Why is my dog pulling on the leash?
There are several reasons why your dog could be pulling on the leash, but here are a few common reasons:
- Dogs oppose restraint. When the collar tightens as your dog pulls, your dog naturally pulls harder. The opposition restraint reflex was a great way to survive in the wild, but unfortunately, it doesn’t carry over to life with humans.
- It’s unnatural. Humans walk, while dogs prefer to trot. Humans want to get from point A to point B, while dogs want to chase and sniff.
- Random variable reinforcement. By allowing your dog to randomly pull on the leash to sniff or chase, the behavior is randomly being reinforced.
Related: 10 Tips for Training Great Pyrenees
Okay, so how do I get my dog to stop pulling on the leash?
When training loose leash walking, it’s imperative that you consider every leashed event a training opportunity. There are many effective methods to train loose leash walking, but this particular method is my favorite.
Start with a walk
Leash your dog and head out on a walk. As soon as your dog pulls, stop walking.
Wait for your dog to return to a loose leash position and offer a tasty treat. If necessary, use the treat to lure your dog back into the loose leash position.
Note: Loose leash walking is different than heeling, which should not be done for long periods of time.
Resume the walk
With slack on the leash, begin walking again and praise your dog for keeping a loose leash. Break out your happiest, cheesy voice and praise, praise, praise!
Repeat as necessary
Repeat steps 1 and 2 each time your dog pulls on the leash. While teaching loose leash walking can be challenging, it’s important not to get frustrated. Dogs learn at different rates, so keep it happy and positive.
Related: Positive Training for Giant Breeds
Many dogs realize quickly that pulling disrupts their enjoyable walk, but don’t assume that one training session will do the trick. Loose leash walking requires a high level of skill and restraint from your dog, so take it slow. It often takes months of practice–depending on your dog’s age–to learn loose leashing walking.
If this method doesn’t seem appropriate, here are a few other methods to practice loose leash walking.
Remember, practice makes perfect!