Basic education

Tips to Prevent a Dog from Pulling on the Leash

Olivia Grisham
By Olivia Grisham, Journalist specialized in animal care. May 22, 2017
Tips to Prevent a Dog from Pulling on the Leash

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Advice to prevent a dog from pulling the leash will depend on the specific case of each dog. This is not a widespread problem or down to a lack of understanding. It is, in most cases, a problem directly related to the dog's well being.

In this AnimalWised article we will give you the key to finding good equipment for a successful walk (harness and leash), some tips and explanations about animal welfare and how a dog walk should be.

Stop worrying about pulling leads and uncomfortable walks, read on to find out how to combat this.

You may also be interested in: 5 Things You Do Wrong when You Walk Your Dog
  1. The right equipment
  2. Causes that make them pull their leash
  3. How should a dog walk be?
  4. Tips to promote tranquility and well-being on a walk
  5. Teach your dog to walk next to you
  6. Common problems when teaching them to walk with you
  7. Go to a professional

The right equipment

To start, you will have to purchase the correct equipment to prevent you or your dog from harming one another during your walks.

When a dog pulls on a lead, they exert a tremendous pressure on their neck that can lead to eye complications such as glaucoma, especially in the case of young dogs. For this reason our first advice is to get a comfortable and suitable harness for them.

If the dog throws them-self around too much, your only option will be to acquire an anti-pull harness. With this you will barely notice that your dog is practically pulling you. The results will surprise you, guaranteed.

To avoid the pain in your hands every time you pull hard, you should buy a strap with a padded band for a more comfortable grip. Avoid leads that extend too far, that are too thin or too hard. Once equipped and ready for adventure comes the key moment: start walking with your dog!

In the image we can observe the anti-pull harness:

Tips to Prevent a Dog from Pulling on the Leash - The right equipment

Causes that make them pull their leash

  • The first cause that can make your dog pull the leash is their excitement of going out into the street to interact with other dogs and discover the world. It is completely normal and understandable that dogs get excited when they go out for a walk. Usually they pull you around for the first 10 or 15 minutes of the walk and then relax.
  • On the other hand there are dogs that have accumulated energy that they just cannot burn. In these cases we must check the calories of the food they consume and prepare ourselves to begin exercise with our dog. It is very important that we comply with this requirement to avoid stress or anxiety in our pet.
  • If our dog suffers from severe stress or anxiety, it is very important to maintain their well-being during the walk (no jerking or pulling, letting them sniff, allowing them to exercise ...). These types of dogs need longer walks and the use of anti-stress toys. AnimalWised recommend you buy the Kong. Training with a dog suffering from anxiety should not be done, as it could be aggravated.
  • Finally we can include in another group dogs that have some type of problem or psychological or symptomatic that can only be solved by going to a vet.
Tips to Prevent a Dog from Pulling on the Leash - Causes that make them pull their leash

How should a dog walk be?

The first 5 or 10 minutes of the walk are exclusively for their needs. During this time we should not interrupt the dog with commands nor should we try to force them to walk by our side. It is important that we let them urinate calmly and without pressure. After this time the dog will continue to urinate less frequently for at least 15 more minutes.

After urination, the ideal would be to go to a park or area where they can run free. This is one of the basic premises that any ethologist or canine educator will recommend. Obviously dogs that run without obeying should not be released in places without fencing or protection.

After urinating and releasing the accumulated energy, the dog is now ready to practice obedience, walk beside us or exercise with us.

Tips to promote tranquility and well-being on a walk

On many websites we can find various "tips and tricks" to prevent a dog from pulling on the leash. However, we must be wary of those who suggest strong pulling (this can cause eye and respiratory problems. If some tips do not make sense to you, imagine how your dog will feel.

Here is a list of tips that will allow you to improve the well-being of your dog so they can enjoy a relaxed walk:

  • Walk with them at least 2-3 times a day.
  • Let them smell the environment during the walk to relax. Even if they approach urine and have not properly been vaccinated.
  • Do not pull the leash, let it go.
  • Look for areas where they can run.
  • Practice exercise and sport with your dog.
  • Do not quarrel, practice positive reinforcement.
  • Do not punish them, a stressed dog can worsen behavior in the face of punishment.
  • Offer them affection and support for as long as they are anxious or stressed.
  • Make sure that walks are calm and relaxed, take advantage of the first hour of the morning or the last at night.

