Leash Walking

 

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Does your Dog take You for a walk?

Would you like a Dog that walks on a regular collar without pulling ? Read On. The answer to how to stop the pulling can be found if we ask ourselves the question “Why do Dogs pull?” The reason Dogs pull is that they want to move forward and explore. There are a lot of things outside than can get the attention of the Dog (other Dogs, smells, people etc).  To make things worse, the dog’s natural pace is faster than ours, so they quickly find themselves at the end of a leash. They pull because it works: they want to go forward (often towards some specific thing) so they pull forward and we give in by going forward with them. It doesn’t take the Dog long to figure out that pulling gets it to where it wants to go. The problem gets worse when the owner resists the pulling a bit. The dog then tries to pull harder and the owner finally gives in, resulting in a dog who learns that if they just keep pulling harder, they’ll eventually get to where they want to go. The main secret to stopping a Dog from pulling is to not allow at all and by also teaching them that they can go where they want when you say so and when they don’t pull. The other part of training involves teaching the dog that when it’s on leash, it must pay at least some attention to where the person at the other end of the leash is.

The most common thing people do when a dog pulls is to yank on the leash. This method might work to teach a dog not to pull but in many cases it has little or no effect. Many dogs don’t seem to mind being jerked with the leash. Often these jerks start as small ones and don’t really have much effect on the dog, so the jerks get progressively bigger, but all the while the dog is building up a tolerance to them and gets pretty good at ignoring them. These leash jerks are our way of telling the dog that what it’s doing is wrong, but we are generally very inconsistent with them. We let the dog pull until our arm gets tired, then we jerk the dog back. What this tells the dog is that most of the time it’s okay to pull, but occasionally it’s not. The dog has no idea when it’s okay and when it’s not.

When your Dog is pulling I advise a regular dog collar with a normal leash (not a retractable leash). Some opinions differ on this but in my opinion using a harness, choke chain or pinch collar is not the right way to  solve the problem. A harness makes pulling on the leash more comfortable, so it can encourage it. With a harness you are leading them with their body, which can be quite difficult since they can keep turning their head in another direction if they get distracted. Choke Chains or pinch collars I don’t use at all. You want your dog to respond to YOU (your verbal and or visual cues) not to its collar! Both options are using force to make your dog listen. Besides, it is not the dog who should decide when it needs to be corrected that is your job. In a lot of ways both pinch collars and choke chains will work counterproductive. Also especially the stronger breeds can get into a “zone” and when they keep on pulling while ignoring the collar or chain this can cause serious health complications. In my opinion those are forms of  fake control. Really having control over your Dog is walking your Dog  on a short leash and normal collar with no tension at all, your dog besides you looking up to you waiting for you to move. This way you don’t feel in control but you are in control and by doing this you and your dog will both enjoy your walks together.

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So when you have the right equipment to take control of the dog walks again, how do you start?

  • First of all, before putting the leash on your dog, it has to be calm and relaxed. When he or she is jumping around and you run after it to put on the collar you started off wrong already. When your dog gets all excited when you get the leash put it back and wait  while till the dog has calmed down again.
  • From the moment your Dog is on the leash, there is One Golden rule: Don’t Walk forward if there is tension on the leash! When the dog is about to apply ANY tension to the leash at all immediately Stop! When the dog turns to see what happened to you, praise for his attention. Encourage the dog back into position next to you, if necessary, take a few steps backwards.

Here are some helpful videos to help you :

It might seem very simple, but sometimes it is. Just STOP every single time you note that the dog is about to put the slightest tension on the leash and the pulling will go away.  It really works! The key is being consistent and persistent. It helps when training, to tire your dog out before the walk (for example by a game of fetch) and then take him for a walk every day with only ONE goal: to walk without tension and you absolutely refuse to take a single forward step when you feel tension on the leash, he will discover that pulling is is no longer working. It might take a while but (especially Bulldogs are very stubborn, so old habits die hard). But when you have patience and are consistent you will see the lightbulb go on when he realizes this. If you don’t give up, he will learn it!

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