Leash Pulling got you down?

Walking your dog should be an enjoyable experience for both you and your furry friend. However, leash pulling can turn a pleasant walk into a frustrating ordeal. If you’re dealing with a dog that drags you down the street, you’re not alone.  Leash pulling is one of the most common issues we see our clients struggle with at our dog training facility located in Boise, Idaho.

Here are some effective strategies to help you and your dog enjoy peaceful, controlled walks.

 

Corgi Dog pulling woman on beach

Understanding Why Dogs Pull on the Leash

Before tackling the problem, it’s important to understand why dogs pull on the leash:

  1. Excitement: Dogs are naturally curious and eager to explore their surroundings.
  2. Opposition to Leash Pressure: When dogs feel pressure on the leash, most of the time, their natural reaction is to pull through the leash, not follow the leash.
  3. Lack of Training: Taking the time to teach your dog how to follow pressure on the leash and not pull through it.
  4. Reinforcement: Pulling can often get the dog where they want to go faster, which reinforces the behavior.
dog leash pulling water

Steps to Prevent Leash Pulling

  • Choose the Right Equipment
    • Head Halter: These types of leashes/collars fit around your dog’s nose, head, and neck. If you have full control over your dog’s head, it gives you more control over the rest of their body.
    • Slip Lead: You often see these types of leashes in vet offices, boarding or daycare settings. This type of leash will tighten and loosen as your dog pulls and relaxes.
    • Prong Collars: Prong collars are designed to distribute pressure evenly around your dog’s neck, making them an effective tool for teaching proper leash manners. While they may appear intimidating, they are actually one of the safest options available when used correctly. Think of a prong collar as “power steering” for your dog. However, they are not suitable for every dog or owner. It’s important to consult a professional before using a prong collar to ensure it’s the right choice for your situation.
yellow dog wearing halter

Training Techniques:

  • Work on your self-awareness when your dog is on a leash. Stop moving forward when your dog starts pulling, as every step you take in the direction they’re pulling reinforces this behavior. This is likely a patterned behavior that you’ll need to retrain. 
  • Start in a quiet space without distractions. Using motivation and engagement, begin walking around. If your dog pulls to the end of the leash, back up in the opposite direction. When they return to you, praise them and start moving forward again. Repeat this step several times until they stay with you. Keep them engaged and provide positive reinforcement whenever they focus on you.
  • Once they understand this behavior in a quiet environment, move to a different area. Take your time, mastering the skill in one area before progressing to the next. To develop good leash skills, it’s crucial never to allow your dog to practice pulling on the leash.
Dachshund formal heel dog show ring

Consistency

      • Consistency in training is crucial. Ensure everyone who walks your dog follows the same rules and techniques to avoid confusion.
      • Regular, short training sessions are more effective than occasional long sessions.

Exercise and Mental Stimulation

        • Sometimes, part of the problem with leash pulling can be a result of pent-up energy. Ensure your dog gets plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation through games, toys, and puzzles.
      focused dog. Jack Russel Terrier

      Professional Help

          • If you’re struggling with leash training, consider seeking help from a professional dog trainer. They can provide personalized guidance and techniques tailored to your dog’s needs. We offer free consultations at our dog training facility in Boise, ID.  Visit our website for more information and sign-up.
        dog trainer working German Shepherd park

        Common Mistakes to Avoid

        1. Using a Harness: Harnesses are great tools for puppies, and to prevent your dog from injuring themselves before you can get professional help. Unfortunately, they are not great tools to teach your dog not to pull on the leash. The dog can use their body weight to lean into the harness, giving you little to no control over their pulling or over excitement.
        2. Inconsistency: Allowing your dog to pull sometimes but not others can confuse them and hinder training progress.
        3. Lack of Patience: Training takes time. Stay patient and consistent, and celebrate small victories along the way.
          dog trainer working German Shepherd park

          Conclusion

          Leash pulling is a common issue, but with patience, consistency, and the right tools and techniques, it can be corrected. Remember that training is a journey, and every dog progresses at their own pace. By understanding your dog’s behavior and working together, you can transform walks into a more enjoyable experience for both of you.

          Happy training, and may your walks be filled with joy and harmony!

          dog on leash