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.