In my previous role as a Pet Care Specialist, my team and I carried out thousands of dog walks a year. I know, it’s a lot! Just take a look at the graph below. We averaged about 200 walks per month during the peak seasons. But what’s interesting about this is that, in over 1900 visits completed last year, most of them were dogs that pulled on the leash. They all weren’t walks in the park (no pun intended) like everyone tends to think.
And when you’re trying to stop your dog from pulling on the leash, it can take a toll on your neck and back, especially if your dog is very strong. Therefore, to combat this physical and mental stress, I would teach my team and clients how to make their walks easier.
And that’s what I’m going to share with you today. But take note, there is no secret trick or miracle hack. It merely takes awareness, training, consistency, and patience on your part as the dog parent to eradicate this problem.
So continue reading and join us for Part 3 of our “How to Properly Walk a Dog” blog series as we discuss tips to teach you how to stop your dog from pulling on the leash.
There’s not enough time in the day to cover how often I’ve met people who think their dog is broken. I call it the broken dog syndrome. This occurs when dog parents believe that no matter what they do in terms of training, their dog just doesn’t get it.
While I agree that some dogs are certainly a challenge, I’d encourage you to create a journal to document precisely what you’re doing and the corresponding result. So if you need to hire a trainer, you can clearly identify and communicate what you’ve done. The trainer can then determine if they can remedy the issue and what level of training your dog may require.
Ultimately, you want to make sure that the issue isn’t you. Because when it comes to dogs that pull on the leash, one of the main reasons for this is that they’re not getting enough exercise.
If you’re not giving your dog enough exercise, they will barrel out the door and down the street during your walks. This is especially true for dogs that naturally have high energy like working breeds.
To resolve this issue, I recommend that you read the article that I drafted entitled” How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need Everyday. It’s chock-full of tips, including how to compare your dog’s natural walking pace against yours. You may find that your dog isn’t pulling or walking too fast, but instead, their natural walking pace is just faster than yours. You can learn this by having someone else walk your dog and compare notes.
That article also includes template walking schedules for your dog, even guidance on designating walks specifically for exercise, and other methods of exercise. This means that some walks may have to be longer like an hour, or faster-paced than your average walks. Again, walking schedules are essential to ensure that your dog is getting enough exercise. It will curtail your dog’s habit of pulling during your walks since they’re trying to release pent up energy from being cooped up in the house all day.
If your dog tends to pull on a leash, it’s best to avoid the collar and leash pairing and opt for a harness and leash instead. Doing so will prevent you from injuring your dog’s neck. While many dog parents swear by the collar and leash, especially for training, it’s best to suspend its use until you resolve your dog’s issue with pulling on a leash.
But there is a specific type of harness that works best in this situation. It’s called the no-pull easy walk harness by Pet Safe. The leash attachment is located in front of the dog’s chest. This location is vital because the traditional harness attachment is located on the dog’s back, which triggers the dog’s tendency to pull. To give you an idea, just think of sleigh dogs. Also, it’s not only considered safe because it’s not attached to your dog’s neck. It’s extra safe because the front leash attachment has a martingale style D-ring, which alleviates tension applied to your dog’s chest and front legs when you pull the leash.
The majority of my clients have purchased it, so I have extensive use with this product. The only con is that if you have a short-haired dog that pulls a lot, they can eventually get a rash or brush burn. So, you may have to purchase a dog harness cover to protect your dogs’ skin.
But overall, this harness makes it much easier to stop your dog from pulling on the leash. It will elevate your training goals and ultimately provide you with peace of mind.
Now that you have the proper gear, you’ll want to use it correctly. You’ll want to conduct loose-leash walking. I’ve covered this in detail, Part 2 of this blog series along with a photo. Please be sure to review that section by clicking the link. It’s the ideal stance for walking your dog in general, but it’s particularly effective for curtailing dogs that have a tendency to pull.
Next, you can apply leash corrections during your walks whenever your dogs starts to pull. Please note: I do not advise using leash corrections if you’re pairing a collar with a leash. Again, this is only applicable and safe if it’s a leash and harness pairing to prevent from injuring your dog’s neck. This mainly works well with the no-pull easy walk harness because it consists of a martingale D-Ring combo attachment in front of the dog’s chest, which alleviates pressure on your dog’s chest and legs.
To do a leash correction, you simply take a quick and gentle snap down and back on the leash. Next, you immediately apply a verbal cue like “leave it” or “stop it.” Also, your tone needs to be gentle but firm. The aim is to distract and stop your dog from pulling and following up with a verbal command. You do not need to pull too hard or yell loudly. Simply distract and stop your dog if he pulls, and keep your communication consistent across the board. You want to make sure that your dog will always understand you so that they can comply with your requests.
Once he stops, you can use the “look at me,” or “sit” command, whatever training cue you like. When they comply, reward them via verbal praise, in high happy tones. Finally, finish with a verbal cue like “let’s go” to continue walking, and then wash, rinse, and repeat.
Again, it takes consistency and patience. But your dog will eventually catch on when they understand that they can’t continue with their walk whenever they pull. They can only walk continuously when they walk at their natural pace, which leads me to my final tip.
Finally, another technique that you can add to your training repertoire to prevent pulling on the leash, is to change your walking direction abruptly. The goal here is to mix things up a bit by making the walk unpredictable. This way, your dog will not pull and lead the walk, instead, they will rely on you to lead since they’ll have no idea where you’re going to go.
To do this, simply start walking, and at any point, simply take an about-face to change your direction. Next, use a verbal cue like “let’s go” and continue walking down the street. You can do this repeatedly and wherever you want during your walk. You can even make a game out of it. This random stopping to change the route will naturally help your dog to stop pulling. Additionally, it will teach your dog to focus on you and the fun they’re having with their exciting walk.
Applying these tips will have your dog walking at a heel position in no time, or at the very least, no longer pulling. Instead, they will walk at their natural pace, making your walks to the park, a fun and easy walk in the park!
If you missed Part 1 and 2 of our “How to Properly Walk a Dog” blog series, please visit us here:
Part 1: Dog Walking Etiquette
Part 2: How to Walk a Puppy on a Leash
Stay tuned and join us for Part 4 of this series by subscribing below! Next, we’ll provide you with actionable tips on how to stop your dog from stalling on the leash.