Walking on Leash

 

Dear OgDog: Our new puppy is a hand-full walking on a leash. I know this is a problem that will get worse as he grows. How can I train him to walk beside me instead of pulling me along?

Tug-of-War

Dear Tug:

Most dogs seem to enjoy pulling on leash. Unfortunately, humans enjoy dog walking with a loose leash! It’s wise to teach your puppy appropriate leash walking from the start; otherwise, you will just become more frustrated as he grows, and walking will become a pain rather than an enjoyable activity for the both of you.

The best way to deal with leash pulling is never to allow it to become a problem. Never walk with your puppy – not a single step – unless his leash remains loose. This can be a difficult endeavor with a young puppy. It is best accomplished with a systematic and progressive process:

  • Stand still with your pup on-leash. Hold the leash in both hands close to your chest. Do not move. It may take a few minutes, but eventually your puppy will stop pulling. In fact, once they realize they are going nowhere, many pups sit or lie down.
  • Praise your puppy as soon as he sits or lies down with a slack leash, and then say “Let’s go” and take a single large step.
  • If your puppy starts pulling on the leash, stop and stand still once again and wait for your puppy to stop pulling. Be prepared for the strain when you stop. Your single step may energize him, causing him to lunge forward. Hold your ground until he sits down. Again, reward the behavior by saying “Let’s go” and take another step forward.

After a few repetitions your pup will walk forward calmly, knowing there is little point in hurrying ahead because you never seem to go far. Also your puppy will sit promptly when you stop because he will learn that lunging makes you stop and sitting makes you go. Before you know it, by dog training leash walking properly, you will be enjoying dog walking with your puppy!

An alternative approach is to hold the leash in both hands closely to the front of your body and begin walking and not stop. There is no need to jerk on the leash. When your puppy pulls in any direction simply turn in the opposite direction and keep walking at a steady pace. If the dog pulls ahead, about turn and smoothly walk the other way. Your puppy will learn surprisingly quickly to walk calmly by your side.

It will be much easier for everyone, if you solve this problem now. Then you and your faithful companion can enjoy long, relaxing walks together.

OgDog

Raising Canine has a school for dog trainers which focuses on operant training for dogs, dog behavior, working with clients and addressing client compliance, and the science behind behavior modification.