Earlier this week I wrote about common mistakes that owners make when using a leash. Avoiding these mistakes will make your dog less likely to pull on his leash and will help to reduce existing leash pulling. Puppies are especially prone to pulling, because of their high energy and curiosity. Moreover, when a puppy is small and cannot pull hard enough to bother anyone, his leash pulling is more likely to be neglected. Only later, when the dog becomes stronger and heavier, the owners usually ask for help.
So now that we know what not to do, let’s talk about teaching the dog not to pull the leash. One of the best techniques is described in “My Dog Pulls, What Do I Do?” by Turid Rugaas. I tend to stick to this method, because it can be modified for each individual case and works reliably. The technique is built on the discovery approach. I strongly suggest that you read this book, if your dog is pulling a lot. I will outline my version of this technique.
1. Have your dog on a 5ft.\1.5 m leash and start walking as usual.
2. When your dog pulls, stop immediately.
3. Do not move, speak, or pull the leash.
4. Wait patiently until your dog stops pulling and turns to look at you, wondering what is going on.
5. Praise the dog (treats are optional).
6. Turn around and walk a few steps in another direction.
7. Praise the dog for following you.
8. Repeat each time, when the dog pulls.
It will take at least a week before you will see results. What I like most about this technique is its convenience. You do not have to carry anything in addition to what you usually have during walks. There is no need to set aside specific time for training. You will be prompted to do this little exercise by your own discomfort. After a while, this “stop and go” reaction to leash pulling becomes automated. As a result, both you and your dogs will enjoy your shared walks even more.