I am often in awe of those people who are out on the street walking their dogs in peaceful harmony. The dog seems to simply know to stay by his owner’s side and never pulls on the leash or runs around a tree getting tangled up.
My dog Lucy is now 8 years old and I really think that walking her without her pulling on the leash was one of the hardest things that I have had to do. From the start she has loved going on walks, and simply would become so excited that she could not contain herself. She is a notorious leash puller and it has taken all of my patience and understanding to finally get her to take a nice and peaceful walk.
When it comes to your relationship with your dog I can definitively say that when Lucy is walking nicely on her leash it makes the entire experience much more enjoyable. When she used to pull on the leash there were many times when I thought that she was going to get away from me and put herself in danger. This made every walk completely stressful, to the point that I almost gave them up immediately. However, once I learned more about dog walking and different techniques to use, I can happily say that I am glad that I did not give up on her as our evening walks are some of my favorite times.
Here are some tips that I found very helpful when it came to improving Lucy’s leash behavior.
First, it is really all about your attitude. When I was walking Lucy I was focused on getting her to stop pulling on the leash. However, once I realized that I needed to focus on what I wanted her to do instead of what I did not want her to do, things became a bit easier. As the saying goes, focus on the positive and you will reap the rewards.
Speaking of rewards, this is a great way to teach your dog the behavior you desire. When you are walking your dog make sure that you have treats with you. When your dog is walking next to you and paying attention to what you are doing, reward them with a treat.
As your pup starts to realize that walking next to you is a pleasant experience they will be more likely to stay with you and stop pulling on the leash.
Another game that you can try is follow me. Hold onto the leash and take several steps back away from your dog. This movement is inviting to the dog and they will likely turn to follow. When your pup approaches you say yes and reward them with a treat. The goal of this game is to get your dog to focus on you and your movement. Keep backing up and getting them to follow you about 8 to 12 times, rewarding them each time they follow.
When it comes down to it, rewarding the behavior that you want is key. When you are out for your walk, reward your pup often, about every five or six steps that they stay with you. This will help your pup figure out the behavior that you are looking for and make the learning process easier.
It is important to remember that every dog is different and some dogs are going to fight walking in this manner harder than others. For that reason, if you are still struggling to get your dog to walk on a leash without pulling, it may be time to call in a professional for help.