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Teaching Dogs Not to Pull on Leash

Choosing the Right Walking Equipment

While you’re teaching your dog not to pull, you should use a four-foot or six-foot leash. Use whichever width and material that feel comfortable to you. Extendable leashes and leashes longer than six feet are great for exercising dogs, but they don’t work well if you’re trying to teach your dog not to pull on leash.

Suitable Choices

  • Regular buckle or snap collar
  • Martingale collar (also called a limited slip collar or greyhound collar)
  • Head halter/head collar (such as the Halti®, the Gentle Leader® and the Snoot Loop®) Please notethat these are only suitable for Options One and Two. Serious injury could result if they are used with punishment methods using leash jerking.
  • No-pull harness (such as the SENSE-ation®, the Easy Walk® or the LUPI®)

Head halters and no-pull harnesses can decrease pulling enough for you without any additional training. They are effective tools, making walks more pleasant for you and your dog, so some people decide not to train at all. Just keep in mind that if you choose to use them without training, they won’t have any effect on pulling when your dog is not wearing the equipment. Dogs learn very specifically. If they learn not to pull while wearing a head halter, they won’t automatically know not to pull when they’re wearing something else, like a flat collar.

Unsuitable Choices

  • Regular body harness (Actually encourages pulling)
  • Fabric or metal choke/check collar (May be effective for your dog if used under the guidance of a Certified Professional Dog Trainer)
  • A pinch/prong collar (May be effective for your dog if used under the guidance of a Certified Professional Dog Trainer)

 

Dogs Who Resist Walking on Leash

Some dogs seem reluctant to walk on leash. Instead of pulling, they freeze or turn around and pull back toward home. Often these dogs are fearful, and they need help feeling comfortable when walking on leash.

  • Try leading your dog along by holding tasty treats in front of his nose. If he isn’t too afraid, he’ll follow the treats and gradually become more comfortable walking with you.
  • When your dog freezes, you can also try stopping a few feet in front of your dog and waiting. If he shows any signs of moving toward you, say “Yes!” and reach toward him to deliver a treat. Walk a few more feet away and again wait for your dog to voluntarily move toward you. Praise and reward him only for forward movement.
  • A third technique is appropriate only for small- to medium-sized dogs who walk for stretches at a time but then balk for no apparent reason. Have your dog wear a regular body harness. When he stops walking, pick him up by the back of the harness and move him a few feet along. This may “jump start” your dog to move again. Say “Yes!” and treat when the dog begins to move again on his own. Try to anticipate when the dog will balk and lure him along with treats so that he never stops.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist

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