Do you have a furry friend that loves to take longs walks but it’s hard to manage them while on the leash? Have you ever felt at your wits ends trying to stop leash pulling with your dog? This constant tug-of-war can take away from the joy of the walk and make it a challenge for both you and your dog.
Fortunately, you don’t have to let leash pulling take away the pleasure and enjoyment of these outings. There are simple solutions that can help tame this behavior and ensure that future walks will be more peaceful. Learn tips and tricks on how to stop leash pulling and create a harmonious walk with your canine companion.
Find out underlying causes of leash pulling and strategies to prevent or reduce this behavior. From preventative measures to adjusting your own behavior, I will provide you with the tools you need to promote more enjoyable and peaceful walks with your pup.
Using Positive, Reward-Based Training Methods
Positive, reward-based training is one of the most effective and humane ways to teach your dog how to walk on a leash. This method of dog training relies on giving your dog rewards when they do something correctly and consistently. The first step in training your pup to stop leash pulling is to make sure that your pup is comfortable with the right hardware. Whether they use a flat collar or wear a harness, that it is properly fitted. Using a standard 4, 5, or 6 foot leash will work best for leash walking. This ensures that your pup is ready and comfortable enough to begin learning.
Once you have the proper equipment, you can start to use positive, reward-based training techniques to teach your pup to stop leash pulling. I always like to start with making sure the dog I am working with knows heel. Everyone has different criteria for what a heel is, mine is that the dog is sitting next to me. It is up to you to decide at the beginning of training what your criteria will be for your “heel” behavior. They can be standing next to you, always walking next to you or sitting next to you. While walking, you can reward your pup for keeping the leash slack and walking at your side. When they start to pull on the leash, stop walking and wait for your pup to settle down. Once your pup has calmed down, reward them with praise, treats, and/or toys. Rewarding your dog for being calm while on leash is the behavior that will get reinforced. Over time, they will learn that it is more rewarding to walk at your side than to pull on the leash.
Another technique to try is to change direction quickly whenever your pup begins to pull. By changing direction they will have to follow you in order to keep up. Keeping your pup’s attention during walks also helps to stop leash pulling behavior. You can do this by keeping eye contact during walks. Playing games with them like “find it”, “touch” or “look at me”. This helps to keep your pup engaged and focused on you, making it easier for them to follow your lead. Always be sure to reward good behavior with praise and treats. By using positive, reward-based training techniques, you teach your pup take enjoyable, harmonious walks together. With consistent practice, your pup will learn to stop pulling on the leash.
Recognizing and Dealing with Distractions and Unwanted Behaviors
Distractions and unwanted behaviors during walks can be a huge obstacle to overcome for both the dog and the owner. The key to success is to recognize the triggers for these behaviors and your dog’s threshold to trigger. Triggers such as high energy dogs, distraction by other animals and people, or being startled by loud noises. Once the triggers are identified, prepartion with proper training techniques to help the dog stay focused on the task at hand. Having a plan of action and knowing how to handle these distractions can help keep the walk enjoyable.
Start by teaching your dog basic commands such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’, and ‘come’ to help maintain control during the walk. Then you can utilize the behaviors such as ‘touch’ or ‘look’ to navigate a situation. Additionally, rewarding good behaviors such as walking calmly by the side with treats and praise. Lastly, remember to always be patient and stay consistent when training your pup. Every dog is on their own journey and both you and your dog need to be in it for the long haul to truly see success.
Mindful Walks to Help Improve Your Dog’s Focus
Mindful walks are an effective way to help improve your dog’s focus and stop leash pulling. Incorporating games and activities while walking your pup is a great way to increase their mental stimulation and encourage positive behaviors. Engaging your dog in games that involve sit/stays or playing “find it” are great activities to focus their attention on you and can help reduce leash pulling. Adding in activities are great to help them learn positive behaviors while on the walk. Mindful walks create an opportunity for you to be present in the moment and enjoy nature with your four-legged companion.
Final thoughts to further your harmonious connections. Since you and your dog have already formed a bond, walks is another way you come together. Here are key things to remember so that you can continue on the journey to stopping leash pulling and promoting a harmonious connection with your dog.
- Every dog is on their own journey, so loose leash walking and / or stopping leash pulling will occur at their pace.
- With any training, consistency and patience is key.
- Remember these words, “Whatever behavior is getting rewarded is what will get reinforced.” Meaning, if you are going to reward a behavior make sure it is the behavior you want. If you give them treats for being excitable, that is what will get reinforced. If you reward calmness when seeing a trigger, that is what will get reinforced.
- Set your dog up for success, teach them the foundations of walking on leash. If your dog doesn’t know the foundations yet, start teaching them in an environment with no distractions. If they don’t have the foundations and are trying to walk in high distractions, both of you will be very frustrated. Remember, work your dogs level.
I hope you find these tips helpful, I know that I have used all of them for my own dogs and found much success. If you have more questions or would like to set up a consultation regarding leash training feel free to schedule an appointment here.