Pulling on the leash is one of the most common misbehaviors seen on all kinds of
dogs. Puppies and adult dogs alike can often be seen taking their owners for
walks, instead of the other way around. Pulling on the leash can be much more
than an annoying habit. Leash pulling can lead to escape in the case of a break
in the collar or leash, and an out of control, off leash dog can be both
destructive and dangerous to itself and to others.
Leash pulling can result from a variety of different things. In some cases, the
dog may simply be so excited to go for a walk that he or she is unable to
control themselves. In other cases, the dog sees itself as the leader of the
pack, and he or she simply takes the “leadership position” at the front of the
If excitement is the motivation for leash pulling, simply giving the dog a few
minutes to calm down can often be a big help. Simply stand with the dog on the
leash for a couple minutes and let the initial excitement of the upcoming walk
pass. After the initial excitement ahs worn off, many dogs are willing to walk
calmly on their leash.
If the problem is one of control, however, some retraining may be in order. All
dog training starts with the owner establishing him or herself as the alpha dog,
or pack leader, and without this basic respect and understanding, no effective
training can occur. For dogs exhibiting these type of control issues, a step
back to basic obedience commands is in order.
Two well behaved
dogs on a Halty
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These dogs can often be helped through a formal obedience school structure. The
dog trainer will of course be sure to train the handler as well as the dog, and
any good dog trainer will insist on working with the dog owner as well as the
The basis of teaching the dog to walk calmly on the lead is teaching it to
calmly accept the collar and lead. A dog that is bouncing up and down while the
collar is being put on will not walk properly. Begin by asking your dog to sit
down, and insisting that he sit still while the collar is put on. If the dog
begins to get up, or gets up on his own after the collar is on, be sure to sit
him back down immediately. Only begin the walk after the dog has sat calmly to
have the collar put on, and continued to sit calmly as the leash is attached.
Once the leash is attached, it is important to make the dog walk calmly toward
the door. If the dog jumps or surges ahead, gently correct him with a tug of the
leash and return him to a sitting position. Make the dog stay, then move on
again. Repeat this process until the dog is walking calmly by your side.
Repeat the above process when you reach the door. The dog should not be allowed
to surge out of the door, or to pull you through the open door. If the dog
begins this behavior, return the dog to the house and make him sit quietly until
he can be trusted to walk through the door properly. Starting the walk in
control is vital to creating a well mannered dog.
As you begin your walk, it is vital to keep the attention of the dog focused on
you at all times. Remember, the dog should look to you for guidance, not take
the lead himself. When walking, it is important to stop often. Every time you
stop, your dog should stop. Getting into the habit of asking your dog to sit
down every time you stop is a good way to keep your dog’s attention focused on
Make sure your dog is looking at you, then move off again. If the dog begins to
surge ahead, immediately stop and ask the dog to sit. Repeat this process until
the dog is reliability staying at your side. Each time the dog does what you ask
him to, be sure to reward him with a treat, a toy or just your praise.
Remember that if your dog pulls on the leash and you continue to walk him
anyway, you are inadvertently rewarding that unwanted behaviour. Dogs learn
whether you are teaching them or not, and learning the wrong things now will
make learning the right things later that much harder.
It is important to be consistent in your expectations. Every time the dog begins
to pull ahead, immediately stop and make the dog sit. Continue to have the dog
sit quietly until his focus is solely on you. Then start out again, making sure
to immediately stop moving if the dog surges ahead.
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|Thank you so much for giving me this advice. We have actually
stopped walking our German Shepherd, Alfie because he is so big and powerful. He
was initially walked on a haltie but soon got wise to what was going on his face
and started to growl at me. I believe his pulling is due to excitement and
dominance but i will definitely take your advice, thanks again.