There are many factors that influence leash pulling. When I’m helping a client to stop their dog from pulling on the leash, I break it down into steps and layer each step over the top of the next.
We work on how to hold the leash in the best way, the timing of rewards, when to change direction and how to correct the dog if they’re pulling. But above all, there is one number one important rule to stop and prevent a dog from pulling on the leash.
I am repeating this line all of the time because it is so crucial. It’s this:
Never follow the dog when the leash is tight.
If the dog pulls and you follow them for even one step, the belief is confirmed in their mind: pulling works.
The dog thinks, pulling gets me to where I want to go. It is worth it. If I want to get somewhere, I pull and I get to go there.
Their pulling is rewarded by the forward movement (or whichever direction they are trying to go).
What often happens is that I’ll be talking to the client, and we are just standing in one place. The dog is impatient or distracted by a smell, and starts to pull in the direction they want to go. Subconsciously, the owner begins to give more leash to the dog. They might just reach their hand towards the dog to give them more leash. Or they take a few steps to allow the dog to go where they want.
All of this rewards the dog for the act of pulling and confirms to the dog that pulling works.
This is why we never follow a tight leash – we need to change the dog’s belief that pulling works into, “pulling never works. A loose leash does.”
This one small change can make a big difference. And yes, it can be frustrating in the beginning – dog training will teach you patience for sure.
Try it and see how you go. For more dog training tips and tricks click here.
“She is biting the kids – but she’s not aggressive! She just wants to play!”
“He rushes up to other dogs and fights break out – but he is just being friendly – he is not aggressive!”
“She’s growling at strangers – but she is not aggressive.”
These are things I hear almost daily and I want people to know – it’s okay. I know your dog is not a bad dog.
I know that when your young dog mouths your family members, he is not being aggressive – he is being playful and doesn’t know any better that teeth are not allowed on people.
Mouthing and play biting and straining on the lead out of frustration are not aggression.
If the dog is growling, this can lead to aggression and in fact many trainers would define growling as an aggressive act.
Just because a dog is acting out of fear, it doesn’t mean that they can’t or won’t cause harm. In fact, most aggression comes from some type of fear or insecurity.
To a degree…
Aggression is built in to every dog.
It’s a tool built into their instincts to protect them and help them survive.
Aggression brings down a hunt to feed and nourish them.
Aggression wards off threats to protect them from harm (hence fearful dogs will growl, lunge and bark)
No matter why a dog is displaying aggression, being that they are living in the human world, aggression from dogs is not acceptable – but there is hope.
If your dog is displaying aggression, seek the help of an experienced trainer.
If your dog is one of those dogs who is mouthing, biting, lunging or making people feel threatened through unruly behaviour, but is not aggressive, much of this can be solved with some basic manners training and a better understanding of how dogs communicate and why they do the things they do.
To start learning how to understand your dog better and address these unwanted habits, visit the free Dog Matters Academy hub here.
Woofs and wags
Time and time again, I see people online trying to figure out the secret to stop their dog pulling on the leash.
They’ve tried gadgets and gizmos a plenty, as The Little Mermaid would say…
They’ve tried changing directions.
They’ve tried standing still.
They’ve tried luring with treats.
Why does their dog still pull?
Is this something you’re struggling with, ?
The thing is, it could be a combination of using tools that don’t offer the best help, using techniques incorrectly or guessing them, or poor timing.
While loose lead walking isn’t rocket science, there are a few things that need to be going right at once. And there’s definitely a few things that you need to stop doing – like following the dog a single inch when the lead has any tension in it at all. Do that, and you’re directly rewarding the pulling, making the behaviour stronger.
And while you might think, “easy for you to say,” I want you to know that my only advantage is being taught the right skills and practice. I used to struggling with achieving loose lead walking too!
If you want to learn the right combination of timing, tool and technique for your dog and stop leash pulling for good, you can start with the free section in the Dog Matters Academy….
