Are you tired of your dog's leash pulling when out on walks?
Daily walks improve your dog’s mental and physical health and we suggest this to all dog owners.
However, when out in public, dogs experience a rush of energy. New people, new surroundings, exciting smells, and comes the leash pulling!
With years of experience in crafting enhanced dog accessories, we have had the opportunity to work with several dog breeds and study their behavior.
We found the way dogs interact with nature is different from humans. They have powerful olfactory senses, and their nasal cavity has 100 million sensory receptors.
Out in the environment, they are overwhelmed by the various scents. Each scent is exciting, and they run to explore. Thus, leading to arm-jarring leash tugs and pulls.
Many pet owners have cried out loud about their stressful walking experiences with their furry friend. Although, they want to be a part of their friend’s enjoyment but the stress becomes too much for them.
Coming across so many similar concerns, our experts decided to decode the leash pulling act of dogs for you. And here we are with detailed information about to answer your query and help you stay connected with your pet.
Let us navigate you through our informative guide – Keep reading.
Understanding the Behavior – Why Does the Dog Pull?
Before we offer you the various leash-pulling solutions, let us demystify the behavior.
Dogs pull on the leash to get to wherever they want and fast. When out for walks in nature, they get excited to engage with their surroundings. All kinds of scents, sounds, and visions – to them, these require immediate exploring. It is strange for a dog to stay tethered to humans and have a relaxed walk.
At other times, dogs find this leash-pulling and running activity rewarding. Being able to reach wherever they feel like by pulling on the leash is rewarding to them.
We have noticed them develop the 'opposition reflex'. The moment dog parents clip the leash, the dog senses restriction. They naturally start pulling against it.
Dogs learn from their habits as well. When walking large dogs on a leash, taking that first step after being pulled is a signal to the dog. They understand pulling works to reach anywhere; this turns into a habit.
It is not a difficult task to teach a dog loose-leash walking, we advise you to be patient. Our comprehensive guide explains the various techniques for controlling dogs on a leash.
With these effective leash-pulling solutions, we guarantee a lovely walking experience with your four-legged buddy.
Benefits of Leash Training Your Dog
Dogs are our best friends and fill our lives with love and companionship. And as a responsible dog parent, a healthy bond is what you must look forward to.
With years of extensive experience in the canine accessory field, we emphasize the need for obedience training. It plays a significant role in maintaining the bond.
It facilitates communication and understanding. Since you cannot verbally communicate with them, we suggest conditioning communication. And this begins with leash training.
It allows you to communicate with your dog effortlessly. Proper training guides them in understanding right, wrong, how to behave in a public setting, and when to stop.
Below are some of the top benefits of leash training you can enjoy.
1. Keeps your dog stress-free
Pulling and tugging on a leash is equally stressful to a dog as it is to you. A stressed dog finds it difficult to maintain calm and composure in public. Without leash management, the dog can act aggressively and react to other people.
2. Keeps the dog's health in check
Constantly pulling and tugging on collars can impact a dog’s health. Dogs tend to pull too hard on their leash when immediately out on the streets. It can damage the trachea, neck, or the vertebrae. The rigorous pressure can also injure the thyroid.
Training ensures dogs can freely walk on a loose leash without physically harming themselves.
3. Keeps your health in check
Dogs do not pull the leash in rhythms but rather in sudden jolts. 6 out of 10 pet parents you meet will share their stories of accidental back injuries and how they had to rush for medical assistance due to this sudden pull.
Also, the overall situation of being pulled through the streets can be exhausting. Many dog parents complain they rarely get a chance to enjoy nature in such situations.
With leash training, you and your dog can enjoy a loose leash walk that is not accident-prone.
4. Improves obedience and behavior
The most impactful benefit of leash management for dogs is enhanced behavior. We have observed that leash-trained pups are more attentive and have strong self-control. Their changed behavior immediately impacts outdoor and indoor activities.
5. Improves the relationship between you and them
Several dog owners reach out to us with questions on how to build a harmonious bond with their pets. We firmly believe leash training helps you achieve so.
Dog obedience training and leash management improves communication abilities. You can connect better with the dog, and they are more eager to fulfill directives.
This goes from commanding to sitting and even more complex actions like reacting to another dog.
Training your dog with leash correction techniques takes patience. However, the benefits are worth the time and effort. Post leash training, you get a calm and gentle dog who listens to you and does not pull the leash while on a walk.
