Whether it's your own dog doing their best to separate your arm from its socket or you're caring for somebody else's pup, a dog that pulls on the lead sucks the fun out of dog walking. We have some Tailster Tips to help you tackle this common problem...
Why is your dog pulling?
As with any behavioural issue, we need to understand why a dog is pulling before we try to address it. The most common reasons are:
Dominance: Your dog may be getting a bit too big for their boots. They want to control you and that includes the speed you walk. This is easily identifiable as your dog will be pulling regardless of whether you're on the way to the walk or on your way back, so it's not just anticipation to get to the park!
Excitement: If your dog is only pulling on their way to the dog park and never the way back, it's likely due to excitement! They can't wait to get to the park and will drag you along in order to get there quicker!
Fear: Some dogs will only pull on the way back from their walk so they can return to the safety of what they know. They may be afraid of loud noises, other dogs and people. You might also have to encourage them to walk TO the park.
Training your dog to walk nicely
Contrary to popular belief, a puppy is not born knowing how to walk whilst attached to your hand via a piece of string. This is a lesson they'll need to be taught, just like sit, stay, down and crate training! A dog’s natural walking pace is usually twice as fast as the average human’s. As a dog would not naturally choose to walk at such a slow pace, it’s doubly important that we reward them generously for something that they find difficult.
You will need:
A collar or a harness (Not sure which is best for your dog? Read more here.)
An open space (secure garden to begin with)
High value treats (small pieces of chicken/sausage/cheese)
- Start by attaching the lead to your dog. If your dog is too excited at the prospect of the walk, remove the lead and walk away. Only reward calm behaviour. If your dog is displaying signs of fear, reward them for simply wearing the lead around the house or garden. Once they have become desensitised to the lead and the fear associated with it, you can begin with the next steps.
- Start walking. In an open space, walk slowly and encourage your dog to walk close to you by rewarding them with your high value treat of choice. Ensure you are consistently praising them. Don't go too overboard with the pitch of praise, you want your dog to remain calm!
- Emergency stop. If your dog pulls on the lead at any point, immediately stop. Bring them back to your side with your high value treat and reward them immediately. Your dog will very quickly learn that when they walk close to you, they receive a treat. When they pull on the lead, they don't achieve anything.
- Practice what you preach! When your dog pulls on the lead, do not pull back. Not only can this increase the risk of an injury, it encourages your dog to continue pulling against you. You don't want to move in the direction your dog is pulling you, just make sure you simply stop moving entirely.
- Patience will be rewarded. If your dog has been in the habit of pulling for a while, it will take some time for them to learn that it's no longer an acceptable behaviour. Make sure you are 100% consistent so your dog knows what's expected of them.
Work, family and social commitments mean that there often aren't enough hours in the day to give our pets the attention that they deserve. Click here to find out how Tailster can put you in contact with hundreds of pet carers in your local area, meaning that you can rest in the knowledge that your pets are being well looked after.