How To Get Your Puppy To Stop Pulling On The Leash
Poor leash manners is a problem for many dogs, and no wonder! Unlike sitting and lying down, being tethered to a person is not a natural behavior. So training your puppy to sit and down on cue is much easier than training her to walk nicely on a leash. But! It is not impossible. It takes time, consistency, and patience.
Why do dogs pull on the leash? There are several reasons.
There is something ahead Puppy finds interesting and she is excited to reach it. And since she has learned that when she pulls you follow, she knows dragging you along will get her to that smelly spot faster.
Puppy has four legs and you only have two. She is excited and happy to be outside with the smells and people and dogs and all that wonderful stuff that isn’t going on in the house! Unless you have a teacup Chihuahua, you will never be able to walk as fast as your dog. And, since she knows if she pulls you follow, she is going to pull to get where she wants to go. Are you starting to see a pattern here?
Your puppy is at the very beginning of learning to walk nicely on a leash, and this is where a little mindfulness (for both of you) comes in handy. Put the cell phone away, stop thinking about what you need to get done when the walk is over, just be with your puppy. After all, isn’t that why you got a dog in the first place? For companionship, for fun, for cuddling, for all the wonderful attention our dogs love to shower on us. Now is your turn to shower some attention on Puppy. If you are paying attention and being in the moment with her, you will be setting the stage for her to be more mindful and attentive to you.
Get a good grip on the leash but let her have the whole length. Keep that elbow bent at your side and your knees loose so you will have stability for when the inevitable pulling begins. And when it happens, you become a silent immovable object; a tree rooted to the ground. From now on, pulling means not going anywhere!
When she stops pulling, count to three and then resume walking. Why count to three? So Puppy does not think if she pulls and then stops for a moment, she can just pull again. That little pause will disconnect the two things in her mind.
You will need to do this many times and Puppy will take two steps forward and one back over and over. Remember, this is not a natural behavior for a dog and you have a dog ‘child’ on your hands. How many times did a parent tell you to say, “Please,” and “Thank you,” when you were growing up? But over time, Puppy will get better and better (just as you did I hope!) and you will be glad you put in the time.
Along with this technique, remember that even if your goal for a walk is to get some exercise, Puppy’s is to sniff and explore her world. She has been cooped up inside while you were busy doing human stuff. Let her have time to do dog stuff. Allow her some sniffing time throughout the walk so she is calmer and more able to pay attention to you. The leash training will go much easier if you take care of her needs as well.
This is just one of the components that goes in to teaching a dog to walk nicely on a leash, but it lays the foundation for all the rest.