Step-by-step Guide to Preventing Dog from Pulling on the Leash
With long-standing experience in the field, we are on a mission to enhance the lives of dogs and their owners. We understand the needs of your pet and offer functional solutions that are guaranteed.
Leash pulling has always been a concern within the community. People are always looking for ways to deal with this problem without harming the bond with their pets.
To put an end to this dilemma, we have curated a step-by-step guide on 'how to get your dog to stop pulling on the leash'.
As we keep reminding you, leash training is time-consuming and requires practice. We advise you to remain confident during training sessions. The struggles of teaching a dog how to walk nicely on a leash are highly rewarding.
Let us dig deeper –
1. Invest in the right equipment for leash training
Finding the right dog accessories is vital during leash training. The ideal accessories are built keeping your dog's health in mind. For a leash training, you will need a quality leash, and a comfortable collar or harness. We are emphasizing 'comfortable' – ensure your dog is free from pain and discomfort during training.
The ideal collar paired with a leash can give you the benefit of physics. It can offer a comfortable grip around the dog's neck. They can use the full-body weight during walks.
You can opt for harnesses instead of traditional neck collars. A No-pull harness distributes the pressure in the dog's diaphragm instead of the neck. It's also It is important to know how to put on a dog harness to ensure the safety of your furry friend.
The design prevents the dog from leash pulling by applying pressure on the chest. It is a plausible choice for a heavy puller as it keeps the neck safe from injury.
2. Incorporate healthy leash training techniques
We can offer you multiple techniques to control a dog on a leash, but screaming ‘no' and 'stop' is not one of them. Dog behavior does not change overnight. The daily tiny changes contribute to the dog’s leash behavior.
Here are some of our tried and tested training techniques for loose-leash walking. Each has been described in detail for you to practice. You can implement one or more of these techniques to train your dog to stop pulling on the leash.
When your dog starts pulling towards a direction, slow down – make subtle sounds to give them a cue. It can be a click of a tongue or calling out their name nicely. You can also try slowly moving in a different direction.
Likely, the dog will not respond to these changes on the very first day. Keep trying without pulling or tightening the leash. When they listen and start following, reward them with a treat.
To practice the direction technique, you will need a comfortable neck collar and leash. You can also opt for a harness to add more comfort to the training session.
Another method to stop the pulling is gently stopping without pulling on the leash. When your dog pulls, and you pull back, it triggers their opposition reflex. Once triggered, they will start pulling harder instead of stopping or slowing down.
The stopping technique is a wiser choice to avoid the opposition reflex. Firmly stop moving and stay fixated on your position. Initially, the dog will try to pull or indicate irritation.
Stay firm and avoid yelling at the dog. We can assure you, even the most persistent puller will stop at some point.
Loose Leash Training
Loose leash training is exactly as it sounds – a leash swooping to the floor like a 'smile'. This relaxed leash method teaches your dog to walk without tension and is free from opposition reflexes.
You will need a long leash, a 6-foot one, and some treats. Loose leash training requires you to walk at a 4-foot distance from your dog.
Call their name and begin with a few energetic steps (without a leash). As the dog starts following your lead, offer a treat. Repeat this step a few times until they start walking beside you with a name call.
Once this is in a grip, add the leash and collar (or a harness), and repeat the set. Day 1 can be strenuous – try practicing at home first. Soon they will start walking with you on a loose leash.
We suggest you try practicing outside in a no-distraction area until the dog is ready for gradual distractions.
Heel-ing Technique (Optional)
This is a structured technique to teach a dog to walk nicely and is practiced by our military clients. When dogs heel, they walk directly on your left and match the pace.
For a non-working dog, heel-ing is not a necessary technique. It restricts free time and exploring. However, there is nothing wrong with exploring training methods. We have found heel-ing to be the most beneficial in enclosed and busy places like airports.
You will need any 4–6-foot leash, and their favorite treats. Using the treat, lure them to your left side. Continue to keep them focused on your left with the treats until they naturally come to your left.
Start with a few paces with the treat in your hand to check if they follow. If they do, offer them the treat. Repeat this set until they can walk comfortably stuck to your left side without pulling on the leash.
Now teach them a heel cue - a signal, a sound, or a command. Only use this once they are by your left before you start pacing. Using it anywhere else can be confusing to the dog.