It is also very important to note that we must avoid some common mistakes when walking. since that also causes discomfort in dogs. Pulling the strap tightly, not allowing them to sniff or giving them short walks are some examples.

Tips to Prevent a Dog from Pulling on the Leash - Tips to promote tranquility and well-being on a walk

Teach your dog to walk next to you

To start working with the leash we have to put ourselves in a quiet place without any distractions. We will give the dog their harness and leash and we will start with the following:

  • Choose a word or sound to tell your dog that you want them to walk with you. Usually the word "together" is used but you can use a sound or any other word.
  • Stand with your dog, wait until they are calm, without straining the leash. Then, tell them "together" and give them a bit of food (dog treats for example). Immediately, and without giving your dog time to leave, repeat the word "next" and give another piece of food. Repeat this between five and 10 times, the dog will begin to relate the word to the prize .
  • Start making small steps from where you are, continue saying "next" and rewarding each time they come to you.
  • Now is the time to start walking. Grab a treat and let the dog smell it without offering it to them (with a clenched fist). Guide them by drawing an imaginary line with the treat as you go "together, together, together ...". Before they get distracted, tell them the release order "Well done!" And reward them with the treat.
  • Keep practicing this procedure, with more and more distance. The idea is that the dog will walk next to you following the food, waiting for your command.

Practice this command for 5 or 10 minutes a day and avoid pulling your dog. Try to let them do it by their own initiative, do not try to force it. After the session you must allow the dog to run and play. Do not use the order together for other situations, you should only use it during the walk for the dog to relate it correctly.

Tips to Prevent a Dog from Pulling on the Leash - Teach your dog to walk next to you

Common problems when teaching them to walk with you

The dog is easily distracted

Train in a different place where there are no distractions of any kind. This exercise is difficult for dogs (especially adults) and you have to start in a very quiet place where you can control distractions.

Distractions can also occur if the treat you offer is not significant enough. Use more appetizing food, like bits of Frankfurter.

Your dog goes crazy when you go for a walk

Many dogs get excited when their owners pick up the leash. This is the result of classic conditioning, since most dogs like to go for a walk.

Hold the leash several times during the day, on occasions when you are not going to take your dog for a walk. Just take the leash and have it with you for a while, ignoring your dog's "madness". Then return it to the usual place and repeat the procedure several times. This will extinguish this behavior of your dog.

Your dog jumps and barks before you put on the leash

The answer to the above problem will help you with this. However, you should also make sure you never strap on your dog if they are very enthusiastic. Before putting on the leash, wait for them to calm down, even when you are going to take them out for a walk. Do not put on the leash while they are not controlled.

It can also be very helpful to reward them when they are calm. We must always reinforce behavior that we like the dog and try to avoid unnecessary punishment.

Your dog goes everywhere

There will be many distractions at the training site and your dog will find many focal points. Make sure the only thing that catches your dog's attention is the focal point you have chosen (you). If necessary, change the training place.

Your dog strains the lead even though it is close to you

If you have a standard two-meter lead, this is impossible. Maybe you're holding a lot of it in your hands. Give your dog a little more leash, do not let them feel trapped.

If you have a small dog (chihuahua, Yorkshire terrier, etc.) or a puppy, it might be easier for you if you get a slightly longer leash, for example two and a half meters.

You can not walk your dog without pulling the leash

Your dog is still not ready to walk without pulling the leash. Do not expect them to walk perfectly down the street when they are still learning to do it in places without distractions. Keep practicing daily without being overwhelmed, some dogs take longer to learn.

Tips to Prevent a Dog from Pulling on the Leash - Common problems when teaching them to walk with you

Go to a professional

If your dog is truly stressed or seems to understand nothing that you teach them maybe you should think about going to a professional. Canine educators, ethologists or trainers will propose tricks and guidelines appropriate for your case and explain all the details you should know about your dog.

If you would like to read more articles related to Tips to prevent a dog from pulling the leash, we recommend that you go to our Basic Education section.

If you want to read similar articles to Tips to Prevent a Dog from Pulling on the Leash, we recommend you visit our Basic education category.

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Tips to Prevent a Dog from Pulling on the Leash