Lead pulling is a common problem during dog walking. As you read on, you will learn the causes of this behaviour and tips on how to stop dog from pulling on lead.
Why does my dog pull so much on the lead?
Outdoor walks are exciting for dogs since it stimulates their senses. Their eagerness to explore their surroundings prompts them to pull on the lead.
If disregarded, dogs will learn that by pulling so much on the lead, they get to where they want to go. Since they see this as a reward, dogs become more motivated to repeat the undesirable behaviour.
Will pulling on the lead hurt my dog?
Yes, pulling on the lead can hurt your dog. When pooches pull on the leash, their airways get squeezed by their collar, which can cause breathing difficulties if not choking.
Pulling on the lead with force can also result in serious neck injuries. Hence, teaching your dog proper leash manners is very important as it prevents these kinds of accidents from happening.
8 Tips on how to stop dog from pulling on lead
Below are some pointers that you can incorporate in training that will hasten your dog’s progress:
1. Choose the right equipment.
Before your start training your dog, find a lead that is specifically designed to help curb dog pulling. Anti-pull dog leads are appropriate tools to use for this matter. The most common type used by dog owners is a head collar.
This head halter collar fits over a dog’s nose and is attached to the lead underneath the chin. The nose loop prevents your pooch from pulling since it redirects his head towards you every time he tugs the lead. This feature also keeps the dog’s focus on you.
The no-pull harness also offers the same purpose. It has a front clip that turns your dog back to face you once he starts pulling. Regardless of which equipment you choose, these tools should be combined with proper training to stop your dog from pulling on the lead.
Mind that some leads such as the retractable ones are not the best leads to stop dog pulling. Since they extend when tugged, retractable leads encourage dogs to pull. Thus, avoid using these types of leads during dog training sessions.
2. Tire out your dog first.
A pooch that is full of energy will not pay attention to your commands. He lacks focus because his mind and body need stimulation. Thus, make sure that he has let off steam before starting his dog training session.
Let him run off the lead on your back garden or play fetch and tug of war. However, be reminded that your pooch should not be exercised to the point of exhaustion. If this happens, he will be too tired to participate and would rather rest to recuperate his energy.
3. Get him used to wear the leash.
Some dogs are wary of wearing a lead, whilst others become very excitable. To make them tolerate the lead, use positive reinforcement.
For dogs that are reactive to leashes, reward them with praises and treats if they do not respond negatively to the sight of a leash. However, if dogs begin barking, growling, or struggling to get away from it, calmly walk away and let them calm down.
Try again once they have settled. Repeat these steps until you can attach the lead to their collar without being met with reactive behaviour. Apply the same procedure to pooches who get overexcited when seeing a leash.
Exercise patience since this can take several repetitions. Consider doing this multiple times a day even if you do not intend to go on walks to speed up your dog’s improvement.
4. Train your dog at home first.
Another crucial step on how to stop dog pulling is to begin training your dog in a controlled environment. The most suitable place for that would be your home.
Compared to the outdoors, it has fewer distractions (e.g., other dogs barking), which enable your pooch to concentrate more.
Start teaching your dog leash manners in a quiet area in your house. Once he can master it, move your training venue to the back garden or the garage.
Slowly but surely, your dog will make significant progress after this transition. Soon enough, you can carry on your training in other places outside your home.
Always bear in mind to take your time. Being too hasty can lead to more blunders and setbacks during training.
5. Pick an ideal time and place to train outdoors.
If your dog has accomplished loose lead training indoors, time to train him outdoors. However, do not just carelessly pick a place. The location must not be overwhelming to maintain your dog’s focus and motivation.
It is a good idea to train your dog during the quiet time of the day. Evenings and early mornings are good options since fewer people are strolling outdoors. Training your dog during non-peak hours in the dog park is fine too.
6. Encourage your dog to follow you using treats.
Carry treats with you, as it is a great training motivator for dogs. Using low-value treats such as pieces of dog food and slices of fruits or veggies are fine to use when training inside your home.
However, once outside training begins, there will be more distractions. Low-value treats cannot retain your dog’s attention.
Thus, replace it with high-value treats like cheese, peanut butter, hotdogs, or dehydrated meats. Doing so will keep him looking forward to receiving the rewards and less likely to lose interest in training.
Start your training by walking your pooch and holding the treat at thigh level to keep his nose in position. Give your dog a treat for every 2 steps that you take with him whilst walking with a loose leash.
This will encourage him to walk by your side rather than ahead of you. By consistently rewarding your dog every time he walks calmly without pulling, he is very likely to repeat this desirable behaviour.
Gradually decrease the amount of treats when your dog can walk far distances without pulling. It prevents him from constantly relying on treats to produce a good result.
7. Never tolerate pulling.
Stop walking and offering rewards every time your dog pulls on the leash. This is one of the most important parts of how to stop dogs from pulling on lead.
It teaches pooches that the fun stops and they get nothing until they stop pulling. Also, through this method, dogs learn that they are showered with rewards when they walk with a loose lead.
Make sure to only resume walking when your furry companion returns to your side. Call your dog or lure him with a treat if he does not turn back to you.
Another alternative is to walk a few steps in the opposite direction to get his attention. Another way is to issue vocal cues like “let’s go” to prompt him to follow you at a steady pace.
Be sure to reward your dog with a treat when he rejoins your side. Then carry on with your loose leash walk.
8. Turn training into a game.
Playing the “follow me” game will encourage your dog to walk nicely. It keeps him focused and urges him to move with you instead of against you.
Here are the steps on how to play this game:
- Whilst holding the leash, toss a treat at least 20 feet away from you and your dog. The treat is enticing, thus he will try to go near it.
- If your dog starts pulling on the leash, say “let’s go” and walk in the opposite direction. Reward him with a treat if he follows your command.
- If he walks by your side whilst you approach the object, let him continue towards the treat. Allow him to take it as his reward.
Effort and Patience
Pulling on a lead is an issue that can be prevented and managed with training and practice. It requires great amounts of effort, time, and patience to train your dog to walk on a loose lead.
There will be challenges along the way, but do not be discouraged by the setbacks. In time, you will reap the rewards of your hard work.
But if the above steps and training are not effective for your dog, you can always hire dog trainers to train him to stop pulling on lead. In due time, you will have a well-behaved dog.