3. Exclude negative reinforcements
Negative reinforcements are training technique that uses negative stimuli or actions that make the dog uncomfortable. This is used to make the dog realize when they are misbehaving.
In simpler terms, a dog’s pull is all about reaching where they want to. To them, that in itself is a reward. This could include stopping to smell, scrutinizing an area, or getting close to another dog.
Using uncomfortable methods to make them stop pulling is negative reinforcement.
However, should you be utilizing negative reinforcements when leash training? As experts, we suggest no.
With considerable expertise and extensive knowledge of dog behaviorism, we conclude negative reinforcement or aversion to be a concerning method. Here’s why:
The ones trained with negative reinforcements showed heightened signs of stress and anxiety. They had higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Signs of licking and yawning suggested anxiety, along with a pessimistic attitude.
Aversion is risky to a dog's well-being. Hence, we suggest with experience, the ideal training is reward-based and healthy. It improves the communication between the dog and the human.
As a new dog parent, it can be challenging to identify negative reinforcements. Here are a few examples of what you can avoid while leash-training your dog -
- Using extreme punishment during training such as hitting the dog or using shock collars.
Related: Do Shock Collars Hurt Dogs?
- Startling them mid-action and creating painful sounds, like the sound of cans and utensils to make them uncomfortable.
- Pretend scares to show what could be the punishment if they misbehave.
4. Include positive reinforcements
Positive reinforcements are actions that entice your dog to repeat positive behavior.
We consider this a simple yet powerful strategy to get your dog to stop pulling on the leash. From rewarding them for little actions to giving them a break to sniff, these are all counted as positive reinforcements.
These make the training experience enjoyable for both you and your furry friend. We have listed some of our most advised positive reinforcements for dog leash training:
Use small, tasty treats as a form of positive reinforcement. Reward your dog with a treat for walking calmly beside you without pulling on the leash. Soon they will learn to repeat obedience and enjoy the treats. Initially, you will have to be a little heavy-handed with treats. Gradually decrease the frequency of treats as your dog becomes more accustomed to proper leash behavior.
Also, we advise averting food as a treat every time. Our clients have been through this quandary called 'treat resistance'. In due time, the dogs stopped responding to food-reward-based training. We suggest using anything the dog loves. Mix and match with edibles, chewies, toys, and so on to keep leash training sessions interesting.
Consider Using Verbal Praise
We cannot share with you enough how profoundly effective voice is during leash training. Our clients have claimed that praising their dogs has worked wonders during leash training. The idea is to treat them cheerfully and in an encouraging tone when they exhibit good leash manners. Words like "good boy/girl" or "well done" paired with a pat on the head and a treat are highly effective.
Incorporating Playtime & Breaks
Fun break times are perfect rewards for your dog's good leash behavior. After a successful leash training session, engage in a fun game or allow them to play with their favorite toy. For added benefits, try employing sniff breaks. We also suggest allowing them to stroll through the park and sniff everything.
Try teaching your dog a specific term for such break times – like ‘play’ or ‘free’. This will help your dog differentiate training sessions and free time.
Engage in Clicker Training
Clicker training does exactly the opposite of a shock collar. Instead of applying shock to indicate bad behavior, the clicker marks good behavior. The clicker is a small handheld device that makes a distinct clicking sound. Click and treat your dog whenever they walk calmly on the leash, associating the click with the reward.
This method helps establish a clear communication standard and accelerates the learning process.
Happy Times with You
Dogs are social animals and value quality time with their owners. Use the leash training sessions as an opportunity to bond with your dog. Give them attention, affection, and reassurance throughout the process. Some of our clients' dogs enjoy patting and hugging, while others enjoy squishy cuddles. Understand what time-spending activity your dog loves the most and add them to the leash training session. This strengthens the connection between you and your dog and reinforces their desire to behave well on the leash.
Remember, consistency and patience are prime when using positive reinforcements for dog leash training. Each dog learns at their own pace, and it has nothing to do with their inherent behavior. Tailor our leash training techniques to your dog's individual needs. We promise that with time and positive support, you'll soon have a well-behaved, leash-trained friend.
Some added tips for the no-pull dog training session
Go heavy with treats in the beginning and reward often
Initially, it is difficult for your dog to pick up the training session. Treats encourage the dog to take desired actions. The reward can go to the smallest of actions – stopping at the cue, looking at you, listening to your command, to come towards you. Getting praised and treated for these actions develops a habit in the dog. It makes them willful towards the training.
