|If there's tight tension on the leash and your dog is way out in front of you, you're not walking your dog, your dog is walking you!|
|Your dog should be close to your side with a loose leash, not way out in front pulling you along with tension on the leash|
PSYCHE YOUR DOG OUT
Curtailing leash pulling starts before you even reach for the leash or say the words "Wanna go for a walk"? If your dog is in an excited state jumping up & down, spinning, or lunging toward the door as soon as he knows a walk is forthcoming, you'll have a tough time getting him to calm down once you're out the door. His excitement will escalate and result in him walking you!
Quietly reach for your dog's leash & harness. When your dog starts getting excited simply stand still without talking to or touching him. If he jumps up on you, turn your back on him. Wait a few minutes. Your dog should eventually sit down, which is a dog's default behavior when they don't know what else to do. Don't put the leash or harness on until your dog is calm. If he hasn't sat down, put him in a sit and put the leash & harness on. If he starts jumping around all excited again, firmly say "Ah, Ah!" and put the leash & harness away. You may need to repeat the exercise several times before he learns that excited behavior means no walk, but a calm sit gets you to put the leash on. If needed, put his leash on and let him walk around the house with it on in order to reduce excitement associated with the leash. Don't give treats during this time, save the treats to reward later for walking without pulling. Calm behavior is a very important first step.
Once the leash & harness are on, make your dog sit and wait at the door before you open it. Go out the door first, then invite your dog to go through behind you. If he's crowding you at the door, step in front of him and give the Sit/Wait command so he knows you own the entryway, the door, and ultimately the walk. Don't get into a tugging match if he's resisting you at the door, simply close the door and wait until he acquiesces. Walk away and try again later if needed.
USE THE RIGHT TOOLS
Like anything else worth doing, you need the right tools to get it done. There are several effective tools that will help with your training.
A Head Halter is a type of collar that wraps around the dog's muzzle. It gives you more control over his head; if you control the dog's head and nose you can better control where he goes.
|You can find head halters at PetSmart and other pet supply stores. Martha Stewart, Great Choice and other companies make head halters.|
|There are a few different kinds of no pull harnesses. We use the one pictured here, by Easy Walk. It made a huge difference on our walks.|
LET'S GO FOR A WALK!
Now that your dog is calm and you've got the right tools, you're ready to go for a walk!
It might be helpful to start the training in the yard where there are fewer distractions. Once you've got it down in the yard, then hit the streets. Remember to start with your dog in a calm state, make sure you go out first and that he waits at the door for you to escort him out. Once you cross the doorway, stay in front of him. When he tries to lunge ahead of you, STOP. Stand still until he stops pulling or sits down. Call him back to your side. You'll do this many times, be patient and don't give up! Know that the first day you may not even make it out of the driveway. That's ok, it's the training and behavior, not the walk itself that's important.
When your dog walks properly next to you, praise and treat him. Don't treat if he's lunging ahead. The goal is to get him to stay by your side and focus on you. Treat every few steps at first to get & keep his focus on you. When he lunges ahead, say "Ah, Ah!" firmly and STOP. Your goal is to teach him that he goes nowhere if he's pulling. The more he walks nicely by your side the further he gets to walk and the more treats & fun he has.
Another way to gain his focus, in addition to stopping, is to change direction quickly and often. As you're walking down the street, as soon as you see tension start on the leash immediately turn and walk in the opposite direction. Your dog will need to focus on you in order to keep up with your changes in direction!
Everyone in the household who walks the dog should follow this process. If everyone isn't consistent it will be much harder to change the behavior.
|Walking together is a pleasure when your dog isn't dragging you halfway across the county!|