How Do I Stop My Dog from Lunging? (Explained!)

Having your dog suddenly lunge forwards, nearly yanking your arm out of its socket, is a very common problem among dog owners and it can seem like an inevitable behaviour. If you are patient with your training, however, you can teach your dog not to lunge or pull and it all begins with good leash training.

Ultimately, you need your dog to understand that lunging is not desired behaviour and not see it as a way to get what they want. You need to be patient, calm, and consistent so that you aren’t inadvertently encouraging your dog to lunge, and so they know how they should be acting when out on a walk.

This article will go into detail about the main reasons why dogs lunge, how to appropriately leash-train your dog and what is important to understand when you are trying to stop your dog from pulling you around when they are on their leash.

Why Does My Dog Lunge When on a Lead?

The first thing to recognise is why your dog is lunging in the first place, and it is usually to get towards something exciting. Your dog’s desire to behave properly on the leash, and their understanding of what that should look like, is overridden by their interest in something – and they believe that lunging will get them closer.

How Do I Get My Dog to Stop Lunging?

What you need to keep in mind at all times is that your dog is constantly learning, and if you are not teaching them the right thing, then you might be accidentally teaching them the wrong thing. To stop your dog from lunging you need to show them that lunging is not how they get what they want.

Why Isn’t My Dog Stopping When I Pull Them Back?

Anyone’s natural instinct when their dog starts pulling away is to pull back because it seems like this should show your dog that they are doing the wrong thing. However, dogs have an opposition reflex, which means that if you pull them one way then their instinct is to pull in the other direction – like playing tug of war.

What is the Right Thing to Do When My Dog Lunges?

Staying calm and relaxed, while remaining still, is the response that you should always have when your dog isn’t walking properly. For many people, going back to the basics of leash training may be a necessary first step so that you are able to get your dog to understand what good walking on a leash looks like.

Are Pulling On the Leash and Lunging Related?

More often than not, a dog that lunges is also likely to pull on its leash while you walk, and getting your dog to walk closely and calmly by your side should be your top priority to stop this behaviour. If your dog has a better understanding of leash etiquette, they are less likely to try and lunge.

What Are the First Steps for Leash Training?

The first thing that you should do is get your dog used to wearing a collar and leash indoors, in gentle stages. Then you need to show your dog that being close to you, and walking calmly by your side, is desired behaviour before you put the two together and start trying to walk.

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Can I Start Leash Training Indoors?

Training should start indoors, with as few distractions as possible – without a leash on, use treats, toys, and positive praise to keep your dog’s attention on you and keep them by your side while you move around. Once they can do this reliably, attach the leash and repeat the process, stopping if they try to pull.

Why Does Standing Still Teach My Dog How to Walk?

Not moving until your dog is ready is weirdly the most crucial aspect of training them to walk the way that you want. You should only move forward when your dog is doing the right thing  (staying calmly by your side) so that they understand that they get what they want from good behaviour, not from pulling or lunging.

What Should My First Walks Look Like?

The first few walks outside are when it is easy to start developing a habit of tugging, pulling, and chasing your dog. They will be very excited, so you need to be especially patient and very consistent with your approach – stopping often, praising when they are doing well, and cutting walks short if they get out of hand.

Will My Dog Stop Lunging if They Walk by My Side?

After a lot of consistency, patience, and positive praise, your dog can learn to walk calmly beside you and not pull on their leash, but they may still lunge at times. When they lunge you still need to be stopping calmly and waiting, but there are other things that you can do to train this out of your dog.

Can I Train My Dog Not to Lunge When They Are Excited?

You want to teach your dog that lunging doesn’t get them what they want but behaving properly does. At home, with your dog on a leash, place a toy or a treat out of their reach – if they pull, you stay still, but if they are calm you walk them over to it as a reward.

How Do I Stop My Dog from Excitedly Lunging Towards Other Dogs?

The excitement of other dogs can easily override all sorts of training, so you need to make sure that you socialise your dog well. With a doggy friend, you can use the same training process to teach them that if they don’t lunge and bark then they get to go over to other dogs and play with them.

How Do I Train My Dog to Ignore Other Dogs?

It is very hard to ever get a dog to stop being excited when they see a potential friend because they are such social animals. You want to introduce them to other dogs in stages and praise them for positive interactions, and the more exposure and training that they get, the less intense their excitement should be.