Keep the training sessions short, within 10 minutes
The practice and reward game must be exciting and enjoyable for the puppy. Lengthy leash training sessions can lead to quick boredom. Gradually increase the length when the dog is trained enough for public settings.
Begin in distraction-free spaces
The no-pull leash training cannot be mustered in a bustling park. Begin teaching the dog leash management when there's just the two of you. It can be your living room space or the backyard. When the dog is trained enough, start increasing the distractions.
Never give in during training sessions
Allowing them to move in their desired direction after pulling a leash impacts negatively. The dog begins to consider pulling as a method of getting to wherever they like. In situations like these, the stopping and direction technique works wonders.
5. Try Leash leash-walking games
To all dogs, game time is holy. Games during leash training sessions make the overall experience thrilling and fun. Leash training games are designed to keep them focused and pay attention to you.
Here are some of our most suggested leash-walking games that have guaranteed results -
Game of Catch
The Catch game allows your dog to gain an attention span in a distracting environment. They often forget about you during walk sessions or while in the park.
‘Catch’ can be played with anything fun they enjoy. It could be a ball, a Frisbie, or a piece of treat. Simply say ‘catch’ and randomly toss the item.
This game reminds them that it is a lot more fun to be close to, which is vital for leash training.
Connect the dots
Once again, you will need a handful of treats for this game. And it is best to try this in your backyard for a distraction-free setting.
Grab a few spare bottles or cans or anything similar and place them 5 feet apart, in a straight line.
Next, take your dog on a leash and walk from one bottle to another. In every successful step, offer a treat.
Keep practicing until your dog can walk without pulling the leash. Increase difficulties gradually as you practice - like going zigzag instead of a straight line.
This game improves your dog’s heeling technique as well as responding to commands. The heeling technique teaches your dog to walk closely to your left. This game just adds sitting to it.
To make this work, your dog must understand a few cues. Like stop and go, fast or slow. The entire walk can turn out to be a fun game by mixing these commands.
Take steady paces and command them to sit, stand, or fast. Make use of treats to teach your necessary commands and have an upbeat voice when playing this game. Keep the commands unpredictable and change paces often.
Each of our suggested games benefits the leash training session in multiple ways. These make your dog sincere to commands and improve obedience.
6. Practice Training in Different Environments
The primary objective of this leash training is to ensure your dog is obedient in every environment. Unlike humans, dogs cannot immediately adapt to any environment. And we say this with abundant experience.
When discussing the training environment, we use the term ‘distraction’. This is because dogs perceive the environment very differently. For instance, if your dog is leash-mannered in your backyard, it does not mean they will behave similarly in your friend’s backyard.
Therefore, it is of utmost importance to train them in a variety of settings before going out in public.
By studying dog behavior through the years, we have deduced, if a dog responds positively, 85% of the time, in a particular setting, feel free to move to the next step.
Here are a few vital steps to practice before leash training in different environments -
Expose your dog to a variety of sounds when at home. Let them experience the sound of the television, children, the lawn mower, doorbells, phone calls, etc. These sounds or noises, if not introduced, can cause hindrances in leash training.
Leash training becomes complicated for unsocial dogs. Socializing should begin at the puppy stage, or at least when young. Let them meet people and allow them to touch your dog gently. It can be patting, petting, scratching, etc. Socializing also includes meeting other dogs when going to the vet.
Slowly introduce your dog to a variety of spaces while on leash training. Start in your backyard; once they get comfortable, move on to the nearest park. Once they are confident in a small park, take them through the streets. This will help your companion acclimatize to various spaces irrespective of the number of people.
Level up the difficulty by choosing not-so-common spaces. Such as subways, bridges, tunnels, and stairs – spaces that will test the leash training.
As aforementioned, leash training in different environments should happen at your dog’s pace. Allow the puppy enough time to adjust to each environment before moving on to the next. Avoid putting them under pressure, and let them know they have a way out when overwhelmed.
During leash training in various environments, stay calm and positive. Canine animals tend to turn to their pack leader when in discomfort. And to your dog, you are the pack leader. If you appear upset or angry, it can negatively impact the dog and make them anxious.
7. Consistency and Practice
We cannot emphasize this enough! Behind the success of any leash training technique lies consistency and practice. These are of utmost priority when controlling a dog on a leash.
