If you’re a proud owner of a medium or large breed dog, you know how harmful it can be if your dog decides to make a quick dash. Or, even worse, if it pulls all the time during walks. The constant pulling can lead to back pain and other physical issues. But it is harmful to the dog as well – continuous pressure and over excitement lead to severe problems with both physical and mental health.
It is better to teach your dog how to walk on a leash when it is still a puppy. However, you can break a habit as well, even if your pet is grown-up already. You will have to allow a bit more time and effort and be patient in your dog training. But now, let’s move to the training procedures to stop your dog from pulling.
1. The Simplest One – “Stop”
If you don’t want to use any additional tools, this approach is for you. The sequence of your actions are very simple:
- The dog begins pulling
- You immediately stop
- Wait for the dog to stop trying to walk further
- Wait for the dog to get confused and look at you
- Say “yes,” or “good” or any other word your pup considers to be a praise word
- Continue walking.
This is an excellent method to stop your dog from pulling, especially for puppies, but it can work with adult dogs too. It works quite simply – you teach the dog that both of you stop if the leash is pulled. When you continue walking, it will be a reward for the pup. Here you don’t need any treats because you don’t need your dog to come to you. However, you can come to it and feed it if you want and if it stays on its spot. Avoid calling a dog to you because you will create a yo-yo habit – the pup will pull the leash, run to you, and pull the leash again resulting in bad dog training.
This method is not very effective with reactive dogs that get easily excited and emotional. If you are still having problems with this, move to the next method.
2. Luring the Dog with Food
It works especially well if your dog is highly motivated by food. Simply bring some treats with you when you’re going for a walk. Then call the dog by its name and feed it for being near you. If the pup doesn’t respond to calls, try to lure it with food so that the leash will be loose.
Try to have as much control of the distance between you as possible. But don’t keep the leash too short – you need to let the puppy figure out what you demand from it. Usually, the dog will quickly understand that it gets treats for being around the owner, so it will try to stick to you. Keep rewarding the pup with treats, and slowly switch to the verbal praise gradually giving the dog less treats. You will need to work like this for at least 2-3 weeks daily.
3. Working with a Clicker
A clicker is a small button that creates a clicking sound that is used as a marker to show the dog it is doing the right thing. If you haven’t used this dog training tool yet, you can find many videos on the Internet that will tell you how to teach your dog that the click is a sound of reward. Also, you can simply use a word like “yes” to mark the desired behavior. Please, take your time to learn about a clicker if you never used one, because it is a powerful tool in dog training.
So, here is what you need to do – once the leash is loose, click and give your dog a treat. It’s that simple! Eventually, the pup will realize that the loose leash is something it gets rewarded for. And it will get used to walking correctly on a dog lead.
Here is what to do if your dog doesn’t take treats, either because it doesn’t like them or is overexcited. If its body language signals that the animal is too stressed or overwhelmed, lure it to a safe spot, ask it to sit down, and try to calm it down.
4. Working with a Halti Collar
Firstly, if you walk your dog using a collar, we advise you to get a harness. You can find out how to choose it at the pet-store blog. Sometimes dogs can pull simply because they feel uncomfortable in a collar, and they believe they can run away from it somehow if they are walking fast enough. Also, the constant pressure on their neck is terrible for their health.
Halti is a head collar that sits just below the dog’s eyes and doesn’t let the dog pull forward. However, you should be very careful with it because if a halti is not used correctly, it can injure the dog. Also, avoid tugging the dog lead to keep the pup safe during training.
The first step is you need to teach the dog to feel comfortable in a halti. Simply put it on and feed the pup verbally praising it for good behavior. Once the dog doesn’t try to take the halti off, you’re ready to work. It will be very hard for the dog to pull wearing a halti. But you still need to reward them with treats and words for walking correctly on the leash. The puppy needs to get used to walking somewhere near you on a loose leash. If it dashes forward in a halti, it can get injured.
5. Use the Tug Toy
If your dog loves toys, use them to teach it to walk politely on a leash. It works just like with food – you play the tug game every time the leash is loose. It also helps to build a connection between the pup and the owner. Use only tug play. The fetch game won’t work in this case because you need to teach the dog to be around you.
It is quite easy to stop the dog from pulling the dog lead. So please, don’t use a prong, shock, or choke collars. They can injure your pet, and can also lead to nervousness, aggressiveness, and other issues. Moreover, they don’t work that well – many dogs continue pulling even in such collars because they’re stressed.