As humans we know what a leash is and we understand its purpose. Dogs on the other hand do not. All a leash is to a puppy or an older dog that has never worn a leash, is a long chew toy. Many dogs pull on a leash because they were allowed to pull as tiny little puppies – so why shouldn’t they be able to now?! Once a leash is on a dog’s collar, normally the next thing that happens after chewing is pulling. This is because dogs have what is called an opposition reflex and when they pull (or refuse to walk), owners generally pull the leash and the dog’s reaction is to pull harder. So, rather than choke a dog to death, or jerking forcefully @ his collar, let’s try some humane and easy training techniques to teach a dog to walk without pulling. That way you can enjoy the walk and so can your best friend!
Hold a treat in you’re left hand near your dog’s nose and walk. Praise him/her with the command word “good steady!” each time he stays with you. Slowly remove the treat / reward each week that you walk and randomly reward your dog. This teaches your dog that it’s better to be next to you than pulling away from you to investigate something else.
Play red light green light! – As soon as your dog pulls, stop walking and only walk forward once he backs up and creates slack in the leash. This teaches your dog that the only way he can go forward is without pulling you. Again, remind him while he is not pulling, “Good steady”. Another way to implement this is to walk in a square going to the right. That way your dog has to always keep an eye on YOU!
As soon as your dog pulls on the leash, turn around and walk in the opposite direction. This teaches your dog that he better watch where you go because if he doesn’t he will hit the end of his leash and get a little “pop” in his collar. Praise him when he is steady!
Talk up a storm to your dog! Remember, you are in competition with everything outside. If you are quiet, you are going to lose your dog’s attention. Say whatever you like, use a happy voice and look @ your dog! When he is not pulling, praise him!!!
Now add the verbal command/warning “Steady”. I say warning, because you want to be able to give your dog a word before you may need to give him a pop on his collar. Without the warning @ this point, your dog will not have any way of avoiding the correction.
* Why do these exercises work?: The warning “steady” gives your dog a heads –up that a “pop” is about to occur if he continues to pull, and he learns that when he does not pull he gets rewarded.
Reward your dog for even taking 2 steps without pulling. Also, vary the goodies that you have in your pocket during walks: tennis balls, cheese, squeeky toy, bread, etc.
Your dog is pulling you. Check to be sure you have tried AND implemented all three exercises. If he still is, then ask yourself: “How long has he been pulling?” If he’s been pulling for a while, then it will take twice as long to teach him how not to pull. Please be patient this is a hard one for dogs.