Let us discuss consistency first. While there are multiple training methods mentioned, it is advisable to stick to one. Being consistent with the leash training is the fastest way to teach it. How do you want your dog to walk on the leash? Do you want the dog to heel? Do you prefer the loose-leash walking?
Pick your preference and then start dog obedience training accordingly. It is also essential to not confuse the dog when incorporating various leash-pulling solutions.
Practice makes a man perfect, and your dog too. Take time and effort to teach your dog the leash technique of choice. Be patient with them and make training sessions easy, with a lot of treats.
Some of our client’s dogs learned quickly; others took more time. We advise consistent effort and regular short practices for healthy no-pull leash walks.
Troubleshooting Common Leash Training Issues
When leash training your dog, you will face unique problems and hurdles. Some of these are very common, faced by almost every one of our clients. We have the expert solutions right away -
1. Barking at Passers-by
Once they are trained enough in the backyard, you will likely move the training to the nearby park. Out of the blue, the dog starts barking at anyone who passes by.
Reason: They are triggered in the new environment and are losing focus from the leash training.
Solution: Keep treats ready before they get the chance to react to a passerby. Keep a safe distance from oncoming dogs or people. Soon your dog will pick up the habit of turning to you for treats when someone approaches.
2. Lunging at Distractions
While on leash training, some dogs lunge at anything that passes by. They react to everything - at another passing dog, a cyclist, or a simple butterfly.
Reason: They are anxious about the new environment and distractions and are looking for triggers.
Solution: Practice a similar method of distracting them with a treat and create a distance between your dog and whatever is triggering them.
3. Chewing on the Leash
While some dogs stick to chewing and small nibbles, others go on a hot-headed tug-of-war with the leash. This we have observed the most during initial leash training days.
Reason: There are two reasons behind chewing the leash. The first is due to increased agitation. Second, some dogs find mouthing a calming activity. Whenever they are nervous, they chew on something. And in this case, it is the leash.
Solution: While treats are always a good option, it is a momentary distraction while chewing. One great solution is starting a fun game. It fully distracts them from the teething sensation.
What does Gradual Progression look like in Leash Training?
When leash training your dog, gradual progression is not always a ‘forward progression’. There will be several setbacks and struggles. Some techniques may not work for your dog, and a few things will take longer than expected.
The goal is to work around the struggles and set up your dog on a successful leash training session. We suggest you set achievable goals during training. With practice and consistency, your dog will skill up in leash management. For instance, conquering the nearest park on a loose leash can be a goal. Not barking at a speeding cyclist passing by three days in a row can be a goal.
The more goals you and your dog achieve, the more consistent the leash training will become. You will find it easy to identify behavior setbacks and what needs more attention during practice.
Progression is the small successes – changed behavior, calm composure, and increased attention. Keep a note of everything your dog succeeds in each month. Celebrate the achievements with some treats your dog loves the most. This also boosts your dog's confidence and wills them to learn more while on a leash.
Amidst the leash training, patience plays a vital role. Avoid setting fixed timelines for your dog's leash-walking success. Be patient with yourself and the dog. And cut some slack and keep them off training frequently.
Real Life Leash Training Success
From training an over-enthusiastic Labrador to a grumpy German Shepherd, leash training is all about consistency. Having shared our expert leash training guide with several dog owners, we have had the pleasure to come across real-life success stories. These stories prove that positive guidance and support work the best to stop a dog from dragging on a leash.
It all comes down to providing your dog with proper equipment during training and employing best practices. Investing in good dog leashes, as well as, collars and harnesses is a vital step. Never compromise on your dog’s health and comfort.
Follow our expert-curated step-by-step guide to teach your dog leash walking without pulling. With patience and practice, soon, a calm and composed dog will accompany you on the daily walks.
Exploring the 'PAWS'ibilities with Doodle Couture
Gearing up for your leash training session? Ensure you have the most comfortable equipment for your dog's leash training session. Explore the array of quality collars and harnesses at Doodle Couture and pick what is best.
The objective is to help your dog learn the finest leash correction techniques while being comfortable and happy. Avoid negative reinforcements or aversion methods. There are multiple positive reinforcements to make this training a fun activity. Above all, be patient and kind to your best companion.
At Doodle Couture, we prioritize your dog's needs. Our collection of luxury collars and harnesses ensures they experience the best. Choose from our well-assorted products for healthy leash training.
We wish you and your dog happy training!