Dogs generally pull on the leash because they walk faster than we do. We need to gently teach them to slow down when on leash. Here are some tips on teaching dogs to walk nicely on the leash:
- If the dog is being walked to the person’s left, place the leash handle around the handler’s right wrist and use the left hand to hold the leash at its midpoint. There should be a “J” shape from the dog’s collar in the leash.
- Begin walking the dog and when the dog looks up at the person, reward this with a treat from the left hand or hand closest to the dog (this prevents teaching the dog to cross in front of the person).
- If the dog starts to forge ahead, get the pup’s attention by patting your own hip or thigh to get the pup’s attention and gently changing directions (reward when the pup is in the correct place and leash is loose). If there isn’t room to change direction and the dog is pulling, simply stop and wait for the dog to return to the handler and then proceed and reward while the dog is walking on a loose leash next to you. The dog will soon understand that the walk only continues when the leash is slack.
- Often pups will grab the leash in their mouth. To redirect this I take toys or a tug toy with me to let them carry or I tie a toy to their collar for them to grab and hold instead of the leash.
- Use a humane no-pull harness (with a d-ring on the front) to walk the dog in when you are not actively training your dog). I like the Tellington Touch harness and the Freedom harness.
And here are a couple of “don’ts”:
- Don’t allow the dog to pull toward the other dog and then have a greet and play. This is a huge reward for pulling so don’t allow the pup to get into this habit- I put greetings on cue so the dog is clear.
- Avoid using a flexi-leash. These leashes actively reinforce pulling by rewarding the dog with more leash when they pull!