The Top 5 Reasons Your Dog is Pulling, Sputtering, Choking and Yanking You While on His Leash
Does This Look About Right? Thanks Toon Pool for the picture
So you have a puller?
You know what I mean, a dog that pulls like “Wild Fire” on the leash?
I have even know the occasional person that needed shoulder surgery or had their arm/arms broken by a dog because of pulling!
And those who say they have tried EVERYTHING!!
So what is ruining your leash training?
#5 You Put a Leash On, Thinking You Are Taking Your Dog Out for “Exercise”
The Truth is that most dogs don’t get “exercise” on a walk.
Owners grab the leash and think they will take their dogs for a stroll for a few blocks, but your dog needs more exercise than you think.
Your dog is an athlete, and unless you are running or jogging at your dog’s pace, he is bored and not getting true exercise. For more on that click this article Want to Get and Keep Your Dog’s Attention?
Your dog is probably over excited (from a boring day of hanging out doing nothing) and over exuberant and his natural instinct and desire is to go as fast as possible; which leads to pulling you with his leash.
Remember, your dog has the attention span and excitement level of a toddler. Would you take a toddler to the zoo or Chuck E. Cheese and not expect them to be excited?
To slow your dog down a little bit prior to your leash “walk” give him some real exercise.
#4 You Have a Goal, or Somewhere You Plan to Go
As people, we tend to be pretty self-centered and therefore not very consistent in our dog training.
You may “want” to go to the park, or your friend’s house, or hit your five mile mark but, that might not be in your dog’s best interests.
Instead you may need to stop in your tracks when he is pulling, or change your direction, or just go home.
If you take your dog with you, even if you want to take him to the park, you need to do what is best for him AND his training.
For some people that means simply working on leash manners and maybe not even making it out of the driveway.
Never make “plans” or have a destination in mind unless your dog has great leash skills and obedience!
If you need to go somewhere or have time constraints and your dog is not ready; go by yourself until your dog’s obedience is up to par.
#3 You Don’t Understand Opposition Reflex
You don’t understand Opposition Reflex.
Meaning: that you don’t truly understand that pulling on the leash is a nasty habit that you both are engaging in and therefore you are both creating a bad habit.
He pulls, you pull and neither one of you are winning!
You end up with a tired and possibly painful arm, and he can end up with damage to his trachea that can shorten his life and end sadly for you both.
When your dog pulls; DON’T PULL BACK!!
#2 You Are Painfully Inconsistent
Sometimes you care about your dog pulling; and sometimes you don’t.
I have seen owners who use prong collars sometimes, or smack their dogs with the end of the leash, or pop the leash so hard they send their dog flying.
While other times they allow their dog pull like a maniac on the end of the leash.
The problem with inconsistency is that your dog never knows which “personality” if you will, will show up for the walk or training.
AND, pulling probably happens the most consistently and is certainly the most fun.
Most dogs would rather pull and sniff and pull 😉 than walk nicely and patiently at your side.
So pulling is what your dog is most likely to try!
And The Number 1 Reason Your Dog is Pulling on the Leash??
#1 You Have Never Taught Your Dog Leash Manners or Leash Related Obedience Skills
Most dog owners think leash manners and not pulling on the leash should be some kind of instinct that all dogs but theirs are born with!
The truth is the opposite.
It is pretty natural to get over excited and pull against something that is restraining you from doing what you want to do (go FASTER).
It is not instinctual for dogs to respect the leash and put themselves into “heel” position. For more on finding heel, click here
For those of us who compete in dog obedience training trials and have great on and off leash dogs we mock the idea that dogs are hard wired to walk nicely on leash.
We KNOW firsthand how difficult and how much time it takes to have a dog that listens and respects the leash.
And, we know the value of consistency.
My dogs are NEVER allowed to successfully pull on their leashes.
I don’t care what is going on or what time constraint I am on, I do NOT allow my dogs to pull and get what they desire.
They learn through training and consistency if they want privileges (yes I allow them to “be dogs” and wander and sniff occasionally. They are not robots and are not kept in heel position constantly. )
It took months of training and adding distractions slowly to get a dog that I could walk to the park consistently with very little effort.
MONTHS….. let that sink in for a minute
There were days I didn’t make it out of my driveway.
AND, there were days I spent changing directions dozens of times in front of my neighbors homes (therefore looking like a crazy person I am sure).
Dogs need consistency and TEACHING in order for them to respect the leash and not pull; and sometimes those skills need to be revisited when the dog decides to pull.
And, dog training takes thought and effort.
Remember the old adage “Nothing Good In Life is Free” all GOOD or GREAT things take time and effort!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.