You're outside trying to enjoy your walk, but you can’t. You are constantly being pulled and now your arm hurts. Worse yet, your dog is gasping for air and looks like he is on a suicide mission to choke himself. How do you get your dog to stop pulling? How do you BOTH enjoy the walk?
A dog walks “nicely” on a leash is a dog who is happy and well cared for. You no longer worry about him breaking free from your grasp (I bet you also don’t hold the lead correctly?), even if you bundled it up around your hands! After years of training others in basic training as well as competitive completion, I have broken down my tips to three different suggestions. Not all dogs, or all owners, are the same. So try all three and see which works best for you.
Resistance Is Futile
If you ask any trainer out there, they will tell you that you are part of the problem. You need to be consistent in any training method, and more so with the stop-n-go method. But that can be hard when you’re not the only person that walks your dog. You know how you have that one person who no matter how hard you try to train them, will always revert to their old ways? Well, your dog is the same way. You need to make sure that whatever method you opt for, you are consistent.
The Official, Pet Trainer Way (Or What I Like To Call The Stop-N-Go Method)
This is the best, long term, no special equipment needed method out there. The hard part is you must keep stopping and going a lot in the beginning. Some people give up or don’t stick to it, but if you follow this method, you will be rewarded with a well-behaved dog that doesn’t pull and doesn’t need any special equipment.
When he pulls, immediately stop and stand completely still until the leash relaxes, either by your dog taking a step back or turning around to give you focus. When the leash is nicely relaxed, praise your dog and proceed on your walk. Repeat this as necessary. If you like to use a clicker, make sure you click the moment the leash is relaxed or if he looks up at you. If you find this technique too slow you can try the reverse direction method. I would recommend to first practice inside your home, with no distractions. Graduate to an open, limited area, like your backyard. From there, take it to the streets. Too many people rush right outside, only to be frustrated and doomed from the beginning. This method is best used with a standard collar.
Using Aides Like Gentle Leader Or Halti
Buy Now These aides are very effective. They basically fit around your dog’s muzzle, almost like a horse harness, and allow your dog to move forward. However, if he pulls too hard, guess what? His head is redirected and he’s almost looking right back at you, thus denying him his objective goal for going from point A to point B. He can’t see his goal! He will quickly learn that to reach his objective goal, he only needs to walk a bit slower, and NOT PULL! Fantastic, right? Why try anything else?
Well, there are some side effects. First, you will need to use a special aide all the time. Because your dog will never have learned how to walk “nicely” the moment you put the aide aside he will pull. This is ok for some people, but not always ideal. The other side effect is that not all dogs love having a leash rub against their noses so close to their eyes. They will constantly try and paw it off. If you have a very strong dog, he might still outwit you and continue to pull, but now even harder! One of the biggest side effects is the perception of the general public. Not everyone knows you are training your dog, so some might think it’s a muzzle. I just let people know, my dog can still bite you if he wants to! I would not recommend the head harness for any bully breeds. God knows they are misunderstood enough without having that last stigma attached to them! Best used with a collar.
The Misunderstood Harness
Buy Now Have you ever seen sleigh dogs or draft dogs? Guess what they wear? Yup, you got it. A harness! So why would you use a harness to walk your dog? Don’t you know that ENCOURAGES your dog to pull? Oh, you think your dog is choking himself? Think again. Teach him how to walk “nicely”.
Now, don’t throw out your harness because they can still be useful. Remember how I told you that the head harness is using the same principle as with a horse, minus the blinkers? They allow your dog to walk forward at a slower pace so they can still see their object of desire, that elusive point B. Paradise is point B. Must get there. Well, a harness can be effective, and cheap If you already have one. But the first thing you must do is learn how to use it CORRECTLY. Yup, most people think they need to attach the leash where the manufacture suggests you attach it. On that lovely D-ring. Nope. That only encourages your dog to pull. Their shoulders are strong.
Look at the picture above. If you notice the cute dog’s chest, you will see an O-ring connecting all the webbing. That’s where you need to attach your leash! They do sell special harness with a ring in front, but you don’t need to go out and spend that kind of money. Just attach it to the ring in the front. If your harness doesn’t have that, don’t worry, you can still follow along. You might want to get one of those Carabiner Clips or S-hooks and attach it to your harness and leash. You will be amazed at how well this works. This is a better method for bully breeds as well, as people don’t pre-judge your dog.
I hope you learned some helpful tips, but in the end, it’s all about a healthy relationship between you and your dog. Plus, your dog will thank you for not using any of the other extreme methods I have not bothered to mention. Enjoy walking again!