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There are many methods, strategies, tips and tricks that you can start to implement in your day-to-day life with your dog that can help them behave better when they’re on a leash.
In order for these tips on how to stop your dog from pulling on a leash to be most effective, you should apply them consistently over a period of time.
Having full control of your dog is definitely not an easy task. A dog just has so much more energy and curiosity, and they show it when you put them on a leash. They may sniff, lunge, chase, or get overexcited.
The truth is that dogs don’t really like being held back by a leash, especially younger dogs.
This problem can get really annoying and frustrating when you have to walk your dog, and it can also feel like your dog is dragging you sometimes. People around you might think that you have no control over your dog, and that’s not good.
These tips are going to help you have a better and more relaxed experience with your dog the next time you put him or her on a leash to go for a walk.
1. Establish your authority.
Your dog needs to understand that you’re the leader and you’re the one who dictates the terms, not the other way around. This means that the dog walks the way you want it to walk and goes where you want it to go.
You can stop periodically to let the dog explore or do their business, but once their time is up, you need to exert your authority and let them know. Call the dog’s name, tense the leash firmly, and start walking. In most cases, your dog will obey and start walking beside you again.
2. Walk your dog more often.
By walking your dog more often, they will get more accustomed to the experience and behave better.
This can be very difficult if you’re a busy person, but try and find some time to walk the dog once in a while. It doesn’t even have to be somewhere fancy; around your neighborhood will work fine. Alternatively, you can hire a good dog walker to walk your dog when you aren’t able.
3. Tire your dog out in other ways.
There are many things you can do to spend some of your dog’s energy before walks.
Try playing with it for a time beforehand. Then your dog will have a little less energy when it’s time to walk them, and they won’t feel like they have to drag you everywhere.
You can try things like making them chase a ball around your property or letting then ride the treadmill.
One of the best things you can do is practice certain emotional control exercises that will keep your dog in a state of calm and relaxation. For more details, go here.
The goal is for them to expend some energy before the walk so they’re not so hyper. This is one of the best ways to stop your dog from pulling on the leash when they have a lot of energy.
4. Bring your dog’s favourite toy with you.
Next time you take your dog out for a walk, bring their favorite toy with you. The point of doing this is so you can distract your dog when they pull on the leash for any reason.
So, when you dog starts to show signs of pulling, give them the toy you brought with you; that will likely calm them down.
5. Accustom your dog to the leash.
Many dogs don’t behave when they are on a leash because they’re not used to it. When you dog is not used to something, they may feel very unconformable and/or fearful.
This will likely be the biggest problem in the beginning, but with time, the dog should start to feel comfortable on the leash and behave better.
Also make sure not to have your dog on a leash that is too tight or loose (each comes with its problems). And if your dog has respiratory problems, it’s better to use a harness instead. Just make sure your dog is comfortable on the leash so that they won’t be in any danger when wearing one.
6. Reward your dog after good behaviour.
Help your dog to learn when they’re doing the right thing by rewarding them with a treat.
In this case, if the dog listens to your commands and stops pulling on the leash, give them a treat. Your dog will come to understand that when they walk calmly on the leash, they will be rewarded.
Your dog will listen to you a lot more when you apply this technique. But also make sure not to reward your dog with treats all the time, because then your dog will expect a treat all the time, and that’s not a good way to train them to be on good behaviour.
Remember not to be too aggressive when applying these techniques, as that can cause new problems. Show your dog that you won’t accept them pulling on the leash, and over time they will understand.
If you have a puppy, it’s important to start implementing these strategies right away, while they’re still young.
It’s also important to realize that the process of training your dog can potentially take a lot of time, effort and repetition. And sometimes, you may not be able to solve the problem yourself, even if you apply these tips.
If this is the case, or if you’re looking for something more than just these strategies, I have a great solution for you.
A certified dog trainer with well over a decade of experience working with clients has created an online program and community for dog owners.
He is known as Doggy Dan, and he has figured out that bad leash manners fundamentally come down to learning how to keep your dog calm and relaxed at the start of the walk, so that it can remain in control of its emotions.
This leash manners package is substantial, and it costs a tiny fraction of what you would pay for the services of a typical dog trainer or behaviorist.
You can alternatively read my review of Doggy Dan’s program. If you also have problems with recall response in your dog, see this article.