One of the top complaints among dog owners is that their dog pulls on their walks. What should be a fun activity for both dogs and owners turns into a battle of wills. Learn how to change your dog's behavior for the better and make walks an enjoyable part of your day.
First, it's good to know why your dog pulls. The simple reason dogs pull is because it works and we follow behind them. The other reason is because the environment is more exciting than you are. So what is an owner to do?
How to set your dog up for success:
1. Have high value treats like freeze dried meat or dog food roll. You are competing with a world of smells and other interesting things on your walk. Grab some high value, nutritious treats and make your dog work for his dinner on his walk rather than a free bowl of food.
2. Use a no pull harness initially like the Freedom Harness.
3. Exercise your dog with a game of tug, fetch, or find it before you begin loose leash walk training.
Next, teach your dog what you want from him:
1. As soon as your dog pulls, stop and go the opposite direction for several steps. Continue when there is slack on the leash.
2. Reward your dog for the desired behavior:
a) When the leash is loose
b) When your dog looks at you
3. When you train, think in terms of time instead of distance (i.e. 15 minutes rather than around the block.) The first few times you go on walks, they may not be far but after some practice, you will retrain your dog to learn that slack on the leash means less stopping and longer walks.
5. Change your pace from slow to fast sporadically to keep your dog excited and engaged.
6. Be consistent and aim to work on behavior several times a day for short periods of time.
CPDT-KA and Animal Behavior Consultant