How to Stop a Dog Pulling on the Leash

There’s a sure-fire way to stop a dog pulling on the leash, whether it’s all the time or only when they see another dog.

Learn how to tackle both of these problems.

 

stop-dog-pulling-on-leash

 

 

 

 

How to Stop a Dog Pulling on the Leash All the Time

We’ll deal with:

Energy levels, and 

Control, and

Reading the situation and

Being patient and taking the time to make it right.

We’ll take you through some examples, give you our DIY Dog Projects Six Key Questions Tool for understanding dog behavior, and also show you a video so you see how easy it can be.

Let’s get started.

 

Scenario 1

Picture this: you’re in the house and have decided to take your dog for a walk. You pick up the leash and your dog goes nuts with excitement. What happens next can be part of the problem or part of the solution. Our goal here at the start is to bring the energy level down before we go for a walk.

We’ll look at this using our Six Key Questions Tool so we understand what’s going on with your dog.

The Key Questions What’s Really Happening?
1. What’s the trigger? You pick up the leash.
2. What does your dog want? To go for a walk now!
3. What’s your dog’s action? Jumps excitedly, goes crazy.
4. What’s your action? You clip on the leash and go for a walk.
5. Does the dog get what they want? You bet they do!
6. What dog behavior is rewarded? Jumping and going crazy…

 

stop a dog pulling on the leash - start with lower energy

How do you stop a dog pulling on the leash? It’s hard to do when they are this excited…

image source

Do you see what happened here? Your dog got all excited and was rewarded immediately by getting out for a walk. What do you think your dog will do next time you pick up the leash? You’ve just made it harder to stop you dog pulling on the leash when you take a walk.

 

Scenario 2

Just like last time, you’re in the house and have decided to take your dog for a walk. You pick up the leash and your dog goes nuts with excitement. This time you do nothing and wait for your dog to calm down. As soon as your dog’s energy level has reduced, you clip on the leash and head out.

Let’s analyse this one with our Six Key Questions Tool.

The Key Questions What’s Really Happening?
1. What’s the trigger? You pick up the leash
2. What does your dog want? To go for a walk now!
3. What’s your dog’s action? Jumps excitedly, goes crazy, but calms down eventually.
4. What’s your action? You clip on the leash and go for a walk ONLY once they’ve calmed down.
5. Does the dog get what they want? Yes, after they settled.
6. What dog behavior is rewarded? Being calm before a walk.

 

stop a dog pulling on the leash - start with calm

It’s far easier to stop a dog pulling on the leash when they are calm before the walk.

A couple of different things took place this time. Firstly, you rewarded your dog for becoming calm. Dogs are very good learners when we teach them correctly, so your dog will get the idea pretty quickly.  If they want to go for a walk they need to be quiet and calm.

Secondly, you have shown your dog that you are in control. You have won a battle in the ‘who is the boss‘ game your dog is constantly playing. (We’ll talk more about that ‘pack leader contest’ in a moment).

Calm Makes It Easier

The first time you try to make your dog calm before the walk, you may strike some difficulty. It depends on how well and how often the old high energy behavior was rewarded in the past. We mentioned it’s about being patient, so the first time you try this you may need to put the leash back in its place to ‘cancel’ the walk for a while before trying again. It’s also essential that you are calm because your dog will pick up on your energy.

Why do we need a calm dog?

We want our dog calm before we start the walk so they will be more receptive to our commands once we’re out the door. It’s very, very hard to get through to a dog who’s gone ‘hyper‘.

Before We Leave The Property

Your dog is already straining on the lead and pulling you toward the gate. We need to stop that before we go on to the street.

who-is-the-pack-leader-here

Who is leading this pack?

If this is happening to you, it’s almost certain that your dog thinks they are the pack leader. After all a pack leader runs at the front of the pack, so that’s what they’re doing. It’s time for you to take control again, and there’s a simple trick you can use. You change direction.

Simply by you turning around, your dog suddenly ends up behind you. Who is the boss now? You can repeat this trick as often as you need until your dog gets the idea that you are in control of this walk.

 

Video Demonstration

Let’s have a look at how it’s done. This clip with Doggy Dan The Online Dog Trainer demonstrates it beautifully.

