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Posted on 12-19-2017

How to Get Your Dog Not to Pull on a Leash

Walking on a leash is one of the most unnatural things that a dog can do. Unlike other behaviors like 'sit' or 'down', where the dog only has to figure out that you are associating a word (the command) with an action they already know how to do, loose leash walking requires your dog to learn how to perform a totally new action.

Our Canton vet knows that unfortunately, it can also be hard to be consistent when practicing loose leash walking, which makes the process even slower.

a little girl walking her dog on a leash

Methods of Teaching Your Dog Not to Pull on Leash

Several different methods exist to teach your dog not to pull on a leash, many of which can be used together:

  • Stop and freeze when your dog pulls, then praise and resume forward movement when they loosen the leash just the tiniest bit.
  • Reward your dog when they are near you, whether they are paying attention or not.
  • Reward your dog whenever they look at you.
  • Engage your dog with a happy voice and eye contact when you really need them near you.
  • Avoid rewarding pulling by being careful not to let your dog access things that they want (smells, other dogs, people) until the leash is loose.

Tips for Making Training Successful

  • Be consistent. If your dog sometimes gets what they want by pulling, they will keep trying.
  • To make consistency possible, consider implementing a device that they are NEVER allowed to pull on (maybe a flat collar) and a device that allows you to control them the rest of the time (a front-clip harness or head halter). This allows you to be 100 percent consistent when they are on the flat collar but still get a walk in.
  • Another option is to be 100 percent consistent for the first and last five minutes of your walk, and increase that time by a minute or two each week until you can get the whole walk in.
  • Don't pull back. Dogs (and humans) pull into pressure, so this just makes things worse. Instead, freeze in place and wait for your dog to let up, even if it takes a while.
  • Be unpredictable. A walk doesn't have to go in a straight line, and your dog will pay more attention if they learn that you randomly change directions from time to time. Cue this change of direction with a word or a phrase such as "This way!"

Loose-Leash Walking Equipment

There are no quick fixes in loose-leash walking, but equipment can be a saving grace that allows a big strong dog to be walked while being trained. Front-clip harnesses are easily accepted by most dogs, while head halters give more control but require you to spend more time getting your dog used to them. Prong collars, shock collars, and choke chains are not recommended because they can cause fear or aggression even in dogs with no previous history.

Our Canton Vet Cares about All Aspects of Your Pet

Pets that can't behave often find themselves homeless, and our Canton vet cares about all aspects of life for your furry friend. Proper training that relies on telling your dog when they are good with praise, toys, and treats, as well as denying them access to what they want when they are bad, is an important tool in molding your dog into a great family member. 

Contact us today at 770-479-1905 to make an appointment for your great family member with Acres Mill Veterinary Clinic in Canton, GA.

Which loose-leash walking method works best for your dog?

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