It’s a beautiful day outside, the sun shines brightly and the weather is just right. You get out of bed with optimism thinking that you and your dog will go to the park and enjoy the beautiful flowers of Spring.
So you put on some comfortable clothes and brought your dog outside. Suddenly you find yourself panting and realized that your dog is pulling the leash. Then it dawned on you. Do you walk your dog or does your dog walk you?
Walking on a leash is an essential skill for dogs to survive daily activities. And no, they don’t do this to be the leader of the pack or to be dominant, it is, in fact, just natural for dogs to do so. It’s not desirable, but normal.
So if you want to walk with your dog by your side and less reactive to distractions, here are three different effective ways to stop them from leash pulling.
1. Choose one walking method
There are tons of research and numerous ways to introduce walking on a leash to your dog. But you have to decide which one you want to follow. From simple things like which side you want them to walk, left or right, how far or near you want them to be, how long the leash should be, and more.
You need to make a decision and stick with it. Be consistent and mindful every time you train and remember the choices that you have already made in the beginning. You need to be patient, consistent, and make repetitive sessions with break times.
All the members of the family should also be informed of these small details to avoid confusing your dog as to which method to follow.
2. Use treats
This may sound obvious to you but a lot of dog owners are carried away in giving treats. Sometimes you might just ‘reward’ your dog even without doing the acceptable behavior. Remember that the treats are used here not just as a snack but as a reward for doing a job well done.
This will help condition their brains to what acceptable behavior is. So use the treats to call their attention, to let them look at you, to stop, and follow. ONLY use it after they follow the desired behavior that you want to achieve.
But when I said treats, I also mean other rewards such as playtime, running, and whatever your dog likes doing. Whatever motivated them. So you have to learn what drives your dog’s interest on the get-go so you know how to motivate them not just on leash pulling training but any other pieces of training that you will have to do in the future.
3. Start in a controlled setting
It’s always a rule of thumb to start teaching and practicing your dog with new skills in a safe, less distractive, and quiet environment. Bring your dog to familiar places, where he usually goes. You can start from your backyard, outside your house, and eventually in the street where you live.
As you progress, you can bring your dog to parks during a not so crowded time of the day. Through this, you can prepare your dog to be less reactive to external factors as much as possible. You will also strengthen the bond between you and your dog and make sure that he/she pays attention to you and follow your command.
When the time comes that you think that your dog is ready to face the world, you can go and walk together even in busy and crowded places without worrying that it will be reactive to every sound, dog, and other people passing through.
Leash pulling might not be considered a major behavior issue by a lot of people, but without proper training and control, this may lead to aggression and other serious behavior problems in the future.
Start early and have your gear ready, you can start training your dog to follow the behavior that’s acceptable to you, or you can hire a professional trainer and behaviorist to help you with leash pulling issues especially if you have been putting off the training to address this behavior.
Whatever way you decide, always remember that you have the key to make your dog behave well in your home, with your family, friends, other dogs, and the crowd.
Act now and make your walks fun, easy and satisfying for both you and your paw friend!