3 steps to help you train your dog to walk without pulling

July 17, 2015

Walking with your dog on a warm summer evening can be relaxing and pleasant, but for some, walking the dog is a daily battle. There’s no such thing as a bad dog with bad behavior. A dog simply needs guidance to know better.

A dog pulling and running about on the end of the leash may be terribly stressing for other pets who anxiously dodge out of the dog’s way; owners may also wonder how far the excitement will go and whether it can turn into an aggressive behavior. You’d also prefer a pet strolling politely next to you. Besides, who wants to spend a walk hanging on to the leash for dear life? It’s important we all enjoy our walks in harmony so that it’s a pleasant, relaxing source of exercise.

If you’re jogging as opposed to walking because your dog is pulling on the leash too hard, or if your pup is pulling ahead and heavily panting, read on for these three steps that can help you and your dog walk in unison:

Figure out exactly what you want from your dog

Perhaps your dog pulls on the leash and you find yourself pulling back to control him. Maybe you just want him to stay on your right side and stray no further for the sake of his safety on busy streets. Define what it is you would like corrected and go from there.

Be consistent with your correction

Leash training requires focus for the duration of the walk. Make corrections at the precise moment you feel you’re losing control of your pet, each and every time, until the very end of the walk. For example, if you give quick tugs on the leash to bring your dog to your side for the first half of the walk, but then let it slide for the remainder, you’ll lose any progress you’ve made.

Reward him when he gets it right

After a few training periods on a leash, your pup should have a good idea of what you’re asking of him. To keep him trying to please you and lessen the chance of him going astray, offer him a treat at the precise moment he performs the behaviour you want from him. As he performs better over time, you may choose to treat him less frequently, but don’t stop altogether – hey, even a dog needs motivation!

Cesar Milan offers these tips when you head out with your pup on a session:

  • Communicate “pack leader” body language
  • Keep the dog on a short leash – no retractable leashes!
  • Ensure his collar is at the most sensitive area – the top of his neck
  • Analyze your walking style on video to see what needs to be improved
  • Let your dog practise his self-control by walking with trusted dogs

Once your pup understands what’s expected of him, be consistent during your next walks. Allowing him to pull as he sniffs out a squirrel, but not correcting him, will begin to undo the good work you’ve done in his training. You may feel the need to let it slide on occasion, but this is not in his (or your!) best interests.

Solving your particular situation may require some research to find the best solution; no one method will work for all dogs. Read up, practise with your pet, and hand him a treat when he does what you ask. His ultimate goal is to please you – so be sure to treat your better half!

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