How can I stop my dog pulling ?
If you own a dog who constantly pulls, you’re not alone. Pulling on the leash is one of the most common problems people have with their dogs. In fact we hear pet parents telling us daily at the Dog Hotel when checking in their dog for dog boarding Barrie, that they aren’t sure how their dog will behave for their walks.
- Medium and larger-sized dogs naturally move at a faster pace than us and so find walking slowly without using the leash for guidance on speed difficult
- If a dog’s not getting enough exercise he can be too excited and too full of energy when he goes out.
- Dogs are enthusiastic creatures and can’t wait to follow the scents and see where they’re going.
- Your dog has never been trained not to pull on the leash. Or whoever did the training mistakenly thought they were done and didn’t keep up with the re-enforcement.
Trainers should always advise you to examine the fist three issues before re-investing time on re-training, provided you have previously addressed the basics. without addressing the first three issues, no amount of training will completely eliminate the pulling.
First, are you walking fast enough for your dog to be able to move comfortably yet still be by your side?
Training tips for pulling dogs
The good news is that training a dog not to pull is very simple; the bad news is the commitment needed to do it once he’s learned to pull is really hard and few people are committed enough to be consistent, helping to form a new habit.
How long it takes depends on the dog. It takes people 21 days to make or break a habit. That’s an average. Don’t be alarmed when it takes weeks rather than days to achieve a new more positive walk habit for your dog. it is an investment in both you and your dog’s health. The benefits to both of you because of this wonderful form of exercise, but also helping to prevent some of the serious health consequences to a dog that would have years of repetitive injury from pulling.
“Punishing a dog for you not walking fast enough, you not training him, or because he’s just enjoying life too much is hardly fair. Instead, he has to believe with all his heart that he’ll never get anywhere quicker by pulling. If he finds that pulling works, even just once, you’re back to square one — that’s why it’s so hard.”
Whenever undertaking any training exercises make sure you have worked the excess energy out of your dog. They will not be able to concentrate if they have energy to burn.
A good game of fetch, wears off energy before you take him out. Taking your dog in the car somewhere safe, letting him run off steam off leash, and then putting him back on the leash for a training session, is a lot easier than trying to train him straight out of the house. It also helps, when you first start, if your dog knows you’re in training mode, and that a different set of rules applies. So at first, have a different lead and collar for training; one that feels different to your dog for whatever reason.
Another tip is to not let your dog lean on the lead, however gentle a pull it may seem. The dog gets used to the feeling of pressure on the neck. If he starts to lean, let the leash go a bit looser so the dog falls forward. Dogs want to run and jog and we want to walk — they’re natural faster.
You’ve set the stage, now here is one technique Step by Step – How to stop your dog pulling
- Start with lots of treats and by clipping on the lead — a long training leash is helpful here. Hold the leash at the end and any time it’s loose give your dog a treat. If the leash is tight, no treat. Don’t pull him, just wait, and the minute it goes slack reward with a treat.
- Now start walking. If the lead is loose continue walking (if he comes really close to you give a treat), but if it gets tight, stop, and slowly walk backwards. As soon as the lead is loose again, continue walking forwards.
- Once you’ve experienced success with the understanding that the only way he’ll ever get to go where he wants to go is on a loose lead, move on to having a favourite toy at the end of your yard or room and start walking towards it. If he wants it, he’s going to have to have a loose leash because if it gets tight, you’ll stop, and slowly reverse. Once the leash is loose, his reward is getting his toy.
- This method only works, however, if you never let him pull again and do this every time the leash is on. If he believes that pulling ever works to get him to where he wants to go, he’ll always do it.
On days when you don’t have time for training every step of your walk, a haltie can be a temporary measure to prevent a slip backwards in training. There’s an ever-increasing variety on the market and all are designed to prevent your dog from pulling. They don’t train your dog not to pull ! Pet Parents can use them as part of their no-pull training on days when they aren’t able to do the full training, if they feel they really can’t hold their dog because of his size or weight, or if they don’t have the commitment to train. Make sure you get one that’s fitted correctly, doesn’t ride up into the dog’s eyes, doesn’t put pressure on any sensitive parts of his neck, throat, or behind his ears, doesn’t rub, and can’t come off accidentally.
When wearing a headcollar, the dog should be on a plain leash and walk beside you at all times.
Consistency, consistency and consistency wins the day, or rather months of training. Remember what motivates your dog. Rewards rather than punishment, so stopping and staying still when they pull and reward when they don’t will always achieve more consistent and safe results than snapping and pulling back harshly on the leash.
Good Luck and feel free to contact our trainers at the dog hotel for advice any time. Can’t commit to the process ? Enquire about or residential training for dogs. Dog boarding with training built in.
…Jenn Dahinten has been involved in health and pet care for over 20 years and is currently a part of the caring team at The Royal Pets Hotel & Spa, a 5 star Pet Hotel just north of Toronto in Barrie, Ontario.