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How To Stop Your Dog Pulling On The Leash-A Technique That Actually Works For Once

Updated on December 9, 2012

When ‘Walkies’ become more like ‘Draggies’ you know there’s a problem. The leash is strung out like a tightrope, and is full of more tension than a drug dealer who's just discovered that the man he just killed was Steven Seagal's second cousin. Your dog just can’t get where it wants to go quick enough, and as far as it’s concerned, you’re just holding it back.

"I just feel like I've outgrown you."
"I just feel like I've outgrown you."

My dogs were no different, and when it got to the point that my girlfriend couldn’t walk them because their pulling kept dislocating her dodgy left knee, I knew I had to sort it out, or get a new girlfriend. The latter would mean doing my own washing, so it was time to train the dogs.

The Usual Technique

Now, most online guides will tell you that doing the following will fix the problem, and in a lot of cases I’m sure it will; but with mine, it didn’t work, and MY guide is for those of you who need a little bit of extra help. But here’s the basic version anyway. Try it, and if it works, great, but if not, read on afterwards:

The instant your dog begins to pull on the leash, stop dead in your tracks. Then tell the dog to return to your side, and when he does, give a lot of praise and attention. Then begin to walk again. Repeat this every time he pulls, and be prepared to do a lot of stopping and starting on your walks. Over a few weeks, he’ll get the idea and stop pulling. In an ideal world.

Amongst other things.
Amongst other things.

Now, that’s the basics, and I say this will probably work for a lot of you. But it didn’t for me, and I’m sure many people will only get the following result:

1. You stop walking when the lead goes taut. Dog simply stands at end of lead, still pulling, tail wagging and looking around itself at anything but you.

2. You tell the dog to return to your side. Dog comes back, tail wagging, not caring about where it stands because hey, it’s outside, it’s still walking, who cares, right? Yaaaaaaaay, walks!

3. You make dog wait. Dog still doesn’t care because it’s outside.

4. Recommence walking. Dog pulls on lead, and still does so after a month of this. Girlfriend refuses to walk dogs anymore, and after some research you decide you simply can’t afford a maid, or at least one that will put up with your horrendous underwear.

So you need a bit more info. Don’t worry, there’s no embarrassment in asking for help.

Most of the time.
Most of the time.

How To Make It Work

So here are some extra bits that I added to the technique to make it work; now my two dogs walk on a slack lead and even slow down when I do.

1. Stop walking as soon as the lead even BEGINS to tighten. This is a small adjustment that pays dividends; it helps let the dogs know the reason why they’re being told to come back, and also teaches them that the lead has to stay totally slack.

2. Do the ‘Come back to my side’ bit ANYTIME they want to go somewhere. By this I mean times like when you tell them it’s time for dinner and they go charging down the hallway towards the kitchen. They REALLY want to get to a specific place-unlike on a walk, when they just want to go and they don’t care whether it’s towards you or down the street-and you aren’t letting them get there unless they walk with you. As soon as you set off towards the kitchen again, if they run ahead, make them come back. Doing it in this scenario really helps get the message home, and it works the same with walking towards the place where they go to the bathroom, even when you’re walking towards the door to take them outside. Keep them away from where they desperately want to go, and that makes them think more about WHY they’re not getting there, and furthermore, makes them realise that they move forward more quickly when they stick by you.

Don't overdo it.
Don't overdo it.

3. Startle them. Dogs on a walk are bombarded by distractions, so it’s not necessarily that they’re ignoring you, they’ve just forgotten. Gently startle them by either tapping them lightly on the behind with your foot (note: LIGHTLY) or scrape the sole of your shoe sharply on the gravel to make a noise. Or tell them they were adopted. Either way, once startled slightly, they’ll instantly remember you’re there.

4. Use a harness. These made a huge difference straightaway (in some cases they fix the problem all on their own) and were invaluable in training them not to pull. Plus, it makes your dogs look all Black Ops-y, and what’s not to love about that. The harness is an inexpensive and extremely helpful aid in this kind of training, I highly recommend any of these harnesses above.

5. Walk them a bit more. More walks means less excited dogs, as the novelty of a walk isn’t as great. Calmer dogs=better behaved dogs.

"How about NOW, can we go out NOW, how about NOW…"
"How about NOW, can we go out NOW, how about NOW…"

String all these together and your walks will stop being a chore, and you can get back to apologising to your girlfriend for trying to force her into traditional submissive gender roles. You’ve got some big issues, buddy.If you enjoyed this article, please check out some of my other dog training, ‘How To’, and stupid humour articles:

And if you enjoy my writing, why not try a WHOLE NOVEL of it, eh?? And cheap, too…available for Kindle devices and the free Kindle App for smartphone and tablet pcs!


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    • DoctorDarts profile image

      DoctorDarts 5 years ago

      Heh, thanks, I spend far too long trying to find good ones though, takes forever!

    • jantamaya profile image

      Maria Janta-Cooper 5 years ago from UK

      I want to be your dog in my next life! Great pictures!