….but if you want to address the whole picture of your dog’s pulling and other undesirable behaviour, I recommend taking my signature program, Frantic To Focused ← you can either buy FTF as a once off or join the Academy premium and get access to this program and all my others for one low monthly payment. Get all the details here
It’s a program that enables you to have the joyful relationship with your dog that you know you’re meant to have. Plus if you’re in the premium Academy membership, I’ll be right by your side in the member’s only group to give you feedback and answer your questions.
Looking forward to seeing you there.
Woofs and wags
Today I am sending you a quick video about why your dog might still be pulling on the lead, despite all the tips and tricks you’ve tried. You can watch it here on Facebook.
Thankfully, if you need more help with this, you can join the Frantic To Focused program and it will have you well and truly covered, even if your dog is pulling and lunging towards other dogs.
To summarise the main reasons dogs keep pulling, here are some quick tips:
Every time the dog moves forward with a tight leash, they feel like they have reached their goal of getting towards where they want to go. This is why the main rule of stopping leash pulling is to never follow the dog when the leash is tight (even from your house to the front door)
If your dog pulls you through the door/gate then why should they stop pulling on the walk? Work on this skill first and don’t leave the house until your dog is calm
Don’t worry about the destination, focus on the journey. When you try to keep your walk routine when your dog hasn’t been trained how to walk politely yet, you are caught in a vicious cycle of reinforcing pulling outside of training times. So use your walking time as training time and don’t worry about making it to a certain point. There might be less scenery to enjoy, but your dog is still getting both physical and mental exercise if you stay in your street for now.
Remember how your dog thinks and you’re half way there!
Woofs and wags
PS If you want more guidance with training your dog, check out the Dog Matters Academy here.
Ready to step it up? Choose the premium option and get all the training you could ever need plus access to our member’s only group and monthly live calls.
If you’ve ever met a dog that growls over food or other items, you should check out my article. Read the blog post here.
As with many dog issues, one of the most common obstacles I see get in the way of success is rushing the training – the handler wanting to reach the end goal too quickly for the pace of the dog.
Are you familiar with goal setting personally?
They say to break your goals down into small manageable pieces. The same is true with our dogs and our goals for them and their behaviours. Break it down into little achievable pieces and you’ll be amazed how quickly it adds up when you look back on it and see how much progress you’ve made.
Don’t cause yourself unneeded frustration by beating yourself up if you, “fail.”
If you do perceive a failure, see what you can learn from it rather than feeling down about it. Turn it into a lesson!
Until next time, wishing you lots of tail wags and happy cuddles
PS If you need other training help with your dog, check out the free section in the Dog Matters Academy here.
People are spoiling their dogs more than ever. Yet anxiety in dogs is becoming more and more common.
How could this be?
We often have the best intentions when giving our dog freedoms around the house such as freedom to go anywhere on the property whenever they like. But dogs like to be able to predict what is going to happen next. If a dog has no structure, no rules and no training, and too much freedom, this creates anxiety.
Many dog owners pity their anxious dogs and therefore don’t want to put any sort of pressure on them at all, so they don’t tell them what to do. But giving your dog a job can actually decrease anxiety and make your dog happier.
When they know what the rules are and how the household works, they feel more at ease because they can more easily predict what’s going to happen next.
Remember, anxiety comes from not knowing what the outcome is going to be. Think about, when was the last time you were anxious? Did it relate to something where you didn’t know what was going to happen and felt that all or part of it was out of your control?
Let’s consider place training. Putting the dog on their place and teaching them that they have to stay there until their told removes the options of anxiety building behaviours like pacing, barking at the windows at anyone who goes by, reacting, bolting and more. Once the dog accepts that they must stay there, they calm down. Then we can reward the calm.
I really can’t express just how valuable this skill is. I had a client a while back and he had a cattle dog that was so highly strung and was practicing some behaviours that could quickly turn into OCD and escalate.
I ran into this client at dinner recently and he was so happy, raving about how useful the place training had become in their life. If his dog starts to get to wound up, she goes to place, lays down and just calms.
If you want to learn more about managing your dog’s anxiety and decreasing it through place training and other handy training, you know what to do – join Frantic To Focused.
You can also register to my FREE Frantic to Focused Video Series: Click here to sign up.