Why Do Dogs Pull On A Leash?

14 11 2008

dog-pulling-personEverybody has seen it.   Some poor human being dragged down the road by a dog.  It is not a pretty sight, and it can be very dangerous.  All dogs should learn, and are able, to walk on a leash without pulling.  After all, the ultimate alpha (the human) is in charge during a walk.  Training to that effect needs to begin early in a dog’s life.  Unfortunately, some dogs do not find a home until they are already grown.  Today, we are going to talk about leash walking a large dog, or any dog for that matter.

To fully understand your dog, you need to understand why do dogs pull.  Dogs pull because they want to get somewhere!  New stuff is ALWAYS exciting.  Usually, we accomplish this by pulling our human along behind us.  If we see or smell something ahead of us that looks interesting, we need to check it out, and possibly leave our two cents there.  We do not give a warning…  We just begin moving in a direction, and we are rewarded by viewing or sniffing what we saw or sniffed from afar.  It is important to note that I used the word rewarded.  We learn by doing, and if it works one time, then we try it again.  If it works the second time, we will do it again and again and again.  Obviously, that must be the way the human likes us to walk.  So we have learned through our experience that dogs pull, going wherever they want, and that humans will follow.   I have come to learn that humans do not like this method of walking, but they often fail to express their dislike to their canine.  I know this, because they always let us pull them to our reward.

If you can identify with human above, you need to change the way you walk your dog.  First, you need to teach your dog that all good things come from you, the human.  You can do this by calling his name and rewarding him with a treat or just a nice pat on the head or whatever love your dog appreciates. Pretty much, we like it all.  We just want you to give us some attention, or a lot of attention, or all the attention you have, even when you are asleep.

Once your dog knows that his response to his name earns a reward, it becomes your job to tell him what you want him to do.  Dogs have the ability to develop a fairly large vocabulary.  Mom likes to use the command “LET’S GO” when it is time to go for a walk.  That means she and I are going to walk on the leash without pulling her down the street.  Most dogs do not know what “LET’S GO” means, so it is up to you to teach him not to pull.

To achieve this, say “LET’S GO” (or whatever command you choose) and begin walking.  Anytime you feel tension on the leash because your dog is pulling, it is time for you to turn opposite the tension calmly and start walking in that direction.  Mom used to pat her thigh and use a “click-click” sound with her mouth.  When she was teaching this to me, she would also say “WITH ME.”  Initially, I would catch up to her, pass her, and go all the way to the end of my six foot non-retractable leash.  Once I reached the end, I would usually pull again.  Mom would stop and turn opposite my pull, make the noise, and she would say “WITH ME.”  We practiced this every day in the driveway until I knew exactly what she was after.  We would go back and forth, back and forth.  Sometimes, I would see something and want to investigate.  We would start walking in that direction until I pulled on the leash.  Then, Mom would turn around, and I would lose my chance to investigate.  No reward!  It did not take me long to learn that if I did not pull on the leash, we could continue in a forward direction.  Therefore, if I did not pull, I would see more of the world, getting the reward of investigation of the unknown.

After several weeks of the back and forth, I learned that when we walked, although my mom was behind me, she was still in control!  While we were on our walks, I would keep glancing over my shoulders to check on Mom, the leader.  Now, my walks were getting longer, but sometimes I would find something interesting, forget, and begin to pull.  When I did that, Mom would stop the walk until I turned to look at her, she said that I was focusing on the true leader.  Then, we would begin walking again.

Needless to day, I have the leash walking thing down pat.  I learned that it is my job to constantly be looking back at the true leader on a walk, and not to concern myself with the things around me.  Once you and your dog have spent some time together, you will learn your dog’s signals, and when he really feels that he needs to check something out.  For Mom, I just need to stare in a direction, and when mom sees me do this, she will ask, “Spike, you wanna go check something out?”  Then we both start walking in that direction.  I do not pull, and I get to investigate.  Reward received.



One response

14 11 2008
Why Do Dogs Pull On A Leash? | catveranda.com

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