One of the most frequent complaints owners make about their dogs is that they start pulling them when they try to go for a walk. You want your dog to heel or to walk on a loose leash by your side. Instead, your dog tries to pull your arms out of their sockets. So why do dogs pull?
Why Do Dogs Pull?
Unaware They Are Attached To A Leash
The short answer to why dogs pull is that dogs usually forget that they are wearing a leash. They just want to get where they are going and if you are attached to the end of the leash, well, then you are coming too! Unfortunately this may be ok with your dog but most dog owners are not ok being pulled down the street.
If you recall leash training your dog, you probably put a collar on him for a short period of time, to let him get used to it. Then you attached the leash to it and let him drag it around the house for a while, so he could get used to having something trailing behind him. Eventually you picked up the leash and started walking behind him. When he got used to you holding the leash behind him, you started leading him with it. That method works well in an enclosed space, however, once you and your dog are out in the open you need to fine tune it. You need to apply some brakes to your dog so he isn’t going at full speed all the time. He needs to learn to listen to you much better and go where you want him to go not where he wants to go.
Typically if a dog feels as though you are not taking control, they feel that someone needs to step up and do so. Inevitably, if you don’t they will feel the need to do so themselves.
Lack Of Consistency
Be sure you and your family are all using the same methods when walking your dog. If your children think its funny for your dog to pull them to a squirrel and you think its ok to let your dog pull you to a tree that he wants to pee on, you are encouraging the behaviour. Ensuring everyone is following the same methods (whatever you decide they may be) is key to helping your dog.
How To Stop Your Dog From Pulling
The first way to teach your dog not to pull is to become a statue or a tree whenever your dog starts pulling on the leash. With this method, when you are walking along and your dog starts pulling you, you need to come to a complete stop. Stop dead in your tracks. Become a statue or a tree but just stop moving and freeze. Your dog can’t pull dead weight so when he gets to the end of the leash and figures out that you’re not moving he will look around and come back to you, giving you that, “What’s up?” look. When he comes back to you, you can pat him and continue walking forward. If you do this every single time your dog pulls on the leash he will eventually get tired of getting out in front of you and having to come back. He will eventually start walking beside you.
The other way to stop your dog from pulling is by taking him to a park or someplace else he doesn’t know. Start walking in any direction. Then change direction after 10 or 15 seconds. Walk for a few seconds and then change direction again. Your dog has to stay close to you and walk beside you because he will have no idea where you are going or when you are going to change direction. You can only keep this up for about 10 minutes as it is mentally tiring for your dog but it will teach him to pay attention to you and stop anticipating where he thinks you are going. Your dog will eventually be walking next to you and not pulling you along.