Walking a Dog That Pulls

Your daily walk should be enjoyable for both you and your dog.

It shouldn’t be you in a half-run, calling out your dog’s name, hanging on to the leash for dear life while your dog sprints ahead toward some unknown goal.

Sound familiar? While it takes patience and consistency, you can work with your dog to tone down his enthusiasm a bit and encourage him to walk with you rather than drag you. Here are some ways to help make your dog walk more like a walk in the park.

Equipment

Try a head halter or no-pull harness. These are designed to give you more control over the walk, and they also help keep your dog from pulling with his neck, which is a sensitive area. Since the leash is connected to your dog’s muzzle in the case of a head halter, it removes his ability to maintain control—it’s a similar concept to how horse head halters work. Head halters in particular may take a while for your dog to get used to. If your dog just won’t accept it, you can try a no-pull harness, which will give you control over your dog by having the main leash connection on the chest strap. With either of these, if your dog has sensitive skin, you may need to find ones with a little padding.

Play Before Your Walk

You don’t have to exhaust your dog, but right before you go out for his walk, try throwing a ball or playing tug with your dog for around 10 minutes (depending on your dog’s energy level). This may help bring his enthusiasm down a couple of levels so that he’s more at ease on his walk.

Lots of Treats

Treats can help in most dog training situations and this is no exception. One way to keep your dog closer to your side is by having a mouthwatering treat just inches away from his nose. Remember, you may be feeding these treats constantly on the walk as you reward him for not pulling, so make sure the treats are healthy and easy to chew.

Talk and Engage

If your dog responds to you talking to him, do that. Keep him interested in you so that he’s less interested in running ahead at something else. You may even want to try bringing a favorite toy to keep his focus along the way. However, if your dog gets very excited over his toys, this may cause him to get too worked up and start pulling, so it may not work for every dog.

Stop and Wait

One very simple anti-pulling training technique is to simply stop walking when your dog starts pulling. When your dog eases up and the leash relaxes, you can resume your walk until he pulls again. It may be a slow process and walk, but it can help teach your dog that he won’t go anywhere if he pulls.

Change Direction

Rather than simply stopping, you can also call your dog to turn in the opposite direction when he’s pulling. Once your dog stops pulling and is walking nicely, you can return to the original direction. Again, repetition is your friend.

Walking a dog that pulls is no fun at all. But there are things you can do to encourage your dog to walk at a more comfortable pace.

Meet the Author: Jessica Peralta

Jessica Peralta has been a journalist for more than 15 years and an animal lover all her life. She has had dogs, cats, birds, turtles, fish, frogs, and rabbits. Her current children are a German shepherd named Guinness and a black kitten named Riot (and he lives up to that name). It’s because of her love for animals that she focused her journalistic career to the world of holistic animal care and pet nutrition. In between keeping Riot and Guinness out of mischief, she’s constantly learning about all the ways she can make them healthier and happier.

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