Most dogs get very excited for walks, but if yours pulls on his leash every time you take him out, it may be time to do something about that behaviour. Constant pressure on a dog’s neck can lead to choking, problems with his ears and nervous system, hypothyroidism, and even death. If your dog pulls so hard that you lose control during your walks, this can also become a safety concern.
It may be difficult at first, but you can train your dog to walk more calmly on a leash. Check out our tips below to get your dog started on learning this vital skill.
Training Your Dog Not to Pull
With enough support and reinforcement, your dog will learn not to tug on his leash when you bring him out. To do this:
- Make sure your dog has plenty of time to run around and explore his environment without a leash on. If you let him get used to being outside off-leash in some settings, he will be more likely to cooperate with you when the leash has to be put on again.
- Reward your dog for successfully walking with a loose leash and not pulling. Take a handful of small treats with you during walks and offer one to him every time he goes more than a minute or two without pulling. Eventually, he will learn that this behaviour is good and won’t need the treat as reinforcement.
- If your dog suddenly begins pulling on his leash during a walk, it’s probably because something has caught his attention. If it’s feasible to do so, consider following him to the thing he wants to get closer to. Doing this allows him to indulge his natural curiosity without breaking the rules.
All dogs should be walked using a thick lead that is easy to handle and will not slip in your hands. Avoid retractable leads – if they snap back, someone could get hurt. Leads of up to 10 feet should give your dog enough room to walk freely without getting tangled up in your feet.
If your dog is notorious for pulling during his walks, you may have more success using a harness than a collar. If you do use one, it should be easy for you to put on him but tight enough that he won’t be able to slip out of it.
Make sure you test your harness out before you head outside – some dogs, especially ones with deep chests like greyhounds, are surprisingly good at getting out of harnesses that look secure. You should also make sure there are no straps that cross your dog’s shoulders. This will keep the harness from putting pressure on the vulnerable parts of his shoulder joints.
Calmer, Safer Walks Are Possible
Remember, pulling at the leash isn’t just inconvenient for you; it also poses a threat to your dog’s health and must be corrected as soon as possible. If your dog doesn’t take to your leash training right away, stay patient with him. He will catch on eventually, and when he does, you will both be able to enjoy the gentle, pleasant walks you’ve always wanted.