One of the most common issues when walking a dog on a lead is the pulling the dog does. Sometimes it may feel like your dog is taking you for a walk and you aren’t too far of the truth. It makes for one of the most unenjoyable experiences and often it can cause people to stop walking there dog or limit the number of walks they do. It can lead to great stress in the dog owner and can lead to a feeling of immense frustration. The good news is that people do train there dogs to walk beside them and any dog can be trained to walk properly on the lead.
Time to take the dog for a walk.
We get up from our chair perhaps saying to the dog “walk time”, the dog responds by getting up and coming to life. We head to the bedroom putting on a coat or changing into more appropriate clothing for the walk. During this time we may make more eye contact with our dog and talk to it which leads it to bounce around and often this makes us happy because our dog is happy and can’t wait to go for a walk. So we only encourage this more and more cause we want our dogs to be happy. Usually the next thing is we start to head towards the door and if you come down stairs or walk down a hallway you will find your dog runs towards the door before you can even get there. We may at this time tell our dog to slow down or calm down.
As we draw closer to the front door the dog may start to bark and spin around in circles in excitement. At this point we may get our dog to sit, even though it maybe shaking in excitement. We put the lead on our dog and pretty much as soon as the dog hears the click of the lead it stands up and heads straight at the door. It’s about this time that we start to get angrier and our first out-burst maybe here, where we yell at our dog and command it to sit. We open the door and as soon as it opens our dog leaps outside dragging us with them. This makes us even angrier so we pull the dog back to us and attempt to shut the door and maybe we yell out to someone inside that we’re are taking the dog for a walk. We start to head towards the road and all the way our dog is pulling us like a freight train, they may start to sniff a bush then mark it, giving us a little relief before they rocket to the next spot to mark or sniff.
It can be quite embarrassing especially when people start to stare at us and watch as our dog drags us down the street. It’s around this time we may either loose it and yell at our dog or just accept that this is what our dog wants on its walk. Often on the walk we can hear the dog choking on the lead which makes us attempt to reason with the dog by telling it to wait or stop, when all this fails we let out more lead which allows it temporary relief before it charges ahead and continues to choke itself. The only way we stop the choking is by walking at its pace. By the time we get home the dog has slowed down and perhaps it may not be pulling much on the lead. That is till we reach our home. When we approach the door our dog starts to again pull at the lead and drag us to the front door.
We then open the door and our dog charges in and we look exhausted and find the walk is not enjoyable, rather it’s a chore. From here we start to associate walks with negative thoughts and thus we start to become less incline to take our dog for a walk. It seems hopeless and all the tips our relatives and friends give us just don’t work well or only discourage us. So being a proactive person we start to look around for information on how to walk your dog properly. After Googleing “how to stop your dog pulling on a lead” we have found this article. Or maybe you found this other ways – it’s not important. What’s important is that this issue is very common and with some simple tips and consistent training your dog will be walking properly on a lead.
Your Walk begins before you go for a walk:
Dogs learn from being rewarded. The behaviour of our dog is a direct reflection of how we reward our dog for certain behaviours. If your dog jumps around in excitement it’s because you have rewarded this behaviour. A reward can be as simple as talking to your dog, touching your dog or even eye contact. It’s important to know a reward is not just a chocolate drop; it comes in many forms and often is associated with body language. Also, hugely important, is that the training of a dog doesn’t stop. There is no such thing as “training time” and then the rest of the time with your dog. You can teach a dog to sit and stay however once this stops your dog will still be learning – especially how to behave in different situations. Just like how kids don’t stop learning when they come home from school.
Our energy is often another large part of how a dog behaves. If you get up and jump around all excited your dog will mimics this energy. If you get up with no heighten energy, no eye contact with your dog, nothing said, your dog will most likely get up and walk around slowly (especially if your dog follows you around the house everywhere).
How on earth does all this relate to walking your dog properly? Well the walk begins as soon as you get up from your chair. In the scenario above when we got up from our chair to go for a walk we said to our dog “walk time” which alerted our dog to heightened its energy and thus it got excited. Often we have trained our dog to react a certain way to words or body language by accident and its these triggers which cause our dogs to react like nutters sometime.
So first thing, if you are about to go for a walk totally ignore your dog and don’t let on you are even doing anything. Don’t make any eye contact, say nothing and try to keep a well balanced energy. Often it maybe good to visualise a reason you are going for a walk, perhaps rather than taking your dog for a walk your are walking to the local Dairy to grab a bottle of milk and your dog is following you. Remember that when you are going for a walk, you aren’t walking your dog. Rather you are going for a walk and your dog gets to come with you. This is very important because without this going through our head we may do subtle things the dog picks up on which make it think it can lead you on this walk. If your dog is pulling on your lead, it means it’s leading you.
So when your get ready for your walk, totally ignore your dog, give it no triggers to make it heighten its energy. Your dog’s energy should not be heightened, if it is then you need to sit down and restart this over again until your dog doesn’t react to you. There is no point continuing the walk if you leave the house with a dog which has heightened energy.