So, you now have the tools for controlling your dog when going for a walk. If these tools don’t work for you, it’s almost certainly because your dog still thinks that they are the boss. They just aren’t giving you the respect you need. As we said earlier, it all starts at home. You need to learn the actions that will make you the pack leader before you pick up the leash.

Fortunately, we have good help available. Doggy Dan The Online Dog Trainer can certainly help you with establishing the right relationship with your dog in the easy and gentle way.

 

stop a dog pulling on the leash - that's more like it

OK. Now we have our dog walking calmly beside us, we can move on to the Problem #2.

 


Dog Leads

One of these should fit your needs.


Note: There is one leash you must avoid!

 

How to Stop a Dog Pulling on the Leash when they See Another Dog

This problem is most common in dogs that are 12 to 18 months old, and they’re just excited to meet and play with other dogs. Make sure you observe your dog at this time. Is it just excitement, or is there aggression or fear as well? If your dog is barking, listen to the tone of their bark. What is their tail doing? See our article on dog body language to update your skills on reading the situation.

Note: If you detect aggression, that’s a whole different problem and we will deal with that in another article.

So, let’s say you have a young dog that’s simply way too keen to go and meet another dog. What do you do?

If you take them over to meet the other dog, what happens? Remember to think about what behavior is being rewarded.

The Key Questions What’s Really Happening?
1. What’s the trigger? There’s another dog.
2. What does your dog want? To go and meet them now!
3. What’s your dog’s action? Pulls on the leash, maybe barks.
4. What’s your action? You take them over to meet the dog.
5. Does the dog get what they want? You bet!
6. What dog behavior is rewarded? Pulling on the leash!

 

stop a dog pulling on the leash - i'd rather go that way!

image source

What to Do Differently?

Is that making sense? If you immediately give your dog what they want, you reward their problem behavior. You need to do something different.
Here’s another good reason we need to control this situation. If your dog is young and still learning proper social skills, putting them in contact with another dog while they are excited could put them at risk. The other dog may not take kindly to your dog’s eager advances. Therefore, we need to bring the energy down before we put them together.

So, what do we do? There are a few techniques that will help.

Use the ‘Turn Away’

Just like we did before, you change the direction of the walk. This will break your dog’s eye contact with the other dog and reinforce your leadership. When your dog is calmer, change direction toward the other dog. When their excitement goes up, turn them away.

Use Basic Commands

If your dog is well trained already for Sit and Lie Down, use those commands. Again, this helps remind your dog who is boss, and a dog that is lying down will automatically be calmer than they are when standing.

Use the ‘Calm Freeze’

Position your body so your dog can’t see the other dog and use the calm freeze technique we shared with you previously to bring down the energy. Remember to look down and away and be calm in yourself. If you can’t put your hands on the calm freeze instructions we shared in an email, here’s the link again. Everyday Tools Booklet. (If you’re not on our email list, just enter your details on the top right of the page).

Like we did with problem #1, once your dog has calmed he can be rewarded by being brought closer to the other dog. If your dog is calm enough, let them meet.

stop a dog pulling on the leash - reward them when calm

Be patient with your pet, and with yourself, and always think about what behavior is being rewarded.

Remember our goal was to stop a dog pulling on the leash, so make sure there’s never a reward of any kind for the unwanted behavior.

So there you have it. Anyone can stop a dog pulling on the leash. Put these ideas to work and stop that leash pulling behavior today. If the tips don’t work for you, it will be a pack leader problem – a lack of respect, and you need to get some help from Doggy Dan. We’ve included a link to help with that – just click on the button in the box below to get started.

Now get out there and enjoy those walks!

 


Dog Collars

These collars all come in a range of sizes. It’s important to have a collar that fits your dog properly.

Dog Harnesses

Dog harnesses need to fit correctly or they can chafe or apply pressure to the wrong places. The models below all have multiple adjustment points so you can fit them properly to your dog.

Dog Leads

One of these should fit your needs.


Serious Problems? At Your Wits End?

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Step 1

Click on the Green button below.

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Take the 3 Day Trial.

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Step 4

Use the menu to find the answers to specific concerns.

You Will Be Amazed At The Changes You Will See In Your Dog.

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