If your dog is pulling when youe out on a walk there maybe a couple of reasons why. The truth is this is a common problem, it seems no matter where you look dogs are pulling their owners around. Going out for a walk with your dog should be something you look forward to not a chore. The good news is you do have options, training options for you and your dog and options as simple as buying a $15 collar.
The first thing to think about is have you spent any time training your dog to walk on a leash properly? Most often the answer owners give to this is “no”. Following these simple steps will being your dogs training to walk on a leash:
In an open area or walking path with few people on it, put your dog on the leash at a heal (a proper heal is with the dog sitting at your side with there shoulder next to your leg)
Let your dog know you are ready to walk by saying “okay” and start walking.
When your dog begins to pull on the leash or get infront of you, tell the dog to heal give a slight tug on the leash and begin walking in the opposite direction.
When your dog returns to your side praise him/her.
Continue to follow this “turn around” pattern whenever your dog starts getting ahead of you or pulling.
It will take a while before your dog catches on to what it is you want him/her to do but stick with it and remember for something to be completely engrained in our minds we need to see it or say it 7 times. If you continue to work with your dog and walking at a heel continues to be a challenge follow the steps below:
In an open area or walking path with few people on it, put your dog on the leash at a heal.
In the opposite hand you are holding your dogs lease hold a treat, place the treat in front of the dogs nose then let your dog know you are ready to walk by saying “okay” and start walking.
Continue to hold the treat infront of your dogs nose while repeating “heal” “good heal”.
After 10 or so steps stop, tell your dog to sit give him/her the treat and praise himher with petting and repeating “good heal”.
Continue to follow this process, evenutally removing the treat (your dog will recall that it is time to walk and when I walk here I get praise and treats!).
Now that you know the basic steps to training your dog to walk on a leash it is important to have the right lease and collar for your dog. With large dogs it is important to have a thick sturdy leash that is no longer than six feet. This allows you to have the best control over your dog. The size of your dog should control the width and sturdiness of the lease. For smaller dogs thinner longer leashes are acceptable because the size of the dog will control your ability to control them. (ie large dogs can use their body weight to pull you and small dogs are easier to over power). Some may ask what about retractable leashes? This is a good tool when teaching your dog to come back to your because the dog can wander away but you still are attached and when you call them can guide them back to you, but when teaching your dog to walk on a leash at heal is not the best tool because it sends mixed signals to the dog on when to heal and when it is okay to walk ahead and explore.
With the proper leash comes the need for a proper collar. There are many different collars out there so what is the best option for you and your dog? It depends on the dog but for the situation with a dog that has a tendenticy to pull the options are narrowed down. First things first, a plain old collar bought at the local store is not proper these collars cause dogs to damage their wind pipes another collar that causes similar damage and is often misused is the choke collar, I would not recommend those for dogs that pull when on the leash. Another option that is not safe for your dog is a gentle leader the reason being that if you pull and your dog is not expecting it or is resisting often the force of you pulling is enough to dislocate a vertebra.
The best option especially for larger dogs that pull when they are on the leash is a prong collar. Remember though that prong collars are meant to be taken on and off before and after training use. This is for the safety of your dog please do NOT leave the collar on when the dog is in a kennel or playing in the house. The proper fit for a prong collar is to sit right up behind the ears and under the jaw line. The benefit to a prong collar when walking your dog is that a quick “pop” on the collar provides complete pressure around the neck, similar to the way another dog in a pack would control younger dogs, then the pressure is released. Another benefit is with a few quick “pops” on the collar your dog is not going to want to pull and will quickly learn that healing at your side on walks is much more enjoyable and less painful then choking him/herself on a standard collar.
With these simple training steps and the proper equipment you and your dog are on your way to more enjoyable walks for the both of you.