How to Stop Dog and Puppy Leash Pulling

By Dennis Fetko, Ph.D., “Dr. Dog”

From 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” Technique

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 pulling.

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 pulling include:

  • Not Pulling vs. Heeling

  • Pulling in Very Large Dogs

  • Preventing/Reversing Pulling

  • Solutions to Pulling: Fear of Feet

  • Solutions to Pulling: Equipment

  • Why Dogs Pull: Opposition Reflex

  • Why Dogs Pull: Learned Through Games

  • 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:  www.DrDogsBehaviorSolutions.com.  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 puppy. 

 

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.

 

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