Walking a dog without pulling on leash

By Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Trainer and Blogger

Does Your Dog Pull On Leash? It’s not just your dog! It takes two to pull.

Dogs do not pull if there is no one dangling at the end of the leash! Both you and your dog need to break old habits.

A Leash is to the Dog-Human connection like a seat-belt is to the car-driver connection.   Both are safety devices and often mandated by law. Just as we never use a seat-belt to drive our car, we should not use a leash to “drive” our dogs.   A leash allows us a safe and effective connection to our dogs in case of surprises, emergencies, or situations where attention is hard to get or keep.

Going for a walk is a very exciting adventure for a dog. It allows him to check out the neighborhood and investigate all of the interesting smells around him. Whether it is another dog coming toward them, or a trail of interesting smells, dogs often feel as though they have move as quickly as they can. Dogs do not view walks like humans do. It is not a calm, relaxing stroll through the park to them; instead the walk is their time to go, go, go.

Being leashed is not natural to a dog.

They are not leashed to their mothers when they are puppies and the concept of being on a leash is foreign to most dogs. A dog does not know how to politely walk on leash when you bring him home. He has to be taught. Pulling on leash is a behavior that will progressively get worse as the dog gets older if the proper steps are not taken to stop this behavior. If a dog is pulling then the human handler has little to no control over that dog. The leash is designed to keep your dog under control and safe while you are out. Also, most cities, counties, and/or states have some sort of leash law. However, dogs are not aware of our laws and regulations and do not understand that running into to traffic can be very dangerous.

Most dogs learn very quickly how to walk politely on leash when they are shown how to do so. Teaching your dog this valuable skill is the first step to having an obedient dog.

Your dog pulls because someone, somewhere at some time, took a step when he put tension on the leash.   He continues to pull because it continues to be a rewarding experience. He pulls, and he gets to the car. He pulls and he gets to greet that other dog in class. He pulls and the neighbor lady across the street tells him how lovely he is, even though he is now not JUST pulling but is also climbing up the front of her with his muddy dog paws, to which she replies, “it’s ok, I don’t mind!”

What gets rewarded gets repeated.

Here is the elusive answer to the ever present question of HOW DO I TEACH MY DOG NOT TO PULL?? (Shhhhh – it’s a secret!)

Don’t walk forward if there is tension on the leash.

Sounds way too simple doesn’t it?

Simply POP every single time you note that the dog is about to put the slightest tension on the leash and the pulling will go away.   If you are consistent and don’t give up, he will learn it.  He will have good days and bad, but if you are diligent, he will figure it out.


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