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How to Reduce Leash Pulling

Leash pulling is one of the most common frustrations expressed by pet owners. Dogs pull, which makes them difficult to manage, leaving many pet owners unable to provide their dogs with the exercise, stimulation, and enrichment they need. While leash pulling may seem like more like a frustration than a behavior problem, it should be addressed and corrected as soon as possible to prevent more difficult issues from developing.

You will find a number pet products out there that claim to fix the pulling behavior, however nothing will completely solve the problem without actual training. Below are a few tips to help get you started with the training process. If you need further support, we suggest contacting one of our behaviorists or reaching out to your local trainer.

Pick Your Equipment
The Harness Lead and the Easy Walk Harness are both great choices. The Harness Lead is a leash and a harness all in one, and the Easy Walk offers an easily attachable harness that clips at the dog’s chest, essentially turning them around when they attempt to lunge. For stronger pullers, a head collar may be appropriate. This works similarly to a bridle on a horse, but must be used carefully and acclimated slowly. We suggest visiting with one of our behaviorists to discuss options.

Teaching A Heel Command
Once you’re ready, it’s time to begin teaching your dog that good things happen when they walk at your side. Try walking just one or two steps, stop to reward your dog, and then repeat. It is important that you reward your dog with the hand that is closest to your dog as it helps train and reinforce where he is to walk. For example, if your dog is walking on your right side, offer the treat from your right hand. This will help reinforce your dog to come back to the location of the treat, ultimately walking on the same side and with a loose leash. Continue this reward exercise, slowly fading away the treats as your dog becomes more and more reliable.

How To Address Pulling
Pulling is very simple in nature. All it means is that your dog wants to get to to a destination faster than you are allowing him to. Why does your dog pull? Because it has worked in the past. We fight it, which reinforces the pulling, so we give in, which also reinforces the pulling. You have to retrain a new behavior to override the existing behavior. To do this, you have two choices. First, when the leash begins to gets tense, abruptly change direction and head another way. When your dog joins you at your side, reward him. Your other option is to stop completely and back up until your dog is back at your side again. Reward, and then move forward.

This is not easy training, but it works. For pet parents who train using this technique, it works permanently. Consistent training sessions of no more than 5 – 10 minutes are all it takes to have a dog that walks beautifully on leash.