged to and fro by its every whim, worry not, you’re not alone. Pulling on the leash is a common problem amongst dogs, (more specifically dog owners) and with some consistency and practice, you’ll have a pleasant, calm walking dog in no time.
Your End of the Leash
If you’ve ever watched Dog Whisperer, then chances are you’ve probably heard Cesar Milan say “I don’t rehabilitate dogs, I rehabilitate humans,” or something to that effect. And it holds quite a bit of truth- the dog is pulling on the least because you’re letting it pull on the leash. The dog is simply exerting its authority and leadership over you rather than the other way around. You have to adapt some basic dog psychology and learn your role as pack leader. Here are a few mental pointers that I’ve found helpful:
- Develop the mindset that you are top dog, alpha, head honcho, big cheese, etc.
- What you say goes, the first time, every time.
- If the dog whines and puts up a fuss throughout the process, realize that it is simply being demanding of you, trying to dictate the roles.
- Your dog may become aggressive as you increase the firmness of your corrections; it’s trying to maintain its dominant role over you. You may have to purchase a muzzle.
One of the first things you need to do is get rid of the flat collar that most people try work with when walking a dog. The reason is simple- it is nearly impossible to correct the dog’s behavior in any way using a flat collar, and it’s just a tug of war that the dog is winning. I have had great success with a pronged collar (shown at right), and although it looks mean, it does not harm the dog, rather, it simply makes the dog uncomfortable when you correct it. You can also use a choke chain along with the other variety of harnesses available. If you aren’t willing to buy anything you can try sliding the hook end of the leash through the handle and using it as a choke chain. You can always try the leash method first and see if you get anything accomplished before buying a collar. When buying and fitting the collar on the dog, make sure it is snug and that you put it very high on the dog’s neck, just below the ears. Whatever you choose, the collar needs to be something that will allow you to correct the dogs behavior instantly and effectively.
All you need is a good sturdy leash, one that isn’t going to weigh the dog down, but not something that is easily broken or is going to be rough on your hands. If you have a retractable leash, you might as well trash it. Allowing the dog to pull out leash whenever it feels like is completely counter-productive. Simple, sturdy and lightweight is the way to go.
Problems often start before one even leaves the house. Your dog needs to be in a calm, submissive state before you even leave. Don’t use excited tones before leaving like- “You wanna go for a walk boy!?!?” This gets the dog overexcited and is one more thing in the way of keeping him calm during the walk. Always wait until the dog is settled before even putting the leash on. Once you have collar and leash on, walk towards the door but again make sure the dog is in a calm state. Once you open the door don’t let the dog lunge out in front of you, and if it does give it several quick, sharp snaps from the leash. Once you are outside the main rule to follow is this: There is absolutely no pulling from the dog. EVER AGAIN. The line should be slack enough to have a dip in it. Every time there is the slightest tension, give a couple of quick snaps, gradually increasing the firmness of each correction. You should begin seeing change within minutes, and if not, continue to increase the firmness of the correction until you do. The dog might decide to fight you or quit moving altogether. Simply keeping moving forward, snapping the leash as you go. The dog will eventually accept that you aren't going to submit to it. Again, if the dog becomes too aggressive put a muzzle on before walking.
On a side note:
On his program, Cesar teaches people to not let the dog walk ahead of them, since the humans are supposed to be pack leader, while other literature I’ve found says it is only necessary to make the dog respect the boundary you’ve given it with the leash. I’ve found both aspects helpful in keeping my dog under control while on leash, and with some time you’ll figure out what is most effective for you. However, no matter which side you take, both agree that there is no pulling, for any reason. Ever. Correcting this will lead to a much better relationship with you and your dog and open up a world of possible activities!
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