Lead pulling is quite a common issue among dog owners. It is usually something that your dog has learned over a long period of time and as such, it can be quite a lengthy process to train them out of the habit. However, with plenty of positive reinforcement and perseverance on your end, you can eventually stop your dog from pulling on their lead.
When considered from a dog’s perspective, lead pulling isn’t actually intentionally bad behaviour. Your dog isn’t pulling on their lead to try and enforce their dominance over you, they just find being outside very stimulating and are excited about discovering even more new sights, sounds and smells. Humans also naturally walk about twice as slow as a dog’s normal pace so for them to match your walking speed can be quite a challenge. If you’ve ever walked alongside an ambling toddler, you’ll know how it feels!
In order to train your dog to stop lead pulling it’s important to be prepared. This is likely going to be a long process that will require plenty of patience. Make sure you have a sufficient amount of snacks available so you can reward good behaviour throughout your entire walk. Things like cooked chicken, ham and cheese cubes work well but choose things you know your dog loves. Before you leave the house for your walk, allow your dog out into the garden so they can burn off some of their initial excited energy. Once they’ve slowed down a bit, get them to sit still so you can attach the lead. Be sure to reward calm behaviour.
It is best to attempt this in a quiet area that your dog is familiar with so there will be limited distractions and they are more likely to listen to you. Once you start walking, if your dog pulls on their lead, simply stop and stand still. Don’t yank the lead or scold your dog, just wait until they’ve allowed the lead to relax, and then continue walking while giving them praise and rewards. You’ll need to be consistent with this technique otherwise it just won’t work. But stick with it and your dog walks will soon become a fun and relaxing experience for both you and your pooch.