How to Stop Dog and Puppy Leash Pulling
By Dennis Fetko, Ph.D., “Dr. Dog”
Dr. Dog’s FAST,
EASY, FUN Behavior Solutions
Despite its comical
appearance, there’s nothing funny about being dragged down the
street by a dog or puppy who’s pulling on his leash. It’s even less
funny if the dog sees a cat and pulls you in front of a bus. Dog
leash pulling is dangerous to the dog and to the object of the
pursuit. If leash pulling is not stopped, serious injury can result.
Many of my clients
tell me that their dogs are well behaved except that they
won’t stop pulling on their leashes on walks. You’ll be glad to know
there is a simple, almost “magic” technique to easily
train your dog to stop pulling on his leash…
Stop Leash Pulling – WHY do dogs and puppies do it?
So why do dogs and
puppies pull on their leashes? The main reason is that it succeeds!
For example, you’re walking nicely and Attila catches a real
exciting scent. Without much thought, he begins pulling you to move
more quickly and you speed up to keep pace or to prevent the poor
cupcake from choking himself. You just rewarded the leash pulling by
having it succeed. The dog got to his goal faster by pulling you.
A lack of exercise
can accomplish the same thing and make it harder to train your dog
to stop pulling on his leash. The dog is wired, and you finally take
him out--the more he pulls on the leash, the more exercise he gets.
How to Stop Leash Pulling: A Simple “Magic”
Now to the “magic”
part in training your dog or puppy to stop leash pulling. Remember
how success continues and failure goes away? We’re going to teach
the dog that pulling on his leash fails and keeping slack in the
lead succeeds. Take your dog out for a walk--with no commands or
directions, just go for a walk with Brutus.
As soon as he begins
to pull on the leash, stop walking. Just that. Don’t yank, jerk,
tug, or say anything. Just stop. Brutus will spend a few minutes
pulling on the leash against an ever-tightening collar and will then
relax and give you some slack in the lead. When that happens, start
walking again. As soon as you do, Brutus will probably lunge forward
and resume pulling on his leash. When he does, just stop. Each time
he pulls you forward, simply stop and stay still until he stops
When the leash
pulling stops, resume the walk. When pulling happens, just stop.
Again, don’t talk to the dog or give any clue at all. The more you
talk to him at this point, the longer it’ll take to teach him to
stop pulling on the leash. Brutus is learning very effectively by
what you’re doing. Don’t confuse him with speech. And what
you’re doing is seeing to it that pulling on his leash fails.
Let’s say he wants to
get to the pole. When he lunges and pulls toward it, he fails--you
stop. When he relaxes and gives you slack in the leash, he succeeds.
Amazing! Not only did you insure that his pulling on his leash
failed, you rewarded the opposite. Now you’re talking dog!
A “Random Walk” to Stop Your Dog or Puppy from
Pulling on His Leash
This simple exercise
to train your dog or puppy to stop pulling on his leash can be taken
a step further by taking him on a very strange walk. Have Fang on a
leash or a long piece of rope. Ignore him totally and start walking
toward a tree or car or whatever. When you get there, stop suddenly.
Wait about ten seconds and take up about half the line. Then
suddenly change direction and walk toward a bush or something--but
at a different pace--either faster or slower than the last leg.
Make the walk last
about six or eight legs of this strange journey, each leg different
from the last. Change your pace, use a different amount of line, go
toward different objects. Fang will just have to go where you go and
stop pulling on his leash—if only to stay near his head.
The most important
thing is that you are totally ignoring the dog. Don’t give him any
clues whatsoever as to your next move. I’ve got this exercise down
so pat, I don’t know what I’m going to do next--so the dog can’t
possibly know. And if he doesn’t know what’s going to happen, his
only option is to watch me and to stop pulling on his leash.
The more closely he
watches me and follows my lead, the more comfortable and enjoyable
his walk is. If he ignores me and tries to go his own way or at his
own pace, the collar will remain tight until he cooperates and
follows me as he stops pulling on the leash.
Don’t even look at
him during this exercise. The more attention you pay to him, the
less he has to pay to you. The whole random walk takes about three
minutes. If you do it once or twice a day, you’ll notice some
tremendous changes in just a few days.
In the beginning
you’ll feel a lot of tugs on the lead because the dog isn’t paying
attention to you. Later on, he’ll be paying such close attention,
you’ll really have to try hard to fool old Fang. You’ll learn how
pleasant it can be to walk a dog when he’s not pulling on his leash!
Make some of those legs of the walk real slow. Dogs almost never
move slowly. Making your dog walk that way demands not only his
attention, but his cooperation as well.
So, you see, stopping
dog behavior problems like pulling on his leash does not have to be
harsh or complicated. It can be fast, easy, and even fun! You just
have to think like your dog.
This article includes
excerpts from my ebook,
Dr. Dog’s FAST,
EASY, FUN Behavior Solutions.
Other topics in the Chapter on training your dog to stop leash
Not Pulling vs. Heeling
Pulling in Very Large Dogs
Solutions to Pulling: Fear of
Solutions to Pulling: Equipment
Why Dogs Pull: Opposition Reflex
Why Dogs Pull: Learned Through
Why Dogs Pull: Fear of Feet
Why Dogs Pull: Success!
Why Dogs Pull: Using a Short Lead
To sign up for
my free ebooks or my free Five Day Talkin’ Dog Series or to learn
more about my dog and puppy training ebook, visit my website at:
In my ebook I detail my “Talkin’ Dog” behavior modification methods
for resolving dog and puppy behavior problems including excessive
barking, digging, chewing, soiling, jumping, fighting and
aggression—and more…I also include methods to housetrain your new
One of my
faviorite sayings is, “In dog training ‘jerk’ is a noun and not
a verb.” So, as you can see from this example on stopping your
dog’s leash pulling, my methods are gentle and long-lasting.