This is the latest guest column from Melissa Grant, dog trainer for LeChic Pet in Issaquah. She’s going to teach you how to keep your dog from pulling YOU along on daily walks. Good luck!
One of the biggest complaints many dog owners have is that their dog pulls during walks. This can sometimes lead an owner to refrain from walking the dog or resort to punitive measures (prong or choke collars) to (supposedly) stop the pulling.
Dogs pull on the leash because they have figured out it works. This is just how it work. They’ve always dragged their owner’s places. They think “Leash?? That means I drag mom or dad to the park.” Plus, dogs have a very strong urge to resist pressure; meaning when they feel that pressure, they just can’t help it and pull.
If you have a young dog (six months to three years), he needs to be able to blow off some steam A regular walk at human speed is not enough, and expecting your adolescent dog to pay attention and walk nicely before he has had a chance to work off some of his energy is unrealistic. I suggest some fetch time in the backyard before trying any of these techniques.
Three Tips to Teaching Loose Leash Walking
- Getting (and keeping) your dog’s attention
- Reinforcing him for walking next to you (or slightly ahead if that’s acceptable to you)
- Managing the situation when you don’t have time to train (use a no pull harness)
Take your dog out for a walk on a flat collar when you have time to train loose leash walking. Allow your dog to walk normally, when he gets to the end of the leash and starts to pull, JUST STOP. The instant your dog starts pulling, stop and do… nothing. He will flail around and try to figure out what the heck is going on and then finally turn and look at you The instant that happens and the leash becomes slack again, say “good” and have your dog come back to you for a treat. Feed the treat to your dog right beside your leg. In the beginning, you might literally feed your dog every step. It may take you an hour to get down your driveway, but as he catches on, you will be able to gradually space out the treats.
Play red light, green light. This is great to do when you know specifically what your dog is pulling towards. In this game, the dog learns that he gets what he wants by walking on a loose leash and that he loses what he wants when he pulls. For example, your dog wants to greet another dog. If he walks over to the dog politely, he gets to greet. If he pulls, you immediately begin walking backwards away from where he wanted to go. Then turn and try again
Don’t Forget: Some dogs understand this concept quickly, but some “hardcore” pullers may take longer. They aren’t stubborn, just well-trained pullers. Eventually they will understand that pulling does NOT get them where they want to go. You just have NOT let them pull.
If you practice regularly during your daily walks, you will eventually have a dog that walks happily on a loose leash. Good Luck and have a good time walking in this beautiful Valley sunshine!