Many dogs have a bad habit of tugging hard on the leash when you take them for a walk. This is not only irritating for you as an owner, but it can also be bad for your dog, as they put dangerous pressure on their neck and windpipe. Using a no-pull harness that attaches in the front will stop 80% of the pulling in the 5 minutes it takes you to put it on your dog. Although it may take longer than five minutes overall, training your dog to stop pulling on the leash is a simple fix.
The rest of this article will explain why your dog pulls on the leash, why pulling on the leash can be dangerous, how you can train your dog to stop pulling on the leash, and tips and tricks for doing so as effectively as possible.
Table of Contents
- How do I train my dog not to pull?
- Why does my dog pull on the leash?
- What other reasons might my dog be pulling?
- How do I quickly stop my dog from pulling?
- Can leash pulling hurt my dog?
- What is a head collar?
- What is a body harness?
- Should I use a choke chain or a prong collar?
- Should I punish my dog for pulling?
- What if training isn’t working fast enough for my dog?
How do I train my dog not to pull?
Start by putting your dog on his leash and getting him to stand at your side. You might need to lure him to your side with a treat if he is already raring to go on a walk.
Once he is at your side and the leash is slack, reward him with the treat. Even if he only remains at your side for a few steps, make sure you give him tons of praise and treats! Reward any tiny bit of progress with treats.
If you are using clicker training, remember to click each time you reward your dog. Eventually, your dog will learn that walking by your side earns more rewards than pulling.
Why does my dog pull on the leash?
Many dogs pull on the leash because walking on a leash is not an instinctive behavior for dogs. In fact, it is the opposite. Dogs naturally want to pull against the pressure of the collar and leash. This is something called thigmotaxis, an opposition reflex.
Some dogs also pull on the leash because you are inadvertently rewarding them for doing so. If they drag you all the way to the dog park, and then once you get there, they get to play with other dogs, your dog will think that pulling you got them to the park faster.
What other reasons might my dog be pulling?
If your dog is not pulling from the natural desire to tug, you should check to see if their collar or harness is uncomfortable or improperly fitted. If your dog is uncomfortable in his collar, he may actually be pulling in an attempt to relieve pressure.
Lastly, make sure that your dog is getting enough exercise. If he has too much pent-up energy, he can become over excited when it comes time for a walk, leading to more pulling.
How do I quickly stop my dog from pulling?
Unfortunately, getting your dog to stop pulling is a process that will likely take more than five minutes. You will need time, patience, and consistency to train your dog that walking nicely beside you is more rewarding than dragging you down the street.
To do this, you will need plenty of your dog’s favorite treats on hand. You can also use a clicker if you utilize clicker training for your dog.
Can leash pulling hurt my dog?
Yes, leash pulling can hurt your dog. When he pulls hard on the leash, dangerous pressure is being put on your dog’s delicate neck and windpipe. If he, or you, yank too hard, permanent damage can be caused.
To avoid this, you may wish to try a training device like a head collar or body harness instead of attaching the leash to the collar around your dog’s neck.
What is a head collar?
A head collar fits similarly to a horse’s halter. It goes around your dog’s nose and the back of his head. When correctly fitted, head collars remove the leverage that your dog has to pull on the leash, because when he tries to pull, he will simply turn himself around.
Head collars also remove the pressure from your dog’s airway, making them much safer options for dogs who pull a lot.
What is a body harness?
Just like a head collar, a body harness removes pressure from your dog’s airway. Body harnesses fit around your dog’s chest and middle. For some dogs, especially dogs with anxiety, a body harness can feel more secure than a collar. This may help with pulling.
Additionally, front-clip harnesses function similarly to head collars, reducing the leverage that your dog has to pull.
Should I use a choke chain or a prong collar?
No, you should never use a choke chain or prong collar outside of the direct supervision of a veterinarian or certified dog trainer. These devices do not work to stop pulling. Instead, they only increase the potential for damage if your dog does pull hard.
Even if you never pull on a choke chain at all, over time, your dog pulling against it can cause damage to his delicate throat.
Should I punish my dog for pulling?
No, you should not punish your dog while training. Instead, make sure that he is not getting rewarded for pulling.
Just like you are rewarding your dog every time he stops pulling, once he pulls, you should instantly stop giving him what he wants. If your dog is pulling because he wants to get to the \ park faster, stop walking and stand with your hands at your sides. Do not begin moving until there is slack in the leash. You may even turn around and begin to go home.
The goal of this “non-reward” is to teach your dog that pulling does not get him what he wants. Instead, pulling will only slow down the walk.
What if training isn’t working fast enough for my dog?
It is important to remember that training is a process. While you may wish you could totally stop your dog from leash pulling in five minutes, the reality is that consistency is key.
You can try different types of treats or training aids to see if they work better for your dog, but ultimately, if you wish to see long lasting change in your dog, you should pick a training method and stick with it.