Excessive pulling while leashed is one of the most common challenges for dog owners. Canines pull for many reasons, so identifying the root cause of the behavior isn’t always easy. However, it’s a key part of correcting this undesirable habit. Dogs who constantly pull away from an owner show a lack of obedience. They can be a danger to themselves and others if they manage to escape.
Leash pulling can strain the relationship between an owner and their dog. The more they ignore your commands, the more frustrated you’re likely to feel. You might emotionally distance yourself as you grow increasingly worried about going on walks. Fortunately, there are solutions. Most require care and patience, but they can help you train your dog and rediscover your love of shared adventures.
Why Do Some Dogs Pull On The Leash?
First, let’s take a look at some common reasons for leash pulling. Often, it’s not wholly explained by naughtiness. Your pet pooch may look and sound like a furry ball of mayhem, but there are methods in his madness (most of the time).
05. Excess Energy
Some breeds are extremely energetic. This is why prospective pet owners are advised to research breed characteristics carefully before making a choice. These super lively canines pull aggressively simply because they’re so full of vigor they forget how to behave. Jack Russell Terriers, Siberian Huskies, and Poodles are among the most dynamic dog breeds.
Training a dog with a naturally boisterous nature is tough. You’ve got to avoid harsh punishments as the animal is only doing what feels right for them. Expert dog trainers recommend exercising a lively dog until they are tired and performing leash training immediately afterward.
04. Irresistible Curiosity
For most dogs, it’s a matter of nosiness. Like humans, they spot something of interest and want to be a part of the action. Again, this is a natural behavior for an animal. It typically happens when dogs spot other dogs, squirrels, pigeons, or anything else that moves fast or looks shiny.
The good news is obedience training can be used to teach canines restraint. It’s time consuming but worthwhile, particularly if your pooch is well behaved apart from when something catches his eye outdoors. He just needs a little guidance and authority.
03. Lack Of Awareness
Dogs are so commonplace in our lives that we often forget how different they are to us. Sometimes, pulling occurs because an animal has never been taught to do anything else. When puppies are leashed for the very first time, there tends to be a great deal of pulling. Don’t forget, a juvenile animal is a blank slate. If you want your pet to learn something important, you need to teach him.
Young dogs with little leash experience may not realize they’re pulling. Some breeds like Alaskan Malamutes and Olde English Bulldogs may have an intrinsic urge to pull as their original purpose was to drag loads. To eliminate the habit, you’ve first got to teach them a more desirable one.
In a small percentage of cases, dogs pull on a leash due to fear or anxiety. They may be scared of a new environment in which case increased exposure over time should fix the problem. They may be anxious about wearing a new type of restraint which, again, can be solved by increasing familiarity over time.
If the cause of a dog’s desire to run away is linked to traumatic incidents in their past, obedience training might be ineffective. In these instances, traumatized canines need help from a specialist handler. The likelihood of success depends on the pet’s degree of distress and the root cause. Abused dogs can be very hard to rehabilitate.
01. Uncomfortable Leash
Dogs trained to walk on retractable leashes tend to pull more because the restraints put increased pressure on the animal and encourage them to tug back. If leash pulling is a big problem, get rid of the retractable leash. Train them using something more traditional.
Take care not to leash your dog too tightly. This encourages canines to pull and leads them to believe that’s just how walking goes. They may not be pulling due to disobedience but because they recognize it as normal.
Simple Ways to Stop Your Dog From Pulling The Leash
04. Wear Them Out
Those who own super energetic breeds like huskies must understand and fulfill their dog’s need for intense exercise. It’s not always an easy job, but it’s part of caring for a large or particularly lively canine.
One of the best ways to prevent leash pulling from an energetic dog is to completely wear them out before a walk. Get into the garden, play fetch, or race around with your furry pal. Make sure he’s good and tired before you get the leash out. You’ll be shocked at the big difference this makes to his manageability. If he’s still lively, swap walking for running or cycling.
03. Teach Self-Restraint
Dogs who cannot control themselves in public are a danger. They don’t have to bite any humans or animals for accidents to occur. They may run out in front of a car, trip up a pedestrian, or even hurt themselves as they twist and turn erratically on a leash. This is why it’s vital to teach control and self-restraint. Training isn’t as easy as, in order to be effective, it must involve real-life triggers.
This may be other animals such as a neighbor’s dog or cat, a noisy child or just somebody playing with an interesting looking toy. Start by walking your dog calmly toward the trigger. Walk normally without directing his attention to it. Wait for them to notice the trigger. As soon as they do, compete for their attention by calling out to them. If they come, reward them with a treat. Repeat these steps until your dog learns to associate being rewarded with listening to your commands.
02. Teach Them How To Notice
If a dog is unfamiliar with being leashed or has been previously trained to think constant pressure from a leash is normal, you must teach them the opposite. This is easier than it sounds. The next time you’re out walking, wait for your dog to strain and tug on the leash. When they do, immediately change direction.
Do this decisively but slowly enough for them to register the tightening of pressure on their body. To relieve the pressure, they’ll need to stop, turn, and continue walking which should ease the leash. Every time they do this, reward them with a treat. The goal is to help them associate positive rewards (and sensations) with not pulling.
01. Train Them In A Calm Environment
Training a scared dog in a busy park or other public environment isn’t going to work. Always, use a controlled space such as a private backyard or a completely secluded area you’re certain will be free from people and other animals. Start out by training your dog to obey a specific command such as ‘sit,’ ‘lie down’ or ‘roll over.’
The purpose of this is not obedience (though it’s also helpful) but the forging of a shared experience. Reward your dog handsomely with treats and lots of strokes every time he behaves correctly. Make him feel safe, cherished, and loved. Then, in incremental stages, relocate this same process to slightly busier environments. When you’re out in public and notice his fear responses activate, call him over to the comfort of your treats, strokes, and boundless protections.
It may take a long time and a great deal of patience before your frightened dog feels comfortable enough to stop pulling. If you need additional support, it’s worth considering a thunder jacket or other anxiety restraint. In a small percentage of cases, this type of fear cannot be eliminated without the help of a professional. Certainly, if your dog has abuse in its past, it’s worth consulting a dog psychologist or expert handler for advice.
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