One of the most common problems I am asked about is how to stop dogs pulling when on a lead.
Having your dog under full control whilst walking is important for yours and your dog’s safety. As well as their pulling being annoying and becoming embarrassing for the owner, having a dog that walks nicely on a lead is not only safer but makes walks more enjoyable for you both.
Both you and your dog should understand that the point of a dog walk is not to get from A to B, it should be the time for your dog to enjoy being out of the house, and take in your surroundings; this is a great form of mental stimulation for your dog. So, if your dog wants to stop and sniff everything they come across; let them, this is tiring them out just as much as the walking, as it is making their brain work.
Never allow your dog to pull. If at any point they do pull, either stop completely or change the direction you are walking. This works by not allowing the dog to go in the direction they want until they are walking as you want. Encourage them to walk next to your leg by either holding their favourite treat or toy their and occasionally allow them a treat or access to the toy, and giving constant praise the whole time they are walking on a loose lead, when they are walking next to your leg is when you can add in the command ‘heel’ if you wish. This command means for them to walk next to your leg, so therefore only say it when they are walking nicely next to your leg when teaching it, and not when you are encouraging them back, as they may not link the command with the correct response. This teaches them that when they are walking nicely they are receiving something positive, which makes is worth their while to do.
As extra praise why not occasionally stop your walks for a quick game or fun training session, as this makes all walks a fun and positive experience for your dog, and they will eventually learn that if they walk nicely they get to stop for a fun game.
One method we do not recommend, is yanking your dog back when they are pulling. This is not only because you could damage their neck or back, but it makes walks a negative and unenjoyable experience for you both.
Another tip is to have lots of short walks rather than one long walk. Just like with training sessions, one long session can become boring for the dog, making them less willing to learn, but in a shorter walk, they will be more willing to please and therefore learn faster.
By Law, your dog is considered out of controlled, even if it just makes someone else worried that it could cause harm. Hence, a pulling dog, could be seen as your dog not being fully under your control, so even if you feel your can hold your dog back if is pulling, it is worth teaching your dog controlled walking to prevent any problems that might occur, due to others opinions.
Walking on a loose lead can be something that requires time and patience to learn, but once learnt makes walks a positive and safe experience for both you and your dog.