Dogs can be an absolute blessing to any life. However, leash manners are often an issue and it can be difficult to teach a dog not to pull at the leash. After all, in the wild they would simply walk wherever they pleased. Of course, in today’s society which presents a large number of risks for loose dogs, and with some dogs unable to cope with free access to other pets or unknown humans, leash manners become a relevant issue for any and all owners.
If you have an issue with a dog whose manners leave a lot to be desired, there is a variety of courses of action available to you to help mitigate this issue and hopefully resolve it altogether in time.
Training is one way of helping dogs to stop pulling. There are many methods of training dogs, however experts have begun to speak out against punitive measures as these undermine the relationship between owner and dog and can teach the dog nothing more than to fear and dislike walkies. Training using positive, reward-based methods is a better idea; the dog is rewarded for staying close to you. Other, more neutral ways of helping your dog understand the concept of not pulling involve pretending to be a tree as soon as your dog pulls by not moving at all until he or she stops yanking at the leash, or turning and automatically heading in the opposite direction from the one your dog is pulling you towards.
As far as physical aids, there is a wealth in hardware available to discourage your dog from pulling. Be wary of some, however, as they may be a danger to your dog. Choke chains and prong collars are tempting as it seems force will do the trick, however the same issue arises whereby your dog is taught that walks are an experience to be hated and feared. Additionally, these collars can damage the trachea if used improperly and are not a good idea in terms of discouraging dogs with congenitally weak trachea or dogs which are supremely determined and will carry on pulling and damaging themselves regardless of the pain. Don’t worry, though – there are plenty of alternatives. There are front-clip harnesses which cause the dog to turn around if he or she pulls, and there is a variety of facial harnesses such as the Halti or the Gentle Leader which pull the dog’s face down if he or she pulls.
A new harness of any stripe may pose a threat to your dog’s comfort level. Don’t take this to heart, but be prepared to work with your dog to help him or her get used to it. Start by leaving the harness in the room with your dog and reward him or her for looking at it, sniffing it, nosing it, and so on. Eventually you can put your dog in the harness, but remember to use treats to reward him or her for being near or in it, as this associates the harness with a positive experience for the dog.
If your dog is overweight or you are concerned about him or her developing obesity, take the treats from his or her daily food allowance. You will know precisely what is going in, and your dog knows no difference.
Use these tools precisely as indicated. Don’t be tempted to jury-rig anything into a new configuration such as clipping the head halter to the flat-buckle collar. This can cause spinal issues later on. The same goes for yanking at the leash. These tools are teaching tools, and are best used as you continue to work towards a dog that doesn’t pull at the leash in any circumstance.
With the right tools for the job and some research into positive training methods for dogs, you too could have a dog which doesn’t pull at the leash. Just be prepared to work at it and stick with any rules you lay down.