Training your dog to stop pulling on the leash has so many benefits, it’s hard to count them all! Since you’ll both enjoy walks so much more, you’ll likely go on more walks, which has health, behavior, and emotional benefits for your dog – and you. Physically, you’ll avoid potential injuries to your hands, arms, neck, shoulders, back… and many more. Your dog will avoid possibly injuring their neck, throat and back too. Even if your dog is “off-leash” trained and you live in an environment where you almost never need to use a leash, you never know when good leash skills will come in handy – a trip to the vet, at friends or families houses, or in any new environment. Sometimes when you adopt a new dog who’s a strong puller, it can seem like an impossible task to get them to stop. But there are many easy-to-follow exercises that with repetition and persistence, can teach your dog not to pull on his or her leash, and instead walk happily at your side. Below is one great exercise from our trainer-in-residence, Katya.
- Hold your leash in your hand, with your hand firmly behind your back or at your side. This is so that every time your dog pulls he doesn’t get the reward of an extra 2 feet from your arm stretching out.
- Now, play the Red light/Green light game! When your dog pulls, red light! Stop and stand still – and what he wants (moving forward) ends.
- As soon as he does anything that causes some slack in the leash (stops pulling, backs up, looks at you, etc), Green Light! Give lots of praise and immediately start walking again.
- Gradually over time you will increase the distance your dog will walk without pulling.
This exercise teaches your dog that pulling does not work and that we move forward by walking right by you on a loose leash. The trick of this exercise is that it’s a patience game for us, so if you want your pooch to stop pulling, be consistent with this practice and “red light” every time he pulls, “green light” only on a slack leash.