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Healthy Dogs

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Teaching Dogs Not to Pull on Leash

How to Teach Your Dog to Walk Nicely on a Leash continued...

Option Three: About-Face

(Use only if your dog is not wearing a choke, pinch or prong collar, or any head halter, such as Halti®, Gentle Leader®, etc.)

Please Note: Options Three and Four use punishment. Punishment should decrease behavior quickly. If it doesn’t result in a noticeable decrease in pulling after several training sessions of consistent use, then it should be stopped. Ineffective punishment repeated over and over easily escalates and can become abusive. Stop both these methods if your dog yelps in pain, becomes reluctant to walk with you, becomes aggressive, or shows fearful body language like cringing, cowering, trembling, excessive panting, tail tucking, etc.

For some dogs, stopping and waiting or luring with treats is not sufficient for them to understand that they shouldn’t pull. Instead of stopping, teach the dog that when he pulls, it’s a signal for you to turn and walk back the way you came. You need to incorporate a verbal warning into this sequence. Before your dog reaches the end of the leash, say “Easy.” If he slows down, say “Yes!” and call him back to you for a treat (but keep moving). If he does not slow down but gets to the end of the leash and starts pulling, don’t say anything to the dog. Just turn abruptly, letting the leash check your dog. As your dog runs to catch up to you, praise him. When he reaches you, turn and walk in your original direction. If he pulls again, turn around again. He will learn that pulling is unpleasant because he gets checked against the end of the leash and he gets farther away from his destination. Be sure to follow the same instructions as above for rewarding the dog when he walks without pulling.

Be advised that if your dog is running at full speed toward the end of the leash, you could inflict physical damage to his neck if you allow the leash to check him without giving him any slack. Allow your arm to absorb most of the force when you turn so the dog is surprised but not harmed.

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