Training your dog to walk in a relaxed and comfortable way, without tugging your arm out of its socket or choking against their collar, can be a real struggle for many owners. Fortunately, it usually only takes a few important tricks, some patience, and a bit of time to solve this all-too-common problem.
To train your dog to walk without pulling you will need to reward the behaviour that you want and remain calm and positive while taking things one step at a time. It can seem like a slow process, but with a bit of consistency, you can be walking side by side in no time.
This article will go into detail about the different steps that you can take in order to train your dog to walk without pulling, what you need to know, and what options are available if you are finding things difficult.
Table of Contents
- Why Does My Dog Pull on Their Lead?
- How Do Dogs Get Used to Pulling While Walking?
- How Do I Train My Dog to Walk Beside Me?
- Where Should I Start Training My Dog?
- How Do I Hold My Dog’s Attention When We Are Training?
- What Do I Do on My First Walks with My Dog?
- How Do I Stop My Dog from Getting Distracted?
- What Do I Do When My Dog Pulls?
- What Will Stop My Dog from Pulling?
- How Do You Walk a Big Dog That Pulls?
- What Other Practice Can I Do at Home?
- Is it OK to Let Your Dog Walk in Front of You?
- What’s the Best Equipment for a Dog Who Pulls?
- Are No-Pull Devices Good for My Dog?
Why Does My Dog Pull on Their Lead?
To get to where you want to be, with your dog walking calmly beside you, you first want to understand the reason why they are tugging at the lead. Usually, your dog is trying to move faster and see more of their environment because they are excited, and they’re trying to pull you along for the ride.
How Do Dogs Get Used to Pulling While Walking?
One very important thing to note early on is that pulling is often a learned behaviour, as with many undesirable behaviours in dogs. Even smaller dogs will quickly find that pulling on their lead causes you to move faster, so they learn that this action gives them the result that they want and they will persist with it.
How Do I Train My Dog to Walk Beside Me?
Somewhat counterintuitively, the first thing that you need to do to get your dog walking in the right way is to stand still. You want your dog to recognise that being close to you is the desired behaviour, so you should start by standing still and rewarding them with praise or treats for sitting or standing next to you.
Where Should I Start Training My Dog?
It is easiest to begin this process at home, where there are fewer distractions and your dog is less likely to get carried away with their excitement, particularly as a puppy. In your home or garden, they will be more able to focus on you, and your praise is much more exciting and rewarding to them.
How Do I Hold My Dog’s Attention When We Are Training?
Constant communication is helpful, with positive praise and petting as a reward for being close to you, but you may also need treats or a toy at the beginning of the process. Holding something that your dog wants in your hand will keep their attention directed towards you and keep them listening to your instructions.
What Do I Do on My First Walks with My Dog?
The first couple of walks you take with your dog are particularly key because both of you will be excited and your dog is likely to get overwhelmed. You need to stay calm and not let their excitement get the better of you – walk slowly and stop frequently to reward your dog for staying by your side.
How Do I Stop My Dog from Getting Distracted?
Besides holding a treat or a toy, you should be consistently reminding your dog of the behaviour that you want by praising them and stopping often. You also want to change your direction while you walk, to teach your dog to watch you closely and see where you are going and what you are going to do next.
What Do I Do When My Dog Pulls?
Don’t let yourself get frustrated or feel disheartened when your dog does start pulling, it is inevitable and completely natural, no matter how well your training is going. As soon as the lead tightens, calmly stop walking and don’t start up again until the lead is loose, and your dog is standing close.
What Will Stop My Dog from Pulling?
Consistency with this is what is going to stop your dog from pulling because they will learn that they only get to move forwards when their lead is relaxed. Yanking back on the lead yourself, or telling your dog off, may seem like a direct message but positive reinforcement has been shown to be much more effective.
How Do You Walk a Big Dog That Pulls?
With bigger dogs, pulling can be much more of an issue because they can be too strong for you to easily hold them back. For large dogs it is even more important that you progress in incremental steps, not allowing them to continue with a walk until the lead is loose, which might even require cutting walks short.
What Other Practice Can I Do at Home?
Dogs often pull towards something they are interested in, so you can choose a toy or treat to practice with at home. Place it away from them while they are on the lead and, if they pull, call them back and stay still, only walking them over to it when they are calm and the lead is loose.
Is it OK to Let Your Dog Walk in Front of You?
Where your dog walks is a matter of personal preference and, as long as the lead is loose and they are staying attentive, letting them walk in front of you is just fine. If you are finding that your dog gets in your way as you walk, you can make noise with your feet to make your presence obvious.
What’s the Best Equipment for a Dog Who Pulls?
If you are struggling to train your dog to walk without pulling, particularly when they are older and harder to train, there are some products on the market that might help. A head collar may be beneficial for dogs that are larger or more aggressive, and a front-attachment harness is easy to use and relatively safe.
Are No-Pull Devices Good for My Dog?
While there are many safe and reasonably comfortable options out there, you want to focus more on training than on buying the right device. They can support you in the process, but your goal is not to restrict your dog from pulling, you want them to know what good walking looks like and be trying to accomplish it.