Here we will teach you the seven best practices to use while walking a dog that pulls, and we will show you all you need to know to make walking your dog a breeze.
Taking your dog or puppy on frequent and long walks is a necessary part of owning a pet. Walks are fun and exciting for dogs and allow them to get some exercise and sniff around. However, most dogs do not like being on a leash. They want to be free to explore and run around, and being stuck to a leash is not natural for them.
Because of passing cars, neighbor’s pets, and many other reasons, dogs must be leased on walks. Learning how to properly train your dog to walk without pulling is a vital process that will make both you and your dog’s lives much easier when walk time comes around.
Table of Contents
- 1 Walking a Dog That Pulls – Choose the Right Leash
- 2 Choose the Right Harness
- 3 Walking a Dog That Pulls – Practice in the Yard
- 4 Stick to One Walking Style
- 5 Do Not Let Your Dog Dictate Where You Go
- 6 Walking a Dog That Pulls – Reward Positive Behavior
- 7 Practice Daily
- 8 Walking a Dog That Pulls – Conclusion
Walking a Dog That Pulls – Choose the Right Leash
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Before you even begin training your dog on not pulling on a leash, you need to make sure that you are using the correct equipment. First, you will want to get a fixed-length leash. You mustn’t use a retractable leash for training.
Use a 6-10 foot leash to begin with and size down to shorter leashes as training improves. This will help your dog get more and more comfortable and remain right by your side. Additionally, you will want to clip a treat pouch to your end of the leash or stash a baggie of treats in your pocket for easy access.
Choose the Right Harness
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Almost more important than the leash that you chose to use is the harness. Different harnesses boost different reactions from dogs, and some are explicitly designed to encourage them to pull. Dogs have something known as opposition reflex, which is the instinct that causes them to pull.
If you have a dog, you have likely experienced this in action. If you press on their lower back to make them sit, they will automatically press up against you. And if you try to pull them in one direction, they will automatically pull against you. If you try to push them off the couch, they will automatically shift their weight against you. This is their instinct and what causes them to constantly pull on a walk.
You can work against this by purchasing a no-pull harness. These clip in the front of the dog’s chest so that, as soon as the dog begins to pull, they are redirected in the opposite direction in which they are heading. Harnesses that clip on the dog’s back apply pressure to the front of their chest and encourage them to pull harder. These are the harnesses used for sled dogs to get them to pull hard.
A head harness is another excellent tool to prevent pulling. They slip over the dog’s head rather than around their neck or their chest. When a dog is wearing a head harness and begins to pull, their head is physically turned around and led in the opposite direction. These are best for large dogs that pull very hard, but they can injure the dog. You have to be careful not to pull back quickly and not let the dog lurch forward too fast. They are best to use at the very beginning of training then to move to a front-clipping harness.
Walking a Dog That Pulls – Practice in the Yard
You will want to start training your dog in a familiar area with few distractions. Starting in your backyard will help you teach your dog the ropes of walking without pulling before moving onto the streets or a park. Practice in your yard until your dog can walk by your side, then move onto more engaging areas.
When you start walking outdoors, go at quiet times, such as in the evening when people are inside or in the early mornings before people get up. If you start taking them to loud and exciting places before they are ready, your dog will be too excited and distracted to listen to your commands and practice their skills.
Stick to One Walking Style
Pick one side of your body that you want your dog to walk. Allow them to get comfortable always walking on the right or left side and always reward them with treats on this same side. This will teach your dog that they need to stick to this side to get rewarded.
Walk at a comfortable and steady pace that you can maintain. Stop every five or so minutes to allow your dog to sniff or use the bathroom. This should be a reward for them and discourage them from constantly sniffing as you walk. When you stop, tell them that they are good, reward them with a treat, then tell them “let’s go” when it is time to stop sniffing and continue walking.
Do Not Let Your Dog Dictate Where You Go
If you let your dog dictate where you go on the walk, they will learn that they are in control and can pull you wherever they choose. To discourage this, you will want to practice changing directions frequently and reward your dog when they follow suit. If your dog begins to pull one way, turn and walk the opposite direction, redirecting his attention.
Walking a Dog That Pulls – Reward Positive Behavior
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Begin by walking your dog and rewarding them with a treat each time they walk next to you. Give them treats every few steps so they know there’ll be a reward when keeping close to you. If your dog pulls or veers off, quickly change direction and reward them when they follow and get back on track.
When you reward a dog correctly with positive reinforcement, they are more likely to repeat themselves because they aim to please. Punishing a dog for their incorrect behavior is confusing to them and often gives them the wrong idea. For example, if you punish a dog for urinating in your home, they’ll assume it’s unsafe to urinate around you. Instead, you need to reward them each time they urinate outside. This way they learn that urinating outdoors is the correct behavior.
Practicing for some amount of time each day will keep your dog engaged and cement your training in their mind. Make it a fun and enjoyable process by giving many rewards for good behavior and praising your dog when appropriate. Dogs are led by rewards, and teaching them that they are more rewarded when they aren’t pulling is the trick.
Walking a Dog That Pulls – Conclusion
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Walking a dog that pulls is a frustrating and often exhausting process. It is crucial to teach them asap how to walk by your side without pulling and without getting easily distracted. If you choose the right equipment, reward their positive behavior, stick with constant training, and work hard, both you and your dog will find that you are much happier and that walks can be enjoyable for both parties. Happy walking!
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