Pulling vs. Walking Your Dog

If dogs could talk they would be saying “Hey, granny, why don’t you kick it up a gear?” REALLY! Let’s face it, we don’t walk where they want to walk, and we definitely don’t move fast enough. It seems some dogs are oblivious that we’re at the other end of the leash let alone along for the walk?

Do you allow your dog to pull you to sniff the guest list at the park post or towards another dog? Allowing your dog to pull you is reinforced by allowing him to meet that other dog or pee spot. To exacerbate the issue we yank on the leash trying to make them stop pulling. Dogs have an Opposition Reflex which means if you pull them, they’ll pull back in the opposite direction. One of my personal pet peeves is retractable leashes. Do you know using a retractable leash is actually telling your dog it’s perfectly okay to pull?

So how do we get our dogs to walk and not pull? I encourage students to use a front clip harness to better manage the walk. It’s my personal go-to versus a head halter. Front clip harnesses are more user friendly. They are sold at most pet supply stores. Remember, this is just a training aid not a Band-Aid. You need to first teach your dog it is fun and rewarding to follow you. Start with minimal distractions. While holding a leash take a step forward then encourage (pat your leg or say "here, boy") your dog to follow you. When your dog follows, you click or say "good girl" then treat when he is at your side. Turn away from the dog and try again, gradually adding more steps to get your dog to follow you. Getting a treat down to the level of a little dog can be a challenge. Use a big spoon with peanut butter or liverwurst smeared on it. Remember to pull the spoon up after each reward. When you are out for a walk and the dog tries to pull simply stop, then turn in the opposite direction encouraging the dog to follow you. When the dog catches up to your side, click or say "good boy", then treat. If walking your dog is too frustrating, seek the help of a professional dog trainer. Remember if you’re not having fun neither is your dog.

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