If you answered yes, then you know how uncomfortable, dangerous and frustrating taking your dog for a walk can be!
Honestly there can be several reasons why a dog pulls their owner when going for a walk. But, I would say the most common reason a dog pulls on leash is because they are curious about the environment and want to explore it. Unfortunately you have unknowingly positively reinforced their forward movement away from you in the exploration of the environment. Most likely your dogs pulling behavior began to manifest after you started socializing and allowing your puppy to explore their new world. Which is all fine and dandy when the puppy is small! But, a few months down the road it turns into a problem. Yes, your puppy is social and friendly but they are now pulling your arm out of socket to sniff the ground as well as see other dogs and/or people!
The more you reinforce their searching and/or social behaviors the more intense, motivated and driven your puppy or dog will become. Making them that much harder to handle.
I tell all my handlers… “Walking a dog is about playing a game of follow the leader.” Its our job as handlers is to teach our dogs how to play the game. This is not teaching a “heel” command. But, instead it teaches them its more fun and rewarding to follow us.
How to play the game?
Playing a game of follow the leader is very simple and fun! Get a 6′ leash with a regular collar that will not slip off their head and a bunch of their favorite treats (i use hot dogs). Do this at home first without distractions. You will be in the learning phase of training (see training phases blog)
- Get your dogs attention by letting them smell the treat in your hand. (a dog will follow their nose first and eyes second.)
- When you have your dogs attention, start stepping backwards to get your dog to follow their nose and you . Once you notice that your dog is following you backwards you should be marking their following behavior.
- After you notice your dogs following you backwards, start walking forward. Do not tighten the leash, keep it slack! When you notice your dog walking by your side mark their following behavior.
- If your dog stops follow you because your walking forward… STOP and repeat steps 2-3
You should play this game at home for a few days or until you feel your dog is following you backward and forward. If you use this technique correctly you can have your dog walking by your side without pulling within 5-10 minutes without distractions. But you must be fair to your dog and remember they are conditioned to the way you have been handling them. However if you are patient, fair and consistent the training will work!
If you are have having difficulties implementing the game, give me a call 530-409-1879
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