If walking your pup is usually a workout for your arms to prevent her from pulling you in all different directions, this blog is for you! Dogs pull during walks for a variety of reasons but most often, it’s the desire to investigate things along your walk and the excitement of going for a walk that causes pulling. Not to mention that many dog breeds have a natural walking speed that is faster than the average human and your pupper doggo probably feels like they’re dragging their “too slow human” to just get to the interesting stuff already! Here are 5 handy tips to help you teach your dog not to pull during walks.
1. Ditch the collar and use a harness instead – A harness helps distribute pressure evenly across your dog’s chest. Not only is a harness a more secure option, it also prevents the potential for choking injuries that can happen with neck collars. Plus, that evenly distributed pressure of the harness can reduce your dog’s urge to pull.
2. Carry rewards in your pocket – While teaching your dog anything new or correcting any behavior, positive reinforcement will always be the key. Carry treats in your pocket on your walk so you can reward your dog when she does something good you want to reinforce, such as not trying to chase after that bunny that just ran across the sidewalk.
3. Practice standing still – When your pup starts to pull, immediately stop where you are and stand totally still. Wait until your dog stops pulling and the leash relaxes before proceeding forward again. You might have to do this a number of times to get this method to work. If your dog stops pulling and returns to your side when you stop, that is a great time for a reward (see tip 2)!
4. Reverse course – If you’ve tried standing still and it doesn’t seem to be working, then try reversing course. When your dog pulls, stop momentarily and then in an excited voice say “let’s go!” and start walking in the opposite direction your dog was pulling in without yanking on the leash. Tone of voice is the key with this method to avoid getting into a tug of war with your pup. The more excited your voice sounds, the more intrigued your dog will be to find out what interesting thing you’ve noticed. If you sound angry or frustrated, your dog will be less inclined to follow you. Of course, when your dog follows you easily in the opposite direction, it’s a good time for a reward!
5. Be unpredictable – While on walks with your dog, randomly stop and change directions, walk in circle, walk in a figure eight and other unexpected movements. By being unpredictable, it teaches your dog to pay closer attention to you because she doesn’t know when you’re going to lead her in a different direction. Being unpredictable also dials up the fun and excitement for your dog. Dogs enjoy novelty. Vary the route you walk, vary the directions, vary your patterns as described above and your dog will be more interested in the next exciting movement with you than in pulling you around.
Taking a walk with you is probably the most exciting part of your dog’s day. It’s hard for her not to be excited about all of the interesting things to look at and smell during your walk and it could lead her to pull you. These 5 tips can help you teach your dog not to pull during walks. Be patient and remember you’ll usually have to use some of these techniques several times before your dog learns the behavior you want, but when she does make sure she is rewarded with treats and encouragement.