When your dog constantly pulls on the leash, it can often mean what should be an enjoyable walk, can quickly turn into a battle of wills. But the good news is, no matter how young or old your pup may be, with some training and patience you can start teaching your pup that walks are much more enjoyable without the tugging.
Generally, when your dog pulls at the leash it means they’re excited to hit full stride and run about, which is completely normal. With all the new sights and smells, it can cause them to become overly curious and SO excited to go out and explore them all. This means that pulling shows they’re happy and naturally curious, so the reason they’re doing it is usually nothing to worry about. They may have also simply associated that by pulling they get to move forward!
However, if your dog is lunging or barking when they’re on the leash, it could mean that they’re scared of something nearby and they’re trying to protect themselves or get away. If the latter is the case, then it’s time to focus on making walking a positive experience and start rewarding them when they exhibit calmer behavior.
It doesn’t usually hurt your pup when they pull, even if it makes them cough a little, so don’t be afraid to stand your ground. Do avoid sharply jolting the leash though, as this can hurt them and make them jump, and you don’t want your pooch to associate their walking gear with pain or become scared of the collar, leash or you.
Find a quiet area, with limited distractions to start your leash training.
To begin with, when out on your walks, as soon as the leash begins to tighten, you should stop walking, stay calm, expressionless and keep quiet. Once the leash becomes slack again, continue walking. This will help your dog associate that they get to walk when they’re not pulling instead of vice versa.
Moving forwards, whenever they walk next to you on a loose leash, reward them! You’ll probably needs several treats to start and then gradually you can reduce and reduce until they’re fully trained. To avoid stopping and starting, try to treat whilst you’re both moving next to each other.
To make sure your dog doesn’t gain too much weight during training (which can be detrimental to their joints and health), make sure to use treats that are high in lean protein, like our Petlab Co. tasty Chicken Liver Bites or Beef Liver Bites. Both are formulated in the USA and both are high in lean protein, so low in calories! Each delicious treat in both choices is freeze-dried to lock-in the essential vitamins and minerals that are needed to keep your pup fit and healthy, so you can treat them in confidence!
And remember, be consistent with your training. Repeat this process every time you are out with your pup. Initially, walks will take longer whilst they are learning but before you know it, they’ll be a walking pro!
If your dog is struggling to learn to behave on just a collar and leash, a harness may be a great route for you to take!
A body harness can help discourage pulling as they help prevent doggo’s moving as far forward when they pull. Harnesses also help give you more control, particularly in busy areas like cities and in crowds, but also over larger breeds as it takes less of a toll on your arm and back strength. Harnesses are also considered safer, as they disperse pressure over a larger area of your pooch’s body, which reduces the amount of strain exerted on their neck.
With puppies, a harness can also prevent them getting tangled up in their leash as they learn to be on one! It’s definitely something to research and consider.
If your dog is happy in a collar, do not be tempted by choke or prong collars that are designed to constrict or cause discomfort as a mean of training. These are cruel, painful and just cause a dog to be scared of them. They do not actually induce good behavior. Only positive reinforcement via treats and praise can do that effectively.
Is your dog hyperactive and over excited all the time? At the Petlab Co., why not try our Total Calm Chews? They are 100% natural and non-drowsy, and help to support a relaxed disposition without compromising their mental alertness. The ingredients profile of our calming chews has been selected to directly and positively affect dog behavior, whilst also supporting normal emotional balance and calmness. Keeping a normal emotional balance will help your pet feel calm and relaxed in excitable situations (like walks!) without changing or altering their personality. Try them today!