Any seasoned pet parent or dog walker has experienced it—dogs tugging at the leash, pulling their human ahead and to the side during a walk. Most often pulling is due to a lack of focus and excitement on the walk. Luckily, there are great strategies for preventing pulling and encouraging the looseleash walk that every dog owner dreams of.
When you first get a puppy, don’t hesitate to start leash training. Start by introducing them to the leash indoors. Once your puppy is used to the leash in the house, walk them in the yard, eventually progressing to walks outside. If your puppy starts to pull on the leash, simply stop. If you’re consistent, they’ll learn that pulling doesn’t get them anywhere.
Now, what if you have an older dog who has already learned to pull? This is where simply stopping won’t work. First off, make sure you have a shorter leash–something in the range of four to six feet will be manageable. Avoid longer or retractable leashes that enable a dog to wander. Next, follow these steps to prevent pulling.
- Dedicate part of the walk to walking, and part of the walk to sniffing and exploring. For example, walk briskly to the park, but then allow them to sniff once you arrive.
- Make unpredictable movements—stop, start, and turn. Make the dog realize he has to pay attention to you because he doesn’t know what’s going to happen next. This way, he has to follow you to keep up.
- Reward your dog with high-value treats when they stop and return to you during a walk. Choose a command, such as “heel,” to attach to the treats.
- Walk quickly and purposefully! This doesn’t allow as much time for pulling and distraction.
Once you’ve been working on loose-leash walking consistently, make sure to keep up a daily walking routine. That will enforce the desired behaviors. Get your dog walker in on the training, as well, so that your dog knows what’s expected on each and every outing.
Daily walks help keep you and your dog healthy and happy. With some practice, you’ll achieve the walk you want!Source