Dog walking is one of the more enjoyable activities as a pet parent – you get some fresh air, exercise, and great bonding time with your furry best friend. But what happens when those enjoyable days in the park turn sour, simply because you have a puller? Thankfully all is not lost; leash pulling is extremely common behavior among dogs that can be replaced with much better walking skills, you just need to know what to do.
Here are some tips on how to get your dog to stop pulling on the leash.
- First off, be ready to stop when your dog pulls – Simply stop your body, no verbal cue. Some trainers refer to this as “acting like a tree.”
- If you can stand the wait, just wait for him to turn his focus back to you.
- If you do not want to wait or the area is too distracting, get your dog’s attention by using look/touch cues or simply call his name or slap your thigh.
- Praise him for paying attention. If you’re using a clicker, click and treat the moment he looks back to you. If you are not clicking, be sure to let him know verbally that looking back to you is exactly what you like and tell him so with a positively-voiced, “good!”
- At this point you can simply start walking again. Your dog will connect that the “treat” for paying attention to you and not pulling is that the walk resumes. You can start your walk with a cue like “Let’s go!” to let your dog know she can start moving again.
Going forward, you can practice walking at different speeds and implementing the no-pulling rules. Try teaching a “right here” cue where your dog comes to your side by marking (click or “yes!”) and treat.
It can take some practice, but soon enough, your dog will stop pulling and walks will become more enjoyable. For more intense behavioral problems, consult a trainer directly to see what motivates your pup and how you can nip that pulling in the bud.
Danette Johnston is the owner of Seattle’s Dog’s Day Out and is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). She is an author, former Vet Tech, lecturer, a Licensed Canine Good Citizen evaluator for the AKC and has worked as a Delta Society Pet Partner’s (animal assisted therapy) Instructor and Team (with her dear departed dog Georgia). She currently shares her home with a brown tabby (with many extra toes), a Pittie/Border Collie mix, a growing (too fast!) human boy and a very tolerant husband.