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Stop Your Dog Pulling the Leash

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You get home from work, greet your furry friend and then go to snag the leash.

The dog immediately starts running in circles and jumping up and down. You get them outside and they practically pull your arm out of its socket on a b-line to whatever it is they smell.

You smile sheepishly to the neighbors, pull back a bit on the leash and try to get the dog to slow down - but no way, fido is on a mission and there's nothing you can do to stop him.

This is how most people start their walks with their dogs. And it tends to turn a walk into a chore more than something enjoyable for owner and dog alike. The result is a dog that doesn't get enough exercise and an owner who is embarrassed to take their dog out the front door.

Stop the Behaviour

Dogs pulling on their leashes are not new. After all, a dog is not genetically bred to have their throat wrapped in a collar and tied to your arm. They pull because you're pulling back, and the only real way you'll ever get them to stop is to train them that the walk isn't going anywhere until they slow up.

I've seen hundreds of dogs with this problem and the vast majority simply didn't know what they were doing wrong. They're not trying to assert dominance by running in front. They're not trying to make you mad. They're just excited and want to smell everything they can.

That's why you need to take control of the situation. Like anything in your dog's life, it's your job to control what they have access to and when they have access to. By showing your dog how their behaviour hinders their walk (rather than yelling, which only confuses them), you'll solve a lot of dog behavior training problems.

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Revise the Walking Ritual

To be effective in revamping your dog's walking behaviour, you need to start with the moment you pick up that leash. As you may have noticed, your dog learns very quickly what behaviours on your part signal that they're about to go outside.

You need to take control of this situation because it sets up their reactions for the next few minutes on your walk. If your dog decides they are going to jump around and whine in excitement before a walk, wait until they calm down.

Simply waiting 5-10 minutes will often drain them of that over exuberance. I know it's cute, but it's hard to control a dog that gets very excited. Before you even open the door, make sure they are sitting in a quiet, calm position. From there, don't do anything until they're waiting patiently.

Once you get outside, let them relieve themselves right away, but then take control and limit their exploration. Because a dog pulls back when they are restrained, you cannot teach them to stop pulling by pulling back. You need to stop walking and make them sit, beside or behind you.

It can take a long time, but if you stop the dog from walking every time they start to pull, they'll quickly learn that the act of pulling on the leash stops the walk. This is important. They need to recognize that the pulling action is causing the stoppage. Anything else will be too complex for them.

Once you've done this, you should be able to slowly work them up to walking beside or even behind you on your walk - both things that will make your life infinitely easier out there. Take treats with you as well. It can make the process much easier if you can reward them for good behaviour.

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Other Comments...

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Posted at 2:00:am 01/15/12 by Elizabeth Pallett from Melbourne


OK I have tried for days now and he is still pulling on his leash. Lets begin again, our dog is 7 months old, we only got him 2 weeks ago today. He has not been trained at all, his whole world was a yard about 12x10 cement. So now we have him, he is in a big back yard, he does not know how to play, but is getting better, he now sits and knows his name, but we are still having issues with him coming to us when we call, if he is totally involved in something we don't have a hope.

I have raised German shepherds in the past, this dog is a cross German shepherd x Blue Healer, smart but stubborn. I have never had a dog who simply ignores you when you call, nor one who refuses to learn to walk on a lead. I refuse to use a choker chain or shock collar, I don't believe in them and believe they do not teach they punish.

This young dog, has a great personalty, his temperment is quiet for the most part, he does not bark at every thing including the other dogs in the neighbourhood, even when they are barking all around him. He loves to be pampered, patted and rubbed, so his currency is attention from us.

I feel like I am failing him, not him me, so if you can help I would appreciate any advice you can give.

Thank you


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