The front door is usually a place where your dog will have high energy (it’s a trigger) so don’t take your dog to the front door to put the lead on. You should put your lead on the dog away from the door, in another room. When you put the lead on make sure that the dog doesn’t just take off, nor should it get excited. You should be ignoring your dog and simply place the lead on it. The dog should not even notice it has a lead on. If it does get excited when you place the lead on then you should lower the dog’s energy by taking the lead off and sitting back down. Again you should never take a dog with heightened energy for a walk. Putting the lead on is an important part because this is like the front door and often is a high energy trigger. The reason why we make sure that our dog’s energy is low before we move to the next step is because the dog will take this heighten energy onto the next steps and all you will be doing is training your dog to have high energy when you take it for a walk. What we are doing here is training your dog to have low energy at each phase of the walk.
Your next step is to have the dog on the lead next to you. Make sure the lead is short and you must lead your dog to the door. Don’t let your dog rush the door and don’t let it get in front of you. You should have full control of the dog. If you find it’s pulling on the lead or getting uncontrollable you should take it back into the room you came from, lower its energy by making it sit and wait. Once its energy is lower then take it to the door again. Keep repeating this step till you can take the dog to the front door without it pulling or tugging on you.
Make it sit and wait at the door. The next part often will cause your dog to try and leap out the door. This again is a sign that your dog wants to lead the walk or is to excited for a walk. So make sure it is sitting and is calm, if you find your dog is crying you can stop it by using a command sound like “sssssssst”. If you use a word like “stop” or “wait” you may put emotion into it which only punishes a dog as it only hears the sound of the word, they don’t understand the word. Open the door. If the dog leaps out, shut the door and take the dog back into the previous room. Make it sit and wait till its calm. Again take the dog to the door and open it. Sit it there with the open door for about 10 seconds to give it time to get use to the outside smells and environment. You should exit the door and your dog should follow you. Once you are outside make your dog sit and shut the door. Another issue that can happen at this stage is that your dog may follow you however it may jump out the door and try to rush outside. If it does this then repeat walking through the door again until it stops doing this.
Now for the next stage. If you have a fenced property then grab a ball take your dog off the lead and throw the ball around for about 15 or so minutes – until your dog is almost drained of all its energy. Let them have a drink of water and then place the lead back onto your dog. Now your dog is ready to go for a walk. Why do we do this? They will be a lot easier to control since there energy will be low. Why go through all the stuff inside your home to lower your dog’s energy? Because your dog needs to learn leaving your home with a low energy.
Make sure your dog is on a very short lead and keep them beside you. The short lead means you have control of them and they will not choke themselves. Focus on a visualisation like heading towards the dairy and getting your milk. Your dog should be beside you and you must now ignore your dog. If it tries to pull sideways you need to counter this with a short tug back towards you. Don’t drag your dog, the tug should be very short and quick. This unbalances your dog and snaps it out of wanting to sniff the bushes. If you drag a dog you could injure it and possibly yourself. In a short time you should be able to pick up when your dog is about to be wayward and a simple small tug on the lead should correct it.
You need to lead this walk so you need to be confident on your walk, ignore your dog and just head towards your destination. With your dog at a lower energy they should be easier to control and with a short lead they should never get in front of you. If they do start to attempt to pull ahead of you do a quick tug and use the “sssssssssst” command to get them back to your speed. Don’t let your dog take over your walk. One of the most common mistakes is using a lead that is to long and letting your dog get a head of you – then you have no control at all and your dog will do what it wants. Your dog also doesn’t need to sniff every bush on your walk; this is just a territorial behaviour and should be discouraged. If you keep your dog beside you and it doesn’t get away from you within a short time they will get use to this and should make walking a lot more easier.
The next very important part of a walk is when you come home. When you enter your front door your dog must be in a calm state and not excited. If we let them enter the home excited then next time we go for a walk they will carry this excitement with them. So make them sit and make sure you enter your home first. You should take them into the living area behind you in a calm state, take the lead of them and just walk away. Also make sure no one else in the home makes any fuss of the dog as this can lead to your dog thinking it’s the leader of the home. Which is found in another article: Are you the pack leader? Often it’s good to feed a dog after its done some activity as feeding will also cause your dog to go to sleep which is the natural dog cycle: Exercise > Discipline > Food > Sleep.
To make this work well you need to be consistent. You cannot go back to the old way of taking your dog for a walk.
•Ignore your dog before you go for a walk
•Only go for a walk when you dog is in a calm state
•If your dog gets excited before a walk don’t take them for a walk till they calm down
•Spend a good 15mins tiring them out with a ball before the walk
•To teach your dog to walk beside you, you need to have a short lead and walk them beside you the whole walk
•Visualise there is a reason you are going for a walk, for instance you are picking up some milk from the dairy and your dog gets to come.
•To control a dog on a lead do not drag your dog, use short tugs and also the “sssssssssst” command
•Keep your energy level low and consistent, never heighten your energy because your dog will only heighten there’s.
•Walk at your pace not your dogs
•Take control of your walk, have a strong assertive posture
•Ignore your dog during your walk, don’t give them to much attention, don’t talk to them