Stop Leash Pulling – How to Teach Your Dog to Walk by Your Side

Out of control leash pulling can make your 20lbs dog feel like 60lbs dog. And going for a walk will feel and look more like wrestling than enjoying. If your dog pulls on the leash, you have a problem. And you have to find a way for how to stop leash pulling.

Have you tried something? What are the strategies you have tried? We have a couple of tips and tricks for you. Let’s get started.

Why is Leash Pulling Dangerous?

Nothing is worse than being in danger. When your dog is pulling on the leash, it is dangerous for both you and your furry friend. Not only it is dangerous, but we are also sure you feel sorry and worried about your dog when he is pulling and choking.

Not to mention, being pulled by a 20lbs dog can look embarrassing. Pulling on the leash can be dangerous in a way your dog might gag and choke. Something needs to be changed. You do not want your dog to choke, right? Bonus, if you stop leash pulling, walkies are much more enjoyable.

Why Your Dog Pulls?

One of the common misconceptions is that dog pull because they want to be the pack leader, the top dog, the alpha personality, or just dominant over their human. That is far from the truth. There is a much simpler explanation.

The simple truth is that dogs love to be outside. Walking is stimulating and an existing part of their day. And in many cases, their desire to push ahead is very strong. Your dog’s natural walking pace is much faster than yours. That is why humans do not make a natural and comfortable walking partner for dogs. The trick here is to establish a comfortable pace for both you and your dog.

Just think for a second. What is your dog’s biggest wish when he is outside? If you answered is to run and investigate the environment, you are right. That desire, and wish, can be very difficult for dogs to control when they are on the leash.

However, dogs need to be taught how to walk on a leash in a positive way. And be comfortable exploring while walking.

Factors that affect loose-leash walking

While a loose leash is good for giving your dog more freedom to move, it is unnatural when it comes to leash walking with a human partner. When was the last time you saw off-leash dogs walk parallel to each other, and in a straight line? That might happen for a second or two, but no more.

The environmental factors determine your dog’s pace, but also direction. While humans love to get from point A to point B and get some exercise while walking, dogs want to chase squirrels, cats, and smell everything around them.

Another factor that makes your dog pull is their instinct. Like other animals, dogs reflexively oppose restraint. When they are tied up, and tight, their natural instinct and tendency are to pull harder. This is why despite choking, some dogs pull even harder when they are on the leash.

Last, but not least, it is all a matter of habit. And that is one factor you can control. In other words, your dog creates a habit of pulling. When he succeeds in pulling you toward another dog or an interesting pee spot, your dog is actually building confidence and staying power into the attempt of pulling. It is hard to balance when to let your dog pee or meet another dog, and when to keep him tight.

Tips on Stopping Leash Pulling

Here are a couple of strategies that can help you stop leash pulling. It is all about doing it over and over again. If you are persistent in your desire and attempt to stop leash pulling, you will succeed.

Calm your dog

One of the reasons why dogs pull while outside is the excitement. You might have noticed this. Your dog shows incredible enthusiasm the moment you touch the leash and put some shoes on. He knows he is going outside, and it is a synonym for doing something good and fun. There are dogs that start spinning in circles and go crazy before going out.

And the problem is, your dog will take that energy outside with him and start pulling. So, how to counter this? Try to calm your dog while you are still home. Calm your dog before opening the door. Put the leash on your dog, and wait for a few seconds. Let your dog chill out and calm down before going out.

Reverse direction

The reverse direction is one of the most successful strategies for how to stop leash pulling. How does it work? Simple. Every time your dog pulls, just turn around and go in the opposite direction. But be careful, this strategy works only if you do this without yanking on the leash.

Stop and start strategy

Dog trainers practice this strategy. It works for beginners in the dog world as well. It is one of the most commonly taught methods to get dogs to stop pulling. The problem is, this strategy is time-consuming and frustrating.

It is quite a simple strategy, to be honest. You just stop every time your dog pulls on the leash. Stand still until your dog sits or stops pulling. At this point, praise your dog, and then move on. So, what is the frustrating part? Well, you might walk a block in more than 30 minutes.

No pull harness

This is more of a helpful device than a working strategy for how to stop leash pulling. No pull harness is great for beginners. They help you manage the problem while you are trying to find a strategy that works.

The no rewards strategy

Often, we do not even know we are praising our dog for pulling. We do it, even though we hate it, and in most cases, we do not know it.

Yes, you might not even realize that you are rewarding behavior you want to discourage. What is the reward for leash pulling? It is just letting your dog go and get whatever he is after. The no rewards strategy basically means to stop supporting this behavior. So, the next time your dog wants to sniff a tree, and he is pulling, stop first. Let your dog calm, and then go there. Dogs have a short memory when it comes to action and reward. Every single slight interruption in the chain will help.

Be the motivator

The trick in teaching your dog to stop pulling is to make him follow you. How to do that? Motivate your dog by using an excited voice to get his attention. Now that he is following you, and the leash is relaxed, continue your way. It will take a few tries for your dog to learn your vocal cues. But if you are excited about something, your dog will be excited as well.

When you feel that your dog is listening to you more, become unpredictable. And your dog will have to pay more attention to you, listening to you at all times because he will never know where to turn or go next.

The Toy Trick

The toy trick is a great strategy not only for stopping dog from pulling but teaching your dog to listen to you, walk by your side, and enjoy your company. It is all about managing your dog’s happiness. We mentioned that most dogs are happy to be outside and sniff everything they can. But dogs also enjoy playing with toys like balls. Other dogs just love to carry a stick with them.

The trick here is to make your dog focus on you. If your dog loves balls, carry one with you. And keep the ball in your hands, play with it, and let your dog see it. Your dog will be focused on the ball at all times. Throw it every now and then, and make sure your dog returns you the ball. Once you teach your dog to put his focus on you and your commands, he will not pull anymore.

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